monthly meeting

9Feb2019 Meeting Minutes


San Joaquin Valley Branch

California Writers Club

Saturday, February 9, 2019

UOP Education Building Classroom 110C

Vice President Leslie Liberty called the meeting to order and started the Sign In sheet around the room, in which 22 people were present.

June Gillam introduced the speaker: Barron Sudderth, author of “Poetry on Love, Loss and Life.” He gave a lively presentation of his process writing the poems and taking photos of unusual local settings on which to place the 80 of his haiku that ended up in the book. Based on his having fallen in love, he wrote one per day over the course of a year, and then hunted down obscure and often overlooked items such as garbage cans and toilet paper to photograph as counterpoint to the poetry.

Barron’s energy was spell-binding as he paced the room and gestured with his arms, once even lying down on the floor to illustrate how he shot the Lodi Arch holding his camera at a sharp upward angle. We were fascinated and motivated by Barron’s performance demonstrating a multiplicity of ways to express love, loss and life. He ended by suggesting an exercise writers might find useful: take song lyric lines and parse them into a haiku structure of three lines with a 5/7/5 syllable pattern to practice disciplined creativity. Learn more about Barron at

After a break to chat with Barron and get a signed book from him, June introduced the speaker for March 9 – Jennifer Grainger – “What’s it take to be a ghostwriter?”

Anthony Marinelli noted our MRMS is up to date and he asked for materials to be sent to him for the San Joaquin Valley Writers Website.

Jennifer Hoffman reported that we have money in the bank. She noted an event coming up in San Andreas: the Calaveras Jumping Frog Contest, May 16-19, at which writers may offer their books for sale, by contacting Monika Rose. June Gillam has emailed Monika for details.

June Gillam got approval for the January Minutes with one correction.

Pam Van Allen reported that discussion of “Spin-off Critique Groups” in the Education Building lobby after last month’s regular meeting produced no changes suggested by the members of the Tuesday evening Critique Group.

June Gillam adjourned the meeting, which was followed by a critique for Matt Abraham’s work in progress.

June Gillam, Secretary

Date of approval

11August2018 Meeting Minutes


San Joaquin Valley Branch

California Writers Club

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Call to Order: Scott Evans

Sign In Sheet: June Gillam. Reminder of Dues

Whatchagot: We learned from and and inspired each other when the below-noted writers showcased their writing journeys, their passions/plans/actions and outcomes to date.

Jennifer T. Grainger, Kristin Wall, Leslie Liberty, Kimba Livesay, Harlan Hague, D. Myerstrau, Pam Van Allen, Susan Lockman, Heidi Andersen, Tory Marinelli, Anthony Marinelli, David Allen, Rana Banankhah, June Gillam, and Scott Evans.

Break and networking

Summer/Fall Lineup—Every Tuesday, Drop In Critique Sessions, 5:30 p.m. UOP Library

September 8 -- Susan Osborn on "Storytelling to Strengthen Your Writing"

October 13 -- Great Valley Bookfest, in Manteca, San Joaquin Valley Writers Booth.

November and December: We meet in the Taylor Room, upstairs

Communications: Anthony Marinelli, Website report

Harlan Hague: Yahoo What’s Up?

Officers Reports:

Treasurer : in Jennifer Hoffman’s absence, June Gillam received dues from Kristin Wall, Leslie Liberty, Kimba Livesay, Tory Marinelli and Anthony Marinelli. These dues were turned over to Scott Evans to deposit in the SJVW bank account.

Secretary : Minutes were approved.

Adjournment: Scott Evans

Board Meeting: Scott Evans, Leslie Liberty, June Gillam, Anthony Marinelli, Harlan Hague

Voted to go ahead with PayPal on our Website

Manuscript Critiques

Minutes Approved on

Signed by

14July2018 Meeting Minutes


San Joaquin Valley Branch

California Writers Club

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Call to Order: June Gillam

Sign In Sheet: Jennifer Hoffman

Introduction of Speaker: June Gillam

SPEAKER: Michele Drier: Traditional and Self Publishing Services

Michele is currently working on #10 of the Kandesky Vampire series, and also writes the Amy Hobbs Mystery series. She has been writing since 1971, but that first novel did not see the light of day until 2011. She also had a previous life as a reporter.

Michele spoke on the two ways to get published.

The first way to get published is through traditional publishing. The Big Five publishers (Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster) require that you find an agent or find a publisher that will work with you without an agent, which is rare. In order to shop your book to agents or publishing houses, you will need to have a query letter, a synopsis and a finished, polished, proofread, edited manuscript. When searching for an agent, make sure that you research the agent and the publications carefully. The best way to do this is to look at who is representing the genre that you want to write. Look carefully for what they work with, what they have a reputation for, how many books they accept a year, how much they will be paid (standard contract is 15% of your earnings from book sales).

