Writers of Kern Newsletter | April 2022
Click on the header name to go directly to that part of the newsletter.
In this issue: President's Message | Next Meeting | Last Meeting | WOK Critique Group News | Submission & Volunteering Opportunities | Monthly Meetings | Book Club Update | Mark Your Calendar | From Your Sunshine Chair | From Your Editor | Nuts & Bolts  

President's Message

April is a month of cleansing and rebirth, a time for resurrection and forgiveness. As I take a moment to reflect upon the challenges and success of 2022 thus far, I'm grateful for friends old and new who have helped me as a writer and as a first-year president of the Writers of Kern. Thank you. Thank you for your kindness and support. Thank you for showing up.

I'm a big believer in showing up. Whatever it is you endeavor towards, show up. Seriously. Want to do well at your job? Show up. Want to be an author? Show up. Want strong friendships? Show up. 

Google search: "Define 'show up'" :D

As the year progresses, I wish you many more success than challenges, for resilience and perseverance. 

Many blessings and happy writing.


Cyn Bermudez

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Writing Childhood
Course description

When writing memoir about childhood, or fiction with a child protagonist, how do we convey a child’s point of view and experience? What are the particular characteristics of child consciousness we need to capture? Do we use a child’s language or an adult’s? If we are writing in the voice of a first person child narrator, how do we transmit information beyond what the child understands? Author of the coming of age memoir, Don’t Go Crazy Without Me and Antioch college instructor, Deborah A. Lott, addresses these questions and others to enable us to create memorable and specific child characters, and to convey the perspectives, fantasies, and dilemmas of childhood. 90 minutes with ample examples from fiction and memoir and time at the end to discuss our own work.
Deborah A. Lott is the author of two books, In Session: the Bond Between Women and Their Therapists and the recently published tragicomic memoir, Don’t Go Crazy Without Me. For twelve years, she served as Senior Writer/Editor for the UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Her creative nonfiction and reportage have been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Bellingham Review, Black Warrior Review, Cimarron Review, the Huffington Post, Salon, Tin House online, The Rumpus, Scoundrel Time, Psychology Today, the Writing Disorder, and many other places. “The Daddy-Cure” which was published in StoryQuarterly garnered Lott’s third Pushcart Prize nomination. Her work has also been thrice named as notables by Best American Essays. She now teaches literature and creative writing at Antioch University, Los Angeles, where she also serves as faculty adviser to Two Hawks

What some distinguished writers and reviewers have to say about Don’t Go Crazy without Me      

“Deborah A. Lott’s Don’t Go Crazy without Me is funny, horrifying, and heartbreaking – and often surprisingly, all three at once. It’s an astonishingly vivid book, and to read it is to be caught up, just as the writer was, in an impossible, crazy, misfit family. Through grace and nerve and will, Deborah learns that you can’t “screw nature,” or “stop time,” as her father tried to do, “but you could turn your grief into love.” This writer’s love for her deeply screwed-up family is unforgettable. As the best memoirs do, Don’t Go Crazy without Me makes this writer’s story belong to all of us.”
Mark Doty, National Book Award Winner, author of the memoirs, Firebird, Dog Years, Heaven’s Coast, and multiple volumes of poetry.

           “Don’t Go Crazy without Me is an extraordinary book. Deborah A. Lott writes about everything – parents, children, bodies, illness, sex, writing – with a voice that is utterly clear and beautiful and funny and original. This is a book written with honesty that will both break your heart and enlarge it.”
Karen E. Bender, National Book Award Finalist, and author of A Town of Empty Rooms, Refund, and Like Normal People.

“Deborah Lott writes with an intelligence that’s simultaneously hilarious, devastating, and generous. Don’t Go Crazy Without Me turns whatever we thought a memoir should do completely on its head and makes something glorious and fresh of the form. It reminds us why we need to laugh, especially in dark times.
Paul Lisicky, author of Later, The Narrow Door, and Lawnboy

                “Sentence by sentence, Deborah A. Lott is one of the finest writers I know. Her keen insights into the dynamics of her quirky, unforgettable family, and into family dynamics in general, make this book bound to be a classic.”
               Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters

               “Brilliantly written with grace, generosity, and a highly refined sense of the absurd, Don’t Go Crazy without Me is the harrowing account of a chaotic, bewildering childhood. This reader was enthralled from the get-go and Deborah A. Lott is now one of my favorite writers and I kiss the hem of her garment."
               Abigail Thomas, author of Safekeeping, Three Dog Night, and What Comes Next and How to Like It

               “A vivid, compelling, and highly provocative read, Don’t Go Crazy Without Me showcases the memoir as an art form.”
               Jody Keisner, The Adroit Journal

               “The deeper story, of Lott taking control of her body and thoughts and finding her voice, is what makes this memoir important. . . . Try it, you won’t put it down.”
               Bettina Berch, Jewish Book Council

               “Don’t Go Crazy Without Me is a fearless, fascinating story of self-discovery and reconciliation.”
               Laurel Miriam, Hippocampus Magazine

               “A candid, unsettling family portrait of madness and enduring love.”
               Kirkus Review
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|19 March 2022 | Spring Writers Conference

This year we had a successful Spring Writers Conference featuring workshops from Susanne Dietze, Peter Clines, and Portia Choi. Susanne taught us how to write sweet and clean romances. Peter talked with the group about world building and more. And Portia gave an inspiring and thoughtful poetry workshop, engaging the senses with flowers and mint leaves. We ate delicious food, learned stuff about our craft, and supported one another through community interaction. A warm and heartfelt thank you to our featured speakers, guests, and staff. Thank you for spending the day with the Writers of Kern.

