Posts Tagged ‘California Writers Club’

Memoir Author Tamim Ansary Discusses Writer’s Block

Monday, March 28th, 2016

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Tamim Ansary will present “Why Do We Write?” at the next meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, April 9, 2016 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

He will explain why writing is hard, why we do it anyway, what to do when the piece refuses to be written, and what’s the best that can happen?

Tamim Ansary is the author of the celebrated memoir, West of Kabul, East of New York, and writes fiction, non-fiction, history, and essays on politics, and a wide range of other subjects. He teaches through the Osher Institute, and runs a workshop on memoir writing.

Sign-in is from 11:15 am to 12:00 pm, luncheon 12:00 pm to 12:45, including a short business meeting, and speaker from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Registration is $25 for CWC members, $30 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, April 6. To reserve, contact Robin at ragig@aol.com, leave a message at 925-933-9670, or sign up via PayPal: click “buy now” on the Mt. Diablo website, http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/next-program/. Add $2 transaction fee. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/

Disney Writer Leads Workshop on Voice

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Amanda McTigue will present a workshop on “Authentic, Compelling, Memorable: What Voice Can Do for Your Writing” at the next luncheon meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Ms. McTigue will conduct a hands-on workshop to explore techniques to find one’s writer’s voice. Her presentation will include short writing exercises and conversation.

She is a Yale graduate, who has been a writer/consultant for Disney Entertainment and Paramount, and most recently, a lecturer at Sonoma State University. Her debut novel, Going to Solace was KRCB’s Best Read of 2012. Her short story collection, This is Not Water, and novel Monkey Bottom are her current projects.

Check-in begins at 8:30am. A full breakfast will be served at 9:00 am. The workshop is from 9:45am to 12:45pm. Cost is $35 for CWC members, $45 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, October 8. For reservations, contact Robin Gigoux at ragig@aol.com, or phone 925-933-9670. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/

Make a Scene with Jordan Rosenfeld

Monday, April 14th, 2014

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How can you write a scene with emotional impact, reader involvement, and suspense? 

Author Jordan Rosenfeld spoke to the California Writers Club, Mt. Diablo Branch and shared valuable tips for writers of all genres.  

 With every scene you create, ask yourself, what is the point of the scene?  Does it move your story forward, or is it just a block of setting description?  In showing setting, make your character interact with her surroundings

Great advice!  I critiqued manuscripts at one conference where a writer created a lovely Victorian Christmas which dominated the first chapter.  I suggested she weave in the setting elements as the character acted and reacted, foreshadowing the mystery ahead. 

She said, “Great idea!  But this house doesn’t play a role in the rest of my story at all.”  So why include it?  Once she began writing with her plot and character in mind, her character acted, reacted, and experienced the setting through sensory images.  It wasn’t overblown this time, and she created a reason for her scene to be there: she introduced characters and hinted at the mystery coming.

Rosenfeld advised writers create tension through emotional complexity.  Characters can experience more than one feeling at a time.  The uncertainty can be showed through their thoughts and dialogue, the writer’s word choice, how a word sounds, and imagery

For more information, read her book, Make Scenes, published through Writer’s Digest, and visit her website:  www.jordanrosenfeld.net  

Writing Prompts:

  1. It’s your turn!  Create a scene by involving your character in the setting shown through the elements above.  Make sure your scene moves the story’s plot forward.  Ask yourself:  Why must it be here?
  2. Tony Serra, attorney for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Cow, at a federal court appearance said, “Law enforcement is supposed to investigate crime and criminal activity.  In this case, they created crime and criminal activity.”  (Source:  Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle.)  Use this quote to create a scene employing Rosenfeld’s advice. 
  3. Write an article, nonfiction piece, or essay with a scene focusing on the tips above.

 

The Legal Aspects of Writing and Publishing – Contra Costa County Workshop

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Rick Acker will present a workshop on “The Legal Aspects of Writing and Publishing” at the next luncheon meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Based on his seminar, “Author Law 101”, Mr. Acker will explain the legalities for a book’s cover art, how to use real people, information, and photos in memoirs or fiction, indie publishing, traditional contracts, and copyright laws.

Mr. Acker is a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice, and a writer. His Kindle #1 best-selling novel is When the Devil Whistles, and he is also a contributing author on several treatises published by the American Bar Association.