The second way to get published is through Self-Publishing or Indie Publishing, which used to be called vanity press. Most vanity presses will charge you up front, slap a cover on your book and not help with marketing at all. All marketing is up to the writer, and it will cost you. This is not a recommended path to getting published.

Self publishing through Amazon Print on Demand (CreateSpace), IngramSparks or other publishing routes require that you have your draft ready to go. A service called Draft to Digital will take your draft and put it into multiple formats for digital output and put it on their webpage, and upload it to iTunes and other places, but it will cost you up front.

Amazon’s CreateSpace will allow for your book to be “never out of print”, and it will also allow Barnes and Noble to use Print on Demand services to access and order your book. You are responsible for formatting, cover work and back matter. Most cover designs will cost $150-$250. The royalties from books published on CreateSpace can vary depending on the book length as well as the price set for the book by the author.

If you are going to self-publish, you will need a variety of editors. Content Editors will read through the story of the novel and make sure that everything aligns to create a good story. A Line Editor will go through line by line and check for dialogue, character and make sure your sentences say what you want them to say. A Copy Editor will check for some grammar and word usage. They will look for homophones and word choice. A Proof Reader will check for grammar, spelling and punctuation. Most of these will cost the writer depending on the services that are provided. Do your research, and do not disregard the importance of a good critique group.

For publication formatting, you will want to make sure that your manuscript is in 12 point font, Times New Roman, double spaced with a 0.3 first line indent. It is easiest to set this up early when writing the manuscript and then you don’t have to worry about going back to reformat. In your manuscript draft, be sure to include: Acknowledgements, Biography, Dedication.

When considering self-publishing also consider the number of words and how many pages that that book will generate. Depending on format most books will be between 200-300 pages, which is generally about 70,000 words. Genres will have their own expectations of word count. Be aware of what books in your genre look like and how many words generally per age. The longer your book is, the more money it will cost to produce, which will eat into your profits in the long run.

Also consider marketing when you publish a book. Most self-publishing options will not market for you, so you will have to pay any marketing fees, such as inclusion to book aggregators like BookBub, Book Doggie or Sweet Free Books.

Michele also offers writing workshops through her website at

Break and networking

Club Business

Installment of New club Leadership: Postponed until new club membership is present

Announcements from members: June Gillam

  • Jen Hoffman- working on rewriting her book, also there is a fundraiser for the Manzanita Writers Press: The Arts Harvest Dinner Dance at the Pickle Patch in San Andreas. Tickets are $35 for dinner and music.
  • Trish is working on a play and a “bad novel”
  • Heidi Andersen is working on Camp Nanowrimo
  • Tory Marinelli is working on just getting writing done using
  • Anthony Marinelli is taking a course on editing using The Story Grid, and working on a rewrite for his novel. He also adds that the SJVW website at is ready for submissions and content.
  • Deborah is working with Beta readers and rewriting
  • John commends Leslie Liberty and Jennifer Gonzalez for publication in the California Writer’s Club Literary Review. He also commends the SJVW critique groups for helping him with editing his own works.
  • Dan implores people to come to the critique sessions, both on Saturdays and Tuesdays to help give feedback to local writes. Also offers book reviews and blog interviews on his blog He currently has 4 books out on query.
  • Betsy teaches at the UOP Benard School of education and has been working on summer school She is working on a short piece about hospice care and a coloring book. Also working on a short/middle piece on her father’s experiences in China during World War II.
  • Loy Holder joins us from the Sacramento branch of the California Writer’s Club and is looking for a speaker for the Elk Grove Writer’s Conference to be held on October 22nd. The conference is $50, which includes continental breakfast and lunch. This year’s theme is “Writers Helping Writer” and she is currently looking for someone to help teach a session on “How to Market your Book through the Use of Social Media, Webpage and Book Trailer.” If interested, contact her at For more information about the conference, find information at
  • Harlan send a manuscript to the publisher last month.
  • June Fern is working on a Cat Cozy Mystery.
  • Pam VanAllen recently recieved feedback through her first developmental edit through Shannon Winter.
  • Maria is working on her first novel- A romance and fantasy. Enjoys the critique meeting.
  • Robin joins us from the Sacramento branch of the California Writer’s Club. She writes children’s stories and is currently editing.
  • June Gillam is working on a manuscript and is enjoying the camaraderie of

her cabin on

Summer Lineup—Every Tuesday, Drop In Critique Sessions, 5:30 p.m. UOP Library

  • August 11 -- WhatchaGot? Members showcase their projects
  • September 8 – Susan Osborn, Storytelling to Strengthen Your Writing
  • October 13 -- Great Valley Bookfest Booth in Manteca- plan on attending
  • November and December- Will be meeting in the Taylor Room.

