Past Meetings

February 25 2017 – Write, Publish, Market an Amazon Bestseller

Location: Camden Community Center, 3369 Union Avenue, San Jose, CA 95124
Cost: $150 general, $125 SVRWA, SFARWA, Sacramento RWA
Time: 9am – 5pm

Workshop Description:
This workshop will offer participants a deep understanding of what it takes to be successful at self-publishing and hybrid publishing. The focus will be on obtaining higher visibility, greater sales, and a better overall product. The insights we share can be applied wherever you are on the publishing journey.

We will spend the day guiding you through the path to become an Amazon bestseller. Along the way we will share information in the following areas.

* The current state of publishing and what this means for you
* Tips for writing books that sell: Genre, audience, craft
* Navigating your way through the editorial process
* Writing and leveraging a series
* Platform building and enhancing your author brand
* Effective marketing strategies
* Production advice on pricing, placement and keywords
* The process of a successful book launch
* How to use leverage, both traditional and self-published books
* Examples of many bestselling authors
* Sales tools that you can apply anywhere on your publishing journey
* Basic steps to setting up promotions, ads & social media marketing
* Attracting publishers and agents from your self-published book
* How are the Amazon imprints different from traditional publishing


ANDREA HURST, President of Andrea Hurst & Associates Literary Management

Andrea works with both bestselling and emerging new authors to help polish their work, obtain publication, increase sales, and build their author brand. She brings over 25 years experience in the industry as a literary agent, developmental editor for publishers and award-winning authors, a bestselling Amazon author, instructor for MFA creative writing programs, and a webinar presenter and for Writers’ Digest.

Andrea’s self-published book, The Guestbook is an Amazon bestseller with over 1300 reviews, made it to the top ten Kindle Bestsellers, and was named a bestselling self-published title by Shelf Awareness and

As a literary agent, she selectively represents high profile adult nonfiction and well-crafted fiction to major publishers including the Amazon imprints. Her clients and their books have appeared on the Oprah Show, Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, National Geographic network, and in the NY Times.

REBECCA BERUS, Founder of 2Market Books

Rebecca works with genre fiction authors to offer strategic consulting and promotional services to find and engage their reading audience and market their books effectively. Her goal is to help authors get seen and get sold! Rebecca graduated from Loyola University Chicago magna cum laude with degrees in Advertising/Public Relations and English with a creative writing concentration. She worked for Sourcebooks, Inc. as a publicity intern where she wrote press releases, pitches, PR plans and set up blog tours. She worked at Andrea Hurst & Associates as a marketing consultant for high profile clients before starting her own business.

Rebecca founded 2MarketBooks in 2014 to assist authors with marketing plans, price promotions, blog tours, giveaways and social media marketing. Some of her clients and their books include: The Guestbook by Andrea Hurst, Deadly Lies by Chris Patchell, whose newest novel, In the Dark, was published by Kindle Press, the Spies Lie series by bestselling author D.S. Kane and Marc Edelheit’s Stiger’s Tiger series.

SEAN FLETCHER ­ Author, Director of Author Services, Developmental Editor, and Agent Scout for Andrea Hurst & Associates

Sean works directly with Andrea managing editorial and consulting services for clients, teaching classes, and running general operations for the literary business. He is a monthly contributor to the Authornomics Blog.

During his bachelor’s program at Tarleton State University, he studied the craft of fiction extensively. An avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, Sean devours any book with a compelling story. It was this love of story that helped him to write books all through high school and college, eventually ending up with over eight practice novels and one published book.

Sean primarily focuses on developmental book editing in the areas of adult and YA fiction, specializing in the following genres: Sci-Fi, fantasy, thriller, and most areas of contemporary fiction. Sean assists authors in building multidimensional characters, engaging plots, original voices, and deep themes across all age groups. He has taught writing classes at the PNWA writers conference, writing groups, libraries, and workshops on Whidbey Island and Port Townsend. When not making things up and putting them on paper, he can be found hiking, biking, or traveling.


