Author Workshop with Tim Hernandez



From the Shasta Public Library in Redding:

“Come join writer and poet Tim Hernandez for a discussion of his book All They Will Call You, and an hour-long writer’s workshop.

Delve into Hernandez’s years of painstaking investigative research of the airplane disaster which claimed the lives of 32 passengers, including 28 unnamed Mexican citizens—farm workers who were being deported by the U.S. government.

This FREE event is great for teens and adults.

This event is supported by the California Center for the Book and Poets & Writers, Inc. The California Center for the Book is supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administrated in California by the State Librarian.

Support for Poets & Writers’ Readings & Workshops program in California is provided by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.”

Tim Z. Hernandez is a writer and performance artist. He is the recipient of an American Book Award for poetry, the Colorado Book Award for poetry, and the International Latino Book Award for historical fiction. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and National Public Radio. Named one of sixteen New American Poets by the Poetry Society of America, he was a finalist for the inaugural Split This Rock Freedom Plow Award for his work on locating the victims of the 1948 plane wreck at Los Gatos Canyon, the incident made famous by Woody Guthrie’s song of the same name. The result of this work is the basis for his newly released book, All They Will Call You (University of Arizona Press). Hernandez holds a B.A. from Naropa University and an M.F.A. from Bennington College. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas El Paso’s Bilingual M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing.

A Visit with Joel and Nancy

Joel Stratte-McLure and Nancy Weigman

at the Redding Public Library
this Saturday, March 2



From Joel Stratte-McClure:

Will There Be Yoga, Nudity, Eagles, A Slideshow And Books At An Idiot Appearance On Saturday?

The buzz is that attendees at an Idiot speaking gig in Redding, California, on Saturday afternoon (March 2) will witness yoga headstands, walk through the world’s largest nudist colony, meet live eagles from Carthage, watch a looping slideshow that gives new meaning to travel photographs and hear about the genesis, evolution and execution of The Idiot’s twenty-year walk around the Mediterranean Sea.


This Saturday: Manuscript Ailing? Call the (Book) Doctor!

Important announcement to follow!

On Saturday, January 12, CF member George Winship will speak about the process he uses to help his clients restructure their book manuscripts and polish them for publication. With a wealth of experience as a ghostwriter, editor and researcher, George will explain how he diagnoses manuscripts that are ailing to come up with just the right prescription for success.

George earned his MA in Journalism from the University of Oregon in 1980.

He then spent nearly 34 years writing nonfiction articles, features and columns for newspapers in Oregon, Montana and northern California. For seven years, from 2007-2014, he was Editor of the Anderson Valley Post, a weekly newspaper.

In 2005, George launched The Village Wordsmith, a business that specializes in helping writers get published in print or, more recently, on digital platforms such as Kindle,, Barnes & Noble’s Book Nook, Smashwords and Apple’s iBooks.

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.

This Saturday only, we will not meet in our regular room,  Memorial Hall, due to a church function in Memorial Hall. We will instead meet in  Eaton Hall East, the building behind Memorial Hall. We will be at the same location, and use the same parking lot, but in a different building. Follow the signs when you get there. Thanks.

Riverfront Playhouse Presents ‘Talking With’

Would you like a chance to study speech patterns in a controlled language lab?

Then come out to the Riverfront Playhouse on October 18, 19, or 20 for Talking With, by Jane Martin.

Talking With

From the website for the performance:

The play is composed of eleven ten-minute monologues, each featuring a different woman who talks about her life.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at .



Poetry Lessons…and Healing

The program for last Saturday’s Writers Forum meeting was how to Jump Start Your Writing With Poetry. WF member and published author Linda Boyden shared with the group some techniques she has learned for writing poetry that also give us great tools for other types of writing as well.

One of those techniques was called writing a Sensory Poem.

The first step in writing a sensory poem is to pick a topic. Then you brainstorm words and phrases for that topic from each of the five senses. For instance, suppose you pick the topic A Winter Day. You would brainstorm words and phrases that describe sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that you would associate with a winter day. When you have collected a good number of words, grab a few from that list and shape them into a poem.

The beautiful thing about these techniques is that the rules are few. “How many words do you need to write write down from your brainstorm?” Enough to give yourself a good selection of words to choose for your poem. Some people might write ten words and then see a poem in them. Some people might write thirty or forty words and still have to play around with them like letter tiles on a Scrabble rack to find a poem. “Do you have to use all of the words that you brainstorm?” Only if you want to. That might be a fun challenge, but don’t feel like you have to. “Can I only use words from my list?” No, the words on the list are the bricks you will use to build your poem. You still need mortar to connect them and make them solid, right?

