IWWG RETURN TO SKIDMORE UNLIKELY & Revised Posting re 6/2/12 workshop

Please read further to understand why the deletion
and, if you read the original, what you must know:

I received an e-mail from Alice Orr last night (6/12/12) asking that the post relating to her workshop be deleted. She said, “I should have been in touch with you about this right after the Still Point workshop but I did not know you would act so soon on the suggestion that the “model” for my presentation should be “shared” with other groups. My workshops are a product of my own creativity with a long history of development and trial. That makes them my intellectual property by any measure of that term.”

Further, she stated, “I will need you to post a proviso … that replication of my workshop is not acceptable either to me personally or legally in general except with my written permission which might entail a fee if I should in fact grant that permission. Since I intend to adapt this workshop format to other venues and situations I do not expect that such permissions for re-use will be forthcoming from me.” Alice also asked that I make note of this in all places in which I notified people of the post’s existence, which I will be doing as soon as I re-post this revised version, preserving the IWWG information.

I apologize to Alice for the miscommunication/misunderstanding. I simply wanted to attempt to describe the day in such a way that those IWWG women who wanted to be there, but couldn’t, might feel some of the healing that was the focal point of the workshop. Alice puts together a wonderful workshop, as was evidenced on 6/2; those who’ve attended her sessions before already know that. I would certainly recommend that any groups desiring to enlist her as a presenter (not just women’s groups either), contact her at aliceorrseminars@gmail.com.


This week, just after returning from Still Point and the WomanWords June 2nd workshop with Alice Orr, I received an e-mail from IWWG Executive Director Cynthia Stillwell, in which she let me know about her recent inquiry to Skidmore concerning a possible return of the Guild to the campus for our summer conference. She’d promised that she would ask, and she did. Unfortunately, the response was not positive. Cynthia requested that I let all the women who’d been inquiring about the possibility know what she’d been told, and this blog is the best way I can do so (along with WomanWords E-News and my Facebook page). So here it goes.

Cynthia wrote to Sharon Arpey, who handles summer programs at the college, introducing herself as the new Executive Director and telling her, “Almost every day since I have been with the Guild, I receive reminders and hopes and wishes that the Guild return to the campus of Skidmore. It has been a magical and unifying place for women to join together in friendship and creativity with hopes for the future. During this transition time, the memories of Skidmore have become even more precious to our past and present members.” She asked if they might have a conversation about a possible return for next year’s conference.

Ms. Arpey replied that she has been “observing the leadership transition from afar through the various emails describing the activities of the Guild” and that she has been “wishing you well the whole time! I know these kinds of changes for seasoned organizations are not easy, but they are necessary for long-term health and overall longevity.” She further indicated that she would be happy “to chat” with her sometime via phone to explain Skidmore’s position more fully. She said Cynthia’s request was discussed by the leadership in the Office of Special Programs and it was decided that “it is not in [their] best interest to reinitiate the summer IWWG conference relationship. There were many reasons (early summer availability, mobility issues, programming fit with other campus groups, bad behavior by a handful of members, registration and billing complications—to mention a few) that led [them] and the IWWG to the conclusion that a new home should be found for the summer conference. It is safe to say that our position has remained unchanged.”

Cynthia’s conclusion: “It appears the doors have been closed to us because of the past.” I have to agree with her, given the tone of Skidmore’s response and their list of issues related to IWWG. It would seem like adding salt to our wounds to pursue a further conversation since the letter merely stated its purpose would be “to explain Skidmore’s position more fully.”

Cynthia is at least a little upbeat about it, saying, “Now we just need to find that ‘perfect’ place for the next story to unfold.” I guess the search is on. Everything changes.

Writing this post has brought me back to one of the most recent books I’ve read, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams (Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012). In variation XXIV, Williams speaks of Changing Woman of the Navajo. She writes, “Earth, Mother. Goddess. In every culture the voice of the Feminine emerges from the land itself. We clothe her as Eve or Isis or Demeter. In the desert, she appears as Changing Woman. She can shift shapes like the wind and cut through stone with her voice like water. And when she approaches us with her open hands carrying offerings of white shells in arid country, she reminds us that there was a time before drought when ancient seas covered the desert… I wish someone had told me when I was young that it was not happiness I could count on, but change.”

