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”

 

June 5th WORKSHOP: “Setting that Works” with John Byrne Barry

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The best setting is more than a pretty, or gritty description. It’s lean and strong, because it’s working two or more jobs—pushing your story along, helping us get to know your protagonist better. Whether you write fiction, memoir, or nonfiction, join us for “Setting That Works” on June 5th at WeWork in Berkeley. 

In this hands-on workshop, author John Byrne Barry will review the different ways setting can strengthen your narrative, and lead a writing exercise putting what we learn into action.

Topics Covered at June 5th Workshop

  • Studying the different ways setting can strengthen your story.
  • Do writing exercises putting what we learned into action.
  • Capturing the essence of a place in a few short sentences—a strategic snapshot, not a wikipedia entry.
  • Drip-feeding description into your story so it doesn’t slow the momentum.

Workshop Led by John Byrne Barry

John Byrne BarryJohn Byrne Barry writes novels, designs websites and book covers, and leads bicycle tours in San Francisco. He is author of two “page-turners with a conscience”Wasted: Murder in the Recycle Berkeley Yard, and Bones in the Wash: Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher, which won the 2015 Best Book award from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA). His third novel, coming in 2019, is an assisted-suicide family thriller, tentatively titled Why I Killed My Father. Learn more at johnbyrnebarry.com.

Get Your Tickets Now

Ticket Info for this Workshop

Advance tickets $30; $40 at door.

CWC Members (50% discount): Advance tickets $15; $20 at door

There will be a member list at the door. Information about membership benefits and costs can be found at cwc-berkeley.org/about/join-us. 

Reservations are required!

GET TICKETS NOW

 

 

Planning your Novel: an Interview with Beth Barany

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Today we have an interview with our April Keynote Speaker, Beth Barany.

An award-winning novelist, Master NLP Practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany specializes in helping genre fiction writers experience clarity so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. Her courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. She runs Barany School of Fiction, an online school for fiction writers, which includes a 12-month group coaching program to help you get published. Beth is also the editor of the Writer’s Fun Zone blog, for and by creative writers, where you can download her free reports on book marketing and novel writing. She’s also the author of books for writers, including The Writer’s Adventure Guide, Overcome Writer’s Block, Twitter for Authors, and Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! Ready to embark on the next step in your writer’s adventure? Sign up for her free 5-day Writer’s Discovery Mini-course here: http://bethb.net/discover.

Questions provided by CWC member Cristina Deptula of Authors Large and Small.

Five Questions on Plot for Beth Barany

Do most novels benefit from planning? What would you say to someone who writes by the seat of their pants and thinks that outlines stifle their creativity?

Honestly, I think every novelist needs to decide whether or not they want to plan their books. If you work best by allowing inspiration to strike you, then go with that. If you love outlines, go with that. Or if you like to do some planning and some off-the-cuff writing, then go with that. The point about the planning process I teach is to help you find the best process for you. If you’re stuck not knowing where to go with your story, then having a roadmap will help you get going. I have seen this time and time again with people who have taken our “Plan Your Novel” course. Essentially, there is no one right way to write a book; there is only the way that works for you.

What’s your own writing process like? Do you do a full on outline before writing?

I don’t like the word outlining. Ha! That is why the book PLAN YOUR NOVEL LIKE A PRO is about planning, not outlining. For those who want to outline we suggest some tips, but the book is for people who also find outlining boring or hard. I don’t like knowing every single detail about the story before I write it. I like to be surprised as I go, but I also want to have a general direction and understand what my story is about before I start.

Usually I start with a sense of what my genre is and who my main characters are. From there I develop the conflicts of the story. I often go back-and-forth between what kind of story I’m writing, the genre, who my main characters are, and the theme of the story in my planning process. In my writing process I just go. In my editing process I go back-and-forth between being and story and characters and genre and finding the connections between everything.

Is it different when you’re writing YA novels than other types of books? How much does genre influence how you plan a novel?

