November 2010

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885) wrote poetry, novels, and children's stories. Her first novel, Mercy Philbrick's Choice, was published anonymously and is a character study thought to be based on Jackson's lifelong friend, Emily Dickinson.  A Century of Dishonor, her account of the government's injustices to Native Americans, led to her appointment as a government investigator of California’s mission Indians. When her report failed to improve conditions for California Indians, she returned to writing  fiction. Her most famous novel, Ramona (1884), dramatized the plight of the Native Americans she so wanted to help.

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November 2010
President’s Message…

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CWC Depends on Volunteers
by Lloyd Lofthouse

President's Message Thoughts from the Trenches (NCIBA) November Speaker A Tribute One Author’s Journey New Member Profiles Member News A Farewell Tidbits 2 3 3 4 5 6 7 7 8

This year the Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) has Barbara Ruffner, Linda Brown, and me doing the job of one branch president. I'm filling the president's chair from November 2010 to the end of February 2011. In March 2011, Linda will sit in that chair for four months.    A few weeks ago, the Diablo branch, of which I'm also a member, had its newly minted president get a job out of state and he's moving. I understand that the previous Diablo branch president, who probably wanted a break, is returning to fill the open space so the branch will keep breathing. The nonprofit CWC, founded in 1909, had among its honorary members Jack London, Joaquin Miller, Ina Coolbrith, and other outstanding literary friends to help writers survive and thrive in a vast forest of books.  (See, History.) The club survives and thrives because of the efforts of volunteers. Otherwise, there would be no club.

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“Fewer than 20 percent of men in America read books.”

11/14—Workshop Marianne Rogoff
The Art of the Noun

11/21—Meeting Ann Seymour
The Art of the Interview

Pres. John F. Kennedy said, "Do not ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." The next president, LBJ, reversed that concept and created his Great Society, launch-ing the entitlement, self-esteem movements that keep asking, "What can your government or mom and dad do for you?" In publishing, writers are one tree in a global forest. Last year, more than one million new titles were published, less than a quarter coming from traditional publishers. Fewer than 20 percent of men in America read books. Half the adult population is semi-illiterate and probably read only ads. What's left is a shrinking audience for the written word. I've even met writers who do not read what other people write. If you are writing your poetry, short stories, fiction, or nonfiction to get famous or rich in a hurry, you are in the wrong place. Go buy a lottery ticket and sit in front of your TV or computer, and watch the numbers come up to see if you are that one out of twenty million that wins. Drink a Coke and eat some French fries or chips while you wait.
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12/11—Holiday Luncheon 1/9/11—Workshop: Karin Ireland
Writing for the Serious Beginner

25 Anniversary of the Fifth Grade Story Contest

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They take your precious baby and toss it into a large bag together with all those other freebies from distributors, publishers, and authors. Like an anxious parent, you wonder whether your little tyke will stand out among its fellows. "How's it going?" I am asked. "Will you do this again?" The answer depends upon whether the bookstores follow up and order books. Better yet, if they request that the author put in an appearance in the store. As they shuffle away, leaning from the weight of many books in their bulging bag, you watch them struggle. A struggling industry observed through the eyes of a struggling author.

Thoughts from the Trenches
On the Floor of the NCIBA Trade Show By Alon Shalev

At the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association tradeshow, nine authors under the CWC Banner offered their books, sell sheets, and souls. The display looked good on Thursday, when we set it up. Friday morning, the big sellers had established themselves with mountains of books and helium balloons. We probably all took a deep breath as we filed into the Marriott Conference Center in Oakland, minutes before the announcement came: The floor is now open.

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For me it was a special moment: the first time I actually held a copy of my book, The Accidental Activist, in my hands. The books had not arrived from the printers by Thursday, and I had reluctantly set up my corner with my previous book and a sell sheet announcing the new release. The conference is grueling. You stand in front of the exhibit tables and wait for unsuspecting independent bookstore staff to glance at your book. Then you pounce and pitch.

