Archive for May, 2009

Workshop for Visual Artists – Free

May 27, 2009

A Rare Opportunity for Visual Artists

Visual artists, are you ready to take the next step toward becoming an arts professional? Do you understand strategic business planning, personal branding, marketing, strategic partnerships, and goal setting (to name just a few of the topics covered)?

AC5 is partnering with G-TAC Management Consultants to offer ArtsEdge, a business management workshop tailored specifically to professional visual artists. The workshop will be offered twice, once in Pinole and once in Lafayette. Each workshop spans two days. Led by senior consultants from G-TAC, the focus will be on best practices for building, enhancing and growing a professional business. Thanks to a generous grant, there is no charge to qualifying participants.


Please choose to attend in either Lafayette or Pinole; no “mixing and matching”:

Saturday and Sunday, June 13 & 14 from 1 to 5 PM at the Lafayette Studio, 3506A Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA (Thank you, Lamorinda Arts Alliance!)

Saturday and Sunday, June 20 & 21 from 1 to 5 PM at the Pinole Art Center, 2221 Pear Street in Old Town Pinole (Thank you, Pinole Artisans!)
For more details, including how to sign up, go to

New Contest for Teens!

May 27, 2009

If you could go on a fantasy road trip with a character (or characters!) from your favorite series, where would you go? What would you do along the way? How would you travel? Create a video!

Best selling authors Libba Bray, Tamora Pierce and Rick Riordan will judge the videos and choose 3 grand prize winners!

Teens ages 13-18 can create short films that answer these questions, “If you could go on a road trip with a character from your favorite audio series, where would you go? What would you do along the way? How would you travel?”

Submissions will be accepted from June 1 – August 17

Squirrel Obstacle Course and Animal Mania

May 24, 2009

Every morning, I have a ritual. As I feed my dog, make breakfast, and “tidy the kitchen” as my English neighbor would say, I commune with nature. Does that mean I gaze with rapture upon mother nature?

No. I lie in wait with my ammunition, a 7-11-sized glass filled with water. As soon as SQUIRREL lands on one of two hanging bird feeders in the front yard, I in my old blue bathrobe fly out of the front door, with water glass in hand.

It usually takes at least two of these attempts before I actually douse SQUIRREL. Next, he’ll actually stay on the ground and eat the seeds there. But if I miss – – the battle rages on.

Later in the day, when I eat lunch, he’ll visit me from his perch on a tree over the deck and chatter non-stop, nagging me in what I’m sure is unmentionable language for a squirrel.

Perhaps I should set up this in my yard?

Writing Prompts: 1. Write in the voice of the squirrel. What happens when he discovers an obstacle course? 2. How does a squirrel plan to get his next meal? How will he outsmart the humans around him? 3. Write in a person’s point of view of someone driven absolutely crazy by a VERY intelligent squirrel or other animal. 4. Write about a squirrel on a school campus. What happens?

Of Humor for Writers

May 23, 2009

Of death and humor

May 20, 2009

Last Friday, the most wonderful man passed away. He was on this earth for ninety years. Almost a century! Born in a Wisconsin farm house, with nine older brothers and sisters, he road in a horse-drawn sleigh, milked cows by hand, carried in wood for the stove, pumped water instead of turning on the faucet, attended a one-room school, and listened to the radio for entertainment.

He toiled long hours on the forty-nine-acre farm when his brothers and sisters got jobs . . . got married . . . joined the priesthood . . . or became a nun. He married a city girl, my mother, in 1949, and ten years later they sold the farm and moved to a small town. He worked as a painter and held other jobs in a factory for over forty years.

I never heard him complain once.

Dad was a quiet man. I was closer to my mother growing up, so when she passed away in 2002 and he moved to California to be near us, I knew it would be a new chapter in our lives.

It turned out to be an enormous gift. I got to know him on another level. For growing up an “old school” Catholic, he never fit the stereotype. I introduced a friend of mine to him once and I later told Dad that this friend was gay.

“Poor man,” he said.

I understood Dad’s meaning. Yes, it is difficult to live as a gay man in our society of unacceptance. However, Dad accepted him and loved him as he was.

Dad’s whole being radiated love. His hugs were the best! Ask any of my friends, often the receipents of those hugs. He held on tightly, as though he were infusing you with his energy. And of course, he was. You walked away feeling loved, happy, and joyful.

Dad had the most amazing sense of humor. Dry and quickly delivered, you’d miss it if you weren’t paying attention. And his laugh! Uproarious, the kind of laugh that proclaims it a GOOD THING to laugh!

So last Friday, when the call came unexpectedly, I first denied it. “Your father just passed away,” said the nurse.

I’m so in-tune to his every need, that I expected I’d have a warning. A buzzer would certainly go off in my head, right?

“No he didn’t,” I said back at her.
“Liz, I was there.”

Oh. Right. Reality check.

When I appeared in his room, it wasn’t a big deal to see him. After all, as a Catholic of older parents, with lots of relatives, I’ve been to my share of funerals. I’ve seen so many dead bodies by now I can’t even estimate the number.

But somehow, when that body is your own parent, it’s different. I leaned over and kissed him and smoothed his hair. It hadn’t even been an hour, and he was already cold to the touch.

My friend, Cathy, was on her way. Why not get started? I began with taking down the multitude of 90th birthday cards and pictures that adorned his walls.
When she appeared, packing up his room at the nursing home went quickly. She took out the clothes in his closet and I began folding and piling.

