Past Speakers

 A major part of each meeting is dedicated to a guest speaker.

Peruse the list of previous speakers

March 13th, 2019

Storytelling: An Interactive Workshop

Napa Valley Writers will host Kate Farrell, who will discuss taking our storytelling from the page to the spoken word in order to create a shared experience with your listeners.

The power of story immediately engages audiences through simple, traditional techniques anyone can learn. Some of the takeaways will include:

  • Seven steps to storytelling
  • Uses of narrative in public speaking
  • Single story narrative as the structure of the talk
  • Storyboard as a memory aide for telling or speaking
  • Delivery skills and techniques: Group activity

Kate is an author, librarian, and storyteller, having written numerous, educational materials on storytelling, edited the anthology, Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother (2011), co-edited the award-winning anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s &’70s (2013) and co-edited, the award-winning Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence (2014). Her Work-in-Progress is a collection of original stories in the fabulist genre, Woman Wonder Tales, and a novella, Strange Beauty, published by Smashwords (2018). She is Past President of WNBA SF Chapter and a CWC member.



Lance Burris will be March’s member reader.



February 13th, 2019

The Joy of Writing Sex Scenes!

Napa Valley Writers will host Shelly King, who will walk us through a topic most of us can find difficult to write…sex scenes.

Sex scenes are notoriously difficult to write. How far do you go (so to speak) in what you allow the reader to see? What words do you use? And what if your children/parents/co-workers read your sex scenes? Your character’s sex lives can be an integral part of both their development and the movement of your story. So how do we writers approach this delicate subject? In this discussion, Shelly will talk about techniques to overcome any hesitancy about writing a sex scene, and how to write about sex in a way that is true to your character and story.

Shelly is the author of many short stories and the novel The Moment of Everything. She also teaches writing classes and workshops through Cabrillo College Extension and other organizations.

Visit her website:

Kymberlie Ingalls will be February’s member reader.  Kymberlie is the creator of the successful Writer of the Storm and Neuroticy = A Societal Madness sites. She is heavily involved with California Writers Club.


January 9th, 2019

The Fear of Writing

Napa Valley Writers will host Victoria Zackheim, author of the novel, The Bone Weaver, and editor of six anthologies, with the seventh, Mystery Writers on the Mysteries of Life, recently purchased by Seal Press/Hachette for Spring 2020 publication.

 One of the universal emotions shared by writers is fear of being judged. Writers are notoriously self-effacing. “I’ll let you read it, but it’s really awful.” Or: “I’d rather you didn’t read it because if you hate it, you’ll either lie…or rip out my heart.” We are so plaintive!

 For some of us, sharing our writing is like introducing our children: how they look, act, speak is a reflection on us as parents. And so it is with our writing: how it reads, its level of interest…its quality…is (we believe) a reflection on how smart, clever, kind, caring, and insightful we are.  This fear…and how to move through it…is the topic of our discussion.

Victoria adapted five essays from her first anthology, The Other Woman, and created a play that had a nationwide simultaneous reading in more than twenty venues in November, 2016. Proceeds for most of these readings went to local women’s shelters. (Please contact her if you’re interested in a fundraiser for your organization.) Her new play, Entangled, is in the reading stage and has been read in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Berkshires (MA). Victoria wrote the screenplay MAIDSTONE, a feature film now in development with Sara Jane Murray of Story Rhetoric, and ROZZY, based on the novel by Caroline Leavitt. She wrote the documentary Where Birds Never Sang: The Story of Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camps, which aired nationwide on PBS. Victoria created Women’s Voices and is a frequent speaker and instructor at writing conferences and for women’s organizations in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Europe. She is a freelance book editor of fiction and nonfiction and has contributed personal essays to many anthologies, the latest being Paul Fahey’s EQUALITY. Victoria has just completed what she hopes (and prays!) is the final draft of her Paris mystery, which she began in 1996, proof that it’s never too late to revise!

Visit her website:



Marilyn Campbell will be January’s member reader. Marilyn will be reading from her second published novel, A Train to Nowhere.


November 14th, 2018

Get Inside Your Reader’s Brain

Napa Valley Writers will host Ransom Stephens, Ph.D., a novelist and scientist who will discuss the neuroscience of how to make readers laugh and cry.

 Neuroscience is like looking under the hood to see how it works. When you know how readers process your writing you can figure out what grabs readers, what bores them, and why. In this presentation, we’ll investigate how to write in ways that administer dopamine when you want readers happy and withholds it when you want readers sad. We’ll explore the roots of what people like and why bestsellers aren’t always critical favorites. Art is subjective, but our subjectivity has a lot in common.

Ransom has written hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from neuroscience to quantum physics to parenting teenagers. Ransom’s latest novel, The 99% Solution, is a hilarious, swashbuckling, intercontinental, inter-dimensional thrill ride that will leave you questioning centuries of world politics.

Visit his websites: and

Jan Flynn will be November’s member reader.

Jan will be reading an excerpt fromher second novel, Glory Days


October 10th, 2018

DO Judge a Book by its Cover!

Napa Valley Writers will host Andrew Benzie, a Bay Area native who has over 30 years of experience in the design business.

 We’re all familiar with the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but this statement simply doesn’t hold true—readers really DO judge books by their covers. With self-publishing settling into the mainstream, fierce competition has upped the ante for independent authors. The finest books have strong, well-written stories—but to rise to the top, to gain traction with readers, even the best book needs a dynamic cover.

In this presentation, Andrew will discuss a host of elements that make a strong cover design and will provide samples of successful covers (along with some not so successful designs). Andrew will be happy to talk about your cover design ideas and answer any questions you may have.

Visit his website:

Dr. Rhea Orion will be October’s member reader. Dr. Orion will be reading from her personal non-fiction, Memoirs of an Alien Stripper in the Bible Belt – a work in progress about her life.



September 12th, 2018

Copyright Protection

Napa Valley Writers will host Kelley Way, who will speak to us about copyrights and how they can protect us as authors.

Copyrights are an important tool in the arsenal of any author. Without copyrights, there would be no way to truly profit from your work or prevent others from using or copying your work without permission. But what are copyrights, and how can they be used to protect your work? This presentation will teach you what rights you have, and how to use them to your best advantage.

Kelley Way was born and raised in Walnut Creek, California. She graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in English, followed by a Juris Doctorate. Kelley is a member of the California Bar, and an aspiring writer of young adult fantasy novels. She practices copyright, trademark and estate planning law at The Law Office of Kelley A. Way. Kelley can be contacted at or at her website:

Lori Narlock will be September’s member reader. Lori will read from her nearly completed novel, Green Acres.




August 8th, 2018

How to Write Historical Fiction

Napa Valley Writers will host Linda C. McCabe, award winning author of historical fantasy writing.

 Writing historical fiction requires extensive research on historical figures, settings, customs, etc., and decisions regarding dramatic license vs. adhering strictly to the historical record, while fantasy has its own rules regarding logic and consistency. Linda will discuss the craft of balancing the needs of historical fiction with drama and fantasy.

Linda is the author of the novel, Quest of the Warrior Maiden, based on the legends of Charlemagne. To aid in her novel’s research, she traveled to France, scouring museums in Paris and trekking through medieval hilltop villages in the Midi-Pyrenees. Her novel was honored by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association’s (BAIPA) as Best Historical Fantasy and received an Honorable Mention by the Hollywood Book Festival. McCabe is finishing the first of two sequels.

Her website is

July 11th, 2018

Writing Tips

Tel: 707-508-9845

Click Full Details for full information.

Napa Valley Writers will host Kymberlie Ingalls, a freelance editor and a writing coach.

 Writing is an expression of us.  It is important to be unique and more important to be authentic, but it is imperative to present ourselves in the best way we can.  For authors who wish to move their careers forward or to attract an audience, presentation takes as much practice as the craft of writing.  Learn the finer points of speech, attitude, energy and how to command a room.  The first 8 members to sign up at the meeting will be able to read a paragraph (250 words) of their work at this interactive meeting.

Kymberlie is the author of two compilations of personal essay, Bridges and 43.  Her works include memoir, prose, opinion and short fiction.

Visit her website:

July’s NVW Member Reader Molly Detwiler will read a new excerpt from Satis House, her novel in progress about the life of Miss Havisham before Great Expectations.

Molly Detwiler is a Sonoma writer and editor with more than 30 years of corporate communications experience, primarily in Silicon Valley, where she held editorial staff and management positions at high-technology companies such as Raychem, Oracle, and Adobe. She has been an independent marketing writer since 1998, building brands and developing voices for organizations of all kinds and sizes.


June 13th, 2018

The Back Cover Copy

Napa Valley Writers will host David Colin Carr, an editor and author for thirty years

 Do you stumble when friends ask you what you’re writing? The Back Cover Copy, a lesson created by Carr, specifies your intention, makes a promise to your readers, and is a guard rail so your writing stays on course. It also serves as the foundation for all your marketing tasks: tagline, description, elevator pitch, Amazon page, query letter.