You try to discover what kind of bookstore, who are their customers. Volunteers___________________________________ (continued from page 1) You let them know that of course The CWC is a destination for writers whoyour passion-perfect for them. a second job, and I'm not one of them. I've are book is out working Here, why don’t they take a copy to read that more than 90% of being an author ate about their craft and want to find readers for their heard and believe themselves, work. To provide support, the CWC organizes critiqueand oh here's the sell writing. A few months ago, I stepped up is marketing the groups and offers connections to editors,sheet. who usually to work with Alon Shalev, and we launched the marketing expect to be paid since they can't live on air and water support group. I also host the marketing blog. alone. After the manuscript is ready, theThey take your precious baby and next step is toss or selfbag, together with to be published, and the choice is traditional it into a large The CWC was founded to help writers learn about the all those other freebies from publishing world. However, the CWC can't writing and published. Both paths offer no guarantees of success. distributors, publishers, and authors. do this without volunteers stepping in to fill the positions Like works, The truth is that no matter how hard a writeran anxious parent,keep wonder running.  So, don't ask what the club that you the club finding an audience isn't easy. In fact, it whether your little tyke will stand is estimated can do for you without finding out what you can do for that there are fewer than 200 published out among its fellows. club. authors in the America who earn enough money to pay the bills with"How's it going?" I am asked. "Will you do this again?" The answer depends upon whether

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research that included letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and books. One reviewer called her story a memoir, but it’s more than that. She portrays her own experiences during the war but also American G.I.s in combat and Emperor Hirohito in conflict with members of his family. Her narrative shifts from California to the island of Luzon to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, settings where real people, or creative reproductions of them, illuminate historical events. At first, Seymour had difficulty getting I’ve Always Loved You published. She self-printed the book at Kinko’s. Then, at her grandson’s suggestion, she joined Facebook and shared excerpts from her book with friends, who put her in touch with their friends, one whom happened to be a publisher. We need to hear more about this. At the November meeting, we’ll ask Ann Seymour about feature writing—she’s interviewed John Madden, Jerry

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Rice, Charles Schwab, two Nobel Laureates, and NASA SETI’s chief, Jill Tartar. We’ll seek advice about using electronic media to call attention to our work. And we’ll inquire about the challenges a writer faces using narrative nonfiction to reconstruct the past. With Seymour as our guide, we can explore these areas and many more.

November Speaker

By David Baker

We’re familiar with the aphorism: write what you know. How about: write what you feel? Ann Seymour, our speaker for the November 21 meeting, does both. A feature writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, West Magazine (San Jose Mercury News),, and Gentry, Seymour is the author of I’ve Always Loved You, published by Firefall media last year. The book is a tribute to her father, Maj. Frank Ribbel, who died fighting in the Philippines during World War II. Seymour took full advantage of the possibilities provided by narrative nonfiction in crafting I’ve Always Loved You. She based her account on childhood memories of a family torn apart by war, but also on extensive

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Farewell to Carlene Cole Our time together brief A passing of treasurer torch You served java in your humble abode I sipped your bookkeeping advice Patient were you with a stranger Doubtful and empty of knowledge Unknown then, the call being whispered A return to aboriginal home Your illness dwelling within you Yet bright your hopes for a cure As days shortened, you knew That recognition humanity bears Your name called, at the apposite hour An empty envelope, inside “Return to Sender” Garbed in your finest, you readied yourself For your maiden flight Sheltered in the downy, feathery nest A Great White Dove winged you home. -Madelen Lontiong

A TRIBUTE TO ONE OF OUR Carlene Cole, recent past treasurer of CWC-BB, died on OWN

October 25 at age 80. She was working on her memoir when she passed away. We will miss her. Her successor and our current treasurer, Madelen Lontiong, has written a poem to honor Carlene. There will be a service on November 13th at 2:00 p.m. at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison, Berkeley.

