Featured Member Interview – Elise Collins

Interview by Susan Allison

As a successful writer, Elise speaks of her history, explaining that she was encouraged by her family to be an intellectual, and was expected to read and write well. It was in her mid twenties that she began writing articles for newspapers and had a column called “Body and Soul” in the ​Psychic Reader​. She adds, “It was here where I explored the connection between the body and the spirit, and how that relationship in many forms is the foundation of health.” 

When asked if her passion for healthy living began in childhood, Elise responds, “Looking back, I was always attuned to a healthy lifestyle. My mom was into healthy foods; I read Wayne Dyer in high school and worked in a health food restaurant while in college. I grew up around my grandma and saw her live a very active life until the age of 95 when she passed away. My parents are 88 and 89 and they are both very active. I learned from all the older adults in my family that aging can be fun and exciting.”  

Elise says that the term “super ager” was a buzzword that resonated with her and she wanted to know how she could become one. Combining her knowledge and training in healing, yoga and Ayurveda, she decided to “put together something that helps people to age well and feel good about it.” This curiosity and desire spurred her to write  Super Ager, You Can Look Younger, Have More Energy, A Better Memory, and Live a Long and Healthy Life, released this summer. 

“I think people are confused about aging,” Elise explains. “The comment I get most from people who read my book is, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize aging could be fun or something to look forward to.’ I think we have so many limiting beliefs about aging. There is so much programming and people have not questioned their own beliefs around aging, which in my opinion seem to be stuck in the past. I think people are sooooo hungry for role models and examples of Super Agers. I think we are entering an era in which how ‘awake’ and conscious you are is more important than your age.” 

Elise offers advice about how to become a Super Ager:

1) Accept where you are right now at any age.

2) Know that it is never too late to change. You probably have some healthy habits and some not so healthy habits.  Some things that you want to try, but are perhaps afraid that you are too ‘old.’ What small step can you take today to become a little healthier, or is there something fun that you have wanted to try? Could it be a change in your attitude? Taking a walk? Doing some jumping jacks or eating more veggies? Acting? Dorothy Steel who starred as the elder in ​Black Panther​ didn’t start acting until she was 88 years old.  Start with one tiny, positive change and stick with that new habit until it is second nature. 

3) Remember your attitude is the most important part of Super Aging. And behind that is your purpose. What is your reason for living? What brings you joy? If you don’t know, then you probably won’t want to Super Age. 

So what brings Elise Collins joy in fulfilling her purpose?  “I love working with people of all ages and backgrounds. I really love young people and that is a trait of Super Agers. They like to keep up with what is new. That is me. I love the future! I love to work with groups in yoga classes and workshops and while coaching. People transform better in community. There is a group energy that you can’t get in one on one.” As a member and vice president of the WNBA, Elise enjoys being in a supportive community and inspiring women writers.

As an energetic Super Ager, Elise is enrolled in the University of Southern California, Masters of Gerontology Program, and says her next book will be on intergenerational yoga, ways to bring together children,  parents and grandparents. She adds, “We need more activities, besides eating and staring at screens that will bring multiple generations together.” 

Elise’s holistic view of aging will shift the way people think of themselves and the world. Potentially, it will keep anyone vibrant, energetic and sharp well into their 60’s, 80’s, 100’s and beyond, able to experience a profound life phase of meaning, wisdom and enjoyment. 

Elise Marie Collins has been a visionary yoga teacher for twenty years, inspiring students and clients to form healthy lifestyle patterns. She has also authored three books to encourage readers to optimize their well being and longevity, her latest being the life changing text, Super Ager: You Can Look Younger, Have More Energy, A Better Memory, and Live a Long and Healthy Life.  You can find more about her at EliseMarieCollins.com

Book Marketing Pros Panel: WNBA-SF’s Secrets to Successful Marketing for Writers

Author Lunch
Mechanics’ Institute Library, San Francisco
Friday, October 19, 2018, 12:00 Noon
57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
4th Floor, Chess Room (Free to Public, refreshments available)

When do you start marketing your book? Find out the surprising answer at WNBA-SF’s Book Marketing Master Class. Join three promotional and marketing experts who are there to give you highly effective bookselling tips and tools. Attendees can receive a proprietary marketing guide filled with the most up-to-date secrets to social media, and the art (and science) of selling your book. Building your platform and book promotion can sound daunting, even overwhelming. How can you do that and still have time for the creativity or writing? Turns out, marketing is a creative art as well. From achievable marketing plans, promo ideas that fit your book, and tips for ruling social media, this panel of experts will provide highly effective tools for marketing your writing, your book, and yourself. Brenda Knight will share insider secrets from big-house publishing to create preorders for your book, how to master metadata and much more. Top publicist Eileen Duhne will talk about which media actually sells books and the keys to booking print and radio including NP. Events Manager, TV host and public speaker extraordinaire Sue Wilhite will share how to craft highly successful talks. 