“Uh, Liz,” Cathy looked down at the stack of clothes. They were all on top and around Dad’s feet and legs.
“Isn’t there something terribly WRONG with this?” she said.
“You think he’d mind?” I asked.
“What do you think he’d do?” I asked.
“Laugh,” she said.
And we did.

Writing and Reading Exercises:

Sometimes we think of reading and writing HUMOR in a category all by itself. But really, is life like that? Just a day of all humor? Isn’t life a mixture of sad, happy, funny, tragic?

As you read some of the best books, the most wonderful scenes, note the way the authors handle emotions right along with humor. Sometimes life is filled with both.

Exercise: 1. Write a moment of sadness from your life. 2. Turn this moment of sadness into a moment in fiction. 3. What kind of humor can you add to it to lighten this moment? Sometimes a light touch helps with pacing too.

Question about new journal accepting submissions

May 13, 2009

When is the due date? Is there a link with additional information? Fatima

There is no set due date. They anticipate more publications so I assume if a ms. doesn’t make the editorial cut for on issue, it will be considered for the next, just like in other newspapers and magazines.

Just like you, when I found out about them, I wondered about a website but they don’t have one. They are full-time students so are concentrating on putting out the journal right now. You know how busy students are!

New Poetry Journal Accepting Student Submissions

May 13, 2009

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to the opening party of Bread and Circuses, the lit journal from our very own Contra Costa County. The first issue was made possible by a grant from Youth Speaks. Although students from Miramonte High School are its editors, it is unaffiliated with the school.

Senior Annelyse Gelman, editor-in-chief, tells me they are open to submissions of poetry, prose, letters, recipes, reviews, interviews, manifestos, photos, scripts, confessions, paintings, collages, essays, cartoons, found art . . . all can be submitted by anyone . . . any age.

The second issue will be out this summer, so submit your best work to breadandcircuseszine (at) gmail (dot) com. Her note says to leave the email formatted like that so she doesn’t get spam. My question is how will the email get through like that? But then, this is from me, the most non-techno person blogging today . . .

Writers Contest Banquet . . . and a BARN OWL?

May 11, 2009

How did the banquet go? Rachel

Thanks for asking, Rachel. What a fabulous group of students, families and teachers came!
*We played a game with the winning entries
Congratulations to Caie Kelley and Sara Sweeney who were the winners of the bookstore certificates!
*The club members, who are poets, journalists, novelists, short story writers, nonfiction authors, children’s authors, etc., met and talked with the winners and their families.
*We ate a grand spread, which included (drum roll please) my all-time favorite chocolate moose. (Why is this dessert so hard to find? It’s also hard to make nice and light!)
*Took photos of the students receiving their awards. But since we don’t do model releases there and for security reasons, we aren’t posting them here nor on the California Writers Club website.
*Note: The main group photo will be sent to the Contra Costa Times. The “insert paper” usually publishes the picture with a story within a few weeks.
For instance, the Pleasant Hill/Martinez Record comes out on Wednesday. As soon as the photo and article is published, (usually takes a few weeks) I’ll post that it’s been published right here so you can look for it in your area. It should come out that same week or so in the Walnut Creek Journal, the Concord Transcript, etc.

***But I never know the date in advance.***

*Speaker Mystery novelist Camille Minichino included the first place winners’ work as examples of good writing. She incorporated them into her writing tips.
*Poet David Alpaugh read some published, entertaining poems (He’d be great at a slam!) and noted some of the exceptional lit techniques in each poem.

And when it was all over . . . the photographer, Karen Terhune and I headed over to the Wild Bird Store, where we heard they were inviting an owl and a hawk for a visit. (see the picture to the right) I began an avid dialogue with the owl, and we formed a bond over . . . a book, naturally! His very own baby book! As I read it to him and described each picture, he followed along exactly, never missing a picture.

And just as though I were reading him a bedtime story, as I turned the last page, he closed his eyes and went to sleep. Ah, what a perfect ending to a perfect day.

NEW Workshop!

May 8, 2009

Is this the same workshop that took place in Walnut Creek earlier in February or is this different? Fatima

Thanks for asking this, Fatima. This is a completely different workshop. We are going to focus on different aspects of writing fiction. We hope to have some “old” faces and some new ones too! You can help us by spreading the news to your friends and teachers. Thanks! Liz

Writer’s Workshop – Ages 12 – 18 – Clayton, CA

May 8, 2009

 Writers Workshop         An Interactive Writing Afternoon

Who: Ages 12 – 18          When: Wednesday, July 29, 2009  

3:00 – 5:00

Cost: FREE!

Where:   Clayton Public Library 6125 Clayton Rd, Clayton   


Secret Writing Tips from Published Authors!

How to make a good story better.      

Create suspenseful stories with fabulous characters in settings that make your readers feel like they’re really there . . . Discover writing secrets from two professional children’s authors who love writing. You’ll get a chance to ask questions about the publishing world, write, meet other writers, “talk books,” and be inspired to write and publish your own works of prose.       Seating is limited so sign up soon!

Led by children’s authors Sarah Wilson and Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

Visit them at  and  

Bring pen and paper and get ready to WRITE!

Reserve your space now.

E-mail with Writing Workshop in the subject line. For reservation, include your name, age, address and phone number.