WNBA-SF-Logo_0We are pleased to announce the SF Chapter members who have generously agreed to serve on the Board of Directors this coming year. Please join in welcoming them! We look forward to an exciting year of programming with these dynamic members at the helm. Their official term of office begins June 1, 2015.


Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter

Board of Directors, 2015-16

Kate Farrell

Kate Farrell

President, Kate Farrell

Kate Farrell (MLS, UC Berkeley), librarian, storyteller, author, and educator, taught language arts in high schools, colleges and published numerous educational materials. Recently, she edited the anthology, Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother (2011); co-edited Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s &’70s (2013)—Finalist, 2014 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award and 2014 Indie Excellence Award; and co-edited Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence—Finalist, 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Farrell is President of Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter, member of California Writers Club-Redwood Branch. She is currently working on a YA/NA project: Woman Wonder Tales.


vickiDeArmon Vice President, Vicki DeArmon, Chair, Pitch-O-Rama, March

Vicki DeArmon works as the Events & Marketing Director for Copperfield’s Books in San Francisco’s North Bay, booking authors for events. In the wee hours, she writes. Her passion is reading and writing fiction. Right now she’s working on a collection of short stories, She Let Go Their Hands, depicting families riding the roller coaster of addiction. Her story from this collection entitled “Hydroplaning” placed second in the 2015 Women’s National Book Association annual writing contest. And there’s a comic novel brewing called Tilting: The Nearly True Story of a Small Book Publishing Empire that draws from the years she spent running Foghorn Press in San Francisco in the 1990s. This year, she’s been honored to read at Litquake, to attend Lit Camp 2015, and to be chosen as one of a cast of 13 selected to read pieces at this year’s Listen to Your Mother event in San Francisco. Her blog ( is a humorous attempt to consolidate three aspects of her being: writing, motherhood, and co-dependence. 

Sherry Nadworny Vice President, Sherry Nadworny, Chair, Nat’l Reading Group Month, October

Sherry Nadworny is a recent transplant to California from her native Boston via a short stint in Charlotte, NC. She began her career as a news writer for television and radio. For the past twenty years, she has been a public relations professional and freelance writer for healthcare and arts organizations, writing feature stories, press releases, video scripts, grants, brochures and almost anything that requires a “writer for hire.” In her free time, and to keep her out of the mall, she writes fiction.



Juliana Kleist-Corwin

Juliana Kleist-Corwin

Secretary, Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Julaina Kleist-Corwin published an anthology in 2014 called Written Across the Genres. She is an award-winning writer and her short stories are published in the California Writers Club Literary Review, Harlequin’s Christmas books, and other anthologies. She teaches creative writing in Dublin and Pleasanton California. Visit her at




Treasurer, OPEN


Linda Lee | WordPress Expert | Guru | Trainer | Website Designer | WordPress Website Designer Past President, Linda Lee, Webmaster

Linda Lee is online expert like no other. She is a writer, speaker, educator, and website designer who demystifies the online experience. Whether you are a novice or veteran Internet user, Linda can help you optimize and monetize your website. She specializes in WordPress design, WordPress Websites, instruction, and problem shooting.  Linda and her team have built over 200 websites for clients on the WordPress platform. Linda is the founder of Smart Women Stupid Computers and Askmepc-Webdesign andWordPress Total Training, a full WordPress training course and support membership site for WordPress.




MacKenzie Davis WNBA-SF Chapter Member Profile Membership Chair, MacKenzie Davis
MacKenzie Davis (MKNZ) bounced around the US for quite some time before graduating rather belatedly from Mills College in 1998, receiving in the process a BFA, a variety of awards for painting and book arts, and a never-ending student loan payment that keeps her perpetually on the lookout for additional sources of income. Currently she is finishing up artwork for her two recently completed children’s books Miss Chiff and The Odd Old House, fleshing out further adventures for Penny Wyse, and working on discovering the secrets to getting a book published before it becomes a posthumous matter. In the meantime, she clings desperately to her day job as a contractor for the library division of More information about her writing can be found at:, and examples of her artwork are available at:


