Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016


Journalist Joan Morris will discuss “Keeping the Hats on Straight” at the next meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch, California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at Zico Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Ms. Morris will explain how to balance deadlines, manage versatility, and the ever-shifting world of digital-first journalism, among other  challenges.

She is the pets and wildlife columnist for the East Bay News Group, as well as the garden page editor. Ms. Morris founded Our Garden, a demonstration garden operated by the Contra Costa Master Gardeners. The garden offers free classes on Wednesdays from April through October, and donates about 14,000 pounds of fresh produce each year to the Monument Crisis Center.

Born in Texas and raised in New Mexico, Ms. Morris holds a BA degree in Journalism, with a minor in Russian Studies from the University of New Mexico. She joined the Contra Costa Times staff in 1988, and has held a number of reporting and editing positions with the newspaper group.

Sign-in starts at 11:15 a.m. Luncheon 12-12:45 pm, and speaker from 1-2 pm at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill, CA.

$25 CWC members, $30 guests.

Reservation deadline: noon on Wednesday, November 9.  To reserve, contact Robin at [email protected], leave a message at 925-933-9670, or sign up via PayPal: click “buy now”on the Mt. Diablo website. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

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




Libraries Are Cool!

Sunday, November 1st, 2015



Oconomowoc Public Library

Do you love libraries as much as I do?  From Wisconsin to California, my love affair with libraries continues!


Patrick Remer's storytimeclassic

Fantastic Librarian Patrick Remer leads story time at the Pleasant Hill Public Library in California.

Click on the link below for the full story about my love affair with libraries!

Editor Needed for The Sun Magazine!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Come Work With Us
We’re patiently looking for two people who are just right for the jobs listed below. Could one of them be you — or someone you know? Click the links below to apply online.

We need a full-time Business Manager to oversee accounting, payroll, and benefits — a job that requires a head for numbers and a heart for all that The Sun represents. We also have an opening for an Associate Editor, whose responsibilities include substantial, hands-on, roll-up-the-sleeves editing as well as soliciting work from writers.

Both jobs are full time and based in our Chapel Hill, North Carolina, office. The positions will remain open until filled. (No e-mails, phone calls, faxes, or surprise visits, please.)

Visit for more information and to apply.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

To Kill a Mockingbird

The literary world is buzzing with the news that Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman, will be released this July.  HarperCollins will print two million copies.

Mr. Nurnberg, Lee’s agent for international rights said, “This isn’t the sequel. This is the parent to ‘Mockingbird.’ ”

Since this was her first draft of Too Kill a Mockingbird, it will be her words without editorial input.  In Go Set a Watchman, Scout is twenty years older.  We’ll discover what she’s like as a grownup.

Since Mockingbird has been one of my favorite books, I’ll read Watchman no matter what the reviews say.  As a Lee fan, I feel protective of this 88 year-old author.  Will she be judged harshly?  Will people take into account it’s a first draft?  Has she agreed to this, or since charges of elder abuse have occurred with her in the past, has she been coerced?

The world anxiously awaits the publication this July.

Writing Prompts:

  1. Would you ever agree to publish one of your rough drafts?   Why or why not?
  2. Study one of your early writings.  What do you think of it now?  How have you grown or changed within your writing style and voice?
  3. If you are a beginning writer, save your rough drafts.  Reading them in the future may be an interesting learning experience.

Advice from the Pros: Be a More Productive Writer NOW!

Thursday, December 11th, 2014


  1. What is your number one career “bliss-maker?” How can you spend more time inside your moments of bliss?

Your goal is to focus on that bliss.


  1. While attending a writer’s retreat, a fellow writer advised, “Honor thy workplace.”    The theory is if you clean your papers and stuff away, you’re allowing space for creativity.  Yes, it sounds woo-woo, but stick with me.  Another author suggested, “Un-clutter your office as though you were doing it for someone else. “


I’m here to report this works!  However, un-cluttering is a gradual procedure.  Once you begin, you realize you need less in your life than you thought.


