2022 “Our Life Stories” Virtual Conference

2022 Event Press Release and Information                                               

Contact: Janeen Thorpe

Tel: 916-808-3814

E-mail: hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                      

“Virtual Our Life Stories Writers’ Conference” to Be Held April 30, 2022, on Zoom

Sacramento, CA: “Virtual Our Life Stories Writers’ Conference,” a cross-generational writers’ conference, will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2022.

Sponsored by the City of Sacramento’s Hart Senior Center and Cosumnes River College, with support from ACC Senior Services, the focus of the annual event is the collection and writing of family stories and memoirs.

The conference features a variety of workshops led by experienced and nationally-recognized writers.

Maeley Tom, author of I’m Not Who You Think I Am: An Asian American Woman’s Political Journey, is this year’s keynote speaker.

Workshop presenters include Lisa Dominguez Abraham, Lora Connolly, Frederick K. Foote, Lesley Gale, Ginny McReynolds, Kathy Lynne Marshall, Kakwasi Somadhi, Bob Stanley, and Kate Washington.

The virtual conference runs from 9 to 3:15. The $20 fee includes morning and afternoon workshops and a writing activity for all attendees to end the day.

All are welcome. Registration is required by Thursday, April 28. To register, visit Registration Link or www.ourlifestories.org.

For questions about the conference, call the Hart Center at (916) 808-1590, or email hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com.

Workshop Descriptions

Morning Workshops

The Person I’m Becoming with Lisa Abraham

Throughout his long life, the painter Katsushika Hokusai aspired to continual growth as an artist. His goal was to create a painting in which “every dot will be alive.” In this workshop, we will read short pieces from other energized elders and create drafts in which we consider different aspects of our own evolutions.

History and Memoir with Frederick K. Foote

In this interactive workshop participants will explore techniques to weave together history and personal stories. Writers will be inspired to delve into the broader past as they mine their own stories, finding details along the way.

More Than Your Challenges: Writing Difficult Memories with Kate Washington

Memoirs often work with past difficulties or trauma. Writing about challenges you’ve experienced can make for gripping, moving work that’s more than the challenge you began with—but it can also be emotionally difficult. This workshop will explore strategies and resources for writing through painful material and shaping it into work that offers both you and your readers’ perspectives and insights. 

Afternoon Workshops

Speaking Your Truth: Finding and Sharing Yourself through Oral Storytelling with Lesley Gale

This workshop emphasizes the value of sharing our own experiences and the process of creating and performing personal stories. The facilitator will demonstrate and assist participants in identifying and organizing their own personal stories. Participants will have the opportunity to practice oral storytelling in small groups using techniques for engaging an audience.

Handling Sensitive Topics in Memoir with Kathy Lynne Marshall

You will find dirt under the rug. But just because you uncovered juicy family secrets during your research, should you write about them in a memoir? Should you care who might get hurt? Should you tell the complete truth, only bits and pieces, or ignore the information altogether? Kathy Marshall will focus on several types of sensitive topics commonly encountered during family history research, share how she approached them in her books, and encourage attendees to participate in written exercises which address these important issues.

The Difference Between a Poem with Bob Stanley

 In this workshop, we’ll look at how to take a memory and restructure it, or rethink it into a poem. What makes a poem a poem rather than just a description of an event or person? How do we take informal jottings or diary entries and create “art,” or something approaching it? Using poems by popular contemporary poets (Mary Oliver and others), we’ll explore ways of developing our images and stories into more concise or surprising packages.

I’m Not Who I Thought I Was Retirement Panel with Lora Connolly, Ginny McReynolds, and Kakwasi Somadhi

Participants will discuss how retirement has shaped their lives and writing as well as how they share their work with the world.

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For more information Tel: (916) 808-1590 or e-mail: hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com.

Interested in Earning College Credit for Attending the Conference?

Cosumnes River College (CRC) is proud to host the “Our Life Stories” cross-generational writers’ conference with the City of Sacramento’s Hart Senior Center. The annual event will be held on Zoom on Saturday, April 17, 10-4:15. It is a great opportunity to learn from writers and publishers in a professional setting. For more information on this year’s speakers, visit OurLifeStories.org.

The conference is $20; the fee includes access to three workshops (one in each of the three sessions) as well as materials for all of the conference activities. If you are interested in signing up for the conference as a registrant, please see: https://apm.activecommunities.com/cityofsacparksandrec/Activity_Search/12659.

