Spring 2014 Newsletter

Reaching for the Moon!
Join us at Oakland’s Rockridge Library to plan the 2014-15 program. 
All members welcome!

Saturday, May 3, 2014, 3:00 — 5:00 pm

Julia Park Tracey

Julia Park Tracey

Enjoy a short reading by WNBA member Julia Park Tracey who recently swept the Great Northwestern Book Festival with her book, Reaching for the Moon: More Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1927-1929)

RFTM Cover for internetThis book is the second volume in a series of diaries that Julia is curating to publication. Julia inherited the life’s work of her great aunt, Doris Bailey Murphy, and discovered diaries from 1925-1948; Doris has her own Twitter and Facebook feeds, and two volumes of hilarious, sassy diaries that evoke the spirit and manners of the Roaring Twenties. Julia is currently transcribing diaries from the early 1930s, describing Doris’s adventures in the early Great Depression, as a young woman trying to find a job in a man’s world. www.juliaparktracey.com

Rockridge Library

Rockridge Library

Rockridge Branch Library
5366 College Avenue

Oakland, CA  94618
(510) 597-5017

  • Enjoy a performance reading by Julia Park Tracey
  • Buy signed copies of Reaching for the Moon
  • Share ideas for the WNBA 2014-15 program
  • Discuss how WNBA-SF Chapter can best serve its community
  • Bring copies of your own books for display and cards for networking
  • Enjoy networking and a few tasty snacks (no wine)

Rockridge Library is close to BART and along bus lines. Metered parking in the library lot and on College Ave. Non-metered parking uphill from the library. No need to RSVP. Come and bring a guest.



Dear San Francisco Chapter WNBA Members,

Enjoy the spring season with us!

We would love your creative suggestions to plan our next year’s program year! Join us for a mixer and annual planning meeting on May 3rd, then, celebrate our founder at the Effie Lee Morris Lecture on June 3rd.

I’ve been delighted with the wonderful volunteer support in making so much of what we did last year a rousing success: Member Mixers, National Reading Group Month events in October, contributions to the San Francisco Writing Conference in February, and the hard work in moving Pitch-O-Rama to the Women’s Building for a sell out crowd.

This coming year will be even better—with your input and help. Hope to see you at the Rockridge Library in Oakland, May 3rd. Free, no RSVP needed.

  • ANNUAL PLANNING MEETING /MIXER: Saturday, May 3, 2014, 3:00 – 5:00 pm, 5366 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618. Enjoy a short reading by WNBA member Julia Park Tracey who recently swept the Great Northwestern Book Festival with her book, Reaching for the Moon: More Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1927-1929)!
  • 18th ANNUAL EFFIE LEE MORRIS LECTURE: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, San Francisco Main Library. Reception, 5 – 6 pm in the Children’s Center, 2nd Floor, Lecture, 6 – 8 pm in the Koret Auditorium, Lower Level Free and open to the public! Guest Lecturer: Yuyi Morales

As you read articles in the newsletter, click the link to READ MORE… That will take you to our website with more on the wonderful articles by B. Lynn Goodwin and Katy Pye and the interview by Catharine Bramkamp.

Our chapter website has become an exciting resource this year, with monthly member interviews, newsy articles about books and publishing, and an updated member directory. Visit it often for upcoming events and more!

Kate Farrell, President 
& WNBA-SF Chapter Board

Tuesday, June 3, 2014  
San Francisco Main Library, Civic Center
Reception, 5 – 6 pm in the Children’s Center, 2nd Floor
Lecture, 6 – 8 pm in the Koret Auditorium, Lower Level

Guest Lecturer: Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales

Yuyi Morales

Join the Fisher Children’s Center, the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and the Women’s National Book Association/San Francisco Chapter as we present special guest lecturer, Yuyi Morales, who will deliver the 18th annual Effie Lee Morris Lecture in Children’s Literature, “Creating Children’s Books: An Immigrant’s Story.”


Author/illustrator Yuyi Morales has drawn on her Mexican-American heritage to create a wide variety of picture books. The winner of a 2014 Pura Belpré Award for Niño Wrestles the World,she divides her time between Mexico and California.

Each year, the Effie Lee Morris Lecture features a distinguished guest author or illustrator of children’s books discussing his or her work for the enjoyment of teachers, librarians, scholars, and the book-loving public. The event honors the work of the late Effie Lee Morris, SFPL’s first coordinator of children’s services and a founder of the SF Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.