Check-in is from 8:30 to 9:00 am. The workshop is from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, with luncheon following the workshop. The cost is $45 for CWC members, $55 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, November 6. Contact Robin Gigoux at ragig@aol.com, or phone 925-933-9670. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/

High Concept Books with Veronica Rossi

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

On Saturday at the California Writers Club, Mt. Diablo Branch, we were treated to a highly entertaining talk by young adult novelist Veronica Rossi, whose book, Under the Never Sky, will be released in January by HarperCollins. Her three-book-deal, which has also been optioned for a movie, is a can’t-wait-for-event!

Veronica filled us in on high concept:  it’s actually a Hollywood term which is an idea that sells itself.    As quoted from James Bonnet: ” . . . it is an intriguing idea that can be stated in a few words and is easily understood by all.” 

Basically, Veronica says, it’s a promise.  As you watch movies, can you state it in a few words?

“Date Night”    What happens when a bored married couple’s date goes very, very wrong?

“Snakes on a Plane”     The title is enough to describe it.

(Disclaimer:  Just because a movie or book is high concept, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s high quality.)

Writing Prompt: 

Describe your project within 25 words or less.  If your pitch can be short and succinct, you will have a better chance at focusing your writing, whether or not you’ve got a high concept writing idea or not. 

Next, go through your manuscript and make sure you’ve adhered to your pitch. 

How do you write a good pitch?  Veronica says, “Tell us who your hero is, what she is up against, and what is at stake.” 

Remember to add character development, suspense and a terrific voice so that your novel will be a great high concept read.

Young Writers

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

On Saturday,  May 21, the California Writers Club, Mt. Diablo Branch held it’s annual Young Writers Contest Banquet at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant in Pleasant Hill.  The twenty-seven award-winning students along with their teachers, family and friends were invited to eat the delicious banquet Tony and his efficient staff prepared, receive their cash, and their lovely awards created by Joanne Brown.

Guest speaker editorial agent and former Tricycle editor Abigail Samoun spoke about actually being an editor.  To the threatening sounds of  the music known from JAWS, we saw on the screen before us an actual room filled with slush pile manuscripts. (Yes, we WERE frightened!  We could have gotten smothered by those stacks of large manilla envelopes!)  The young writers discovered that slush refers to  manuscripts sent to the publisher without an agent.    The audience learned how busy editors really are, and found out it can take years for a manuscript to turn into an actual book and appear on bookstore or library shelves.

Congratulations to all of the winners of this contest, and to everyone who took the big step and risk of putting pen to paper and writing.  Each time you bare your soul on paper, it is a risk.  You are brave!   Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest.  Each time you do something brave like this, you learn and grow.  We hope if you are a Contra Costa middle school student next fall, you will enter your short stories, poems, and personal narratives again.  It doesn’t cost anything but the postage.  And you can start writing this summer!  Hope to see you at our FREE July 27 writing workshop at the Clayton Public Library!

_____________

On Tuesday, May 24, I visited Mrs. Laird’s fourth grade classroom and the students impressed me with their intelligent questions, comments and ease at writing.  The moment Mrs. Laird turned on classical music, the kids’ pens hit their paper and didn’t stop moving until the music came to an end. 

Wow!  Very cool!  Most classrooms I visit today don’t have time for writing, and when I ask them to pick up their pen to write, kids are plain stumped.  “How shall I begin?”  they may ask.  “What if I spell something wrong?”  They don’t realize that first drafts are the place to make spelling mistakes!  It’s okay!  It’s fine to be messy or to make a punctuation error.  In a first draft, you just want to WRITE! 

I was very proud of how well this class wrote, and how eager they were to share their writing.  It was wonderful how they included their personal thoughts and feelings in their words. 

At one point in my talk, I mention an author I interviewed for my book, The ABCs of Writing for ChildrenJane Yolen likes to say BIC is the most important rule for being a writer.  I agree!  What did the kids think BIC stood for?  They talked with partners and came up with some possibilities:

Brain in classroom

Butt in conversation         (Hmm.  This could be a funny story, but I’d hate to assign it . . .)

Butt idea chair

And finally, one group got the answer Jane came up with:  Butt in chair! 

How can you be a writer?  Sit down and write!  Turn off all of the distractions in your life and pay attention to the sounds in your head!  Write your thoughts, feelings, senses, and memories.  Create characters, stories, poems and combine them with art if you can.  Let your imagination run wild!  But you can’t do that if you don’t take time. Sit. Let you mind wander and pick up a pen.   