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For some odd cosmic reason, I’ve been lucky when it comes to being in the right time and place of change. I came of age in the San Francisco Haight district in 1966 when old dogma was being discarded and the world was looked at with fresh eyes. Topless bands came into vogue nine years later when I was just learning to play guitar. The experience got me started on a musical path that lasted a lifetime. The feminist movement and computer opportunities emerged at a time when I needed to make better money to support my child. Gender, less of a factor when it came to learning new technology, left a door wide open that I walked through. Now, once again, I find myself at the brink of a revolution—self publishing. I gave the traditional path a shot when I first started my book, Radical Feminist in a Topless Band, because there was no other option. Writing conferences, informative in some ways, were mostly cashing in on the desperation of writers trying to get their work out there. I paid forty dollars to hear someone ask me what famous author I wrote like and what my marketing spiel was. “Dysfunctional Simpsons’ family meets in a bid to take over Manhattan, or some such nonsense. Writers thinking they had to go along with this humiliating sales pitch reminded me of housewives nodding their heads in agreement when told they should have the kids quiet and dinner ready when their men came home from work. One writing teacher at the Maui Conference said we needed to have a favorite book open so we could refer to it—essentially, copy someone else’s style? His theory was that unless you were already famous, your voice wasn’t going to capture the interest of anyone who had the power to help you on your path to glory. I don’t buy books that are hyped like that and I don’t know anyone who does. We all just want to read a compelling story told in a clear voice. One exception, and I’ m sure there are more, was Ted Weinstein. Instead of trying to teach me how to pitch, he listened to where I was with the process. He told me that I would need to have the story run through a few critique groups, a good content editor, and when it was one hundred percent finished, have at least ten people read the book. At the time I figured I was ninety percent finished and some brilliant editor would take it the rest of the way. It would take another five years to get to the point where I couldn’t do another thing to make it better. I believe that to be the best, you need to learn from the best so I attended the San Francisco Writer’s

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Traditional Path v. Self-publishing: One Author’s Journey By Carol Newman
Workshop for two years. Scott Kemble, a published author who spoke at a CWC –BB meeting, turned me on to Paul McCarthy, who has edited nine books that made it to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller list. His warm, enthusiastic feedback minimized my rambling thoughts and zeroed me in on what I wanted to say. I received good responses when I sent it to publishers. One said, “I’ m sure I’ m passing on a gem, but I have other priorities right now.” Seal Press said they had a two-hour meeting on my book, but in the end decided against it. Their requirement was a brief description of each chapter. Nobody had the time to actually read it. Rejections from agents and publishers were based on either a short query letter or a short description of the book and maybe, a sample chapter. One agent offered to represent me, but he wrote, “What do you have to loose?” Did I want an agent who couldn’t spell? A little poking around on Google confirmed that his reputation wasn’t all that good anyway. Truth is, most publishers and agents aren’t capable of getting me any more exposure than I can get on my own, and the ones who have contacts and money handle already successful people. If this were ten years ago, I wouldn’t have any other option but to play the game, no matter how intensely I disliked it. I would not be able to afford the cost of mass producing a book and I certainly wouldn’t be able to cover marketing costs. I first published on Reviews from friends and fellow writers were heart-warming, but no strangers paid the $3.00 selling price to view the entire book. Then I published on, Print on Demand. (The working Web site is Big learning curve even with the excellent support of the Amazon team. I chose a book size of 6” x 9”. I could change the page size, but requires a PDF format, and the free Adobe converter doesn’t allow the page size to be altered. A new version of Adobe Acrobat solved the problem. Producing color photos costs a lot more, but my husband found InfanView, a program with a Grayscale option that took out the color and can also change pictures to 300 DPI, the recommended minimum. For covers and binding, provides an easy-to-use template. When my story had a beginning, end, and cover that I could hold in my hand and take to bed with me, I was inspired to make it look like something I’d buy. I noticed overused words or phrases, awkward sentence
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New Member Profiles
Dirk Wales

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What I like about writing is that it’s better than psychotherapy, you’re always learning something, and it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I began writing when I was a theater student at U.C.L.A., where I wrote plays. Nothing is better than sitting in the audience and seeing if what you wrote works on the stage. After taking a fiction writing class at the University of Chicago, I began to write short stories. Still fun, ‘cause you get to read your stories aloud. Finally, I write children’s books. My book, Owney: A Lucky Dog, has sold 31,000 copies and will be made into a feature movie. Owney—a real-life dog who lived in the Albany New York Post Office in the 1890s—will be featured on a U.S. Postage Stamp in 2011. So, I am a lucky dog too.

Irv Hamilton
During the Cold War, while in the U.S. Army, just out of college, I was a public information specialist with the 2nd Armored Cavalry on the Czech border, a fascinating and challenging assignment. I collected notes and photos and background with the idea of someday writing a book about it. After my tour, I worked in PR and advertising for a number of agencies and companies. I still work in PR as a consultant. Over the past few years, my work schedule has given me time to focus on my book. Titled A 20-Minute War, it is now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and local book stores. While it is set in the army, it's a more general coming-of-age story. The principal character is shaped by what he sees and does as a soldier in postwar Europe. For more information see Member News.

