Welcome to The Club!

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The Berkeley Branch is the founding branch of the oldest professional writers’ club West of the Mississippi.

CWC Berkeley Branch welcomes all California Writers Club members and guests to our monthly speaker program and affordable workshops on the art and business of writing.

speaker-series-logo-kb-current-site-colorsOur Next Speaker

Poet & Teacher Joan Gelfland on

“You Can Be a Winning Writer”

November 17th, 2019 ~ 1pm*

*YES: our meeting schedule has changed!

We are now accepting new members! Click here to commit to your writing career.

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An Interview with our November Guest, Author Joan Gelfand

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Our featured guest this November 17th is Joan Gelfand. Her reviews, stories, essays and poetry have appeared in over 100 national and international literary journals and magazines including the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, PANK! Kalliope, The Toronto Review, Levure Litteraire and Chicken Soup for the Soul.  The author of three well-reviewed poetry collections and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction, Joan’s novel Fear to Shred will be published by Mastadon Press in 2020. Past President of the Women’s National Book Association, Joan is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a juror for the Northern California Book Awards.  Her poetry was featured at the 4th Annual Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece and won Certificate of Merit in a juried art show at the International Association for the Study of Dreams. A film based on her poem, The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics, has since showed at nine international film festivals and won Best Poetry Film at the World Film Festival. 

Four Questions for Joan Gelfand

What are some common misconceptions people have about what it takes to be a real writer, and what’s true instead?

One common misconception is that real writers have literary agents. 
Many writers work with small presses directly, or university presses that do not require an agent. Also—and I feel strongly about this—poets are real writers and only a handful of poets have agents.  IMHO, the distinguishing feature of a ‘real writer’ is a writer who has at least one traditionally published book.

How did you harness Confidence, Commitment, Craft, and Community to help you write your latest novel Fear to Shred?

Let’s talk about Community first: 
I met my publisher at a Women’s National Book Association event. 
I had been very involved with the WNBA for 14 years as a volunteer.  I served as National President and chapter president of the SF chapter for two years. 
I also spent many years building up a platform, or fan base. I started a national writing contest that brought in a lot of writers and funds to the WNBA.
The other topics, Commitment, Craft and Confidence—I’d prefer to discuss in person with the group.

Who should be in a writer’s community? Are you talking about critique groups, or going to conferences to meet agents and editors, or both? Or something else entirely?

Again, in my humble opinion, every writer NEEDS to be in some sort of community.  If they are able, they should be serving as volunteers in any number of active writing communities in the Bay Area.
I don’t consider critique groups , or going to conferences, part of community. Conferences would be part of networking and critique groups I would put under craft.
 I am talking about building up your platform and fan base.  One writer said you build your fan base one fan at a time. That means you need to meet people, you need to show up at other people’s events, support other writers, etc.  Building community is a long term commitment. That said, many writers have built strong, successful communities on line. 
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all provide the tools to build community.

What are some good places to go in the Bay Area to meet some other writers and build community?

Beside the CWC there is the Women’s National Book Association, Left Coast Writers, San Francisco Creative Writing Institute, the Writing Salon, just to name a few.

Meet Joan Gelfald November 17th when she speaks on the topic “You Can Be a Winning Writer”

 

FREE Audiobooks Workshop Nov 14th, Featuring Becky Parker Geist

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What Every Author Should Know About Audiobooks

Thursday, Nov 14 6:30-8 p.m.

Presidio branch of the SF Public Library
3150 Sacramento St, San Francisco  

With the skyrocketing popularity of audiobooks, every author—published or not—should understand their options regarding audiobooks.

Learn about key decisions involved in the audiobook production process, such as:

  • preparing your manuscript for recording
  • finding your narrator
  • audiobook distribution options
  • where to get your audiobook produced
  • hiring a narrator or producer
  • using the ACX system
  • dos and don’ts of recording your audiobook
  • marketing your audiobook from the inside out
  • what to do once your book has launched

About Workshop Presenter Becky Parker Geist

Becky Parker Geist is an audiobook producer and narrator with 37+ years of experience in the audiobook industry; and owner of Pro Audio Voices, serving clients internationally for audiobook production and marketing. Becky has narrated and/or produced over 200 titles to date.

Becky Parker Geist

Committed to leadership, Becky serves as President of BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Association) and is a member of IBPA, APA (Audio Publishers Assn), NFAA (NonFiction Authors Association) and the California Writers Club. She is the author of five titles, including Audiobook Toolkit for Authors: Your Comprehensive Guide to Recording Your Own Audiobook, now available at authortoolkits.com. Her passion is to help great stories come alive. Learn more at proaudiovoices.com.