Morales books

For more information, call 415-557-4277 or 415-557-4554.

*Funded by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Picture 1A Review of WNBA’s
by B. Lynn Goodwin

Asking experts to read my work is scary. What if an agent laughs and says, “Why don’t you take a creative writing class?” That scenario did not happen when I went to the WNBA Pitch-O-Rama on March 29th.  Instead I talked to three YA agents and they all asked me to send them sample pages.

Twenty-four hours before the event started, I discovered that my one-sentence elevator pitch wouldn’t be enough. My pitch, “Fifteen-and-a-half-year-old Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her driver’s license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, Brian, who has been missing in Afghanistan for the last seven months,” runs about 20 seconds. The last phrase captures people’s attention. I’ve written, rewritten, edited, and honed my manuscript, and I’m still finalizing it, but the Pitch-O-Rama seemed like a reasonably priced way to get some face-to-face feedback from agents and push myself forward, if only I could get the pitch right.

On Friday I rewrote and practiced my newly-expanded pitch. I pretended I was an agent hearing it. On Saturday at the event, we did a pitch practice, which bolstered my confidence. I felt ready to talk to the three agents who expressed an interest in YA, but when we got into the pitch room on the second floor of the Women’s Building in San Francisco, the deafening noise and long lines made me consider bailing.

If not now, when? I asked myself. You don’t lose until you quit trying. Even so, I kept wishing we all knew sign language.

The first agent shook his head when I started my pitch. He asked some questions instead and when the gong rang to end the session he said, “Why don’t you send me your query and the first 10 pages. I don’t know whether I’m going to like it or not.”

That seemed reasonable to me, and I thanked him.

The next agent had an incredibly long line in front of her because she’d told us what everyone in her agency needed. I started my pitch and in the first three minutes, she gave me the name of the agent who would be the best match, wrote her name on a business card, and we chatted about other writing issues. She gave me hope.

I wasn’t able to speak with the last agent until the end of the day. She listened, smiled, nodded, and asked for my query, a one-page synopsis, and my first fifty pages. I told her my synopsis was two pages, double-spaced, and she said that was fine. I loved her flexibility and eagerness. If I’d been listening to pitches all day, I’d be exhausted, but she’s 27. I have stepchildren older than she is.

Read more…


Featured Members Interview

Diane LeBow and Shelley Buck
Travel Writing Members

Interview by Catharine Bramkamp

Diane LeBow

Diane LeBow

Summer is travel season and to celebrate we asked two of our travel writing members, Diane LeBow who travels in and writes about Afghanistan, and Shelley Buck, author of East: A Woman on the Road to Kathmandu, 2013, to discuss the joys and adventures of travel writing.

Shelley Buck

Shelley Buck 

Both authors caught the travel bug early from influential aunts. Diane’s mother read the Odyssey to her when she was small, which helped, but it was Diane’s Aunt Beatrice who owned a show exporting business and regaled with tales of Europe, South America and beyond. She instilled Diane with a burning desire to see and experience everything the world had to offer. Shelly, too, was fortunate to have a fabulous aunt who traveled; hers enlisted in the WACs during WWII and sent her stories and gifts, such as a doll from France while Shelley was growing up in Virginia. Both authors wanted to see the world since they were very small. And now they do!

So many writers think and dream of being “travel writers” as opposed to writers who travel. And while both Shelly and Diane acknowledged that a career as a travel writer is possible, it’s difficult. Shelly commented, “I don’t think anybody sits around thinking, ‘Hmm. I think I’ll become a travel writer so I can get rich!’ People can make a go of it, but the professionals who live exclusively by writing travel pieces have to be very productive, very hard workers, and extraordinarily good at what they do. Many travel blogs carry paid ads that also help feed their authors. Also, young people get certified to teach English abroad or otherwise patch together gigs that supplement their writing income.”

Diane agreed.  “There are levels of travel publications from the high end, like National Geographic and Travel and Leisure, to mid level, like small local publications, to unpaid or barely paying print and web publications. I’ve enjoyed publishing my literary narrative stories with anthologies like Traveler’s Tales publications, but normally anthologies pay only an honorarium. I was a tenured college professor for over 30 years and traveled during vacations until my retirement from teaching. Some travel writers have spouses who have gainful employment!” 