Writing Prompts:

  1.  List your activities and jobs throughout the week.
  2. Prioritize.  What can you “let go” of  allowing more time, space, and energy with your creative process/ bliss?
  3. Choose one activity you can delegate or remove from your schedule.
  4. How can you “do” your bliss first in your day?  A number of people I know have had full lives teaching, plumbing, cleaning houses, etc. while writing or creating their art at 4 a.m.
  5. If 4 a.m. won’t allow you your full creativity, choose a time when you CAN make it your priority.



So You Wanna Be a Writer?

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Pencil writing Once Upon a time

What were your goals when you started writing?

. . . To prevent my brain from turning into mush . . .

I chose to stay home with my baby before going back to teaching. When conversing with my husband each evening, I discovered our discussions consisted of how many diapers I had changed; I knew I needed creative stimulation.

What are your goals now?

I write what inspires me; what I must. When an idea/character/subject takes over my thinking, wondering, and even appears in my nightly dreams, I know I must release this in writing. My only goal is to reach that special zone within writing, where you feel as though you are partly in this world while immersed in another.

• What pays the bills now?

A combination of my writing, speaking at schools, and my husband’s income.

Assuming writing doesn’t pay the bills, what motivates you to keep writing?

Writing feeds my soul. It keeps me sane. I can’t not write. A famous question in writers’ circles asks this: Would you write if you knew you’d never publish again? My answer is yes. I have to write. It’s part of my spirituality.

What advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?

If you can’t make enough money to exist with only writing, know that you can combine incomes through speaking, teaching and royalty checks to give you a good side income. Although many writers I know haven’t given up their day jobs, they treasure their writing life, no matter if it’s done in the wee hours of the morning or their weekends off.

Look as writing as a supreme gift. Be thankful every day. May you rejoice in the pleasures of your writing journeys!

Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff is the author of nine books, including a Writer’s Digest Selection for The ABCs of Writing for Children.  Her tenth, an adult memoir, The Missing Kennedy, (Bancroft Press) will be out next year.  A former Byline Magazine “Writing for Children” columnist, Liz wrote frequent humor pieces for the San Francisco Examiner as well as hundreds of articles and essays in newspapers and magazines such as Parents Magazine, Writer’s Digest, and Parenting. Visit her writing-themed blog at,

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Write Page-Turning Suspense!                        FREE Young Writers Interactive Workshop

Grades 6 through 12                                                   October 20, 2014                                   4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Clayton Public Library  

6125 Clayton Rd, Clayton



Dying to write a thriller? Adventure story? Discover how YOU can write a suspenseful page-turner! Author Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff will lead the workshop. Come and participate with fun writing games, brainstorms, conversations, & Q & A. Led by author Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff.




Sunday, August 24th, 2014

At 3:20 this morning, my husband, Bob and I awoke as our bed rocked; mirrored closet doors shook with a rumble.  Living with earthquakes, we rate them mentally.  To me this one felt like a 6, but who knows where it was centered?   If it was far away, it could have been larger.

A few hours later we learned the truth.  Centered in American Canyon, not far from Napa, California, there have been ninety injuries, with three people in critical condition.  As we pray for the victims and their families, and express thankfulness it wasn’t worse, we in earthquake country receive flashbacks.

In the Northridge Quake  of ’94, we were asleep in a Southern California hotel room.  Nearly thrown from our bed, we checked on our son who slept in the adjoining living area.  Although we were all fine,  our friends, Denise and Mike had  damages.  Their Yorkie, Molly, usually slept at the foot of their bed but Molly bolted out her doggie door. She escaped just before their  television landed where she would have been.  Dresser drawers shot across the room. Their fish tank crashed to the floor, leaving their fish as casualties. $20,000 worth of damage.

Northridge Quake freeway


Twenty-five years ago, the Loma Prieta struck here in Northern California when the San Andreas Fault erupted.  Centered in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with a magnitude of 6.9, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Oakland experienced the most destruction.

Again, we were most fortunate, my husband just having driven off the Bay Bridge before a section of it broke.  Our son, aged four, played a computer game and stood in front of my file cabinets.  As the ceiling lights swayed, Tofer said, “What’s happening?”