As one student told Mrs. Laird, “Now that Liz came to our school, I know what to write:  moments from our lives.” 

They don’t have to be big moments.  Some of the best writing can be a small detail that makes all the difference in your world.

Writing Prompts:

1.  Write about one small (or big) thing that happened today to make you smile.

2.  Take out the last story or piece that you wrote.  Now add a sensory description.  Is there a sight, sound, taste, touch, or smell you can add that will give your piece more depth and make the reader feel like he or she was really there?  Can you add more than one?

3.  Recently, I posted a photo of a gopher that my husband took onto an online sharing site. I thought a couple of people might think it was cute.  Twenty-five people began a discussion about it! Who knew so many people could talk so much about a little gopher?  Something so un-important became a heated discussion!  Write a conversation where you say one little thing and suddenly people react in ways you’d never imagine!

4.  Keep a diary/journal for one week.  You don’t have to write everything that happens to you.  Just choose one thing each day that you want to write about. What will you choose?  Whatever you choose, make the reader feel like he or she is right with you by writing your thoughts, feelings, and a sensory description.  You can even put in some dialogue!

5.  Write about an animal you have met or known.  Make that animal come alive!  Describe it.  Make it move.  How did it make you feel?

Calling Fifth Grade Students & Teachers in Contra Costa & Alameda Counties

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The Berkeley Branch of California Writers Club’s fifth grade writing contest entries are due March 15, 2011.  For guidelines see:

http://calwritersclub.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/cwc-25thannualfifthgradestorycontest2011-final.pdf

You Have Twenty-One Days to Begin a NEW Habit

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I read about a book called Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston.  Although I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, a magazine noted the book recommends releasing yourself from addictions to find better health for twenty-one days.   

What is stopping you from writing the project that calls to your heart?  How do you waste time, energy or your resources?  Can YOU commit to twenty-one days of working on a goal?

For twenty-one days I pledge to work on my writing every week day except for school visit days.  (sorry – - I’m all used up on those days!)

And after this month’s fun and parties, I’ve decided to give up sugar and bread for twenty-one days.  For those of you who know me, many of you have hit the floor in a faint right now.  Yes, chocolate has sugar.  Yes, I will be giving up the big C.   Can I do it?  Time will tell.   I’m creating a calendar and will give myself a dog stamp every day I am successful.  If I’m not, I’ll come clean here and will be red-faced with shame.

Along with this twenty-one days of healthy eating for me, I’ll be sending out the California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Workshop information and guidelines  to one hundred schools in Contra Costa County.   Feel free to post questions, comments, and start a dialogue about writing here about writing poems, short stories, and personal narratives.  (Categories of the contest)

In my own writing, I’ll be working on a novel, a new picture book project, and revising a nonfiction book.

What about YOU?

Calling Students, Teachers, Readers, Writers and MORE!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

California Writers Club, Mt. Diablo Branch

http://mtdiablowriters.org/

Announces a FREE opportunity for students, educators and readers to meet published authors – - – and students, how to win hundreds of dollars by writing!
Saturday, November 28, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Pleasant Hill Barnes and Noble
522 Contra Costa Blvd. (Phone: 925-609-7060)

*Students! Discover how YOU can win $$$ by writing poems, short stories, or personal narratives!

*Learn how you can take a FREE writing workshop taught by authors Sarah Wilson and Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff.

*Find out answers to questions about writing, publishing, agents, and how YOU can become a published writer!

*Uncover published authors’ writing secrets!

* Receive guidelines for the Young Writers Contest for middle school students and sign-up forms for FREE workshops.

*Get autographs from authors!

Schedule: 11 a.m. – Noon
Nannette Rundell Carroll – Communication and Business Author
Margaret Grace – Author of Mystery Series
Noon – 1 p.m.
Nannette Rundell Carroll – Communication and Business Author
Barbara Bentley – Memoir Author
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Ellen Leroe – Young Adult Author
Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff – Picture Book Author
4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Barbara Bentley – Memoir Author
Lynn Goodwin – Journaling Author
5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Margaret Grace – Author of Mystery Series
Lynn Goodwin – Journaling Author

Lamorinda Weekly Announces California Young Writers Contest Winners

Friday, June 26th, 2009

http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue0308/2009-Young-Writers-Contest-Winners.html