Berkeley Branch Newsletter

Writing together for 110 years!

December, 2019      ||    Volume 109, Issue 5*

The Wind In Your Sails

Some words from your president

Happy New Year, dear writers!

This new year begins with a little change in the CWC... Write Angles will now be shared with former members, prospective members, and once again posted on the website! Because we want the world to know about us! Publishing articles and promoting your work will still be a members-only benefit—so keep those submissions coming in when you get your monthly "tickle."

Over a dozen of us started the new year with a bang at Karma Bennet's outstanding workshop on Creating a Marketing Plan. We all left with a calendar to scribble on and a refreshed passion to share our personal brand of creativity. See John Byrne Barry's wonderful takeaways in the "Home Base" column under "Club Events."

Right after the workshop, the board met in the offices of Writer Coach Connection, our next-door neighbor! We are looking forward to a new alliance with this longstanding, well-respected non-profit that sends adult writers into schools to coach young writers.

I polled our board members about their plans for next year. There will be some positions open, so if you're interested in being on the leadership team, now is the time to start thinking about it!...Our fun-filled board has 6-9 members who work together to keep our programs fresh, interesting, and functional. Imagine the board ten years from now...just as cool as us but younger, smarter, and better-looking—who write just as well but aren't as annoyed with or baffled by technology. Contact me, or any board member, to volunteer for the Nominating Committee. Elections are in May.

Help build our club! Do you know any great writers who are looking for a community of eclectic, interesting wordsmiths to network with and learn from? Please tell them it's our half-year half-price membership special! January is the best time to join... for only $42.50 you get to jump in while we're in full swing... and you don't have to renew until like, August!

We've got an exciting spring ahead of us! I am very excited to hear what Albert Flynn DeSilver has to say about awakening our creativity. We'll talk about poetry, screen adaptations, and planning a novel. In May — after our elections — we'll have a panel discussion about how writers pay the bills, and how our day jobs can inspire our writing.  Thank you to Cristina Deptula for helping develop an exciting "curriculum" for our members and the public. The SFWC is coming up, and we'll be there (see article), but I see the California Writers Club programs as a "drip" writing conference, with one breakout session each month, in counties all over the state. Let's get our pencils moving, folks.

                                           Sail On,

Kristen Caven
Berkeley Branch Captain a.k.a. President

Have you taken the Member Survey?

Not sure if you're a member? Here's who we are.

The California Writers Club is a nonprofit professional organization open to writers in every genre and at every level of experience, from novice to notable. Our purpose is to promote fellowship and to provide practical information that supports all members in achieving their publishing goals.

Visit our website at

Did you miss an issue of Write Angles? Read past issues here.


In Every Issue

   (Branch News)
   (Member News)
   (CWC Statewide)
    (Articles by and from members)
    (Features by members)

Members Only

Member Directory
Member Forum
Support/Critique Groups

Board of Directors meetings: First Saturdays 10:30am. All members welcome, RSVP to get on the Agenda or attend. Our February 2nd meeting is at 3:30 at Fred Dodsworth's home.

Upcoming Events

  • January 20th: Creative Awakening in the New Year with Albert Flynn DeSilver
  • FEBRUARY 17 — Aqueila M. Ross-Lewis: The Power of Poetry
  • MARCH 17 — Victoria Zackheim: From Page to Performance
  • APRIL 3 — WORKSHOP: John Byrne Barry: Setting that Works
  • APRIL 21 — Beth Barany: Planning Your Novel
  • MAY 19 — Member Panel: The Working Writer
  • JUNE 15  — CWC Author Showcase

Our monthly meetings are at 1204 Preservation Park Way in Oakland, and include support groups for craft and marketing from 12-2pm. Networking, book sales, and a reading by a featured member at 3pm before each speaker.
$10 public/$5 members. CHECK WEBSITE FOR UPDATES.

Learn more at/subscribe to

Home Base

One member describes our club as "a great home base for all kinds of writers." This is what's happening in our branch.


