Write with Us Next Saturday

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November 24th at 1 p.m.
Octopus Literary Salon
2101 Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

Join us Saturday at the Octopus Literary Salon for an afternoon of quiet writing. Bring your favorite writing tools and order drinks, lunch, or stay afterwards for dinner. At 6 p.m., the Octopus will host a Small Business Saturday. As we write, the Octopus Salon will be decorating, hosting a gift bazaar, and getting festive for an evening bluegrass jubilee.

Thanksgiving out of the way, this event is the day after Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day, a perfect Saturday to focus on GETTING SOME WRITING DONE. 

This event is open to the public and co-hosted by Authors Large & Small.

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Welcome to The Club!

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CWCLogowithR

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

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.

Join us Saturday, November 24th, 2018 for WRITE NOW, a write in at the Octopus Literary Salon, from 1-6 p.m.

WRITE NOW Nov 24th

Click here to commit to your writing career.

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See you Sunday! + Interview with Historical Fiction Novelist Linda McCabe

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It’s California Writers Week! This is an annual observation to “encourage the people of the State of California to reflect upon the contributions that California writers have made to humankind,” since 2003.

We will be meeting this Sunday, like every 3rd Sunday, for our monthly day of writerly activities. Networking at 2 p.m., Club meeting at 2:30, Featured club author Alice Jurow at 3 p.m., and our Keynote speaker Linda McCabe at 3:15. Come early for our Craft Group at 12 p.m. and our Marketing Success Group at 1 p.m., and stay late for our new Open Mic at 4:15! (The support groups are for members but guests may audit before joining the club.)

Interview with Linda McCabe

 

Our October speaker, Linda McCabe, is inspired by classical works, particularly the story of Orlando Furioso, a 16th century Italian work that is connected to the 10th century French “Song of Roland.” What do laboratory science, magical creatures, Harry Potter, a Muslim/Christian holy war, Kick-ass heroines and beta readers have to do with each other? Our speaker chair Cristina Deptula did a lengthy interview on her website Lois Lane Investigates Authors, and we’ve excerpted some highlights here.

How do you know when you’ve done enough research and you’re ready to write? 

linda-mccabe-quote-octThis is a gut feeling. There’s a point when I feel like I am procrastinating more than I am doing research. Sometimes I just have to shift gears and stop researching if the aspect I am trying to understand isn’t “knowable” or maybe isn’t all that important. I spent over a week wondering about diapering in the middle ages. This was all because I wanted to have a character do some action in a scene with her baby. I started imagining the characters in my setting and thought of where would the dirty diaper would be placed. Then I wondered how the diaper would be closed, (did they have diaper pins?) How often would they wash them? How many diapers would a noble household have for a baby?
Some research suggested that babies might not have been put in diapers at all. Instead, the parents would watch them carefully and hold them at arm’s length over straw to absorb urine flow.

I considered this matter for too long. I was obsessing over a minor detail that did not enhance or further the plot. I decided to take it out and not “go there.” Instead, I described the baby as been freshly bathed in the scene.

I notice you also write essays and editorials in addition to your  historical fiction. Would you agree with the advice I myself heard as an aspiring novelist, to get other pieces of writing published before you  go out there to agents and publishers with a first novel?

linda-mccabe-quote-tall-octWhile I believe that publication credits are important to demonstrate your authority as a writer, they aren’t as important to an agent as the sample pages of your completed novel. Writing an article or short story is like running a 100 yard dash while writing a novel is more like running a marathon.

Perfecting the art of the query letter or verbal pitching to an agent in order to get the request to submit sample pages is a different skill set than regular writing. Once you get the go-ahead to send your manuscript and synopsis, your overall craft will be on full view. The agent and subsequent potential publishers will only green light a publishing contract based on the strength of your finished product and not because you had an op-ed published in the LA Times.

Honestly, I think getting a pithy book description will do more for you with agents and publishers than having multiple credits to your name. However, it is a different matter if you are writing non-fiction. If you had publication credits in magazines or peer-reviewed journals and you were submitting a book proposal on the same topic – it might help influence the decision of the agent/publisher to sign you as a client/author.

 

Ask Linda McCabe your own questions this Sunday, October 21st at our monthly meeting.

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Time to Renew… or to Join!

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Hello Writers!

We had a lively kick-off last Sunday, learning lessons from the roller coaster of Marty Nemko’s prolific career and imagining a different world with featured member Patricia McBroom. Let’s sail into the season and get our words heard!

