Category Archives: writer

Don’t Write Alone—Join a Support Group

In Sonoma County and the North Bay I recommend Redwood Writers

I’ve come out of blog hibernation to extol the benefits of joining a writer’s support group. Writing is a solitary occupation. The world of publishing is a formidable citadel—few scale its walls without assistance. Since joining Redwood Writers Club, I have found that assistance and so much more. With 300+ members, it is the largest branch of the California Writers Club, founded by Jack London and friends in 1909. Early honorary members included Jack London, George Sterling, John Muir, Joaquin Miller, and the first California poet laureate, Ina Coolbrith.

Whether you are a published author or have always wanted to write,                               there’s a place for you at Redwood Writers.

“Writers helping writers” is the club motto.

Our members are poets, journalists, essayists, technical writers, and creators of genre and literary fiction, as well as editors, booksellers and others involved in related fields. We have joined together based on the common goal of educating ourselves in the craft and art of writing, and to learn the realities of getting our work published.

I’ve been a member of Redwood Writers for about three years. During that time my work has been published in the California Writers Club Literary Review, appeared in four anthologies, and won two honorable mentions in writing contests. Had I not joined the Club, none of that would have happened. More importantly, I have formed friendships with people with whom I share similar interests and passions. I’ve been mentored by fabulous coaches, editors and supportive comrades.

Sometimes people explain, “I’m interested in joining the club at a later date, but I don’t want to do it until I’ve refined my story. It’s personal. I want to do it myself.”

This is what I want to tell everyone who thinks he or she can write the great American novel (or the perfect children’s book) totally alone—“You probably can’t. If you doubt me, look at the acknowledgements at the end of most books. The author had some form of support. Seek it out. That’s my advice. If you can’t find a club or critique group in your area, consider starting one yourself. But if you live in the North Bay, you’re in luck. A wonderfully supportive club is already in place.”

Perhaps the greatest gift in joining Redwood Writers Club has been my critique group. These women have become my friends and my trusted allies. They are always honest, and they are always kind. That’s a powerful combination. I am a better writer because of them.

Here’s another opportunity to hone your writing skills…sign up for Redwood Writers 2018 Conference, Pen to Published

Sign up while early bird pricing is in effect. Not a member? If you join now, you’ll save money on the conference…

The 2017 renewal period to become a member is over, but you are welcome to join at the HALF-YEAR DISCOUNT rate. If you do, you will be able to sign up for early bird conference pricing at member rates. You’ll have a club membership and be registered for Pen to Published at less than the conference cost for non-members.

 Example:  Half year membership – $42.50/Early Bird Conference fee for members – $95.00          • Non-member conference fee – $150   • Join now and save $12.50

Early Bird pricing ends February 16th. At that time, regular pricing becomes $135 for members and $175 for non-members. Register today!

Want to learn more about Redwood Writers? Go to

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When Doing Everything You Want To Do Leaves You Too Tired To Do Anything


Maybe you’ve been there—you had a smorgasbord of opportunities, events and interests from which to choose and, like me, you tried choosing them all. Maybe, like me,  you ended up feeling completely exhausted. Summer vacations can do that. So many possibilities; so little time. In my case, just ten weeks in which to create memorable art and publishable writing, learn new skills, visit theaters and museums, take in all kinds of other events (cultural and otherwise), spend quality time with friends and family, and still keep up with those necessary, day-to-day chores that don’t go away just because I’m on vacation.

As an homage to that dreaded back to school writing exercise, “What I Did On My Vacation,” here is what I did during the past ten weeks. You’d be tired too…

I Made and Promoted Art:

  • Created art pieces for the newest show at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery,  as well as the painting that will be used to advertise the Arts Alliance’s annual fund-raiser in November, Moroccan Nights.
  • Hosted an artist’s reception for my solo art show hanging at The Cutting Edge Salon in Sebastopol—you can view it until the end of September.







