Voices of Wisdom – 55+writing classes for seniors


Voices of Wisdom  

Free writing classes

for seniors 55+  All levels welcome

Class Schedules and Locations

“Voices of Wisdom” Writing Classes for Seniors 55 + continue  on January 2019 Tuesdays from 1-3 pm at Manzanita Arts Emporium in Angels Camp. FREE program. Bring a laptop, notebook, or other writing materials. Contact manzapress.com for calendar information, times and locations.

Instructor for January: Monika Rose

Instructors for February: Monika Rose and Suzanne Murphy

Voices of Wisdom

Sponsor: Manzanita Writers Press & Manzanita Arts Emporium, 1211 S. Main Street, Angels Camp     manzanitawp@gmail.com   209-728-6171

Publication of the 2019 anthology is possible by a generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation.

Voices is a free writing program for seniors that is a continuing series of weekly writing classes at various locations in Calaveras County, sponsored by Manzanita Writer Press, and serving the Mother Lode.

Participants enjoy a 2-hour class each week designed to stimulate memories and to write these stories and moments down in an artistic and professional manner, eligible for publication and further exploration by the writer. Trained writers and teachers lead the sessions and assist writers in drafting and polishing writing.

It’s free and open to the public, but you must contact the sponsor to sign up as space is limited and classes fill up fast. Go to manzanitawp@gmail.com or call 209-728-6171 to sign up.

Writing exercises and tasks, instruction with models of good writing, and creative avenues of expression are important to the process. Collaboration and sharing of individual writing is nurtured and valued at these sessions. Participants enjoy the social aspects of writing and sharing with friends that they make in the classes, and cohesive writing friends and colleagues are formed. Many of the participants have been with the program since its inception and continue to attend and participate in the gatherings.

Writing coaches and editors guide the editing process toward a culminating anthology of edited and polished essays and stories, due out in April 2019.

A collaborative sharing of writing in the program will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6, right after the class, from 3:15-5:15, and the public is invited to sit in and listen to some great stories.

2019 Schedule – the series has been in progress since August 2017:

January 8, 15, 22, 29

February 5, 12, 19, 26

March/April – Sally Kaplan

April/May – Monika Rose

June/mid-July – Suzanne Murphy

Mid-July through August – Denella Kimura

Sept through Mid-October – Chrys Mollett

Mid-October through November – TBA


Publication of the 2019 anthology is possible by a generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation. Classes hosted by Manzanita Writers Press.



To register for classes or for more information,  call (209) 728-6171, or email manzanitawp@gmail.com.

Manzanita Writers Press continues the “Voices of Wisdom” series of free writing classes for Calaveras County’s senior residents. In relaxed cooperative workshop settings, expert teacher-guides lead four weekly sessions each month with engaging activities that help participants recall memories, learn the craft of memoir writing, and collect writing into print or eBook forms.   This  classes have been made possible  through a generous grant from the Humanities Council of California. Manzanita Writers Press hosts writers and materials and sponsors are needed to help fund the classes, so please contact us.  209-728-6171.





Origin of the Voices of Wisdom Project

The origin for this collection comes from an unusual source. When the 2015 Butte Fire devastated lives and properties, the Manzanita Writers Press, planting its new home at Manzanita Arts Emporium in Angels Camp, responded to the community’s need to make sense of how everything had changed for an entire region. That response came in the shape of writing that produced The Pieces chapbook collection, a collaboration of artists and writers, and then, in 2017, Out of the Fire, the published collection of writing and photography, reflecting on the event and its aftermath. The publications were a testament to the community’s spirit and regional pride, and they remain historical records.

Close on the heels of public celebrations and readings, the Manzanita editorial staff became acutely aware of a Calaveras population that also had stories to tell―about tragedies and recoveries, yes, but also about those experiences of living in this region―and these were senior residents. We realized that to collect and publish these stories for the public would be an invaluable resource for the historical record, school curriculum, and the pleasure of reading.

After careful planning, and with a generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation, and ongoing support from Signal Service, as well as facility use at  Manzanita Arts Emporium, Manzanita Writers Press offered weekly teaching sessions in various senior locations over a period of eight months. Seniors 55-plus, many of whom were taking on this kind of writing for the first time, had the support of peer writing groups and editing expertise. This publication is a collection of many of these seniors’ efforts, and although not all of the participants chose publication, many of them did, for the benefit of the community.

