Monday, October 26, 2009

NaNoWriMo - how to get involved with a national writing movement

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a world-wide writing contest with no prizes, no judges and no entry fee—just a very crazy deadline. The goal? Write 50,000 words of a new novel during the month of November.

But wait. Doesn’t that outrageous word count make you sacrifice quality for quantity?

Yes. Exactly. And that’s the point. Something magical happens when you are forced to produce an average of 1,667 words per day. For one thing, you can’t possibly spend a week perfecting your first chapter and meet the deadline. Instead, for thirty glorious days beginning on November 1 and ending at 11:59 PM on November 30 you get to fire your internal editor and allow your imagination free reign. And, like so many Wrimos who have come before you, you too may learn to embrace and even rejoice over the true meaning of the words “rough draft.”

The only conditions are that you begin a new work of fiction (no resurrecting that old manuscript you put aside years ago) and you must write a novel—not a collection of short stories, poems, or memoir.

For more information and/or to signup for NaNoWriMo 2009 (go ahead, do it. You know you want to) log on to When you signup, make sure to select Marin-Sonoma as your home region. This will allow you access to the online forum for our area where local NaNoWriMo events and write-ins will be listed.

Local kickoff event at the Central Branch of the Library, 3rd & E Streets, Santa Rosa, on Monday night, Oct. 26 from 6:00 -- 8:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served and questions will be answered (note the order of my priorities!)

Debbie Koehler

Municipal Liaison (ML) for NaNoWriMo, Sonoma County

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Redwood Writers Announces Its Poetry Contest Winners

Becca Lawton, photo by Paul Christopulos

October 6, 2009, Sonoma County -- The Redwood branch of the California Writers Club announces the winners of its Poetry Contest, in conjunction with our 2009 Writers Conference.

The contest was, in part, a celebration of the California Writers Club centennial celebration. It was open to all residents living in Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Solano, Lake, and Mendocino Counties. All winning submissions were previously unpublished works and they were judged on clarity, originality, and cohesion. One of the judges, Mike Tuggle, Sonoma County Poetry Laureate, reports that, "I'm an imagery poet. All of the poems submitted had strong images, making it hard to choose. I think you'll enjoy reading these winning selections."

Winners were announced at the Redwood Writer's - CWC general meeting held on October 4th. More than fifty entries were received. The following poets won the contest and will read their entries at the pre-conference dinner event on October 23rd:

Place Poet County Poem

First Rebecca Lawton Sonoma Journal

Second B.J. Stolbov Sonoma Ode to a Little Yellow Pencil

Third Jodi Hottel Sonoma Three Roosters

As Rebecca Lawton said of her winning entry, "It's truly exciting to have a poem chosen about a place I so dearly love." Rebecca writes prose and poetry about the canyons and rivers she knows and loves. Her winning entry, "Journal," is from her poetry collection in progress, Swimming Grand Canyon.

B.J. Stolbov is a cook, a nurse, a T'ai Chi and Chi Gong teacher, a bocce player, and is completing his latest poetry collection, Moments.

Jodi Hottel is a retired high school English teacher, who tries to spend as much time as possible grazing in that emerald strip between worry and hurry.

The contest was organized by the Redwood Writers 2009 Conference Committee and judged by Terry Ehret, Sonoma County Poetry Laureate Emeritus and Mike Tuggle, Sonoma County Poetry Laureate.

Press coverage of Becca Lawton's win was included in the Sonoma Valley Sun.

The evening of poetry with dinner on October 23rd is open to everyone aged 18 and over and the cost to participate is only $30.00 per person. Please register on-line at or download a registration form and mail it to the address shown below. Walk-ins are discouraged as space is limited.

The Redwood Writers 2009 Conference, including the evening of poetry is organized by the Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club, celebrating its Centennial. This event is supported, in part, by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.

About Redwood Writers Evening of Poetry:

The Redwood Writers 'Evening of Poetry' takes place on October 23, 2009 from 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm, at the Flamingo Hotel and Resort in Santa Rosa, 2777 Fourth Street, 95405, (707) 545-8530. The cost is $30. Speaker-poets include Al Young, Mike Tuggle, Armando Garcia-Davila, Carolyn Miller, and Lynn Knight. Armando Garcia-Davila is also the emcee for the evening of peotry.