* Self-published authors who want to increase their sales
* Authors considering self-publishing
* Authors in the process of self-publishing
* Traditionally published authors considering self-publishing their next
* Traditionally published authors looking to build their audience
* Authors who want insider knowledge before self-publishing their next book


Whether you’re traditionally or indie published, getting that first book out into the world is a huge milestone. So is the second—and the third—and suddenly you have a career! So many of us don’t expect success. But with a little preparation and know-how, you can manage your career as you would a small business, from time management to taxes, incorporation, and building a publishing team around you. And by the way, have you written a will yet? Shelley Bates will talk about these and other important issues for the career writer.

Shelley 2Shelley Bates is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. As Shelley Adina, she writes steampunk, contemporary romance, and young adult fiction, and as Adina Senft, she writes women’s fiction set among the Amish and other plain communities. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches as adjunct faculty. She won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, was a finalist in 2006, and in 2009 was a Christy Award finalist. When she’s not writing, Shelley is usually quilting, sewing historical costumes, or hanging out in the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.

December 2016 – No meeting


November 19 2016 – ALICE GAINES – DEEP POV


As readers, we all know the feeling of being so deeply inside a character, we live and breathe her world, experiencing her emotions as she travels through her story arc. In our own writing, we try to create that intimacy through what’s commonly called deep point of view. Alice Gaines will share some almost-quick and not-too-dirty techniques to get the author off the page so readers can connect with your characters. She’ll also share some psychological insights on how people think of themselves, their own actions, and the world around them.

Gaines AliceAlice Gaines has a Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.  She’s been writing since before the internet. Her first published fiction, a novella titled The Spinner’s Dream, appeared in the first volume of Secrets from Red Sage Publishing. Since then, she’s gone on to help launch e-Red Sage, Harlequin Spice Briefs, Carina Press, and Kindle Scout. She currently writes romance and erotica for Entangled Press and Avon Impulse and has recently entered the world of self-publishing with her Princes of Danislova books.

October 22 2016 – SHELLEY BATES – The Emotional Plot

There are as many ways to plot a novel as there are novelists, but in this workshop, we’ll explore three: internal and external conflict, featuring ways to keep your hero and heroine apart and bring them together; the romance arc (from first glance to HEA); and the emotional journey of your couple from isolation to community. Even if you’re a pantser, you’ll discover new ways of thinking about your story and about your characters that will help you avoid the sagging middle—and prepare you to write the dreaded synopsis with ease.

ShelleyShelley Bates is the author of 24 novels published by Harlequin, Warner, and Hachette, and a dozen more published by Moonshell Books, Inc., her own independent press. As Shelley Adina, she writes steampunk, contemporary romance, and young adult fiction, and as Adina Senft, she writes women’s fiction set among the Amish and other plain communities. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches as adjunct faculty. She won the Romance Writers of America RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, was a finalist in 2006, and in 2009 was a Christy Award finalist. When she’s not writing, Shelley is usually quilting, sewing historical costumes, or hanging out in the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.

October 1 2016 – Romance with Impact: Make Your Writing Shine – Full Day Workshop

Sacramento Valley Rose, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America Chapters are co-hosting a workshop with Harlequin editor Kathleen Scheibling. The workshop will address how to ensure your manuscript works within the current publishing landscape to get an editor’s and a publisher’s attention. Topics include understanding the current publishing environment, how to make your voice stand out, effectively using tropes, and what elements will set your story apart.  It also addresses other practical considerations in how to put together a compelling synopsis and pitch and how to know which editor to target. Attendees will also get the inside scoop on new publishing opportunities available at Harlequin and an opportunity to “skip the slush pile” if they have a suitable manuscript in the works.  Participants will leave with some practical strategies they can apply right away.

DETAILS: October 1, 10:00am – 3:30pm. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

DEADLINE TO REGISTER:  midnight on Sunday, September 25th.