Officers Reports:

  • Treasurer: Financial Report Postponed. General vote taken on transferring funds from club account to donate $400 to the Writers Conference at UOP to cover losses. General vote taken: All in favor, none opposed. So moved.
  • Secretary: Minutes Approval Postponed- see webpage

Adjournment: June Gillam

Manuscript Critiques followed in adjacent room.

Victoria Marinelli, Acting Secretary Date of Approval

9June2018 Meeting Minutes

San Joaquin Valley Branch
California Writers Club
Saturday, June 9, 2018

Call to Order: Scott Evans 

Sign In Sheet: Jennifer Hoffman

Introduction of Speaker: June Gillam 

SPEAKER: Linda Champion, presented on "The Illusive Fairy Tale & How to Write It," these tales are part of folk tale genre but rather than being anonymous, the fairy tale is generally written by one author, as a plot driven short story, often contain paranormal characters, magic and enchantments, and include a moral though seldom a religious moral. Fairy tales are set in no specific time or place, with no happy ending required and are for people of all ages. The writer has freedom to be inventive in trying to explain the unexplainable in the world, using vague settings such as once upon a time in a land far away, though could be thinking of a real place like Lodi or such.  
    Fairy tales are meant to be thought provoking not answers to problems in life: the Grimm bros had adults in mind; when they collected and published them around 1800, the tales were very dark, but to sell more books and make money, the brothers softened their tales for children, too, and shifted into happily ever after endings. Stepmothers were common in fairy tales back then because often bio moms would die in childbirth, and are still so relatable today in this era of broken marriages. 
    Linda outlined her process for writing a fairy tale and urged writers in attendance to write them as well. She read aloud her story of a giant excluded from a flower garden, with an ant as the hero who calmly persisted until he got the garden authority to change and allow the giant in. For more on Linda and her work, see

Break and networking

ELECTION: Scott Evans

Announcements from members: Scott Evans

Announcement of Election results: Scott Evans: the nominated slate of officers was voted in with just one write-in vote. Our officers for the coming year are:

    Scott Evans, President
    Leslie Liberty, Vice President
    Jennifer Hoffman, Treasurer
    June Gillam, Secretary

Summer Lineup—Every Tuesday, Drop In Critique Sessions, 5:30 p.m. UOP Library
    Annual Creative Writing Conference at UOP: June 22-24
    July 14--WhatchaGot? Members showcase their projects
    August 11 -- TBA
    September 8 – Susan Osborn, Storytelling to Strengthen Your Writing
    October 13 -- Great Valley Bookfest Booth in Manteca
Officers Reports: 
    Treasurer: Financial Situation Postponed
     Secretary: Minutes Approval Postponed

Adjournment: Scott Evans

Manuscript Critiques


June Gillam,
Secretary                        Date of approval

12May2018 Meeting Minutes

San Joaquin Valley Branch
California Writers Club
Saturday, May 12, 2018

Call to Order: June Gillam
Due to UOP's graduation on this day and extremely poor parking, our attendance was at an all time low; therefore we postponed everything on the May agenda to the June Meeting, including the election. 

Sign In Sheet: Jennifer Hoffman
Approximately 10 in attendance, including one newcomer.

Speaker: Poet Laureate of Davis, Dr. Andy Jones offered a delightful presentation centered around the private and the public value of poetry, noting the irony that his private practice as a poet, now a laureate, must needs be shared in the public sphere, particularly to deliver an original three-minute poem just before the fireworks on July 4th. He works to bring poetry to an audience at public events in Davis and he includes in his own writing what his city is known for. 

Addressing the tension between the practical and the impractical in terms of the value of poetry for students wanting to get a job, Andy pointed to the practical first and said there is a new focus on the value of studying subjects fostering creative skills for work that cannot be done by robots. He referenced A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, in which Daniel Pink proposes that three big As affect us now as job seekers of all kinds, including writers trying to sell their wares.

Abundance -- trillions of products and activities, including books
Automation-- robots taking many of the current jobs
Asia -- many more English speaking workers than in US, so cheap wages

Degrees and accomplishments in poetry/humanity/liberal arts prepares people for the new jobs that robots cannot do.

Regarding the impractical, Andy said in poetry we can find emotional truth; it can connect us in an immediate way to important things, crucial things in our lives that hit us in the heart; poetry connects disparate images and ideas, and even a bad poem can still provide a therapeutic function available to all of us.

