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, February through August.

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

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

2020 Forum Presenters


 

February 20

David Templeton

David Templeton

Going “Off-Script.”

Insights Gained, Rules Broken, and Lessons Learned From A Life Of Play-Watching And Playwriting

Are you writing a play? Do you have an idea but don’t know how to start? With over a decade-and-a-half spent attending plays on a weekly basis, and a lifetime (off and on) devoted to telling stories on the page and on the stage, playwright and journalist David Templeton breaks down several of the biggest lessons he’s learned about the craft of playwriting. Taking a highly personal approach to the topic, Templeton will offer helpful tips, tell a few colorful stories, drop a couple of hard-learned observations, and confess a big mistake or two. He’ll save time for audience questions, and possibly give a report and a tiny sneak-peek at his latest play, a robot-themed drama, which will have just started rehearsals.

David Templeton is a Bay Area playwright and award-winning arts journalist best known locally for his work with the Petaluma Argus-Courier and the North Bay Bohemian.

As a playwright, he’s won awards for his writing of “Wretch Like Me,” which has had runs at the San Francisco Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

In addition to “Polar Bears,” his other plays include “Pinky,” “Drumming With Anubis,” and “Mary Shelley’s Body,” adapted from his novella of the same name, published in the 2016 anthology “Eternal Frankenstein.”

David’s next play, “Galatea,” will have its world premiere at Spreckels Performing Arts Center in March of 2020. He is currently at work on a collection of twisted Christmas stories, hopefully to be published in November of 2020.

 


March 19

Joan Gelfand

The Four C’s of Successful Authors

Not all writing careers are created equal.

Why are some authors quickly catapulted to publishing success while other authors languish?

What are the four C’s and how can you make them work for you?

What are your writing challenges?

What is a book proposal and who needs one?

What is the difference between a non-fiction and a fiction book proposal?

In this workshop, we'll learn the secrets of how to become a successful author.

We will also discuss cover letters, finding the right agent (or publisher) and how to sell your published books.

Joan Gelfand, MFA, is the author of the #1 Amazon Best Seller, You Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 C’s of Successful Authors: Craft, Commitment, Community and Confidence, (Mango Press, July 2018)

Joan’s three volumes of poetry and chapbook of short fiction have garnered over twenty awards and commendations.

Joan’s novel, Fear to Shred, set in a Silicon Valley startup, will be published by Mastodon/C&R Press in March, 2020.

Joan's key publications include Los Angeles Review, PANK!, Rattle, Huffington Post, Poetry Flash, Prairie Schooner, Kalliope, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and over 100 lit mags and journals.


April 16

Stacey Dennick

Stacey Dennick

Writing Dialogue: Best Practices & Common Errors


Writer and instructor Stacey Dennick will present tips on how to make dialogue for creative writing characterizing and dynamic, and will cover common pitfalls that lead to stilted, dull dialogue.


Topics covered will include: The three tasks all dialogue must accomplish; revealing more about your characters though dialogue. How to avoid stalling your story with dialogue; preventing “talking head” syndrome; recreating dialogue for memoir; dodging info dumps; best practices for dialogue tags (so the reader knows who’s saying what), and more.

Stacey Dennick teaches creative writing in Santa Rosa through Santa Rosa Junior College’s Older Adult Program. She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Her published works include news pieces for KRCB North Bay Public Media, technical and humorous stories in print and online. She’s currently working on her first novel. 


May 21

Nicole Zimmerman

Writing for Literary Journals: Demystifying the Publication Process

What are literary magazines and how do writers get published by them? Come learn about how to submit your short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and flash/hybrid texts to journals like Memoir Magazine, Zyzzyva, and The Missouri Review (samples will be available). We’ll cover topics such as: online vs. print publication; calls for submissions and where to find them; writing contests and themed issues; word counts and other guidelines; cover letters, copyright, and contracts; rejections (boilerplate vs. personalized); tracking tools like Duotrope and Submittable; and more. Come with your questions!

Nicole R. Zimmerman is a 2019 recipient of the Discovered Awards for Emerging Visual and Literary Artists, produced by Creative Sonoma and made possible, in part, with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

She holds an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and is an alumna of Lit Camp, a juried writers conference.

Her Pushcart-nominated work has appeared in anthologies, newspapers, and literary journals including The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Los Angeles Times, and Creative Nonfiction.

Nicole has freelanced as a reporter for Petaluma Patch, as a Towns correspondent for The Press Democrat, and as acopywriter for Viator/ TripAdvisor.

She taught creative writing in after-school programs and is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the Amherst Writers & Artists method.

Born in Brazil and raised (mostly) in Northern California, she lives with her wife in Penngrove where she hosts Shut Up & Write!™ sessions.


June 18

Brenda Knight

Brenda Knight began her career at HarperCollins, working with luminaries Paolo Coelho, Marianne Williamson, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


She was awarded IndieFab’s Publisher of the Year in 2014 by the ALA (American Library Association).


Brenda is the author of Wild Women and Books, Women Who Love Books Too Much, The Grateful Table, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation, which won an American Book Award.


She is Associate Publisher at Mango Publishing and serves as President of the Women’s’ National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter.

Brenda is an instructor at the annual San Francisco Writers Conference.


July 16

Kara Vernor

Kara Vernor’s fiction and essays have appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Ninth Letter, The Los Angeles Review, The Normal School, Smokelong Quarterly, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation scholarship, and her writing has been included in Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions, The Best Small Fictions 2019, and Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California. Her flash fiction chapbook, Because I Wanted to Write You a Pop Song, is available from Split Lip Press. 

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