Mary E Knippel 9.2013 sml Chair, Mary Knippel, WNBA National Board Meeting Committee, June 10-13, 2016

Mary E. Knippel, Writer Unleashed at, transformational author and inspirational speaker, is fiercely committed to guiding women entrepreneurs and aspiring authors and speakers to leverage their impact through writing. Using the power of storytelling, she helps them gain clarity and confidence in the words and the way they connect with the world, to unleash from the stories that are have kept them silent, to reclaim their voices and share their unique message. As a journal writer since the age of 11, Mary knows the enormous power and healing capabilities of the written word. A two-time breast cancer survivor she used writing and other creative tools in her recovery and chronicles the results in her upcoming book, The Secret Artist, where she shares what she has learned to help you move from survive to thrive.


Catharine Bramkamp

Catharine Bramkamp

Member at Large, Catharine Bramkamp, Editor, Featured Member Interview, Chair, Pitch-O-Rama Coaching Team

Catharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, Future Girls (Eternal Press) and the poetry chapbook Ammonia Sunrise (Finishing Line Press). She holds two degrees in English, and is an adjunct professor for two Universities. 
A California native, she divides her time between the Wine Country and the Gold Country. She and her husband have parented two boys past the age of self-destruction and into the age of annoying two word text missives.


Glenda Carroll

Glenda Carroll

Member at Large, Glenda Carroll

If you want to find Glenda Carroll, she’ll be in, on, or under water—and writing about it. She understands water sports on a very personal level since she swims, surfs and sails. Glenda wrote a weekly sailing column for the Marin Independent Journal for 19 years. During that time, she also wrote for local, national and international sailing publications. She branched into travel writing and her features have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Travel & Leisure, Ford Times, Chevron USA, Defenders of Wildlife, and Bay & Delta Yachtsman., a surfing website, asked her to write a twice-weekly column, which she did for more than three years.



Martha Conway Member at Large  Martha Conway, Bookwoman Correspondent\

Martha Conway’s historical novel, THIEVING FOREST, has been called “extraordinary” by the Akron Beacon Journal and “hypnotic” by Kirkus Reviews. Her first novel 12 BLISS STREET was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Mississippi Review, The Quarterly, Folio, Puerto del Sol, Carolina Quarterly, and other publications. She graduated from Vassar College and received her master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She has reviewed fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Review of Books, and The Iowa Review, and is a recipient of a California Arts Council fellowship in Creative Writing. Martha teaches creative writing at UC Berkeley Extension and at Stanford University’s Online Writer’s Studio, and lives in San Francisco.


Member at Large, KJ Landis

kj landisKJ Landis is her first success story. She lost 50 pounds in 60 days and has kept it off for years. Daily research and coaching has fueled her to help others dive into their own better existences. KJ Landis is an educator, former model, health and life coach, photographer, and role model. She has inspired many with her holistic approach to health and wellness. Her ability to communicate effectively, compassionately, and with patience has helped build the self-esteem and attainment of others’ life goals. She developed a guide based upon her post weight and fat loss journey called Superior Self’s Guide to Wellness from Within. It is simple and effective in energy rejuvenation and fat loss. The guide provides a guide to overall wellness and vitality. She teaches wellness workshops all over the San Francisco area based upon the guide.



 Member at Large, Cathy Turney Cathy Turney
Cathy Turney captures the humor in coping with technology and social media, her left/brain right brain marriage to My Husband, The Engineer, dogs, and real estate. A life-long resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Cathy was in the first graduating class of the University of California, Santa Cruz, but she’s not that old. Cathy writes a humor column for The Concordian and for Emmy Award-winning Judd McIlvain’s TroubleShooter Website and has had stories published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Catharsis Journal, the Healey Marque national magazine, and Moss Motors Magazine. She has won finalist and semi-finalist awards from Humor Press. Her first book, Dog Stories, Hilarious Tales of a Codependent Pet Owner, was published in 2012. She is at work on her next book, a humorous take on her thirty years in real estate. Cathy is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and California Writers Club, Mt. Diablo Branch.  She loves networking with other writers on Facebook (Cathy Turney) and on her blog at