“Earthquake!  RUN!”  I shouted.

He ran up the stairs, with me in pursuit.  Upon reaching the family room, I grabbed my Yorkie and out we zoomed.  silence greeted us.  Even the birds stopped chirping.   Once back inside, one of my file cabinets had toppled over – – right where Tofer had stood.  I tried to upright the heavy drawers, but nothing budged.

Both Molly and Tofer were saved by their actions.  But . . . could they have been helped by unseen guidance?  Then and now, there are many grateful people.   And many who live with tragedy or trauma.  Our prayers go out to them.

Writing Prompts:

1.  Have you ever lived through a traumatic event or natural disaster?  Write this as an essay, poem, or short story.

2.  Experienced a close call?  Narrow miss of death or calamity?  Use this to inspire your creativity.

3.  Write about  one of these themes:  thankfulness, serendipity, spirituality.

How to Apply Sugar-Covered Whiskers to Your Writing

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

At age seventeen, my Yorkie, Zoie, shows her age.  Her muzzle looks sugar dipped.  Occasionally, she loses her balance, gets confused, and forgets where she is.  She hears little and sees even less.  But she still loves chicken, good sniffs, attention from people, and did I mention chicken?

When she takes me on walks, people often ask, “How old is your puppy?”  She hides her age well through her cuteness and a spunky terrier walk, albeit slower and now and then wobbly. Bottom line, no matter what her infirmities, she adapts with no complaints.  Do we accept life’s changes so well?

Zoie's cute muzzle 5.2014

Writing Prompts:

1. How does your protagonist adapt to change?  Show this through actions, thought, dialogue, and details. 

2.  Choose a scene and show your antagonist’s reaction to plot change. 

3.  Write an essay about how change has affected you throughout your life.  Which one has made most impact? 

4.  How are you changing as you get older?  Your friends and relatives?

5.  Have you ever had to let go of an elderly person or animal?  Write a poem, essay, or short story reflecting your emotions and actions with this experience.  Create a piece of art with this theme. 


Writers! Actors! Betty White’s Advice & Process

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Betty White's book

I just finished reading If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) by Betty White, comedic actress best known for her television roles, such as that of Sue Ann Niven in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and recently Elka Ostrovsky in Hot in Cleveland. I’ve been a fan of her comic timing and advocacy for all animals since forever.

In the book she admits her favorite activity is writing. She writes in longhand. Her advice on humor is the best. Since acting and writing is so similar, it works for people in both careers.

            “For me, humor is about rhythm. It’s like an ear for music. It’s hard to explain. For instance, at the table reads each morning for Hot in Cleveland, you listen to learn the timing. You hear the other characters, and you know where they’re coming from, and it helps you map out the show—it puts you way ahead of the game for rehearsal. It’s listening for that beat, like with music. You go through the table read, and you just feel, Wait one beat. Or, No, less time, don’t wait that long beat—say it quickly.”

Other literary trivia:

*She was a friend of John Steinbeck

*Betty tells us Steinbeck wrote in longhand, standing up at a drafting table.  

*She writes in longhand, too.

            “Well, if it’s good enough for Steinbeck, it’s good enough for me! I really can’t communicate to a machine—the thoughts want to go from my brain down my arm to my hand to the page. After I’ve written that first draft, I copy it over again onto another page. That’s when the most changes are made, as I polish and rewrite the original—once again, in longhand.”

And finally this: she’s got beautiful handwriting!

Writing Prompts:

  1. The creative process of acting and writing is so similar; it’s often helpful to explore both areas to strengthen your craft. If you’re a writer, take a beginning acting class. If you’re an actor, take a beginning writing class.
  2. Humor is harder than it looks. Remember Betty’s tip: it’s in the timing. To improve your technique, read your work aloud.  Tape yourself if it’s difficult for you to “get” the rhythm.
  3. Still having a hard time? Read your favorite comic authors out loud.  This can train your ear.
  4. Perform your writing as you would a scene, only you get to play all of the parts. Have your writing group act it out. This will let you discover if you need more beats within your writing. Syllables matter! Sounds of the words are important too.