Winter 2017 Newsletter


Women's National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter Newsletter

upcoming events and news wnba-sf chapter

Chapter President

Holiday Party 2017

WNBA-SF Holiday Mixer
100 Years of Wonderful Women, Good Books & Great Wine!

Wine Down SF, 2017 Holiday partySunday, December 10th,
4 – 6 pm 

Wine Down SF  Free event!
685 Folsom St. at 2nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Wine Down has a small, but tasty menu of cheese, prosciutto, empanadas, and more–as well as a wide variety of varietals. No host bar for drinks and snacks.

We will gather at Wine Down SF, a women-owned bar for wine, conversation, and special Bay Area craft beer and refreshments. As our centennial year comes to a close, we celebrate 100 years of women in the world of books.

Come dressed as your favorite suffragette or great women writer–or come as you are. Women won the right to vote in 1920, so the cry in 1917 was, “Votes for Women.” Amazingly, 2017 saw more activism from women voters than even before.

This is a MIXER, so please bring a friend or a literary posse to join the fun. This is the perfect event to bring your friends who may be interested in joining or a friend or family member who just wants to join in the bookish fun.

Holiday book exchange: Bring your favorite book of 2017 wrapped or unwrapped. We will have a grab bag for all those who want to participate. What books inspired you? What books changed your life, made you think, or helped you to smile in a difficult year?

Holiday Donation: Bring a bag of books to donate to theSonoma County Free Bookmobile that delivers books to underserved children and families throughout Sonoma County, needed now more than ever after the wildfires. Books should be new or gently used, for all ages, newborn to seniors. #SonomaStrong!!

Please join us in celebrating all of our chapter and members literary accomplishments of 2017!

Join in thinking about our future work and events as a chapter: What would you like to see more of ? What kind of events would you like to attend? Do you want to join or volunteer?

We will have a “show and tell session”: Please come prepared to share your literary accomplishments of 2017 and/or cheer your friends if you had a quiet year.

To read more and to RSVP, click HERE!

Dear WNBA-SF Friends,

This year is speeding to a close and we hope your holiday plans are filled with peace and joy with a few sugarplums in the mix. We would love to see you at our upcoming mixer at woman-owned WINE DOWN in San Francisco on December 10th at 685 Folsom Street at Second from 4 to 6 PM. As you may have seen from our website, it is also an opportunity to donate to the North Bay’s Free Bookmobile and help families and children who lost so much in the fires.

We hope to catch up and network, make new friends, share good cheer and have some good conversations at this festive event, the last of our WNBA Centennial Year. As always, we want to hear (and share!) your news and proudly tweet about your projects, events and book publishing announcements.

Our Women’s National Book Association Centennial Year has been one for the record books for the WNBA on a national level, across the country and also here in the Bay Area with our local chapter. We had a record number of events here with internationally-known authors such as Maxine Hong Kingston, two WNBA-SF affiliated panels at the San Francisco Writing Conference, the SFPL Effie Lee Morris Annual Lecture, a memorable Litquake kickoff with our fantastic National Reading Group Month panel at Books Inc Opera Plaza, an evening of Literary Sisterhood in San Francisco, and our celebratory Showcase at the Book Passage in Corte Madera, featuring 14 member authors! This truly has been a year to remember and it is all thanks to you, the WNBA-SF, a literary sisterhood comprised of talented individuals coming together to do the good work of advocacy for women in the world of books

The New Year of 2018 is already looking lively with our sponsorship of and booth at the San Francisco Writers Conference at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, from February 15 -18. We will be back at the Women’s Building in San Francisco’s Mission District on March 31, 2018 for one of the highlights of the literary year: Pitch-O-Rama! We will have more fiction agents than ever before and have a fantastic lineup of publishers, agents and editors ready to take your pitches as well as marketing experts and author coaches who can help you take you from concept to publication. We keep hearing reports of Pitch-O-Rama 2017 attendees who found their ideal publishing partners there including one who just was approached to do a Ted Talk! WNBA-SF’s POR is a truly one-of-a-kind experience as well as one of the ways the WNBA-SF Chapter in an important part of the writing community in the SF Bay Area.

As you may know, 2018 is a landmark year: it is the 50th Anniversary of the founding of our chapter by the amazing Effie Lee Morris. We are cooking up events to celebrate and honor her legacy and would love to hear your ideas! One special event will be at the San Francisco Public Library on March 7, 2018 featuring “Friends of Effie,” along with WNBA-Award winning books and an historical overview of the WNBA.