Eileen Duhné is a publicist and publishing consultant who has worked with everyone from New York Times bestselling authors to self-published books by first time authors. She knows what publicity actually sells books. Eileen has worked in or with the media since she began her career as a radio announcer in the SF Bay Area. The former Director of Publicity and Marketing at a book distributor in Northern CA, for 25 years she has worked on books from Quincy Jones, the creator of Aveda, the founder of The Shift Network, the SF Giants, award-winning photographers, and #1 New York Times bestselling author Mark Nepo, one of Oprah’s favorite writers, as well as dozens of books and projects by individual authors and indie publishers in both traditional and new publishing platforms. She specializes in mind/body/spirit, new sciences, and non-fiction titles.

Brenda KnightBrenda Knight began her career at HarperCollins, working with luminaries Marianne Williamson, Mark Nepo, Melody Beattie, Huston Smith and Paolo Coelho. Knight served for 8 years as publisher of Cleis Press & Viva Edition, winner of the IndieFab’s Publisher of the Year Award in 2014. Knight was recognized by the American Library Association for “Outstanding leadership and contribution to society through the publication of books of significance.” Knight is the author of Wild Women and Books, Be a Good in the World, and Women of the Beat Generation, which won an American Book Award. Currently, Knight is Director of Acquisitions and Editorial Development at Mango Publishing. She also serves as President of the Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter. Her blog can be found at lowerhaightholler.blogspot.com

Heart-centered entrepreneurs hire Sue Wilhite as their Profit Attraction Mentor so they can stop struggling with the marketing that’s not their genius, and attract more perfect customers. As a best-selling author, publisher and business coach, Sue teaches her clients how to earn six figures as an Authority – even if they can’t market their way out of a wet paper bag. Sue currently serves on the WNBA-SF Board as the Membership Co-Chair. ProfitAttractionFormula.com

 

Dear Writers: Is an Epistolary Book Right for You?

By Gina L. Mulligan, author, Remember the Ladies; From Across the Room; and Dear Friend

If you lived in the late 1700s, you drank corn whiskey, spun your own cloth, and spent your evenings in the glow of candlelight reading an epistolary novel. If the term epistolary is unfamiliar, you’re not alone. An epistolary novel is a story told through letters, and though it’s not common today, it was the most popular novel format throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries. In fact, epistolary novelist Samuel Richardson was the Stephen King of his day. Since its heyday, the epistolary format really hasn’t really made a come-back. But there are a few that made it big like The Color Purple, The Guernsey Potato Peel Society, Carrie, Dracula, and 84 Charing Cross Lane. If you’ve only seen the movies, you’re missing out!

Like many writers, I’m fascinated by letters. They’re a voyeuristic peek behind the curtain and so I decided to try writing an epistolary novel. A few years after I started, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I discovered first-hand the healing power of letters so I founded Girls Love Mail, a charity dedicated to giving hand-written letters to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. My epistolary novel was published, From Across the Room (Five Star 2016); Girls Love Mail has distributed over 120,000 hand-written letters; and the charity published a collection of 100 letters called Dear Friend; Letters of Encouragement, Humor and Love for Women with Breast Cancer (Chronicle Books 2017). I’m now a letter expert. So, what does an epistolary book require? Is the style right for you?

Telling the Story

Fiction or non, because letters are first-person expressions of beliefs and feelings, readers organically develop a quick and deep understanding of characters. Think how much we know from a simple “My Dearest Rebecca,” versus, “Hey Dude.” Letters also have built-in pacing. Short or unfinished letters create a page-turner. To slow down important moments, a longer, intricate exchange or multiple letters with different points of view do the trick. Even setting and plot are advanced because a letter naturally demands some level of description.