Joan-GelfandMember at Large, Joan Gelfand, National WNBA Chair, New Chapter Development

Joan Gelfand’s work has been published in national and international publications, including Kalliope, Levure Litteraire, The Toronto Quarterly, and The Chaffin Journal. Readings include Bowery Poetry Club, Southern Festival of Books, Litquake, The Oakland Museum and the NY Public Library. She has been featured on KPIX, NBC, cable TV and over 20 radio stations. Joan’s forthcoming novel, “Fear to Shred,” is set in a Silicon Valley startup. The debut book is due out with Incanto Press in January, 2015.

Poetry collections: “The Long Blue Room,” Benicia Literary Arts, 2014, “A Dreamer’s Guide to Cities and Streams,” and “Seeking Center.” “Here and Abroad,” is an award winning chapbook of short fiction. “Transported,” can be found on iTunes. Joan blogs regularly for the Huffington Post and coaches writers. Joan is the Poetry Editor for the “J,” the Development Chair of the Women’s National Book Association and a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Spring Edition 2015 SFWC Newsletter

Women's National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter Newsletter


Featured Member Interviews

Martha Conway, Author
Jeanne Powell, poet, essayist, short fiction

WNBA Award 2015

Which Is the Manliest Literary Magazine of Them All?
(excerpt from Slate’s blog:

Workshop 2:15 – 2:45 pm 

Saturday, May 16, 2015, 2:00 – 4:00 pm 
Oakland Main Library, Meeting Room
125 14th Street, Oakland, CA  94612

Dear WNBA-SF Chapter Members,

Big news! The winner of the 2015 WNBA Award is Amy King, the moving force and executive behind VIDA, Women in Literary Arts. 

VIDA is an organization founded in 2009 that counts men and women whose works are reviewed in literary journals each year. VIDA’s mission is to bring attention to gender equality issues in contemporary literature: a laudable mission, and one that aligns with the mission of WNBA.

Members of WNBA-SF Chapter include publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, publicists, authors of poetry, memoir, fiction and nonfiction for all ages. We comprise a Bay Area literary network that can come together to advocate for women in the world of words:books magazines, blogs, and media.

SF Chapter can create activities that support women’s voice and one another’s professional literary work. How?

Join us May 16th at the Oakland Main Library to plan next year’s program. Enjoy the inspired workshop presented by our member, KJ Landis, “Eat Well, Be Well.” Bring your ideas and creative energy.

KateFarrell15I’d like to thank those who’ve served so well this past year! It’s been an amazing team effort that produced our many events and meetings. To read about those and the volunteers who made it happen, go to this page:

Thank you, as always, for your support!
Kate Farrell, SF Chapter President

Click here for full newsletter.


Mark your calendar



WNBA-SF Chapter is proud to co-sponsor:


Sunday, May 3, 2015, 1:00 pm

Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Main Library

100 Larkin Street, Civic Center, San Francisco

Followed by a reception and book signing in the Latino/Hispanic Community Room.  Free and open to the public. Download the poster to read the short listed titles!

Nominated books will be for sale by Readers Bookstore at the Main/Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Eligible books are divided into eight categories: Fiction, General Nonfiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Children’s Literature (Younger Readers and Young Adult), and Translation (Poetry and Fiction). Northern California reviewers and editors read the books and discuss their merits to pick the winners. All of the nominated books on this recommended reading list are saluted at the ceremony.

Willis BarnstoneRemarks by renowned Oakland poet, translator, and scholar Willis Barnstone, 2015 Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement. Northern California authors will be honored in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translation, and Children’s Literature. Winners will read briefly from their books. Book signing and reception with the authors follows the Awards Ceremony in the Latino/Hispanic Room from 2:30-4:00 pm. Nominated books will be for sale by Readers Bookstore at the Main/Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. Admission to the Book Awards and reception is free. Wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact, (510) 525-5476, or visit

The Awards’ Sponsors

The 2015 Awards are presented by Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter, PEN West, Mechanics’ Institute Library, San Francisco Public Library and Friends of the San Francisco Public Library

Promote this event and share the press release! Download link: Northern California Book Reviewers.

