Welcome to Writers Forum, 2020


We had a great time in 2019, didn’t we? We heard great writing from our members at two Read Arounds. Writers Forum member and past president George Winship taught us what an editor, or a book doctor, can do for our manuscripts before we even submit them to agents or publishers. Professional editor Heather Cuthbertson taught us how to write a winning query letter. Our own Alicia McCauley taught us a prewriting exercise called ‘cubing,’ and also provided us with a cool soundtrack for future Writers Forum presentations. Shasta College instructor Jessica Fletcher Wiechman shared her insights into screenwriting. Author Lezlie Winberry shared her knowledge and experiences from attending writing conferences. Chico poet, author, and speaker Susan Wooldridge gave a delightful presentation on writing poetry. Writers Forum Program Director Sharon Owen shared insights on what editors expect us to know about word processors and the formatting of our manuscripts before submitting. Writers Forum Newsletter Editor George Parker demonstrated Scrivener, a word processor alternative to Microsoft Word that is designed specifically for novelists, poets, and play/screenwriters. Last year also saw the return of a major event the Writers Forum had not been able to provide for several years: the Authors Book Fair. Then, just in time for Christmas, we saw our published anthology of Writers Forum authors, River’s Edge: Volume 1.

Which event did you get the most out of in 2019? Post a reply!


This year looks just as fun!

Of course, we will have our biannual Read Arounds.

Our January meeting is already behind us. Writers Forum member and author Linda Boyden showed us how to collect our poetry and build our own chapbooks. Next month, former Writers Forum member and editor Jen Higley will show us how we can use WordPress to create our own author’s websites.

Our March meeting will be a huge event. Forensic pathologist and author Judy Melinek, MD will be presenting on her first novel, First CutFirst Cut was only released on January 7, making it literally a new book, and it has already  been gaining 5-star reviews on Amazon. It is her first novel, but her second book. Her first book, Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, is the story of her life as a rookie forensic pathologist in New York City. She started that job two months before the 9/11 attacks. All of our Writers Forum meetings are open to the public, but we are expecting such interest for this one that we are changing our venue for the event. It will be held at the McConnell Foundation Conference Room, at the McConnell Foundation’s Lima Ranch facility at 800 Shasta View Drive. There will be a small charge for admission for the general public to this event, but Writers Forum members will, of course, get in for free as a part of their Writers Forum membership. Seating in this room is limited to 70 seats, which is larger than our usual venue, but you will need to RSVP to reserve your seat, even as a Writers Forum member.

We are also planning to have another Authors Book Fair in 2020. This will be at the same location as the 2019 event: the Holiday Inn Convention Center on Hilltop Drive. We are looking forward to a bigger event this year, with more advertising and more authors selling books. We invite all of you who have books to sell to attend. If you don’t have a book to sell right now, you could, if you have a manuscript. George Winship, Linda Boyden, and others have been teaching us over the last year about how we could get our own books published online. Let’s make use of that!

We will also put together River’s Edge, Volume 2 in 2020. Start preparing your short stories, essays, and memoir pieces now!


And there is even more in store for 2020!

What are you looking forward to the most from Writers Forum in 2020? Post a reply!


See you at the meetings.



It’s November! Ready For NaNoWriMo?


Yes! It is less than two weeks to the kick off for the 2019 NaNoWriMo, which is of course, National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is the endurance race to get 50,000 words of a project down on paper. Or on your hard rive.

The writing project is usually a novel, but it doesn’t have to be. There are categories for  just about any genre you would write.

Go to the NaNoWriMo website by clicking here, create a free account for yourself, and then explore the options. Create a profile, organize a project, or search for your community. You do not have to be alone in this race.

The objective to to write, write, write every day in November. To meet the 50,000 word goal, one has to write just over 2,500 words every day. (Edit: Oops. Sorry. It’s only 1,667 words per day.) The trick to this is to never edit in November. Get those words down on the page! October is for editing!

For the first time in several years, there is a Redding Area Municipal Liaison who is coordinating events for NaNoWriMo participants in the area. You can see that they have several events already scheduled throughout the month.

NaNoWriMo Events

The Kick Off event will be next Tuesday, October 29, at the downtown From the Hearth, at 6:30 at 1427 Market St Promenade. Click here for more details on the Kick Off Event. It looks like seven people are signed up for it right now, so you will meet other motivated area writers. You can also find others in the Redding area who are participating by checking out the Redding regional page at the NaNoWriMo website by clicking here.

If you have never tried NaNoWriMo, I highly encourage you to give it a shot. I participated a couple of years ago. I did great the first two weeks, but then ran out of gas. Even though I did not reach the 50,000 word goal, I did end November with 23,856 words that I did not have on November 1. You cannot lose in this proposition.



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Authors Fair is Back!