About Redwood Writers 2009 Conference:

The Redwood Writers 2009 Conference takes place on October 24, 2009 from 7:30 am - 6:00pm (check-in from 7:30 - 8:15am), at the Flamingo Hotel and Resort in Santa Rosa, 2777 Fourth Street, 95405, (707) 545-8530. This one-day conference, part of the California Writers Club Centennial activities statewide, will feature agents, editors, and writers from all genres. They will offer their insights and experiences in the craft of writing at beginning through advanced levels, as well as the encouragement of fellow writers in a relaxed and friendly, wine-country setting. Copperfield's Books is our exclusive on-site bookstore seller. Conference web site:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Publications for sale in the Vintage Voices Shoppe

The Saturday schedule features three tracks of programming, where experts will talk on the craft, genre, and technology and business of writing.

A number of our presenters have books for sale and they will be sold in the Vintage Voices Shoppe, as well as a number of other books on the craft of writing.

There will be many opportunities during the day to have your copy(ies) signed by the author.

Presenter Publications for Sale in the Vintage Voices Shoppe – Alexander Room

Tamim Ansary

West of Kabul, East of New York

Destiny Disrupted: History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

JUST RELEASED - The Widow's Husband

Catharine Bramkamp

Death Revokes the Offer

Time is of the Essence

Patricia Volonakis Davis

Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece

Jody Gehrman

Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty

Triple Shot Bettys in Love

B. Lynn Goodwin

You want me to do What? Journaling for Caregivers

Seth Harwood

Jack Wakes Up

Steve Hockensmith

Holmes on the Range

The Crack in the Lens

Adair Lara

Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Writing Essays and Memoirs for Love and for Money

The Granny Diaries

Jordan Rosenfeld

Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time

Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life

Kemble Scott



Mark Sloan

Birth Day

Ann Wilkes

Awesome Lavratt

All book sales are handled on-site by our exclusive bookseller, Copperfield’s Books.

Monday, October 12, 2009

An Interview with B. Lynn Goodwin by Kerry Granshaw

B. Lynn Goodwin was first published in the mid-eighties. Dramatics Magazine printed a number of articles she wrote in the form of the diary entries of a student in a high school drama class. The series was so well received that she drafted a YA novel using the characters she'd created for the articles. As a high school drama and English teacher she was able to confer authenticity to the project.

Lynn writes and journals daily and has an impressive list of publications to her name. An organization called The Other Side of Creativity requested and printed her two short books, From An Author's Point of View: Tips on Writing and From An Author's Point of View: Tips on Marketing. She has also been published in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; the Oakland Tribune; the Contra Costa Times; the Danville Weekly; Staying Sane When You're Dieting; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; Career, Caregiving, Self-Care NCDA Monograph; 24/7—a caregiving anthology (forthcoming); Families of Loved Ones Magazine (forthcoming); Kaleidoscope (forthcoming) and numerous e-zines.

In December 2008, Tate published Lynn's You Want Me To Do What? – Journaling for Caregivers. Journaling helped Lynn when she cared for her mother and she wanted to assist others to process stress by using the same technique that served her well.

She finds that teaching stimulates the creative process. Lynn loves finding ways to introduce new writing techniques to students and to encourage each unique voice. For that reason she has chosen to give a workshop entitled Finding Your Writing Voice at the Redwood Writers 2009 Conference.

Lynn owns the excellent website Writer Advice. New issues are released quarterly and offer author interviews, reviews, information on contests and markets, writing by readers on Flash, and an annual Flash Prose Contest.

To quote Lynn: "No one else has your story to tell, so share your unique experiences with the world.

Editor's Notes:

[1] For more information, visit Writer Advice at If you'd like to contribute, please e-mail Lynn at Lgood67334 at

[2] Be sure to sign up for the October 24th Redwood Writers 2009 Conference to hear Lynn and many other excellent conference facilitators. More conference details:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An Interview with Darrend King Brown by Jean Wong

"He taught Simon Says to an entire village of Laotians, is a Class A chess player, and managed to water seven elephants at a Shell Station..." Does that sound like one of our colorful California writers? Actually it's part of a bio of Darrend King Brown, who has been editing for the last twenty-two years. He started writing when he got a grant from The Colorado College to study homelessness, and went on to publish articles and speak on this subject. One of his stories about a tramp got Darrend into the prestigious M.F.A. writing program at the University of Arkansas. Since then, he has written, taught, and done editing work in the United States, China, Japan, Ireland, and England.

