National Reading Group Month – 2015

Books, Inc. Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness Ave.

An Atmospheric Afternoon:
Five authors of must-read novels!

Saturday October 10, 2015
2:00 – 4:00 pm
Books, Inc., Opera Plaza
601 Van Ness Ave., SF 94107
FREE and Open to the Public

Come meet our authors as they discuss their captivating novels over wine and snacks catered by Max’s Opera Cafe. Giveaway raffle of all books presented. Free paperback and resources for Book Clubs, along with Great Group Reads featured titles. Moderated by Julia Park Tracey.


Co-sponsored by LITQUAKE!

Author Panel

Carolina de robertis The Gods of Tango book cover

Carolina De Robertis, The Gods of Tango (Knopf)

Seventeen-year-old, Leda, clutching her father’s cherished violin, leaves her small Italian village for a new home (and husband) in Argentina. Upon her arrival, Leda finds that her bridegroom has been killed. Unable to fathom the idea of returning home, she remains, living in a commune on the brink of destitution. She finally acts on a passion: mastering the violin. Leda is seduced by the music that underscores life in Buenos Aires: tango, born from lower-class immigrants, now the illicit dance of brothels and cabarets.

Knowing that she can never play in public as a woman, Leda cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and as a man, joins musicians bent on bringing tango into the salons of high society. Eventually, the lines between Leda and her disguise will blur, and feelings that she has long kept suppressed will reveal themselves, jeopardizing not only her music career, but her life itself.

Kelli Estes The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

Kelli Estes, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk (Sourcebooks)

A scrap of silk will reach across a century to reveal a forgotten woman’s tragedy and threaten a powerful family.

In 1886, Mei Lien is washed up on Orcas Island, the lone survivor of a cruel purge of the Chinese from Seattle. She is determined to tell her heartbreaking story the only way she knows how: through needle and thread. A century later Inara Erickson, enlisting the help of a local professor, uncovers details in Mei Lien’s delicate stitching that could have far-reaching repercussions for her own life. Should she bring shame to her family and risk everything by telling the truth, or tell no one and dishonor Mei Lien’s memory? The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is a brilliant debut novel that is atmospheric and beautifully written, and serves as a poignant tale of the importance of our own stories.

Kathryn Ma The Year She Left Us

Kathryn Ma, The Year She Left Us (HarperCollins)

The Kong women are in crisis. A trip to visit her “home” orphanage in China has plunged eighteen-year-old Ari into a self-destructive spiral. Her adoptive mother, Charlie, a lawyer with a great heart, works to keep her daughter safe. Meanwhile, Charlie must endure the prickly scrutiny of her beautiful, Bryn Mawr-educated mother, Gran—who, as the daughter of a Chinese doctor, came to America to survive Mao’s Revolution—and her sister, Les, a judge with a penchant for ruling over everyone’s lives.

As they cope with Ari’s journey of discovery and its aftermath, the women will come face-to-face with the truths of their lives—four powerful, intertwining stories of accomplishment, tenacity, secrets, loneliness, and love. Beautifully illuminating the bonds of family and blood, The Year She Left Us explores the promise and pain of adoption, the price of assimilation and achievement, the debt we owe to others, and to ourselves.

Janis Cooke Newman A Master Plan for Rescue

Janis Cooke Newman, A Master Plan for Rescue (Riverhead)

Set in 1942 New York and Berlin, A Master Plan for Rescue is the story of a child who loses his father to an accident and his mother to her resulting grief, and about a young man who stumbles into the romance of his life, then watches her decline, changing the arc of his future. Each is propelled by the belief that if he acts heroically, it will restore some part of what—or whom—he has lost.

When the boy and man meet, their combined grief and magical thinking inspires them to join forces and act in their memory, doing something that might actually bring their loved ones back, even if only in spirit. A beautiful tale, propelled by history and imagination, that suggests people’s impact upon the world doesn’t necessarily end with their lives, and that, to some degree, we are the sum of the stories we tell.

Lucy Sanna The Cherry Harvest

Lucy SannaThe Cherry Harvest |(William Morrow)

The war has taken a toll on the Christiansens. With food rationed and money scarce, Charlotte struggles to keep her family fed. Her teenage daughter, Kate, raises rabbits to earn money for college and dreams of becoming a writer. Her husband, Thomas, struggles to keep the farm going while their son, Ben, fights in Europe.

