Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Students! Learn to Write Book Reviews! Creative Nonfiction! Poetry! And more . . .

Friday, May 10th, 2013
Storyteller Junior Editors
 Read + Review Upcoming Books!This program is ideal for opinionated readers who love to discuss books and write reviews for peer critique groups.Fee: $115  includes materials, light snack, and copies of our annual publication. Incoming Grades 2-5:  5-6:30 pm

Middle/High School:  7-8:30

 June 20, July 11, July 25, August 1


Wordplay Creative Writing Camp
 This program is perfect for writers interested in practicing new poetic techniques, crafting stories, exploring creative nonfiction, and sharing ideas in a lively, informal setting.   Fee: $115  includes materials, light snack, and copies of our annual publication. Ages 7-10:  10-11:30Ages 11-up:  12:30-2:00

 June 24 through 28



 Or find us on Facebook

 The Storyteller Bookstore is located in Lafayette, CA.

California Young Writers Contest 2013 – 6, 7 & 8 Grades in Contra Costa County

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

 Attention middle school students who live in or attend school in Contra Costa County!  Mail your short stories, poems and/or personal narratives postmarked by April 1 to be eligible for $$$ prizes! 

We need YOUR entry NOW!  Apologies for the wonky way the guidelines appear on this post.  They also are on the right side of this blog in a neater version.


California Writers Club

Mt. Diablo Branch, Contra Costa County



Honoring a New Generation of California Writers

      See for contest information




Home Address_____________________________________________________________

               Number  &  Street                                                           City                                                      Zip

Home Phone_____________________________ E-mail Address




First and Last Name of your English (Creative Writing) Teacher___________________________________________________________

Manuscript Title___________________________________________________________

MANUSCRIPT CATEGORIES (please check one):

_____ Short Story (up to 5 pages typed, double-spaced)

_____ Poem (up to 30 lines, can be single or double-spaced)

Suggested Poetry Prompt ideas (not necessary to use these specific words)

1. It shouldn’t have happened this way                                    2. Who knew what I was thinking?

3. If I had been there, it all would have been different             4. More ideas on website noted above

_____ Personal Narrative (capturing an event in your life; up to 3 pages, typed, double-spaced)

Mail submissions to:  Young Writers Contest, California Writers Club, PO Box 606, Alamo, CA  94507

DON’T MISS OUT:  Only entries that follow the guidelines EXACTLY will be considered!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


1. Contest open to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who live in or attend school in Contra Costa County.

 2. Submit 2 copies of your manuscript. Do not include artwork or a cover. Your manuscript must be typed or computer generated at 12 point, double-spaced, one-inch margins around perimeter. No staples. Paper clips only.

3. Put your name in the upper left-hand corner of each page. Number each page.  Put manuscript title on the first page.

4. Multiple entries are welcome.  Each entry must be accompanied by a separate application form (above) or 3×5 card noting: name; home address; home phone; school; grade; e-mail address; teacher; manuscript title; and category.

5. Deadline:  Manuscripts must be postmarked by April 1, 2013. Winners will be announced when judging is complete.


­_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 PRIZES: Winning short stories and poems from each grade level will receive $100 for first prize, $50 for second prize and $25 for third prize. The Betty Tenney Essay Award of $100 will be given to the best personal narrative/essay in each grade. Second and third place prizes may be awarded in this category at the judges’ discretion. Prizes will be presented to winners on May 11, 2013, at a lunch banquet. A published author will speak. Parents are welcome.

TEACHERS: We are striving to encourage individual creativity and expression. Do not send entire class assignments. Teachers of winning students will be invited to attend the May 11th banquet.

Contra Costa Reading Association Writers at Work

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Please Post

The Contra Costa Reading Association presents:


                                                                                                Writers at Work

Join us for a morning filled with inspirational ideas from a children’s author, as well as writing sessions presented by outstanding local teachers of writing.  Our featured author is

Elizabeth Koehler Pentacoff

Our keynote speaker is children’s author, teacher and is an energetic presenter who shares her love of drama and words in instruction to promote a love of writing.  She has presented at schools throughout the state.