Don’t feel like you should be obligated to spending a lot of time on this, either. Think quickly and write, and then move on. This is, after all, intended to jump start your other writing projects. Once you have your creativity flowing with a poem, hopefully it will be easier for you to move onto your other writing projects with a fresh dose of creativity. It works for me!

Here is a poem that was written at the program by WF member Carolyn Faubel. Carolyn drew upon intense images from the devastating Carr Fire. Writing poetry about the disaster might be one way to help ourselves heal.


The Carr Fire

By Carolyn Faubel



Perfect black leaves are floating down into my back yard,

A strange snow of destruction.

Gentle and persistent, ashfall is silent,

Unless you count the dogs howling as fire trucks and police cars go screaming by.


Stinking yellow smoke moves from piney campfire to burning plastic,

And other smells that must not be named.

Everywhere, sharp unforgiving branches spray out, their protection

Blasted off by the monster’s breath.


From the dun dry fallen leaves, a soft

Sooty fragment of upholstery fabric

The size of a moth

Balances delicately.

When I pick it up, the light shows through the thin weave of

Carbonized black thread.

And when I stroke the tufts of

Black velvet,

It crumbles and disappears in the breeze.

Was it your couch?

I am sorry.


If you attended the program and would like to share your poetry from the poetry program, or even if you would like to try the exercise now and write a new poem, please send them to Writers Forum at for posting in the future.




Talking Shop: Louise DeSalvo

The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections of Time, Craft, and Creativity

A Review by George T. Parker

slow writing


Writing well is a process that can take a long time. Sometimes we can forget how long it really takes, and we get impatient with the process. We want it done it done now.

Louise DeSalvo not  only gives us permission in The Art of Slow Writing  to take our time in our writing projects, but she convincingly demonstrates that taking  a long time is normal in creating this art we call writing.

Louise previously published seventeen books including several memoirs, a study of Virginia Woolf, and the critically acclaimed Writing as a Way of Healing.

The Art of Slow Writing is divided into five parts: Getting Ready to Write; A Writer’s Apprenticeship; Challenges and Successes; Writers at Rest; and Building a Book, and Finishing a Book. Each section is filled with a sea of examples of writers and the processes they used to create their works. If nothing else from this book, I was inspired to pursue works by some of the writers detailed in this book—both writers I knew, and writers of whom I’d never heard.

But DeSalvo does give us more in her book. Much more. She says in her introduction:

“I write about that major challenge affecting all writers: our need to slow down to understand the writing process so we can do our best work. I’m inviting you on a journey to think about how to work at writing day by day…It’s about how to think about working at writing and slowing down our process so we can become self-reflective writers so we can find our own way.”

One of the things that Slow Writing does is help us to see that early drafts are not the final version of any of our works. Louise tells us about a writer she regularly invites to speak to her memoir writing class.

“Harrison arrived in class with a stack of manuscripts—ten drafts of The Mother Knot that she composed from autumn 2002 through summer 2003. She began the work as a long essay; she realized she was writing a book in the seventh draft. Seeing that pile of drafts was an important learning experience for my students. As one said, “I realized that if it took Harrison that many drafts, it’d take me that long, too.’ “

A critical point on the subject of early drafts: “Because Harrison knows she’ll work through many drafts, she gives herself permission to write badly at first.” (Emphasis added.)

Everybody writes badly at first. It’s through revision and editing that any of us get better. This can be a hard concept to accept when you want to go from a blank page to a published book in a year. Slow writing. Small steps.

A sampling of the fifty-five of Louise’s chapter headings describe the Slow Writing process: Finding Our Own Rhythm; A Writer’s Mise en Place; Walking and Inspiration; Apprenticeship; Process Journal; Patience, Humility, and Respect; Learning How to Learn; Labor and Management; Game Plan; No Excuses; A Writer’s Notebook; Radical Work Takes Time; Failure in the Middle; Creative Problem Solving; Rejection Letters; Hailstorms; Practice Deciding; What Worked and Why; Dreaming and Daydreaming; Why I’m a Writer Who Cooks; Slow Reading; What’s in Your Drawer?; How Long Does it Take; Turning Pages into Books; Writing Partners; The Toughest Choice; The Finish Line.

(For the curious, mise en place is a cooking term for ingredients that are prepared ahead of the actual dish preparation. When you have all of your ingredients diced, measured, and organized into little dishes ready to toss into the pan when you start to cook, you have mise en place. Writers can do the same sort of preparation before they even sit down to write. It helps!)