Congratulations to the winners of the opportunity baskets and door prizes: Iliff Hicks, Jeanette Green, Bill Galbreath, Carla Martin, Curt Asher, Bethane Banks, Stephanie Apsit, Cynthia Bermudez, Jill Egland, Gary Evans, Janet Skibinsky, Gay Chambers, Heather Sproul, Nelson Varon.

If you attended the conference and would like a copy of Susanne's notes, please email
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Your Poem on the Writers of Kern Blog

April is National Poetry Month if you'd like to include a poem in our blog for that month, please send an original poem. Established poets, emerging poets, and would-be poets all have the possibility of being published during the month. At the end of the month, all the poems published in our blog will be compiled into an online ezine and available to read and embed on your site for free.

Please send your poems to

  1. Poem line limit: 30 lines or fewer
  2. Submit poems as a Word Document; 12-point font, Arial
  3. Include a short bio (50 words or fewer)
  4. Send to 
  5. In the subject line: NPM “Title of your Poem”
  You have questions? Please send them to:

2022 WOK Annual Dan McGuire Blog Challenge
Anyone can participate (membership in Writers of Kern not required).

When: Start posting Monday, Feb. 07 or any time after that date. Final posts by Sunday, May 08.

Why: To develop a habit of regular writing and sharing it with a like-minded community of writers.

Where: Your personal blog online

The Fine Print: Finish by May 8, 2022

  • To participate just start writing! 
  • Write 26 posts before the deadline,
    • Subject/theme is up to you
  • Though not required, we prefer you share a link to your blog posts on the Writers of Kern Facebook Group page (link below). It makes it easier to everyone to read and leave comments.
  • After publishing all 26 posts, please email to confirm you’ve completed the challenge.
    • Note: Pace yourself. While it seems simple, many will start, while not everyone will finish and that’s okay. We celebrate everyone who starts!

WOK Critique Group News

WOK Critique Groups are up and running!  The new Screenwriters Group has room for more members, and so does the Mystery Writers Group. There is room for one more in Portia’s Poetry Group as well.  I encourage new WOK members to join – it will really improve your writing and you’ll make some new friends!  Interested?  Contact Carla Martin at 

Respectfully submitted,

Carla Joy Martin
Critique Group Chair

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Participating as a Volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering for the Writers of Kern, please read the post below. Send an email to if you would like to nominate/participate in this year's board election, or if you are interested in the one of the appointed positions.

Originally written by Natalia Corres and reposted by Cyn Bermudez

How does the Writers of Kern Chapter of the California Writers Club operate?

Everyone from the President to the Member-at-large to the Audio Engineer/Zoom Wrangler - is a volunteer! Whether they are elected or appointed, each position is filled because someone raised their hand and said they'd help.

What are the various positions?

The board consists of: President; Vice President; Secretary; Membership; and Treasurer. These positions are nominated and voted on each year - and the positions require commitment for the full fiscal year (July 1- June 30).

Chairs are appointed for: Sunshine; Newsletter Editor; Webmaster; Public Relations: Critique Group Coordinator; and Member at Large. These positions are appointed and can sometimes be shared.

Readers, Editors, other special project volunteers. These are short-term positions, such as participating as a Judge for the Scholastic Scholarship Entries (which happens at the end of the year); or acting as a "reader" of the entries for the Fall Writing Contest or the WOK Anthology Entries.

WIFM (What's in it for me?)

Aside from "giving back" to the club, many of these opportunities can help you by providing an opportunity to write (for example, articles to the Newsletter often have a "by line" which means you've been published); and experience that can go on your writing resume; and for those of you who have trouble writing your "bio" when required for submissions, it gives you something more to add there, too!

We hope you will be inspired to raise your hand for one or more of these Volunteer Opportunities as they arise!  To help you along that path, the newsletter will be showcasing the positions and their responsibilities in coming editions. 
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WOK’s monthly meetings are both in-person and online. Our in-person meetings will be held at Hodel’s

In-person meeting will be $15 for members and $18 for nonmembers.

Online via Zoom $5 (Recordings will only be available to ticket holders)

Hope to see you there!

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Mark Your Calendar

16 April 2022
Featured Speaker: Deborah A. Lott

21 May 2022 
Featured Speaker: Michelle Cruz Gonzales

18 June 2022
Featured Speaker: Aimee Liu

16 July 2022
Featured Speaker: Donnée Patrese

20 August 2022
Featured Speaker: Alex Segura

From Your Sunshine Chair

         The Sunshine Chair sends holiday, get-well, birthday (if we have your birth month), sympathy, and other supportive cards to the Writers of Kern members. Every card each member receives is filled with nurturing, caring thoughts of all the other members of our club. Our cards send rays of peace and comfort to uplift our fellow members' spirits. 
          How do we know when those special occasions, illnesses, or hardships arise? We rely on you, our WOK membership, to alert the Sunshine Chair by sending the information to the special email at

From Your Editor

Created to be an encourager, that's what I'm going to do!
If you are reading this right now, I encourage you
to get your pen and paper, or pencil if you prefer,
open your laptop or iPhone notes and Write On through
whatever your circumstance. Let your words dance
on the page or on the screen, as long as they ring true.
Then submit it for publication ~ just imagine your elation
when you see it in print! So don't be hesitant:
Let your voice be heard via the written word.

Write On ~ Shelley J. Evans 

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Nuts and Bolts

New members are always welcome, both Active [previously published] and Associate [not yet published].Writers of Kern energetically assists Associate Members who aspire to become Active.

The Write Way
The Writers of Kern
PO Box 22335
Bakersfield CA 93390-2335

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