When their cherry harvest is threatened, Charlotte persuades authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit. Thomas befriends a prisoner, a teacher named Karl, and invites him to tutor Kate. Charlotte finds herself drawn to Karl, and both she and Thomas fail to see that Kate is becoming a young woman, with temptations of her own—including a secret romance with the son of a wealthy, war-profiteering senator. When their Ben returns home, bitter and injured, bearing an intense hatred of Germans, Charlotte’s secrets threaten to explode their world.


Moderator, Julia Park Tracey, WNBA Member, is an award-winning journalist, blogger and poet; she is the Poet Laureate of Alameda, CA. She has written for Salon, Paste, The Mid and Quill, and is a regular contributor to Sweatpants & Coffee, East Bay Monthly, and Oakland Magazine.

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Hosted by Books, Inc., Opera Plaza, and National Reading Group Month!

National Reading Group Month 2015 Official Sponsors and Friends 

2015 Silver Sponsors

The Crown Publishing Group

HogarthAn imprint of The Crown Publishing Group

Sourcebooks—An Independent Vision*

*Premier Sponsor


2015 Bronze Sponsors

Oneworld Publications  


2015 Friends of National Reading Group Month

American Booksellers Association

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction

Baker & TaylorThe Future Delivered

The Booklist Reader (Booklist, American Library Association)

Edelweiss (Above the Treeline, Inc.)

Ingram Content Group

Net Galley — Feed Your Readers

Reading Group Choices — Selections for lively book discussion

Reading Group Guides — The online community for reading groups

Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)

The Fire Inside: When Writers Must Write

Rita M. Gardner

Rita M. Gardner

Written by Rita M. Gardner

A friend recently told me she’d been thinking about writing, one of the things that brings her true joy. But, she said, she was absolutely fearful of anyone reading or commenting on her output. She wrote: “I think of you because you are so courageous as to allow anyone in this world – people you don’t even know – to read the words you have dared to put on paper.”

I just want to say—to her—and to anyone who has fears about writing down their inner thoughts, that sometimes it’s not really a courageous act at all; it’s a necessary act. And we all find some time in life when we must do something—and we do it. What that thing is could be anything at all. It isn’t something that fits with our “life plan” and yet we do it. People call us courageous, but we don’t see it that way.

Often, however, I think inspiration comes from a fire that burns within—and a moment arrives when it’s no longer possible to tamp down the flame or try to keep it buried. We all are in the same boat, no one of us braver than the other. Our fears can be like relentless ocean waves, trying to swamp our vessel, and—unfortunately—sometimes succeeding. But deep inside, hope flickers too, and it can be a lifesaver.

OceanSM I’m reminded of a poem by David Whyte called “Out on the Ocean.” He writes of being alone in a kayak, five miles from shore, waves raging around him as he pulls desperately for home. Here are the last two stanzas:

“And the spark behind fear

recognized as life

leaps into flame

always this energy smoulders inside

when it remains unlit

the body fills with dense smoke.”

Sunset on shoreSMWhen I first read that poem, I could almost smell the ashy heaviness in my own bones. It’s a reminder that there comes a time—or many times—when we struggle, filled with that same dense smoke that threatens to choke us. But if we can see it as also energy, still alive, then maybe—just maybe—it’s time to let the spark burn through the fear and bring us safely to shore. What are some of the steps we writers can take so that our flames burn bright?

  • First, I think we must allow and acknowledge the fears we have.
  • Then, start writing small truths just for yourself. No one else ever needs to see these words. In my case, I was writing a memoir that exposed family secrets long held under lock and key. I couldn’t unveil these secrets while certain family members were alive. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t write. It might be a very long journey, but time wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was knowing I could start to make my way home, one paddle stroke at a time.
  • Another idea is being in a writing group with like-minded voyagers. Many bookstores and libraries provide classes on writing. I happened upon one such class at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. It was titled “Is There a Book in You?” With trepidation, I signed up and found a warm tribe of writers in the same boat—doubtful, scared, excited, and unsure how to move forward. Some of us started a writing group. Together, we dipped more paddles in the water. We were not alone, and stroking together, we made steady progress through the breakers.