Improving Your Chances in Any Contest

Written by B. Lynn Goodwin

B.Lynn GoodwinjpgThere is no one-size-fits-all formula to make you a winner in every contest. No two judges look for exactly the same thing and committees of judges often disagree. But here’s the good news: The hints below will strengthen your chances of being noticed, reread, and ranked high.

Judges want stories that make an impact on them. If when I’m a judge, I’m still thinking about an idea from a story the next day, I look back to make sure I gave it a high ranking.

Judges want to empathize. Can your protagonist be a criminal? Yes, as long as we understand his motivations. Can your protagonist be evil, ugly, dishonest, mean or flagrantly creepy? Sure, if you let us know why.

Can a character be too good? Absolutely. Readers like flawed people. We identify with them. We want to see how they handle themselves. Let your characters be messy and troubled. Let them provoke my anger. Help me care that they change and care how they change.

Let your character show us his or her epiphanies. Don’t tell me. Let me into the character’s head so I can experience the discovery as s/he does.

The best stories are both unique and universal. The themes your characters explore should be ones that readers can identify with, and yes, judges are readers.

Mechanics matter. Violate standard usage when you have a reason to. Maybe your character is uneducated and “don’t speak with good grammar.” Put it in the dialogue, not the narration. If you aren’t sure about usage, ask Google, Bing, or the search engine or writing coach of your choice.

Professionalism matters. Follow the directions. If your submission won’t upload or you can’t use a requested font, contact the contest supervisor, explain the issue as concisely as possible, and ask for advice.

Voice matters. Concentrate on telling a strong, unique story that will make readers laugh, cry, say “ah-ha,” say “ahhh!” and leave your readers wanting more. If you can do all that, you’ll have voice, and if you’ve found the right contest, you have a winner. For a few more tips visit, and scroll to the bottom. I used my contest judges’ comments to readers to write “What Works and What Doesn’t.”

Writer Advice,, is now running it’s 10th Flash Prose Contest. Our guidelines are on the home page, we give some specific feedback on each submission, and finalists hear from all the judges, who are former contest winners. That makes it well worth the $15 submission fee, especially when you consider that first prize is $200. Take a look at our submission information, and contact me if you have questions at

Picture 1B. Lynn Goodwin is the author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. Her YA, Talent, will be published by Eternal Press in 2015. She has numerous articles in anthologies and guest blog posts. She’s currently at work on a memoir about getting married for the first time at age 62 to a man she met on … gulp … Craigslist. She also runs Writer Advice’s Manuscript Consultation Service.

Interview with Christina Nichol, author of a debut novel, Waiting for Electricity

Interview written by Catharine Bramkamp

Christina Nichol Christina Nichol, author of a debut novel, Waiting for Electricity, has garnered kudos and positive reviews that every author dreams about.

“Like Kingsley Amis with a social conscience, Christina Nichol combines an ear for the absurdities of globalized English with an acute awareness of the everyday sufferings and indignities of daily life in post-Soviet Georgia. The result is a pitch-perfect dark comedy that tracks the myriad miscommunications among ‘global partners’ and next-door neighbors and combines them into one of the most powerful novels yet written on the effects of globalization.” 

                                                            —Marco Roth, author of The Scientists

However, capturing that dark comedy and learning about daily life in post-Soviet Georgia was not necessarily easy or quick. Christina originally traveled to Russia as a child, traveling with her grandfather on a “Peace Cruise.” It was there and then that she fell in love with the Soviet Union. 

She explains: “After the nation collapsed I kept going back to post-Soviet countries, fascinated, and sometimes a little alarmed, at how they were recreating their identities. I didn’t go to Georgia originally intending to do research. I was trying to get back to Kyrgyzstan, I country I had lived in the prior year. I applied for a Soros Foundation Fellowship and the only openings they had left were in Azerbaijan, Mongolia, or Georgia. I had seen some Georgian sword fighting dances when I was in Russia so I opted for Georgia. I spent a year there, initially, and then continued to return periodically.

