Kubrik’s Mysterious Symbols: an Interview with Featured Member Nicole Berg

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At this Sunday’s final meeting before our summer break, the Berkeley California Writers Club celebrates author and film critic Nicole Berg. Berg’s fist book Discovering Kubrick’s Symbolism is now available for pre-sale from McFarland Books. This is her second year in the CWC. She says, “I really enjoy getting to know the other members here.”

Berg’s career began in animation, gaming, & software industries such as Walt Disney, DIC, Sierra, Symantec, and a number of dot coms during the “Tinker Bell” economy. Later, she taught college-level courses in Animation, Art, & Digital Media in Los Angeles & Portland. When earning her MFA degree, Nicole trained in film pipeline processes at PIXAR & ImageMovers Digital.

One day she happened upon a showing of Kubrick’s 2OO1: A SPACE ODYSSEY and asked herself, “what if other repeating symbols existed in 2OO1 that helped explain the monolith?” Nicole soon realized that indeed there were. This started the research journey of her book Discovering Kubrick’s Symbolism. That grew to include bombshell discoveries within all of Stanley Kubrick’s iconic films such as Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, Lolita, Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, & Eyes Wide Shut.

Six Quick Questions for Film Writer Nicole Berg

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

Write a list of subjects you think you would enjoy writing about for inspiration.

What one thing has helped promote your writing most?

My push in contacting both publishers & agents whose interests even slightly covered my book’s subject matter.

What are your writing habits?

Having a quiet place like an office is essential for concentration.

Nicole Berg’s forthcoming book

I aim for two or more hours. Some time in the morning & two or more hours in the afternoon or evening, at least 4 days a week.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an animator and was in the animation & multimedia business during the nineties.

What other writers inspire you?

Riane Eisler (Chalice & the Blade), Richard Adams (Watership Down), Margot Adler (Drawing Down the Moon) & Terry Pratchett.

Meet Nicole Berg this Sunday May 17th

Stanley Kubrik Esoterica, Electing Board Officers, and Finding the Discipline to Write

At Sunday’s meeting, Berg will show us some of the mysterious symbols throughout the films of Stanley Kubrik, as a teaser to her forthcoming book. Following, she will take questions.

In addition to writing about film, Berg enjoys anthropology, archaeology, animals, word religion, & folklore. In our Zoom breakout sessions, Berg would love to find other writers who share her interests in film, animation, or graphic design. She wants to support other writers through mentorship and promoting one another’s works. So be sure to drop her a line in the chat window this Sunday, especially if you know of a website or journal that might be interested in film criticism.

Following Nicole Berg’s presentation, we’ll get to hear from former pro basketball player Paul Shirley. Shirley is now an author and productivity coach. He will teach us how to apply the athlete’s discipline to our writing. Commit to your writing this Sunday!

This Sunday We Elect Board Members

Get to know the candidates and have your say in the direction of the club. She we steer this ship into the ice berg, or the gaping maw of the Kraken? Or is there another course? Have your say, Sunday!

Get Tickets for our Zoom Meeting or Learn More about Sunday’s Meeting

“A Chance to Have My Say”— Get to Know Playwright/Poet Judith Offer

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Judith Offer playwright poet
poet & playwright Judith Offer

Member Judith Offer will be our featured reader at our first meeting of the year on Sunday, January 19th.  Judith is celebrating her one-year anniversary of being in the California Writers Club! She is an Oakland poet and playwright. 18 of her plays have been professionally produced, most in community theatres in the Bay Area. Her themes are women’s issues, American history, and the various cultural groups that populate Oakland.

Judith has five books of poetry. Recently, she self-published a chapbook called The Grating of America, Poems For a Democracy Ground Down, about the current political situation. 

Pictures of plays, copies of some of her poems, and reviews are available at her web site, JudithOffer.com.

How did you become a writer?

In one sense my career is amazing: I had every possible disadvantage to ever writing anything. I was the oldest girl in a family of nine kids, born to parents who didn’t really want a huge family and were angry and resentful. We moved a lot, so I attended seven grammar schools and ended up with a sketchy, confused basic education, no permanent friends, and no long-term other adult support. My high school probably saved me. It was big, well-organized, and had a good teaching staff. And I got to be there for four years. I managed a few close friends and in spite of many home responsibilities, participation in a drama club. My intelligence was recognized to the extent that I made it into the top “track”. And though the teachers of the day mostly tried to ignore the girls, there were two who showed that they thought I had…something special. I made it through college by working as an au pair for room and board and with a state scholarship for tuition. I graduated with no single teacher telling me my writing was good, or suggesting a writing career, in spite of many essays and term papers with good grades. I went off to teach after school, not sure I wanted to; left to work in urban renewal, mostly because I got to work in downtown DC, still wondering what I was “becoming”. All this time, I was writing a few poems every year, which I kept in a small black notebook. In my late twenties I married, and two years later my husband, Stuart Offer, the only person who had seen my notebook, gave me a typewriter for Christmas, “so you can send your poems out.” So in my case, I really was rescued by Prince Charming. When I did send them, a number were quickly taken, and I suddenly knew what I was becoming. There has been a long road since then, and I am far from rich or famous from my writing. But I have been able to develop my gift, and I have seen many of my plays performed and poems published. I have had some killer fun times, directing plays, teaching kids drama, reading in cool places, and meeting all sorts of interesting and wonderful people. I feel like I have become part of the American story…a small part, but a part. I would like to see my plays on bigger, better-known stages, and I would like to get paid real money some day for them. But even if I never do, I feel that I have had at least some chance to “have my say” and to add to the list of women who, thanks to American feminists–such as the suffragists we’re celebrating this year—have made openings for people like me. 