That said, not every story works in this format. Maybe you have wonderful World War II letters from your grandfather or you love writing letters yourself. You need to ask yourself if the story (true or not) is enhanced by using letters. To make this call, try sorting them by story arc, not date. Do you see the story you want to tell within the context of the letters? Or will you need a fair amount of narrative commentary to explain what’s going on? The best epistolary stories are the ones where the format itself is either imperative or greatly improves the narrative. For examples, look at The Shirley Letters: From the California Gold Mines (non-fiction), and Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (fiction).

Telling the Reader

Second, you need patience. The pivotal challenge for this format is how to get information to your reader in a way that isn’t forced. Unlike a narrative, you have to know which characters to tell what. If you’ve already told one character, then how do you share it with another without boring the reader? Language is also a big consideration. Would your character write in the same style to a friend as he would his mother? And if letters are going back and forth, how important is the timing of the letters? It’s a giant puzzle. To save time and your sanity, I recommend a very detailed outline of your characters, their part in the story, and their motivations for writing letters. You’ll also want to resolve if you only want to use letters. For example, Dracula has diary entries interspersed with the letters. It’s a wonderful technique to go deeper into the thoughts of the characters.

Finally, you’ll need many draft readers who will be honest with you and let you know if the story is making sense. No friends and family for this. You need the hard truth.

It’s comforting to know that classic epistolary works are still studied in Literature classes, and a few modern authors have experimented with the traditional epistle by creating stories from blog entries, emails, and text messages. These create a wonderful record of our current culture. The ongoing fascination with letters continues because they connect us with our past and provide a means of recording our society with in-depth perspectives and first-hand accounts. They also ideal in helping writers develop story pacing and unique characters.

Overall, trying this format is a great exercise and will only improve your writing. So go for it. We may not live in the 1700s, but Lord Byron’s words still resonates today. He wrote, “Letter writing is the only device combining solitude with good company.”

Gina L. Mulligan is a veteran freelance journalist and the author of two historical novels; REMEMBER THE LADIES and FROM ACROSS THE ROOM, and the non-fiction DEAR FRIEND; Letters of Encouragement, Humor, and Love for Women with Breast Cancer. After her own diagnosis, Gina founded Girls Love Mail, a national charity that collects handwritten letters of for women with breast cancer. Since the formation in 2011, the charity has sent out over 140,000 letters across the country. Gina has been featured on The NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, The Steve Harvey Show, People.com, Today.com, and Woman’s Day Magazine.

Narrative Arc – Your story needs a shape

By Louise Nayer, author of  Poised for Retirement: Moving from Anxiety to Zen (2017)

As a poet for many years, I didn’t obsess about “narrative arc” —though there was a beginning, middle and end to my poems that I tinkered with constantly.

When I moved to prose — plot, character transformation, tying it all together — the denouement — was new territory for me and very difficult. I didn’t even like the term “narrative arc” that everyone was throwing around. Why do I have to prove growth? Change? Don’t people stay the same? Or if the writing is good, isn’t that enough? Life is not neat. It’s messy, often very messy. I didn’t want Pollyanna endings. Why do I need arc?

When I sent out a piece to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The Panic,” about an accident that severely burned my parents when I was four and my later panic attacks, it was rejected. I decided to go back and change the ending with some words thrown in about how we all accepted our new, reconstructed family and became more compassionate people. Bingo, the article was published.

I’ve gotten more skilled at thinking about the arc — about the obstacles in the way and about transformation. We tend to gravitate toward characters that learn from the past and are resilient, despite the hard knocks of life. Resilience gives us hope that we, too, learn from our suffering and have a story to tell, a legacy to leave.

In memoir, especially, no one likes a whiny voice. However, memoirs are often written about terribly painful events. The writing needs to go deeply into the pain of a scene or moment in order for the book to work. But the author also needs to have a new perspective, a lesson learned, and an acceptance of pain, death, and separation and, yes, often a reminder that love and deep connections to others heal us.

So what is arc?

First, a character wants something and has a desire. Adair Lara, who wrote a wonderful piece “Key Elements of Writing a Memoir”, named it the “desire line.” Sometimes that’s hard to figure out, and that’s okay. In the new memoir I’m writing, at first I thought my nineteen year old self wanted love (which of course everyone wants), but as I wrote for a couple of years, I realized what I wanted first was to break away from my parents. I then went back and revised some scenes with that in mind. The desire must propel the book forward. Readers want to root for you—hoping you will find independence, or love, or a missing parent or sibling, or make it to base camp of Everest!