Future & Passed

January 20: Creative Awakening in the New Year

Speaker: Albert Flynn DeSilver

How do we take our writing to that next mysterious level? What are the steps we can take to stay focused, to stave off fear, doubt, and procrastination? What happens when life gets in the way? How does our writing practice open us up emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually? What about editing, completion, agents, and publication? These questions and more will be discussed open-heartedly and deeply with poet, memoirist, and novelist, Albert Flynn DeSilver.

Marin County’s first poet laureate and our featured guest January 20th, Albert Flynn DeSilver

Albert Flynn DeSilver is an American poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader.  Albert served as Marin County California’s very first Poet Laureate from 2008-2010. He is the author of several books of poems including Letters to Early Street, and his work has appeared in more than 100 literary journals worldwide. Albert is also the author of the memoir Beamish Boy, which was named a “Best Book of 2012” by Kirkus Reviews. His recent nonfiction book, Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life—based on his popular writing workshops by the same name—was published by Sounds True in 2017. Albert is also a master mindfulness meditation teacher and speaker having shared the stage with U.S poet laureate Kay Ryan, bestselling authors’ Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, Maxine Hong Kingston and many others. He teaches writing and mindfulness workshops at the 1440 Multiversity, The Omega Institute, The Esalen Institute, Spirit Rock Meditation Center and literary conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California.

Learn more about Albert Flynn DeSilver at his website

CWC Featured Member
Our CWC member this month is the Kay Tolman! Kay is working on a historical fiction coming-of-age novel. She's also filling the club with her wonderful energy! Kay joined the club in fall and is already making waves.
Watch the Website for interviews with both speakers by Cristina Deptula!

Please Invite some friends on Facebook and otherwise share this event with anyone you know who might be interested!

Twitter Facebook Pinterest LinkedIn Google Plus Instapaper

Ten Takeaways from this month's “Create a Marketing Plan: A Workshop for Writers” 

by John Byrne Barry

On the first Saturday of the new year, a dozen-plus writers piled into a classroom at Preservation Park in Oakland for a workshop on creating a marketing plan, led by the indomitable Karma Bennett. The workshop last three hours, but Karma crammed in about five hours worth of material. Whew!

Years ago, every day I wouldset aside thirty seconds to write my takeaway(s) for the day. I can’t do this workshop justice in thirty seconds, but here goes anyway.

1. Imagine articles you might write for your own website or for publications. For example, I’m writing an assisted-suicide family thriller. I could write “What I Learned While Writing a Novel About Assisted Suicide.” (I would click on that.)

2. Consider the births or deaths of famous people as a hook. For example, one of the authors at the workshop has written a book about Jonestown, which happened 40 years ago this past November. The anniversary was a good hook to promote his book.


Are you making this very common marketing mistake?

Click to watch a 1:45 minute video...


What's happening now

Half Year Member Drive!

Only $42.50 for January thru June

Please tell your friends it's time for our half-year membership special! Send them to our website's About>Membership page for all the information. They need to fill out an application AND submit payment. 
The CWC made a gift of copies of Dirk Wales' book "Jack London's Dog" to Writer Coach Connection, to place it in the hands of Bay Area kids.


Scenes from lately in the CWC

Holiday happiness with the CWC!

Michael Larsen on the drums at an SF gathering

Board members look on in style

Our own Canadian Celtic Cowboy takes the mic

Oh, the glamorous writing life!
Do you have any good photos from club events? Zip them or Dropbox them to and they will be added to our Google Photos album, and some are used in our newsletters or publicity. Or... YOU CAN UPLOAD PHOTOS DIRECTLY using the links below.

Last Year's Photos

NOTE: When you sign in at a CWC event, you are agreeing for your likeness to be used in CWC promotions. Please send an email to if you need to opt out for some reason. ALSO: These albums are NOT for public use... you must request permission from BOTH  a board member and the subject before sharing.