Coincidentally – and in tune with this latest news from Cynthia – Williams confesses in the same section, “The question What stories do we tell that evoke a sense of place? became my obsession. Through the generosity of the Diné, I heard how voice finds its greatest amplification through story.” PLACE. It was Skidmore where so many transformations took place, where creativity took root, friendships blossomed. It was at Still Point, with Alice, that we affirmed that there was another important PLACE, and that place is in the Heart. In the Sisterhood of Women Writers.

During one of the writing exercises at the workshop, I scribbled on my page, The Magic is the Membership. I rediscovered that, at the end of the day, every day:

We are the Magic.

Marilyn at IWWG conference, Skidmore, 2008

A little more on the WW Alice Orr workshop…

In the e-mail sent out to women registered for the WomanWords workshop with Alice Orr this weekend, I wrote the following, which might entice some of you to join us (it’s already convinced one woman she has to be there!). If not, it’s certainly a writing prompt for those so inclined:

At this point, there are a few slots left for Saturday’s workshop with Alice Orr (see the original e-notice below). In addition, should you really be “on the fence” about how your weekend schedule looks – you might consider journeying to Still Point as a “walk-in” (although it’s always best to let me know ahead of time if you’re coming, if possible; I can get a copy of the “pre-workshop” e-mail to you, with a few bits of useful info, for one thing!). Alice will bring a few extra handouts, just in case , but foreknowledge will definitely ensure there will be enough!

Today, I just sent out the “pre-workshop” e-mail to those already registered and those women who’ve said they expected to mail their registrations so I’d receive them this week (I’ll be heading to the P.O. Box later today or tomorrow for sure). I want to share with you a part of that “Who, What, When, Where, How & Why” formatted info. It evokes how I envision this workshop unfolding, based on conversations and e-mails between Alice and me:

WHAT – Alice has an awesome program planned for MAZES, MENTORS AND MIRACLES: WE TELL OUR HEALING STORIES, taking her successful memoir workshop and transforming it to focus on our creative, empowering experiences through IWWG. Many of us are grieving, or at least saddened by, the Guild’s recent troubles and worried about its future. But this will not be Saturday’s focal point. My expectation, based on what Alice has told me thus far, is that we will be Remembering the Magic, getting to the heart of just what personal magic happened for us. Maybe it’s a bit like this (my own imagination at play here):

Imagine a magic wand in the hands of an IWWG woman, perhaps a favorite IWWG workshop leader, or someone who’s become one of your best friends regardless of how far away she lives. She holds the wand high, swirling it in spirals, conjuring up stars that hover around the two of you. Each one shines as a special moment connected to women’s IWWG experiences – perhaps you: learned a key element about writing that transformed your novel or other work; met a woman who would become your best writing partner; found the courage to read your words aloud for the very first time; shared with a SisterWriter, for the first time ever, a dark moment in your life; felt empowered, finally, to say out loud, “I am a writer!” – and you believed it!

The woman smiles and lowers her wand to feather-touch the top of your head, barely grazing your hair. Several stars settle, like a shimmering tiara. These are your most cherished memories. What you’ve taken away from any IWWG event you ever attended. Gifts for the creative soul.

I expect Alice comes bearing her own magic, and that’s her unique ability to help writers look inward and find their own magic. It just happens to be that our little group, meeting next Saturday, share a special sisterhood. One that we need to honor at this time, for healing and joy and – yes! even for exultation!

Still Time to Sign Up for Alice Orr’s Workshop!

If you haven’t yet heard that IWWG’s Alice Orr will be leading a workshop in the Saratoga/Albany area on June 2nd, then let this be your prompt to sign up! Or maybe this is simply your reminder. Check out the earlier post on Legacy re the workshop, dated March 13th, or contact Marilyn Zembo Day at wmnwords@nycap.rr.com and ask her to send you the about it.