Maybe some of us are brave enough to face their fears alone, and I applaud them. In my case, I had to find a way to get out of the dense smoke before it smothered me entirely. Along the way, I found the company of other writers invaluable in guiding me on my journey. I’m grateful for the experience. My wish to others who are still hesitating to tell their story is that they discover their own spark and find their way to nourish it into life. 

Rita Gardner is a Bay Area writer and photographer. Her memoir “The Coconut Latitudes” won the 2015 Indie Book Award and the 2015 Independent Book Publishers’ Association Ben Franklin Gold Award for Memoir

You and We the People: Living to Make a Difference

Michael Larsen

Michael Larsen

Written by Michael Larsen

“One useless man is a disgrace, two are a law firm, and three or more are a Congress.”
                              ~John Adams in the musical, 1776

Although its problems and follies measure up to its potential, the United States is the world’s last and best hope for creating a just, sustainable future. How the signing of the Declaration of Independence came about will help you appreciate the discord and oppression out of which it was forged, its vision of America, and our role in keeping its ideals alive.

A revolution won is a revolution lost. When people think the fighting is done and just enjoy the fruits of victory, they begin to lose what the colonists fought for. The only successful revolution is one that never ends, one that keeps striving to keep its ideals alive, especially at a time of political impasse, accelerating change, and the growing urgency of our problems.

The planet has only one hyper-connected economy and only one family: the human family. Benjamin Franklin warned that if we don’t hang together, we’ll hang separately. Hatred is a luxury humanity can’t afford. As poet W. H. Auden urged, “We must love one another or die.”

The poet T.S. Eliot said that politics is too serious to be left to politicians. America can only work if we the people keep the vision of the Declaration of Independence alive by striving to fulfill its dream of a free, just, independent, thriving country, willing to reach the compromises needed to balance opposing beliefs.

That is one lesson from the funny, wonderful, relevant Tony-winning musical, 1776, Elizabeth and I watched on the fourth. TCM shows it, and it’s also available on demand. Even this Hollywood version of a Broadway play provides timeless lessons: how divided and ineffective Congress was; the huge odds against the Declaration being signed; how one vote made the difference; and how a compromise on slavery was essential to convince southern states to sign it.

If you speak, write, or work in the other arts, your passion and your gift for capturing the challenges we face and proposing solutions will make a difference. But whatever you do for a living, you can make a greater difference than you think.

How about writing and signing the declaration of independence from what is keeping you from becoming the best, most creative and productive person that only you can be? Free yourself from beliefs, people, and activities that don’t help you achieve your goals.

Liberating yourself is something to celebrate every day. Wherever you are in your life or your career, heed Anne Frank’s advice: “It’s never too late to start doing the right thing.”

Michael Larsen is a literary agent, author and co-founder of the San Francisco Writers Conference, early member and supporter of the SF Chapter of WNBA.

A longer version of this post appeared on the San Francisco Writers Conference website

 sf-writing-for-changeThe 7th San Francisco Writing for Change Conference / Writing to Make a Difference

September 12th, 2015

Keynote: Peter Wiley, Chairman of the Board, John Wiley & Sons

WNBA-SF Chapter is a proud sponsor and exhibitor of this conference.

The Book Club Cheerleader’s Top 10 Summer Reads 2015, Part 2

[Continued from the June 26, 2015 post]

Marsha Toy EngstromWritten by Marsha Toy Engstrom

Here are five more winners for your beach tote …

More Memories of New York 

5) Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion by Kristina McMorris et al (Berkley; July 2014.)

Imagine yourself on a polished wooden bench waiting for your train at New York City’s Grand Central Station in September of 1945. This is the premise with which ten talented authors began to write a short story. This illustrious group includes such perennial favorites as Melanie Benjamin, Jenna Blum, and Sarah McCoy. But just as each author’s story greatly differs from the others, they all have this magical sense of place that ties them loosely together—perhaps it’s the ceiling of stars which seem to shine over them all. These stories are so cleverly linked that the resulting collection pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the last page of the last story—perhaps my favorite—by Karen White

Vacation on the Water 

The Boys in the Boat4) The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown  (Viking; June, 2013.)

This richly researched narrative non-fiction is reminiscent of Laura Hillenbrand and David McCullough. The author focuses on the “boys” in the boat, as much as the 3-year lead up to the Olympics in Berlin, making  it read more like a human interest story, than a how-to on building a world-class team. It’s “just a book about rowing” in the same way that Seabiscuit is “just a horse book.” Run (it need not be at an Olympic pace)—don’t walk—to your nearest bookstore or library and learn why the ‘boys on the boat’ were all so special.