You also have the opportunity to earn one unit for enrolling in the conference and completing activities related to the conference, including a review and several discussion posts as networking activities. If you are interested in receiving a enrolling in ENG CW495 at CRC for one unit ($46), please apply to Cosumnes River College, and then email Dean Alex Casareno at: casarea@crc.losrios.edu, with the subject line OLS Course, your name, student (W) identification number, and postal mailing address.

Rescheduling “Our Life Stories”


Due to Coronavirus, we are rescheduling our annual “Our Life Stories” cross-generational writers’ conference to April 17, 2021.

For those who have already registered for this year’s conference, refunds will be made soon. If paid by check, a refund check will be mailed to you.  If paid by credit card, a credit will be provided back to that same card.

Although the 2020 Our Life Stories writing conference has been rescheduled to April 17, 2021, the following links to websites, blogs, and podcasts might be of interest to you and inspire you to continue writing. Some of these sites were recommended by two of the scheduled presenters for the 2020 conference as well as the Davis, CA poet laureate.

Emily Bond, librarian at CRC, suggests these podcasts from Apple Podcasts:
Dale Flynn, a retired English professor at UCD and a master gardener, recommends these sites on garden writing:
Margaret Roach,
James Lee Jobe, Davis Poet Laureate, has a blog for poems. Yolo County is name of the blog, and you can find it at YoloCountyPoems.blogspot.com. Or you can mail poems to JamesLeeJobe@gmail.com.  Put “Poems” in the subject line. He says, send poems on “any topic, but family friendly, please.” You may include a one sentence bio if you want.
You can also Google memoir writing and you will find numerous sources. A word of caution here: avoid the sites that are ads, and be wary of any site wanting you to send money. You might begin with this page: 4 Helpful Websites for Writing Memoir. These four sites seem helpful and legitimate. Top 10 Memoir Blogs & Websites to Follow in 2020 is another site you might want to investigate.

We hope you will find some of these sites useful. We encourage you to continue writing, perhaps even explore genres you haven’t tried before.

Thank you for your understanding; stay home and stay well!


Our Life Stories Planning Committee

2020 Event Press Release and Information


 Contact: Rosanne Bernardy                                             

Tel: 916-808-5462 

E-mail: hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com


“Envisioning Our Lives 20/20 Our Life Stories Writers’ Conference”

to Be Held April 18, 2020, at Cosumnes River College

Sacramento, CA: “Envisioning Our Lives 20/20,” a cross-generational writers’ conference, will be held on Saturday, April 18, 2020, at Cosumnes River College (CRC), in Sacramento.

Sponsored by the City of Sacramento’s Hart Senior Center and Cosumnes River College, the focus of the annual event is the collection and writing of family stories and memoirs.

The conference features a variety of workshops led by experienced and nationally-recognized writers. Presenters include Lisa Dominguez Abraham, JoAnn Anglin, Emily Bond, Marcus Crowder, Dale Flynn, Jessilyn Gale, Lesley Gale, Bob Stanley, Marie Taylor, and Kate Washington.

The conference runs from 9 to 4:15. The $40 fee includes workshops, lunch, and book sales and signings.

All are welcome. Space is limited. Register early. Registration is required by Friday, April 8. To register, visit the website www.ourlifestories.org. For questions about the conference, call the Hart Center at 916-808-5462, or email hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com.

Workshop Descriptions

“New Eyes” with Lisa Dominguez Abraham

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust—We all have a life story we tell by touching the same details each time and concluding in a lesson we have engrained into ourselves. In this workshop, we’ll seek surprise by exploring hidden aspects of a familiar story and use them to draft a new poem.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Life: Shifting Perspectives with JoAnn Anglin

Poets often reveal deeper truths about a situation or person by using metaphors and analogies to depict a memory’s different facets in time’s passage, or by shifting the expected focus. JoAnn will show you how to use these techniques in telling your life story.

Establishing Setting: Using Research Skills to Unlock the Past with Emily Bond

In both memoir and other creative writing genres, we take our readers on a journey into the world of our characters, selves, or loved ones. Make that world rich and real by gathering historical facts and details to describe the environment, events, customs, dress, and habits of the period. Learn how to employ historical research skills to explore the past, and use uncovered facts to establish setting and environment in your writing.