There’s still time to join us! And what a wonderful day it will be, as we share our IWWG experiences and how the Guild has transformed us. Perhaps your writing will take you elsewhere at this workshop — as usual at a WomanWords event, it’s your choice. Share your day with awesome, creative women:

with Alice Orr
Still Point Interfaith Retreat Center, Mechanicville, NY
(2.2 miles from Saratoga Lake)
Saturday, June 2, 2012; 10 am to 4:30 pm

IWWG Workshop Leader Lynne Barrett to Give Reading in NJ

Longtime IWWG workshop leader Lynne Barrett e-mailed me this announcement for posting, about an upcoming reading of her award-winning novel. If you live in the area, or might be able to make the drive to attend a SisterWriter’s event, head to Montclair, New Jersey (I’ve already heard from one IWWGer who says she and her husband plan to make an evening of it – dinner & the reading)!

Lynne Barrett will be reading on Thursday, May 31st, at Watchung Booksellers, 54 Fairfield Street, Watchung Plaza, Montclair, NJ

The reading is free and open to the public.
You’re invited to a reception at 6:30.
Lynne’s reading will begin at 7, followed by a q & a and book signing.

For directions to the store: http://watchungbooksellers.com or phone: 973.744.7177

Lynne is originally from Verona, NJ, and this is her first reading in her home state for her third book of short stories, Magpies, which has won the Gold Medal in general fiction in this year’s Florida Book Awards. Publishers Weekly says: “Barrett portrays adult lives with minimal flourishes and a powerful command of setting . . . It becomes as eerie as it is richly imagined.” Learn more about Lynne and her writing and teaching at http://www.lynnebarrett.com/


This past Saturday, May 12, 2012, several SisterWriters met with the new (since last fall) Executive Director of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Cynthia Stillwell, at the home of Judith Prest (who is our local Regional Rep). The NYS Capital District/Saratoga area group had invited the Director to come to the area in February when they’d sent a letter expressing concerns about the future of the Guild, given its current internal turmoil. Signed by 18 women, it spoke of grief felt over worries about the future, the need for changes within IWWG, and the great Vision that Hannelore Hahn had brought into reality for writing/creative women. 

Cynthia Stillwell arrived at the Albany/Rensselaer Amtrak station on a sunny spring day and was met by Judy Clough and Marilyn Day, with whom she’d ride to the gathering in Duanesburg. It wasn’t hard to find each other – Marilyn sported a well-worn IWWG t-shirt, and Judy wore purple as well!

Cynthia, who originally hails from Savannah but most recently moved to New York from Los Angeles, enjoyed the impromptu “tour” enroute to Judith’s even though, once past city limits, it was mostly a green scene along the highway – she’d never been to Albany before. Crossing the Hudson River, Judith and Marilyn pointed out the capital’s skyline, including the Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza and the Capitol building. It was close to noon when the trio arrived at their destination and prepared for 12:30 arrivals of local IWWGers and former Guild members.

In addition to Judith, Judy, Marilyn and Cynthia, the group included Carol Bluestein, Pattie Cornute, Julie Lomoe, Rosette Rubins and Lesley Tabor. Not a bad representation of the many who’d wanted to attend but couldn’t (per e-mails and phone calls). After a delicious, healthy lunch (with multiple munchies to nosh on over the rest of the afternoon), we met in circle in Judith’s livingroom. Sunlight filtered in as we opened our conversation, a gorgeous green landscape (reaching for miles) visible for all to view beyond our housebound perch, with cardinals and other winged creatures often settling on the deck just outside wide, high windows.

First, Judith had us pass a talking stick, each woman expressing what IWWG and its summer conferences have meant to her. We spoke of lives changed; honed writing and editing skills; getting published; meeting awesome women who continue to be part of our lives; the Magic of including holistic, non-linear workshops that feed our creativity; and “magical” happenings that don’t seem to occur anywhere else but at Guild events or between members – or at least not very often in circumstances other than these. Overall, we spoke of transformation, yet… one woman stated that an IWWG conference is where you “don’t have to BE anything except yourself,” and we all nodded in agreement. Another spoke of a workshop leader who, looking into her eyes, simply said, “I see you.” How many women are invisible in today’s society (especially women in middle-age and beyond) and need to hear this, feel this? Where else do we almost continuously experience visibility and acknowledgement of our worth? The Remember the Magic conference is unique. Needless to say, there were a few tears as well as laughter as we spoke of experiences and emotions held deep and strong.