Our membership renewal window is closing, so please renew now if you have not done so already. After October 1, those renewing will have to pay the $20 initiation fees to reinstate.

If you haven’t joined yet, now is the best time! (and here are the payment link and application!) Our monthly speaker series provides information that every writer can use, and our ongoing support groups, critique circles and collectives help us all write better together. (We have some pretty great parties, too!) This year, watch for more writing retreats and workshops, plus our presence at the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Bay Area Book Festival.

At our next meeting on October 21 we’ll hear longtime CWC mover and shaker Linda McCabe talk about the delights and demands of writing historical fiction. Anyone who loves to travel for research should enjoy this talk!

We know you love to write, so if you prefer to write a check, our address is CWC Berkeley, P.O. Box 11269, Oakland, CA 94611. It’s $45 for membership plus a one-time $20  initiation fee. (It’s better than drinking a gallon of pickle juice, you have to admit.)

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 —Kristen Caven, president

Patricia McBroom Gives Us a Taste of Female Divinity in the Deep Human Past

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Patricia McBloomPatricia McBroom began her career as a science journalist in the 1960’s and became deeply interested in the subject of human evolution.  After a stint at the Philadelphia Inquirer as the first woman journalist in the newsroom, she entered graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania to earn a degree in anthropology.  One day while casting about for a thesis topic, she noticed that women had cast off their “feminine” clothing and were showing up at the health club wearing blue suits.  So she undertook an ethnography of women on Wall Street, detailing the changes women were undergoing as they took on roles as financial managers, formerly restricted to men.  The study was published as a book, under the title, The Third Sex: the New Professional Woman.

With that publication, she began teaching women’s studies, first at Rutgers University and later at Mills college in California where she returned in 1987 after some twenty years on the East Coast.

The election of Trump inspired her next writing project, which focuses on Bronze Age matriarchal society.

As our featured member, this Sunday Patricia Bloom will be reading a short passage from her new manuscript: She Speaks: Female Divinity and Equality in the Deep Human Past. In this work she traces the transformation of the Goddess from an earth and mother figure into a warrior Goddess of the Bronze Age.  The story demonstrates that a divine female goes hand-in-hand with gender equality.  Says McBloom, “Today, the female half of humanity needs its sacred mirror.  The book is also part memoir, with details of what it is like to live inside a story of evolution that is written almost entirely by men, even today.”

To get a taste of Patricia McBloom’s writing check out her five-year project documenting California’s water wars at CaliforniaSpigot.blogspot.com

Sunday Patrica Bloom joins Marty Nemko for our September meeting, but for now, let’s get to know Patricia.

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

“Write because you don’t know what you think until you read what you say.” (a somewhat altered quote from Flannery O’Conner)

What are your writing habits?

I write in the mornings before breakfast and after an hour’s meditation to center myself.  In earlier years, I would write for four hours; today it’s more like two hours per day.  I usually write whether I feel like it or not; discipline and focus are helped by meditation.

Sept 16th Marty Nemko at Preservation Park

Interview with Marty Nemko, our Guest for This Sunday, Sept. 16th

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book cover for Careers for Dummies by Marty Nemko

Marty Nemko is the author of Careers for Dummies, as well as hundreds of articles in national magazines.

This month, the California Writers’ Club has harnessed the wisdom of Bay Area author and career coach Marty Nemko. At our regular meeting, Sunday September 16th, he’ll speak to how to apply career-building knowledge and hip wisdom to your literary pursuits.

As a career coach, would you say that creative writers need to plan their careers in the same way that other job seekers do?

First, I’m assuming that by “career,” you’re talking about people who expect to make at least a modest living from their writing and ancillary activities such as paid speaking engagements.

Of course, a small percentage of successful writers succeed because of raw talent, great connections, and, yes, luck—being at the right place at the right time with the right writing. Alas, that’s too rarely the case, so let’s focus on the more typical situation. There are three key factors. On the following continua, the more to-the-right, a writer is, the greater the chances of pecuniary success.

Of course, beyond those three, there is that ineffable but central factor of talent. There are many ways to try to assess talent, all of them imperfect: Internal self-appraisal, comparing your work with that of writers you respect, feedback from respected people—especially those you’re not paying, your previous publication record, and contest results.

What are some similarities and differences between setting up a regular job search and seeking to develop your career as a writer?

