Archive for the ‘Member Mondays’ Category

shenkmanHarriet Shenkman, Ph.D. is a Professor Emerita at City University of New York.  She serves on the Advisory Board of the Women’s National Book Association, NYC.  She was awarded second place in poetry in the Women’s National Book Association National Writing Contest, 2013.  She is proud to serve as Poet-in-Residence at Boomer Cafe and to have a poetry page on Verse Wrights.  Her poems have been published in a number of publications and she is working on a poetry collection, Sweet and Sour Soup.  She is also completing a novel entitled The Camel Tamer.  She lives in New York with her husband Jerry and they have three children.

How long have you been a member of the WNBA-NYC? How did you get involved with the organization?

I have been in the New York chapter of WNBA for several years.  Last year I became the Academic Liaison on the Board.  This was a suitable position as I am Professor Emerita at CUNY and was director of a literary arts center within my college.  I am excited about our new partnership with the NYU Creative Writing Program and we hope to launch our first joint event in March of 2014.

Congratulations on “Mirror, Mirror” placing in the First Annual WNBA Writing Contest! What was the experience like? Will you enter next year’s contest?

It is an honor to win a national award.  It’s very useful in building credibility as a serious writer. I am thrilled to have also just won second place in the 2013 Women Who Write contest for my poem “The Possibility of Teetering.”  It will appear in Calliope 2013: the 20th Anthology. I will also have the opportunity to read it in Louisville, Kentucky at their annual conference.

Where can our members find your other published works?

My latest poem “Fourth Date” will be published in August at Boomer Cafe. Previous poems have been published at When Women Waken, Verse Wrights, Jewish Mag, Jewish Renaissance Magazine, and The WNBA Bookwoman Anthology.  And forthcoming are poems in Third Wednesday, a quarterly journal of poetry, prose and art, and Jewish Currents, a quarterly journal.
Is your background in poetry, or have you written in other genres?

My background is not poetry.  I have written over thirty academic articles and my creative writing began with novel writing.  However, I find satisfaction in the briefer form of poetry to express what I want to say.  You work at getting at the essence of things

From where do you draw inspiration for your writing?

For my poetry, I may start with an image or an experience that is startling or exceptional in some way.  And then I explore it, what it means, and how to capture its essence in words. For my novel, I have characters in my head that I want to see interacting in a challenging context. I am also passionate about situations in the world I want to reveal and explore.

How different is the publishing process for poetry? More or less difficult?

Publishing poetry in the mainstream press is difficult. Agents and editors are more interested in novels and nonfiction.  But my poetry is very accessible and I hold the position of Poet-in-Residence at Boomer Cafe.   I want to put together a collection of verse called Sweet and Sour Soup for the Over Fifty Soul.  There is a huge market for readers in the baby boomer generation and older that has not be tapped.

Do you have any projects currently in the works?

I also have a novel in the works called The Camel Tamer.  I am working on revisions.  You could say it is a hunt for a terrorist narrative within a coming of age story.  I am striving for a tragic/comic effect and my two main characters, a hardened Mossad agent and an innocent American kid, are polar opposites.  Most of the story takes place in Jerusalem and other places in Israel.

What’s your favorite word and why?

I do not have a favorite word.  I love to put words together into unique constellations that convey feelings and meaning.  One reader of my poetry said it is provocative without being sentimental.  I like that description.

What are you currently reading? Any great recommendations for our members?

I am reading Ruth Ozeki’s new novel, A Tale for the Time Being, and I am looking forward to hearing her in conversation with Carole DeSanti at the WNBA event in September.  I love the new novel by A.M. Homes, May We Be Forgiven. She is a master at combining darkness and wit.  She won the Women’s Prize for Fiction over several respected women authors.  I would recommend both books.


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Happy Monday, WNBA-ers and Happy Labor Day! As you enjoy the last official BBQ day of summer, take time to mark your calendars for our chapter’s upcoming fall events. Be sure to return to the blog for more information as each event approaches.


WNBA-NYC Chapter invites members to our annual Networking Party!
Wednesday, September 11
6:00–8:30 pm
(We’ll send the East Side address when we get your RSVP.)

