Learn about the craft and business of writing at Writers Forum. These literary workshops feature a diverse group of presenters discussing a variety of topics.

Writers Forum meets the third Thursday, March through August.

We start promptly at 6:30 pm and end at 8:30 pm

Location: Copperfield's Books, 140 Kentucky St., Petaluma

Writers Forum is free and open to the public.

I have always considered Writers Forum one of the best things about Petaluma. Jane Merryman

2019 Forum Presenters

May 16

Georgia James and Deborah Parrish

“The senses don’t just make sense of life in bold or subtle acts of clarity, they tear reality apart into vibrant morsels and reassemble them into a meaningful pattern.”
                                                            ― Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses

How to Write With Your Senses and Ignite your Words onto the Page                        

As writers, we want to give our readers an experience that engages the senses, providing an immersive journey into our world. We do this with words, but behind those words, there must be something richer, a full dimensional interpretation of how we use them to take our readers to places they wouldn’t go on their own. 

In this workshop, we will share a few passages that show how the senses make a story come to life. We will then guide you through a series of exercises, prompting the questions: how could you best describe what you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel to help your reader have a more dimensional experience of your story?

We’ll even test your intuitive sixth sense, to see if you trust your muse when you write. Do you let the story unfold and honor your intuition; or do you control the voices of your characters, and/or diminish the setting in which you placed them? 

Colleen Bingham, owner of Poppy Botanicals, will be joining us with her handmade organic products that will captivate your senses and help you focus on letting them tell the story.

Georgia James
Georgia is a hopeless romantic and wine country enthusiast. Formerly, a senior executive in the entertainment industry, she turned to writing over a decade ago, and has never looked back. She splits her time between Sonoma, California, and Chicago, Illinois with her husband, two grown sons, one dog, and three cats. James holds a BA in Spanish literature. Home Sweet Sonoma is her first novel.

Deborah Parrish
Deborah began writing romance novels on her mother’s old green Smith Corona typewriter at the age of 11. Her heart's calling was put on hold to raise her daughter, who's become a successful business woman in her own right. After three decades of masquerading as a financial executive, Deborah’s lifelong dream was reawakened and realized with her first published novel, Home Sweet Sonoma. With her musician husband at her side, she lives in coastal West Marin surrounded by nature's bounty. When she’s not busy dreaming up a steamy love story, she's capturing joy-filled moments through her lens as a lifestyle photographer.

Deborah and Georgia had a blast writing this story, convinced they couldn’t have done it without each other's encouragement. Having been friends for 20 years, their passion for good love stories finally showed up on the page. Home Sweet Sonoma is really about their shared love affair with romance and the little things in life that truly matter, like small towns, wine and song, pies (lots of pie), sunsets, walks in the park, kissing and of course, the behind-the-curtain passion that is the juice of life.


June 20

Jacqueline Yau

Jacqueline Yau will talk about how to fully live a writing life while keeping your day job.

Jacqueline writes travel, humor, and poignant essays for publications including Inspirato and Ensemble Vacations magazines, and for anthologies such as Travelers’ Tales China. She is a regular contributor to the annual Travel Guide to California and a founding member of Townsend 11, a collective of eleven Northern California writers. They have published three anthologies.

She has worked in marketing, communications, and brand management at consumer, nonprofit and high-tech organizations such as TiVo, RealNames, Center for Asian American Media, and Nestlé USA, and as an access cable TV host and news reporter for Hawaii Public Radio.

Jacqueline writes for Stanford Medicine as a stewardship officer in donor relations. She recently returned from trekking in the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang in Nepal. She lives in Petaluma with her husband Michael Shapiro, a journalist and author; they enjoy traveling and exploring the backroads of Sonoma County.

July 18

Susan Bono

Imperfection and the Art of Memoir

Ever wish your life was perfect? That may be a recipe for happiness, but it would make for terrible personal narrative! Memoir is all about imperfection, from our choice of subject matter to the way we portray ourselves as narrators. Let’s explore how what you don’t know can help you.

Susan Zahl Bono is a California-born mother, teacher, writer, and editor who’s lived more than half her life with the same man in the same house in Petaluma. She published Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative for twenty years. She facilitates writing workshops, including Jumpstart with Marlene Cullen, and edits the Noyo River Review for the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference. Her own work has appeared online, on stage, in anthologies, newspapers, and on the radio. Her book, What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home was published in 2014.


August 15

Susan Tillett

The Language of Color with Susan Page Tillett

Join author and teacher Susan Page Tillett for this fun, accessible workshop, designed to teach the symbolism of color and how to use it to enhance writing. Susan will share her book What’s to Wear, Beatrice Bird? to illustrate how the colors of the rainbow relate to the seven energy centers of the body and what the individual colors we choose or avoid reveal about our point of view and that of our characters. 

Susan brings 20 years of experience as a teacher of color, certified by the International Academy of Colour Theraputics in Great Britain. She is a frequent leader of workshops designed to encourage creativity.

Susan is passionate about supporting the work of writers and other artists, which she currently does as Executive Director of the Mesa Refuge, a writing retreat in Point Reyes Station.

Susan is the author of two books, The Ragdale House Speaks and What’s to Wear Beatrice Bird, as well as several works of creative non-fiction, including “Trip to Mexico, Side Trip to Heaven,” published in She Can Find Her Way:  Women Travels at Their Best.

Lighting the path for reflection
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