Darrend says that his "favorite thing is to watch someone get better at writing. I get so proud." He knows writing can be a lonely task and that "all writers get rejected repeatedly. They have to be self-motivated, disciplined, and good at creating stuff. Then they need to be able to analyze, rework and market their writing, which requires many diverse skills."

Darrend asks writers: "What are you trying to do?" He then guides them to focus on what are the "most important things to work on to get there." He is careful to avoid a judgmental approach. "I'm treating their work with respect and telling them what it needs to meet the standards they've set for themselves." He feels that most writers are very receptive to his suggestions and that certain weaknesses in their writing will come up "more than once, so there's always opportunity to reinforce my point. Sometimes I'll work with writers who are improving very quickly, in which case the critique tends to help their next project more than their current one. That's always a fun place to be."

Darrend finds that "straightforward editing of a story's structure and language comes easily, but that the biggest challenge is clarifying the trends in someone's writing. This takes thought and inspiration and if that can be done well, it feels like a victory."

Intrigued by his interest in chess, I asked Darrend if this mindset helped him to look at a work from various angles, so he can see how one part of the structure affects the other or what sections need to be either trimmed or developed further. "Sometimes, yes, I get different insights from thinking of a plot in visual terms. I've noticed chess-playing brains are pretty infrequent in fiction writing. It's not a better way of thinking, but it's a rarer one in this field."

As to his ventures in the arena of authorship, Darrend reveals, "I do write myself. I have a novel I've been working on for a while and I think it's really good. Unfortunately, I have a large editor in my head at all times, so it goes slowly, slowly."

Editor's Notes:

[1] For more information, go to

[2] Editing is the act of re-visioning --- looking at your written work in a new way. The editor's job is to help you shape your work into its final form and to make you look fabulous. The editor is on your side, trying to make you look the best you can be. Writers and editors are collaborators. Darrend will be one of the editors on hand at the Redwood Writers 2009 Conference on October 24th. More conference details:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Interview with Seth Harwood by Karen Batchelor

Obscurity, Our Enemy

According to web-savvy author Cory Doctorow, "Our enemy is not piracy, but obscurity." Seth Harwood concurs; he gives away his hard work.

Seth's main character is Jack Palms, a former celebrity who has kicked a drug habit, fled Hollywood and gotten into shape. He finds himself in San Francisco entangled with KGB agents turned cocaine dealers. The story is all action, all the time.

Seth started writing about this character after working on his MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Because he loved action movies, he decided to try writing action heroes. Jack Palms was born.

After finishing the first in the series, Jack Wakes Up, he started giving it away. He serialized the story in podcasts—free audio recordings—online to attract a reader base. It worked. The adventures of Jack Palms drew a large audience—large enough to convince print-on-demand publisher Breakneck Books to take a chance on a debut novelist. The POD system creates a higher per-book price, but a much lower risk-to-publish. Since that publication, hit #1 in crime/mystery on, Seth has bought out his contract with Breakneck and signed with Three Rivers Press (Random House), a big, traditional New York publishing house.

Apparently Three Rivers does not agree with the philosophy of both Doctorow and Harwood. Although they will make the first few chapters available free online, the publishers will not allow the entire novel online for readers to download as a PDF. His podcasts, however, are all still free.

Seth is now working on a prequel to the four Jack Palms books (Jack Wakes Up; Jack Palms II: This is Life; Jack Palms III; Czechmate) and he is podcasting as he writes, once again intending to create a large fan base before the book is even available in paper.

The wave of the future is lapping the shores of the present. Seth sees our new markets expanding into e-books, iPhone applications, Kindle-readable, whole books to download in a PDF format online and audios. But he doesn't think the book of paper will ever go away. It's still his favorite way to read.

Seth is a busy guy. Not only does he write, but he also teaches, and he will be teaching us October 24 at our 2009 Conference at the Flamingo Hotel. He is on a panel with others who understand new and different ways to move books from obscurity to the limelight.