Thank You to Our Volunteers!

Our members make this club great.


Thank you to the Winter Social team: Linda Zallen, Gary Durbin, Karma Bennet, Fred Dodsworth, Ralph Dranow, Kristen Caven, and Francine Thomas Howard. Without you we'd have been eating frozen dinners at home alone!

Thank you new members Kay Tolman, Ralph Dranow, Arden Kamille Varnet, Adriane M. Smith and Terry Tierney for raising your hands at the New Member Orientation.

Thank you Anne Fox for always volunteering to proofread for the club! Someday we will get ahead with our Write Angles deadlines and get you back in the loop!
This club runs on volunteerism. What can you do to keep it healthy? Drop us a line at or Choose one thing! 

Inspiration Seekers Unite!

Join other members in "club outings"

Here in the Bay Area we have so many types of entertainment available pretty much any day of the month. For some writers, attending these events helps them stay inspired about their craft. Author events may help one to find new tools or ideas. Movies, plays, music, museums, galleries-all are useful when it comes to inspiration. Once a month we have the chance to come together as a club. We socialize a little and listen a lot. How about joining with other members to attend programs outside of our normal meetings?

These outings will be casual—meeting at a local bookstore to hear a visiting author, picking an evening or attending an open mic somewhere. There are many possibilities! Club Outings are a way to explore something new, maybe get to know some of your fellow club members a little better, and have fun. Fun! The idea is to have fun with as little pressure as possible!

Are you going to an event this month? Post a link on our Facebook Page, in our Facebook Group, in our Google Group, or tag your fellow writers. Or watch for posts in these places from me!
—Jane Glendinning, novelist, NorCal Rep


We want to hear from EVERY MEMBER!

How many screenwriters do we have? Is anyone writing about robotics or cooking or war or health? Please take our member survey and tell us about your writing life... and give us feedback about the club!


About 15 minutes of your time... not sure if you're a member? Check here.

Website to be Updated

Suggestions welcome!

Don't forget to share your ideas for our Website redux in our Website Wishlist Google Doc! :et Karma know you can help with a note to

Contribute to our Raffle!

Get your book SEEN! Every month!

Donate a book from your frontlist or backlist at our next meeting ("hurt" books are fine). Raffle proceed allow the club to purchase "the first copy" of our member's new books. Everyone gets one free raffle ticket, but please PURCHASE them too, it's a fun way to help the club. Only $1 each or 6 for $5. We also welcome donated bottles of wine and gift certificates.


Read more in the section "Around the State."

What: San Francisco Writers Conference
When: February 14-18, 2019
Where: Hyatt Regency, Embarcadero-New Location

To represent the CWC Berkeley Branch at the CWC exhibit table (and share a pass to the Conference), send your name, and dates/times you are available to Kymberlie Ingalls by January 31.

Do you know any GREAT SPEAKERS who have lessons for writers of all types?

Please send suggestions or make introductions to

Our Facebook Page
Our Twitter Feed
We're not on Instagram just yet...

#AmWriting (Member News)

Have you got news? Let us know! Send a short description with particulars, plus links and images if you have them, to! 

One More Feather for Lucille Bellucci

New story acceptance by a 21-year member

Lucille Belucci writes, "I received this morning a complimentary acceptance note from The West Texas Literary Review on my submission Flammable Grudges." On a lovely day in Shanghai with her Philippino husband, she loses her cool with two racist Chinese shopkeepers. Watch for her story!

"This Year I Will...."

This month's member news prompt

"This year I will finish the fairytale PURSUE, Vasalisa the Wise and my art course Drawn Lines. Any one is welcome to join the course and give suggestions about the 12 lessons before it is published. Write for information!"—Bobbie Kinkead

~ ~ ~ 

"This year I will submit my 10,000-word upbeat humorous memoir based on growing up in L.A. in the 40's, 50's and 60's with celebrities-to-be to a bonafide agent or publisher.

Last Year I . . .