This author’s books include: Jackson & Bud’s Bumpy Ride, The ABC’s of Writing for Children, John Muir and Stickeen; An Alaskan Adventure, Curtain Call; Games, Skits, Plays & More,  Louise, the One and Only, Wish Magic, Help, My Life is Going to the Dogs, You’re Kidding, Incredible Facts About Presidents,  and Explorers.

Writers at Work is for students in grades 2-6 who are interested in writing, parents who are looking for ways to motivate and enhance their child’s writing and teachers looking for ideas to use in the classroom.

Please note: CSUEastBay now charges $5.00 for parking.  If possible, please carpool with your friends.

 When:           Saturday, March 9, 2013, from 9:00-12:30

Where:         California State University East Bay, Concord campus

4700 Ygnacio Valley Road, Concord

Cost:              $5.00 per child (accompanying adults are free)

$5.00 per adult, unaccompanied by a child

Please make checks payable to CCRA

Stay in touch with CCRA’s events by visiting our website

Grateful Writer? Relax your way to writing!

Friday, February 15th, 2013


As I gaze out of my office window, pondering over my next phrase, I am thankful for the California open space behind our house.  If you have a little patch of nature, or can walk to one and sit under a tree with a notebook, you’ll discover how freeing a few trees, a bit of grass and the smell of fresh earth can relax the writer or artist within any of us. 

IMG_0018Next, I am gratified by the room around me, filled with my most precious possessions:  books and creatures writing and reading, and lovely cards given by wonderful friends.  I remember when several years ago my writing area was a small retreat between our bedroom and the hallway.  My son and his friends ran back and forth between his room and the backyard deck, while I rolled my chair away from my computer as they whooshed by, a stream of boy-noise and action.   


Who can forget a best friend by my side, encouraging my writing?  Zoie will be sixteen-years-old at the end of this month.  When she was a puppy, I barely wrote at all.  Once she was out of baby-hood, I resumed my normal schedule, with walk breaks, of course.   Within the last year she has lost most of her sight and hearing, so she doesn’t feel comfortable outside without one of us by her side.  She is more impatient with my writing time.   It MUST be time to go out NOW, she seems to say with her big brown eyes.  I agree.  We must remember time with our loved ones is important, too. 

No matter if you write for a few minutes now and then or hours every day, be grateful your passions have led to toward this path.  

Writing Prompts:

1. Where do you hope your writing will lead you?  What do you wish to discover about yourself, your past, present or future?  Write an essay about this adventure.

2.  Interview yourself.  What is your favorite word?  (I have several – – most of them I make up.  Since I happen to be starving right now, I think my favorites are hot fudge sundae.)

Where do you write most productively?  (Me – my office.  Although any classroom or library with individual desks works well, too.)

Do you have any favorite moments of inspiration?   (Just before I fall asleep or as I awake.)

What are your favorite writing books?  ( I love What’s Your Story by Marion Dane Bauer.  Although it is marketed for middle grade students it is wonderful for everyone.)

How did you find writing?  (I found it in school but a guidance counselor said the only option was working for a newspaper.  So I dropped that idea until my son was born.  Then I took a pen in hand and began again.)  

What is your biggest conflict with writing?    (It is often harder than it looks.)

What do you enjoy most about it?   (It drops you into another world entirely.) 

3.  Write a poem, song, or personal narrative on gratefulness. 

4.  Have you ever been inspired by nature?  Where?  When?  Write about this inspiration.

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Humor, Mystery & Suspense Writing Workshop
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade Students
Saturday, March 2, 2013
9:00 – Noon

Walnut Creek Public Library
1644 N. Broadway
925-977-3340 (Library)
Walnut Creek, CA

Dying to write a funny thriller or a scary whodunit with quirky characters? Discover how YOU can write the BEST story from two published authors. You’ll have a blast, play an uproarious game and write. This is YOUR chance! Ask questions about books, the craft of writing, the California Writers Club Young Writers Contest and the publishing world! Come and have a great time with children’s authors Sarah Wilson and Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff.

Visit them at and

Bring pen and paper and get ready to WRITE!


Photo Contest for All Ages!