David values outlining to develop logical structure; models lively, precise language; and guides writers in developing their craft. He works in many genres but is especially dedicated to projects that reflect the beauty of this planet and the mystery of our hearts.

Visit his website:

Nathaniel Robert “Bob” Winters will be June’s member reader, reciting an excerpt from his novel, “Past the Future”, and a poem of his own imagination.



May 9th, 2018

Fiction: Truth or Lies? 

Napa Valley Writers will host Ellen Sussman, a New York Times bestselling author of four novels: A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is the editor of two critically acclaimed anthologies: Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave and Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex.

Sussman’s novels are not autobiographical. And yet, she claims that by writing other people’s stories she can get closer to her own truth. In this presentation she’ll talk about how we, as writers, can transform life stories into fiction. She’ll also discuss ways in which we can dig deep to write more substantial fiction and memoir.

Visit her website:

Steve Villano will be May’s member reader. He will read an excerpt from his book Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mike Cuomo and My Brother.



April 11th, 2018

The Road to Redemption:

From Homelessness to Publishing


Napa Valley Writers will host Joe Clifford, a Connecticut native who moved to San Francisco to be a rock and roll star.

It didn’t work out.

After a ten-year heroin and methamphetamine addiction, which culminated with felony arrests, overdoses, and homelessness, Clifford finally had enough and decided to turn his life around. After cleaning up in 2001, he went on to earn his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, relocating back to the Bay Area in 2008, where he lives with his wife and two sons. His autobiographical novel, Junkie Love, chronicles his battle with drugs and was published by Battered Suitcase (2010).

Joe will speak about his journey and how anything and everything can inspire the writer within. Visit Joe’s website at

Barbara Toboni will be April’s member reader. She will read from her latest poetry book titled, Light the Way.




March 14th, 2018

How Poetry can Inform and Improve Your Writing


Napa Valley Writers will host Jeremy Benson, the current Poet Laureate of Napa County.

Jeremy will speak about how reading and writing poetry can inform and improve all the writing a writer does, whether it is prose or poetry.

As a freelance writer, Jeremy has profiled entrepreneurs, sculptors, novelists, taxidermists, brewers, musicians, and carvers, contributing frequently to Great Lakes Bay Regional Lifestyle Magazine, and acting as Editor-in-chief of His book reviews have been found in the Collagist, the Brooklyn Rail, and at, where he also served as Editor of Literary Magazine Reviews. Jeremy’s poems and short stories have found homes in Spittoon, Dead Flowers, and Inner Art Journal; others have been distributed as collections of poetry and art. He writes a regular blog for the Arts Council Napa Valley – – on what it means to be a citizen of the arts in Napa County.

As Poet Laureate, Jeremy endeavors to cultivate a rich community of writers, readers, and artists, whether as participants, patrons, or planners. He has emceed open mics, curated readings, hosted craft-ins, and led workshops. He is a founding participant of the Broken Nose Collective, an annual exchange of hand-made chapbooks.

Jeremy will be teaching “Poetry Springs,” a 4-week poetry workshop, Wednesdays in April at the Napa Bookmine, and on the first Saturday of each month you
can meet with Jeremy during Office Hours with the Poet Laureate at the library—April 7 he will be at American Canyon branch from 10-12, May 5th at Calistoga 11-1, and June 2 in Yountville 10-12.

Poetry is like the red-headed step child of literary arts–it doesn’t play by the rules, it’s hard to understand, and it refuses gainful employment. But the best books borrow tools from poetry–it informs and refines writing; and reading and writing poetry can teach us to look at words and sentences with new eyes. What can the practice of poetry bring to your writing work?

-Ars Poetica

Sarita Lopez will be March’s member reader. She will read a short story titled “The Night Before.”



February 14th, 2018

Bilingual Open Mic

Napa Valley Writers, in conjunction with Xulio Soriano, a local socio-ecological justice activist and poet, will host NVW’s first Spanish-English bilingual Open Mic with Chocolate! The evening will feature local and regional bilingual and indigenous language poets.

In Mexico and other Latin American countries, countries that speak Spanish and hundreds of indigenous languages, Hispanic Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a day of love AND friendship. In the U.S. the celebration focuses on romantic love. We encourage you to dig into and expand upon the meaning of love; all prose and poetry is welcome. What kind of love do you share with your romantic partner?  Is your call for love along the lines of Martin Luther King’s calling for love and justice to be brought to the streets? Is love memory and recalling our ancestors? Latin American poet Eduardo Galleano tells us that “Recordar” (re-cardio), to remember something in Spanish, means to “run again through the heart”.

All original work is welcome, and attendees may read up to five minutes. Yummy treats will be offered, along with great company. As an added bonus we are offering the standard $5 member cover to non-members. Doors open at 6:30pm. Event is from 7pm-9pm at Napa Valley Unitarian Universalists Church, 1625 Salvador Ave, Napa, CA 94558.

Please join us in reading your original work alongside our featured poets for this special Valentine’s Day event: Blanca Huijon, Gervacio Peña López, Laura López Ledesma, Karla Gómez-Pelayo, Graciela Rodríguez García, Charlie Toledo, Kevin Valdovinos, Gary Silva, and Xulio Soriano.

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

–       Charles M. Schulz

14 de febrero de 7-9 pm, “Escritores del Valle de Napa” nos presentan:
Micrófono Abierto Bilingüe

La organización Escritores del Valle de Napa (Napa Valley Writers) y el activista y poeta de justicia socio-ecológica, Xulio Soriano, les invita al primer “micrófono abierto” bilingüe. Este evento se celebrará  con chocolate. Se presentarán invitados de honor del valle y de sus alrededores que nos compartirán sus poemas y escritos en sus lenguas natales.

En México y en otros países de las Américas, cuyas lenguas incluyen Español y cientos de Lenguas Indígenas, la celebración Hispánica de “San Valentin” conmemora el amor y la amistad. En los Estados Unidos, esta misma celebración se enfoca en el romanticismo. Les invitamos a que profundicen y amplíen el significado del amor, aunque todo tipo de poesía y literatura será bienvenida. Cual es el amor que compartes con tu pareja romantica? Tu amor es el amor y la justicia que Martin Luther King exigió que fueran manifestados al público en las calles? Es el amor los recuerdos y el evocar nuestros ancestros? El poeta Latinoamericano Eduardo Galleano nos dice que “Recordar” (re-cardio) significa “pasar otra vez tras el corazon”.

Se les invita a compartir sus propias obras y poemas. Pueden compartir sus obras por un máximo de 5 minutos. Habrá bocaditos y buena compañía. Por este evento especial, la entrada general será la misma que la de los miembros de Napa Valley Writers. La entrada general es de  $5. Estudiantes con identificación escolar pueden entrar sin costo. Puertas abren a las 6:30pm. Evento es de 7pm-9pm en Napa Valley Unitarian Universalists, 1625 Salvador Ave, Napa, CA 94558.


Invitados de honor incluyen:

Blanca Huijon

Gervacio Peña López

Laura López Ledesma

Karla Gómez-Pelayo

Graciela Rodríguez García

Charlie Toledo

Kevin Valdovinos

Gary Silva

Xulio Soriano

January 10th, 2018

How to Create a Writing Life


Napa Valley Writers will host Scott James, a current contributor and former weekly columnist for The New York Times. He also writes fiction under the pen name Kemble Scott, and is the author of two San Francisco Chronicle bestsellers: SoMa and The Sower. Scott has a background in television news, winning three Emmy Awards, and is currently at work on a non-fiction book, under contract with St. Martin’s. He’s also the co-founder of the Castro Writers’ Cooperative, a co-working space for writers in San Francisco.

Carving out a life as a writer can seem pretty daunting, but with the right insight you can increase your odds for success, both on the page and in the profession. Come and learn insider tips from a veteran journalist and novelist, and hear about the crucial role that writing communities can have these days.

Visit the Castro Writer’s Cooperative at


Three students of the Vintage High School Transitions contest will read their winning pieces.

December 13th, 2017

Sifting Through the Ashes


Napa Valley Writers will host Tim Carl, who grew up in St. Helena and has stayed busy. He’s been a U.S. Navy sailor during the Persian Gulf war, a professional chef including being the sous chef at John Ash, has a Ph.D. in biology, was a fellow at Harvard, a business consultant at McKinsey and Co., and founded three startups including Knights Bridge Winery, which he ran for eight years. He has also studied winemaking at UC Davis, teaches meditation and is a master-scuba instructor. Carl is now a freelance columnist and photojournalist for publications like the Napa Valley Register and the Northbay Biz Magazine. Along his journey he’s been put-up with and encouraged by his wife of 33 years, helped raised two children who are grown and out of the house, been an instructor and coach, and published many articles and stories.

Carl will discuss photojournalism during the Napa Valley Fires, 2017: Shifting Through the Ashes.