3) The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (Scribner; December, 2014.)

Compared to two of Ms. D’s previous best sellers, The Red Tent and Day After Night, this book reads much quieter on the surface—with an intense current running deep. An evocative immigrant story, Addie Baum shows herself to be practical and reliable, and yet develops into a continuous learner, risk-taker, and pioneer for women’s rights. The book is so understated that until I prepared for our library book club discussion, I’d forgotten we’d read about such heady topics as family angst, spousal abuse, suicide, suffragettes, women first entering both higher education and the work place, and the importance of female friendships. It’s a testament to the author’s skills that she can write with such a different tone, and yet create such a fascinating story.

2) Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson (Crown; March, 2015.)


Erik Larson wrote a compelling story of the sinking of the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland in 1915—just in time for the centennial anniversary of the doomed vessel’s demise. As has become his signature literary technique, Larson weaves together two stories: one of the captain and various passengers aboard the Lusitania, the other of the captain of the U-20—the German submarine who sunk her. I was surprised to find a conspiracy theory lurking underneath the story line—as menacing as the German U-boats. A great story of intrigue on the high seas!

Summer in the South 

while_we_were_watching_downton_abbey-192x3001) While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax (Berkley, April, 2013.)

I promised you a really “fun” read—and have saved it for last. For those of you who cannot wait until January for the final season of Downton Abbey, here’s a real treat. But first true confessions: I was expecting something light and fluffy when I picked up this book—but it turned out to be quite smart—and an enjoyable read. First I was struck by the similarities of women bonding over a TV show, and the relationships that are built by reading and discussing books together. (Anything related to book clubs is a winner for me…) The three main characters not only support one another through some trying times, but also grow individually. (Unlike, some of the characters on Downton Abbey…)

Hope you pick a few new books for your summer reading—and let us know what YOU’VE been recommending as beach blanket books!


WNBA SF Book Reviews

Marsha Toy Engstrom is the editor of


Featured Member Interview- Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Written by Catharine Bramkamp

WNBA member Julaina Kleist-Corwin is an active teacher and writer. In the last few years she has combined the two with the publication of the Las Positas College literary anthology: Julaina contributed to the last four anthologies and encourages her own students at the college to also submit their work.

 “Each year the college offers a one unit class focusing on the process of publishing. The literary anthology is the final product. Submissions include artwork, fiction, essays, and poetry and it is open to the public. This year, the anthology staff received 400 entries and the teaching staff selected 129. The anthology does not announce the theme until the unveiling. The collection launched in May 2015 is titled Impressions.

Anthology Winners“I encouraged my writing class members to participate so they could see their work in print. This year seven members in my class had their entries published. One of those seven was awarded first place.”

You coached your students to submit, and seven won a place in the collection.  How did you coach them?

 “My writing class through the City of Dublin continues through the year in eight-class series. I present new writing information in every class and give homework that includes what new techniques I have taught. During the last third of my class time every week, I encourage students to read their stories or essays for feedback from other members and me. Anyone, including me, who knows of calls for submissions and contests, share the sites and about a third of the members enter their work.”

She has a few hints on how to submit to a collection or anthology, although there is no magic method. “Since I have published an anthology, Written Across the Genres, with stories, essays, and poems written by writers, I know the main concern is for the writer to follow the guidelines. Word count should not be one word over what is stated for the maximum to be accepted. Check the format requirements: font size, double spaced, digital only or print, and check spelling, grammar, punctuation, plot and character arcs. Make the submission as flawless as possible.”

Julaina’s impression of Impressions:

“In LPC’s Impressions, the color artwork and photos equaled a third of the book while prose and poetry each had a third. I liked the color visuals although they made the anthology more expensive to print. Fortunately, the sponsors and other donations covered the extra cost this year.”

Her favorite piece in this year’s anthology, written by fellow CWC member (Tri-Valley Branch) Patricia Boyle is  “Pathfinder,” that won the Honorable Mention Prose. Set in the future, it centers on a man who attends his wife’s funeral, is manipulated by his rich mother-in-law, yet yearns to pursue his magic.