1.  Revised, updated, and submitted a poetry book, collection of 52 of my poems, to a National competition. Winner and finalists will be published. To announced in March-April of 2019.

2.   Submitted my musical play, "The Nursing Home Rebellion," to a NY theater, who "almost" accepted it, but couldn't due to its commitment to a play which is on the same subject. A near miss, I'd say. But might submit another play in the future.

3.  Submitted a summary and query for the same musical play (#2 above) to another theater in N.Y.  Still waiting to hear from them.

4.  Submitted a Screenplay to a national film festival, adapted from my play "The Ant Colony" (professionally produced in 1991 in San Francisco). Winners and Finalists to be announced sometime in 2019.

5. Submitted my never-produced play, "When Artists Rebel" submitted to Yale University competition, in July 27, 2018. Announcement of winners and finalists will be in April of 2019.

Thank you for the opportunity to share."
—Frances Spencer
 ~ ~ ~

"This year I will MARKET what I've published, PUBLISH what I've written, and WRITE what I feel. Like every year. (And I'll try not to let those rejections sting!)"
—Kristen Caven

Ralph Dranow Poetry Reading has an Open Mic

Next Friday in Berkeley

Friday, January 18 at 7pm at Expressions Art Gallery, 2045 Ashby Avenue in Berkeley, CWC member Ralph Dranow reads his poetry. The other feature reader will be Jerry Ratch, and there will also be an open mic.

Henry Hitz on Jonestown

Historical fiction with a dose of reality

Seeking Beta Readers

What's a Beta Reader?

beta reader is usually an unpaid test reader of an unreleased work[1] of literature or other writing (similar to beta testing in software), who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author.[2] A beta reader is not a professional and can therefore provide advice and comments in the opinions of an average reader[3]. This feedback is used by the writer to fix remaining issues with plot, pacing, and consistency. The beta reader also serves as a sounding board to see if the book has had the intended emotional impact. A beta reader is NOT a proof reader or a critique partner! 

Frances Spencer Reads in Ventura

Poetry opportunities abound for a longtime member

Frances Spencer was invited to recite her poetry in a public venue in October of 2018 during the Ventura all-city Art Walk (in Southern California). She was given more than an hour for her presentation, much of it accompanied by live music. Many in the audience expressed personal appreciation and one invited her to have a poetry reading in another local venue in 2019.
See more news about our members in last month's issue
Scroll down to "#AmWriting"

Submit YOUR member news to the next issue!

Welcome New Members!

William Lee
Scott Pearson
Beth Barany
In December, Lindas Brown & Zallen hosted a warm welcome for new members. (Ada Harrington, we goofed on your email, catch us next time!) Adriane M. Smith, Antoinette Constable, Arden Kamille Varnet, Dr. Louise Hart, Ralph Dranow, Terry Tierney, Vivian Pisano and Kay Tolman are UP AND RUNNING! Next time we'll get a photo. But for now, THANK YOU TO THE LINDAS!

Watch for the next orientation sometime in February. 
Did you know the CWC-BB website hosts a list of published members? Check under the "Our Members" tab on the website! 

If you have published books, short stories, articles, etc. and are a current member of CWC-BB, you are eligible for a listing. Especially if there are links to your work!

To be included, fill out this form.

ALSO send a headshot (100dpi width min.) to

— JoAnn Ainsworth, PM Page Editor

The State of Things

Here's what's happening at the division and state level, and/or in other branches.

CWC a San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC) Exhibitor & Sponsor

By Linda Brown

Fifteen years ago, CWC member Michael Larsen and his wife Elizabeth Pomada, well-known San Francisco-based literary agents co-founded the San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC). For aspiring writers who have never attended a writing conference, the SFWC is one of the best. It might be called an orgy of word lovers because agents, authors, book store owners, publishers, publicists, volunteers,
writers, and supporters from around the world network and learn for five-days, February 14-18th.

