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

March 21

Guy Biederman

"If I had more time, I’d write a shorter story." Mark Twain

Strive for sinewy prose and stories that charge the moment. We'll explore the art of flash fiction and discuss some of the principles of the short form. We'll talk about the relationship between flash and poetry, consider the sub genres of micro and hint fiction and practice our art on the page. Enjoy the pleasure of discovery and the earnest work of craft.

Guy Biederman has taught creative writing at College of Marin, San Francisco State, Santa Rosa Junior College, The Sitting Room, and privately at many venues since 1991. 

His fiction and poetry have been internationally published in over fifty journals. His flash fiction and poetry have twice been winners of Exposition Review’s Flash 405 contest and his short fiction was nominated for Best of the Net Flash Fiction, 2018.  In addition, Guy’s one act plays have been produced at Dominican University and Occidental Center For The Arts. He is the author of three collections of short work, including Soundings & Fathoms, Finishing Line Press, 2018. Guy and his wife Phyllis live on a houseboat with two salty cats and walk the planks daily.

April 18

Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Poet and Writer Iris Jamahl Dunkle will talk about research, intensity and the art of crossing genres.  Over the past five years, Dunkle has been writing the first full-length biography on Charmian Kittredge London. To tell the story of a woman whose contributions had been all but forgotten, Dunkle travelled archives like the Huntington Library to do research primarily in documents in letters, diaries, and notes. But what she found while she was doing this research was that each encounter with these personal documents made her want to write poetry about her subject and so alongside her biography, a manuscript of poems was also produced. Dunkle will share excerpts and poems from her works in progress and talk about how research can inspire both long, researched biographical work and short lyric poems

Iris Jamahl Dunkle is the recent past Poet Laureate of Sonoma County. Interrupted Geographies, published by Trio House Press, is her third collection of poetry.  It was featured as the Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection for July 2017.  Her debut poetry collection, Gold Passage, was selected by Ross Gay to win the 2012 Trio Award. Her second collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air was published in 2015.

Her work has been published in numerous publications: Fence, Calyx, Catamaran, Poet’s Market 2013, Women’s Studies and Chicago Quarterly Review.  

Dunkle teaches at Napa Valley College and is a Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. 

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

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

Susan began writing in her 50s when she was the Executive Director of Ragdale, an artist community near Chicago. What started out as a desire to understand what her writers-in-residence experienced during the creative process grew into a passion to find insights in her world and her life. Susan is the author of two books, The Ragdale House Speaks and What’s to Wear Beatrice Bird, as well as several articles, including “Trip to Mexico, Side Trip to Heaven,” published in She Can Find Her Way:  Women Travels at Their Best.

For the past twenty years, Susan has supported the work of writers and other artists. She is currently the Executive Director of the Mesa Refuge, a writing retreat in West Marin. She also teaches workshops designed to encourage the creativity in all people. She often co-teaches a workshop called The Artist’s Eye, the Writer’s Voice with Elizabeth Fishel in Northern California and Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. This course has featured visits to the studios of several different visual artists, including Susan Hall, Mimi Robinson and Tom Killion.

Lighting the path for reflection
The Write Spot Blog