The People in Our Lives: Details Tell Their Stories with Marcus Crowder

In this workshop, participants will go through a couple of exercises searching for visual descriptive scenes which reveal character and then work on developing one of them in depth with descriptive details.

Writing the Garden with Dale Flynn

For centuries humans have gardened—for food, for solace. And we all have gardens—if only a flowerpot on the sill or a view of the neighbor’s roses. In this workshop we will consider the many ways we look at gardens and the ways we use them in writing. We will look at them as metaphors and as holders of place.

Seven Ways In: Turning Your Attention to a Writing Prompt with Bob Stanley

Finding our way into the mind-set of inspiration can be a challenge in a hectic life.

This workshop will give you seven prompts for “quickwrites,” with a goal of helping writers find more prompts for the future. The theory here is the more attempts you make, the more work you eventually produce. When you start creating your own prompts, building your own puzzles to solve, you’ll be more likely to find inspiration in the time you spend writing and revising your poems and stories.

The Four Do’s and Three Don’ts of Using Descriptive Language to Tell Your Story with Marie Taylor

A picture is worth a thousand words! As writers that means we can use descriptive language to portray the people, places, and events of our life. The appearance of our family home, the music we danced to, the fashions we wore, and the sound of the train whistle as it pulled out of town can all contribute to the richness of the narrative. When we understand and use the techniques of descriptive writing, our life experiences come alive. Through discussion and exercises we will explore the four do’s and three don’ts of descriptive writing to enrich our stories.

Your Life in Context: Adding Insight to Your Story through Research with Kate Washington

In this workshop, we will discuss how writers can approach situating their own life story in a broader context. We will discuss why writers might want to incorporate research elements to broaden the scope and vision of their memoir, to discuss relevant issues or offer social critique, to include meaningful artifacts or primary sources (such as family history), to create a powerful braided narrative, or as a meaningful counterpoint to personal memories. The workshop, based in part on the workshop leader’s experience writing her forthcoming book, will include examples of personal essays and memoir grounded in research (including a list for further reading); discussion of research methods and how to use and credit sources ethically; a craft discussion on incorporating researched materials artfully; and a brainstorming session for participants.

Large Group Session at the End of the Day: The Mindful Muse with Jessilyn and Lesley Gale

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For more information Tel: 916-808-5462, or e-mail: hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com.

Thank You for Attending and Save the Date

Thank you for attending the 2019 Our Life Stories writers’ conference.

Some of you asked for an electronic version of Brianna Renner’s workshop handout on the epistolary form. It is here.

Our 2020 conference will be held at Cosumnes River College on April 18, 2020. Stay tuned for more information.

Thanks to your contributions of information at the 2018 conference, we have compiled a draft list of community resources. You can find a link to the document featuring writing-related readings, workshops, and organizations at: Community Resources.

Thank you for making the 2019 event another great success!

Press Release


Contact: Sabrina Stewart                                                   

Tel: 916-808-3814

E-mail: hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com



Sacramento, CA: “ Revealing the Tapestry of Our Life Stories,” a cross-generational writers’ conference, will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at Cosumnes River College (CRC), in Sacramento. Sponsored by the City of Sacramento’s Hart Senior Center and Cosumnes River College, the focus of the annual event is the collection and writing of family stories and memoirs.

The conference features a variety of workshops led by experienced and nationally-recognized writers. Presenters include JoAnn Anglin, Naomi Benaron, Rhony Bhopla, Emily Bond, Traci Gourdine, Ellen Sander, Kakwasi Somadhi, Straight Out Scribes (Staajabu and VS Chochezi), Marie Taylor.

The conference runs from 9 to 4. The $35 fee includes workshops, lunch, and book sales and signings.

All are welcome. Space is limited. Register early. Registration is required by Friday, April 5. To register, visit the website www.ourlifestories.org. For questions about the conference, call the Hart Center at 916-808-5462, or email hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com.

Workshop Descriptions

Metaphor in Story with JoAnn Anglin—Workshop attendees will explore how to borrow poetic techniques and tools to add more flavor, variety, and intensity to memoirs and to better convey the mood of a time or place.