“We’re All in Freefall” — Interview with 11/17 featured author Lily Iona MacKenzie

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In Freefall: A Divine Comedy, Lily Iona MacKenzie zeroes in on a fundamental truth: We’re all in freefall, and that’s the real divine comedy. No matter how old we are, we’re still trying to “find ourselves” and discover what we want out of life.

Meet Lily Iona MacKenzie, a new member this season, at the November 17th meeting, opening for Joan Gelfland.

Lily writes:

I don’t have hayseed clinging to my trousers, but growing up on a Canadian farm gave me a unique foundation as a writer. I sprouted under cumulous clouds that bloomed everywhere in Alberta’s big sky. They were my first creative writing instructors, scudding across the heavenly blue, constantly changing shape: one minute an elephant, bruised and brooding. The next morphing into a rabbit or a castle. These billowing masses gave me a unique view of life on earth.

I continue to seek instruction from clouds. Just as they provide the earth with much-needed water, I believe that stories have a similar function, preparing the mind to receive new ideas. Also, conditions inside a cloud are not static—water droplets are constantly forming and re-evaporating. Stories, too, change, depending on who is reading them, each one giving life to its readers.

A high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in my early years, I supported myself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored me into the States). I also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco; briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (I was the first woman to work on the SF docks and almost got my legs broken); founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County; co-created The Story Shoppe, a weekly radio program for children that aired on KTIM in Marin; and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). I have published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 160 American and Canadian venues. Fling!, one of my novels, was published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Curva Peligrosa, another novel, was published in September 2017. Freefall: A Divine Comedy was released in January 2019. Tillie: Portrait of a Canadian Girl in Training, featuring the same main character as in Freefall, will come out in 2020. My poetry collection All This was published in 2011. I also taught writing at the University of San Francisco (USF) for over 30 years and was vice-president of USF’s part-time faculty union. I currently teach creative writing at USF’s Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning. When not writing, I paint and travel with my husband.

Find Lily at https://lilyionamackenzie.com.

Lily answers a few questions about her writing, and then gives advice to writers!

An enchanting story about old friends reuniting as they struggle with thoughts on aging, religion, motherhood, men, art, and death, with plenty of surprises and laughs along the way. A Divine Comedy, indeed!

Freefall’s subtitle is A Divine Comedy. Dante’s epic poem of that same name also involves lots of travelling, and lots of soul-searching. Dante’s poem, however, has three parts: The Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Did you see the four women in your novel as going through a similar time sequence, reaching a kind of paradise at the end of a hellish journey? Or did you mean to suggest a different process? 

I actually wasn’t thinking about Dante’s poem when I wrote this novel. The title came to me much later, and then I realized the narrative was a kind of divine comedy, though I wasn’t trying to imitate Dante’s excellent work. To me it’s Divine because I believe that all life on earth is divine, and the comedy part Isn’t comic in the slapstick sense but in the humor thats implicit in being human. We all face different challenges in our lives. If we’re lucky, we can see through the darkness to the wry aspect of how little control we have over anything. 

But the characters in Freefall, as those in Dante’s work, do travel, and they also do a fair amount of soul searching. And while they don’t reach a kind of paradise at the novel’s end, they have come to a new understanding of themselves and each other.  

“Tillie Bloom,” the main character’s name, is similar to Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Was that intentional? Tillie certainly “blooms” in other ways throughout the novel. Did you choose this striking name purposely?

Yes, I deliberately chose Bloom as Tillie’s last name. Tillie renames herself “Bloom” after reading Ulysses. She didn’t want her previous husband’s name, and she doesn’t have a father. So, she chose Bloom because he lives so much in his senses. And just as Bloom is searching for a son, Tillie is searching for a father. 

Freefall has more than a touch of magical realism in it. Is this a style you use in your other books? What attracts you to this style of writing? 

Reality is both magical and “real,” if by real we mean something that isn’t imagined. Language by its very nature is magical, transforming our everyday reality in multiple ways, carrying us aloft on the wings of thought. When I call on magical realism in my fiction, I do it because it opens me up to a fuller understanding of our world, both internally and externally. I believe it captures a fuller view of what’s going on in our lives than realism can do. 

You describe writing as “your addiction” and “compulsion,” but your website also features several of your watercolor paintings. Then, too, Tillie herself is an artist. Is visual art also a passion of yours? What does painting allow you to do that writing doesn’t, and vice versa? 