Everyone touched by the recent tragic fires had their role to play. From first-responders to those that stayed out of the way, everyone took on a task and tried their best to achieve what they believed most important. For Carl, it was to document the fires from the perspective of a local with deep ties to the wine and food industry. As a photographer and journalist, he found himself constantly pushing up against the question, “Did I just cross the line?”

In December’s discussion, Carol will share photos and thoughts on what he found during the long days and sleepless, smoky nights of what continues to be one of the biggest natural calamities in local memory.

Lance Burris will be December’s member reader. Burris is a fifth generation Californian with deep family roots in Napa and Sonoma Counties. Upon retiring from a long career in land-use planning and development in California, he returned to Napa Valley where he resides in the City of Napa. He has written and illustrated four books and is currently working on the third and final volume of a three-volume work of philosophy: The Apollonian System, a Metaphysical Philosophy in Three Volumes.

For his December member reader presentation, he will read an essay entitled Confessions of a Right-Brain Poet, on the art of poetry writing—a how-to essay for visually oriented people. He will recite four of his poems, all quite different, and each accompanied by a painting.

November 8th, 2017

Writers Support Group

Napa Valley Writers will host its second “Writers Support Group,” with club members sharing their knowledgeable input on four valuable subjects.

 How to Advertise on Amazon: Amber Lea Starfire’s memoir, Not the Mother I Remember, is currently #45 as an Amazon Best Sellers Rank in its Grief & Loss category. Find the best category for your book, how to start promotions and why keywords matter.

 Five ways to Know Your Critique Group is Right for You: Napa Valley Writers President, Kathleen Thomas, will speak on the value of critique groups.

NaNoWriMo – What is it and how to Participate: Ana Manwaring will explain how National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, works and how to participate in 2018.

Is Kickstarter for You? Larisa Stephensen recently launched a successful Kickstarter to help publish her book, I, Lincoln Did Not Ask For This. She will speak about her experience and will offer tips on how to reach your goal.

October 11th, 2017 *Postponed*

October was the month of the disastrous fires in the North Bay. Our meeting schedule coincided with the height of the conflagration and was postponed.

We sincerely hope that none of our members lost their homes or any of their friends or family suffered in the fires and smoke that engulfed the region.

September 13th, 2017

Every Writer Has One Column in Them

Napa Valley Writers will host Kevin Thaddeus Fisher-Paulson, a weekly columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Every writer has one column in them.  The trick is to be the kind of writer who has one column in them every week.

Kevin Fisher-Paulson will speak about the craft of writing from the perspective of purpose and structure.  Specifically, Kevin will talk about the process of writing a weekly column for a major newspaper.  The writer must learn how to open his soul without telling every secret, and how to establish a rhythm and a voice.  The writer must learn to tell the truth, but let the world act as fact checker.

The writing process begins with a commitment to the creative self. As Kevin explains, everyone has an autobiography but not everyone has a memoir.

Visit Kevin’s work with The San Francisco Chronicle:

August 9th, 2017

Put Your Heart on the Page


Napa Valley Writers will host Anne Perry, an international bestselling author of over eighty novels, which have sold over 27 million copies. She has been translated into 17 languages.

The Times selected her as one of the 20th Century’s “100 Masters of Crime.” In 2015 she was awarded the Premio de Honor Aragón Negro.

Her first series of Victorian crime novels, featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, began with The Cater Street Hangman.  The latest of these, is Murder on the Serpentine.

Moving into a different area, Anne has responded to requests for workshops and teaching by producing three ‘how to write’ lessons (also available on DVD’s via Amazon): Put Your Heart On The Page: An Introduction To Writing, Plotting To Enrich Your Back Story, and now Developing Your Characters.

April 2015 SpeakerAnne will collaborate in an interview with Victoria Zackeim-author of The Bone Weaverin this powerful two-for-one presentation. They will illustrate how best to give your work strength and how to help you avoid many of the pitfalls of writers block and numerous rewrites. They will also discuss rewriting and why it can be a pleasure, and how to improve your work to make it something you are proud to own the rest of your life.

Visit Anne’s website:

Visit Victoria’s website:



Larisa Stephenson will be August’s NVW Member Reader. Larisa will read an excerpt from a memoir in progress, Hi, I’m the Other Mother. She writes monthly in her blog,


July 12th, 2017

Finding Compassion


Forgiveness Through Writing


Napa Valley Writers will host Melissa Cistaro, who will talk about what sustained her through the many years of working on her memoir, and the compassion and forgiveness that can be found in the act of writing. She’ll explore the concept that, with an open heart and mind, we are all capable of finding our narrative truths.


Cistaro is the author of the memoir PIECES OF MY MOTHER (winner of the ‘Best Nonfiction Book of 2105’ selected by The Northern California Independent Booksellers Association). Melissa’s stories, essays and interviews have appeared in The New Ohio Review, Brevity, The Huffington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, PBS: To the Contrary, Bookish, Good Housekeeping and the anthologies Love and Profanity and Cherished.

Visit her website:



Cheryl Velasquez will be July’s NVW Member Reader. Velasquez holds a degree in Political media and is a published writer of both fiction and non-fiction. By day, she works as a Director of Human Resources and a night she writes.  She has penned numerous stories under various pen names. Using the pen name  J.M Berry, Cheryl published “What’s In The Basement?” which she will read from at the upcoming meeting.



June 14th, 2017

Creating Symphonic Plays:

      The Story in the Music

Napa Valley Writers will host Didi Balle, who has created a new genre for actors and orchestras called Symphonic Plays™ and has received nine commissions by American orchestras to create, write and direct symphonic plays.

Balle will focus on the what and how of creation: from the commission, concept, research and proposal to the outlines, drafts and writing and rewriting of plays.

Creative compromises sometimes lead to “style” or open a new creative door that would not have been found without a “limitation” which, if embraced, is a creative opportunity leading to a style of performance or presentation that ends up being more creative than ever expected …

Visit her website:

 Kathleen Thomas, our Club President,  deputized at the last moment as our member reader due to unforeseen circumstances with the scheduled member reader.



May 10th, 2017

                      Tricks of the Trade:                  Screenwriting Techniques


Napa Valley Writers will host Lynda McDaniel, an award-winning writer and an Amazon Bestselling Author. McDaniel has been writing professionally for 30 years, including more than 1,200 magazine articles and 16 books.

She will explore a variety of screenwriting techniques, such as:

    1. Enter late: Draw your readers into the center of the action—fast.


    1. Leave early:  Make room for your audience’s imagination.


    1. Yearning: What do your characters long for?


    1. Reversals: Keep turning the screw from good to bad to good.


    1. Ticking clock: Add tension with time constraints.


    1. Goals: Every scene (chapter) needs a goal.


  1. Go to the movies!

McDaniel will also share some of her favorite writing tricks of the trade.

Visit her website:

Sue Kesler will be May’s NVW Member Reader. Kesler, a past president of Napa Valley Writers, currently specializes in tongue-in-cheek urban fantasy. She will read an untitled piece of prose and solicit a title from the audience.

Her website is


April 12th, 2017

Enhance Your Writing

Dr. Shepherd Bliss,, has contributed to 24 books on a wide range of topics, including politics, literary criticism, psychology, health, theology, gender, poetry translations from Spanish, war and peace issues. Now retired, he taught for 40 years at various colleges, including Harvard, Sonoma State University, the University of Hawaii, and elsewhere. Dr. Bliss has run an organic farm in Sebastopol since 1991. His articles have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post, Press Democrat, Bohemian, Utne Reader, and numerous online publications, including,,, and  He has been interviewed on various TV programs, including Oprah, 60 Minutes, Phil Donahue, and Bill Moyers. He is a former United Methodist minister and U.S. Army officer.

Many practices can be used to enhance your writing, including careful observation, deep listening to inner and outer worlds, silence, and pausing. Writing from your sense of a specific loss, grief, or sadness can be helpful, as can joy, in its various forms, such as the thrill of having something published that you wrote—getting your voice out there.

He will read from his body of work to illustrate some of these principles.

Rebecca Levy will be April’s member reader. Rebecca Levy is a local Ob-Gyn physician in Napa with her own practice. She grew up in NYC and moved to Napa eight years ago. Her husband has been teaching at Vintage HS for thirty years and between them, they have raised five children. Rebecca has always enjoyed reading and writing, and has written various published articles and presentations mostly within the medical field. She is currently blogging about her years in graduate school, medical school, and residency, eventually leading up to the present. She is hoping to publish it as a memoir. You can read the blog on the website of her practice at on the tab for “running commentary.”

She will read a piece from her blog, “How Did I Get Here?”

March 8th, 2017

Come Meet The Grammar Diva!

Napa Valley Writers will host Arlene Miller, also known as The Grammar Diva.

Miller is an author, grammarian, speaker, blogger, teacher, and editor. She loves to talk about grammar and the English language in her presentations, workshops, classes, and weekly blog posts.