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

A N E X P E D I T I O N E R S – T H E M E D
A L L – A G E S P H O T O C O N T E S T


In The Expeditioners — “nail-bitingly thrilling” (San Francisco Chronicle) adventure novel for young readers, from McSweeney’s McMullens—brilliant explorer Alexander West invents a code that allows him to secretly communicate an important message to his children. In this Expeditioners-inspired photo contest, readers of all ages are invited to create a secret message using nothing but (1) a book cover and (2) some blank scrap paper. Read on for complete contest rules and instructions. Four winners will be announced in March!

Use a book cover to create a secret message.

• blank scrap paper and scissors
• your imagination
• a camera phone or other camera

Go to a place where there are lots of books—a library, a bookstore, or your own bookshelf.

Find a book with a lot of words on the cover. The more words, the better. (Magazines work fine, too.)

Use scrap paper to block out words and letters until you’ve “discovered” a secret message in the cover. Your message might be a sentence, a phrase, or even a single word. (Refer to the attached examples.) What kind of message should you be looking for? Let your imagination run wild! Extra points will be awarded for ingenuity, mysteriousness, and overall fun.

Shoot “before” and “after” photos of your secret message, using our examples as a model. (One of your photos must be a straight-on shot of the book cover as you found it. The other photo must capture your secret message.) Email these photos to [email protected], with your name and age. Winners will be selected in three age categories: 10 & under; 11 to 14; and 15 & up. We will also award a prize to the longest coherent message created by a contestant of any age.

All photo entries must be received by March 1, 2013. Winners will be notified via email, and then announced on the McSweeney’s website in mid-March. We’ll share some of our favorite entries — including all winners — in a photo gallery at

• Ask permission before you do this activity in a bookstore, or if you plan to use someone else’s books.
• Don’t cut up any books! There’s no reason to cut or tear anything except scrap paper. Photos involving cut-up books will be disqualified from the contest.
• Have fun and get creative.
• If you haven’t done so yet, check out S. S. Taylor’s The Expeditioners!

Writing Short Stories

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

After Rain author Wendy Lesser, in a New York Times Review, said, “. . . the great short stories, in my experience, keep you balanced in midair, suspended somewhere between the world you normally inhabit and the world briefly illuminated by the author.  You see them both at once, and you feel them both at once:  the emotions generated in you by the story carry over instantly and applicably to the life outside the book.” 

As you develop your short story, ask yourself these questions:  What is the hidden element of my short story?  Why am I writing it? 

To discover a theme, play around with ideas of how events in your life have changed you.

What pushes your hot buttons?  Feel an emotionally charged way about a relationship?  A matter of ethics?

In a novel, a theme can be broad, but in a short story, the theme must be specific. Your character must meet a conflict head on and resolve it within a tight amount of words.  Hook the reader in the beginning, establish the tone of your story and start the conflict immediately. Leave questions in your reader’s mind to propel them through the story. By the time your reader has reached the end, your protagonist needs to change in a small but meaningful way.

 Most short stories are between 1500-3500 words, although each magazine, literary journal, or contest will have their own word length.  Gaining in popularity these days are short-short stories, from 500 words down to 100! 

Do you want to write them?  Then read them.  Good classic short story writers include Shirley Jackson, Katherine Anne Porter, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver.  Read and write for literary journals such as Glimmer Train, ,  Zoetrope: All-Story,  Boulevard,, Epoch,  For markets for younger students, see pages at the right side of this blog. 

 Writing Prompts:

  1. Take an idea or novel you have and craft it into a short story.  Once you have a rough draft, write it several more times until you have it polished where every word counts.  How few words are absolutely necessary to convey your character, setting, and plot? 
  2. Enter a short story contest.  Workshop your story with a writing partner or group to make sure you are creating your best work possible.   
  3. Take your short story from #1 and write it within 100 words! 
  4. Can you write a short story in a paragraph?  A sentence? 
  5.  Check your stories.  Is there enough reason for the reader to read beyond the first paragraph? 

Writing Workshops for Kids! Lafayette, CA

Monday, October 15th, 2012
Wordplay Fall Fiction Writing Workshop

English teacher, writing coach, and founder of our popular Summer Writing Workshops LISA PIAZZA presents a workshop series for aspiring writers of fiction! 

