Voices of Wisdom – 55+writing classes for seniors


Voices of Wisdom  

Free writing classes

for seniors 55+  All levels welcome

Class Schedules and Locations

Check our schedule and email for updates: 

Our new address for client appointments, meetings, classes, and workshops, all when safe for the public, is:

325 Lewis Avenue, San Andreas, CA 95249

Mailing: PO Box 215, San Andreas, CA 95249

Phone: 209-728-6117  (note change from previous number) – messages only at this site as the quality of the calls are not that great

Email: manzanitawp@gmail.com

See Facebook pages: Manzanita Writers Press & Manzanita Arts Emporium


Contact manzapress.com for calendar information, times and locations.

Voices of Wisdom

VOW Director for 2020 and 2021: Linda Toren

Publication of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 anthologies has been made possible by a generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation.

Zoom sessions:  2nd and 4th Fridays at 10 am to noon. Contact us for an invitation at manzanitawp@gmail.com.  Also contact lintoren@gmail.com

Live Meetings outdoors at the Pickle Patch in San Andreas from 10am to noon on 1st and 3rd Fridays — check with us by email. With hot weather in July, we will meet at the Volunteer Center of Calaveras County in San Andreas –325 Lewis Avenue — when we are given the green light to hold meetings indoors.

Classes for 2019 were made possible by support from  California Humanities, a partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.

Voices of Wisdom is a free writing program for seniors that is a continuing series of weekly writing classes at Manzanita Arts Emporium that met in Angels Camp on Tuesdays, 1-3 pm, open to all levels, and those with no formal writing background.

Up to March 13, 2020, participants enjoyed 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 led the sessions and assist writers in drafting and polishing writing the last three years.

We have continued the free writing classes for seniors and continue to seek funding to add instructors, interns, and more participants, assisting in access to those who cannot attend classes. We are dedicated to pursuing technology education and support for 55+ seniors.

Classes are free and open to the public, but you must contact the Manzanita to sign up as space is limited and classes fill up fast. Go to manzanitawp@gmail.com or call 209-728-6117 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 of writing toward a culminating anthology of edited and polished essays and stories, released in October 2020, with another expected November 2021.

If you know a senior who would love an opportunity to start writing down his or her stories, then please let them know about us. Some seniors do not use Facebook and may not hear about this. Please spread the word and share this post. Thank you so much! 


Manzanita Writers Press is hosting a fourth year of Voices of Wisdom classes for 2020. The first session of the weekly series of free writing classes for seniors 55+ began Feb. 4 at 1 pm at Manzanita Arts Emporium in downtown historic Angels Camp. All seniors, 55 and over, of all levels of writing skills, were invited to participate. When they start up again, just bring a pen and a journal or something to write on. Classes are informal and enlightening. You will experience instruction on writing craft, prompts and strategies to stimulate your stories, and ongoing support from peers and coaches in your writing endeavors.

Linda Toren will be coordinating the 2020 & 2021 coaches, instruction, and program vision for 2020. We welcome her expertise and experience.

Writing Coaches in 2020 include Linda Toren & Monika Rose, volunteering coaching and teaching time.

When we start up again:

We have a great group of returning writers who are seasoned and working on their own writing projects for family, friends, and the community to enjoy reading. New Voices of Wisdom participants are joining every week. Now is your chance to meet new people, exchange great stories and memories of living in our generation, and writing down your stories and impressions.

If you are having difficulty making the class sessions due to illness, immobility, or other reasons, please let us know. We have an online secure environment for participants to enjoy via computer, tablet, or smart phone use. We will also have trained interviewers come to your home and capture your oral stories to add to the collection of Calaveras stories and moments for historical archives.

This is a convivial and friendly group that has formed a community of writers and friends from all walks of life and levels of writing, most of them not having written down or published their stories before. They have written publishable accounts and essays published in three community volumes of Voices of Wisdom, with supporting grants for publishing all three volumes provided by the Calaveras Community Foundation.

Write stories, memoir, essays, poetry, and more that reflect your memories and stories buried in those deep recesses, the nooks and crannies of times past.

Speaking of time, which is increasing in speed as we get older, it’s Time to bring those memories to the surface, not only for friends and family to enjoy, but for historic documentation. Only you can describe what it has been like to live in your world.

Calaveras stories, childhood and growing up stories, life happens stories, inspiration and events that remind us we are all a part of the human fabric– these are stories evoking a flood of other people’s memories that can be opened with one key, unlocking it all.

The sessions are weekly and are free. Two hours of learning about telling and writing your stories effectively and learning the craft of writing at whatever level you happen to be. All seniors 55 and over are welcome, and if you are a young ‘un at 52 or so, we may sneak you in as you are soon joining the golden age of wisdom. Every session has live writing involved, so bring your journal.

Classes are on hold until we can safely meet. We are very aware of the vulnerability of our senior population and we will start up again when it is safe to do so.  Contact the coordinators about your interest in coming by emailing manzanitawp@gmail.com or calling  209-728-6117.


Older posts with photos- 2019 and earlier

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


March/April – Sally Kaplan

May/June – Sally Kaplan

mid-June/July – Chrys Mollett

August to Mid-Sept- Monika Rose

Mid-Sept through October – Denella Kimura

November – Monika Rose

December – Public Reading and Celebration


Publication of the 2019 and 2020 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 project comes from an unusual source. When the 2015 Butte Fire devastated lives and properties in the west end of Calaveras County,  Manzanita Writers Press formed a nonprofit cooperative gallery in Angels Camp and called it Manzanita Arts Emporium. The press  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 with the assistance of the Calaveras County Arts Council, and then, in 2017, Out of the Fire, the published collection of writing and photography, reflected on the fire 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 had many 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, archives, the public, and the pleasure of reading.

After careful planning, and with a generous grant from the Calaveras Community Foundation, and ongoing support from Signal Service, and other sponsors, 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 of the coaches. The culminating 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.

–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,  a 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. Her new children’s book Bed Bumps will be released January 1, 2020 and has already created quite a splash in the community.

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. The focus will be on capturing minutiae and detail to tell a story.

The Late Suzanne Murphy

Before she passed, Suzanne Murphy was our Vice-President and Public Relations Director and a major editor at Manzanita Writers Press, and a writer, poet,  educator for many years, who had been affiliated with the San Jose Writing Project. She has a posthumous collection of poetry nearing completion by the press. She was a popular writing coach in the program and is sorely missed as a friend and colleague.

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. She also works as an instructor with Mind Matters.

Chrys Mollett

Aeolian Harp Music lives on 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 2019 with a series of classes  and a second anthology of participants’ polished writing planned for June 29 release, 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 third Saturday of October  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. 

Glenn Wasson – Flash Fiction (note the dog’s expression)

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