‘Envisioning Our Lives 20/20’ – City of Sacramento Older Adult Services hosts writers’ conference

Update: This event has been rescheduled for April 17, 2021.


Memorialize your family’s story at the “Envisioning Our Lives 20/20” writers’ conference. The annual event, sponsored by the City of Sacramento’s Hart Senior Center and Cosumnes River College, helps participants collect and write family stories and memoirs.

“Many people in the Sacramento area have discovered the art of memoir writing,” explained older adult services and access leisure superintendent Rosanne Bernardy. “This annual conference provides a great opportunity for them to learn from accomplished writers and work on developing their craft.  For people new to writing stories about their life experience, the conference is a way to get inspired. We have many newcomers each year, but once people attend Our Life Stories, they tend to come back year after year.”

The conference will feature 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.

For more information about the writers and the workshops, click here.


WHEN: 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Sat. April 18, 2020

WHERE: Cosumnes River College (8401 Center Pkwy, Sacramento CA 95823)

COST: $40. Fee includes workshops, lunch, books sales and signings.

REGISTER: Registration deadline is Friday, April 8. To register, visit www.ourlifestories.org. All are welcome, but space is limited

QUESTIONS: For more information 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 ingrained 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 multiple 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 and 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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