California Conference

The Alchemy of Language: Turning Simple Words into Shimmering Works

In its 28th year, the California Conference took place March 18-20, 2011, at Bosch Bahái School, a 67-acre retreat center situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains among the Redwood trees.


How do we transform our simple thoughts into works that will transfix the reader? Can we become borrowers, using the inspiration and form of the great masters; nature’s images and our own poetic lines? The alchemy of language stems from being open to inspiration wherever we find it. Come join us in finding robust nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs to make our writing shimmer.


Imitation to Originality – Modeling Our Work on the Masters’: Richelle McClain

Nature as Thesaurus – Culling Vibrant Images from the Pages of Nature: Mary Reynolds Thompson

Poetry as Springboard – Start with a Poem; Finish with a Flourish: Rachel de Baere


Richelle McClain, Mary Reynolds Thompson and Rachel de Baere

RACHEL DE BAERE leads writing practice and critique groups and teaches writing and literature courses throughout the U.S. and Europe. She loves language, the delicacy and power of nuance, and sharing the writing process with others. For the last nine years, Rachel has been a regular workshop director for the IWWG. Through her publishing group, Madrone Avenue Press, she has produced three anthologies of poetry and prose. Her poetry and essays have been published in a variety of journals. In 2009, her work appeared in the Hurricane Review, RiversEdge, Limestone, Poetry Flash, Oregon East, and Darkling. A member of the Poet’s Roundtable, the California State Poetry Society, the Marin Poetry Center, Left Coast Writers and the 2010 faculty of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, Rachel’s current writing projects are a memoir and a poetry manuscript. She writes letters every day and publishes essays regularly on her blog, Unbecoming Mom.

Richelle McClain returns for her third year as a workshop leader at the IWWG California Conference. With an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco, she writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her short story, Yellow Room, appeared in Streetlights: An Anthology of Urban Black Fiction,and an essay entitled “The Independent vs. the Representative Voice” was published in the journal Switchback. Richelle recently completed Conversations in a Camry, a collection of personal essays, and is currently working on a novel. She has taught English and writing in both high school and college, has led workshops for women on a variety of subjects, including business, and is a workshop director at IWWG’s Remember the Magic Summer Conference.

MARY REYNOLDS THOMPSON, CPCC, CAPF, is a certified professional coach, and facilitator of poetry and journal therapy. She is Founder of Write the Damn Book, a company that guides writers on the heroic journey from procrastination to publication; and Reclaiming the Wild Soul, which promotes her unique program of ecological spirituality through talks and workshops. Mary also serves on the core faculty for the Therapeutic Writing Institute and the council for the International Association for Journal Writing. Her own writings have appeared in numerous publications and three anthologies. Her book Embrace Your Inner Wild: 52 Reflections for an Eco-Centric World is due out later this year (White Cloud Press). She can be reached through her two websites,;