John Q. McDonald
I have been writing essays and stories since 1993 and have been published in small journals over the years. I try to express my visual sense and observations about the physical world, the setting of our lives, and those changes that come more rapidly with each passing year. I’ve written one (unpublished) novel and am working on a second. I work at the University of California as a spacecraft engineer. I paint pictures in oils and have an abiding interest in architecture, which has included participating in a writing seminar at the university's department of architecture. I'm a voracious reader and have many favorites, though the ones most influential on my work include Iris Murdoch, Claude Simon, Virginia Woolf, and Marcel Proust. Interested readers can see my most recent essay online in EarthSpeak Magazine:, and some of my paintings at:

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Journey ______________________________________________ (Continued from page 4)
structure, and was more aware of format. I could see the story from a more detached perspective. Now I could send an actual book to people I’d written about and get their feedback and permission to write about them. The good (or bad) news: you can revise your book at any time on both and Amazon. With, the modified version is uploaded immediately. On Amazon, it takes a month to get the proof, approve it, and see the new version. It was a big thrill to see my first royalty payment show up in my checking account. So far, it’s not much, but I have yet to market the book, or even tell acquaintances that I’ve written one. I want to go slow, see how it’s received. Will I need t to make more improvements? My next step is to tell my golf league and fellow California Writers Club members that the book is for sale on At the beginning of October, I uploaded a Kindle version. The Web site to publish digitally is My future plans include publishing on Barnes & Noble and Borders Web sites, looking for self-published book contests, and exploring marketing options. I’ll keep you posted.

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Member News
David Gray is promoting his nonfiction work-in-progress, How and Why All Languages Continuously Change. On the first Monday of every month from December to April, he will present a talk in the back room of Cafe Au Coquelet, 2000 University Avenue, Berkeley (near BART). Come at 6 p.m. for dinner or at 6:45 for the talk. See for information about lecture topics. Irv Hamilton’s new novel, A 20-Minute War, self-published by iUniverse, is now available on Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble. Irv has had readings/signings in Lompoc and at Books Inc., Alameda, and was in Alameda’s Webster Street Jam. Another event is scheduled for November 6, 7 p.m., at A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 La Salle Ave., in Montclair Village, Oakland. His Web site, in development, is at   Linda Brown attended her first Writers Retreat. Sponsored by the Northern California CWC branches, it was at the Pema Osel Ling Mountain Retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Linda reports that the getaway was just right—the number of days away (2.5), the distance (90 miles), and the price ($225 for classes, accommodations, and meals). Workshops included “Technology Use” and “The Hero's Journey” with Fremont member Jay Schwartz; “Agent Pitch” by Nina Amir, who will be the CWC-BB's January speaker; and two with Nora Profit, founder of The Writing Loft. There was also time for group sessions, readings, free writing, and socializing. About 25 people participated, from San Luis Obispo to the Bay Area. The message from all the workshop leaders: You must have a platform. Publishers buy content and the author's ability to sell books (in whatever form) through their established platforms, e.g., Web sites, social media marketing, and blogs.

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JoAnn Smith Ainsworth will appear at the following author events: Sunday, 11/14/10 - 1-4 p.m. Barnes & Noble, Hacienda Crossings, 4972 Dublin Blvd., Dublin, CA (925-560-1495). Friday, 11/19/10 - 7-8 p.m., with author Mary Lou Schram. A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 LaSalle Avenue, Oakland, CA.

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Risa Nye's mouth-watering piece about Oakland's Brown Sugar Kitchen has top billing in the "On the Road" section of VIA, the AAA magazine (November/December). Janell Moon, author of eleven books, artist, writing coach, counselor and certified hypnotherapist, was named Emeryville’s first Poet Laureate at the City Council meeting on Oct. 19. (See article and poem, "Gateway," in October 26 Oakland Tribune.) She seeks information about Emeryville writers to put into a directory. In addition, she is planning for a Literary Night next year to follow the current exhibition of Emeryville artists (5818 Shellmound Way). Janell’s collage was displayed at the eighth annual Emeryville Art Exhibit on October 1. She introduced her book Salt and Paper, and 65 Candles at the CWC table at the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) show in October. Trena Machado, RAW ArT PRESS,, published Janell's book.  For more information, go to and friend Janell on FaceBook.