Every senior who has put pen to paper or finger to keyboard has told a story in his or her own way, and with the support and enthusiasm of writing partners and Manzanita editors, many of their stories have been recorded in this volume. These writers are courageous and their works are audacious, poignant, and unforgettable. Participation in the capacities of teacher and editor has been a most pleasurable experience. It is an honor to invite readers to open this book and enjoy an incomparable feast.

–Suzanne Murphy & Monika Rose



 Monika Rose

Founding Director of Manzanita Writers Press & Arts Emporium, editor, college professor and educator for many years with a Masters in English and emphasis in creative writing,  poet and fiction writer, with her book, River by the Glass, and a novel in the oven, Monika has been involved with literature and writing in our region, and supporting writers since 1984. She welcomes those in our region who would like editing and publishing services for their manuscripts.


Classes will experiment with varied techniques used to dig deep into memory, including writing about specific memorable places, events, and people in our lives and region.

Suzanne Murphy

Suzanne is Vice-President and Public Relations Director and editor at Manzanita Writers Press, and a writer, poet,  educator for many years, who has been affiliated with the San Jose Writing Project. She has a collection of poetry nearing completion and offers her editing services to writers who come to Manzanita Writers Press for assistance. Suzanne leads the June/July writing classes in hang-onto-your-hat adventures in writing at Manzanita Arts Emporium.

Sally Kaplan 

Co-producer and co-director of Backcountry Pictures, screenwriter, filmmaker, documentarian, novelist, and fiction/nonfiction writer with over 30 years experience in creating narrative and story, Sally is currently working on a novel nearing completion and has edited work by novelists and screenwriters. She has been involved in several award-winning film and writing projects and has taught at the Naropa Institute and other college programs.

Chrys Mollett

Owner of Aeolian Harp Music at Manzanita Arts Emporium, music teacher, writer,  poet, and Music Director on the Board of Directors at Manzanita Writers Press, Chrys has worked with writers and poets for years on various projects and her work has been published in several anthologies and collections. She is working on a nonfiction book based on historical figures from our region. She facilitates and organizes the Song Posse musicians’ group for writers, musicians, and listeners at the emporium in Downtown Angels Camp.

Denella Kimura

Denella Kimura has two poetry books, “Poetry Reading at the Panama Hotel” and “Waiting for Wings: A Child’s Journey.” She has published chapbooks, articles, devotionals, book reviews and drama. She moderates an Open Reading at Sonora Joe’s, and produces two radio programs, “Favorite Things” and “Coffee House Writers for KAAD-LP, 103.5 FM, Sonora. She lives in the foothills in Columbia, with her husband. With a Masters degree and years of teaching writing, Denella brings creative and inspiring lessons to participants.

The experience of trying out some new ways of accessing the memories buried far below the surface can prove to be a surprising one. Whether using memorabilia, photos, mementos, media, or other concrete digging tools, the results are usually profound in the reveal. remembering the little things, especially from childhood. As guides, coaches provide the means and the encouragement, and the group members create the ends, producing delightful and insightful reading, worthy of publication anywhere. We are honored to explore journaling and fine-tuning adventures with this fine group of writers and memory-makers.  The program and classes continue weekly throughout 2018 into 2019 with a series of classes  and a second anthology of participants’ polished writing planned for 2019, thanks to the funding for the publication provided by a generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation.

Pat Kaunert as Mark Twain – one of our community’s respected writers, with his voice still channeled in spirit in Angels Camp and Calaveras County.  Pat will be, in the flesh, the persona of Twain at the free Mark Twain Wild West Fest Oct 20th in Angels Camp. Be sure to mark your calendars for the old-timey, Goldrush era music and craft festival.


Almost as much fun as the gush of words pouring out of the mind experiencing a creative “flow” as it’s called, is the sharing afterwards with people who have lived in a time frame they all recognize, who share similar era sensibilities, remembering the little things, especially from childhood.




Images of writers in our region and reflections of their impact on our literary community. 


Antoinette May, Linda Field, Monika Rose, Glenn Wasson, Getty Ambau at Getty’s Book Launch Party, 9/25/10

Jim Lanier and Glenn Wasson

Monika Welcoming Guests