Julaina’s short story, “Waiting,” also won an Honorable Mention. Her story, written in the first person, is about a woman in San Francisco who misses her brother who lives in Connecticut. “They haven’t seen each other or had any contact since he was five and she was seven, due to their parents’ divorce. The father raised her brother and their mother raised her. Some years have passed, her mother dies, and the woman receives a surprise package and letter from her brother.”

Julaina explained how she is now able to devote her time to writing and teaching creative writing classes with such good success.

“After twenty-five years of teaching elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes, I gave up the five days a week routine and many hours of planning and correcting papers. Now, I am a part-time field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. My schedule is flexible so I have more time to write fiction and to teach creative writing classes for adults twice a week.

I have won seven awards in short story contests, and editors of several anthologies published my short stories and essays. You can find “Enough Time for Christmas” and “The Crumpled Card” in Harlequin’s 2012 and 2013 Christmas anthologies. “Fried Chicken Talks” is published in the 2013 California Writers Club Literary Review. The Las Positas College 2012 Anthology published “His Seeds” and the 2013 edition included my “Stepping Stones.” The 2014 edition published “George W. Did It.” I’ve had short stories accepted annually in the City of Oakland Anthologies since 2006.

Visit her blog:

The Book Club Cheerleader’s Top 10 Summer Reads 2015, Part 1

Marsha Toy EngstromWritten by Marsha Toy Engstrom

Who says beach reading has to be insubstantial and dumbed down? Sometimes you just wanna read what you wanna read—and that may include history, memoir, or historical fiction. This list of my current favorites is eclectic enough to include something for practically everyone. (And, yes, I am ADD, thank you…) My hope is that between these oldies but goodies, and those fresh-off-the-press, you’ll find something that might grab you at the moment. I don’t want to leave you stranded at the beach, lake, or backyard with nothing but a bodice-ripper—but I will include a really “fun” option, as well.

Adventures in France

10) Paris Lamb by Marcia Fine (L’ Image; April, 2015.)

A master of historical fiction, Marcia’s prior historical novels have taken her readers to World War 2 (WW2) and as far back as the Inquisition—so it seems odd for me to write that her newest “historical” work only takes us back to the 1980’s. While being whisked on an adventure from the New England to Paris, New York, Miami and Arles, we learn about the worlds of art, archeology, academia, auction houses, and Jewish and Christian history. Part historical fiction, part mystery, with a bit of a love story thrown in for good measure, this novel will so keenly create a sense of place—you’ll practically smell the lavender and crusty French bread of Provence.  

9) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press; February, 2015.)

For those of us who cannot get enough of WW2, you will not be able to put this one down. This is the story of two French sisters, Isabelle and Viann, responding to the war in two very different ways, who find themselves having to make harrowing decisions to fight for what they need, and protect those they love. It’s a tale of families, secrets, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. But most of all, it’s about love. Warning: you’ll have to risk taking your eReader to the beach or lug around a large tome as the paperback doesn’t release until 2016…

Race for Paris8) The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton (Harper; August, 2015.)

A compelling piece of historical fiction! We follow our well-rounded, yet AWOL protagonists Jane and Liv—patterned after (and with cameo appearance by) female journalist Martha Gellhorn and photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White—through war-torn Europe on their quest to be the first to report from a liberated Paris. A great summer adventure for the reader. But, warning: the action is so realistic, you may need to go for a swim to wash the foxhole dirt out of your hair!

Memories of New York

7) The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt (guess by whom?) (Da Capo Press; 1992; originally published in 1960.)

Arguable one of the most fascinating women of the 20th century, Eleanor was not only the niece of one president and wife of another, she was also a leading force in humanitarian efforts world-wide—and a leader way ahead of her time. If you enjoyed the recent Ken Burns series, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, you will want to read how Eleanor, a shy quiet mother of six, became a lion fighting for the underdog (women’s rights, civil rights, human rights) and the author of 36 works. An inspirational memoir by a remarkable woman!

6) Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Random House, June, 2009)

OK—here’s another oldie, but goodie—and the winner of numerous prizes including the National Book Award. The author skillfully ties together disparate characters and themes including Vietnam, art, the Catholic Church, hookers, law, technology and tightrope-walking. (Of course, we knew they were all related, right?) The author packed the action with rich characters, and makes us feel what they feel: hope and despair, love and fear, beauty and gritty ugliness—and in the end, we grow to acknowledge that we are all humans sharing the same planet. A literary treat not to be missed!

