Summer 2016 Newsletter


Women's National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter Newsletter

upcoming events and news wnba-sf chapter Chapter President

The Event That Shows You How Your Ideas Can Change The World.

San Francisco Writing for Change Conference
Saturday, September 10th, 2016
Registration begins at 8:00 am

8:30 am – 5:30 pm
First Unitarian Universalist Center of San Francisco
1187 Franklin Street (at Geary), San Francisco, CA


The keynoter will be prize-winning author Susan Griffin,Wrestling with the Angels of Democracy and Chorus of Stones.  Susan was given the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement by the Northern California Book reviewers and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
You will also hear from Marc Allen, president of New World Library and author of the highly acclaimed book, Tantra for the West, A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams.

The Seventh San Francisco Writing for Change Conference is the place to discover how what you write can change the world. The theme of the conference is “Writing to Make a Difference,” and the goal is to get important ideas published.  

The Writing for Change Conference is devoted to bringing together agents, editors, authors, and publishing professionals in order to enable writers to learn about writing, publishing, marketing, and technology. You’ll come away knowing how to get your work published successfully, online and off.

You will have the chance to learn from and pitch your book to the presenters, and to get feedback on your work from freelance editors. The conference will include one jam-packed day of workshops, panels and the keynote address. 

CLICK HERE to see the complete list of 2016 Presenters.

WNBA-SF Chapter is a proud co-sponsor of this one day event!

Dear Fellow WNBA-SF Chapter members,

wnbaSanFranciscoWe are all part of a legacy.
Our chapter was founded by the incredible Effie Lee Morris and many wonderful women of words have continued to build upon that foundation. I could not be more thrilled to step up and receive the baton being passed by the marvelous Kate Farrell, from whom I am learning so much. Her leadership is an example I learn from every day.

I well remember attending my first WNBA–SF Pitch-O-Rama as an acquiring editor several years back. The room was buzzing with excitement and alive with ideas. It seemed almost too good to be true: being surrounded by people who have dedicated their lives to writing and upholding the importance of literacy in our culture. I must have spoken with at least 50 writers and there were some fantastic book concepts and pitches. The day went by in a flash.

When I left, I was very inspired and doubly glad to be part of the writing community of the Bay Area. I acquired one book which was pitched to me at the Pitch-O-Rama in 2014 and worked with an author I met at the 2015 POR. I introduced her to an agent who was able to get her a contract with one of the major New York houses.

I am passionate about my work and thrive on work that is meaningful and beneficial. I see the advocacy of the WNBA-San Francisco Chapter as an essential part of the fabric of Northern California. It matters a lot. I relish the opportunity to work with all of you and take this Chapter to the next level. Let’s make our next Pitch-O-Rama the biggest one ever, as well as keynote literary events highlighting the power of women’s voices.

I welcome your ideas and suggestions about programming and good works, especially about how we can give back to young people and schoolchildren facing challenges. The WNBA has Brenda Knightroots that go back 100 years. Together, we can make sure we are still helping women writers a hundred years into the future.

Sincerely yours,

Brenda Knight,
SF Chapter President

upcoming events and news wnba-sf chapter Other News


Christian RobinsonEffie Lee Morris Lecture – Highlights

Written by Nina Lesowitz

Guest lecturer Christian Robinson wrapped up his remarks at the 20th Anniversary Effie Lee Morris Lecture on May 31 by describing how essential it is for him to help make children’s books more inclusive.

“Picture books are an introduction to the world for children,” he said. “It is important that we see pictures that look like us. If we don’t, we send a message that maybe we aren’t that important.”

Everyone was made to feel important at the reception preceding the lecture which took place at the Children’s Center at the San Francisco Main Library.

New president Brenda Knight greeted guests at the door. Once inside, our volunteers handed out programs and free raffle tickets, then directed guests to the abundant spread of food, the books for sale by Friends of the Library, and the signing table where Christian Robinson had a line of people waiting to meet him.

 The event flowed very smoothly thanks to the extraordinary organization of past president Kate Farrell and library staff. The reception hosted a diverse group of approximately 50 people of all ages and the children in attendance seemed very excited about meeting Christian Robinson.

Robinson carefully curated the display wall before the event by posting pages of his original art for his award-winning picture books and storyboards for his animations.

Nina Lesowitz at the WNBA Table

Nina Lesowitz at the WNBA Table

 His illustrations grace Josephine (Chronicle) which won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, and Gaston (Atheneum) which was named a Best Book of 2014 by Kirkus and Amazon. He also received a 2016 Caldecott honor for his latest work, the illustrations in Last Stop on Market Street (written by Matt de la Pena), a book that also won the 2016 Newbery Medal.