My planning process has evolved, and it is different with every set of books I’ve written. I wrote my young adult fantasy novels (3-book series) using primarily the hero’s journey as my guide (from the book, The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.) When I wrote my romances (5-book series) I was using my planning process that I teach. I’m currently working on a science fiction mystery series now and also used my planning process to brainstorm this 4-book series. Those books are more plot driven than anything I’ve written so far. I would say genre influences how I plan and write my novels tremendously. Genre provides the boundaries of what does and does not go into the story. In terms of characters, action, and conflict.

What do you do if you’ve got a novel planned and then a character seems to want to do something completely different? Have you changed plans midstream, and do you redo your outline in that case?

As I said, I don’t do outlines. I do a plan that is essentially a scene-by-scene structure. Usually by the time I’m writing, I have a pretty good sense of who my characters are and where the story wants to go. If characters want to go off in some other direction that I didn’t plan for, I let them. That’s the fun of writing my first drafts. I really can’t judge whether or not a plot works better than what I planned so I just follow my intuition. I follow the plan if it seems to make sense or if it doesn’t seem to make sense, I write it differently. I do not revise my outline. That’s way too much work. When I’m writing, my focus is solely on writing. When I get to the editing process, I tend to do a lot of character and the world exploration. But I don’t revise an outline. I’m only revising the prose.

How do you plan without having your plan show through in the book and having your writing look formulaic?

The plan is like a roadmap. When you’re actually on your trip it looks nothing like the map itself. So when you’re writing, that’s going to take on a life of its own and look tremendously different than any outline or planning notes you have. In terms of being concerned about being formulaic, don’t be. Every story has a structure. You can’t get away from that. Humans deeply understand story because we have been telling a story for many millennia. You could say that every story is based on formula. Of course, the story structures change over time and are even different depending on what culture you’re from. This notion that stories are bad if they’re formulaic ignores the fact that every story has structure—a formula of sorts.

On April 21st we welcome Beth Barany to guide us in planning our novels.

Join us April 21st for story plotting tips and exercises with Beth Barany. We will also have support groups for craft and book marketing, as well as a reading from our featured member, Kacey Carpenter.

April 21st— “Plan Your Novel Like a Pro” with Beth Barany

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Learn the 7 Keys to Story Planning on April 21st in person—or catch the lecture online later!

 

In this interactive lecture, we’ll help you brainstorm the steps to create your novel—from character development to plot structure to story themes and world building—so you can start writing your novel with clarity and confidence.

We’ll do bite-sized exercises step-by-step to help you stretch your imagination and get excited about the writing process.

If you have never written a novel, still feel lost on how to go from brilliant idea to The End, or always hit that sagging middle and lose focus, this event will help you dream up exciting ways to torture—er, challenge—your characters all the way to the resolution of the story.

This mini-workshop, “7 Keys to Story Planning,” is a mini-course Beth offers at her online school, The Barany School of Fiction, which she runs with her husband Ezra, who is also a novelist.
 
Which means: if you can’t make it to our meeting, you can still see the lecture!
 
Beth will be providing a coupon to all who attend so that they can access the lecture for free at any time. If you can’t make the meeting and would still like to see the lecture, sign up for the course here. Half of the $17 fee will be donated to the Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club. 

Register for the online version of Easter Sunday’s workshop.

Thank you, Beth!

About Beth Barany

Beth BaranyAn award-winning novelist, Master NLP Practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany specializes in helping genre fiction writers experience clarity so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. Her courses are packed with useful hands-on information that you can implement right away. She runs Barany School of Fiction, an online school for fiction writers, which includes a 12-month group coaching program to help you get published. Beth is also the editor of the Writer’s Fun Zone blog, for and by creative writers, where you can download her free reports on book marketing and novel writing. She’s also the author of books for writers, including The Writer’s Adventure Guide, Overcome Writer’s Block, Twitter for Authors, and Plan Your Novel Like A Pro: And Have Fun Doing It! Ready to embark on the next step in your writer’s adventure? Sign up for her free 5-day Writer’s Discovery Mini-course here: http://bethb.net/discover.