Meet Judith and Prioritize Your Writing this Sunday January 19th

Join us with Judith Offer this Sunday

Meet Historical Fiction Writer Lucille Belucci

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Lucille Belucci at CWC
Lucille Belucci

Lucille Belucci is not the most talkative member of Berkeley CWC, so you may not have realized yet what a delight she is. You may know our February Featured Member as the soft-spoken woman who runs the raffle, but she’s also the quietly feisty author of the historical fiction novel The Year of the Rat

Originally from Shanghai, on February 17th Lucille will share a story about how her early life affected her behavior one day in Hong Kong.

In Lucille’s long writing career, she has learned that 30 rejections of your book are not unusual, “so keep on with it and rewrite if you are lucky enough to receive comments on your offering.”

Three Questions for Lucille Belucci

What are your writing habits?

I write in the mornings and think about the writing the rest of the time.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had a mentor who insisted that I become like Dorothy Parker, The New Yorker roundtable writer.

What other writers inspire you?

I admired Irwin Shaw and started writing like him before developing my own style.

Meet Lucille and Keynote Aqueila Lewis-Ross at our February 17th Meeting

Young writers take note, because Lucille is most excited to offer mentorship to up and coming authors. If that’s you, say hello to Lucille at the next meeting. You can also network with other writers, get your marketing and craft questions answered, and learn about the power of poetry from keynote Aqueila Lewis-Ross.

Aqueila Lewis-Ross speaks Feb 17th for Berkeley CA Writers Club

A Few Questions for Software Pioneer and Author, Gary Durbin

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This month’s featured CWC member is Gary Durbin, a retired serial entrepreneur and software industry pioneer. Instead of writing computer code and starting software companies, he now writes, hikes, and advises young entrepreneurs. He has published short stories and his first novel, Nano-Uncertainty.

Gary led a research project into the use of artificial intelligence for business systems and an experimental project in computer-aided tutoring. Mr. Durbin holds four software patents, one for distributed inference on massively parallel computers. He has published several technical articles in magazines and journals and authored a special publication of the National Bureau of Standards.

Sample Durbin’s writing at GaryDurbinWriter.com/work-in-progress/

Five Questions for Gary Durbin

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

Beg, plead, or coerce people to read your stuff and give you honest feedback.

What one thing has helped promote your writing most?

Workshops like the Mendocino Writers Conference.

What other writers inspire you?

Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Evan Currie, Salman Rushdie, Alfred Bester, Clifford Simak, Robert Heinlein

Where are you from and where do you live?

Native Californian. Born: Santa Monica, Raised: Oakland

What other facts would you like to share?

Married to Lori otherwise known as “Love of my life” for 50 years

Meet Gary Durbin and our Featured Guest Patricia Ravasio this Sunday, November 17th

Remember that our members are your community, so treasure this opportunity to get to know Gary and find out how he can help your writers career, and vice versa. Members, don’t forget to come at 11 a.m. to participate in the craft and marketing support groups!

Say you’re coming on Facebook.

Nov 18th 2:30-4 pm Patricia Ravasio to speak on "Mission Utopia--Writing to Share an Urgent Vision."

Some Writing Advice from October’s Featured Member, Art Deco Novelist Alice Jurow

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alice-jurow-oct-feat.jpgSunday, October 21st we’ll be featuring a short reading from our featured member, Alice Jurow. Alice has a degree in Aesthetic Studies from UC Santa Cruz, and is
not afraid to use it. Her obsession with the 1920s has led to a long-standing involvement with the Art Deco Society of California, and she was the editor of the society’s Sophisticate magazine for 12 years. Some of her publications include the North American Review, Archetype, and Bark. Vamps of ‘29 is her first published novel; she is working on a sequel. Alice lives in Berkeley with her human and feline family.

We asked Alice Jurow about the the most important piece of writing advice that she could give
to other writers.

Said Jurow:

I wouldn’t really presume to give anyone else writing advice, but the advice I give myself is: write the book that only you can write, the one you wish you could read.

I can get easily overwhelmed, when I go to bookstores or libraries or readings, and see the huge amount of new work in print, or in process—so much of it interesting, intriguing, well-crafted and crying out to be read. But just as many of these are stories I would be unlikely to write, I also don’t see anyone writing exactly what I envision writing.