One reviewer said of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild “…it’s a woman coming out of heartbreak…with a clear view of where she has been.” We want to see that she has examined her life and also found resilience, in Strayed’s case both physically and emotionally as she walks 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail.

But the arc needs to be earned. People don’t easily change or suddenly gain a new perspective. Most people actually stay the same and don’t want to examine their lives. Who can blame them? It’s hard work. But as writers, that’s what we do. We examine the big questions and also the minutiae of life. Characters go on a journey, often to a new land. Some of these journeys are harrowing. In Beah’s Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, he goes from an idyllic childhood to being caught up in the terror of war in Sierra Leone and doing terrible acts, to being rescued by UNICEF and brought to America. We see the pain. We see the resilience. We see the forgiveness. In Jessmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped she starts with a question about why all these men she cared about died and finds answers as she examines racism and economic struggle.

We’re cheerleaders throughout the books we read, staying up late at night wanting to make sure she got back home before her mother died, or she was able to continue to be a nurse even though she was in an accident and had to be in a wheelchair, or that despite being facially burned, she found someone who wanted to be her romantic partner.

Arc is about life’s ups and downs—what a character wants and the obstacles she faces along the way. The denouement is the climax, when things are made clear and resolved. As humans, we know that the next week can bring more obstacles or difficulties that will need to be overcome As writers, we are the puppeteers, picking and choosing—what obstacles must be faced, and what lessons will be learned on the journey.

Louise Nayer is the author of five books. Burned: A Memoir was an Oprah Great Read and won the Wisconsin Library Association Award. Her most recent book is about emotional planning for retirement: Poised for Retirement: Moving from Anxiety to Zen. She teaches through OLLI at UC Berkeley and is a member of the SF Writer’s Grotto where she teaches memoir.

Pushing Boundaries – Stories of Border Crossings, Love, Courage and the Indomitable Human Spirit

WNBA-SF hosts National Reading Group Month 
Book Passage, Ferry Building, San Francisco
October 13th, 2018, Saturday
3:00-5:00pm
Co-sponsored by:

litquake logo 2017

 

 

Kristina McMorris, Sold on a Monday: A Novel (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2018), is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her background includes ten years of directing public relations for an international conglomerate as well as extensive television experience. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts, her novels have garnered twenty national literary awards, and include Letters from HomeBridge of Scarlet LeavesThe Pieces We Keep, and The Edge of Lost, in addition to novellas in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central. A frequent guest speaker and workshop presenter, she holds a BS in international marketing from Pepperdine. She lives with her husband and two sons in Oregon.

Debbie Clarke Moderow is the author of Fast Into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail (Boreal Books, 2018). The memoir recounts her experience running Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and explores her deepening and inextricable bond with her team of Alaskan huskies. The memoir, her first book, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February 2016 and was released by Boreal Books of Red Hen Press in June 2018. Debbie earned a BA from Princeton University in 1977 and an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop in 2013. She and her husband, Mark, live in Denali Park and Anchorage Alaska.

Lauren Markham is a writer based in Berkeley, California. Her writing focuses on issues related to youth, migration, the environment and her home state of California, and has appeared in outlets such as NarrativeThe GuardianOrionHarper’s, The New RepublicGuernica, The New York Times, and VQR, where she is a contributing editor. She is the author of The Far Away Brothers (Crown, 2017), which was the winner of the Ridenhour Prize, The Northern California Book Award, the California Book Award Silver Medal, and was shortlisted for an LA Times Book Prize and longlisted for the Pen America Literary Award. In addition to writing, she works at a high school for immigrant youth in Oakland, California. 

Brianna Wolfson’s debut novel is Rosie Colored Glasses (MIRA, 2018). She shares her narrative non-fiction in the San Francisco writing circuit, having performed at The Moth and been featured on Medium.  Thinks and writes about family stuff. Does the crossword in pencil. Plays the lottery on Fridays.​

 

Mary Monroe, One House Over: A Novel (Dafina, 2018) is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of over 20 novels, with over one million books in print. She is a three-time AALBC bestseller and winner of the AAMBC Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and the J. California Cooper Memorial Award. The daughter of Alabama sharecroppers, she taught herself how to write before going on to become the first and only member of her family to finish high school. She lives in Oakland, California and can be found online at MaryMonroe.org.