I Went To The Theater:

  • Saw Hamilton at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco.  So wonderful it’s indescribable! Let me just say it was, perhaps, the theater high-point of a lifetime. I added “perhaps” because my life isn’t over, but I can’t imagine anything better.
  • Had season tickets to the Summer Rep Theater Festival at Santa Rosa Junior College: West Side Story, Chicago, Raisin In the Sun, Clybourne Park and The Drowsy Chaperone. All the plays were very well done and I enjoyed them all, but the play I remember best is the one I didn’t particularly want to see— The Drowsy Chaperone. Advertised as a parody of musicals from the 1920s, I didn’t expect to like it and I didn’t—I LOVED it! Funny beyond words.
  • Went to Shakespeare at the Cannery for the third year to see In the Mood, the company’s musical version of Much Ado About Nothing. The singing and dancing were not up to the level of the acting, but David Yen, who played Benedick, was so good, I almost didn’t care.
  • Kicked off the theater season with my annual sojourn up Mt. Tamelpais for The Mountain Play. This year was West Side Story so, yes, I saw this play twice at two different venues with two different casts. You haven’t lived if you haven’t taken a trip to the top of the mountain in a big, yellow school bus.
  • Flew to Los Angels to see Sondheim on Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl with my good friend Lynn. The performance was wonderful but the real show is always the bowl itself—an intimate evening with 17,000 people.

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How Procrastination Killed My Blog and Why I’m Back

I wrote a blog about procrastination in January. That was back when I was actually writing a blog. So what happened that caused me to take a four-month hiatus?  Why was I suddenly procrastinating? And why had I previously managed to write a weekly blog for almost five months?

The reason I was successful is easy. I was taking a social media class at the local junior college. I had wanted to write a blog for some time and, finally, I had the tools and the impetus to get started. Writing a blog was mandatory. So, no matter how busy I was, I found time to write. My grade depended on it. Then the class ended and so did my good intentions. Within a few weeks, I stopped writing my blog. But I was going to start again soon—next week, or the very next.

In January I said I didn’t know why I procrastinated. I have a pretty good idea now. The future may bring me more “ah,ha” moments. In the meantime, I can think of four reasons why I frequently procrastinate.

  • Perfectionism: What if what I do doesn’t live up to my expectations.    What if it isn’t good enough? This leads to the next reason…
  • Fear: Elizabeth Gilbert once stated that “all procrastination is fear.” But is it fear of failure or fear of success? I think I fear both at different times, maybe even simultaneously. “People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.” Denis Waitley
  • Lack of self-discipline: Lacking self-discipline, we become seduced by instant gratification. The desire for instant gratification causes us to put off the things we should (or even want to do) for an instant “hit.” For example, I really want to finish the art for my book but I also want to work in my yard, watch that highly recommended movie, read the book I just bought on Kindle and a few other things that are all a lot easier and less time-consuming than finishing twenty-two illustrations.
  • I’m really busy: Of course, I was busy when I was taking that class. It’s all about priorities. Perfectionism, fear, and a lack of self-discipline caused me to make other choices when the blog was no longer mandated by an outside force. My long-term goal was sabotaged by a desire for instant gratification. I would write the blog tomorrow when I wasn’t quite so busy…only I didn’t.

    My Plan to Stop (or at least reduce) Procrastinating

    There a lot of things I could do. Today I read article after article on the “whys” of procrastination, and how to stop doing it. However, in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed—leading to more procrastination—I have selected two simple tools.

    1. Break things down into smaller steps: When I think about the fact that I need to finish twenty-two illustrations in order to complete my book, I feel overwhelmed. If I set a goal of one or two a week, the mountain of work will hopefully become a manageable incline.

    2. Use the Ivy Lee Method:

    • At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.
    • Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
    • When you begin your work day, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.
    • Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.
    • Repeat this process every working day.

Why I’m Back In The Blogging Saddle Again

Despite a lot of self-doubt (Do I really have anything worthwhile to say that hasn’t been said before? Does anyone really care?), I’ve set the intention of resuming a weekly blog. Maybe it’s just for me, but I have come up with a few reasons why I think it’s a good idea.

  1. It will help me write better by providing a consistent arena to hone my skill. Practice does, indeed, make perfect.
  2. It demands self-discipline which means coming to grips with procrastination. It’s a test of sorts.
  3. I can promote my art and writing. Whether it’s a publishing deal or an offer of gallery representation, I’ve been told it’s more likely to happen to writers and artists who have built a loyal fan base.
  4. Writing a blog teaches me a lot. It demands that I learn about stats and how to get readers. It demands that I do research on interesting topics. If introduces me to other bloggers. I learn so much from their example. (Austin Kleon, you are my blogging idol.)  And, oh, yes, (back to number 1) it demands that I write.

I procrastinated much of today but I finally did what I set out to do. I wrote a blog and published it! Stay tuned to see if I can establish a regular habit.