2015 Authors Fair

After a three-year hiatus, the Authors Book Fair is back in a new location.

When Mt. Shasta Mall changed ownership, and the new owners took the center court in a direction that could not accommodate our function, we did not know of any other affordable venues that would fit the needs of the Authors Book Fair. The Writers Forum Board believes we have finally found that appropriate venue.

The 2019 Authors Book Fair will be on November 9 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on Hilltop Drive. As before, the Authors Book Fair will be held in place of the regular meeting for November.

The name of the event has been slightly modified from the original Authors Fair. This is to clarify to the public that the Fair is not an event just for authors.

And we have a sponsor this year! K-SHASTA is helping us advertise and market the event.


Wanted: Authors With Books Ready to Sell

The Fair is a free-to-the-public event held at the Holiday Inn Redding, Calif. Local authors can register for full or half tables, either all day or am/pm shifts. There will be a limited number of tables and pop-ups, so register early to be ensured a seat (some juggling may be necessary; you will be reimbursed for any differences). You may have posters on your table (or your portion of table). Chairs are provided; one per author, but you may bring your own for assistants or your comfort.

Open to authors that have books for sale, we invite all genres from mystery and children’s literature to historical and how-to-book writers. Graphic novelists are also invited. Fees range from $10 to $40, depending on whether you are a member or non-member.

Click here to open a registration application that you can complete on-line and submit. Payment must be received by October 29 to reserve your spot.

You Need a Valid Sellers Permit to Reserve Your Spot

In order to sell your books at a table with the Authors Book Fair, you will need you own seller’s permit through the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

Here’s a URL for the CDTFA site’s page about permits: http://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/services/permits-licenses.htm

Here’s their phone number:  (530) 224-4729

Here are the main points all sellers will want to be aware of:

How do I register for a permit, license, or account?

The CDTFA has a secure, convenient, fast, and free way to register online for a permit, license, or account. The system guides you through the process and will assist you with the types of permits you may need for your business.

We are looking forward to your participation. The last year we held the fair we had over 30 authors. We are limited to the tables that the Holiday Inn provides.

From the last Authors Fair…

Award-Winning Author Sarah Selecky to Run Local Writing Workshop

From a press release, for our members who might be interested in attending a local writing workshop —

Sarah Selecky

Strawhouse Resorts Hosts “Writing With Curiosity & Courage” in September 2019

Picton, ON (August 20, 2019) — Join Sarah Selecky for three blissful days of writing, reading, and connecting at Strawhouse Resorts in Junction City, California.

Sarah is the acclaimed author of This Cake Is for the Party, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, as well as the new novel Radiant Shimmering Light, which has been optioned for a TV show by Muse Entertainment.

She is also the creator of internationally-acclaimed creative writing school (and MFA alternative) Sarah Selecky Writing School, which includes collaborations with Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Karen Joy Fowler, and other authors.

During the three-day workshop, Sarah will teach writers to feel the joy of flow, and write from a more receptive state of mind. Participants will learn how to courageously write alongside their inner critic, use their curiosity to dissolve their resistance, and leave with clarity and direction.

Dates & Location: September 13–15, 2019, at Strawhouse Resorts near Junction City, CA

Fees: Workshop Tuition: $750; Accommodation and Meals: $551 to $866

Sarah will also be reading from her new novel, Radiant Shimmering Light, on Thursday afternoon (September 12) at Strawhouse Resorts. This event is free and open to the public. RSVP for the reading by emailing support@sarahselecky.com.


“Sarah’s writing classes helped make writing one of my closest friends. Her expansive spirit leaves room for all styles and personalities. She’s a truly talented teacher, helping guide even the most timid.” — Peggi Lepage




For more information, please contact Laura Gendall at laura@sarahselecky.com.

A Handbook for Dogged Research

I found a great new book on the writing craft at Barnes & Noble in Redding. It’s called Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing, and it’s by Robert A. Caro. Caro is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for biographies. The first Pulitzer was in 1975 for The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. The second was in 2003 for The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, Volume Three of Caro’s multi-volume biography of Johnson.

Yeah, I had never heard of Robert Moses, either. Caro wrote the book because he was interested in the theme of political power. Moses was an unelected city planner for New York City who was the driver behind the modernization on the city. The current NYC freeway system was the vision of Robert Moses. Caro was amazed that an unelected official could hold so much power. Building that freeway system was not just about pouring concrete. People lived and worked in the paths of those proposed freeways. They had to be moved. Entire neighborhoods were demolished to make room for the roads. The Power Broker is more than the biography of one man. It is the story of the shaping of 20th century New York City. It is a huge book: 1296 pages.

Caro has been working on The Years of Lyndon Johnson since the mid-1970s. The first volume was published in 1982. The fifth and final volume is in progress.

