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Touchstone 2018-2019 Call for Entries

Touchstone is the Northern California Technical Communication Competition. It is a regional competition, sponsored by the NorCal STC chapters. Proceeds from the competition benefit the Kenneth Gordon Scholarship, which supports technical communication students at local colleges.

Deadlines and important dates

  • Deadline for entries: Saturday, October 6, 2018
  • Award announcements: At the awards ceremony
  • Awards ceremony: Saturday, January 19, 2019

Why should you enter the competition?

Two big reasons:

  • If you have work you’re especially proud of, enter it so your fellow communicators can admire and recognize it.
  • If you have work that you’re not quite happy with, enter it to receive the advice and counsel of our experienced judges.

How do you enter?

See the Submit a Touchstone Entry page.

Let your colleagues know about the competition by downloading a flyer to post at your workplace.

Volunteer to be a judge!

This year’s Touchstone technical communication competition needs experienced technical communicators to serve as judges. See the Judging Information page for more information.

Judging is good for your career. Judges receive free admission to the gala awards event in January, and one judge, in a random drawing, will win up to $250 toward next year’s STC membership dues.

Here are the important dates for Judges for the 2018-2019 competition:

Activity DATE
Deadline for entries Saturday, October 6, 2018, 2pm
First judging meeting Weekend of October 13-14, 2018 (details to be announced)
Judging team meetings At each team’s convenience
All judging deliverables due Wednesday, November 22, 2018
Final judging meeting Weekend of December 8-9 (details to be announced)
Awards ceremony Saturday, January 19, 2019, 6 p.m., Highlands Country Club *




President’s Message – 2018-Q1

Finally, the weather seems to have turned to spring! I hope you are enjoying the longer daylight hours and milder temperatures.

\We have a few pieces of spring news. First, I am very happy to announce that Liz Miller has received the Distinguished Chapter Service Award from STC: “For your dedication, and your many contributions to the chapter, including hospitality manager, secretary, membership manager, and president.” Well-deserved! Congratulations, Liz!

Second, we are enjoying our new meeting location at the San Ramon Marriott. Lots of room, and the food has been great. Come and join us soon!

We're enjoying our new meeting place at the San Ramon Marriott

San Ramon Marriott

Also, two of our members (Liz Fraley and Gale Naylor) are presenting at the STC Summit, May 20-23 in Orlando, FL. You can still register for the Summit, and also come to our June 7 meeting, when we will have a Summit Recap panel.

Finally, our Q1 2018 Newsletter is live, thanks to Liz Miller and new member, Dan Littman!

Enjoy the rest of the newsletter and I hope to see you soon!

Planting a SEED to STEM careers

SEED, a program designed to help promising disadvantaged youth launch science careers, is seeking mentoring help from technical communicators.

The California Section of the American Chemical Society’s Summer Experience for the Economically Disadvantaged (SEED) program  is:

  • A nation-wide program run by the American Chemical Society
  • A chemistry-oriented, hands-on research internship program
  • Focused on low-income high school students who are paid for participating over 1-2 summers
  • Full-time work for 9 weeks under the supervision of scientist mentors in industry, academia, and government labs

Dr. Elaine Yamaguchi is the retired but tireless Coordinator for the California Section of SEED, which is the second largest program in the US, thanks to her volunteer efforts for the past 35 years.

In 2017, five CA Section students won college scholarships after completing their chemistry internships, more than any of the nation’s other SEED programs.

Now, interested members of northern California STC chapters have an opportunity to directly increase the number of student scholarships by helping a SEED student  write compellingly about his or her summer internship in the application form. 

SEED welcomes any STC member who is willing to provide editorial support in the late fall for two important scholarship application answers. Making 350 words in two boxes sing is no great effort for us. But the outcome of a couple hours and a few emails with a SEED student could result in a life-changing transformation for a budding young chemist’s college prospects.

The SEED-STC partnership was instigated by past EBSTC president Liz Miller, who has been supporting the Chevron-sponsored activities behind Elaine’s program since 2015. “Providing writing and administrative support is extremely gratifying to me because I know I’m helping open doors for every student who participates,” she says. “It’s impossible not to be inspired by Elaine’s passion and dedication. Creating an opportunity for STC to contribute seemed like a natural fit.”

Learn more about the STC partnership in this short presentation prepared by Liz, Planting a SEED to STEM career. Once you are inspired, contact Elaine and CC Liz Miller.

President’s Message – 2017-Q4: Reflection, TC Camp, and Elections

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John SteinbeckTravels with Charley: In Search of America (Courtesy of Goodreads)

With winter comes reflection, TC Camp and Chapter elections!

Chapter Elections. If you are an EBSTC Chapter member in good standing, even if you have yet to register for 2018, you should have received a ballot to vote for chapter officers. If you have not received a ballot, please request one from Richard Mateosian ( Please return your ballot to Richard by December 31!

TC Camp. TC Camp is a fun, educational, technical writing experience. If you haven’t registered (or don’t know what it is), I strongly urge you to check it out. TC Camp 2018 happens in Santa Clara on Jan. 26-27. Friday will be the pre-Camp API workshop* (Peter Gruenbaum), and Saturday will be workshops** in the morning with the “unconference” in the afternoon. This is a great opportunity to network, exchange ideas, and have fun! There will also be a job board this year. Volunteers and sponsors are also welcome. Find more information, and register at TC Camp 2018. 

Reflection. Winter feels like a natural time for personal reflection. How best can I direct my energies next year? Shall I go in a new direction or continue as I am, but with more breadth or depth? What skills or knowledge do I need (or want) to gain in the coming months? “…if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours,” (Thoreau, Walden, The Literature Page, 20 Dec 2017).

I wish you a very Happy New Year!

— Gale Naylor

Gale Naylor

Documenting RESTful APIs Using Swagger and the Open API Specification, given by Peter Gruenbaum.

**Workshops on Minimalism, Chatbots, and WordPress/SEO, and Adobe’s Ambassador workshop

Rejoin the Friendly Chapter today

It’s time to renew your STC and East Bay chapter membership…the renewal period is closing soon, and we want you to stay with us as a member of our value-adding, award-winning community!

For more than 55 years, we have provided an important resource where technical communicators in the East Bay can hear excellent presentations by leaders in the profession, expand their network, and build skills.

There is no place like the Friendly chapter to see compelling evidence of the value of a professional community.

I recently completed 33 years of membership in STC, and I am grateful to be part of a community of professionals who have become my colleagues, friends, and teachers…a community where I have been able to learn new skills, expand my network, and be reminded that I am a valued technical communicator no matter what my career fortunes or job title.

I hope you will see STC’s staying power in your professional life as well…and that you will say Yes to renewal in 2018!

For more information about STC membership, and to renew, visit the Membership page on the STC web site at, and click Join or Renew along the top navigation bar. Please feel free to contact me as well if you have any questions or concerns about your STC membership.

Thank you for being part of the Friendly Chapter. I look forward to continuing our professional journey together as a strong community…where every member matters.

With warm regards,

Lori R. Meyer
Membership Manager, STC East Bay Chapter
The Friendly Chapter