She is the author of The Best Little Grammar Book Ever – First and Second EditionsCorrect Me If I’m Wrong, Beyond Worksheets, The Great Grammar Cheat Sheet, The Best Grammar Workbook Ever, Fifty Shades of Grammar, and The Best Little Grammar Workbook Ever.  She is currently working on The Best Little Dictionary of Confused Words and Malapropisms.

Visit her at her website:

Antonia (Toni) Allegra will be March’s NVW Member Reader. Allegra is a career and writing coach dedicated to working with food and wine professionals. Toni authored Napa Valley: The Ultimate Winery Guide, printed to a fourth edition, The Wine Country Deck, and Napa Valley Tour Guide that includes a CD and DVD.

February 8th, 2017

The 4 Essential Pillars of Novel Structure

Napa Valley Writers will host C.S. Lakin, author of eighteen novels of various genres, nine with traditional publishers and nine self-published. She works professionally as a copyeditor and writing coach, and guest blogs on the top writing blogs, such as Writers’ Digest and Grammarly, and teaches workshops around the country.

Her award-winning blog Live Write Thrive provides year-long instruction for writers. She also has six writing craft books in The Writer’s Toolbox Series aimed at helping novelists write strong, structured stories.

Lakin specializes in manuscript critiques, doing more than two hundred a year for authors, agents, and publishers. You can learn more about her at and check out her online video courses at

And if you join her Novel Writing Fast Track email group, you’ll get Writing the Heart of Your Story for free, along with many other free writing craft books and resources. Sign up here!

DDidi Balleidi Balle will be February’s NVW Member Reader. Balle, once an editor for The NewYork Times, also credits as a playwright and stage director. Her shows have been produced and performed by orchestras from the Baltimore Symphony and the New York City Opera.


January 11, 2017

Get Intimate with Your Character: Master Point of View for Dazzling Character Development

Napa Valley Writers will host Jordan E. Rosenfeld, author of five books on writing and three novels. Rosenfeld will discuss key character cues and emotional layers of each point of view for masterful character development. Throughout the discourse, you will learn how to:

  • Unlock the essentials of each POV.
  • Identify and use perceptual, sensory and other “cues” to reveal character.
  • Master “intimacy”—how close or distant your reader is from the character.
  • Notice when you are POV jumping and learn to correct this.
  • Demystify character development.

Rosenfeld’s newest book is Writing the Intimate Character: Create Unique, Compelling Characters Through Mastery of Point of View. Her freelance work has been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Scientific American, and many more.

Member Reader Lynda Hyland Burris published her first poem in 1980, “Seam,” in a small poetry journal, Pig Iron Press, and has published two sermons in 1992, with Abingdon Press. Throughout her life, she has continued to write poetry, liturgy, sermons, memoir and short stories. She looks forward to having two poems published in the upcoming NVW anthology, First Press. Her writing obviously has a spiritual bent, given her career as an ordained minister, but she also possesses a wicked sense of humor. She has been a member of Napa Valley Writers since their founding in 2010.

 December 14, 2016

 The Process of Overcoming Adversity and Learning New Skills

 joe-retherford-imageAuthor Joseph Retherford lost his eyesight in a hunting accident when he was only seventeen. Joe has written about the unique circumstances of his journey in his first book Blind Courage.

Retherford will talk about the motivation to write his book and how he believes that losing his sight was the best thing that has happened to him. He will share his insights about the importance of humor, his belief in living life to the fullest, and his desire to give back to the blind community.

His writing style elicits a humble and humorous portray of the otherwise tragic reality of vision loss.

Learn more at  and  

Member Reader Mike Bartos believes that being a psychiatrist has given himbartos a backstage pass to witness the richness of human drama. Bartos will read an excerpt from his novel, BASH (Bay Area State Hospital).

Also at this month’s meeting, you can meet local authors, buy their books at the NVW book sale, enjoy seasonal refreshments, networking and social time with authors and readers in the Napa neighborhood.

November 9th, 2016

Writers Support Group

Napa Valley Writers will host its first “Writers Support Group,” with club members giving their knowledgeable input on three valuable subjects.

patsy-a-taylorHow to Become Your Own Publisher and Retain Control of Your Writing marilyn-campbellProject: Patsy Ann Taylor, author of Stealing Home, and Marilyn Campbell, author of Trains to Concordia, will speak about their path to self-publishing and how to do it right the first time around.

Fivekathleen Thomas 2015 ways to Know Your Critique Group is Right for You: Napa Valley Writers President, Kathleen Thomas, will speak on the value of critique groups.

Social Media: Grow Your Audience and Get Noticed: Kymberlie Ingalls, who kimberliewrites the blog Writer of the Storm, and Sarita Lopez, who has a cult following on Instagram, will discuss popular hashtags, blogs to follow, social media platforms and more.

Three groups will be created and each group will spend 15-20 minutes at each subject table. If a member has a specific question they would like answered, please email beforehand to At the end of our small group time, we’ll convene for a discussion of the recent survey completed by Napa Valley Writers.

NVW November Reader: Patsy Ann Taylor, will read “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” one of patsy-a-taylorthe selections from the Lucky Shorts Contest. Her prize-winning poetry and short stories have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Sisters in Crime, and the Napa Valley and Santa Rosa branches of the California Writers Club.


October 11th, 2016:

yuri-kaganNapa Valley Writers Presents

The Journey of Writing a Book, Learning Bad Habits, and Telling Jokes


Napa Valley Writers will host Yuri Kagan, a nice Jewish boy, or at least that’s what it says on the JDate profile his mother created for him. Kagan is a dry-humor, observational, deadpan comedian who talks about growing up with an entire family from the Soviet Union without holding anything back. He has been profiled in SF Weekly, and has performed in SF Sketchfest, on, and in comedy clubs all over the country.

Kagan will share his journey on writing his book, getting the book together physically, and why he chose to self-publish. He will tell us what he wishes someone had told him about publishing and highlight the evening with a performance piece.


NVW Member Reader: Jan M. Flynn. Flynn posts weekly to her Write On blog at She lives in Upper Valley with her husband Michael and her very patient dog, Molly. She will read “Sub,” a Young Adult Fiction piece.

September 14, 2016:

How to Navigate the World of Self-Publishing and Promotion

 Napa Valley Writers will host John Byrne Barry, author of Bones in the Wash: Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher., which won the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) Best Book 2015 Award.

Barry will speak about BAIPA and how it has helped authors like himself navigate the complicated world of self-publishing and promotion. As P.T. Barnum once famously said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing!”

His presentation will also focus on editing and rewriting, and his personal Twelve-Step Editing Process. With the ease of self-publishing, too often authors publish their books too soon—before they have been thoroughly edited.

Along with Bones in the Wash, Barry has written Wasted, a “green noir mystery set in the Berkeley recycling world.”

NVW Member Reader: Lenore Hirsch. After a career in education as a teacher and admlenore-hirschinistrator, Hirsch now writes in many genres that include features and a humor column in the Napa Valley Register, “Boomer Blues.” She will read a fictional piece, Joy Ride, which was selected by Napa’s Lucky Penny Productions for their “Lucky Shorts” presentation in June of 2016

August 10, 2016:

Good Literary Citizenship: What it is. Why it Works.

Jamahl DunkleNapa Valley Writers presents Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Poet Laureate of Sonoma County and current Assistant Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Dunkle will discuss how strong connections are forged when writers promote each other through reviews, interviews, and event invitations. She has found that the support found in literary communities, such as writing programs, literary magazines, writers’ conferences, and reading series can bring authors together, especially as writing is normally a solitary pursuit. As a working poet, teacher, and conference organizer, Dunkle provides multiple perspectives on how to to build local literary communities and the benefits of supporting other writers—including ways good literary citizenship can strategically open doors for writers in the future, when their own work comes up for publication.

Dunkle’s debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay for the 2012 Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Her second poetry collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, was published in 2015 by Word Tech Editions.

July 13, 2016:

Your Manuscript is Ready to Publish – Now What?

Warner 2016Napa Valley Writers will host Brooke Warner, an editor in the publishing industry for over 13 years. In 2012, Warner pursued a coaching practice and launched the hybrid publishing company, She Writes Press, with Kamy Wicoff.

Warner will explain the current publishing landscape, highlighting why the majority of authors today are becoming successful as independently published authors — even if they initially pursued traditional publishing.

Warner uses her years of expertise to help authors get what they want: an agent, a publisher, a completed book. Her job is “to support you and devise strategies to propel you forward and help you access your untapped, forgotten, or ignored passions and energies that will get you moving.

NVW Member ReaderKymberlie Ingalls. Kymberlie Ingalls’ blogs include Writer of the Storm, and Neuroticy. She writes personal essay, prose, short stories, and memoir. She describes her style as loose, experimental, and a journey in steam of consciousness. She will read something she wrote.

June 11, 2016:

In this talk, Kimberlie IngallsIngalls and Shalev will guide you through the steps toward publishing your book and then marketing your book, creative service, website or blog.  They will show how you can use networking, social media, visual marketing and support groups to build the right “platform” for your work.

