Like a Good Story?

Today we have some book reviews by Writers Forum member Steve Westall.

steve-westell-ovalI thought it would be fun to pass along a sentence or two recap of books I’ve read over the last few weeks.  Maybe another member might do the same for next month’s newsletter.

We all use different approaches in selecting reads.  Personally I enjoy just about everything…A good story is a good story, ya know. I read the book reviews in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal religiously every week, occasionally watch “The Book” on CSPAN, listen to “Nancy’s Bookshelf” on NSPR, and of course my reader friends always have recommendations.  I take my picks to Amazon for pricing…never buy a hardcover unless it’s on sale at Costco.  Amazon Prime Membership (free shipping) is a great deal if you buy any quantity of books.  I don’t buy anything without price checking Amazon first….So here we go…

  1. Cutting For Stone: Abraham Verghese. Story of love, betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles and orphaned twin brothers whose fates are intertwined.  Set in post war Ethiopia. A book I never would have selected off the shelf. Extremely well crafted.  5 Stars
  2. The Nest: Cynthia Sweeny. Tension in a dysfunctional New York family that had made a pact to split a wealthy sibling’s fortune to repay a loan that he had taken from the family trust (Nest).  Good story but I thought amateurishly written.  Shows how an author that has close friends in the publishing business  (Harper Collins) and the WSJ Books Section… gets a book published that might have been difficult otherwise.   3 Stars
  3. The House of The Spirits: Isabel Allende.  Triumphs and tragedies in three generations of a political Latin American family.  Story of love and revolution.  Excellent primer on developing characters for novice writers. I felt the skillful construction of the story was better than the actual story.  4 Stars
  4. The Zebra Striped Hearse; The Chill; The Far Side of the Dollar. Ross Macdonald. Three Mystery novels from a series of detective stories around central character Lew Archer written in the 1950’s.  I’m not a detective story fan but these are so well written you can’t stop reading.  5 Stars
  5. Killing The Rising Sun: Bill O’Reilly – Martin Dugard.  I really like Dugard’s  easy read writing style. All the “Killing” books have been extremely well researched. For history impaired people they are a great catch up on eighth grade history.  Martin does all the work and Bill adds the hype.  Hard not to sell a million copies when your title is before the public every night seven days a week.   3 Stars
  6. Breaking Through Power: Ralph Nader. No Ralph is not dead.  This short book just came out the middle of September.  A very well documented analysis of what the politicians refer to as the “top 1%”.  It’s alarming to see the power that a mere 500 U.S. families have over all of us.  I’m not a fan of political books but this one’s more of a layman CPA’s view of what happens in a society controlled by money and wealth (Plutocracy).  Great outline of how Democracy works…good read for every concerned American.  5 Stars

Steve Westall

If you would like to submit a piece for our website, newsletter, or both, please send it to:

We accept original short fiction or poetry, essays, reviews, or news reports of interest to the Redding writing community. We also accept photos!

A (biased) Contest…

What do all of these books have in common?

WF Contest

A Contest Offering

If you think you have the answer, email the Editor at:

Considering our budget, the only prize will be getting your name in the next newsletter, and extra newsletter copies if you would like them.

The answer will be announced at the June meeting.

You can view or download all of the newsletter at:

or past newsletters at:

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


The Artist’s Way Unleashes Your Wild and Crazy Creative Nature

Katie Doran Watters in one of her wild and crazy creative moments.

Katie Doran Watters in one of her wild and crazy creative moments.

For those seeking the key to being productively creative, that have ideas that seemingly never come to fruition, there is help. That help comes in the form of the book, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. It is a self-help book. The book was written to help people to recover, or even find for the first time, their artistic creativity. It teaches techniques and exercises to assist people in gaining self-confidence in harnessing their creative talents and skills. Julia Cameron maintains throughout the book that creative inspiration is from, and of, a divine origin and influence, allowing the artist’s creativity to understand and believe. “God is an artist. So are we. And we can cooperate with each other. Our creative dreams and longings do come from a divine source, not from the human ego.” She shows a connection between artistic creativity and a spiritual connection with a power greater than yourself. The ideas in creative personal development outlined in the book, which were new at the time of the publication in the 1990s, have become a phenomenon and birthed many meet-ups and support groups throughout the world, helping millions. The group meetings are based on a 12 week creativity course designed for people to work through and gain artistic inspiration. You could do it yourself, but for most people, they start the process, put it off a week “because” and never get back to it.That is why doing it with others is helpful. You could come up with partners, and wade through it. Or, you can join online facilitated sessions for a nominal cost. The Web has many such groups. But there is nothing quite as powerful and stirring as doing it in person with other like-minded individuals.

One such group is coming together in February in the Redding area. Facilitated by writer Katie Doran Watters who previously facilitated Tele-class versions, this thirteen week class covers all twelve weeks. Meeting in person for two hours on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. starting February 27 and closing May 22, this is an opportunity to look at what excites you in life; a time to re-discover your creative nature while having the support of a small and intimate group. This class will include fun projects and a field trip.

Students consistently report that creativity classes have given them new insights, re-energized their passions and been transformative, often both personally as well as professionally. The results in implementing these tools are as diverse as the students who use them.  She is excited to share with you what she and past students have experienced in exploring this material. She looks forward to sharing with you the synchronicity that can enter your life as you begin to explore your dreams and hopes for your life.

Date: Wednesdays, February 27- May 22, 2013
Time: 6-8 PM Pacific
Cost:  $260 (includes a post-class coaching session, valued at $75.00)
Requirements: The Artist’s Way, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or other sources.

If interested, contact Katie at 530.410.4634 or