LOCATION: The Hyatt House, 5800 Shellmound Street, Emeryville, CA 94608

PRESENTER:  Kathleen Scheibling has worked in publishing for more than twenty years, as an agent, publicist and editor. She started at Harlequin in 2001 and is currently Senior Editor of American Romance and Blaze, as well as one of the founding and continuing editors behind the popular So You Think You Can Write annual editorial conference and contest. Despite having only ridden a horse once in her life, Kathleen knows way more about cowboys and ranching life than a certified city girl ever could. Naturally, she’s always on the lookout for books featuring ruggedly sexy cowboy heroes. She’s an avid reader, a rabid film lover and a fair-weather distance cyclist.

September 17 2016 – MARINA ADAIR – Keeping a Series Organized and Fresh

#1 National bestselling author Marina Adair will cover the upsides and pitfalls to writing series. Included topics are how to use location, secondary characters, and setting to hook readers and keep the series fresh. And how by staying true to your voice and knowing your trademarks, you can create a diverse portfolio of characters and plots.
Marina-Headshot-200x296Marina Adair is an author of romance novels and holds a Master of Fine arts in creative writing. Along with the St. Helena Vineyard series, she is also the author of the Sugar, Georgia series, the Heroes of St Helena series and the upcoming Destiny Bay series. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, and two neurotic cats in Northern California.

As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive.

August 27 2016 – August Mixer and RWA Nationals Recap

~ Part meeting, part potluck party, part speed dating/networking and Nationals Recap. FREE Too! ~

When: Sat. Aug. 27, 9:30 am – 1 pm
Where: Special location: 2421 Sharon Oaks Drive, Menlo Park, CA 94025
What: The event will be a true mixer, a chance for us to get to know each other.

We’ll have a quick SVRWA meeting, but the main focus will be…

  • Spin The Wheel Game — EVERYONE who comes wins a PRIZE!
  • Networking tables for Sharing Your Best Tips — join fellow authors at various tables marked by topic to exchange ideas or find critique partners
  • Nationals Recap (more below on this)
  • Silent Auction with 3 great baskets
  • Drawings for lots of other great baskets and goodies — only $2 a ticket or 6 for $10
  • Twitter/FB Photo Op with your crazy SVRWA Board Members in fancy hats and feather boas while we work the room selling tickets and manning activities
  • Great food — it’s a potluck so plan to bring your favorite dish to share (please note what you’ll bring in the registration so we don’t all bring the same thing)
  • NEW! Book Award Pins — sales of our SVRWA Logo Pin and Badge will continue (just $5 for pin or $9 for combo, cash) and stop by this table for the inauguration of SVRWA Book Pins, free, for published authors in 1st, 5th, or 10th book award
  • Special Drawing: SVRWA gets 3 pitch slots at the Harlequin Workshop Oct. 1st, and we’ll draw those lucky authors, so sign up for the Oct. 1st workshop by the mixer to be entered.

Always an audience favorite, we’re bringing it back and making it even better. We’ll have a moderator to keep us on topic and ask you to come prepared to share 1-3 points on things you learned from workshops and especially Publisher’s Spotlights. We’re looking for “insider information” (such as new lines publishers are launching), the newest thing in social media, what genres are hot or expected to be hot — basically anything we wouldn’t know about if we weren’t in that room at that time. Please help make this super helpful!

We hope to see at our August Mixer!

Your SVRWA Board Members, Hannah, Debbie, Kristina, Gayle, Barbara, and Sonja

* Don’t need to be present to win, but must be a SVRWA member in good standing and for Harlequin pitches be registered for the workshop.

July 2016 – No meeting


June 25 2016 – Sharon Hamilton – Audio Books

Sharon Hamilton has been doing audio books now for nearly 2 years, and has sold nearly 15,000 books during that time. While this number looks big, she isn’t a phenom. She currently has 21 audios out, all using the same narrator, Mr. J.D. Hart. He also attends some book signings and does all her book trailers and snippets.

Working with Mr. Hart has been a rich and rewarding experience. In fact, his days in Nashville as a young singer-songwriter and up-and-coming Nashville Star were Sharon’s inspiration for Nashville SEAL, which released in December 2015.

An actor, musician and all-round guy in a white hat, J.D. shares a special friendship with Sharon. They work in a collaboration that many authors and their narrators don’t have. But, you don’t have to have this to be a successful-selling author today.