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, let me offer you thanks for your support of the WNBA-SF Chapter. Woman by woman and book by book, we are making an important contribution to the culture and community of the greater Bay Area. In this day and age, women voices are coming to the fore, clear and strong. Thank you for joining our chorus.

May your holidays be filled with bright blessing and good books!
Brenda Knight, President

upcoming events and news wnba-sf chapter

Other News

Pitch-O-Rama 2018

Women’s Building

Saturday, March 31, 2018
8:00 am – 12:30 pm 

Women’s Building Auditorium,
in the heart of the Mission 
3543 18th Street 
(between Guerrero & Valencia)
San Francisco CA 94110 
Includes a continental breakfast and pre-pitch coaching.

$65 WNBA members,  $75 Non-members, Men Welcome!
Limited to the first 60 ticketed attendees.

Pitch-O-Rama delivers the 4 Ps that lead to publication.

POLISH. You’ve polished your manuscript. Now polish your pitch with our pre-pitch coaches.

PITCH. We’ve assembled top agents, editors, and publishers to hear your pitch in all genres.

PROMOTE. Power up with social media secrets.

PARTICIPATE. From Page to Screen: Turn your book into a movie from an author who did it.


8 to 9 am: Continental Breakfast

8 to 9: Pre-Pitch Practice Sessions 

9 to 11:45: Pitch to Agents & Editors (2 one-hour sessions)

12 to 12:30 pm: From Page to Screen Panel

ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED — pay by credit card (via PayPal). Registration open until full. Limited to the first 60 ticketed attendees. 

Fill in the online registration form HERE!

WNBA Writing Contest 2018

WNBA logo for contest postWNBA 2018 Annual Writing Contest

Now accepting submissions through March 1, 2018

Fiction | Creative Non-fiction/ Memoir | Poetry | YA Fiction

$250 cash prizes for the winner in each category and publication inThe Bookwoman.

Categories and Judges


Carol Smallwood will judge the poetry submissions. One of Carol Smallwood’s over five dozen anthologies, Women on Poetry: Tips on writing, revising, publishing and teaching, is on Poets & Writers Magazine’s List of Best Books for writers. Her latest is Library Outreach to Writers and Poets: Interviews and case studies of cooperation (McFarland, 2017). 


Regina Marler will judge the fiction submissions. After editing Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell, Ms. Marler wrote Bloomsbury Pie: The Making of the Bloomsbury Boom, and edited Queer Beats: How the Beats Turned America on to Sex, and forthcoming: Oxford Guide to Virginia Woolf.


Katie Hafner will judge the nonfiction submissions. She has been writing for The New York Times since 1991. Her most recent book Mother Daughter Me, a memoir about multigenerational living, was published in 2013 by Random House.

YA Fiction

Tanya Egan Gibson will judge the Young Adult fiction submissions. Her debut novel, How to Buy A Love of Reading, was published by Dutton in May 2009. 

For contest requirements, fees, and submission information, please go to:

Flyer with all the information: WNBA contest flyer

Featured Member Interview

BOOKTALK! The Buzz in the World of Books

Featured Member Interview – Janis Couvreux

Interview by Nina Lesowitz

Janis Couvreux, member interviewJanis Couvreux describes her path to becoming an author:

“Originally I went to France to learn French so I could practice journalism through that language, but on my way to my profession I married a Frenchman, became involved in public relations work for Bordeaux wines, and wrote freelance articles on wine and travel.

“Later, while sailing and living on our boat, I had various stints as a freelance journalist, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), and eventually was a full time journalist for local Sonoma County publications for a number of years after we settled here. When desktop publishing and the Internet became the norm, I got more involved in editing, copy writing, and page layout designs for newsletters, catalogs, composing website copy for clients, brochures, press releases, business resumés, etc.

Last year I submitted one of my original vignettes (that is now part of a chapter in my book) to the San Francisco Writers Conference 2017 competition and won the first place Adult Nonfiction category. I had completely forgotten that I had submitted to the competition and had no idea I won until I received a notice and check in the mail.

“For years my husband urged me to write our story, but before I could write it, it had to age, be digested. Some of the events and misadventures were still too fresh and raw for me to face for many years. As my grandchildren began to arrive upon the scene, I knew I had to record this for them so they could better understand their fathers’ characters (our two sons), and the non-traditional life paths that they followed.