Cynthia then told us of her background and how she came to the Guild. While she’s never been to a conference, she’s attended Big Apple events, her first in the early 1990s. She has a background that includes organizing playwright conferences and other such events. Her return to the east coast resulted in an eventual meeting with Hannelore, which (after other possible involvements with IWWG had been discussed) culminated in her being asked if she would be interested in the Executive Director position. Elizabeth Julia Stoumen had decided, by this time, that she’d rather not be permanently appointed as ED. By November 4th, Cynthia was on the job.

During the afternoon, the ED answered every question asked, filled us in on what’s happening with IWWG, and indicated that she is still forming her Vision for the Guild. “Nothing is set in stone,” Cynthia said. “We need flexibility.” She is listening to what members are saying, including through the recent email-survey that had, at that point, about 400 responders from women who’ve been involved with IWWG in one way or another!

Here are a few highlights of the conversation, along with my (Marilyn’s) impressions (although it would seem that all attendees were pretty much in agreement):

  • Cynthia specifically made mention of the great legacy Hannelore has given women in creating such a woman-focused organization. She spoke of HH’s years of hard work and determination as she strove to build IWWG and offer programs to a diverse range of women that honored their creativity in any and all forms.
  • All of us spoke of the Magic and emphasized that it’s not just about the nuts ‘n’ bolts of writing but also addressing the whole woman, including those creative things that feed the writing (the holistic approach that HH espoused and instilled in our conferences). After hearing it from so many of us, it seems that Cynthia “gets it’ – understands that at least several of us at that meeting are not interested in attending a writing conference that’s simply about writing techniques and getting published.  We’re looking for inspiration and sisterhood as well. It’s what’s kept us coming for years on end. Our conferences have always provided spiritual and healing aspects for those who seek to write for these reasons, and that’s something we don’t want to lose.
  • Cynthia confirmed that the schedule for the June IWWG conference was drawn up to include more popular workshop leaders and mostly nuts ‘n’ bolts topics because they needed to pull together a shorter (which made it somewhat cheaper, for Yale that is) gathering that would attract as many women as possible. They had little time in which to do this. We pointed out that (per the previous point) there’s nothing of the holistic stuff listed, although there’s always a spiritual aspect to Jan Phillips’ workshops. She pondered whether or not something might be scheduled for an evening or two, but we pointed out that, if there were readings, then that likely wouldn’t work. Looks like maybe this year won’t be a possibility but, again, hopefully there will be a next-year conference…
  • On the other hand, for the future, it was also expressed that that perhaps the proportion of the non-linear/holistic offerings to the nuts ‘n’ bolts might be reduced somewhat, to allow for more variety in terms of workshops and workshop leaders over time. One woman said she’d stopped attending several years ago because it began to be “always the same stuff” to her. While we all love certain workshop leaders and might want to see them coming every year, more change-out might be needed in order to not only keep women coming, but also to attract new members.
  • The “transparency” issue came up. Our February letter, characterizing IWWG as “somewhat of a village” despite its geographically widespread area in that “people talk with each other, speculate, react,” had included the following statement: “There has been increasing conversation among IWWG members over the past several years about a need for more transparency regarding the functioning and decisions of the Guild, as well as some honest acknowledgement of painful areas and the need for healing and transformation. Over this period of time, a number of events caused concern among members when they heard about them (such as ‘firings’ of staff members & board members, non-notice to potential workshop leaders for the annual conference regarding their acceptance/denial for teaching, our leaving the Skidmore campus, etc.).  There’s increasing concern about the fact that members don’t seem to have a say in important matters.” Cynthia responded by saying that she believes that this stems from the need for more communication between the Guild and its members. She’s already begun to change things, including putting out a call for workshop proposals for the conference at Yale (receiving an enormous number in the short period of time within which they were due), setting up meetings with members and former members, sending out e-blasts to keep people informed of goings-on, etc. She wants to meet with more Regional Reps and their groups along the way too, but at this time finances have to be considered first.
  •  As to finances, after last year’s conference at Yale, it looked like the Guild could be bankrupt within a year or less. It was not well-attended, and many who were on campus were either teaching, A-team or partial-or-whole scholarships. Cynthia said the fall and spring Big Apple conferences went well, and she thinks the financial problems can be turned around. But it will take a lot of work. She is now, in her supposed 20-hr/wk part-time job, working about 80 hours per week to make it work. Already, we are seeing more women re-up their memberships too – a good sign.
  • We mentioned that Yale is terribly expensive for many women. It’s Ivy League, as was Brown, so of course it would be. We’re big proponents of a return to Skidmore, although not knowing if this were possible. We’ve heard many rumors, second-hand and from reliable sources, about why this could be the case. We stated that it’s not just we locals who desire a return. Women from far more distant places than Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Saratoga want to get back to that campus. As writers, we told her, we know “place” is important. And while the women with whom we write are great parts of the Magic, and the workshops are wonderful, Place is important as well. Again, Cynthia heard us and will look into our concerns and desires.
  • Registration is being handled by Yale this year, and they are the ones who are insisting that our more organic classroom attendance procedure (no sign-ups, just go) can’t happen. They want real numbers about who will attend what so they will know which classrooms to assign. Also, overcrowded classrooms are against fire codes. The Guild cannot afford to offer even partial scholarships to members this year (A-Teamers, I believe, paid room and board last year but not “tuition”), and so having Yale handle registration was absolutely necessary.
  • Cynthia stressed the need to expand the membership. After a quick look (not a complete analysis) of that survey mentioned earlier, it’s clear that we are largely an aging population. It was mentioned to Cynthia that, once Skidmore moved us to an August conference date, we no longer got the high schoolers who might attend (mention was made of Grandmother Mechi’s ritual for the young women who attended the conference) – nor the teachers either. And it was a time for graduation parties and weddings too. The Director spoke of perhaps starting a mentoring program that would reach out to young writers, a one-on-one kind of thing.
  • Other possible initiatives and thoughts concerned continuation of the program wherein Guild members correspond with women in prisons, a Guild online bookstore, an IWWG blog, use of webinars, and more that I didn’t write down (but I’ll bet Cynthia got it all in her notes!). Words were flying back and forth, ideas emerging.