Andrea Brown, WNBA past-president and co-founder of the ELM Lectures series spoke movingly about Effie Lee Morris. In 1963, Ms. Morris joined the SFPL as its first children’s services coordinator. 

Read more…


WNBA National Board Meeting – Highlights

Written by Tabitha Whissemore

I have a confession to make: I wasn’t super excited about attending the national meeting. It wasn’t the meeting itself—or the city of San Francisco—that bothered me. I was bogged down with work, I don’t enjoy air travel, and, honestly, I’m always a little intimidated attending the WNBA National Board Meeting. To be surrounded by such energetic, intelligent, and ambitious people leaves me feeling like a small fish in a very big pond.

I arrived in San Francisco tired and hungry—already a bad start. But everything changed when I entered the lovely little Grant Hotel and saw the San Francisco welcome committee. Surrounded by friendly faces, and weighed down with a bag of goodies, I was transformed from a weary traveler to an excited member of an elite group. (Okay—I was still weary, but I didn’t care as much.) Best of all, our first stop as a group was at a bookstore: City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

When I told people I was going to San Francisco, they talked about all the usual tourist destinations: Golden Gate Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown. And those are great places, but I’ve always sought out independent bookstores while traveling. Being at City Lights calmed my anxiety and served as a reminder that I was in the company of my own kind—book lovers.

From there, we went to the Beat Museum. I never would have thought to go there on my own, but this gem of a landmark turned me on to the prolific Beat movement and the men and women who inspired future generations. I’d only been in San Francisco a few hours, but my horizons were already expanding.

It was, of course. The meetings, held in beautiful buildings in the Mission District, were filled with positive discussion on advancing WNBA’s mission, celebrating the centennial, and honoring the achievements of each chapter. I was left feeling reinvigorated and with great ideas to bring back to the Washington, DC, chapter.

Tabitha, Swiss Louis

Tabitha Whissemore, center, Swiss Louis

It was the “networking” time, though, that really made the difference for me. The truth is, the DC chapter is struggling. Membership is down and engagement is low. Being able to speak one-on-one with people from other chapters and share our concerns and get new ideas is ultimately the most satisfying thing about the national board meeting. And it doesn’t hurt that we were usually enjoying great food and drink in a fun location while we talked, such as Utopia Café in Chinatown or Swiss Louis at Fisherman’s Wharf. 
Read more…

Featured Member Interview

BOOKTALK! The Buzz in the World of Books

Interview by Catharine Bramkamp

interview with Herma Lichtenstein, WNBA-SF TreasurerHerma Lichtenstein, the newly elected WNBA-SF Chapter Treasurer, is not only a writer, she’s designed and built libraries, the clear places of worship for all writers.

“Libraries are remarkable buildings. They take on a life of their own, especially in communities that are growing. When I started the library project in Dublin, there was an existing library in the community, but it was a very tired building, small, dark and a little hunched over if buildings can hunch. What I learned most about the project was to listen to librarians. They really have seen it all and are a wealth of knowledge. The result of all the listening was a vibrant, bright, welcoming new facility. The month it opened the attendance more than doubled and continued to grow. I always thought it was great that people actually lined up at the front door waiting for it to open.”

It seems a rather large leap from architecture to writing stories, but Herma feels there is much crossover in the disciplines.

“I’m still a Project Manager and writing entails a lot of project management. There are all those voices in your head to keep track of! I discovered fiction writing as a result of an absentee husband. No, we didn’t get divorced, he took a position that put him on the road two weeks a month. I found myself looking for a hobby in the rainy season and took a stab at writing. Five years later I had several novels in various states of completion, a screenplay, and a bunch of short stories queued up in my computer.”

From those writing projects came a larger project. “I made friends with another terrific author and we decided to form a publishing company, Panverse. We both liked quirky novels and found many of our author friends didn’t fit neatly into any genre category. We were seeing a lot of talent pushed aside because of marketing concerns. We had a handful of really great authors, some we knew and some who came by way of the slush pile. I still keep in touch with them, especially Bonnie Randall and TL Morganfield. They’re great writers and accomplished ladies with wicked senses of humor. Then as it does sometimes, life got in the way and I had to put down the proverbial pen. That was 2013 and I’m just now getting back to the process.

“I’m honored to be the treasurer for WNBA-SF Chapter. It’s a great organization and the mission is still so very relevant today. I think that women have found access to many places in society — I believe I’m a good example given my profession. This may make it seem as though we’ve ‘arrived’ but I know from experience that it’s a daily battle to be heard. I have tons of contractor stories to prove it!