But Wait, There’s More!

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…

Preservation Park

Be sure to arrive early on the day of our meeting, to participate in the Craft and Marketing support groups. These are interactive conversations where you can talk to other writers to resolve the issues in your writing and your writers career. Make the commitment to be join us every third Sunday; your writing career is important and you deserve this. Non-members and guests can audit any of our critique & support groups before joining. 

Enjoy the buzz of our networking time from 2-2:30 p.m. Have some coffee and make some great connections!


MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
 1:00–2:00 – Marketing Success Group

 2:00–2:30 – Writer Networking
 2:30–3:00 – Welcome, Raffle & Club Announcements

 3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member 
 3:15–4:00 – Keynote Beth Barany

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

  • Coffee is provided, bring cookies and treats to share!
  • Admission includes 1 free raffle ticket; bring a few bucks to purchase additional tickets at $1 each or 6 for $5. Support the club and win a book written by our club authors!

*Empty pockets? Ask about our sponsored guest program at the door. We are committed to supporting writers.

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:

  • April 3 Setting that Works! A workshop with John Byrne Barry
  • May 19 The Working Writer: Day Jobs as Writing Inspiration Panel Discussion with Paul Corman-Roberts, Peggy Dougherty, and Thaddeus Howze
  • June 16 Member Showcase at a bookstore near you!

SPEAKER 3/17/19— “From Print to Performance: Adapting Books to Film and Theater” with Victoria Zackheim

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Adapting Books to Film and Theater with Victoria Zackheim

When you read a book and think, “This would make an excellent movie (or play)!” where do you go from there? In this program, Victoria will discuss what makes a good adaptation…and how to go about doing it! It doesn’t matter whether your write fiction or non-fiction, Zackheim will school us on film adaptations at our March meeting.

About Victoria Zackheim

Victoria Zackheim wrote The Bone Weaver, a novel, and edited six anthologies, including the bestselling The Other Woman, and her most recent: FAITH: Essays from Believers, Atheists, and Agnostics.  She adapted her first anthology, The Other Woman, to a play that enjoyed a simultaneous reading at more than twenty theaters nationwide. Her newest play, Entangled, adapted from the memoir by Lois Goodwill and Don Asher, is now under development, with readings in California theaters. She adapted Caroline Leavitt’s novel, Meeting Rozzie Halfway, to a screenplay, as she did with Anne Perry’s international bestseller Southampton Row. Victoria’s screenplay, Maidstone, is in development with Anderimage, in collaboration with SJ Murray. Victoria wrote the documentary film, Where Birds Never Sang: the Story of Ravensbruck and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camps, which aired on PBS nationwide. She teaches creative nonfiction in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and is a frequent speaker and instructor at writers’ conferences and organizational events in the US, France, Mexico and Canada. For more info, check her out at VictoriaZackheim.com

But Wait, There’s More!

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…

Preservation Park

Be sure to arrive early to participate in the Craft and Marketing support groups. These are interactive conversations where you can talk to other writers to resolve the issues in your writing and your writers career. Make the commitment to be join us every third Sunday; your writing career is important and you deserve this. Non-members and guests can audit any of our critique & support groups before joining. 

Enjoy the buzz of our networking time from 2-2:30 p.m. Have some coffee and make some great connections!

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
 1:00–2:00 – Marketing Success Group

 2:00–2:30 – Writer Networking
 2:30–3:00 – Welcome, Raffle & Club Announcements

 3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member Leena Prasad 
 3:15–4:00 – Keynote Victoria Zackheim

NEW: 4:15 – CWC Open Mic! Bring up to 5 minutes to read outside, weather permitting

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

  • Coffee is provided, bring cookies and treats to share!
  • Admission includes 1 free raffle ticket; bring a few bucks to purchase additional tickets at $1 each or 6 for $5. Support the club and win a book written by our club authors!