Kymberlie Ingalls, blogger and author, is the creator of the sites Writer of the Storm  and Neuroticy=A Societal Madness. Alon Shalev is the author of an award winning series of Young Adult Epic Fantasy and three social justice-themed books. Ingalls and Shalev are frequent collaborators and presenters at the Marketing/Success Group, Berkeley Branch of the California Writers Club.

Kymberlie Ingalls, blogger and author, is the creator of the Writer of the Storm and Neuroticy= A Societal Madness sites. She began blogging in the late 90’s on topics such as love, relationships, grief and memory loss. Ms. Ingalls has a colorful history in stage, comedy, auto racing, radio broadcasting, adult education and individual author coaching. She has received praise from critics and colleagues for her heartfelt honesty and emotional depths. Look for her on: * * * * * twitter/stormywriter * instagram/stormywriter

Alon Shalev lives and writes in two worlds. He is the author of three social justice-themed

Alon Shaley

Alon Shalev

novels and an award-winning series of Young Adult Epic Fantasy. He swears there is a connection. In 2009, while on a family camping trip in Northern California, Shalev began writing an epic fantasy novel to read to his sons around the campfire. Over the next five years, both his sons and the ancient redwood forests bore witness to the summoning of the Wycaan Masters, as each new manuscript was read on the annual camping trip to these diligently tough young editors. His first epic fantasy novel, At The Walls Of Galbrieth, won the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award – YA Category and was a Grand Prize Finalist. The fifth book in the series is From Ashes They Rose was released in October 2015. All books are published by Tourmaline Books who will release Book 6 in the fall of 2016.

Read about his thoughts and books on:

The First Decree, Wycaan Master Book 2

Ashbar, Wycaan Master Book 3 

Sacrificial Flame – Wycaan Master Book 4

Author’s Website:

Blog:  Twitter: @elfwriter

NVW Member Reader:  Ann Newton Holmes is the prize-winning author of numerous short stories, magazine articles and travel articles, as well as two full-length illustrated books on Indian palace architecture and royal history, co-authored with her late husband Fred R. Holmes. After 48 years in thrall to its art and architecture, she has still not shaken the dust of India from her sandals. At present, she is writing short vignettes from her travels.  For the Napa Valley Writers, she will be reading a piece called “Smokeout,” that, uncharacteristically, has nothing to do with India.

Contact WebMaster

May 11, 2016:

Everyone has a story. When you go, that story goes too – unless you write it down.

Dona BakkerA Napa Valley memoirist, editor, self-publisher and businesswoman, Dona Bakker is a passionate believer that the stories of “lives well lived” deserve to be remembered and shared and she is devoted to helping people capture the stories of their lives.

She is the author of two memoirs, The Run of the Mill – A True Life, Napa Valley, about her childhood at play at the Bale Millin St. Helena, and Adventure and Writing and Self Publishing – One Author’s Journey. An expert collaborator, she wrote a chronicle of St. Helena High School’s “golden years” for educator Ralph M. Ingols, and co-wrote two novels, The Golden Road and the Golden Road Detour, with Tami Riedeman. She is proud of the memoir she helped bring into being, The Incredible Life of Chicki Downs, available on

At the meeting, Bakker will talk about her experiences as a writer, self-publisher, editor and co-writer and will share inspiration and tips from what she has learned about eliciting stories from others who need help getting their ideas on paper.

NVW Member Reader:  David Kearns, retired pediatrician, former Stanford medical professor and writer, explores the world of corporate medicine in his novel 2007 Standard of Care and the world of local music in his weekly column Live in the Valley. He will read from his new novel, Fortnight on Maxwell Street, a hero’s journey set in the slum tenements of inner-city Chicago in the days immediately preceding and following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 14, 2016:

Establishing Credibility with Publishers: Climbing the Ladder of Publishing Success

LeeAnne Krusemark, an adjunct online Professor of Publishing for Harvard and more than 1,000 other facilities worldwide, is a former journalist, editor, and managing editor of

LeeAnn Krusemark Apr 2016 guest4x4_edited-1

LeeAnne Krusemark

newspapers. Krusemark is the author of countless magazine articles and several business books. The inspiration she gives to others has been compared to Oprah!  

“Writing your article, poem, short story, or book is the hard part…that is until you’re done and then you discover that was the easy part! New writers learn quickly that publishers want to work with published writers. Well, how can you be a published writer if no one will publish your work? One key component to getting published is establishing credibility with publishers. There are many easy ways to become a “published” writer, some virtually overnight, to achieve your ultimate publishing goal. You may discover you already have what it takes, but if not, you’ll discover the short cuts to get there quickly.”

NVW Member Reader: Lee Taylor. He will recite from his original work. Taylor, a well-known local author, began writing after early retirement from Taylor Foods, manufacturers of Mr. & Mrs. T Bloody Mary Mix and other cocktail mixes.

Though he was born in New York City he was raised in Los Angeles, where he met and married his wife of sixty years.

In 2002, Taylor moved to Napa where he enrolled in writing classes of Cate Merritt Murphy, Natosi Johanna, and Ana Manwaring. Urged by family and friends, he began to write about his life experiences.

March 9, 2016:

Pathways to Publishing – A Special Panel Presentation

Published authors and Napa Valley Writer members, Anne Holmes, Ana Manwaring and Marianne Lyon will discuss the pros and cons of contests and submissions as a pathway to publishing. Thought provoking, entertaining, and educational, for writers looking to be published, you won’t want to miss this evening’s presentation.

Marianne Lyon photo

Marianne Lyon

Marianne Lyon has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching In Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews such as Colere 2015, Crone 2015, Trajectory 2014, Earth Daughters 2015, Feile-Festa 2015 Whirlwind 2014-2105. She spends time each year teaching in Nicaragua. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild.

Ana Manwaring is a columnist, developmental editor, novelist, and poet. She teaches memoir writing, personal essay, poetry and fiction through Napa Valley College. Her work has appeared in over a dozen publications including the

ana manwaring

Ana Manwarin

award winning anthology, Sisters Born, Sisters Found. She blogs book reviews and writes on the craft and business of writing at Building a Better Story. Ana is the Sisters in Crime Norcal treasurerKeep up with her at

Ann Newton Holmes has spent quite a bit of time in India with her husband. They have gathered with friends in Goa, an old Portuguese colony and hippie haven, where sge collected material for her fiction writing. They have researched and photographed Hindu architecture and gathered myths and tales in the deserts of Rajasthan from their quarters in Jodhpur’s 15th century Fort. After her husband died in 2009, she’s returned to India four times and is in the midst of trying to decide if she will continue her work there or move on to other interests that don’t require frequent trips halfway around the world.

Ann Holmes March

Ann Holmes

Ann writes short vignettes, highlights of 45 years of travel off the beaten track, with the goal of collecting them in a book or blog. Additionally, when the muse alights, she also writes short fiction based on events that triggered her curiosity and inspired her to search  for deeper meaning.

She has co-authored three coffee-table books on the architecture and culture of Rajasthan: Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhawan: the Maharaja of Palaces; Bridging Traditions; and Chariots of Stone. Jetwings, the inflight magazine of India’s Jet Airways, has featured her articles on Indian culture and travel. Her fiction has been published in Stanford Magazine, New Frontiers, Grit, ArtScan, Guide to the Arts, More than Wine, Uncorked, The Mystery of Fate, and Cup of Comfort.

NVW Member Reader: Deborah Puretz Grove grew up in Heidelberg Germany and now lives in Napa. A world traveler and explorer, Deborah was once in charge of making breakfast for orphaned Asian elephants. Besides writing essays and fiction and updating her blog (

), she likes hiking, traveling, and teaching English as a second language. She will recite her original work,”Flavia”.

February 10, 2016:

A Behind the Scenes Look at Working in Hollywood

SterlingSterling Anderson is a three-time NAACP Image Award nominee for best screenwriter and winner of the Movieguide Faith & Freedom award and the Christopher award for ‘The Gabby Douglas Story’.

He has written for some of the most popular network television shows, such as ‘The Unit’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Heist.’ His movie ‘The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn’, starring Sidney Poitier, garnered a best actress Emmy nomination for Dianne Wiest and won an Image Award. Sterling’s extensive resume also includes screenplays written for Lifetime, Lions Gate, Disney, HBO, TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures.

Sterling has written two books on writing: Go To Script: Screenwriting Tips From A Pro and 15 Steps To Becoming A Successful (Artist) Screenwriter and a fiction book, Five Seconds To Go.

A graduate in English from St. Mary’s College, the accomplished writer also spent five years teaching screenwriting courses as an adjunct professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

NVW Member Reader: Sarita Lopez will read from her new book, Zombies and Tiaras, about a zombie outbreak that occurs during a Texas beauty pageant. She spent several years in Texas and has a good ‘ear’ for the YA genre. She has since moved back to Napa.

January 2016:

Paul Franson

paul Franson Jan 2016Local Napa resident Paul Franson, who currently writes about wine for Wines & Vines, Wine Business Monthly, Senior Connection and the Napa Valley Register was guest speaker Wed., Jan. 13.