If I could reincarnate, it would be BOTH as a visual and literary artist. What I produce when I’m playing with water color or acrylics or oils is not unlike what happens when I write poetry or prose. I start out with no expectations, no plan, and I follow wherever the unconscious leads me. I never know where I’ll end up, and that’s much of the pleasure for me in creating, whether as a visual artist or as a writer. In each case, I’m open to what I’ll discover and what will discover me. I’m passionate about art, and museums are my temples.  

In addition to writing yourself, you also teach and coach writing. What are the advantages of working with a private teacher/editor versus taking a class or joining a critique group?

In a class, at least how I teach it, students receive responses from multiple viewpoints (other class members), though they usually aren’t professional/trained writers. Therefore, the feedback can be uneven, and the writer needs to weigh each comment and decide for herself which ones seem to offer an opening into her work. 

With a private teacher, you hope that s/he will be able to accommodate many different approaches to writing poetry/prose so s/he can offer a wide range of possibilities in his/her critiques. Otherwise, there’s a danger that the teacher/editor will abort whatever in the person as a writer is trying to bloom. 

You have another novel about Tillie in the works. Will we be hearing more about Tillie and her re-found friends as they reach their seventies and beyond? Or just more about Tillie?

The follow up to Freefall that I’m currently working on and will be published in 2010 doesn’t involve an older Tillie but a much younger one. Yet your question makes me wonder if I need to consider writing a novel that follows these women into their seventies and beyond!

Tillie: Portraits of a Canadian Girl in Training is a Bildungsroman that takes the reader back to the ‘50s, to a world that flashes green and red lights at women. This novel starts with three-year-old Tillie and follows her until she’s seventeen and struggling to find her place in the world 

 

Lily Talks to Fellow Writers:

Where are you in your writing career? Aspiring? Published? 

I’ve published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, and essays in over 160 American and Canadian venues. All This, a poetry collection, was published in 2011, and a poetry chapbook (No More Kings) will come out later this year. My novel Fling! was released in July 2015. Curva Peligrosa, another novel, was brought out in 2017. A third novel, Freefall: A Divine Comedy, was published on January 1, 2019. 

How long have you been part of CWC, and what does membership mean to you?

I just joined this past spring, and I’m looking forward to sharing the writing journey with other committed writers. We need to help each other find the appropriate paths that will connect us with our best readers!

What other things would you like people to know about you – writings, passions, etc?

I grew up on a Canadian farm that taught me how dependent the natural world and the animals that inhabit it are on we humans, and vice versa. While I’m not a backpacker or even a camper, I do have a passion for nature. I also love art in all of its forms: music, visual, etc. I’m always uplifted by great art! And I enjoy eating well!

How do you manage your writing life?

I think it’s the reverse! It manages me, since it’s as important to me as eating. Over the years, I’ve had to find ways to fit writing into my days. I’ve discovered that if I only commit to an hour a day religiously, I can produce a tremendous amount of material, as my publications indicate.

Please send a link to something people can read of yours!

My blog is a gateway to lots of samples: https://lilyionamackenzie.com

 

Full Schedule of Events

Please NOTE NEW SCHEDULE

12:00 pm Setup
12:30 Doors open & member services
1:00 Raffle & Announcements
1:30 Featured Member: Lily Iona McKenzie
1:45 Keynote Speaker: Joan Gelfland
2:30 Book Sales & Networking
3:00 Marketing Group*
4:00 Craft Group*
5:00 The End

$5 for members, $10 for non-members*

  • Coffee is provided, bring cookies and treats to share!
  • Admission includes 1 free raffle ticket

PLEASE PLAN TO PURCHASE A RAFFLE TICKET! Only $1 each or 6 for $5, every ticket supports the club’s equity program. You can win a book written by our club authors!

* Support groups are members-only but guests may audit
Empty pockets? Ask about our sponsored guest program at the door. We are writers helping writers, a welcoming community.

1204 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA 94612

Our meetings are right off 980 in downtown Oakland, at beautiful Preservation Park. Just off 12th Street, naturally you can get there from the 12th St. BART station. Those with limited ability can use the parking lot off of MLK Way; otherwise there should be plenty of FREE parking within the park and on surrounding streets.

Say you’re coming on Facebook!

SAVE THE DATES!
Our Forthcoming Events:

  • December 15th – Winter Social
  • January 19th – TBA
  • February 16th – Jan Steckel
  • March 15th – Panel TBA
  • April 21st – Tanya Egan Gibson
  • May 17th – Andy Ross
  • June 16th – Member Book Launch

Check for support groups and more member events on our Calendar.

11/17 SPEAKER – “You Can Be a Winning Writer” with Joan Gelfland

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In this participatory workshop, author Joan Gelfand will discuss her 4 C’s approach to becoming a successful author. Joan will discuss how to incorporate craft, commitment, community, and confidence into a writing practice. Joan and her clients have produced significant results by incorporating this approach into their own writing practices. 