In two weeks we’ll continue with five more summer reading treats. Until then, sip a nice sweaty glass of iced chai and enjoy the summer sunshine!

Marsha Toy Engstrom is the editor of

WNBA in New Orleans: National Board Meeting and Award Ceremony

Written by Kate Farrell


Each year in June, the WNBA National Board meets for three days in one of our chapter cities: officers from all eleven chapters and the WNBA Executive Board report on their year-long activities and plan for the year to come. This year we were delighted to include the WNBA Award Ceremony as part of the annual meeting.

Being hosted by the New Orleans Chapter was, indeed, a treat! Our hotel was within walking distance of the French Quarter and conveniently provided meals in the atrium as we diligently focused on the work at hand: preparing for the 100th Anniversary of WNBA in 2017. Our group of dynamic leaders in the book world across the US discussed past successes, our history, and how to return to the original mission of our organization.

Woman suffrage-1917100th Anniversary Opportunities: As the anniversary year draws near, we were reminded how women continue to be underrepresented in the literary arts. While much has been accomplished in the last century for women’s role, the high-level executive positions, the most sought after awards, the number of books published and reviewed are still dominated by men.

It was a good time to reflect on our corporate narrative, our origins, and we did so as a group, retelling our centennial story.

Our story in brief: In the fall of 1917, a group of 15 women booksellers, excluded from membership in the all-male Bookseller’s League, met in Sherwood’s Book Store, 19 John Street, in downtown New York to form the Women’s National Book Association. Its unique characteristic was that membership was open to women in all facets of the book world—publishers, booksellers, librarians, authors, illustrators, agents, production people—the only criterion being that part of their income must come from books

Plans to publish a journal or book with archival material and other research are in the works.

Mission: We worked on talking points and a tighter definition of the WNBA mission. During the meeting, we drafted a statement: WNBA exists to promote literacy and to support the role of women in the world of the book. The purposes of WNBA are both educational and charitable. Over the next year, committees will continue to develop concise statements, tag lines, a new logo, and a way to clearly communicate our mission across all platforms.

Amy King-NC Weil

Amy King & NC Weil

Closely aligned to our mission statement was the choice of the recipient of the 2015 WNBA Award. This award is given to a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books and has done meritorious work in the world of books. It has been presented annually since 1940 and biennially since 1976. The 54th WNBA Award was given to Amy King, award-winning poet, literary activist, and co-founder of VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, for being a voice for women. We enjoyed giving the award in New Orleans at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum to a full house with press coverage. Amy King inspired us with her acceptance speech, advocating for the hidden voices of women. 


Susan Larson

Thank you to WNBA New Orleans Chapter! None of our intense deliberations would have been possible without the exquisite planning of the New Orleans Chapter members and officers. We were met at the airport, ferried around town to a variety of restaurants and receptions, and given the gracious hospitality that the South is famous for. At the very last part of the meeting with minutes left, the New Orleans Chapter President, Susan Larson, won the trivia contest, our daily ice breaker, and wore the stellar tiara she so deserved!

Next June, the National Board meets in San Francisco. We invite you all to join us in planning the event, June 2016. We’ll need all members to help make it a success! Thank you for your membership and support, as always.

Kate Farrell, SF Chapter President

The Bay Area Book Festival: Literary Feat and Fun!

 Written by Margie Yee Webb

I love book festivals! Small or large, they are always fun with many authors to meet and colleagues to connect with. The free inaugural Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) held on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, 2015 in Downtown Berkeley’s Arts District was mega-large and mega-fun! There were books galore for purchase and for free.

The literary feat founded by Cherilyn Parsons, Executive Director, BABF Leadership Team, is “an entirely grassroots endeavor, driven by hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours and energized by the commitments of key partners, such as UC Berkeley, the City of Berkeley, The San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, Berkeleyside Uncharted, independent bookstores, publishers, and generous individual donors, foundations and corporations willing to invest in the dream of a new, free, world-class, weekend literary festival for Northern California.”