  Alon Shalev's novel, Oilspill dotcom, was picked up by Three Clover Press and has been released with a new cover under the title The Accidental Activist. The novel is available in paperback and on Kindle. Patricia  L. Morin, CWC-Marin President, announces publication of her new book, Mystery Montage, a collection of twelve short stories. Local readings will be on Wednesday, 11/5, 5:30 p.m., Dark Carnival Bookstore, 3086 Claremont Ave., Berkeley, and Thursday, Nov/18, 7 p.m., A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 LaSalle Ave., Oakland. Visit Pat's Web site to learn more:
Please send submissions to with “Member News” in the subject line.

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A Farewell to a Friend
W.E. (Bill) Reinka, years-ago past president of the Berkeley Branch, resident of Oregon, and frequent contributor of articles to Write Angles, died Friday, October 1, following a longtime battle with lymphoma. He continued to write and participate in the life of his family and always worked to extend his remarkable writing skill and knowledge. His years with the Berkeley Branch were marked by his enthusiastic encouragement and help for writers.

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CLUB OFFICERS President: Lloyd Lofthouse Vice President: Linda Brown Past President: Barbara Ruffner Secretary: Kimberlie Ingalls Treasurer: Madelen Lontiong COMMITTEE CHAIRS Marketing: Lloyd Lofthouse Membership: Clifford Hui New Member Orientation: Barbara Gilvar Publicity Chair: Linda Brown Workshop Chair: Barbara Ruffner Write Angles Editor: Tanya Grove Copy editor: Anne Fox Delegate Central Board: Lloyd Lofthouse Delegate CWC-Norcal: Linda Brown Web Manager: Matt Martin Communications Guru: Kristen Caven

Earlier this year, for perhaps the first time, or at least the first time in recent memory, the CWC Central Board joined the NCIBA.  Lloyd Lofthouse, who is the CWC-BB representative to the CWC-CB, organized the CWC's participation and participated in author signings along with CWC-BB members Lucille Bellucci, Thomas Burchfield, JoAnn Smith Ainsworth, Janell Moon, Gurnam S. S. Brard, Dodie Katrague, and Alon Shalev. Linda Brown promoted the CWC-BB and our authors to industry colleagues with media releases. _________________________________________________________ Lucille Bellucci is handing over the reins of the 5th Grade Story Contest to Debby Frisch. Lucille has labored over the last ten years to make this contest possible by contacting hundreds of schools in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, reading piles and piles of stories, making certificates, and holding awards ceremonies. And she did it all with a smile. We thank Lucille for all her hard work and welcome Debby aboard. _________________________________________________________

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This year CWC-BB’s holiday luncheon will be at Bateau Ivre on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. It’s Saturday, December 11, at noon. Come socialize with fellow writers and have a lovely lunch in a private, cozy atmosphere. There will be a no-host wine bar and entertainment as well. RSVP to Barbara Ruffner. You may either send a check to P.O. Box 6447, Alameda 94501 for $25, made out to CWC-BB, or pay at the door, but there’s limited space, so reserve your spot early!

Our monthly meetings are free and open to the public and feature a speaker, an author event, or both. Oakland Public Library West Auditorium 125 14th Street (94612) Entrance on Madison Street between 13th & 14th Streets.

About Us
The CALIFORNIA WRITERS CLUB, founded in 1909, is a 501(c) (3) educational nonprofit dedicated to educating members and the public-at-large in the craft of writing and in the marketing of their work.
Find out about our speakers, authors, contests, workshops, writing groups, and more at

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Member Marketplace

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Barbara Firger-Researcher for Hire

aweigh with words
I can find it: landscape, seascape, jargon, context, color, era, source Give me your questions. I’ll bring back answers. You get more time to write. www.aweighwithwords .net/ bfirger

Thomas Burchfield
Editing & Writing Services

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Tel. (510) 547-1092 • Cell (510) 541-1991 Email:

Your business card could be here!

Send business card or bookmark-size jpg image to Write “Marketplace” in subject line. I will put in what space permits. Get it in by the 15th of the month for the following month’s issue.

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