Louise writes in short but packed chapters. Even years after reading this book, I find myself picking it up frequently as a refresher and encouragement to my own writing. I hope it can be the same inspiration to you. This is the type of book that will make you  want to mark up and write notes in the margins.

slow writing clip


Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity can be found at our local Barnes & Noble. Kindle and Nook copies are also available.

What books on writing have helped you learn your craft? We would love to hear from you. You could share some short answers on our Facebook page, or you could write a review of your favorite writing books to share on the blog. Send your reviews to .

I look forward to hearing from you all!

George is a fish farmer by day, and a word wrangler by night (and weekends). He has been working on a memoir of his life in the California Conservation Corps and Backcountry trail crews since…well…for a long time. After last NaNoWriMo, it is 50,000 words closer to completion and the end is in sight. You can see some of this project at .  He is crazy enough to try and simultaneously write a blog on the CCC at . George has been the Writers Forum newsletter editor since 2015.

Talking Shop: Stephen King

 Book Review: On Writing

By George T. Parker


I had a problem a few years ago.

I came home from town with a book on writing. Another book on writing.

Patsy said, “Do you think it would help if you spent more time writing instead of reading about writing all the time?”

She had a point.

I cut down on the amount of writing book purchases I made and sat down to write. It helped. I’ve been writing a lot more ever since.

However, there is substantial value in reading books about writing. Writing is a craft in which natural talent can only take most of us so far. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, said:

“…while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.”

We read books on writing to improve our craft. We look for good advice from more experienced people with the goal of improving our own writing. I believe that I can write better now because of many things I learned from those writing books through the years.

I would like to pass on to you some of the best writing books that I discovered along my writing life. Some books are far better than others as far as passing on the craft. Maybe I can point somebody in a good direction to make the most of their limited reading time and book budget.

And with that, I would like to start off with the book I’ve already quoted, Stephen King’s On Writing.

On Writing

On Writing is a fascinating book because even though it is filled with nuts and bolts information on writing, it is also probably the closest thing we will ever have to a memoir by Stephen King. King opens On Writing by complimenting Mary Karr’s fantastic memory of her childhood in Liar’s Club, and then contrasts her detailed memories with his much more vague and spotty recollections. The first section of the book then becomes King’s short 90-page memoir of his early years, through the writing of Misery. Along the way, King shares what influenced him to write and about his early writing days. We learn about his grade-school days ‘underground’ self-published newsletter, complete with mimeographing process and marketing to his friends. We see his high school and college days. We see King in his first teaching job, writing Carrie crammed into the ‘laundry closet’ with a typewriter balanced carefully on his knees because that’s the only space he had available to write. We get to see a master learning the rudimentary tools of his trade.

Then King moves on to the second section of the book, The Toolbox. King builds the metaphor on his grandpa’s carpenter toolbox. Grandpa’s toolbox was not a Craftsman of-the-shelf model. Grandpa built it himself. Grandpa had a tool for every job. Every tool had its unique place in the toolbox. Grandpa’s toolbox was also heavy. A person could build muscle just by carrying it. King suggests “that to write to the best of your abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build enough muscle to carry it with you. Then instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work.”

King says that his grandpa’s toolbox “had three levels,” but he thinks “yours should have at least four.” He says that “common tools go on top,” such as vocabulary and grammar. Under the top layer, go “elements of style,” and we learn the value King sees in Strunk and White’s marvelous little book. King goes on to outline what he thinks a writer should have in each layer of your toolbox.

The last part of the book is a lengthy postscript. King had started the rough draft of On Writing when he was hit by a van while he was walking down a country road one day. The postscript talks about the accident and the aftermath, and about how picking the pen up for On Writing again helped his recovery.

On Writing is a valuable writing book by one of our time’s premier authors. Whether you like his books or not, King has millions of published words to his credit, which gives him a unique perspective on what makes writing and story work. This one is definitely worth a look.

What books on writing have helped you learn your craft? We would love to hear from you. You could share some short answers on our Facebook page, or you could write a review of your favorite writing books to share on the blog. Send your reviews to .

I look forward to hearing from you all!


George is a fish farmer by day, and a word wrangler by night (and weekends). He has been working on a memoir of his life in the California Conservation Corps and Backcountry trail crews since…well…for a long time. It is now 50,000 words closer to completion and the end is in sight. You can see some of this project at .  He is crazy enough to try and simultaneously write a blog on the CCC at . George has been the Writers Forum newsletter editor since 2015.