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."


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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.

linda-mccabe-oct-cwc-berkeley

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

Writing Tips from our April Featured Member, Karma Bennett

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Editor’s note: Today we start a new series that presents interviews with Berkeley CWC members who are to be featured at our events. These interviews are presented by Jason Yiu. Our first featured member is Karma Bennett, who is not only the featured member at this Sunday’s meeting, she’s also our Berkeley branch president. Now I turn it over to Jason. 

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAKarma Bennett has experience in many fields of writing: poetry, writing content for businesses, novels, even in publishing and publicity. She has been working in publicity and marketing since 2007, specifically in book publicity and digital marketing, and now she runs her own business in that field, at www.karmabennett.com. Bennett’s forte is in increasing publicity in social media, creating Google search keywords for blogs, and overall making sure her clients get more attention online. She enjoys writing about music, politics, feminism, and philosophy, and she blogs about them in www.futureisfiction.com. She is one of the top ten most-popular blogger on blip.fm, with over 42,000 followers. Although she has no published work yet, in the past decade, she has been working on a novel.

Bennett’s intention for writing is unequivocal: writing is what fulfills her the most. “It’s natural. It’s what I’m good at,” she said. “It’s the question of ‘What did you do while you’re on Earth?’ Writing’s the only answer that makes me satisfied.”  She started off writing poetry, but realized that poetry can’t build a career, so she pivoted into writing novels. 

JY: Can you tell me a little about the novel you’ve been working on?

KB: The novel is about an artist who has recurring dreams about the Garden of Eden. She is trapped within the ambiguity of whether she is going insane, or if she is in fact called to save the world.

Bennett compares the novel to Pan’s Labyrinth, by Mar Diestro‑Dópido, where the ending could be interpreted in different ways, depending on the perspective of the reader. While writing, Bennett had the objective to construct this ambiguous ending, empowering the reader to perceive an ending in his or her own head. Is it fantastical, or is it real?

JY: As an experienced writer, are there any tips you would like to give to other writers?

KB: Don’t self publish.

As someone who worked in marketing and publicity for many years, the first suggestion Bennett would give to other writers is a practical one: don’t self-publish. She’s talked to many writers over the years who are gung-ho about self-publishing in order to put their work out there, but she doesn’t recommend it if the author wants to get their books in the bookstores. From her experience, “buyers will only look at books from traditional publishers,” she said.

KB: Join a writer’s group!

Bennett has been part of three writer’s groups, and she says that it helps her grow as a writer. She learns from the critiques they give her on her writing and absorb their point of view. She also mentioned the essentiality for writers to collaborate, especially for blogs. Speaking from her own blogging experience, she knows what the readers want is more content in the blogs. Being the only blogger on her website, she was only able to post monthly posts given her time restraints with her business. To tackle this issue, Bennett has been thinking about collaborating with a few other writers so they could each contribute to the blog to drive more frequent content.

KB: Most importantly, write everyday.

This was the last point Bennett added, but stressed with most gravity. “If you look at runners, they don’t hit their best times every practice. Writers have to be like runners and basketball players, to continue practicing,” she said, “Even if it’s writing journal entries that won’t be seen by anybody else.” Bennett emphasized the importance of keeping up with the daily writing, and, comparing writers to athletes once more, “don’t be too hard on yourself if your writing doesn’t meet your standard. Keep writing.”

JY: What motivates you in writing?

“The news, and ignorance,” she answered, but clarifies that she doesn’t mean that in a judgmental way. There would be instances where she comes across people saying things that are politically incorrect that makes her perplexed. She, then, realized that it’s because many people don’t have the a background or frequent exposure to politics and sociology. Thus, one of her strongest objectives in writing would be to raise awareness for views she doesn’t think are talked about enough, or to edify her readers on political views that are often misunderstood from an unbiased point of view.  

JY: Lastly, do you want to leave us with some of your favorite authors and books?

Bennett has recently been reading Joseph Campbell’s work as well, on account of her research for her recent novel. Referring to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, she is intrigued by his theory of monomyths, how he pointed out the common denominator for all religions share archetypal similarities. Although Bennett had her qualms with many religious practices in the past, she said Joseph Campbell made her understand what we see a lot of times are results of culture changes, but not in the idea of the religion itself.

Bennett has read numerous books in her life, but the two authors she could think of from the top of her head were Kurt Vonnegut and Catherynne M. Valente. She indicates that she likes how Kurt Vonnegut triggered the question of “am I who I am, or am I who I pretend to be?” She referenced her favorite book by Vonnegut, Mother Night, and explained that the split identity of the protagonist, and the conflict of those two identities, shifted her perspective on who we really are. Bennett likes Valente for her imaginative fantasy novels. “[Her] descriptions are so engaging, she creates a world that only exists in her own head,” Bennett said.

Karma Bennett will be reading a short passage from her work at our meeting this Sunday. Come out and say hello, and be sure to look out for the hidden Easter eggs! They contain a coupons for discounts from publishing professionals in our club, including several from Bennett too. 


Jason Yiu