About Alice Jurow’s novel, Vamps of ’29

In the darker corners of the City of Light, three fashionable young women revel in the glamor of late-1920s Paris nightlife. They model cutting-edge styles at a couture house on the rue Cambon. And, they are vampires.

While immortal charm keeps the vamps perennially youthful, redhaired Natalie is the oldest of the three. A former Mariinsky ballerina, she is moody and volatile, with a fatal penchant for intense Slavic idealists.

The youngest is Lucienne, an emigrée from Indochine, whose cool exterior conceals depths of mysterious knowledge and a complex past which comes back to haunt her, when her powerful Uncle Yu re-enters her life. And then there’s Sally. An Enlightenment-born native Parisienne, she’s eager to embrace all things twentieth-century: bobbed hair, hot jazz, the English language and a series of mortal friends and lovers, including a New Orleans jazz pianist, a British pilot, Oscar Wilde’s niece and an actress named Louise. When a lavish trip to Venice with a couple of American socialites turns dangerous, Sally goes undercover by cross-dressing her way to Berlin. The three vampire friends re-unite in Paris to model in one last astonishing fashion show and bring the 1920s to a close.

Learn more at Vampsof29.com

Have coffee with Alice Jurow and Linda McCabe at our October Meeting

After Alice Jurow reads to us from Vamps of 29, we’ll learn how to research historical figures, settings, and customs for historical fantasy writing. Our featured guest Linda McCabe will show authors how to decide when to use dramatic license vs. adhering strictly to the historical record. Fantasy has its own rules regarding logic and consistency and Linda will discuss the craft of balancing the needs of historical fiction with drama and fantasy. Linda’s novel Quest of the Warrior Maiden was honored by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association’s (BAIPA) as Best Historical Fantasy and received an Honorable Mention by the Hollywood Book Festival.

Join us for our October meeting Sunday.


Say you’re coming on Facebook!


Featured Member: Poet Fred Dodsworth

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Fred Dodsworth will open for Amos White’s The Art of Giving Live Readings tomorrow. We asked him a few questions… this is what he said!

What’s the most important piece of writing advice that you could give to other writers? It’s hard to start writing but if you don’t start everything anyone might tell you about writing become wasted words.

What one thing has helped promote your writing most? Actually taking the time to promote yourself. That means submitting everyplace you can. I learned this in sales. You don’t make a sale unless you make a pitch and if you make enough pitches you’re guaranteed to make a sale.

What are your writing habits? I really learned to write in a newsroom. At the time I was pulling down about $70,000 a year as an editor and my new boss, the Executive Editor wanted to fire me but he couldn’t so he tried to drive me out by making me a front page columnist [column one above the fold, six times a week]. I liked the money so I worked in the middle of the complete madhouse of a major daily, folks on the phone shouting, several TVs running, people standing around chatting about their work or this sex lives, and did what had to be done. A year later I took my first creative writing class. My writing habit is simple. I type on a computer anywhere I can but only when I have a goal. I know I need to write everyday and I write whenever I sit down to write, whether I’m on a computer in an office or on a composition note book (I buy them on sale for 50¢ to $1 each) but .

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to grow up. As I grew older my goal became moving away from home. I first moved out when I was 15. I had my first salary job at 14 and shortly thereafter I moved out.

If you could truly be the writer you wanted to be, what would your career look like? I’d be Joyce Carol Oates, able and willing to write every day relentlessly. When I do that it scares me. I lose touch with everything else for days at a time.

What other writers inspire you? George Elliot, John Gardner, Virginia Woolf, Aimee Bender, Haruki Murakami, Alain Robbe-Grillet (le voyeur), Miguel de Cervantes, Mary Gaitskill, Julie Otsuka (Buddha in the Attic), Leslie Marmon Silko (Ceremony), so many.

Come hear Fred read his poetry tomorrow!

Making the Most of Nature in Your Writing: Interview with Featured Member Judith Newton

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A discussion between CWC members Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Memoir Writers Association and Judith Newton, Professor Emerita, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at UC Davis

Editor’s note: Judith Newton is the featured member at next month’s CWC meeting. Catch her reading from her new book, before our keynote speaker LeeAnne Krusemark Sunday May 21st.

Making the Most of Nature in Your Writing

Linda: We both have new books coming out this spring. My book, Song of the Plains is a memoir about a family of women who abandon their daughters and about the ways their history contributed to this. Your book, Oink, is a mystery about the struggle between corporate and communal values in the university. I think it’s striking that we both chose elements of the natural world for our titles. What does it mean that you chose “Oink” for a title?

Judith: In writing Oink, a send up of the university for its increasing devotion to self-interest, competition, and profit, I also wanted to emphasize a counter perspective on life: a belief in the importance of values that are more about the common good. I planned to do this, in part, through my positive characterization of the protagonist’s campus community. It is comprised of faculty in women’s and ethnic studies who have come together to support each other and to resist having their programs defunded by an increasingly More

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