“I found it too daunting to begin at the beginning, so I was more amused by writing vignettes, individual stand-alone stories, one at a time in no particular order, of the many events and experiences we lived. I posted them on my website as entries under my Blog From the Past. Once I had written about 40 of them, I realized that I had just about covered the story, more or less.

My debut book, Sail Cowabunga! A Family’s Ten Years at Sea (Filles Vertes Publishing) is our story of wanting to travel as a family, to be with our two boys as much as possible in their formative years, of our thirst to discover countries and cultures, all intertwined with our passion of being bicultural and bilingual French and American. Our story recounts our initial first two years of life onboard, our “shakedown” period, as we learned how to live on our boat, in a confined space, and change our “land-life” habits to “off-the-grid” routines. 

To read more click HERE!

National Reading Group Month 2017 Highlights

Full House for Engaging Five-Author Panel 

panel at National Reading Group Month – 2017








Written by Nina Lesowitz

A lively discussion among five authors of varying genres explored the creative spark that led them to write each one of their new books. It was held during the kick-off weekend of the 2017 Litquake Festival, as WNBA-SF continued the popular National Reading Group Month event for the fifth consecutive year at Books Inc. Opera Plaza with Litquake as its co-presenter, October 7th.

The theme of this year’s author panel, “Discovery and Redemption: Authors Discuss their Sources,” revealed the very personal experiences that became the genesis for each novel, short story, or memoir. Our moderator Anita Amirrezvani’s questions prompted a raw discussion with authors, Alice Anderson, Donia Bijan, Sylvia Brownrigg, Martha Conway, and Achy Obejas, centering on their process of discovery.

Donia Bijan, the author of The Last Days of Café Leila, spoke about how she was inspired by the rich tapestry of her childhood in Iran but didn’t want to write “an immigrant story.” She focused on how to make people care about the creatures, food, fauna of her native land. She accepted that as an immigrant author she had a unique vantage point, and considers herself a “double agent” who sends “cross-cultural dispatches” now that she has spent three decades in the United States.

Alice Anderson, whose memoir, Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away, focuses on universal truths about relationships while detailing a grueling divorce in post-Katrina Mississippi, said she hates the question, “Was this a process of discovery of self?” For her, the book needed to be a “discovery of the universal through the self.” She didn’t want her memoir to be inwardly focused, but wanted it to uncover deeply true, emotional truths.

Sylvia Brownrigg spoke about her process of allowing characters to express themselves, and that her novel Pages for Her is not autobiographical: She has to constantly remind people that it is a work of fiction. This novel is a sequel to Pages for You and follows the main characters’ lives twenty years later in a chance encounter. It was the insistence of readers, fans of the first novel–their need to know how the characters’ life paths unfolded, that led Brownrigg to write the follow-up.

 To read more click HERE!

Join the WNBA: We Have Your Back!

Joining WNBA-SF Chapter really does make you more attractive and interesting! NOW is the time to join so that you can take advantage of these great benefits.

Click HERE to read member benefits.

WNBA History: Link to these pages to explore our history, and that of women in the book world and literary landscape.

WNBA SF Chapter Board Contact Info


WNBA-SF 2016-2018 BOARD

President: Brenda Knight
Vice President: Nina Lesowitz, Member Interview Editor
Treasurer: Herma Lichtenstein
Secretary: Sharon McElhone
Membership Co-Chair: Terye Balogh
Membership Co-Chair: Jan Schmuckler
Past President: Kate Farrell
Member at Large: Sue Wilhite
Member at Large: Mary Volmer, Events Coordinator
Bookseller & Publisher Outreach: Gauri Manglik
Member at Large: Joan Gelfand,
Nat’l WNBA Chair, Chapter Development
Social Media Manager: Elise Marie Collins, Brenda Knight
Web Editor: Simona Carini
Newsletter Editor: Kate Farrell
Bookwoman Correspondent: Martha Conway
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.”  

WNBA New Websites! 

The Women’s National Book Association, established in 1917, before women in America had the right to vote.

Check out our Centennial website for more information about our history and the celebrations we have planned throughout the year.

The WNBA’s founding idea—that books have power and that those involved in their creation gain strength from joining forces—reaches across the decades to now serve members in 11 chapters across the country and network members in between.  
Read More…



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