Editor's Notes:

[1] Seth Harwood was our guest speaker at the Redwood Writer general meeting on September 13.

[2] Seth Harwood spoke at a Writer's Digest conference in New York September 18-19 and this fall is teaching an online creative writing class for Stanford University. Check out or find out more about him and download his podcasts at

[3] Seth Harwood is part of a four-member panel at our October 24th conference. Joining him are Gil Mansergh, Kemble Scott, and Patricia V. Davis on the topic of "New Ways to Get Published." Their session is slated for 2:00 – 3:00 pm in the "Technology and Business" track. For more:

Friday, October 9, 2009

An Interview with Susan Bono by Tricia McWhorter

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to lunch with gifted editor, publisher and writer Susan Bono. Everyone I talked to in my pre-interview information-gathering phase told me that Susan is extremely talented, funny and delightful. They were absolutely correct.

In addition to running an editing and coaching business for writers, Susan is the intrepid publisher of Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative, a literary magazine currently in its fifteenth year of publication. Tiny Lights appears twice a year in hard copy and has an on-line presence as well. [1]

Susan started out teaching high school, but when her children were born, she left teaching in order to stay home with them. When they reached the ages of nine and seven she returned to college at Sonoma State and took classes in the personal essay from Gerry Haslam, whom she credits with helping her find her way into editing and publishing.

Susan told me that her work as an editor combines her love of teaching and writing. It felt like a way to blend the two, since the collaboration between editor and writer is much like the dynamic between student and teacher, where one is coaxing the very best from the other. Publishing seemed a good way to combine all these interests, since having an audience for the work is something all writers need. Susan said that her life works best when she maintains a balance between editing, publishing and writing.

I asked Susan what tips she could give aspiring writers. Here are a few of her favorites:

1. Jump on every opportunity you have to get your name out there by being published. Don't worry if the publication is large or small. The important thing is to build credibility. (I'll give a plug here: check out Tiny Lights if you write personal essay. You may want to respond to one of the prompts listed on Searchlights and Signal Flares Tiny Lights on-line writers' exchange at .)

2. If you have a blog or website, be sure to note that at the bottom of all of your correspondence and submissions; otherwise you're wasting an opportunity to get your name in front of people.

3. Be organized. If you want to make money as a writer you also have to think of it as a business. Keep track of your submissions: who, what, where and when you send things out. Calendar upcoming submission and contest deadlines and think ahead so you'll be ready to send in your work. [2]

4. Let publishers know if you are sending out simultaneous submissions. If you hear one of your pieces is being published, let the other publishers know so they don't waste time reviewing your work. Susan said that she has been in the position of having chosen a story as the winner of a Tiny Lights writing contest only to discover that the piece had already been published elsewhere with the stipulation that it not be republished. The writer had wasted her time as well as her judges' time.

5. Publishers are busy. If you submit something and don't hear back, don't assume it was because they hated your work. It's possible the publisher loved what you wrote but was too busy to respond immediately. They may have gotten distracted and your story might have become buried under the mountains of paper on their desk or lost in their inbox. There could be lots of reasons why you haven't heard anything. It is okay, and smart, to politely follow up.

6. The most important thing of all? Just write.

Susan Bono can be reached at You can also follow her on Facebook at

Editor's Notes:

[1] Go to Susan Bono's website at to find out about contests and submission guidelines.

[2] This point was underscored by our October 4th guest speaker, Stephanie Freele. She suggested the minimum items to track regarding submissions on a spreadsheet are as follows:

Title Market Date Date Date Redone Comments

Sent Rejected/Accepted

[3] Editing is the act of re-visioning --- a way of looking at your written work in a new way. The editor's job is to help you shape your work into its final form and to make you look fabulous. The editor is on your side, trying to make you look the best you can be. Writers and editors are collaborators. Be sure to come on out and say hi to Susan on October 24th at the Redwood Writers 2009 Conference.

More conference details:

[4] Be sure to find out more about Tricia on her blog Thought Threads at

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Redwood Writers Conference

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I attend the poetry evening and not the all day conference?