Sharon will go over how to choose a narrator, what she’s learned now that it’s too late, and how an author decides if doing audio book narration is right for them. Just like everything in publishing today, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all discussion. There will be lots of time for questions, too, so bring them!

Enjoy his singing voice, and yes, he has a nice butt too!! (Did I say that?) Here’s the book trailer.

Are you an audio virgin?

Find Sharon here:


May 21 2016 – Twitter Pitching and Pitch Prep for Nationals

Twitter Pitching
Are you considering going the traditionally published route with your finished and polished book? Are you hesitant to pitch a book to an agent or editor face to face? Then Twitter pitching is for you!
Twitter pitching, you may ask? Yes, it’s true. You can pitch your book in 140 characters to dozens of editors and agents and small publishers all in one day! Want to give it a try?
Authors Layla Reyne and Gayle Parness will describe the simple and not-as-simple-as-you-might-think steps you’ll need to take to put together a 140 character pitch for one or more of the many twitter pitching contests taking place year round. And don’t forget…spaces are characters too.
Some of the subjects covered:

  • Know the rules!
  • What does every twitter pitch need?
  • Designing your pitch to suit your book
  • Okay, I wrote it. Now what?
  • Pitching etiquette
  • How do I you know if an agent/editor wants to hear more about my book?
  • How do I respond to an interested agent or editor?
  • Which twitter pitch contest is for me?

At the end we’ll hand out sheets and you can pick one of your books and practice your twitter pitches! If you haven’t finished a book you probably still know enough to write your pitch. If you don’t have a book or a synopsis, write a pitch based on a book you’ve read. Writing attention grabbing twitter pitches is a great step toward achieving your dream, but it’s also a terrific way to boil down your story to its most basic elements, something you can also use when you decide you’re ready for a face to face pitch.
Layla+Reyne+-+Author+PhotoAttorney by day, writer by night, Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her scientist husband and three smushed-faced dogs. Growing up surrounded by generations of Southern storytellers and at the knee of her soap opera loving grandparents, she began writing at an early age. Now writing romantic suspense and contemporary romance, Layla is inspired by her coast-to-coast experiences and delights in weaving the people she’s met and places she’s been into her stories for readers everywhere to enjoy. Layla is a PRO Member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death, Silicon Valley and Golden Network chapters. She is represented by Laura Bradford of the Bradford Literary Agency and is a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist for her romantic suspense novel, Four Tragedies.

Gayle+ParnessGayle Parness is the proud author of twelve self-published and one traditionally published paranormal romance/paranormal fantasy novels and often finds herself thinking, “How the heck did that happen?” She’s happiest when she’s writing and venting and laughing with her SVRWA friends, which she does on a weekly basis. A former production mgr/stage mgr/costume designer/ props mistress for several local NYC theatre companies, Gayle still likes to keep her fingers in the theatrical pie by working spot light for West Bay Opera three times a year. And yes, she hauls her laptop up the very tall ladder, because her crazy ideas for stories never stop coming. :0)

Pitch Prep for Nationals with Hannah

Hannah_JayneAre you planning to go to San Diego? In preparation for RWA2016,  Hannah Jayne will be sharing tips and tricks for in-person pitches and general etiquette for chatting up industry professionals.

Special location: 2421 Sharon Oaks Drive, Menlo Park, CA 94025




April 30 2016 – Jennifer Ryan – Creating a Winning Storyline in a Modern Romance

2014-04-13 03.30.20Why are romance readers so voracious for their next fix?

Romance novels keep us riveted to the emotional intensity. The ups and downs the characters go through to be together. We love that initial spark that builds each time the couple sees each other until it ignites into something more than a flirtation and turns into a relationship.

How do you write a winning storyline? We’ll start with writing basics, romance fundamentals, romantic suspense, then discuss building sexual tension, realism, writing engaging characters, and overcoming obstacles to reach happy ever after.

Jennifer will also talk about how she went from debut e-book author to mass market NY Times bestseller in three years. Bring your questions; she’s happy to answer all your burning questions about traditional publishing.