WaitingElectricity_Cove I spoke some Russian so I could get by, though a friend of mine started telling all the shopkeepers to refuse to speak Russian with me so I would be forced to speak Georgian. Since I was teaching English, a lot of my colleagues and friends spoke English so that helped. Slims Achmed (the hero in the novel) was based on a man I knew who went to the U.S., to Louisiana, to study law and came back a George Bush fan. I wanted to write about what might happen if a character went to San Francisco instead. The voice of the character originally came to me with the sentence, ‘My name is Slims Ahmed and I live in the 12th century.’

Georgia, at the time, had all these young men who had, what was called, a ‘Robin Hood’ complex. They would hold up trains and steal from the men to give to the women. They viewed the 12th century as their Golden Age, the time when they owned most of the land in the area, and were trying to get back to that time.

I had copious amounts of notes while I was traveling, but I had no idea what to do with them or how to turn them into a story. That only happened when I came back to the U.S. and was trying to work through my culture shock of what a zany place Georgia was. Georgia is very loud, but in a Shakespearean way, as if people are enjoying acting in a play, calling out to people on the balcony, entwined in a fabric that’s bigger than the individual. California is quieter. Also, we sip our wine individually. They gulp their wine collectively and in Georgia they say, ‘real men only drink white wine.’

The book was written because of the strong voices in Christina’s head. The characters “kept up a constant stream of cultural commentary about the U.S. My roommate at the time used to put an extra plate at the table for Slims. He told his mom that we had a new roommate from Georgia who was having a hard time. She said she would have her church group pray for him. His life actually improved after that.

In a way, Slims Achmed, my protagonist, taught me how to be funny. Humor is a sort of pressure valve for releasing some of the daily tensions of life. It’s strange to me though, that someone would call my writing ‘wildly original’ because it seems like a view of life, that to me, just seems obvious. I suppose the humorous perspective comes from the distance created from having lived in so many different countries and not taking one’s individual dramas so seriously. I have no idea if that is a healthy habit or not.”

The publishing process for Waiting for Electricity was a rather long haul.  

 “I think publishers weren’t quite sure what to do with a novel written by an American woman from the perspective of a Georgian man. Eventually, I found a fit with Overlook. But I had to cut about half of it and that was excruciating. I had no idea what the response would be. I was a little surprised at how positive the response has been. I’ve tried to view this book as just a bunch of homemade muffins that I’m handing out and hopefully it gives people some joy. If I start worrying about book sales, that’s only going to lead to suffering.”

Then again—often suffering engenders comedy and humor.

Visit Christina at:

Note: Wall Street Journal listed Waiting for Electricity in the Top Ten Fiction Books of 2014 and published a recent satirical article written by Christina. Savor her talent here:

Book Review: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Written by Vicki DeArmon

WeNeedNewNamesWhen you hear a new voice like the one that soars out of We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, you want to throw your head back and laugh with delight much like the Zimbabwe children in this novel do when they cannot repress their wonder. Bulawayo captures the ten-year-old protagonist, Darling, and her band of friends as they roam their town like small thugs, seemingly unattached to their adults and their circumstances. It is the adults who suffer for the bulldozing of their shacks in the wake of political upheaval, the ravaging effects of AIDS, the loss of their men to jobs in South Africa.

But when the schools shut down, the children play, making games from their dire circumstances. A woman kills herself and the children happen upon her hanging from a tree. The children–named Bastard, Godknows, Sbho, Chipo, Stina, and Darling–reveal the full slate of human reactions. Like a Greek Chorus, they weigh each circumstance and judge it. Seeing the woman, they are afraid and want to run; they evoke the punishment of God as one of them, Bastard, throws a rock at the hanging woman. They leave, only to return to steal her shoes because they can sell them to buy a loaf of bread to relieve their hunger. And then they all move on, in dizzy laughter.