A: Yes. The poetry evening is just $30 per person AND can be paid by check or
money order and sent to our PO Box:
Redwood Writers
P.O. Box 4687
Santa Rosa, CA 95402.

Q: I noticed that lunch is provided during the all-day conference. What
about breakfast?

A: Breakfast is not included. A hearty lunch of grilled salmon Caesar salad will
be served. Mid-morning, coffee, tea and water service will be available. In the
afternoon, soft drinks and cookies will be provided.

Q: I can’t eat or meat or milk products. What can I do?

A: At check-in in the morning, be sure to ask for a special vegetarian, non-dairy
lunch to be made available. The Flamingo Hotel will accommodate your dietary

Q: Can I pay for the Conference by check instead of credit card?

A: Of course, make the check or money order payable to 'Redwood Writers.' The
online PayPal was provided as a convenience. About half of our attendees
registered online with credit card.

Q: Can I still see an editor?

A: Sorry. All slots were filled as of the August 15th deadline.

Q: When is the last day I can register for the Conference?

A: October 19th. The final head count is being submitted to the hotel.

Q: I was registered for the Jack London Conference (JLC). Can I come to
your Conference now?

A: Yes. You should have received your refund from the SF/Peninsula organizers by
now and can apply it towards the Redwood Writers 2009 Conference registration.
Not only that, but the board of the Redwood Branch of the CWC has authorized
the reinstatement of the early bird rate to make it easier for JLC registrants to join
us on October 24th. So, for any CWC member that was registered for the Jack
London Conference, the Redwood Writers will honor the early bird discount of
$125.00 for CWC members to attend the Redwood Writers 2009 Conference.
This results in a $20 savings for CWC members across the State.

Q: I have to cancel owing to a last minute trip. Can I get a refund?

A: The refund policy states “Requests postmarked prior to August 30, 2009 at fee
paid less $50. Requests postmarked after August 30, 2009 receive no refund.”
However, you may choose to send a substitute. This has worked well in the past
for both people involved.

Q: Can I bring friends to the Poetry event?

A: Yes. Poetry dinner event attendees may register for the “Evening of Poetry,”
even if they cannot attend the all-day Conference. Registration deadline for the
$30.00 “Evening of Poetry” is also October 19th.

Q: Can I just attend the Conference for the keynote addresses?

A: Sorry. This is not an available option.

Q: Does the Flamingo Hotel have WiFi?

A: Yes, the hotel has WiFi, however, there is a charge for access to the Internet.
WiFi fees are $4.95, $7.95, and $9.95 for 4, 8, and 24-hour windows,
respectively. That means that if you use your credit card for 4-hours of WiFi to
check e-mail, and you started at 7:30 am, then the WiFi access will only last until
11:29am. WiFi access is offered in windows across a fixed time period, NOT as a
cumulative use of time.

Q: Is there a charge for parking?

A: No. Parking is offered at no charge. Due to the number of attendees expected
for the Saturday conference, overflow parking is provided by the Long’s (now
CVS) Drugstore across the street.

Q: Will the presenter’s have their books for sale.

A: Yes. Be sure to come to the Vintage Voices Shoppe where the bookstore will
be in operation, managed by our exclusive bookseller, Copperfield’s Books.

Q: How can I qualify for a free conference pass?

A: There are no conference passes available.

Q: Can I stay overnight at the Flamingo Friday night at a special rate?

A: Yes, since our 1-day conference starts early (7:30 am check-in) and people
may be attending the “Evening of Poetry” or driving for over an hour to arrive
from the Bay Area, we have special hotel rates established at the Flamingo Hotel
for the Friday night:
"Special rates of Deluxe King or Double/Double $99, Executive King $119, and
Suites $199 have been arranged for the conference eve. Please call the
Flamingo hotel directly at 800-848-8300 or 707-545-8530 and mention the
Redwood Writers for the discount. You may wish to enjoy a great evening of
poetry on the 23rd, relax at the hotel and be up early for the all-day conference
on the 24th."

Q: How much wine does Sonoma County produce?