Franson has written for the Wine Enthusiast, Food & Wine, Decanter, San Francisco Chronicle and other publications and has traveled to wine regions of the world from Chile to Georgia and Romania. Additionally, he writes about life, food and travel in his weekly NapaLife newsletter, Napa Valley Register and other publications.

Franson formerly founded and ran a public relations agency in Silicon Valley, worked in corporate Public Relations, and was a trade and consumer magazine writer and editor, as well as writing for Sail, Forbes, Red Herring, Upstart and many other publications.

Paul has published three books on marketing, one book on Napa Valley and another on his adventures and misadventures in the Caribbean, where he lived for a while on his sailboat. He’s a home cook, gardener, and former home winemaker.

NVW Member Reader: Marilyn Campbell, author of the recently released Trains to Concordia. Marilyn grew up in Stockton and now lives in Napa. A retired social worker, Marilyn enjoys writing, gardening and oil painting. She has published short stories or poetry in every Redwood Writers anthology since 2008. 

December 2015:

Janet Fletcher


A Napa Valley Writer’s Perspective

Janet Fletcher (, author or co-author of more than two dozen books on food and beverage, will be speaking in Napa, Wednesday, December 9, during the monthly meeting of Napa Valley Writers. Fletcher’s books include Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner; Fresh from the Farmers’ Market; and Cheese & Wine. Janet publishes Planet Cheese, a complimentary e-mail newsletter, and teaches cooking and cheese-appreciation classes around the country.

Fletcher is the recipient of three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award for her journalism. Her writing has appeared in numerous national magazines, including Culture, Saveur, Bon Appétit, and Food & Wine. Her most recent book, Margrit Mondavi’s Vignettes was published October 2015.

NVW Member Reader: William Moore has been writing down his memories of growing up in the South. After attending U.C. Berkeley he had a notable career as an architect, and now lives and writes in Napa.

November 2015:

Dr. Pat Hanson

                               Writer, Educator, Speaker on health, aging, and sexuality

Writing and Promoting a Very Personal Memoir

dr-pat-hansonDr. Pat Hanson is a seasoned health and human sexuality educator, public speaker, workshop facilitator, and writer residing on the Monterey Peninsula. Former co-chair of the Monterey / Santa Cruz chapter of The National Writers Union, she has emceed Open Mikes for Writers monthly for 15+ years.

She lectures nationally on Aging Positively, and is a columnist for the magazines Crone: Women Coming of Age, and GRAND: The Digital Magazine for Grandparents and Their Families. She’s also the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave a Legacy of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not.

On November 11, Pat will appear in Napa to talk about how she overcame her own and her family’s reactions to sharing her story with the world, a common hurdle for memoirists. She will present marketing details and a host of other helps for any writer in the pursuit of readers.

NVW Member Reader: Marilyn Campbell, author of the recently released Trains to Concordia. Marilyn grew up in Stockton and now lives in Napa. A retired social worker, Marilyn enjoys writing, gardening and oil painting. She has published short stories or poetry in every Redwood Writers anthology since 2008. 

October 2015:

Helen Sedwick

Protecting Your Rights and Your Wallet

oct-15-helen-head-shot-oct-15Writer and lawyer Helen Sedwick uses 30 years of legal experience to show writers how to stay out of court and at their desks. Publisher’s Weekly listed her Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook as one of the top five resources for independent authors. Her blog coaches writers on everything from protecting copyrights to hiring freelancers to spotting scams. For more information about Helen, check out her website at:
In her presentation at the Napa Valley Writers October meeting Helen will explain copyright and licensing,including a guide to key contract
terms, both good and bad.
Topic: “Protecting Your Rights and Your Wallet”

NVW Reader: Jack Ring will read a selection from his book “Red Sky in the Morning”.

September 2015:

Scott Evans

Keeping Creativity Alive throughout the Writing Process

scott-evansScott Evans appeared in Napa September 9 on the topic of ‘Keeping Creativity Alive throughout the Writing Process’. Author of three literary murder mysteries, a collection of Hemingwayesque short stories and an upcoming novel, Evans is an educator at University of the Pacific, as well as editor and publisher of Blue Moon Literary & Art Review.

September’s Member Reader was local resident and Erina Bridget Ring, author of two books, including “Breakfast with the FBI”. Immediately following the general meeting, writers were invited to join the Author’s Table to discuss challenges, questions and opportunities to writing mystery and romance.


August 2015:

Beclee Newcomer Wilson

New Poet Laureate for Napa County

2-wilson_beclee-aug2015Beclee, and her husband John, live close to Bothe State Park and the Bale Historic Mill. She is the author of three collections of poetry intermingled with art. Her topic for the evening is ‘How to Grow a Poet’.

Of Woman in Bits and Pieces, John Poppy, former editor, Saturday Review of Arts commented: “There are mysteries in this book and the twist of tears, and love.”

Tassajara Wind captures a special California place through her observation, calligraphy and drawings of other artists.

Of Winter Fruit, her most recent collection, written right here in Napa valley, poet Arthur Sze, remarks: “…Beclee Wilson composes a moving suite of elegiac poems attuned to empty spaces, to love, to the passage of time, to what endures.” In this collection, all the visual art is her own.

A member of the Solstice Writers group and a frequent participant in the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, her passion for the past four years has been introducing poetry to over 200 fourth and fifth graders at the Saint Helena Elementary School. Through her own poems and poetry, through history and other cultures, she inspires young students to find their own poet and to create their own poetry. Student’s poems are exhibited at the Coffee Roasting Company, in St. Helena, where they have also been recited to the public.

Beclee is a graduate of the School of Speech at Northwestern University,   She holds a Masters Degree from the University of Michigan and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

NVW Member Reader: will be Kathleen Thomas, author, painter, and Napa Valley Writers publicity chair.

July 2015:

Jordan Rosenfeld

Becoming Persistent: Strategies to Increase Productivity and Lead to Publication

author-jrosenfeldJordan Rosenfeld is the author of the writing guides Make a Scene, and with Rebecca Lawton, Write Free. Spring 2015 sees publication of the forthcoming: A Writer’s Guide to Persistence and, in Fall 2015, with Martha Alderson, Deep Scenes.

She is also author of the novels Forged in Grace and Night Oracle. Her essays and articles have been published in  the San Francisco ChronicleThe New York Times, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest magazine,The Writer and more.

NVW Member Reader: will be Kathleen Thomas, author, painter, and Napa Valley Writers publicity chair.

June 2015:

David Congalton

So you think you want to make a movie?

David Cogalton

David Cogalton

Napa Valley Writers hosted outspoken and hilariously funny David Congalton at its June 10th monthly meeting at the River Terrace Inn. Congalton is one of the few writers over the age of 50 to sell a movie script to Hollywood. He shared his 25-year journey of aiming to sell a movie script to Hollywood. The highs and lows of the experience, and the importance of never giving up—even when all seems lost.

David is a screenwriter, nonfiction author, and radio talk show host based in San Luis Obispo. His screenplay “Authors Anonymous”, a comedy about a dysfunctional writing critique group, was released as a feature film in 2014 starring Kaley Cuoco, Chris Klein, Dennis Farina, and Teri Polo. A second screenplay Seven Sisters has been optioned and is scheduled to go into production this year with director Danny Leiner.

Congalton served as director of the Central Coast Writers Conference for 12 years and has hosted a daily radio talk show in San Luis Obispo for nearly 23 years. More information can be found at

NVW Member Reader: Bonnie Durrance, poet and author, entranced the audience

May 2015:

Randy Martinsen

Randy Martinsen

Randy Martinsen

Marketing Methodology and Ways to Market

Randy Martinsen has a broad and detailed background in leadership coaching, marketing, information technology, business operations management, and finance. He has worked in multiple industries using his skills to develop and implement strategic plans for many businesses.

With over thirty years of experience improving profits in companies with revenues ranging from $200 thousand to $80 million, he has developed a “hands-on” approach to managing complex projects. His education includes Business Management / Finance from BYU and MBA studies at the University of Utah. He is also a graduate of the California Banking School.

Specialties: Leadership Development, Marketing systems, Customer Relationship Management systems, accounting & billing systems, HR management systems, healthcare practice management systems, banking systems, customer service management systems, payroll systems, ERP systems, manufacturing process control systems, multiple programming languages and multiple database management systems.

NVW Member Reader: Lenore Hirsch is a blogger, local columnist and author of her dog’s memoir, My Leash on Life. She’s a founding member and 1st president of NVW.

April 2015:

Victoria Zackheim

ZACKHEIM_-_Dodd-210 Novelist-polymath Victoria Zackheim charmed and inspired members out of their writing comfort zones, recommending they try something they are “not good at.”

In her case, she never thought she would edit an anthology. She described the process which resulted in an anthology about infidelity. Not content with that accomplishment, she cut out paragraphs of the twenty-one essays and wove them together to become dialogue for a play. She calls this technique of pushing yourself in a different direction the “acorn”:

“Take a nut of an idea, and grow it in a way you don’t expect to grow it.”