This year, the 16th Conference, always on President’s Day weekend, will be at a new location—the Hyatt Regency, Embarcadero, which is easily-accessible via BART. The SFWC also has a new director. Laurie McLean, a former publicist and the founding partner of Fuse Literary, who has shared her insights into the publishing world as a Berkeley Branch speaker.

While the sign-up window to be a SFWC volunteer closed early due to so many volunteers, interested writers have many ways to participate: drop by the Exhibit Hall, hang out at the hotel while you write, pay full price, pay for individual public programs, or volunteer to represent the Berkeley Branch at the CWC exhibitor table sponsored by the CWC Northern California.

To represent the Berkeley Branch, e-mail your name plus which of the five days you are available plus
dates and dates and 4+ hour time windows between 8am & 7pm to Kymberlie Ingalls by January 31. After NorCal meets on February 2, you will be assigned a two to four hour time slot and notified of your time assignment.
Volunteers get a badge to share to attend a program while on duty. As a NorCal volunteer, you will be able to attend one session (restrictions apply). Your job will be to talk about the WHOLE club, not just your writing or the Berkeley Branch. You can't sell anything but it’s a great way to meet people and help the club!

Thanks to our NorCal rep Jane Glendinning and all the CWC-BB members who have contributed to the success of past SFWC, and also to member to Michael Larsen, who offers his years of experience as a literary agent and leader in the writing world through
  • For the SFWC schedule and more, go to
  • If interested in volunteering next year, mark your calendar to sign up early.
  • For CWC NorCal News, go to

Tri-Valley Branch Writers Conference April 2019

At the link below is a flyer for the Tri-Valley Branch writers conference April 13, 2019. This is an all-day conference on writing craft, self-publishing, and marketing. Robert Dugoni is the keynote speaker. Early registration begins December 1. All CWC members are welcome!

The Writing Life

Submit articles about craft, business, opportunities, or writing advice to! 

Your art matters.

Some words of wisdom by author Joshua Mohr

Let’s address the elephant in the room right from the jump: I’m not your mom.

If you make a kitty cat out of yellow Play-Doh, I do not have to showcase it on my desk at work for my colleagues to “enjoy.” If you trace your hand and make it into a Thanksgiving turkey, draw eyeballs on the thumb, turn the fingers into feathers, I don’t have to fasten it to my fridge and stare at it with awestruck pride. I’m under no obligation to cherish every little thing you make.

But while I’m not your mom, I may be your reader. I may gobble up your novel, your essay, your short story. I may, in fact, become your biggest fan, so long as you choose to honor your writing, so long as you carve out the time to be creative.

That’s the thing about making art in the 21st century: Where is the time?  

I get it. You’re busy. It’s hard to make time. You have a family and friends and a job and, oh yeah, someone has to pick little Johnny up from soccer later or Child Protective Services might knock on your door and have some questions.

Here’s a little secret: It’s no one else’s job to help you prioritize your writing. There are bad reasons for not writing (sitting in your room doing bong hits and listening to the blues, or whatever — I might be projecting). But there are really GOOD REASONS not to write, as well. See: Johnny, sitting on the curb, his cleats clacking on the pavement, wondering why you’ve stranded him.

There is no bastion of free time coming in your life. You’re not suddenly going to see it sprout up, like a garden growing, feeding you with the leafy greens of Free Time! Life is hectic and it’s always going to be that way. So the onus falls squarely on our shoulders as aspiring storytellers: Are you going to talk about writing, or are you going to sit down and actually put words on the page?

Read the rest at Powell's Bookstore blog

Open Mic

This section honors Oakland's lively literary scene with clips of fresh writing by members. Send a short short (500 words max), an excerpt and a link, or a poem to! 