A: Sonoma County’s 260 wineries produce eight percent of California’s total wine
output. Sixty thousand of the county’s one million acres are planted with

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Upcoming Events by Redwood Writers members

Kate Farrell and Stefanie Freele

Tonight, October 7th at 7PM KRCB’s (91 FM on the dial) Gil Mansergh, host of Word by Word: Conversations with Writers, interviews Karen Batchelor, Catharine Bramkamp, Robert Koslowsky, and Dr. Mark Sloan, who discuss writing, their books, and the upcoming Redwood Writers 2009 Conference.

Be sure to tune in for this entertaining and informative conversation on 91 FM on the dial or stream the audio on your computer by clicking on this link:

Saturday there are two author events:

Memoir in Cotati

There are still a few open places for this Saturday's workshop for memoir. Space is limited, so be sure to RSVP if you wish to attend.

Wisdom Has a Voice: Daughters Remember Mothers

2-Hour Workshop to Remember Mothers in Memoir
Saturday, October 10, 2009

10:00 am – Noon • The Sitting Room
170 East Cotati Ave., Cotati
Cost $20.00 • Limited to 12 participants

· Gather your thoughts about mother into memories and memoir into truth

· Discover the hidden legacies of daughter-mother wisdom

· Leave with a keepsake memoir of your mother
Workshop Leaders

Kate Farrell—Author, Educator, Storyteller, and Officer, CWC-Redwood Writers

Lynn Henriksen—Author, Workshop Leader, Memoirist, and President, Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter, Member, CWC-Marin

…More at

To reserve your place, contact the workshop leaders:

Email: Lynn - at or catharine.farrell - at

Short stories in Calistoga

Stefanie Freele will be having a Meet and Greet at Copperfield's Books in Calistoga on Saturday, October 10th from 1:30-3:30 pm

Stefanie gave a wonderful talk to our writers club this past Sunday. If you didn't get a chance to pick up her collection of short stories, then here's another chance.


Back Cover:A woman hides from her husband in a fish tank and another absently bakes sponges inside her tarts. Appliances drop from the sky, men grapple with chainsaws, women struggle with hormonal violence, and abandoned boys beg on doorsteps. Enter into the territory of broken people and the folks that love them.

Sensitive and unruly, sincere and absurd, Stefanie Freele's "Feeding Strays" is a collection of fifty short stories, both slipstream and modern, about children, family, relationships, and oysters.

"These expert, graceful mini-portraits of the life-jostled, the uncallused, and all the others who struggle with familyhood, are moving, sensitive, funny, and true. Stefanie Freele is a writer with a grip on the human spirit."

-- Deb Olin Unferth, author of Vacation

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Redwood Writers Memoir Contest

Redwood Writers and “The Memoir Group” host the

Fall Writing Contest

Memoir and Personal Narrative

1st Prize $100

2nd Prize $50

3rd Prize $25

3 Honorable Mentions $5

Winners will be announced on Sunday, January 10th


*Entries must be postmarked October 4th through November 15th *RW Memoir Contest, P.O. Box 4687, Santa Rosa, CA 95402

Payment must be received with entry:

Members $10/Non-members $12

*Entries must be 1,800 words or less, 12 pt Serif type, double spaced on one side only.

*Entries must be accompanied by a cover sheet that states name, address, e-mail address, telephone, word count and title of entry.

*Title must be included on each page of entry, but


*Multiple entries will be accepted in separate envelopes with separate payments.

*Fiction and poetry will not be accepted.

Judges Panel includes: Patricia Volonakis Davis, Award-winning finalist in the National Best Books Awards 2008 for Harlot’s Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss and Greece; Mary Lynn Archibald, award winning author of Accidental Cowgirl, Six Cows, No Horses and No Clue; and Ana Manwaring, Memoir and Fiction Instructor, Napa Valley College.

For information:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Opportunity for writers to help at-risk kids

This comes from a friend of Redwood Writers in Mendocino County:

When Luis Rodriguez spoke during our recent Mendocino Coast Writers Conference about using art to help young people turn away from drugs and gangs, he unleashed a burst of creativity among organizations here on the coast who work with at-risk youth. Former MCWC co-director Ginny Rorby is representing MCWC on a committee made up of Safe Passage, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Coalition for Gang Awareness and Prevention, the Fort Bragg Police Dept., the Noyo School, and the Youth Project.