Bay Area Book Festival WNBA

The indoor/outdoor festival featured over 300 authors—international, national and local—with keynotes, interviews and panels. Featured authors and speakers included Peter Coyote, Maxine Hong Kingston, Riikka Pulkkinen, Matthieu Ricard, Christian Robinson, Mac Barnett, Lauren Oliver, Dan Santat, Carmen Boullosa, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, and Thierry Maugenest. Over 100 author sessions were at various indoor venues, including the East Bay Media Center and San Francisco Chronicle Stage at Freight & Salvage. Author presentations and performances were at the outdoor Children’s Stage and Teen Stage, too.

Teens on the stage

Numerous exhibitors filled the Children’s Area, Eco Alley, Literary Lane, Maker’s Lane, Mind & Body Boulevard, Radical Row, Teen Street, and Writer’s Row. Exhibitors included the San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC), Friends of the Berkeley Public Library, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Read-Aloud Volunteer Program, Half-Price Books Summer Reading Program, East Bay Children’s Book Project, Berkeley Historical Society, City Lights Bookstore and Publishers, Green Apple Books, C-Span/Book TV, and authors. 

One of the festival highlights was the Lacuna, a monumental and participatory art installation project, a library temple built with 50,000 books donated by the Internet Archive. The project is the work of the FLUX Foundation and visitors were invited to take books at no cost from the Lacuna.

_Lacuna_by_FLUX Foundation_for_Bay_Area_Book_Festival_2015_photo_by_Margie_Yee_Webb

As a member of both the Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter (WNBA-SF) and California Writers Club (CWC), I was pleased to see members of both groups participating in the festival.

WNBA-SF members and authors involved included Brooke Warner, BABF panel moderator and Program Adviser, BABF Leadership Team; Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents, co-directors of the San Francisco Writers Conference and Michael is on the BABF Literary Council; Barbara Santos, SFWC Marketing Director; Jane Glendinning, SFWC Onsite Volunteer Coordinator; Teresa LeYung-Ryan, SFWC presenter; and Margie Yee Webb, SFWC volunteer. 

Jane Glendinning (CWC Berkeley Branch Secretary) and Teresa LeYung-Ryan (past CWC SF Peninsula Branch President) are also CWC members and I am currently CWC Vice President and CWC Sacramento Branch President. I ran into CWC authors who participated, including John Byrne Barry in Writer’s Row at the SFWC booth, Sharon Svitak in Writer’s Row; Deborah Jordan Bernal (CWC Tri-Valley Branch President and SFWC Volunteer) and Shelley Lee Riley in Literary Lane, Elizabeth Wagele in the Mind & Body Boulevard, and Linda Champion in the Children’s Area.

At the SFWC booth, several of us took shifts to hand out flyers to promote the SFWC on February 11-14, 2016, and San Francisco Writing for Change Conference on September 12, 2015. Michael and Barbara greeted visitors on Saturday, Jane helped both days, and John and I helped on Sunday.

Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo, SFWC presenter and BABF panel member, took a moment to stop by the SFWC booth.

Also, I connected with Allison Branscombe at Eastwind Books of Berkeley in the Mind & Body Boulevard, an author I met at the April 2015 Sacramento Public Library’s Local Author Book Festival.

The BABF had a First Edition Club where individuals and organizations were invited to join through donations to support the festival. Literary Muse donors include Brooke Warner, Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen, Teresa LeYung-Ryan, Margie Yee Webb and California Writers Club.

I captured the literary fun through photos. Thanks to Teresa for tagging those photos and creating an album on Facebook. You can view Teresa LeYung-Ryan’s photo album on Facebook for a virtual journey.

Cheers for another successful Bay Area Book Festival next year!

Author/Photographer, Cat Mulan’s Mindful Musings: Insight and Inspiration for a Wonderful Life

Do you know your WNBA membership benefits?

Interview with Joan Gelfand

Written by Catharine Bramkamp

JoanGelfand-photo Joan Gelfand is WBNA Development Chair as well as a member of the National Book Critics Circle. A blogger for the Huffington Post, she is also the author of three poetry collections and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction. Her poetry movie, “The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics,” will be released this fall. In addition, Joan coaches writers.

Joan is obviously engaged in many aspects of the writing community: blogger, poet, movie producer, and writing coach. Over her many years as member of WNBA, she has served as president of the SF Chapter and on the national board. She is currently chair of the annual writing competition and chapter development.