The poet can step forth and say what others know to be emotionally true but have not have expressed it in a specific and touching way. Ambitious and precise, poetry tries to communicate using the perfect word and do interesting things with the language such as use puns (sparingly) like this example Andy saw in front of a church: "Exposure to the son can prevent burning."

A poem starts with a disturbance of the status quo--the poem's speaker has had an occasion that generated the speech/poem. A poem enacts an emotion, does not need to have a logical meaning, not to be read as an essay or article.

Dr. Andy also offered some marketing tips: "association marketing" works--people who bought this also bought that, and direct "content marketing" works too, such as at events where writers connect with people. It's a good idea to offer something of value such as portions of a nonfiction book in a blog at first to get people to know you and want to support your book later when it comes out.

Ask yourself, how do I offer value in order to grow an audience before my book comes out? For example, writers help readers solve problems. 

For a schedule of Dr. Andy's poetry and related events in Davis, see
and on Facebook, see Dr. Andy's Poetry and Technology Hour

We took a break for networking

Adjournment: June Gillam

Manuscript Critiques followed.


June Gillam,
Secretary                        Date of approval

10March2018 Meeting Minutes

San Joaquin Valley Branch
California Writers Club
Saturday, March 10, 2018

Call to Order: Scott Evans
Scott reviewed upcoming election elements and solicited nominations for office
and shared information about the June Creative Writing Conference available to members at half the usual price. 

Sign In Sheet: June Gillam
Approximately 22 in attendance
Many newcomers, some from Meetup

Speaker: Joshua Mohr gave a lively presentation on the intersection of plot and character, of linearity and non-linearity creating various frames. He noted that writers inhabit a consciousness on the page for each character’s individual quest, their decision-making system. For example, he said it won’t work to trade the protagonists from Clockwork Orange and Eat Pray Love because the characters would choose differently at each plot point.

Josh said that characters from each end of the spectrum may be too one-dimensional while characters who live in the middle have the best shot at the dignity of complexity—what makes them like us, complex human beings. Our task, he believes, is to bring them to life in an exciting way. If we show them in one scene as selfish and greedy, then we can show their grace in another scene, to create dissonance—up the activity level for the reader to ponder the richness of the character; take the story to a meaningful level, meaningful as defined by a complex protagonist. 

He advised writers to play with time in the plot, consider alternate timelines; reframe the story architecture; ask yourself when is linearity an asset, when is it better to hold back the linearity of the actual story seen as a planetary body, with various moons orbiting it, some defying the gravity of the main body to show a more open heart; the writer meets the reader by way of the “open heart” of the book. 

Josh recommends the writer be a reckless explorer with a story’s structure, create a visceral experience for the reader, take him/her to the first row of the theater, invite readers onto the stage of the play. Understand the stakes in the story; what loss or pain is the protagonist risking, what context will add visceral texture to the story—where is it more compelling to be linear and where to depart from that? 

Josh gave us the task of taking a few minutes to list the most visceral scenes from our work in progress and consider rearranging the order they appear in our stories. Content and structure, are all trial and error, he said. We won’t make all readers happy. There is no such thing as THE start of a story; offer the reader an image, an impression, that defies the reader to stop reading. Josh left us with a renewed enthusiasm for our work and the advice to “write the book only you can write.” 

We took a short break for networking

Announcements from those in attendance
Robert Reinarts invited writers to participate in the Heritage Writers Community, which meets monthly at the Hagin Museum. Contact him at for details.

Officers and Committee Reports: 
Website: Updates on the website were provided by Anthony Marinelli who invited all to visit to view the site and add comments, using the member information form now “live” on the site. 

Minutes from the January meeting were approved.

Adjournment: Scott Evans

Manuscript Critiques followed.

June Gillam,
Secretary                        Date of approval

Nov 11, 2017 Speaker: Anna Villegas, Author All We Know of Heaven

The San Joaquin Valley Writers branch of the California Writers Club is pleased to present Anna Villegas as the featured speaker Saturday, Nov. 11, in the UOP Library. Before retiring, Anna taught English for forty-one years in Stockton, first at UOP and then at San Joaquin Delta College.  Anna’s published work includes short stories, essays, poems, newspaper columns, and three novels.  Her first novel, All We Know of Heaven, published by St. Martin’s Press, has been translated into thirteen languages. Her second novel, Swimming Lessons, was chosen as a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured selection, and produced as a Lifetime Channel Original Movie of the Month by Hearst Entertainment. Anna now lives in Nevada City and says that retirement enables her to be a writer on any particular day she chooses. The event is free to the public and starts at 12:30 in the UOP Library Community Room.