Jennifer Ryan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Hunted, McBride, and Montana Men series, writes romantic suspense and contemporary small-town romances.

Jennifer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. When she isn’t writing a book, she’s reading one. Her obsession with both is often revealed in the state of her home, and how late dinner is to the table. When she finally leaves those fictional worlds, you’ll find her in the garden, playing in the dirt and daydreaming about people who live only in her head, until she puts them on paper.

Please visit her website at for information about upcoming releases.

Follow her on:

Twitter: @JenRyan_author





March 26th 2016 – Cora Seton – All About the Brand

Cora Seton 300All authors need to manage their brand, but many authors aren’t sure what their brand is–or how to use it to attract and keep readers. Join NYT and USA Today bestselling author Cora Seton in a series of hands-on activities guaranteed to help you to define (or re-define) your brand, and create a marketing strategy around it. Bring your cell phone! We will delve into social media, reviews and more to find out how we’ve positioned ourselves in the market so far–and where we want to go.

NYT and USA Today bestselling author Cora Seton has published 18 military and western novels and novellas set in the fictional town of Chance Creek, Montana. Melding modern themes with small town settings, she has sold over seven hundred thousand copies of her books, and has spoken about indie publishing, changes within the publishing landscape, and branding for authors. Cora Seton splits her time between Victoria, British Columbia and the Adirondacks in New York. You can find her at:


February 13th, 2016 – Michael Hauge all day workshop
Michael Hauge, Hollywood script consultant

Michael Hauge, Hollywood script consultant

Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Meeting Location: Saratoga Ballroom, Biltmore Hotel & Suites
2151 Laurelwood Road, Santa Clara, CA 95054

Workshop Fee: $125 for SVRWA members, $150 for guests

During this special, all-day seminar, Michael will present his unique approach to creating compelling stories for film and fiction. Drawing on his decades as a Hollywood script consultant, author and lecturer, he will show the most powerful methods for eliciting emotion in your readers and audiences through story concept, plot structure, character development and theme. Michael will then reveal his proven method for getting the people in power to read your manuscript or screenplay.

You will learn:

The primary goal of all story
Turning plot structure from a complicated concept into a simple, powerful tool you can easily apply to every story
The power of desire, need, longing and destiny
The essential conflict all characters must face
Novel structure vs. movie structure
The single key to creating character arc and theme
The secret to creating unique, believable and fulfilling love stories
The most effective process for adapting novels into film
The single biggest mistake writers while pitching their work
The key components of a powerful pitch
If you want to elevate your novels to the highest possible level, this event is a must.

Michael Hauge is the best selling author of Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read, as well as the new 20th Anniversary Edition of his classic book Writing Screenplays That Sell. A number of Michael’s seminars, including The Hero’s 2 Journeys with Christopher Vogler, are available on DVD, CD and streaming video through this website, and through booksellers throughout the world.

Michael has a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Georgia. He has worked in Hollywood for the past 35 years, and has presented seminars, lectures and keynotes in person and online to more than 70,000 participants worldwide. To find out more please visit his website:


January 23rd – My First Published Year Panel

Jennae Vale, Kate Allure, and Rich Amooi will talk about their first year as traditionally and indie published authors in Silicon Valley. They’ll discuss the ups and downs of that first year as a published author. What have they learned? What would they do differently as they look back? And what’s in store next year.

Kate AllureKate Allure
writes erotic romance and is the author of the Meeting Men anthology series about real women meeting handsome professional men as they go about their everyday lives—and the fun they have with them behind closed doors! Kate has been a storyteller her entire life, writing plays, short stories, and dance librettos throughout her childhood and later for semi-professional theater and dance companies. Her non-fiction writing included working for American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet and authoring a weekly arts column for local papers. Beyond writing, Kate’s passions include traveling and exploring all things sensual with her loving husband.


Rich Amooi -Author PhotoRich Amooi
is a former Silicon Valley radio personality and wedding DJ who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster and has a hairy golden retriever/lab mix that likes to eat carrots, tuna, and Manchego cheese imported from Spain.