(a true story my mother told me)

by Frances Spencer

 It's 1965 or thereabouts. Two old Jewish ladies stroll along the boardwalk in Venice Beach, California. They walk slowly, hesitantly, leaning on their canes talking about old times . . . how in younger days they used to walk here, hop on the fringed jitneys or sit in the sand scolding their kids in Yiddish, assimilating while eating lox and Russian rye, changing clothes under a blanket, getting a tan, creating the American dream.
      Rose says, "Remember the amusement pier? Remember the fun house, the magic mirrors, the fortune telling dummy with the crazy laugh? The're all gone now.  Now everybody's in such a hurry. We might as well be invisible. Someone could knock us down and wouldn't even notice. Nobody remembers us. It's as if we never existed. What happened to the world?"
      Hilda shakes her head sadly. "Rose, you're asking me? The world changed. We're out of date. We got too old. They have no use for us. So why should they remember?"
      Overtaken by curiosity, they stop and stare wide-eyed at storefront galleries, panhandlers and street vendors. "Oy, hippies," says Rose. "crazy, but interesting."
      They approach the entrance to one of the galleries, furtively peering into the darkness, wondering what mysteries are there. Suddenly, a beefy, red-bearded man comes out of the store. Rose grabs Hilda's hand, ready to run. "Wait!" says the man, laughing heartily. "I'm Big Daddy. Welcome. Come into my gallery. Be my guests." He gently ushers them into his inner sanctum. They relax, seeing people in the brightly lighted gallery, and colorful paintings hanging on the walls. Rose can't resist saying, "We're out celebrating my birthday. But don't ask which one!" Big Daddy laughs.  
       Before they realize what has happened, Rose and Hilda are sitting onstage in two high-back chairs, being serenaded by a roomful of hippies wearing beads and headbands, playing guitars, singing happy birthday to Rose. Then, from the crowd, a voice rises mournfully, slightly off-key like an ancient Hebraic chant. "My yiddisheh mama . . . "  Hilda recognizes it--a pop song from the 1930's sung by a childlike voice from the crowd; an homage to the past and to Hilda and Rose as well.
       The two white-haired elders seem to have grown taller. They sit straight and proud while the unknown hippie sings. Rose wipes her eyes. These kids could be her grandchildren. She looks around the room, and loudly pronounces, "Hilda, maybe the world forgot us. But in this world they remember us, and they miss the old days...just like we do."
Frances Spencer
copyright 3/6/2003

CWC on the Mic


Did you miss our Winter Social? Check out these stories!

Louise Hart: "Christmas in Bavaria"
click here to watch

Kristen Caven: "Balthazar's Epiphany"
click here to listen

Davie Simmons: "Hunting Haggis"
click here to read

The Last Word...

I made a meme! Feel free to share. Signing off 'til next month! Thank you to Dianne Swan for help sorting submissions! —Captain Kristen
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We're not on Instagram just yet...
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Board of Directors 2017-2018

President Kristen Caven 
Vice President pro-tem  Fred Dodsworth 
Secretary Linda Brown
Treasurer  Henry Hitz 
Central Board Representative ~ THIS COULD BE YOU~
NorCal Delegate  Jane Glendinning 
Past President Karma Bennett
At Large  Francine Howard
New Member Liaison Linda Zallen 
New Member Orientation Linda Brown
Nominating Committee  (appointed in January)
Newsletter Editor ~ Kristen Caven 
Web Master  Karma Bennett
Club Announcements  Linda Brown 
Copyeditor  Anne Fox
MRMS System Administrator  Kristen Caven 
Monthly Speakers  Cristina Deptula
CWC AColumn 1uthors  Kristen Caven 
Workshops  Karma Bennett
Fifth-Grade Story Contest  POSITION OPEN 
Book Raffle  Lucille Bellucci
Craft Support Group Henry Hitz 
Marketing Support Group Kymberlie Ingalls 
Google Group Moderator Kristen Caven
Historian Therese Pipe

* This naming convention was adopted in 2017 to mark the years the club has been in operation, and the number of issues per business year. We don't know when Write Angles was christened! Please share this or any other club history with us, just hit "reply!"
Thank you to Cowgirl Creative for our Newsletter design!!
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