Ginny says: "While Luis was talking, I kept thinking about Art Explorers here in Fort Bragg and the site they created for the mentally challenged in this community to express themselves through their art. Surely, with all the artists, writers, woodworkers and teachers in this area, we could create a similar venue for kids at risk. I was also blown away by Christina Perez's powerful performance at the conference closing dinner. I wanted to start by getting her back and in front of kids who need to hear her."

We're making that happen. Ginny, the Noyo School and Youth Project are planning a poetry slam workshop featuring Christina and another poet from Berkeley. The hitch, of course, is the cost.

If you were excited and inspired by what Luis Rodriguez had to say, we're asking you to become involved. Putting on the poetry slam workshop will cost about six hundred dollars, money the participating agencies don't have due to the state budget crunch. If each of us could contribute a little, just $10, $20 or $30, we'd reach our goal quickly and at the same time feel that we're helping something beautiful and important to take shape.

If you can help, please send your check, made out to Mendocino Coast Writers Conference (or just MCWC), to:

PO Box 2087
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

Write Community Outreach on the memo line of your check to make sure your contribution goes toward this project. Mendocino Coast Writers Conference is a nonprofit corporation. We expect to receive our 501(c)(3) designation by the end of this year, so your donation will be tax-deductible.

If you have questions, please email Ginny at, or phone her at 707-964-6810 or 707-969-7171.

As writers, we believe in the power of words to change lives. Let's celebrate and support those in our community who are working to put these beliefs into action.

Maureen Eppstein
Executive Co-director, Mendocino Coast Writers Conference

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Warning About Price Gouging for the Sower

Patricia Volonakis Davis wrote this note on Facebook and graciously agreed to allow its reprint on this blog.

Compelled by Extreme Irritation to Write this Note

Some of you may not know that Kemble Scott's new novel, "The Sower" was first published on There is an inspiring story behind that, but his ingeniousness went even further when he entered into an agreement with a number of independent bookshops on the west coast to put the book in hardback as a limited edition and sell it exclusively through,, and their independent bookshops alone.

Those who are not familiar with the mechanics of publishing will not recognize the enormity of this event. A best-selling author, who could have any one of the six giant publishing conglomerates eating out of his hand to publish his book, offers it to the public for TWO dollars on (On Scribd one doesn't need an e-reader or a Kindle to download a book, you just need two bucks and an internet connection.) This event created more of a ruckus in the industry than the plot of the book itself. (And let me tell ya- it's SOME plot!)

As for the hardback agreement, by working with independent booksellers, he limited the potentiality for distribution by the big book chains, (which can adversely affect his bottom line) but gave something precious to independents that no other best-selling author has yet to give- a chance for exclusivity of his much-desired product. This boosts sales for a group that has always and continues to support new writers who have not yet 'earned' a presence in large book chains. With these two acts alone, Scott became a hero not only to booksellers, but to unpublished writers everywhere who learned through his actions that there's more than one way to get one's work seen than by landing a book contract with the 'Big Six'.

And how is he repaid? Today I learned that there’s some price gouging happening with his new novel, THE SOWER.

The book was released like an indie film “in select cities.” Only the leading independent bookstores in the SF Bay Area are allowed to sell the first editions. This makes the book more difficult to obtain than a normal national release.

Some retailers in Florida and elsewhere have gotten copies of the book and now selling them for as much as $53 a copy. Scott doesn't see that extra money, but equally important, neither do his CHOSEN booksellers

The plea below is from Kemble Scott himself:

Please, please, please… don’t buy from these people. It’s a scam. First editions can still be bought at these indie bookstores:

A Different Light
A Great Good Place for Books
Bird & Beckett Books & Records
Book Passage
BookShop West Portal
Books Inc.
The Booksmith
City Lights
Kepler’s Books
“M” is for Mystery…and More

And additional copies (not first editions, but still the same book) are for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. There’s even a Kindle version. All of these are being sold at the normal price.


So, there you have it. Any questions, email me at, or to order the book, visit Also, please post this note on your own Facebook page if you are a believer in independent bookshops, and/or simple integrity.


Post script note:

Both Kemble Scott and Patricia Volonakis Davis will be speakers at our upcoming writers conference. Scott will also bring copies of his novel The Sower for sale that day.