Mary Volmer - credit Kory HaydenThe moderator, Mary Volmer, is the author of two novels: Crown of Dust (Soho Press, 2010) and Reliance, Illinois (Soho Press, 2016). She teaches at Saint Mary’s College (CA).

The Power of YES: Why Community Matters in Your Writing Life

By Joan Gelfand, author of You Can Be a Winning Writer (July 2018)

Do you know how John Lennon fell in love with Yoko Ono?
While visiting an art gallery—Lennon himself was a sketch artist, had gone to art school and was a fixture on the London art scene as well as a famous Beatle – he saw Ono on a ladder installing her one woman art show: a huge sculpture of the word YES.

There is a children’s book called “Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You.” The book is an object lesson in teaching children the consequences of their actions with the help of a cast of lovable characters—Lowly Worm, Pig Will and Pig Won’t. Pig Will does what’s asked of him. Lo and behold, guess what? Pig Will gets the goodies. He gets to participate, have fun, and be an all-around happy guy. Pig Won’t, of course, always finds a reason to say no. You guessed it. Pig Won’t doesn’t get the goodies. Simple as this sounds, Pig Will has power.

When people see that you help out, not only because you want to build your reputation, but because you are a ‘team player,’ you are also cheerfully having a “Pig Will moment:” You are “paying it forward.”

Not all of our “Yes’s” or positive actions are immediately followed by fabulous outcomes. But haven’t you found that taking positive action—on balance—has benefited you?

The Big, Scary “Yes”
In 2004, I had quit my corporate job to write a novel, had a setback, and was just starting to establish myself as a poet. Like many writers, I was busy! I still had a daughter at home, I was running a small business, and my writing projects had projects. When a writer friend told me about WNBA, I was thrilled to meet colleagues and friends who were in the same boat! Soon after joining WNBA, members received an email. The current president was stepping down and, if someone didn’t take the reins, the chapter would fold. Wow. Okay. I was new to the group, but with the support of another member, we said “Yes,” and took on the presidency. Boy, did I get an education. I learned how to plan events, communicate to a group, and get things going. Together, we doubled our membership! Somehow, I found time in my busy life to help WNBA.

Two years later, I was asked to be the incoming National President’s Vice President. Now, that was a serious ask. It meant two years as VP, two years as President, and two years as Immediate Past President. I was loathe to take on a six year commitment. I wanted to get back to my novel. My husband strongly advised that I take the position.

Since that time, I’ve had five more books published, four of which were directly related to my leadership role in WNBA. The other one certainly took into account that I had a national platform. The point here is not about happy endings, it’s about why community matters in your writing life.

Community
Doesn’t it seem to happen that just when you are feeling stretched thin, crunched for time, and really not in the mood that opportunities to say YES! present themselves? What I want to say is that it isn’t always so obvious when the right time is to say “Yes.” Building your platform is not exactly like party planning. Sometimes you need to say YES! exactly when you would be inclined to say NO! Sometimes you make that extra effort to build your platform at exactly the time when you want to pull in your oars, hibernate, isolate and…. WRITE!

But winning writers, remember, are a breed apart. Winning writers who follow the “4 C’s” are firing on all burners; building community, working on craft, maintaining commitment, and moving forward with confidence.

A note on teams: Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. When I took on the Presidency of WNBA, I had mentors. Past presidents, executive board members, and chapter members were all sources of great inspiration and encouragement for me. YES! 

Joan’s new book, You Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 C’s of Successful Authors: Craft, Commitment, Community and Confidence, newly published by Mango Press, is on Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases. The author of three poetry collections and an award-winning book of short fiction, Joan is the recipient of numerous writing awards, commendations, nominations and honors. Joan can be found writing and coaching writers at Eco-Systm co-working space in SF. http://joangelfand.com

22nd Annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture featuring Shane Evans

Thursday, September 6th, 2018
SAN FRANCISCO MAIN LIBRARY

CIVIC CENTER • FREE ADMISSION
100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94102
5:00 pm: Reception, Children’s Center Creative Center, 2nd Floor

6:00 pm: Lecture, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level

WNBA Members and Guests are invited to the pre-event Reception.

Join the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter and the Main Library’s Children’s Center as author/illustrator Shane W. Evans, author of the Coretta Scott King Award-winning Underground, speaks on The Art of Dream….

A book-signing will follow the lecture.