Since the annual membership period — the time to join or renew — begins June 1st, Joan would like to share some of the benefits of membership in WNBA, based on her personal experience.

Did you know what WNBA can do for you – as a writer, editor, or publishing professional?

– Find colleagues and friends

I had been hard at work on a novel for a couple of years but I didn’t know any other writers. I met a friend, another writer, who told me about WNBA. I was so happy to find colleagues and friends.

– Take advantage of the author or business Promotional Package

For $30/year a published author or publishing professional member can have two book covers or logos on the WNBA/National home page and link to their business blog and website.

Better Twitter reach

If you use @WNBA_National your tweets will often be favorited or re-tweeted.

– Publish in Bookwoman

As WNBA member, you are eligible to submit an article for consideration in the Bookwoman – the national newsletter that goes to all 11 chapters and every member. And you can list your recent news in Member News.

Contact the SF Chapter Bookwoman Correspondent, Martha Conway:

– Meet publishing professionals face to face

I found my first publisher in WNBA. I had self-published my first poetry collection, “Seeking Center.” Then two members who have both gone on to significant fame – Linda Joy Myers and Christopher Gortner – started a press. They invited me to re-publish my poetry collection with their press. That first book really got my career off the ground.

The best way to start meeting people is to dive in. Link your blog or website to the SF chapter, and fill out a member profile to appear on our Meet Our Members page. Attend as many in person meetings and events as possible to get to know people. Then there’s a good chance that you will make some really great connections.

– Resume builder

Having WNBA on your resume is a plus, as it has helped many women move their careers forward. I was invited to be a Huffington Post blogger because of WNBA.

– Go Big

My favorite benefit of WNBA is the way that members help one another. If you need a publicist, or help setting up a reading in another city or even in SF (where Bookshop West Portal is our sponsoring bookstore), someone is there to help.

For me, one of the salient features of WNBA has been its national network. Since the years I was president of WNBA/SF, I have served on the national board. At the national board meetings, you meet chapter presidents from all over the country and that is really fantastic. One president runs an NPR show on books, one runs a writer’s conference. So there are increased ways to network if you get the chance to serve nationally.

This coming year, June 2016, the national board will meet in San Francisco. WNBA/SF plans an event to include all chapter members as a start to the WNBA 100th Anniversary celebrations in 2017.

Are You Taking Full Advantage?

Did you know all of the above?  There are so many ways to participate in WNBA/SF. We welcome you to try. Come to our in-person mixers and events this coming year.

You can join or renew now by going to this page. There is no application requirement to join. Become a member or renew your membership to enjoy the benefits for the whole year.

Introducing the New Web Editor, Simona Carini

 Simona CariniWritten by Simona Carini

Allow me to introduce myself, your new Web Editor.

As editor of the WNBA blog, I will be in charge of receiving posts contributed by WBNA members and preparing them for publication. Announcements, the popular Featured Member Interview and book reviews will continue to be published. I will contact some of you to solicit articles and book reviews. If you have any suggestions, proposals or requests for blog posts, please do not hesitate to let me know by emailing me at:

I am honored and excited to play my role in the online WBNA community: the blog is one way for all of us to connect, get to know each other and share our knowledge and passion. Here are a few notes about myself. I was born and grew up in Perugia, a city in central Italy. Not far from the apartment building where I lived with my family there was a bindery. For a book lover like me, it was a kind of temple, a magic place where the objects of my desire came to life. I decided that one day I would learn to bind books. Years later, while studying computer science at Mills College, in Oakland, I was able to implement that decision by taking Book Arts classes there.

“She devours books” was the way in which, since I was a child, adults described my relationship with books. Regular bedtime for my brother and me was at 8:30 p.m., but I did not go to sleep that early: I read under cover, literally. When the situation was right, I made a tent with my blankets and read underneath it using a small lamp. Concealment was necessary to avoid detection, which would have occurred had my mother seen the light under my bedroom door. Reading after dinner was my first act of rebellion.

My bedtime habits have not changed — though I don’t need to hide myself anymore. Reading at the end of the day is an island of time all for myself, a place to which I retreat no matter how late it is. More recently, this longtime reader has become a writer, of memoir and of food stories. I have also been an active food blogger for several years. My website has links to the various branches of my creative output.

I look forward to hearing from all of you and working with many of you in the coming weeks.

Simona Carini