“Good old-fashioned peer pressure got me to look at the organization. A mutual friend of board member Cathy Turney and me suggested I’d be a good fit. Multiple emails, some cajoling and a wonderful event for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project made me say yes.

“I was at the San Francisco Writers Conference several years ago and one of the speakers said: ‘It is the best of times and it is the worst of times for publishers today.’ I think he was correct. There is so much competition for eyeballs with social media, television, online entertainment and marketing that it’s hard to get above the noise. It’s also very easy to self-publish, a wild west arena that just now seems to be settling out. 

Read more..

Women Are Writing the Best Mysteries

Written By Kate Farrell

In a recent article in The Atlantic, critic Terrence Rafferty discusses the rise of female mystery authors who write a different kind of story. Such rise began with the breakaway bestselling novel, Gone Girl, a psychological, suburban thriller by Gillian Flynn (2012). Male authors, who once wrote about a lone private eye stalking the mean streets with a gun, a hat, and a cigarette, have seen that character vanish along with cowboys in the old West.

Rafferty states: “Female writers, for whatever reason, don’t much believe in heroes, which makes their kind of storytelling perhaps a better fit for these cynical times. Their books are light on gunplay, heavy on emotional violence. Murder is de rigueur in the genre, so people die at the hands of others—lovers, neighbors, obsessive strangers—but the body counts tend to be on the low side.”

He goes on to say: “Death, in these women’s books, is often chillingly casual, and unnervingly intimate. As a character in Alex Marwood’s brilliant new novel, The Darkest Secret, muses: ‘They’re not always creeping around with knives in dark alleyways. Most of them kill you from the inside out.’ The awareness of that inside-out sort of violence sets the women writers apart, these days, from even the best of the men.”

Historically, in the so-called Golden Age of mysteries,Rafferty suggests, women were better at creating plausible motivations for crimes. He mentions Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. One of my favorite authors of that era is Sayers, whose famous sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey, is a complex man. His intense motivation to solve crimes and bring perpetrators to justice is based on his traumatic experience in World War I trenches. His role is that of a subtle hero, introspective, and often masked behind a variety of carefully constructed social behaviors.

Three Bay Area best-selling mystery authors who demonstrate these interior character traits are Cara Black, Laurie R. King, and Sophie Littlefield.

Murder on the Quai coverMurder on the Quai is the prequel to the 15-book Aimée Leduc Investigation Series. It lets us in on some of the secrets that always simmered just below the surface of every other book. Because it is the wellspring of all the others, I think this book is the best one. Well written and researched, Black’s prose flows with a honed skill that infuses life on every page.

While this novel depicts both a coming of age for Aimée, a Bildungsroman of self-discovery, and a tantalizing meeting between her parents, it is also a historical mystery.
 Read more…



WNBA SF Chapter Board Contact Info renew

WNBA 2016-2017 BOARD

President: Brenda Knight
Vice President: Nina Lesowitz
Treasurer: Herma Lichtenstein
Secretary: Julaina Kleist-Corwin
Membership Chair: Terye Balogh
Past President: Kate Farrell
Member at Large: Catharine Bramkamp
Featured Member Interview Editor

Member at Large: Martha Conway
Member at Large: KJ Landis
Member at Large: Julia Emily Kent, 
Social Media Manager

Member at Large: Cathy Turney
Member at Large: Joan Gelfand,
Nat’l WNBA Chair, Chapter Development

Web Editor: Simona Carini
Newsletter Editor: Kate Farrell

Webmaster: Linda Lee

Mailing address: 
4061 E. Castro Valley Blvd.
Castro Valley, CA 94552-4840

The Women’s National Book Association has been a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) member of the United Nations since 1959. A NGO is defined as “any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group that is organized on a local, national or international level.”  

It’s that time of year to renew!

TeryeBaloghWelcome to our new Membership Chair,
Terye Balogh.

Whether you are joining for the first time or renewing, please use the same form. Membership in WNBA runs from June 1st  to May 31st.

Due to an increase in the amount SF Chapter pays to our national organization, we are raising our annual membership dues by $11, effective April 1, 2016. 

Active members’ dues: $56 with $16 going to the national organization.

Senior members’ dues: $36 with $16 going to the national organization.*
(*There is no age designated for senior rate–it is based on how you might self-identify.)

Please contact Terye Balogh with any questions.

Visit our website for more information and to renew. We will launch our National Directory soon and need your current information as an active member.