*Empty pockets? Ask about our sponsored guest program at the door. We are committed to supporting writers.

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:

Feb 18th: “Grounding Our Characters to the Real World” with Jacqueline Luckett

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Our members have told us that want more opportunities to improve their craft, and we listened. on Sunday, February 18th, novelist Jacqueline Luckett will help us improve our character writing in her feature lecture, “Grounding Our Characters to the Real World.”

In the real world, we’re eager to learn as much as we can about the new people we meet. Readers should experience that same excitement when they’re introduced to a novel’s characters. At February’s meeting, we’ll look at a few ideas to keep readers interested and engaged in a character from the first pages of a novel to the last.

About the February Speaker

Jacqueline Luckett is the author of two novels, Passing Love (2012) and Searching for Tina Turner (2010), and essays in the Huffington Post and Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011. She has an MFA in Screenwriting from the University of California, Riverside. Luckett frequently speaks to various organizations about discovering her passion, her path to successful publication, and advice for new writers seeking to move forward in their careers. The Bay Area native lives in Oakland and travels frequently to nurture her passion for photography, exotic foods, and in search of another city that mesmerizes her as much as Paris. Learn more about her at jacquelineluckett.com.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…

Be sure to arrive early to participate in the Craft and Marketing groups. These are interactive conversations where you can talk to other writers to resolve the issues in your writing and your writers career. Make the commitment to be join us every third Sunday; your writing career is important and you deserve this.

MEETING SCHEDULE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

CWC Featured Author Francine Thomas Howard

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Group
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements

Featured Speakers

3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member Francine Thomas Howard
3:15–4:00 – Featured Speaker Jacqueline Luckett

Meetings are $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

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.

10/15 SPEAKER— “Said and Unsaid: Dialogue in Fiction and Memoir” with Laurie Ann Doyle

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Preservation Park

Our new locatation: Preservation Park

Is dialogue meant to reveal or conceal?

Strong dialogue in fiction and memoir actually accomplishes both, revealing the characters by what is said and not said. October’s featured speaker Laurie Ann Doyle will share excerpts from masters of dialogue, examining how artfully crafted speech, gesture, and silence helps the writer not only develop character, but generate tension, subtext, and move the plot forward. Participants will learn how to take full advantage of their characters’ expressive tics, favorite phrases, and utter withdrawal to build an immersive world for the reader. They’ll have the chance to free-write some of their own dialogue, trying on different personas, and share what they’ve created in a supportive atmosphere.

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About Laurie Ann Doyle

Laurie Ann Doyle is the author of World Gone Missing, a book of short stories to be released by Regal House Publishing in October, 2017.

The winner of the Alligator Juniper National Fiction Award, her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in The Los Angeles Review, Timber, Jabberwock Review, Road Story, Arroyo Literary Review, Under the Sun Magazine, and many other journals. She teaches creative writing at the San Francisco Writers Grotto and UC Berkeley Extension, where she received the Honored Instructor award. Learn more at her site, LaurieAnnDoyle.com.

But That’s Not All!

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…and Check Out Our New Location in the Heart of Oakland

We are meeting at Preservation Park

Our next meeting will be 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.

Laurie speaks at 3:15, but remember our meetings start at 12, and include interactive groups to help you with your writing and your book sales. In our craft group, we discuss how to tackle challenges in our writing. In the marketing group we help you spread the word about your books and build your platform. We also provide tasty snacks and plenty of opportunities to network with other writers.

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Group
2:00–2:30 – Break, Book Sale
2:30–3:00 – Announcements

Featured Speakers

3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member
3:15–4:00 – Featured Speaker Laurie Ann Doyle

Meetings are $5 for members, $10 for non-members.

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