He believes (Rich, not the dog) in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.


Jennae ValeJennae Vale
is the author of romance with a touch of magic. Her Scottish Medieval time travel series The Thistle & Hive, Books One through Four, is available in print and ebook versions on Amazon and other online ebook sellers. Her next series, The Mackalls of Dunnet Head is set for release early in 2016.

Jennae started life in Massachusetts, but now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, her dog, two cats and four chickens. She also has a horse, but since there’s no room in her backyard, he lives at a nearby stable. Jennae is an avid quilter, who loves to cook, read and craft in her spare time.


November 21st – Allison Brennan, The Villain’s Journey

The Villain’s Journey – Once you understand that the villain is the hero of his own journey, you can create complex and believable bad guys worthy of your hero. WHY these people do what they do is important, therefore, understanding their path — their journey — is instrumental in writing a three-dimensional antagonist.

Allison BrennanAllison Brennan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen thrillers and several short stories. Reviewers have called her “a master of suspense” and RT Book Reviews said, “The Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan novels just keep getting better!” She’s been nominated for multiple awards, including the Thriller, Best Romantic Suspense, and Daphne du Maurier awards. FEAR NO EVIL won the Daphne award. Her new and upcoming releases include BEST LAID PLANS and NO GOOD DEED in the Lucy Kincaid series, and POISONOUS in the Max Revere series. For more information about Allison, visit her website at


October 24th – Robin Burcell – Forensic Art and Witness Recall

How investigators reach inside someone’s head to see what the witness sees. Have you ever wondered why so many people can see the same incident, and yet have a completely different description of what happened or who they saw? Sketch artists have to learn the art of interviewing in order to get the clearest picture of a suspect from a witness’s description. Witness memory is fragile and easily swayed. Examples from real cases will be shown.

Robin BurcellRobin Burcell, the award winning author of eleven novels, spent nearly three decades working in law enforcement as a police officer, hostage negotiator and criminal investigator before retiring to write fiction full time. An FBI Academy-trained forensic artist, her drawings have been used to solve a number of crimes, including homicides and bank robberies, and she was called upon by the various Valley law enforcement entities, including the FBI, for this skill. She has appeared on several true-crime television episodes as an expert witness.

Her most recent series is about an FBI forensic artist. The first, FACE OF A KILLER, received a starred review from Library Journal, and was followed by THE BONE CHAMBER, THE DARK HOUR, and THE BLACK LIST. The most recent book in that series, THE KILL ORDER, was named as one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014.

Her latest novel, THE LAST GOOD PLACE, will be released November 3, 2015 and is a continuation of the 1970s series by the late Carolyn Weston, whose novels were the basis for the hit television series THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO.

More information as well as contact info can be found on her website at: as well as her author page on Facebook.


September 26th – Lisa Cron – What Your Reader Really Wants: 5 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Novel (All day workshop)


Every writer wants two things: to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go, and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of endlessly writing draft after draft. This workshop will give writers actionable ways to meet both goals.

We’ll examine the five steps to take before you start writing that will save you months (or years) of hard work, not to mention heartache and frustration. Instead of rooting around in your plot for the story, you’ll unearth the key story elements beneath the plot that bring it to life, drive it forward, and give it meaning.

These elements have little to do with the surface plot or “writing well” and everything to do with what we’re hardwired to respond to in every story we read.

A story achieves greatness when it intrigues the brain, so learning what your reader’s brain craves, and why, will allow you to zero in on what your story is really about before you write word one (or, if you’re already started, before you write another word). You’ll not only produce a more powerful story, chances are you’ll drastically reduce your rewrite time.

Lisa CronLisa Cron is the author of “Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers From the Very First Sentence” (Ten Speed Press).

Her video tutorial “Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story” can be found at

Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency.

Since 2006, she’s been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

Lisa works with writers, nonprofits, educators and organizations, helping them master the unparalleled power of story, so they can move people to action – whether that action is turning the pages of a compelling novel, trying a new product, or taking to the streets to change the world for the better.