Accompanied by a thirty-minute Power Point, Joan will open the workshop for questions about writing and publishing challenges. Based on “You Can Be a Winning Writer” published by Mango Press, this workshop has been presented to California Writer’s Club and other venues to enthusiastic audiences including:  the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, Dominican College Low Residency MFA, San Francisco Public Libraries, Osher Lifelong Learning, Books, Inc., Creative Light Factory and other writer’s clubs, groups and conferences. 

Joan Gelfand’s reviews, stories, essays and poetry have appeared in over 100 national and international literary journals and magazines including the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, PANK! Kalliope, The Toronto Review, Levure Litteraire and Chicken Soup for the Soul. 

The author of three well-reviewed poetry collections and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction, Joan’s novel “Fear to Shred” takes place in a Silicon Valley startup. Mastadon Press will publish the novel in 2020.

Past President of the Women’s National Book Association, Joan is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a juror for the Northern California Book Awards. 

“The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics,” a poetry film based on Joan’s poem was featured at the 4th Annual Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece and won Certificate of Merit in a juried art show at the International Association for the Study of Dreams. It has since showed at nine international film festivals and won Best Poetry Film at the World Film Festival. unknown.jpgA graduate of Mills College MFA in Creative Writing, Joan has been speaking on the 4 C’s approach for over ten years. You can find her at http://joangelfand.com, on twitter at @joangelfand, facebook as JoanGelfand, and on Instagram as joangelfand.

Full Schedule of Events

Please NOTE NEW SCHEDULE

12:00 pm Setup
12:30 Doors open & member services
1:00 Raffle & Announcements
1:30 Featured Member: Lily Iona McKenzie
1:45 Keynote Speaker: Joan Gelfland
2:30 Book Sales & Networking
3:00 Marketing Group*
4:00 Craft Group*
5:00 The End

$5 for members, $10 for non-members*

  • Coffee is provided, bring cookies and treats to share!
  • Admission includes 1 free raffle ticket

PLEASE PLAN TO PURCHASE A RAFFLE TICKET! Only $1 each or 6 for $5, every ticket supports the club’s equity program. You can win a book written by our club authors!

* Support groups are members-only but guests may audit
* Empty pockets? Ask about our sponsored guest program at the door. We are writers helping writers, a welcoming community.

1204 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA 94612

Our meetings are right off 980 in downtown Oakland, at beautiful Preservation Park. Just off 12th Street, naturally you can get there from the 12th St. BART station. Those with limited ability can use the parking lot off of MLK Way; otherwise there should be plenty of FREE parking within the park and on surrounding streets.

Say you’re coming on Facebook!

SAVE THE DATES!
Our Forthcoming Events:

  • December 15th – Winter Social
  • January 19th – TBA
  • February 16thJan Steckel
  • March 15th – Panel TBA
  • April 21stTanya Egan Gibson
  • May 17thAndy Ross
  • June 16th – Member Book Launch

Check for support groups and more member events on our Calendar.

Interview with featured author Tim Jollymore (meet him this Sunday)

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In this interview, this Sunday’s featured member Tim Jollymore draws on experience and insight to share his take on what writing and “the writing boom” is about. What steps to take and reflections to make are needed before one can understand what path to follow?

Tim Jollymore is author of five books. Listener in the Snow is an adventure set in snowy Northern Minnesota. He’s written two mysteries Observation Hill, a novel of class and murder and The Advent of Elizabeth. Lake Stories and Other Tales is a story and essay collection, while People You’ve Been Before is a novel exploring “adventures in sobriety.” He has published book of poems titled Christmas in the Winter Garden. He is presently at work on a sixth: The Second Confession of Saint Augustine, a historical novel set in North Africa at the 5th Century end of the Roman empire.

For this work, Jollymore has received four independent publishing awards. He was a two-time finalist in the North Eastern Minnesota Book Awards and he’s garnered high praise from Publishers’ Weekly and repeatedly from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

Jollymore was born in Duluth, Minnesota and took his English degrees at the university there. He relocated, mid-life, to the San Francisco Bay Area, pursuing business, architecture, and teaching. Learn more about Tim Jollymore’s books at finnswaybooks.com

Getting to Know Tim Jollymore

What is the most important piece of writing advice that you could give to other writers?

Don’t take advice. Listen to YOUR muse. Strive for art.