As in most job searches, alas, connections matter. Perhaps that’s even more so in writing because judging of writing is so subjective. If someone likes you as a person, that halo tends to spread over your work. So, while I must admit I do not practice what I’m going to recommend, it helps to regularly connect—at book fairs as well as in writing solid and human queries— with people with the power to help you make that middle-class living as a writer. Typically, that means editors and media outlets that pay writers well. That isn’t always the biggest publications. For example, I’ve written 20 articles and essays for TIME’s Ideas section and, although I’m not shy about negotiation, they said, “The pay is zero. Take it or leave it.” Alas, the outlets that tend to pay well tend to do that because they otherwise couldn’t attract good writers. So, a trade publication or a mutual fund may, alas, be more likely to pay writers decently. Of course, check Writer’s Digest for a fuller look at writer’s pay.

And of course, you need to send your stuff out to lots of potential publishers, recognizing that even the work of well-published writers get rejected a lot.

Are you going to discuss how you can get a ‘day-job’ that encourages some writing and fosters one’s creativity or are you going to focus more on approaching your own writing like an entrepreneur: writing for paid publication, building your platform, etc?

Marty Nemko

This Sunday, talk to Marty Nemko about your writing career

I’m not planning to talk much about that. The advice in my previous answers, of course, pertains. Common sense dictates that if you’re not yet making a living at your writing, unless you’re living off of someone else’s money, you’ll need a day job. And of course, most writers would find it more fun and facilitative of writing to work in an environment such as a bookstore or a place/people you’d be writing about. So, for example, if you’re planning to write about life as a waitperson, take such a job, as Barbara Ehrenreich did in preparing to write Nickel and Dimed.

It’s a reality that many writers will need some sort of day-job, at least for part of their writing lives. Would you advise writers to go for day jobs that involve creativity, writing, etc. or does it tend to work best to have a position that doesn’t require as much stress and leaves time for writing on the side?

Stress so often is internally caused. Some people can work in what’s widely deemed a high-stress job (e.g., Emergency Medical Technician) and be calm. So, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. I’d rather suggest that each writer decide what sort of job yields the optimal combination of money, flexibility, low-stress, short commute/work from home, and facilitates their writing.

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What do you think is the biggest attitude shift, or action, that a writer can take that would help them better plan or advance their careers? What are some misconceptions or mistakes that hold us back professionally?

Alas, it’s hard to get honest feedback. Most teachers are inclined to be encouraging. Friends find it awkward to say, “You’re not good enough to expect to make a living from your writing.” In addition, we hear messages that we all deserve good self-esteem. So, a lot of writers (and many others) have unwarranted optimism, sometimes because, deep down, they don’t want a “real” job.

So the big attitude change I’d wish on writers is that they make a clear-eyed assessment of their potential to make a living as a writer. If they have inadequate information to make that decision, they need to get sufficient such information, for example, by asking for honest feedback. Of course, if they choose to write without expecting to make a living at it, write on!

What advice would you give to Writers’ Club members who are retired or who are homemakers and who are really writing as a hobby rather than a career?

I’m feeling relaxed having read that question. Even though I’ve made significant money from my writing, my net hourly wage is low and, importantly, looking back, the main benefits I have derived from my writing are not pecuniary: I like the process of writing, I like the thought that my writing will help people, and I like that writing clarifies my thinking about a subject.

What in your presentation will be useful to them?

I like to think my talk will be useful to most people and hopefully at least moderately entertaining. I promise it will be an honest look at my life as a writer—beauty marks and warts.

Thank you very much! We look forward to meeting you and hearing you in person on Sunday the 16th.


Marty Nemko’s books have been published by Ten Speed/Random House, Avon, Barron’s, and Wiley, including the just published Careers for Dummies. He’s written 20 articles for TIME’s Ideas section, a column for The Atlantic, an eight-part series, “What’s the Big Idea” for the Washington Post’s Innovations section, 100 pieces for U.S. News, 1,240(!) on PsychologyToday.com, plus five years as columnist on the front page of a section of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle before going national. That’s all while being a full-time career and personal coach (the SF Bay Guardian dubbed him “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” and being in his 29th year as host of Work with Marty Nemko on KALW 91.7 FM (and NPR San Francisco).

Ask Marty your questions about the arc of a writing career this Sunday, September 16th at our next monthly meeting.

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CWC Summer Social TOMORROW!

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Club members, we look forward to seeing you tomorrow, July 22nd, 2018, at our summer social! Guests of members are also welcome to check out our community and see how you can get involved.

At 5pm, we will do our annual reading of “Columbus,” from whence our motto, “Sail On,” was crafted.

Thank you to Fred Dodsworth! We are excited for our first “house party” in many, many years.

cwc summer social 2018

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