One caution Diane expressed is the fantasy of exchanging a luxury trip for a few complimentary articles. “One tricky aspect (of accepting a free trip) is that some of the top publications, like the NY Times, won’t accept an article if it’s the result of a sponsored trip. But the craziness is that you might spend $5000 on a trip and receive a few hundred dollars for your article.”  She recommends looking at a paid travel another way, “Even if your pay for the article is minimal, still you’ve had a great trip.”

Like everything in publishing, the requirements and trends in travel writing has changed.

Diane shared the different categories of travel writing:

1) Destination or Service piece, as well as guidebook writing, gives information on travel tips, accommodations, sites, transportation, etc.

2) First person narrative or literary travel focuses more on style and literary quality as well as a unique perspective, most often an epiphany or unexpected discovery.

Read more… 


Katy Pye

Katy Pye

Women Writing the Environment into Fiction

Blog Post by Katy Pye

The signs are clear: we’ve backed the planet into a corner. Climate change impacts are real, and the 350 (ppm CO2) line is a fading marker in our exhaust dust. Scores of practical and ethical questions lack easy answers. Our responses to bad news range from fearful paralysis to full denial. Science and scientists are often targets in the middle. As Dellarobia, in Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, tells Ovid, the butterfly scientist, “You guys aren’t popular. Maybe your medicine is too bitter.” Sometimes a reality pill is swallowed easier with a glass of fiction than a barrel of factual reports and sound bites.

I recently finished Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior and Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder waits on my bedside table. Women writing about the natural world isn’t new, but these current works dig deeper, illuminating more directly our relationships—and our ethics—toward the planet and each other. Dystopian, sci-fi, and fantasy genres migrate to end-of-the-world scenarios or recreate our dilemmas in alien worlds. Romance novels pitch us into the bedroom where the conflicts and solutions are oh-so-familiar. They allow us intimate escape from life above the sheets. Yet, all turn first on personal emotions and choices.

A biologist, Kingsolver says her novels embrace three core themes: diversity, community, and hope. The first two are reflected in all species. Purely human, hope is a “mode of survival” and a “mode of resistance,” primarily through action. Clearly, a yet-undefined critical mass of diverse humanity must change flight behavior to a fight for change, if we are to remake our future. As the saying goes, “We may have come here on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

In Gilbert’s Signature of All Things, Alma studies a community of mosses (and her family and friends) to discover what Darwin concluded. Adaptation is a critical coping mechanism to the inevitable battle for finite resources among and between too many species. Over eons, species losses have been high, but so have replacements. Given the potential cost to us, Alma wonders, why are human beings the only fully altruistic species? What motivates our acting to benefit another when there may be clear costs to our immediate family, even our kind? I have to wonder if and how this trait will change, now that our global house is threatened by the torch.

An early reader kindly said my novel, Elizabeth’s Landing, reminded her of Flight Behavior. Now I see why. Community, family, and hope anchor both books. Written on a smaller scale than Kingsolver’s, like hers I intended to give readers a realistic view of an environmental crisis, its impacts, and complexity in finding solutions. Elizabeth acts first and always from her heart, but like Dellarobia, not alone.

Women have always written about women and the societal problems of their era. The reach of climate change has redefined community. Last September, world leaders Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Vandana Shiva, and 93 others gathered at the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit to “further a women’s climate agenda.” Delegates included “grassroots activists, economists, scientists, businesswomen, Indigenous leaders, policy-makers, faith leaders, and culture shapers.” Notably absent were the story-tellers like Kingsolver, Gilbert, and Patchett, writers who hold up the mirrors to all we are and can be.

Reasons to tell and read stories about women and the environment:

According to U.N. studies and WECAN (Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network) “Why Women are Key”.





WNBA 2013-2015 BOARD

President: Kate Farrell

Vice President: Elena Martina

Treasurer: Sherry Nadworny

Secretary: Frances Caballo

Membership Chair: Jane Glendinning

Blog Managing Editor: Frances Caballo

Featured Member Interview Editor: Catharine Bramkamp

Social Media Manager: Frances Caballo

Past President & Webmaster: Linda Lee


Annual Membership 2014-2015

The membership period runs from June 1st – May 31st.

If you join in April or May, you will receive those two months as BONUS months.

Your membership dues pay for our FREE public events, for MEMBERS’ Mixers, for our Literacy Initiatives, SFWC and SFPL sponsorships.

 The WNBA SF Chapter Directory is now upgraded. We hope to see your name and expertise listed there!