Our fall members party is an opportunity for us to get reacquainted, learn about a new year of programs, and bring along friends interested in joining the association. We have a special treat for paid-up members. We’ll be raffling some very beautiful books at the end of the evening. And we are initiating this fall’s community service project—a book drive for the Kids Research Center. (More about this coming in a separate email.)

Light refreshments will be served.

RSVP to: programs@wnba-nyc.org

In Conversation: Ruth Ozeki and Carole DeSanti
Wednesday, September 18
6:00–8:00 pm
Reflections Yoga Studio
250 West 49th St., 2nd floor

We open our program season with a provocative dialogue between two intriguing authors, both WNBA members—with topics ranging from their latest books, their inspirations, and how women authors fare in today’s publishing world. Ruth Ozeki is the author of the recently Man Booker-nominated A Tale for the Time Being. She is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.   Carole DeSanti is the author of The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R. As an editor at Penguin, she champions independent voices in women’s fiction.

Light refreshments. Book signings.

RSVP to: programs@wnba-nyc.org

Brooklyn Book Festival 2013
Sunday, September 22
10:00 am–6:00 pm
Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza
WNBA Booth 390
(Take the 2, 3, 4, 5 to Borough Hall; R to Court Street; or A, C, F to Jay Street/Borough Hall)

Once again, WNBA-NYC chapter will be sharing a booth with the National Reading Group Month folks at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Last year’s event was a great success and we hope to continue the positive experience this year.  We will be distributing our promotional materials to the public and promoting WNBA. We hope to sign up some new members! Join the fun—be a booth volunteer!

From their website – “The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City” www.brooklynbookfestival.org


Members Neighborhood Lunch
Wednesday, October 16
12:30–2:00 pm
Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave. (4 blocks south of Grand Central)

Join fellow members for a networking lunch at one of our favorite locations. Lunches are a great opportunity for new and old members to get acquainted. Bring a friend interested in joining the association.

RSVP to: jmazefsky@aol.com

National Reading Group Month Author Panel
Wednesday, October 23
7:00–9:00 pm
Strand Bookstore, Rare Book Room
12th and Broadway

A celebration of National Reading Group Month and Great Group Reads! Join us for a lively panel discussion with these renowned authors about their latest books and their writing lives—Michèle Forbes, Caroline Leavitt, Bernice McFadden, Roxana Robinson, John Searles, and moderator Elizabeth Nunez.

WNBA members receive free admission PLUS a $15.00 Strand gift card!

Non-members welcome ($15 tickets at the door).

RSVP to: programs@wnba-nyc.org

Light refreshments. Book signings.


How I Got the Story: Women Writing Women’s Lives
November 12
7:00–9:00 pm
Pace University, downtown campus, Bianco Room, 1 Pace Plaza

Join panel authors Jean Fagin Yellin, Marnie Mueller, Nancy Rubin Stuart, and Diane Jacobs as they discuss the hows and why of writing biographies. Deirdre Bair, moderator.

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wnbaNYC-150The 2013-14 WNBA-NYC season is about to start and our membership drive is underway! Check your emails for your renewal information.

Membership Benefits include:

  • Admission and advance notice to WNBA events and programs.
  • Eligibility to vote in all local and national elections; join chapter committees; nominate candidates for offices and awards.
  • Subscriptions to The Bookwoman,WNBA National’s quarterly newsletter (Summer 2013 Issue), and The New York Bookwoman, our chapter’s quarterly e-newsletter
  • Opportunities in the WNBA National Promotion Program offered exclusively to members on the national website.
  • Participation in the WNBA-NYC Blog.
  • Access to the “Members Only” sections of WNBA National website, featuring the Membership Directory of all 10 WNBA chapters.

Renew or become a member now so you don’t miss out on any of this year’s exclusive events and programs.

Don’t forget that our Season Kick-off party and Networking event is coming up soon.  RSVP now!

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As we gear up for the upcoming season of the WNBA-NYC, we’d like to remind you of one of the benefits of our blog available exclusively to chapter members: the Member Monday interview. These are our most popular posts, and they’re great in showcasing you! Whether you’re an author, agent, or editor, this is your chance to be in the spotlight. Take a look back at some of our recent member interviews. And if you want to be featured in a Member Monday interview, email Tqwana at blog@wnba-nyc.org.

Pauline Hsia

Pamela Milan

Quressa Robinson

Heather Allen

If a full interview isn’t your thing, your personal blog can also be featured in a Member Monday Blog Roll Call.

The Things She Thinks About

The Literary Leotard

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A special summer issue of The New York Bookwoman was  released this month and featured book reviews by many of our chapter members. Here’s what our president, Jane Kinney-Denning, had to say about this issue:

This is a special issue of The New York Bookwoman—an all book review edition, and also a wonderful resource for you if you are looking for what to read. WNBA members have been reading diligently all year and in this issue share some of their thoughts on what they’ve read. We hope you enjoy all of the reviews and if you are inspired to read for us in the coming year, let us know. Don’t forget to check out our list of brand new books available to members for review.

Below are a few excerpts from the newsletter. For the full reviews of all the books read, click here.

Truth in Advertising  Emily La Iacona
By John Kenney

Reviewed by Emily La Iacona

Truth in AdvertisingFinbar Dolan is a 30-something advertising manager at a NYC-based agency. Over the few weeks covered in the book, Fin’s life of quiet desperation turns into actual desperation as work deadlines collide with unresolved issues from his past. Despite his jocular tone, Fin’s past includes a called-off wedding, an abusive household, and a dark family secret he’s never told. Kenney is adept at camouflaging Fin’s pain through deadpan sarcasm and “gotchas” where he imagines doing–or more like, saying–the right thing, only to dive away at the last second. He’ll recast his own conversations and evaluate lens angles or revise dialogue, creating a braver and more successful version of himself, or include a guilt-inducing voice-over to self-sabotage his better moments.


Misfit Tresa Chambers
By Adam Braver
Tin House Books

Reviewed by Tresa Chambers

MisfitMisfit is a fictional tale about Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe. It’s a story based on the imagined goings on in Monroe’s mind during some of the real-life events that Monroe is famous for, including her role in the film, The Misfits. The facts of Ms. Monroe’s suicide following years of drug use and drinking have been well-documented. The details leading up to her death could be seen as the foundation for a story that offers new insight, but the attempt to show her struggle for identity, which is the author’s intent, falls short.


The Elephant Keeper’s Children Sheila Lewis2
By Peter Høeg (Translated by Martin Aitken)
Other Press

 Reviewed by Sheila Lewis

 The Elephant Keeper's ChildrenThe Elephant Keepers’ Children is an unnerving tale about Peter, the wise
14-year-old narrator, his extraordinary older sister Tilte, heroic older brother Hans, and their unusual upbringing in a rectory on Fino, a fictitious, idyllic Danish island.

When their pastor father and organist mother go missing, Peter, who refers to adults (and their secrets) as elephant keepers, and Tilte head off on a dangerous chase through Copenhagen all the way to the Great Synod, an international gathering of religious groups; a plot to blow it up is afoot. As a student of spiritual development, Peter’s investigations lead him to “the door,” a place beyond material reality, and to dubious triumph over evil.

Interested in reviewing books for the next special book review issue of the New York Bookwoman? Send an email to newsletter@wnba-nyc.org. Click here for the list of books available.

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deborahThis week’s featured member blog is Deborah Batterman’s The Things She Thinks About.

Deborah, who took 3rd place in this year’s WNBA Writing Contest, had this to say about blogging:

Blogging is something I do first and foremost because I like writing essay-type reflections on whatever it is that strikes my interest — a movie, a wedding, a day at a museum. It’s not so much about the event as it is about what it evokes. Blogging is also a way to maintain an ongoing online presence, and the approach that feels right for me is to put up a new post every two weeks.
Visit Deborah’s website/blog at deborahbatterman.com.

You can find out more about Deborah and her writing in her Member Monday interview.

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deborahDeborah Batterman is a fiction writer, essayist, and teaching artist. A story from her debut collection, Shoes Hair Nails was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in anthologies as well as various print and online journals, and a selection of her essays, Because My Name is Mother, is now available as an e-book. She recently finished a novel, Dancing into the Sun. Website/blog:  www.deborahbatterman.com. Facebook page: deborah.batterman.

How long have you been a member of the WNBA-NYC? How did you get involved with the organization?

September will mark my third year as a member.  Basically I had begun developing relationships with different writers online via blogs and writing communities. I’d already published my short story collection, and I was looking for that give-and-take of ideas between writers as well as affiliations that might enhance my presence. That’s about when I discovered WNBA.  It immediately felt like a great fit – an organization focused on women in the world of publishing but also with a broader view re: the place of books in our lives.

From an author’s perspective, what are some of the advantages of being a part of an organization like the WNBA?

First, there’s the sense of community – a very welcoming one at that.   Then there are the really wonderful programs the chapter puts together – everything from strategies for marketing on Facebook to tips from literary agents to panels of writers reading from their work and talking about their processes.  Speaking of interesting programs, I’m really looking forward to the one at the New York Public Library on ‘Why Children’s Books Matter,’ just for the pure pleasure of seeing the exhibition and learning a thing or two.

Congratulations on All Mine placing in the First Annual WNBA Writing Contest! What was the experience like? Will you enter next year’s contest?

Thank you.  It’s pretty exciting to place in a national contest—maybe even more gratifying since it’s the first for WNBA.  The process was very user-friendly and, yes, if I have a story or two that falls within the word count next year, and if I’m not excluded as a result of having a winning entry this year, I’ll certainly consider entering.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw ideas from real life?

The stories I write often begin with an image, or a first line that pops into my head. Sometimes it’s an item in the news that captures my attention. All Mine, for example, grew out of a news story about a string of art thefts from museums in Europe.  One man was behind the thefts, and how he got away with it —not  to mention the roles his girlfriend and his mother played in helping him steal and hide the art—had me thinking there was good material for fiction here. The very notion that someone could take possession of a portrait because of his fascination with her beauty, and her eyes in particular—and that he got away with stealing so much art so easily—completely intrigued me. A story started to form around this triangle—man/girlfriend/mother.  If it’s not something in the news that grabs me, it’s something I see—pairs of shoes lined up on the floor of my parents’ bedroom, a girl sitting on a seat in beauty salon with no idea that her mother has walked out on her, a man who thinks he can jolt the dementia out of his father by taking him to Las Vegas.

I’m always fascinated by authors who say that characters live inside their heads and can take over the narrative. How true is that for you?

Absolutely.  My best moments in a story occur when a character does something I did not know he or she would do.

Any future projects in the works?

Well, I’m thinking about compiling another short story collection, as well as a book of essays derived from my blog posts.  And there’s another novel brewing, but I don’t want to plunge in untll I have an agent/editor for the one I recently finished.

What’s your take on the rise in the popularity of self-publishing vs. traditional? Would you consider becoming a hybrid author?

The publishing world is in a state of flux—that’s a given. So the question for any writer these days is which way to go: Do I take everything into my own hands via self-publishing, with the array of packagers, etc., now available? Do I hold fast to a traditional route, hoping to find the right agent/editor/publishing house? Self-publishing is a good thing in that it allows a writer to take over the means of production and distribution. It’s not a good thing when it tempts writers to put their work out at least one draft too soon, just because it’s so easy to do it.  Some middle ground is needed, and that might be a hybrid publishing paradigm where, conceptually speaking, a writer’s work is vetted by editors even if she’s the one doing the financing. Would I consider that?  Maybe.  More to the point—as the market becomes glutted with self-published books, I think the role of agents and editors stands to become more important than ever.  So nothing would make me happier right now than finding an agent who appreciates/understands my work and gets my novel into the hands of the right editor.

What’s your favorite word and why?

I can’t say I have one favorite word, but I’ll give you the first one that popped into my head as I began thinking about this: bittersweet.

What are you currently reading? Any great recommendations for our members?

Right now I’m alternating between The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis and Life after Life by Kate Atkinson.  I recently finished Joseph Anton, by Salman Rushdie, which had a very powerful impact on me as a writer. It’s an important book that speaks to the times we’re living in and what it means to be able to freely tell our stories.

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