Working is sort of Caro’s memoir of his writing methods. He writes in the Introduction that it is “not a full-scale memoir.” It is a brief look (at only 207 pages) at what he has learned along the way about researching, interviewing, and writing (as the subtitle says).

As a memoirist and non-fiction writer myself, I was challenged and inspired by Caro’s dogged approach to his subjects. He describes how he researched subjects that did not exactly want to be open and forthcoming. He writes about securing and scheduling interviews. He uses multiple interviews of the same person, always digging for more, and usually finding it.

He learned the most basic lesson as a young newspaperman, before starting work on The Power Broker. An editor told him to “(t)urn every page. Never assume anything. Turn every goddamned page.” Young Caro takes that lesson to heart, and he has spent his successful writing career turning every page.

That’s a research lesson we could all use.

Writing can be found at the Redding Barnes & Noble, or at Amazon.

Full House for Benefits of Conference Connection

Turn-out was great for yesterday’s Writers Forum program, Benefits of Conference Connection.

Published author and professional speaker  Lezlie Winberry prepared attendees to attend any writers conference and to maximize the value out of that conference.


There are several key points to remember about attending a writers conference.

  • Attend the right conference for your writing
  • Prepare your 30-second elevator pitch before you go
  • Socialize and have fun!

Do your homework before you go to a conference. Some conferences are geared towards a particular writing genre. Make sure that your writing will fit in to the focus of the conference. Even general writing conferences across several genres will have focused seminars, workshops, and speakers. Check out the schedule in advance and plan your time well. Schedules are subject to change, so be sure to keep checking back with the schedule.

At the conference, you will be meeting people that you need to meet to publish your writing. You will be running across agents and editors all of the time. Be as professional as possible. One way to do this is to have your 30-second elevator pitch prepped and polished, and ready for delivery. What is a 30-second elevator pitch? It is the essence of your story distilled down to two or three sentences. You need to hook your listeners attention quickly. Think of your pitch as the minimal TV episode description in the TV Guide, or the satellite channel guide. The better you can quickly sell your story idea to a listener, the better your odds of success.

Above all else, the point of writers conferences is to meet other writers and people in the industry. This is tough for naturally introverted writers, but get out of your comfort zone at the conference! Mingle! Socialize! Especially after all of the official conference activities are done for the day. Don’t just retreat to your room. Go out to dinner with new people. Lean some names. Have fun!

What are some other ideas that you took away from Lezlie’s program? Leave a comment!


Who has been to a writers conference? Tell us about your experience in the comments!



Presented by
Lezlie Winberry

Published author and professional speaker Lezlie Winberry will present a guide to making the most of writing conferences. Her talk will cover how to self-evaluate goals and expectations before attending a conference and the pros and cons of making a commitment to attend. There will be optional audience participation. Lezlie’s most exciting conference included an Alaskan cruise with Writer’s Digest. Come prepared to take notes, meet new people, and brainstorm conference topics.

After earning her Bachelor Degree in Liberal Arts from CSU-Chico, Lezlie has worked as an elementary teacher, taught community writing classes at Shasta College, and she’s been a member of ToastMasters International. Recently retired from teaching, she relishes her time spent in the area of her passion: speaking and writing.
Lezlie’s writing began as a healing process in 1990.  When I Cried Out is a personal story about the loss of her daughter. In 2013, she wrote an adventurous chapter book, Chinese Exchange, brainstormed by one of her previous 4th grade classes. Currently, she is working on a contemporary novel about a mother who is faced with a secret choice of her past. Lezlie’s writing has been published in several books and magazines and online, and she has spoken in varies venues over the past decades.


Writers Forum meets from 10:30am – 12:30pm monthly (except for July and August) in the All Saints Episcopal Church located at 2150 Benton Drive, Redding, CA. Doors open at 10am. The public is welcome to get acquainted with two free visits before joining. Annual membership dues are $25.


Other upcoming programs:


June 8: Read Around
Our semi-annual event in which Writers Forum members can read short pieces from their own works. Be prepared to read for five minutes.

July, August: No Meetings

September 14: Tentative title: What Makes a Poem?
What make a poem a poem if not content expressed in rhyme and meter? Susan Woodbridge, a popular presenter at Writers Forum, discusses writing free verse poetry.

October 12: What Editors Expect You to Know About Word Processing
WF members Sharon Owen and George Parker will offer tips on using Microsoft Word and Scrivener, either as separate programs or in combination. Sharon will demonstrate the expanded functions of Word, such as the Track Changes feature. George will introduce an alternate writing program while discussing the strengths and weaknesses to look out for in other writing software.

November 9: Authors Fair
Our regularly scheduled meeting will be preempted by the revived Authors Fair.

December 14: Read Around
Our semi-annual event in which Writers Forum members can read short pieces from their own works. Be prepared to read for five minutes. This is also our Christmas potluck, so bring holiday finger food to share!