Debbie Croft: Tuolumne Writers Retreat offers words and peace

August 30, 2013 

— Scribblers, chroniclers, journalists and struggling novelists of all types are invited to this year's Tuolumne Writers Retreat. Presented by the Sonora Writers Group, the retreat will be held in the picturesque Columbia State Historic Park.

On the weekend of Sept. 27-29, writers will learn from guest speakers, take part in classes, enjoy professional literary performances and be refreshed while soaking up the peaceful charm of the Gold Rush town.

Chris Bateman is the featured speaker for this second annual event. Bateman retired from his lengthy career with the Union Democrat newspaper of Sonora. Starting with the newspaper as a rookie journalist, in 38 years he worked his way up to senior reporter and morning editor.

Nearly 2,000 columns and editorials and 20,000 news stories carry his byline. Although retired, he still writes on assignment for the newspaper and for "Friends and Neighbors," a local magazine.

This year's class presenters during the three-day retreat are:

• Anita Martin-Harvey, a published writer and author

• Sarah Luke Pearson, an award-winning writer, workshop instructor and writing coach

• Charan "Cher" Sue Wollard, poet laureate for the city of Livermore for four years

• Dimitri Keriotis, whose writing career has included title of editor, teacher and award-winning author of short stories

• Jennifer Tristano, a writer and co-facilitator of writing workshops

• Susan Wilson, a resident of the Bay Area and an award-winning poet, playwright, teacher and native-trained medicine woman practitioner

• Patricia Harrelson, author, contributing writer and retired college English professor

• Cynthia Restivo, a storyteller and theater arts/storytelling teacher

• Lou Gonzales, author of technical books and novels, as well as teacher and lecturer for writing workshops

• Denella Kimura, a performance poet and published writer who hosts the 3rd Friday Poets Readings in Sonora

• Linda Teigland Clark, aka Hardluck Lin, a teller of tales, spinner of yarns and keeper of Gold Rush history

Topics covered in classes include generating credible characters, building a writer's platform, getting over the hurdles of writing, how to give stories structure, how to construct a real page-turner, discovering vivid metaphor and imagery to make poetry come alive, captivating audiences through public readings and creating ebooks.

The Devil Mountain Boys Band will provide toe-tapping entertainment, along with a few surprise entertainers.

The retreat begins Friday evening and lasts through Sunday afternoon. The website,, includes all information needed for those interested in attending. Early registration is due by Tuesday. A discount is available for students and early registrants.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at

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