NoVioletBulawayo -photoby Mark Pringle

They play the “country game” which reflects the status of their country as negligible in the scope of the bigger world; that is why no one wants to “be” it, they all want to “be” America. They steal guavas from the rich people who live in the nearby town of Budapest, trolling the streets looking for guavas and then squatting in pain to release them when they eat too much.

The genius of this book is how the trials of Zimbabwe and its people are revealed through the blithe and unconscious cast of children. But its vibrancy is in the language.

When Darling’s father returns from South Africa with AIDS to die at home, she is slow to understand, feeling shame and not wanting to let her friends know. But they discover the truth and push their way into her house to view him in his sick bed, and in their spontaneous song, they shift her understanding from shame to grief and finally, a kind of joy.

“Then Stina reaches and takes Father’s hand and starts moving it to the song, and Bastard moves the other hand…. We all look at one another and smile-sing because we are touching him, just touching him all over like he is a beautiful plaything we have just rescued from the trash. He feels like dry wood in my hands, but there is a strange light in his sunken eyes, like he has swallowed the sun.”

That vibrancy fades with Darling’s move to America to live with her aunt. Life moves from the cadence and wonder of childhood to the confusion and alienation of being an immigrant teen in the Promised Land. Darling’s relatives experience the fear of being stopped by the police, the necessity of marrying to obtain a green card, working at multiple jobs to send money back to relatives, and answering well intentioned questions from Americans whose understanding of Africa–a continent of fifty-four countries—is viewed as a single experience shared by all Africans.


The reader may sense that the last portion of the novel is a list of trials the author feels must be included, that generalize the immigrant experience, and draw us away from the specific story that is Darling’s, but it is forgiven due to the power of the narrative. We Need New Names is painful in its wrenching truth and beautifully told.  

We Need New Names was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Book review written by Vicki DeArmon,
Marketing & Events Director, Copperfield’s Books,

Seven stores in San Francisco’s North Bay







Digital Storytelling: New Opportunities for Women Writers


Laura Fraser

Saturday, January 10, 2015
10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Meeting & Mixer for Members
Oakland Main Library, Meeting Room
125 14th Street, Oakland, CA  94612
Coffee, Bagels, and Pastries

Laura Fraser will discuss how the shifting media landscape from print to digital doesn’t have to be negative for women writers and readers, but is full of new opportunities for telling your story. She will describe many new venues for storytellers and readers, online and in print, and talk about how to break in and survive as a writer in new media. Laura will also talk about how to write a compelling story, whether in a blog, online, or in print, so that you can gain the widest possible audience.

ShebooksLogoLaura Fraser is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of, a new digital storytelling platform for women. She is also the NYT-bestselling author of the memoirs An Italian Affair and All Over the Map, as well as the journalistic expose, Losing It. An award-winning journalist, she has written hundreds of articles for such publications as the New York Times, O the Oprah Magazine, Sunset, Gourmet, Vogue, More, Health, and many others, including online venues Medium and Her work has been anthologized in over thirty books, including Best Women’s Travel Writing and Best Food Writing. is a digital storytelling platform by and for women. Shebooks has already published over 70 short e-books, focusing mainly on memoir. Shebooks believes that every woman has a story, and helps women share those stories to inspire, educate, entertain, and empower each other. Our e-books are available at and at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We have also just published our first print anthology, Whatever Doesn’t Kill You, also available at Amazon or at local bookstores Book Passages or the Booksmith.

Giveaway Raffle of a Shebooks Equal Writes T-shirt! 
Mix and mingle–bring business cards, bookmarks, books for networking.

The Meeting Room is on the ground floor (the library’s main floor is the second). Handicapped access from the main entrance on 14th St. (ramp plus elevator) or the ground floor entrance on the building’s east side (enter through the Children’s Room, then scoot down the corridor to the Meeting Room). Parking is on street (meters & paper slips) or a nearby parking garage. Public transport: #26 bus or Lake Merritt BART station (3-4 blocks away).