Zackheim described another technique: Tell the story by going deeper into your character’s motivations. Rather than just scratch the surface, pick up a shovel and dig deeply into how the character ticks. If really bold, you can find and reveal the deepest, darkest secrets of the character.

She also suggested that instead of initially plotting a story, concentrate on theme. “What kind of themes are rushing through your head as you write?” she asked. Write about those.

One method to dig deep into your characters is something she learned by observing prolific novelist Ann Perry, who creates detailed outlines, typically 40 pages single spaced. [Editor’s Note: This was also Dostoyevski’s method, as described in the March 2015 Newsletter’s “How I Write” column.]

NVW Member Reader: Bob Winter – “I love to write”.After eight books he wanted to take a break but couldn’t. “The stories kept coming at me.” The result: his first venture into science-fiction, the recently released Past the Future, from which he read. Why sci-fi? “Simple, I never wrote one before.” This is the same reason he’s writing a screenplay adaptation. Bob explained the source of his obvious enjoyment with writing, and particularly science-fiction: “You can go anywhere you want.”

March 2015:

Ethel Rohan

Calling All Writers to Write What You Feel

Ethel Rohan, Credit Eva StoyanovA great evening was had as guest speaker Ethel Rohan led a conversation and reading that focused on writing what we know through emotional experience versus actual events. Rohan is the author of two story collections, Cut Through the Bone, named a 2010 Notable Story Collection by The Story Prize and Goodnight Nobody; book trailer here:

Winner of the 2013 Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award, her work has appeared in The New York TimesWorld Literature TodayPEN AmericaTin House OnlineThe Rumpus, and various anthologies, among many others. Born in Dublin, Ireland, Ethel Rohan lives in San Francisco.

Writers are all too familiar with the adage ‘Write What You Know,’ a writer’s rule that champions authenticity, and can be open to interpretation and often subject to controversy. The guideline can fuel anxiety for the fiction writer: If I’m female, can I write about a male main character? If I’m Irish, can I write about an American main character? If I’ve never flown a plane, can my main character be a pilot? For autobiography and memoir, there are also issues around memory, creative non-fiction, and fact versus truth. For Ethel, the adage is better understood and rendered when it’s qualified to write what you know emotionally.

NVW Member Reader: Bo Kearns  read an original story titled “A Scoop of Vanilla”. Bo began writing about seven years ago following a long career in International finance during which time he lived in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe. He has written award winning short stories and poetry including Finalist in a Glimmer Train Fiction competition. His works have been published in The Red Wheelbarrow Literary magazine, The Jessamyn West Anthology, and more recently, The California Writers Club Literary Review.

February 2015:

Todd Shulman

Murder and Mayhem in Your Own Backyard

Todd Shulman has tales to tell about crime and other exploits in the Napa ValleShulman, T photo Feb 11 copyy. Shulman spent his entire adult life in law enforcement. He initially served in the US Army Military Police during the First Gulf War, then went on to specialize in crime scene investigations, cold case investigation and as a Detective and training officer.

Shulman is currently with the Napa Police Department, loves a good mystery and loves writing about them. He is the author of three books, the latest of which is “Murder and Mayhem in the Napa Valley”. Todd unraveled some of those mysteries at the Napa Valley Writers meeting on February 11, 2015.

The audience heard about William Roe, who was the state’s first prisoner executed on the gallows, as well as a little history of the Valley’s lawlessness, frontier justice and depravity. Todd told of first-hand accounts of the Pomo massacre – the first criminal case heard by the California Supreme Court.

Here was your opportunity to meet Todd – who is also the President of the Napa Police Historical Society – and get questions answered about crime and punishment in your own backyard.

January 2015:

Whitney LeBlanc

Mr. LeBlanc grew up in Louisiana and went on to spend more than twenty-five years in

Whitney LeBlanc

Whitney LeBlanc

Hollywood theater and television as a writer, producer and director. He has written scripts for stage, screen and television. Experiences of his personal and professional life are seen in his historical fiction novels, Blues in the Wind, Shadows of the Blues and Bodacious Blues. Between writing novels, he creates stained glass windows. His glasswork can be seen in Grace Episcopal Church in St. Helena and in wineries in the Napa Valley where he currently resides with his physician wife.


As a visiting scholar, lecturer and Professor, LeBlanc is honored to have taught students from Maryland to California, Texas to Michigan, in Washington D.C and at Pacific Union College in Angwin.

For more information about Whitney LeBlanc, please go to:

LeBlanc, W Jan. 2015 guest bio

LeBlanc, Whitney Jan 2015 guest

December 2014:

Excerpts from the film Authors Anonymous

About a dysfunctional group of unpublished writers who, when they accept a new membAuthors Anonymouser into the fold, the last thing they expected was her overnight success.  Can these lovable misfits achieve their artistic dreams and avoid killing one another in the process?

The film’s screenplay was written by David Congalton, who was scheduled to speak at  the December meeting.  He unfortunately had to cancel and has sent us a DVD of his feature film that was released this year.  Following the short clip, a panel of local authors and experts presented and discussed in an interactive forum critique group experiences they’ve heard of or personally shared.  These three writers, all members of Napa Valley Writers, enlightened and amused their audience.

Patsy Ann Taylor’s been in 4-5 CWC clubs, has received many awards for her novels, anpatsy-a-taylorthologies and poetry.  Her first group lasted from 1986-2001 until as she put it, “one person poisoned the well.” Her second group was formed by an instructor of hers.  The Cottage Poets began in ’84 and continues now online, as members have moved and such.  She says it doesn’t matter who writes what, it’s a matter of writers supporting writers.  A safe place to take new work for critique to help the writer do their best job.

Gary Orton reported the biggest plus for him is to get a reaction from the group.  Important from his point of view to keep a mix of female and male writers as they each come with a different background and viewpoint.

 Ana Manwaring tells the group her objective is to give to to 3 suggestions to help the ana-manwaringwriter when possible.


Comments from the audience included most of groups, writing is submitted ahead of time and one page or so is read at the group before critique.  Writers don’t necessarily need compliments, they need constructive samples for their work.  Better to have a mix of genre, style, provides a broad look in the group at the writing.  If it’s realize, analyze and report why.  It’s a group of storytellers.  Create a group if you want one.

NVW Member Reader: Dick Heinzelman read from his book Memoir Of A Soul In Poetry And Prose.  He describes the experiences of one human being as seen through his soul, that place where the divine spirit meets our psychological self at the center of our being. The book concludes with an exploration of what lies beyond the curtain we call death.

November 2014:

Luke Shanahan

Luke  has written (and ghost written) over a dozen books, including Deep NutritionFood Rules and The God Academy.  He will speak to “You Lost Me At Hello: How to Let the Reader Know, by page 10, that She’s Not Reading the Work of an Amateur.”

Accomplished author and writing teacher Luke Shanahan handed out pearls at November’s Napa Valley Writers membership meeting. He elaborated in rapid-fire order on his central theme—successful writing starts by “wowing” the reader in the first two pages.

Members needed no convincing about his observation, “There’s a lot of competition out there.” He convincingly argued you’ll get a better chance of getting noticed by packing such a punch in the first two pages it entices the reader (or publisher) to turn the pages. Luke’s pearls to make that happen:

    1. Your P.O.V. should be “opinionated” and introduced in the first paragraph.


    1. The first paragraph should also have a “tone.” He read and compared tones in the opening paragraphs of Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground (opinionated but flat, with no tone) and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (exciting via a dark, sinister, scary opinionated tone.)


    1. The first paragraph should “hint at the plot.”


    1. Argue what you know. Make it valid to you.


    1. The job of the first paragraph is to get the reader to read the second paragraph.


    1. It’s all about the characters. Even in a history or historical novel, it’s about the characters and not so much about the historiocity.


    1. Make the first two pages about the reader, that is, what message do you want give the reader?


  1. Do not be enamored by the complexity of your message. Put it under the umbrella of one idea.

NVW Member Reader: David Ainsworth grew up in the Midwest and now lives in St. Helena. He is an attorney in international maritime law (semi-retired) and writer. He is also a volunteer crewmember on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a WW II Liberty Ship at Pier 45, San Francisco. David is former Captain, U S Marine Corps; former superintendent of longshoremen, San Francisco; and inventor of BookValet, a hands-free book holder.

David is the author of one novel, The Chasm, POD publisher: Author House. Currently David is working on a second novel and some short fiction.

He read a chapter from his just-finished novel about an estranged couple coping with an oil-scarcity-triggered slide into economic collapse twenty years or so into the future.

October 2014

A panel of local authors who provided their insights into the importance of attending Writers Conferences

Members and guests learned a myriad of lessons learned as well as hearing many personal anectodes from our featured Member Panelists, Bo Kearns, Lenore Hirsch and Tim Carl.  For more information on our panel of speakers, please see here.