Creating Fiction From Our Lives: How We Weave a Tapestry of Imagination, Memory, and Memoir with Naomi Benaron—I am not a firm believer of “write what you know.” I do, however, believe that no matter how far we stray from our own truths, if we look into our “fictional souls,” we will find the beating heart of those memories. The purpose of this workshop is to connect with our personal truths and learn how to weave them into the narrative and spiritual arcs of our stories with courage, honesty, and integrity.

Feminist Ekphrasis: perception, projection, and power dynamic with Rhony Bhopla—Workshop attendees will explore writings surrounding feminist visual art. The focal point will be an examination of gender power dynamics between object, artist, and gazer. This is a generative workshop.

Therapeutic Writing: Confronting Fear, Capturing Memory, and Working Through Loss with Emily Bond—This workshop will explore writing as a powerful self-expressive and reflective tool. Join us as we examine fear, grief, and memory through the lenses of short-essay, fiction, and memoir.

Crossroads: Exploring the Alternate Choice with Traci Gourdine—Explore the art of “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve.” We’ll try out several techniques to organize and beautify, without preaching abstractions, a key turning point in our lives when we had to make a choice that determined the direction of our life. What might have happened had we taken the other road? Who would we be, and where would we find ourselves? This exercise allows us to utilize fiction and non-fiction as we travel down that alternate path in the voice of the person we would have become. Many are surprised with the results; many realize we may have chosen the right path after all. Prose and poetry are welcome.

The Photographer As Narrator with Ellen Sander—Photographs have inspired many classic narratives. Preparing to recognize the moment, capturing transience, and making pictures in all sorts of situations “are things a story writer needed to know,” recalled Pulitzer Prize author Eudora Welty, emphasizing the realization that “Life doesn’t hold still. A good snapshot stopped a moment from running away.” It is the documentation of that decisive moment that preserves memory and rouses creativity, whether instantly or years later. Photographs that inspired great literary works will be introduced and discussed. Workshop participants will explore subtle and artful themes embedded in photographs and consider how their interpretations may infuse and color subsequent story lines.

Your Coming Forth Story Starters with Kakwasi Somadhi—“. . .[Loretha’s] thoughts could travel, revisiting the highs and lows of her life, which she did often.”
–from Coming Forth by Day
Participants will respond to writing prompts designed to bring forth the stories embedded in their lives. Looking for common themes, they will explore how their stories quilt together into a tapestry reflecting the highs and lows of their unique journey. And finally, they will write a bit of fiction or mini-memoir that represents their coming forth stories. * Participants should bring writing tools: laptop, or paper and pen.

The Art of Word Weaving with Dr. VS Chochezi and Staajabu—Join mother/daughter poetry team Dr. V.S. Chochezi and Staajabu, known as Straight Out Scribes, as they describe and demonstrate their unique style of spoken word and how they craft their art.

Remember Me: Seven “Other” Ways to Tell Your Story with Marie Taylor—Birth, school, family, marriage, career—throw in some influence from culture and society, and you have a life story. Or do you? Starting from the cradle to ending in maturity may be a logical way to tell the story of your life, but is it the only way, or the best way? Or could you pick a format and structure for your narrative that better reflects who you are, what you did, what you enjoyed, how you viewed your world? In this workshop you learn seven alternative ways to tell your story, including: vignettes, memoirs, photo journals, themed narratives, and treasure boxes.

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For more information Tel: 916-808-3814, or e-mail: hartcrcwritersconference@yahoo.com.

James Cagney, 2017 Keynote Presenter Publishes Book

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James Cagney’s first poetry collection, BLACK STEEL MAGNOLIAS IN THE HOUR OF CHAOS THEORY, may now be pre-ordered from Nomadic Press.

“Toggling between loss, therapy, the pastoral, illness, the humorously personable, and the darkly familial—at every turn this book surprises, aches, and delights.”  -Sam Sax, Author of “Bury It”, 2017 James Laughlin Award winner.

According to Cagney: “You well know, I’ve been living these poems more than writing them. After all these years, to finally share them with you is both exciting and unnerving.
Plus: Getting this email, consider yourself invited to the release party. Perhaps the only party I will ever go to and not be the first person to leave. But no pressure– its next weekend.”

Nomadic Press is hosting Saturday, October 13th at their Oakland office, 2301 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA, 7-9 pm.

A Facebook invite exists  https://www.facebook.com/events/1772750403019997/