August 22nd – Mary Altman from Sourcebooks AND Nationals Recap

We have two exciting programs this month after chapter business.

Program One – RWA Nationals Conference recap. Roundtable feedback from attendees regarding what they learned at the conference. From must see workshops to what the editors are looking for to which escalators to avoid. Program length – one hour.

Program Two – Mary Altman, Editor at Sourcebooks Casablanca, will be discussing her role at Sourcebooks. She will be accepting pitches after her discussion. Please contact Debbie Mekler for a pitch appointment at Pitch appointments will be 5-10 minutes in length. Priority goes to SVRWA members. Non-members may sign up for any remaining appointments the day of the meeting. Program length – one hour. Pitch appointments – one hour.

mary altmanMary Altman was born in South Carolina and still considers herself a Charlestonian at heart. Her love of reading came from an early obsession with The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and she’s only gotten geekier over the years. She has a passion for travel and lives in a tragically unhip corner of Brooklyn with her fiancé and an overflowing TBR pile. She’s looking for unique, engaging single-title romance, erotic romance and new adult novels for Sourcebooks.

Mary acquires single title (80,000-120,000 words)Romance in all subgenres, including contemporary, romantic suspense, historical, paranormal, and erotic romance. She also acquires romantic new adult. Mary is not looking for books with romantic “elements” at this time.


June 27th – Alexandra Nicolajsen, Associate Director of Social Media and Digital Sales at Kensington Publishing

alexandra nicolajsen Alexandra will be discussing an overview of Kensington Publishing and its current initiatives, marketing your book from the publisher stand-point, and real-world case studies. Alexandra is big on interactive talks, so there will be a participation section involving marketing ideas. Alexandra will be taking pitches at the end of the meeting.


May 30th – Claire McEwen – Building the House and Driving the Car – A Domestic Diva’s Guide to Pacing Your Writing

In this workshop we’ll explore what pacing is, and how it can be used to make your novel into a compelling home for your story. We’ll look at blueprints for structuring a novel and ponder what chapters we might want to include to make our foundation strong. We’ll hop in the (metaphorical) car and explore what speed we want our reader to travel. When should we speed up our pacing, or slow it down? And how do we switch speeds? And finally, we’ll examine the finishing touches that affect our novel. What types of sentences and words influence pacing? How do we decide which details to include, and which to leave out?

This will be an interactive workshop and participants are requested to bring two things.

1) If you use any kind of plot structure chart to plan your novels, please bring a sample of it to share. If you can bring thirty copies of the chart, that would be fantastic. If that’s too many, maybe you can bring ten copies, so we can put one on each table? Even if you can only bring one copy, that will still be helpful!

2) If possible, please bring six copies of a short scene from your work in progress (1-2 pages double spaced), and the first few chapters of your work in progress (or a charged laptop so you can access your chapters). Try to find a scene where you have concerns about the pacing. Maybe you are worried that it drags, or perhaps that it moves through the action or emotion too quickly? There will be an opportunity to share your scene and receive constructive feedback from a small group of colleagues. If you can’t bring either, that’s okay, it is more of a thinking activity that you can still participate in, but I think it would work better if you had your first few chapters.

Thank you, and I look forward to working with you!

Claire McEwen writes contemporary romance and is currently working on her fourth book in a western series for Harlequin. Before writing her first novel, she spent many years as a teacher and school administrator, specializing in reading and language arts instruction. She has taught writing to young people of all ages and has trained and coached teachers in the best practices of writing instruction.

Claire lives by the ocean in Northern California with her husband, their son and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb. She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach, dancing, traveling, blogging and reading, of course.


April 25th, 2015 – Sit Down and Write

Come dressed in your favorite writing outfit (if you prefer to write nekkid, choose your second favorite outfit) and your laptop (we have plugs in the floor) and/or paper. There will be opportunity for some of you to read pages aloud and receive constructive feedback (think Magic Bulldozer Jr.).

Outlet availability is uncertain, so please be sure any laptops are fully charged!