 Saturday afternoons    4:30-6:00      Ages 9-up

Nov 3:              A Convergence of Quirky Characters

Nov 10:            Plotlines, Places, + Perspective

Nov 17:            Sounds + Scenes: using dialogue and imagery to create mood

 $25/each or $65/series

Notebooks + light snack included

 Register at The Storyteller Bookstore or via email [email protected]

Teen Writing Group

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Break out your pens again! We’re having another teen writing group, and we would love for you to join us.

Writing can be a solitary pursuit… but it doesn’t have to be! Want to meet other enthusiastic teen writers? Come to a teen writing group at the Lafayette Library! We’ll chat, share ideas and experiences about our writing, and — of course — write alongside each other with prompts. We aim to create a fun, welcoming teen community of writers that encourages and supports its members.

This is an open and free group (8th-12th grade preferred). Just bring paper, your favorite writing tool, and enthusiasm! 🙂

Saturday, September 29th
1:30-3:00 PM
In the Willow Room 
(behind the information desk)
Lafayette Library 
3491 Mount Diablo Boulevard
Lafayette, CA 94549

Please reply to [email protected] if you can make our next meeting. We hope you can join us. If you have any teen writer friends who may be interested in our group, please forward them this announcement. We’re always looking to expand our group!

Down Wedding Memory Lane

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

I’ve just arrived home from my niece’s wedding in Utah, where the bride and groom spoke of their love for each other under pine-scented air with majestic  mountains all around us. There were small touches the crowd couldn’t see, such as the tiny framed photos attached to the wedding attendents’ flowers of the grandparents’ marriages, three of them having passed away before this grand day.

This touching celebration made me flashback to her youth and my son’s, their escapades in the sandbox, water rocket bottle launches, Marco Polo water games in the pool. 

Then I flashed back to my own wedding, which didn’t flow as smoothly as this one.   Mine began on a sweltering June day in Fresno (111 degrees)  with the cake lady calling to report the frosting wouldn’t stick on the cake.  What should she do?  Maybe I shouldn’t have saved quite so much money after all, and gone with a professional baker . . . Next, after seeing the priest briefly at the church, my friend who played the piano, asked when she should begin. 

“The wedding starts at ten, so begin at ten,” I said.  Hey.  I’m from the Midwest.  We are prompt.  What I didn’t know is that California time begins much later than universal time. 

The music began and so did we.  And there we stood, at the altar, waiting for the priest to appear.  We waited.  And waited.  Where was he?  In the bathroom?  Ten minutes slowly ticked by.  We thought we’d have to get a friend to be a stand-in when he finally rushed on to the scene.

My Uncle Arnold, a sign-painter by trade, couldn’t travel to the wedding, but he made us a lovely sign which we put in the back of our car’s window.  After the ceremony and on the way to the reception across town, the sign fell down.  At a stoplight, a friend in the car next to us, opened my door to our two-seater car, pushed my seat forward, and leaned over to straighten the sign.  The light turned green and he slammed the door shut.  Problem was, I held on to the door’s frame when he pushed me forward. 

He jumped back into his car before he noticed my hand protruding outside the closed-door, and me with my mouth open, uttering sounds.

“What’s wrong?” asked my new husband.

“Uh, ug, uh,” I said which I thought were intelligible words. 

I cradled my swollen hand and refused the idea of an emergency room visit.  Fortunately, one of my bridesmaids was a nurse and knew my hand wasn’t broken, just bruised.  All the pictures show me with one hand behind my back.

The best man was so nervous he spilled wine on my dress twice – – red and white.  He shook so much before the wedding I promised him he wouldn’t be the one married that day.

And our photographer friend, employed by a newspaper, used different film he had never used before.  Only one photo came out that day.  Fortunately, we had other friends taking pictures so we did have some for our scrapbook.   And we did have memories, didn’t we?  Fortunately, compared to the wedding, the marriage has been a piece of cake. 

Writing Prompts:

1.  Write about a major celebration in your life.  What memories made lasting impressions upon you?  Others?

2.  Using a character from a current writing project, create a wedding scene.  Throw in a major or minor conflict.  What happens?  Make your reader cry or laugh or both.

3.  Use the theme of a wedding to create a poem, song or another work of art. 

4.  Write about your wedding or a wedding you have attended.  What made an impression upon you?