Please RSVP here so we can plan for our Mixer: 

Meet WNBA Experts: Roundtable Luncheon, January 24, 2016

All registration is in advance. Please mail checks asap to confirm your registration.
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Dorothy Hearst

Interview written by Catharine Bramkamp

Dorothy-HearstThis December, Dorothy Hearst will release her third book in the wolf fantasy trilogy, SPIRIT OF THE WOLVES, published by Simon & Schuster. One thing that caught our attention was that the first book in The Wolf Chronicles trilogy, Promise of the Wolves, had a long history. The book began as a short story that never quite worked and was never published. Dorothy put it aside for years, but then the characters came roaring (barking?) back. 

She describes the inspiration for her series as the wolves just barging in, demanding to be heard. “I wondered why me? Why did they come to me of all the people in the world, when I’d never written anything before? Once I’d accepted the challenge, it felt like a huge responsibility. I had to learn my craft, and I couldn’t give up because the wolves were counting on me. Like many writers, I often feel that I’m an imperfect tool for sharing the messages the universe is trying to send through me. But I’m happy with Kaala’s story. I’m happy I got to tell it and that I turned it into something I’m proud of.”

The books necessitated a great deal of research, almost after the fact. The story was there; it was up to her to find out about wolves. “I thought I was supposed to write highbrow literary fiction and was really surprised when talking wolves was what came out. I probably would have written books sooner if I hadn’t been trying to figure out what I should be writing.”

But the research had to be done. Even if it meant interviewing experts and asking total strangers a lot of questions.

spirit-of the wolves by Dorothy-Hearst “I used to be very shy about talking to people I didn’t know, especially people who were experts in something. Then I got a job that required me to talk to people. I became an acquiring editor for professional books for nonprofit and public leaders, and I really loved it. I wanted to do well. The problem was that I had to call people up and talk to them, go to events, and ask people to write books for me.  

There were three things that helped me overcome my shyness. First, I practiced on people who didn’t scare me. If I were at an event, I would find another young woman who looked unthreatening and talk to her.After I practiced on few non-scary people, I made a deal with myself: I had to talk to three people I was nervous about talking to and then I could leave.

The second thing was that I had a script for myself, so I had a list of questions and thoughts as conversation starters, and that I could fall back on if I started getting nervous. These two things helped me get started. After I tried it a few times, I found out that people love sharing their work and knowledge.  

The third thing is the old saying: fake it until you make it. I would pretend I was a competent professional and people believed me. The more I practiced, the better I got. Now I can talk to pretty much anyone.”

Dorothy was patient; she didn’t sell her story, Promise of the Wolves, right away. So she put it away and let it sit for a number of years. That can be a difficult thing for a writer to do. She encourages us all to be patient.

“First, don’t listen to non-writers in your life who keep asking you why it’s taking so long. Well-meaning people will tell you that they wrote a twenty-page memo for work over the weekend, so you should just write the book and be done with it. Ignore them. It’s not the same thing. Know that writing creative work comes from a different place and honor the process and the journey.

Other than that, keep showing up at the page and trust that the idea will mature. Some ideas turn into stories and books very quickly, others take a long time. You do, however, need to be there, writing as often as you can so that when the story is ready, you’re ready for it. Then there are times when you do need to push through to write a story, even if it doesn’t feel ready. Obviously, if you’re on a deadline you need to do so, but also if you’re blocked. Sometimes you need to attack a story. Part of the process of learning to be a writer is learning, through trial and error, which is which. But stories have their own schedules and it’s important to honor that and to know that you aren’t wasting time if it takes a while to find what the story is. 

Write what’s fun, write what you would want to read. Write whatever comes out, especially as you’re finding your story. Also, it’s really, really, really important not to worry if early drafts are terrible. I still think about Anne Lamott’s shitty first drafts all the time, and I write a lot of really bad stuff. It’s the only way to get to the good stuff.”

 For more about Dorothy Hearst and the Wolf Trilogy visit:


WNBA-SF Chapter Fall 2014 Newsletter


WNBA-SF chapter fall newsletterClick any link for full page fall newsletter.

Voices Behind the Veil: The Afghan Women’s Writing Project

WNBA Author Showcase: New Fall Books

Julia Park Tracey