Shane Evans is perhaps best-known as the author and illustrator of the Coretta Scott King Award-winning picture book underground, a sensorily rich evocation of how it feels to be a slave on the way to freedom. Among his dozens of other titles are collaborations with his lifelong friend, actor and singer Taye Diggs; the pair have together created Chocolate Me, Mixed Me! and other warmhearted picture stories. Shane Evans is the recipient of an NAACP Image Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor award, and two Jane Adams Honor awards, one for Lillian’s Right to Vote (written by Jonah Winter) and the other for We March.

This annual lecture honors the work of the late Effie Lee Morris by celebrating the work of writers and illustrators for children whose work exemplifies the causes she championed: inclusivity, diversity, and the rights of all children to read, learn, and create. Ms. Morris was the first coordinator of children’s services at SFPL, the first African-American president of the Public Library Association, and a founder of the local chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA).

This lecture series is sponsored by the Main Children’s Center, the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and the SF chapter of the WNBA. The event is free and open to members of the public of all ages.

For more information, call 415-557-4554 or see their website.

2018 San Francisco Writing for Change Conference

Saturday, September 8th, 2018
Check-in begins at 8:00 am

Event: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
First Unitarian Universalist Center of San Francisco
1187 Franklin Street (at Geary), San Francisco, CA

Please join the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter at the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference where we will have a booth and also be participating in panels on getting published, marketing and writing the perfect proposal and much more!

The keynoter at the 2018 San Francisco Writing for Change will be best-selling/award winning author Daniel Ellsberg.
He is an activist on the dangers of the nuclear era and the urgent need for patriotic whistleblowing. He is the author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Dr. Ellsberg will be interviewed by David Landau.
At the 10th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference you will discover how what you write can change the world…and how to get your writing published. The theme of the conference is “Writing to Make a Difference,” with topics ranging from business, spirituality, politics, technology, social issues, the environment, culture, the law, and much more.

Check out the latest schedule of sessions at the Change event.
The Writing for Change Conference is devoted to bringing together agents, editors, authors, and publishing professionals in order to enable writers to learn from the experts about writing, publishing, marketing, and technology. You’ll come away knowing how to get your work published successfully, online and off. Click Here for bios of the Change faculty.
You will have the chance to learn from and pitch your book to the presenters, and to get feedback on your work from freelance editors. The conference will include one jam-packed day of workshops, panels and the keynote address. You will leave feeling inspired and enlightened. Please join us for this amazing day.

San Francisco Writing For Change registration includes:

    • Keynote and a full day of sessions
    • A full faculty of presenters–authors, editors, agents, marketing experts
    • Ask-the-Pros round-tables with presenters
    • Feedback on your work from independent editors
    • Networking with speakers and other writers
    • Opportunity to pitch your book to agents and editors

This Conference will be limited to 100 attendees.

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR 2018! Click here to register today 

This event is presented by the San Francisco Writers Conference and San Francisco Writers Foundation.  We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is to help writers get their work published and to support all forms of  writing and written communication.

For sponsorship and marketing opportunities, contact us at info@sfwriters.org.

New Date-Northern California Book Awards 2018

Northern California Book Awards logo

37th Northern California Book Awards
NEW DATE – Sunday, July 1, 2018, 1:00- 3:30 pm

KORET AUDITORIUM • SAN FRANCISCO MAIN LIBRARY
100 Larkin Street, Civic Center, San Francisco
FREE ADMISSION

The 37th Annual Northern California Book Awards will celebrate writers and readers in Northern California. Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translation, and Children’s Literature will be presented, with brief celebratory readings and remarks by the winning authors.

A lively reception with book signing follows, all free and open to the public. The Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award and NCBR Recognition Award will be presented. NCBAs are presented by Northern California Book Reviewers, a volunteer association of book reviewers and book review editors, Poetry Flash, the San Francisco Public Library and the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, PEN West, and the Mechanics’ Institute Library

Nominees and honorees will be announced in May 2018. Visit Poetryflash.org (see front page NCBA feature) for the list of last year’s nominees and winners.

Eligible reviewers and readers are always welcome. More information on this page.

Helpful Feedback That Actually Helps: Writing Critiques

By Bridgitte Jackson-Buckley, author of The Gift of Crisis​ (October 2018)

Discernment can be defined as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.” This term, however, is most often associated within a spiritual context to obtain direction and understanding. But when you’re a writer, discernment is one of the most important, if not the most important factor in how you will decide who has the ability to judge well — who you will allow to give you feedback on your writing.
For the past several years, I’ve written many articles without consideration of feedback beyond the comments section. During these years, I didn’t seek out feedback for my writing due to the following concerns:

  • I was worried the feedback would be negative.
  • I didn’t know whom to ask.
  • I didn’t know how to ask.

