Archive for May, 2013

California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch Young Writers Contest 2013

May 30, 2013

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch’s Young Writers Contest winners are featured in today’s Contra Costa Times.  Check Good Neighbors in the Pleasant Hill/Martinez Record section.



Where is the beauty in your world?

May 27, 2013

Thanks for sharing this amazing film.  Making music from trash found in a landfill!  There is beauty in the world . . . we just need to know where to look. 

Comment from Joanne

Writing Prompt Inspired by Joanne’s Comment:

Where do you find beauty in your world?  Write a poem, personal narrative or story about this topic.   Make it a sensory experience.

Inspiring Creativity

May 25, 2013

The Landfillharmonic Orchestra

Writing Prompts:
1.  Listen to classical music.  What does it inspire you to write or draw?  Let the sound lead your imagination away!
2.  Choose recycling material.  What art can you create?
3.  Write a poem, song or short story based on something re-created from another object. 
4.  See if music playing while you make your art helps your originality.  Some authors choose one piece of music or one composer to listen to for each project.  Then when they hear that particular song, their brain immediately begins work in that world.  Choose music for the art you are working on now.   

On Writing Crappy and Writing Great (or at Least Better)

May 24, 2013

I guess reporters don’t know which column will be published when, or else the California Writers Club Young Writers Contest article and photo just didn’t make it into my edition of the Contra Costa Times on May 23.  Next time I’ll only post it here when I see it in the paper myself. 


As I’ve been working on a project, I’ve found myself being concerned with the marketing aspect and how the publicist would  react to the story.  After the day’s work, I closed my computer and purposely didn’t re-read my words. 

The next morning, I printed out my chapter and took a clipboard to revise and work on another scene.  Reading what I had written, my jaw dropped.  Who was this stilted writer who had composed these awkward sentences?  Do I know this person?  Where did she come from? If she was in my writing class, I’d take her aside and tell her to forget the final phases of book production, and free herself by going back to the basics.  Think about character!  Relax.  Wonder about the story, don’t let the final outcome block the writing process.

I set aside my previous day’s disaster, and started over.  This time, I let my mind wander over my characters and their world.  “No worries,”  I told myself.  “Have fun with these people.  Get to know them.  You don’t have to write the very next chapter.  Just write a scene where they talk to each other. What’s the worst problem they can get into together?  What will they do?”

Writing Prompts:

1.  What is a dramatic or interesting conflict you can have your character get into?  Can it somehow be based on her greatest fear?

2.  What emotion does your scene evoke?  What do you want your reader to feel?

3.  What is the motivation for why the characters in your scene act the way they do?

4.  Write about your characters BEFORE this scene.  What is their back story?

5.  Within your writing, can you locate where you are showing and where you are telling?  Highlight the telling.  If you have too much highlighting, where can you show in a scene rather than tell?  Or where can you cut out the telling all together?  If it doesn’t move your story forward, cut it out.

California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch Young Writers Contest

May 21, 2013

Heard word from the reporter that the photo and column about our Young Writers Contest winners will be in the Good Neighbor column during the week of May 30.  Be on the lookout!

May 17, 2013

Recently a friend’s husband drove her to a meeting and returned home after fifteen minutes.  Switching on music,  he headed to the bedroom and stopped abruptly.  Their back window had been smashed; dresser drawers were strewn open, their contents spilling out.  Most of his wife’s jewelry was missing, except for a few pieces the burglars had dropped on the floor in their hasty retreat.

“I think he got home in the middle of it,” she said.  She was relieved they left her most valued sentimental necklace behind. 

Then there was the time my son was four and the floor beneath our feet began rolling.    “Earthquake!  Run!”  I yelled as I scooped up our terrier.  We flew past the swinging  light fixture and didn’t stop until we reached the middle of the cul-de-sac. 

We waited until birds chirped and squirrels chattered once again. After returning to discover overturned file cabinets, right where my son had been playing, I explained what could occur during an earthquake.  Later we discovered the extent of the Loma Prieta once we got back our electricity.  “Gee,” said Tofer, considering our house could have been demolished.  “I should have grabbed Herbie.”  (His favorite stuffed animal, which wasn’t an animal at all, but a car.)

During the disastrous Oakland fire of 1991, my friend’s sister and her family were evacuated.  She ran past her dresser, noticing a coffee mug, her jewelry box, and a photo album.  They didn’t stop running until they got to the base of their hill. That’s when she discovered she held the coffee mug in her hand. 

Writing Prompts:

1.   What was the first object that held important emotional meaning for you? Why?  How did you value it? Describe the item and show how you placed it in esteem. 

2.  Did your family have any treasured family heirlooms?  Write an essay about one’s significance.

3.  You have only a minute to grab one item to save from your home. What do you take and why? Describe it using your senses and emotions.

4.  In the writing project you are working on now, write about a meaningful object for your main character, a minor character, and even the antagonist.  Give background for each.  Why do they hold significant relevance?  Can any of them be a larger symbol?

Students! Learn to Write Book Reviews! Creative Nonfiction! Poetry! And more . . .

May 10, 2013
Storyteller Junior Editors
 Read + Review Upcoming Books!This program is ideal for opinionated readers who love to discuss books and write reviews for peer critique groups.Fee: $115  includes materials, light snack, and copies of our annual publication. Incoming Grades 2-5:  5-6:30 pm

Middle/High School:  7-8:30

 June 20, July 11, July 25, August 1


Wordplay Creative Writing Camp
 This program is perfect for writers interested in practicing new poetic techniques, crafting stories, exploring creative nonfiction, and sharing ideas in a lively, informal setting.   Fee: $115  includes materials, light snack, and copies of our annual publication. Ages 7-10:  10-11:30Ages 11-up:  12:30-2:00

 June 24 through 28



 Or find us on Facebook

 The Storyteller Bookstore is located in Lafayette, CA.

California Writers Club Young Writers Contest Luncheon Features Author Mike Jung

May 6, 2013

When I told an author friend who was speaking at our luncheon this Saturday, she YELLED into the phone, “YOU GOT MIKE JUNG?  I’M COMING!”  

She lives in San Jose, so it will be quite a ride for her.  “He’s hysterical!” she said.  “He’s one of the most entertaining and fabulous authors EVER!”

As for me, I can’t wait to meet the young writers who created such fabulous poems, short stories and essays.  What’s more, if you didn’t get a chance to read them yet, you can here.  They will be on display!  The students and their families, teachers, and friends as well as adult writers and members of the public will get a chance to meet everyone, see their work, play a game/quiz with the student writings, and learn the secrets of the writing and publishing industry from this fantastic author and speaker.  The information is below.  See you soon! 

The Young Writers Contest Award Winners will be honored at the next meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, May 11, 2013 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Special Guest speaker, Mike Jung will address the contest winners, members and guests.  His topic is “Writing—It’s Not for The Chicken-Hearted”. He will explain how to choose your idea, find your process, and share your work.

Mr. Yung is the author of Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities, a superhero novel.  His essays have appeared in the anthologies Dear Teen Me (Zest Books, 2012), and Break These Rules (Chicago Review Press, 2013).

Sign-in is from 11:00 am to 11:30 am, with presentations and luncheon from 11:30 pm to 1:30 pm. Registration is $20 for CWC members, $25 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, May 8. Contact Robin Gigoux at or by phone at (925) 933-9670.  Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: