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Ridge Writers Cross the Lines, Dot the Tease Thursday, Sept. 1

(by) Donna McCrohan Rosenthal– Award-winning playwright and author of “Turn Right at the Water Buffalo” Jeannie Barroga will speak about “Crossing the Lines and Dotting the Tease: When Fiction Mirrors Memoirs” for the Ridge Writers general meeting, Thursday, September 1, in the meeting room of Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, 633 W. Las Flores. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Public welcome. Admission free. Mask requested.

Reviews for this novel about a travel writer returning to the Philippines with her mother amid a family tug-of-war and political upheaval include “Definitely a book to read and re-read – love the story, love the characters, love the suspense.”

Donna McCrohan Rosenthal

Regarding fictionalized memoirs, Barroga explains that “An early beta reader asked ‘Was this memoir all true?’ I said ‘Turn Right at The Water Buffalo’ was not a memoir; it’s a trip with ‘fictionalized facts.’ My notes were thirty years old; the trip, five years older. Listeners said my verbal details seemed fresher than my written descriptions. As in pitching plays, a practice nurtured for 40-plus years writing them, I creatively layer fiction among facts. Review what elicits audience responses, on screen and onstage: ‘truths”— like the contrasting crunchy and chewy textures of a bagel—should already engage readers. Integrate carefully selected fiction—like ‘fresh lox or unspreadable cream cheese.’

Internally I argued whether any writer needs to tag what is fictitious or not; I say, no. With seams undetectable between fact and fiction, a writer needs to tell a gripping, relatable, infuriating story, to cross a line, to tease, cap, and package. Determine in your ‘sandwich,’ how.”

Barroga, Lifetime Dramatists Guild member, is a published, award-winning playwright whose works are in Stanford’s Special Collections. Among many plays, she received the NEA Artistic Excellence Award. Twice a Literary Manager, she has also directed at LaMama NY, and acted in the cult film “I Am a Ghost.” Her talk will conclude with Q&A and a book signing. 

In addition to giving the general meeting program at 6:30 in Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, Jeannie Barroga will chat informally about “Turn Right at the Water Buffalo” at 2 p.m., Thursday, September 1, in the back room of the Pizza Factory. Participants for this sign up and pay $32 in advance at Red Rock Books for the book personally autographed, plus tea and scones, discussion, and entry in a gift basket drawing.

Ridge Writers is the East Sierra Branch of the 113-year-old California Writers Club ( with 22 branches throughout the state and tracing its roots back to Jack London and friends in the Bay Area.