9th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference

I’m at the 9th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference For Fiction, Nonfiction and Children’s Book Writers at the Unitarian Universalist Center, 1187 Franklin at Geary. 

I stayed at my son and his wife’s place in the Mission so I could make the 6:00-7:30 SUNRISE PITCHATHON no-host breakfast a block away. Co-director Mike Larsen moderated the event. 

My alarm didn’t go off so I woke late. But with rideshare services – rather than walking the half hour, I thought no problem. But Lyft’s app couldn’t process my payment, repeatedly. Uber balked too. A driver accepted then cancelled. Finally 15 minutes later, after repeatedly closing and reopening both apps. Finally I got one. So late, but got there.

I was out of position and hadn’t prepared pitches for my major projects. But, listening to others pitches and feedback they got, was useful and inspirational for me to work on and improve mine. 

We walked the hill and talked as we waited for the facility to open.

We’ve heard Mike Larsen’s welcome, and the consultants introduced themselves. 


Nina Amir presented 10 Steps to Becoming a Change Agent. At the last one of these, Nina’s talk and a followup consult, provided me with a glimpse of what kind of web presence could be used by someone like me with a number of projects rather than just one. I’ve been slow to implement it, but now it is a work in progress. This post is an example.

The agenda is online, so I won’t recap it.

Panelists discussed: Writing for Better Tomorrows

Kirk Boyd was heading to Geneva to work on a draft global bill of rights encouraged us to look at: http://www.uniteforrights.org/

I checked the time, and made my 8-minute consult  I’d scheduled with Nina Amir. We touched base and I reminded her of our prior consult. We kept it short, she listened then again urged me to look at the diverse topics and come up with the themes, that roll up to the brand – so you have a tag-line so people know who you are and what you are about. 

At the rest of the break, I spoke with Dan  Linehan and Mary Rakow. I’d heard Dan read at an open mic night in Livermore. Mary spoke of Dan’s fiction regarding climate change.

After the break, Mike Larsen introduced Taryn Edwards from their new partner, The Mechanics’ Institute.  They are a leading cultural center that includes a vibrant library, a world-renowned chess program and a full calendar of engaging cultural events.

Panelists discussed publshing : traditional, hybrid, or DIY

 Based on the discussion tips, I took a look and opened an account at Ingram Spark, particularly for print. Smashwords for e-books still offers broad electronic distribution.

During lunch break, I bought books on book proposals by Mike Larsen and Andy Ross. Kathy called because she saw the Square payment with name she didn’t recognize. We discussed timing for this evening, we’re going to the Bankhead Theatre, for their 11th Season Opening Gala, featuring The Indigo Girls and much more.

We agreed I better leave about 1:30, after the keynote speaker Stephen Dinan.

Stephen Dinan, of The Shift Network, and author of Sacred America, m World: Fulfilling Our Mission in Service to All. I got a copy for Kindle.

Stephen wrapped up with Q&A.

So my time here today has wound down. For me it’s been a jump start and encouragement to get going on my two major writing projects: the Belize “true novel” and Draft Resistance memoir. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten my travel piece on Scotland and Ireland to our CWC TVW critique group  and done my critiques of pieces by others.

On the way home via Lyft, then BART.

CWC TVW Critique groups run year round

At our last meeting of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Writers Branch this season, President, Patricia Boyle, asked me to speak about our STEM critique group.

I was happy to. As my members page indicates, in part:

Patrick D. Coyle journals and writes memoir and personal stories about travel and sustainable development. His short memoirTime of Your Life, won first place in Impressions, the Las Positas College 2015 anthology.

Other memoirs have been published in the Voices of the Valley: Word For Word, Encore, and First Press, California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch anthologies (2015, 2013, and 2011); 4th Street Studio’s Livermore Wine Country Literary Harvest and Saturday Salon Literary Harvest anthologies.

I’ve been involved in critique since I joined the Tri-Valley Writers Branch in 2005 as a charter member. My good friend and mentor, Hector Timourian, led this group until he he handed it off. I picked up the responsibility to “clerk for us,” getting the announcement out to people about when the monthly meetings are coming up, letting people know who has submitted pieces, and showing up to facilitate the critique session discussion.

I’ve benefited from the feedback from others, reading the diversity of others pieces, and offering comments about what I liked, what gave me pause, and suggestions.

The monthly critique sessions also encourages me to write, to get a piece ready to submit for critique. I don’t like to be empty handed.

I joke with others that my only hope is that writing is a learnable craft.

We continue the STEM critique group through the summer.

I encourage you to write, to check out our CWC TVW branch, and to consider the critique groups as a way to improve your writing.

CWC TVW meeting

Jordan Bernal reported on recent successful conference with over 80 in attendance. Connie Hanstedt updated on the High School writing contest awards set for tomorrow. Plus more. Judy Melinek, MD, and T.J. Mitchell presented program, “Working Stiff: The Real CSI.”

For us writers they showed slide with biggest errors:

They then read from, Working Stiff.