Tim Jollymore

I tell you; don’t take advice. If you must, scrutinize each bit. Listen to YOUR muse. That is why you take walks in the morning. Check to see that your “advisors” don’t have their hands too deeply in your pockets, for some only see the currently swelling ranks of writers as a financial opportunity for them. Strive for art. Be unafraid to liberally use adverbs.

What are your writing habits?

I write from 9:00 to noon and then do whatever I want! Henry Miller, though, in his 11 commandments of writing, says, “Don’t be a dray horse. Live life . . . drink if you want to.” So, I can tell you (and Henry) I do not write every day. I travel, “I laze and loaf and invite my soul,” but when I am working it is nine to noon, five days a week.

What writers inspire you?

It is not the writer but his/her writing that inspires me. Living writers whose writing interests me are Pers Petterson, Richard Flannigan, John Krakauer, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Paul Auster, and Sigrid Nunez.

 I find CWC membership a great place to land in a storm, or, really, during a calm.

Tim Jollymore

My “Dead Novelists’ Society” includes William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Henry James, Charlotte Bronte, and Mark Twain.

Where are you in your writing career?

Of five books published since 2014 (one in its third printing and one in its second) the most successful is Listener in the Snow, my debut novel. So be it.

My plans extend a couple of years with The Second Confession of Saint Augustine, and, continuing in a different vein of historical fiction and returning to my Minnesota topics, is Missabe Miss, a World War Two, home-front novel.

Much of my writing shares a devotion to characters of a common sort, everyday people, who are shown through their interior lives. I adhere to the practice of stylistic crafting experimentation with points of view, and the condensation of storytelling into three or four days.

How long have you been a part of CWC-BB, and what does membership mean to you?

I’ve been with CWC for five years, a dual member for two. I find CWC membership a great place to land in a storm, or, really, during a calm. It is also a distraction from writing. I avoid becoming simply a denizen of an organization. I want to write!

How do you manage your writing life?

Min Kamp (my struggle), to use Knausgaard’s title, is a battle between publication activities and promotion of my work which incorporates traveling, and actual hours spent writing. Min Frelse (my salvation) is that the great pile of ideas, characters, and themes continues to grow and to wait for my attention.

To read a sample of his work, go to http://www.jollymore.wordpress.com for excerpts of novels, short stories, and reviews.

Meet Tim Jollymore this Sunday at our next meeting

For full details, such as schedule, directions, raffle info and more, please see the post announcing this Sunday’s event. In addition to getting to know featured member Tim Jollymore, this meeting will offer legal advice for literary contracts, as well as assistance with craft and marketing.

Full Scheule of Events for THIS SUNDAY’S MEETING

12:00 pm Setup
12:30 Doors open & member services
1:00 Featured Member: Tim Jollymore
1:15 Keynote Speaker: literary lawyer Nick Jollymore (yes, they’re related!)
2:00 Announcements & Networking
3:00 Marketing Group*
4:00 Craft Group*
5:00 The End

Say you’re coming on Facebook!


SAVE THE DATES!
Our Forthcoming Events:

Check for support groups and more member events on our Calendar.

CWC Writers at LitCrawl Saturday Night, 10/19

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We are so proud of all of our members who are reading at or hosting at LitCrawl this year! One of the most anticipated literary nights of the year, San Francisco’s Lit Crawl is a massive, one-night literary pub crawl throughout the city’s Mission District. Lit Crawl SF brings together 500+ authors and close to 10,000 fans for the world’s largest free pop-up literary event. Started in 2004, Lit Crawl cultivates a unique, resonant brand: smart and silly, worldly and wacky events presented in venues usual (bars, cafes, galleries, and bookstores) and unusual (police stations, tattoo parlors, barbershops, and laundromats).

Grab a map and we’ll see you at one or more of these events!

5-6pm:

Amos White hosts Bay Area Generations, which presents "Two Turntables and a Microphone": six writers and poets read their poetry and tell their stories before a live DJ mix at Harrington Galleries Furniture Store, 599 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Gark Mavigan reads at LitCamp: the Comeback at Four Barrel Coffee, 375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

6:30-7:30pm:

Cristina Deptula hosts Synchronized Chaos: Five published authors read short new pieces they have written inspired by the work of an aspiring author, who joins them in reading onstage. CWC readers include Christine Volker, Aqueila Lewis, Kristen Caven, Henry Hitz & Sheryl Bize-Boutte!

8-9pm:

Paul Corman-Roberts hosts Babar in Exile, Gents Barber Club, 3041 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Thaddeus Howze reads with Time Travel: A Literary and Poetic Exploration to The Next Dimension at Fingersnaps Media Arts 3527 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

Aqueila Lewis also reads with Women Who Submit at Haus Coffee 3086 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

See the full schedule here.

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