  • Think of it as a good investment in yourself, your craft, your writing.
  • It’s possible to apply and get accepted to even the most impressive conferences.
  • Yes, you can call yourself a writer.
  • Some coferences are directed more to specific genres than others.  Know ahead what you’re looking for.
  • See below for a concise and informative spreadsheet with much information about Writers Conferences in the  Bay Area and Beyond.
  • Local writers may wish to check out Book Passages for a list of their upcoming workshops and courses throughout the SF Bay Area.
  • At the conference, you can expect to:
    • establish a new supportive network to help you push your work forward
    • create good contacts for your own ‘pitch’ session
    • meet and learn from a wide assortment of other writers, agents, publishers, etc.


Bo Kearns began writing about seven years ago following a long career in International finance during which Bo Kearnstime he lived in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe. He has written award winning short stories and poetry including Finalist in a Glimmer Train Fiction competition. His works have been published in The Red Wheelbarrow Literary magazine, The Jessamyn West Anthology, and more recently, The California Writers Club Literary Review.  Bo has attended The Napa Valley Writers Conference, The San Francisco Writers Conference and this June he went to the conference in Santa Barbara.

Lenore HirschLenore Hirsch is a retired educator who writes poetry and essays about travel, food, and the humor of everyday life. She writes a column on education and occasional features for the Napa Valley Register and has also been published in Cynic Magazine, Napa Valley Life, and UU World.  Her dog’s memoir, My Leash on Life, was released in 2013. She is a founding member and past president of Napa Valley Writers.

Tim Carl grew up in the Napa Valley and traces his grape growing roots back to the mid 1800s. His life-long love of reading has led him to write poetry and short fiction. He has

been a musician, professional chef, PhD scientist, Navy veteran, entrepreneur, business

consultant and vintner. Tim’s written work spans from over 20scientific and business

Tim Carl

articles to his poetry being included in the recent “World of Change”

anthology. He is

also a columnist for the St. Helena Star and the Calistoga Tribune and has recently started his first novel that is set in the Napa Valley.

NVW Member Reader: Stephen (Steve) Bakalyar gave some well-received prose poems readings that ranged from the tragic to humorous.

Steve BakalyarRetired now, Steve writes poetry, essays and short stories. Recently published was his essay on the history of astronomy in Redwood Coast Review, Winter 2013, ‘Star-struck Scientists: Astronomy and the Human Imagination’. Steve also took 1st place in the 5th Annual Flash Prose contest of Writer Advice (

Steve is a UC Berkeley graduate, with AB degrees in chemistry and biology. During his career as a chemist, he created marketing materials and published several research papers in scientific journals. Steve grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, currently lives in Sonoma, where he enjoys science reading and the study of evolution.

September 2014:

Joshua Mohr

Introducing Plarachterization: where Plot and Character Meet

Napa V2014-Mohralley Writers hosted an evening with author Joshua Mohr. During this interactive evening, Mohr delved into several specific tactics, including how to improve writers’ constructing a present action and how to fold backstory into it.

Mohr is the author of Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller; Termite Parade, an Editors’ Choice on The New York Times Best Seller List; Damascus, called “Beat-poet cool” by The New York Times, and most recently Fight Song. 

August 2014:

Michaela Rodeno

2014-Aug-RodenoNapa Valley Writers hosted an evening with with Bubbles to Boardroom author, Michaela Rodeno who shared anecdotes about her experience during the early days of Domaine Chandon and as CEO for St. Supery Winery. Her 40-year career could be used as a model for a university level business course.

July 2014:

Kevin Fisher-Paulson

Napa VFisher-Paulsonalley Writers enjoyed an evening with Kevin Thaddeus Fisher-Paulson, author of Song for Angels. Kevin lives with his husband Brian, their two sons, and their four rescue dogs in San Francisco. When not writing, he serves as Captain of the Honor Guard for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.

June 2014:

Lisa Brachmann

New York Times best-selling author Lisa Brackmann (Rock Paper Lisa BrackmannTiger) discussed how techniques for writing crime fiction can be applied to nearly any genre.


May 2014:

Corrine Litchfield


Corrine Litchfield is a social media manager who works with authors, nonprofits and small businesses to create and maintain websites and social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. She applies her experience as a publicist and journalist to coach clients on best practices in self-promotion and content creation. In addition to social media consulting, Litchfield is also the founder and editor in chief of Paper Bag Writers, an online literary project focused on curating fiction, nonfiction and poetry written on brown paper lunch bags. She is a contributing editor to Sacramento Magazine, has published short fiction and poetry, and is currently at work on a novel. Learn more at:

April 2014:

Tony Kilgallen

KilgallinTony has spent the past 50 years in academia, book and magazine publishing, radio, TV and film. His commercial books include: The Canadian Short Story (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), Lowry (Press Porcepic, 1973), Napa Valley, Picture Perfect (Community Communications, 2000), Napa, An Architectural Walking Tour (Arcadia Publishing, 2001), 100 Harvests, The Pelissa Family in The Napa Valley (Napa Wine Company, 2004) and Tomales Bay (Arcadia Publishing, 2013).

March 2014:

J.C. Miller

JeanneMiller2Napa Valley Writers enjoyed an evening with JC (Jeanne) Miller.  JC is the author of  Vacation published in 2013 and On the Brink of Nora, originally published by California Writers Club, Redwood Branch. She holds an MA in education and is a founding member of JAM, an editorial-consultation team. In addition to attending Tin House Writer’s Workshop, she has been a Master Class resident at Hedgebrook Institute. She is an avid reader and a table tennis enthusiast.

February 2014:

Expert Panel of Local Editors and Publishers

ExpertPanel2014Napa Valley Writers were treated to an informative evening with three local publishers. Representatives from Napa Valley Marketplace, Wine Country Lifestyle and Napa Valley Life shared strategies for getting published.

January 2014:

Patrick Miller


Before founding Fearless Books in 1997, D. PATRICK MILLER sold three solo projects to major publishers: Viking, Henry Holt, and Dell. He is now the author of nine titles, including Understanding A Course in Miracles (Ten Speed/Random House), and Living with Miracles (Tarcher/Penguin) as well as two novels, a volume of poetry, and four nonfiction works under the Fearless imprint.

December 2013:

David Corbett

David Corbett

Edgar nominated novelist, David Corbett, worked as a private investigator for fifteen years before penning his first novel, The Devil’s Redhead, has had his works of contemporary crime fiction nominated for a number of awards. On his website Corbett points out, however, that “‘I’m not a PI who became a writer, I’m a writer who became a PI.’”

November 2013:

Ransom Stephens

Ransom Stephens


Learn more about Ransom Stephens by visiting his website.

October 2013:

Sheldon Siegel

Valley Writers enjoyed an entertaining evening with Sheldon Siegel, a New York Times best selling author and Bay Area resident. Read more…

September 2013:

 Donald Yates

DonaldYatesProfilePhoto150x150.originalDonald Yates, an expert on Borges, entertained members and guests with stories about the development of his writing career, from his failing to win literary competitions in his youth, to being published in a variety of genres–personal essay, film criticism, poetry, theater reviews.  Read more

August 2013:

Lynn Goodwin

Advice we all can use from the Person to Give It

LynnGoodwinB. Lynn Goodwin is the owner of Writer Advice,, and the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, available on Amazon. Her stories and articles have 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; We Care;, Friction Literary Journal, and The Sun. She’ll also have a piece in Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers when it comes out later this year.

July 2013:

Sari Friedman


Learn more about Sari by visiting her website.

June 2013:

 James Conaway

NVW-ConawayJames Conaway entertained Napa Valley Writers and guests June 12th with the back story of his newest book, the novel NOSE.  James is no stranger to Napa; his 1990 best seller Napa: The Valley of Eden and The Far Side of Eden both are about the Napa Valley.  Learn more about James and his books on the following sites:

Author blog

Book review of Nose

May 2013:

Amanda McTigue

Amanda McTigueAmanda McTigue returned to the Napa Valley Writers Club for its One-Year Anniversary. She had a bang-up year in 2012 with the publication of her first novel and a short story anthologized in The Writing Disorder’s BEST FICTION OF 2012  Read more

April 2013:

 Marty Nemko

New Picture (1)How One Iconoclastic (and Very Well-Published) Writer Writes

Marty Nemko, author of over 1,000 articles and seven books, offered a window into the way he thinks and creates by thinking aloud as he wrote, before our very eyes, a mini-column in 10-15 minutes.

March 2013:

 Elsebeth Schoenberger

Elsebeth-SchoenbergerElsebeth Schoenberger  shared with us her experiences during WWII in Denmark and how she crafted her personal experiences into a novel, Birgitte’s War: A Novel of the Danish Resistance. Learn more about Elsebeth and her novel in the Napa Valley Register article.

February 2013:

Linda Reid

Lina Loveland ReidOur featured speaker was author and past president of the Redwood Writers, Linda Loveland Reid. Linda spoke about her experience writing her novel, Touch of  Magenta.