It wasn’t until I began to write my first book when I came to understand how truly important the right feedback is to writing.
Now, I’m not referring to feedback which sugarcoats what should not be sugarcoated. I’m referring to feedback that is actually helpful, sincere, and in alignment with the highest vision for your writing.

So how do you determine whom to ask for feedback?

When I began to write the book, out of nowhere I became a part of a writing group. I wasn’t looking for a group to join, someone to write with or anything that would take more of my time away from writing. I was simply meeting friends for coffee, who just so happened to love writing as much as I do!
During coffee, my friend said, “We should do this again, maybe next week at my apartment, so we can discuss the screenplay without interruption.” The four of us agreed and we began to meet on a weekly basis to talk about screenwriting.

Since I didn’t have anything on paper in the form of a screenplay, I slowly began to share details about the book I was working on. Now, let me be clear, I have a few friends who are writers, but for some reason I have not been able to identify why I do not feel comfortable sharing my work with them. I’ve tried to understand why, but then I gave up. I decided I didn’t need to know why. The fact that I didn’t feel comfortable was reason enough. So I went with that. With regards to my writing group, these women are also friends. The difference is, I sense there is something about each of them that is settled, at ease, honest and trustworthy.

When I finally got the nerve to ask them to read one of my chapters, I was nervous. It was the first time I had ever shared something so personal, and so dear to my heart. But they were the perfect people to share it with. They each have individual and specific experience in areas of writing that I do not. But most importantly, after many candid discussions about my intention for the book and my writing, they began to understand where I was coming from.
They could then read the material and tell me if what I wrote is consistent with the overall intention of the book, if it reads true, is engaging and has flow. They are able to tell me if the story makes sense, or if I’ve somehow gotten lost in details, or have drifted off point or swayed too far in any direction.

The feedback began to feel as if we are a relationship, where each of us has a safe place to explore writing as an extension of ourselves. The space is safe, not sugarcoated safe, but honestly safe.

I can now be specific about where I am in the writing process and the kind of feedback that helps. I have trusted individuals with whom I can say, “I’m really struggling with this chapter. Could you read it and see if the ideas flow in a cohesive order?” I know the precise stage of my writing process when I need feedback: when I am just beginning and when I think I am finished! I have been able to figure out when I benefit from feedback the most, and the ways to ask for that feedback effectively.

The thing to be clear about as a writer is, there will always be someone who can give feedback. However, not all feedback is right for you. You have to take the time to use discernment to assess if the person is compatible with your writing.

If you’re running around like a “chicken with its head cut off”, asking for feedback from people who are not compatible with your writing, that’s exactly what you’ll get: feedback that is not compatible with your writing, what you’re trying to do, or the story that wants to be told through you.

Clarity around what you’re writing is about will help you to determine who is a good fit for feedback. Again, it’s not about only asking people who will tell you what you want to hear or even industry professionals. It’s about asking someone who cares about the craft, is interested in the craft, and is skilled enough to provide something concrete, something you can actually learn from.

Be clear if you trust the person giving you feedback. Pay attention to how the feedback feels in your center — “decide if the person is right about what’s wrong with your story or if they’re trying to take it in a different direction than you originally intended.”

And last, but not least, trust yourself. Trust what you are capable of doing, what you are creating and writing. The first draft may not be perfect, but with time, perseverance, and love infused into your craft and good feedback, you are well on your way to honing your absolute best instinctive writing skills.

Bridgitte Jackson Buckley is a freelance writer, author and ghostwriter whose focus includes spirituality, transformational documentaries, and in-depth interviews. She is a former contributor to General Religion on the National circuit of Examiner.com as the National Spirituality Examiner. She’s interviewed many New Thought luminaries including Eckhart Tolle, Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, and Elizabeth Gilbert. As a freelance writer, she has written online articles for Examiner, Tiny Buddha, Recreate Your Life Story, Thrive Global, Medium, Gaia and Patheos’ Spirituality Itself. She is a fluent Spanish speaker and has traveled extensively throughout Central America including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additional travels also include Hong Kong, Malaysia and (her favorite adventure) Thailand. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, three children and Miniature Schnauzer.