Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016


Three local authors will share “Resources for Writers” at the next luncheon meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Jil Plummer will discuss resources for research: how to find correct flora, fauna, and climate, feel the mood of the setting, and capture the culture, religion, and history of your subject.

Bill Stong will talk about drawing the reader in with challenges and writing goals, vivid and vibrant writing, and using a support network to make your writing come alive.

Leslie Rupley will present choices for the independent publisher: boutique publishers, all-inclusive packages, and do-it-yourself.

Sign-in begins at 11:15 am, with a seated luncheon from 12:00 pm to 12:45 pm. Meal selection should be included in your reservation: New York steak, salmon, chicken parmesan, or pasta primavera. Speakers from 1:00 to 2:00 pm. $25 for CWC members, $30 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, December 7.

Contact Robin at [email protected] or leave a message at: 925-933-9670 or sign up via PayPal: click “buy now” on the Mt.Diablo website.: http://cwcmtdiablowriters,  Add $2 transaction fee. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is:


What’s YOUR List of Best Reads? Here’s Mine.

Monday, December 14th, 2015

What were your favorite reads during this past year? 

In no particular order, here’s my list:



All the Light We cannot See     Anthony Doerr



The Fear Cure: Cultivating Courage as Medicine for the Body, Mind, and Soul      Lissa Rankin, MD



At Home: A Short History of Private Live    Bill Bryson



Echo   Pam Munroz Ryan



Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death      Judy Bachrach



Girl in Hyacinth Blue      Susan Vreeland


Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel     J. Ryan Stradal



Good Books I read in 2014

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Here’s a list of terrific books I read this year.  All but one has been published earlier than 2014.  They are in no particular order.  Numbers 10, 13, & 14  I’ve read before, but longed to enjoy them again.

Einstein's Dreams Cover

  1. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared  Jonas Jonasson.
  2. Enslaved by Ducks  Bob Tarte
  3. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in everyday Life   Jon Zabat-Zinn
  4. One Summer, America, 1927  Bill Bryson
  5. Me Talk Pretty One Day  David Sedaris
  6. David and Goliath  Malcom Gladwell
  7. Mudbound  Hillary Jordan
  8. Not to Be Missed: Fifty-four Favorites From a Lifetime of Film  Kenneth Turan
  9. This Boy’s Life: A Memoir   Tobias Wolf
  10. The Book Thief  Markus Zusak
  11. March   Geraldine Brooks
  12. The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic   Michael Sims
  13. Charlotte’s Web  E.B. White
  14. Stuart Little   E.B. White
  15. Einstein’s Dreams  Alan Lightman

Writing Prompts: 

  1. Create a list of the books you’ve enjoyed this year.
  2. As you read, ask yourself what you like about each. Does a paragraph or sentence particularly strikes you? Book mark it and come back to it later.
  3. Model your own writing to a sentence or paragraph you’ve noted.
  4. Read, read, read! It will motivate your own writing, in subtle ways.
  5.  Keep a notebook of the books you read from now on.  You may even jot notes about them, which helps you rediscover good writing.

What WERE They Thinking?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Toilet Paper bathroom real estate photoHairdresser Real Estate PhotoGranny Dummy Real Estate Photo


The photos above are from actual real estate agents attempting to sell their properties.

But wait!  What’s the story BEHIND the story?

Writing Prompts:

1. Using humor, choose one of the photos above to show the story behind the story.

2.  Create a poem or story utilizing an unusual point of view.   Who is the narrator?

3.  Read Terrible Estate Agent Photos by Andy Donaldson.  Allow yourself to draw on these to create stories in various genres:  mystery, science fiction, romance, nonfiction, etc.  Play with styles!

Visit for more ideas.

Discover Behind-the-Scenes Secrets at Chronicle Books!

Monday, July 21st, 2014


Admit it.  You’ve always wondered what goes on behind the scenes in book publishing.  Discover how editors and publishers make their magic!  Editor Melissa Manlove will give a fascinating presentation this Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 7 pm, at 1846 Union Street, San Francisco.

PLUS – – get 25% off everything in the Chronicle Store!



Headline Declares: Cameron Diaz Doesn’t Believe in Using Deodorant!

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Internet Headlines:  gotta love ’em.  cameron-diaz-huntington-ny-jan-actress-signs-her-book-body-book-law-hunger-science-strength-other-ways-to-36707407

Although many people enjoy a bit of mindless entertainment, if that’s all we’re choosing, we limiting ourselves.

An aunt of mine chose to read tabloid newspapers from the supermarket.  But when she became ill and needed hours of chemotherapy, people sent her novels.  Discovering reading a different genre, she hungered for more.  When, out of habit, she bought the latest tabloid, she confessed, “I’m tired of those newspapers. Send me more books.”

Years ago as a teacher, I talked to a parent who told me, “Sam read the cereal box this morning.”  She rolled her eyes.  “Strange kid.”

“Fabulous!” I said. “Line cereal boxes up on the table for him to read.  What can he discover about the information on them?”

 “Really?” she said. 

 “All the reading and writing we’ve done in class has carried into his daily life.  Encourage it.”

If we’re reading about Cameron Diaz’s anti-deodorant stance, ask yourself what the take-away is for you.  Humor?  A statement about culture?  Or nothing more than celebrity gossip? 

Writing Prompts

  1. Use titles online, in books, movies, and from the newspaper as a source of creativity.  Write a humorous riff based on the Cameron Diaz headline.
  2. Keep a list of the books you read.  Add comments. Inspiring? Fun? Boring?  Why? 
  3. Is there a genre of material you haven’t read?  Open a well-reviewed/rated book from this category.  If you’re a fiction reader, try a nonfiction book in a subject you love.  Never read a travel book?  Go for it!  There are so many types of books, you’ll experiment for a long time.   
  4. Share your choices and book recommendations with your friends and family. 
  5. Join a reading group or participate in online or library book discussions.