Learn about the craft and business of writing at Writers Forum. These literary workshops feature a diverse group of presenters discussing a variety of topics.

Writers Forum meets the third Thursday, March through October

We start promptly at 6:30 pm and end at 8:30 pm

*** New Location: Copperfield's Books, 140 Kentucky St., Petaluma ***

Writers Forum is free and open to the public.

I have always considered Writers Forum one of the best things about Petaluma. Jane Merryman

2017 Forum Presenters

July 20

Eric Elfman

CPR For Writers: What to do when your characters are dying on the page

As a writing coach, I see the same issues over and over again in the work of my clients: passive protagonists, jarring shifts in point of view, flat passages of description and action, and more. After I discuss these common writing issues, when you look at your own work you should be able to see if and where it is falling flat.

Eric Elfman is the author of fourteen books for kids and adults, including Tesla’s Attic, Edison’s Alley and Hawking’s Hallway (co-written with Neal Shusterman), an  award-winning Middle Grade series from Disney-Hyperion Books. Eric and Neal are now developing a TV series based on Tesla’s Attic for DisneyXD.  Eric’s Almanac of the Gross, Disgusting & Totally Repulsive, from Random House (now in its 6th printing), was named an ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Readers. As a screenwriter, Eric has sold projects to Dreamworks, Interscope and Universal Studios. Also a private writing coach, Eric has been on the faculty of the Big Sur Writers Workshop, organized by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, for the past twelve years, and among his clients are a number of award winning and NY Times bestselling authors.

August 17

Peg Alford Pursell

Flash Fiction: The Power of Writing Short

Flash fiction isn’t simply fast fiction. It’s storytelling writ big—by writing short. Miniatures hold so much power that authors have turned to them to write highly successful novels and memoirs. Learn more about the short short and explore its potential to enliven and deepen your writing.

“I've always firmly believed that the amount of words a story contains has zero to do with how much weight the story carries. Peg Alford Pursell's new book, Show Her A Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, proves this once again, and proves it in spades. These stories are like gut checks to the soul.”   Peter Orner, author of Am I Alone Here? and Love and Shame and Love

Peg Alford Pursell is the author of Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow (ELJ Editions, March 2017), a collection of flash fiction, micro-fictions, and hybrid prose with praise from Peter Orner, Joan Silber, Antonya Nelson, and others. Her work has appeared in Permafrost, the Los Angeles Review, Joyland Magazine, and many other journals and anthologies. She is the founder and director of the national reading series Why There Are Words and of WTAW Press. Pursell has taught flash fiction locally at the College of Marin, Book Passage, and in North Bay Writers Workshops.


September 21

Teri Sloat

Teri Sloat

The Evolution of a Story: Allowing it to go through many forms

Teri Sloat's talk about published works includes an insider's view of a novel in progress, discussing the stages a novel goes through from beginning to end. She will use her work-in-progress as an example of how to fictionalize personal memories.

Teri Sloat has always been an artist and writer, interspersed with wonderful years of teaching and bilingual work. Teri and her husband began their lives together in the Alaskan Bush, living in small Yup'ik villages on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.  The culture on the delta is a culture of subsistence and a culture of story.  The oral stories were often about the thin veil between the worlds of animals and people, the need for sharing and the power of nature. The environment, the culture, and the open expanse of the tundra was an invitation to create her own stories.

She was the illustrator for the first bilingual program in Alaska, providing years of experience working with folklore. This rich environment, without the addiction of television, allowed time to create her own images.

Teri has over 25 trade books published with Dutton, Holt, Little Brown, Putnam and others and have been fortunate to win awards from ABA, NY Times, Ben Franklin Committee, Bank Street, and Sesame Street.  

She is also a creative artist of fine art. Storytelling, the editing and rearranging is revealed in her landscapes as well as her folk art.  Teri's goal as a storyteller is to paint pictures with words. Her goal as an artist is to create a story the viewer imagines while looking at her art.  

"It is my hope that the images I create, and words in my stories share my sense of wonder and my often whimsical view of the world around us." Teri Sloat

October 19

Cameron + Company

Cameron Kids presents an inside look at children's publishing. Details soon.




Lighting the path for reflection
The Write Spot Blog