Meeting location: 445 Calderon Ave, Mountain View, CA, 94041


March 28th, 2015 – Edit, Polish, Shine! with Shelley Bates

Meeting location: Cambrian Library
Meeting time: 9am-12pm
Meeting fee: $10 for members, $15 for guests

You’ve finished your book! Time to send it out, right? Wrong. Even if you’ve been editing as you go, there are several layers to work through yet to make your novel stand out from the pack. RITA Award–winning, bestselling author and professional copyeditor Shelley Bates will take us through “the rules,” what they’re really meant to accomplish, and how you can revise your work with or against them. Learn some common errors to look for as you edit your own work, and whether you’re pursuing self-publishing or a traditional agent or editor, your book will shine.

Shelley’s Biography:
Shelley_Bates_0143_hen_loresWhether typing search warrants and cataloguing evidence for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or editing marketing material for the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, Shelley Bates has found that everyone has a story. Most people have stopped telling her theirs in case she puts them in her books. She has edited collateral for Apple, Symantec, and Hewlett-Packard, and is currently copyediting for a growing list of talented and prolific independent authors.

Shelley holds an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches in the program as adjunct faculty. She won the 2005 RITA Award® for Best Inspirational Novel of the Year from the Romance Writers of America, and was a finalist the following year. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2009, and has shortlisted three times for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award. She writes Amish women’s fiction as Adina Senft and steampunk as Shelley Adina. When she’s not writing, she can be found out in the garden with her flock of rescued chickens.


February 28th, 2015 – Let’s Celebrate Us!

Meeting location: Cambrian Library
Meeting time: 9am-12pm
Meeting fee: $0 for members and guests

Happy 18thEighteen years ago, a small group of rogue writers discussed starting an RWA chapter south of San Francisco. They posted a meeting invitation and in February of 1997 twenty-five people showed up and a dynamic writing chapter was born! Many things have changed in eighteen years, but our determination to support our members has never diminished.

Come join us this month to help us celebrate our accomplishments, get to know your fellow members better, and learn about what we have planned for our future.

8:00 – 8:30 Meeting set-up (volunteer to help set up and receive a ticket towards a free meeting)
8:30 – 9:00 Meeting check in (no meeting fee and guests are free!)
9:00 – 9:30 Chapter Meeting
9:30 – 10:00 Game One (The Past) – Get to know your board a little better
10:00 – 10:30 Game Two (The Present) – Silicon Valley Romance Writer Bingo
10:30 – 11:00 Game Three (The Future) – Get to the End
11: 00 – 11:30 Free Play – last chance for drawings and prizes and questions
11:30 – 12:00 Basket Winners announced and we have cake!
12:00 – 12:30 – Meeting tear down (volunteer to help put things away and receive a ticket towards a free meeting)


January 24th – Girl Gone Indie

Meeting location: Cambrian Library
Meeting time: 9am-12pm
Meeting fee: $10 for members, $15 for guests
Meeting reservation: Form

Come join us for an independently published author panel discussion. Indie pubbed authors will share their publishing journeys and why they made the choice to go indie.

Guest Panelists Jules Barnard, Jennifer Skully/Jasmine Haynes, and Jill James:

Jules BarnardJules Barnard is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended UC Davis, whose college landscape often finds its way into her New Adult novels. She has a master’s degree and spent many an hour running statistical analysis, until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports. She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.

Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner. Visit Jules online at:


JenniferSkullyNY Times and USA Today bestselling Jennifer Skully/Jasmine Haynes is the author of classy erotic romance, hilarious romantic mysteries, and the Max Starr paranormal suspense series. Her books have passion, heart, humor, and happy endings, even if they aren’t always traditional.

Visit her online at:


Jill James Jill James didn’t start out wanting to be an author. Along the way she wanted to be an astronaut, President of the United States, a lawyer, and a doctor. Once married with children she realized she could be all those things; in the pages of the stories she wrote.

She lives in Northern California with her husband, who is the inspiration for all her romance novel heroes.

Jill writes contemporary and paranormal romance. Visit her online at:


December – No meeting


Even more in the past…

If you are looking for meetings that happened seriously in the past, click here for a full listing from 2008-2014.