March Meeting with Keith Raffel

Hello, Writers Forum members and friends!  March is quickly approaching and no doubt you’ve already marked your calendars to attend the March Writers Forum meeting featuring author Keith Raffel.  Our meeting will be on Saturday, March 9th, 10:30 am-12:30 pm at Shasta College in room 802.

Keith Raffel Flyer.pdfThis event is open to members and non-members alike.  Members in good standing are free at the door.  Non-members are $10 at the door.  Our membership chair, Jennifer, will be at the door ready to renew memberships and/or receive new memberships.  Students are $5 at the door with a current school ID.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at Shasta College on the 9th!



Member Monday: Magic in Mirrors by Jennifer Phelps

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to welcome Jennifer Phelps back to share another one of her pieces.

More things of Mom’s keep finding their way into my home.  Just the other day, Dad brought me some odds and ends of hers, including her old stapler.  Apparently, it was something she had before they were married.  Dad loves staplers, so either he was being quite unselfish by passing it on to me, or he feels that he has entirely too much stuff since Mom died and he consolidated two households.

Another item he didn’t have room for, or didn’t want, was her full-length mirror.

“Do you want that mirror?” he asked when he called.

You bet I want it.  I knew exactly which mirror he meant.  Mom always spoke of wanting a full-length mirror, and she finally ordered this one from Pottery Barn.  I’m glad she got to have it…one small dream realized in a lifetime far too short to grant all her wishes.  But aren’t all lifetimes too short for that?

“Where will it go?” my husband worried.  After eight months of assimilating countless books, an impressive array of heirloom furniture pieces, and an extensive collection of decorative throw pillows, it was a fair question.  The mirror is tall and rectangular with an espresso-colored wood frame: simple, modern, elegant, and timeless. (Do you think Pottery Barn should hire me to write copy for their catalog?)  And it is large.

“In the corner, I guess,” I replied.

The mirror was placed in the corner, where it stands, working its magic.  I love mirrors.  They add depth, light, and mystery to a room.  They show us new angles of ourselves, but they are also enigmatic by nature.  Somehow, they seem to represent an answer and a question, all at the same time.  In this way, mirrors both frighten and reassure me.  There I am, but then again, there I am not.

As I look in this mirror, I imagine Mom standing before it, elegant and willowy, giving herself a sharp, appraising look.  Now that it is in my house, I shuffle past it wearing the new fleece monkey pajamas I received as a Christmas gift.  The beveled glass has been anointed with dog slobber.  My elegance, I suppose, is more subtle than hers.

Still, I’m glad the mirror is here.

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Free Today Only

Author Keith Raffel, former counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, will speak at a special Writers Forum event on Saturday, March 9 at 10:30 a.m. in room 802 at Shasta College. Today only (Wednesday) you can get one of his e-books for free; offer below.

As Senate Intelligence Counsel, Raffel held a top secret clearance to watch over CIA activities. He has also ran for Congress, founded a Silicon Valley software company, taught writing to Harvard freshmen, supported himself at the racetrack, and worked at a DNA sequencing company. These days he stays busy writing crime fiction in Palo Alto, his hometown. A Fine and Dangerous Season, a thriller set during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, is his most recent novel.

For this special event, Writers Forum will meet in Room 802 of the 800 building at Shasta College.  Parking is free, with the exception of staff parking lots. The south campus lot is recommended for easy access to the 800 building. To view a Shasta College campus map, go to The program is free to members and $10 for nonmembers. Refreshments will be served. Call 547-5303 for questions or further details. Non-members can also pay $20 at the door for admission AND a year-long membership to Writers Forum. What a bargain!

One of his books is A Fine and Dangerous Season. Today only you can get the Kindle version for FREE.

Go to


Member Monday : February Writers Forum Meeting with Pamela Britton by Chloe Winston

Pamela Britton

Welcome back to Member Monday!  We had a great meeting with author Pamela Britton and today please join me in welcoming Writers Forum member Chloe Winston to give us a recap.

     “Quit making excuses and write!”  Award-winning best-selling author Pamela Britton gifted Writers Forum attendees with a pyramid of crucial writing advice at a recent Saturday Forum meeting.  With over a million books in print and being discussed by TV gurus like Jay Leno and Stephen Colbert, she brought authenticity to the writing process.
     Patience, production, and proposals are the keys to publication, she said.  She also discussed two other “p” words:  pay and pitch.
    One major focus of her talk was a clarification about category writing and single title work.  Category writing is shorter (55,000+), has a short shelf life, usually has one protagonist, and is easier to build an audience.  A single title has over 100,000 words dealing with conflict between two protagonists, is harder to build a loyal audience, but is globally published, a plus financially.
     A second focus was her list of 12 steps to writing success, including be kind to oneself; do pages each day, every day; keep your own voice; have writer friends (critique groups!) and write where you write best.
     Write to make people laugh, cry, change, and touch lives, but enjoy what you do.  Be sure to craft an “elevator pitch” so that you are ready at moment’s notice to impress an editor or agent trapped in an elevator with you . . .or elsewhere.
     A third major focus for this Cottonwood author was successful marketing by the writer and by the publisher.  The key to success is not only good writing that responds to the market’s moods, but also the author’s willingness to be visible in public and “on the road.”
     She also spoke about agents and publishers, describing their delicate relationships with authors.  (Head nods by published Forum members indicated she was “right on” with her comments.)  Britton was frank about her income from her business-like approach to writing, as well as how she interacts with publisher and agent requests for changes.  She mentioned the need to “stalk editors and agents” and to regard the sanctity of deadlines.  She also touched on the emerging market of E-books.
     Writers need to have thick skins, she said, with high energy, an ability to maintain focus, be open to continued working on writing skills, and to realize the value of professional promotion following publication.
     A writer’s voice is crucial as one develops a style that readers recognize . . .and respond to.  And buy!  See what else is selling, spot a trend early on, and write, write, write.  Her last words of advice:  be aggressive, be strong, don’t be shy, have a sense of ego.  Be generous, embrace change, stay healthy, constantly learn, maintain focus, and like people
    She reminded us that if one writes a page a day for a year it results in a 365 page book, so she challenged Forum members to get busy with their own dream novels.  She ended with: “like winning the lottery, lightning may strike!”

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