One thing that could hinder Cynthia’s perspective as she pulls together her own Vision of where the Guild is going (and how to save it) is her inability to access much of our history. She didn’t even have copies of old conference schedules, or the 25-year anniversary book about IWWG history that Hannelore wrote, or the calendars and chapbooks I’d created. We are getting copies of that stuff to her. We also mentioned the IWWG archives at Smith College but didn’t know about access to them. She certainly works at resolving this lack of information: she told us, “I will always ask ‘why?’ and then follow up with ‘why not?’”

She firmly states that the Guild’s purpose as a not-for-profit is to serve its members. She wants it – and its directors and board members – to be accessible, and she wants its membership fees and activities to be affordable.  Cynthia Stillwell presents as a woman bursting with energy and enthusiasm and, if anyone can pull it off, she can.

Our meeting lasted all afternoon. Lesley Tabor got her out of Judith’s house (we kept chatting!) by 5 p.m. so she could ensure she’d make it the train station for her train back to NYC around 6 p.m.  Thanks go out to Judith Prest for setting up the meeting and having it in her beautiful home. Thanks go to the women who contributed physical sustenance (yummy food). And thanks to all the women who were present – for their openness, acceptance, sincerity, offerings of ideas– and for their love of, and concern for, our Guild.

P.S. …and a special thanks to Pattie Cornute, who remembered to bring her camera (which I did not) and took the pictures in this post!

Jan Phillips Workshop in Albany Area

From Jan Phillips’ website:

Evolutionary Creativity and Modern Day Mysticism
a multi-media, multi-sensory experience in creative and spiritual consciousness-raising

June 29-July 1 (Friday, 7 pm—Sunday noon)
St. Joseph’s Provincial House, 385 Watervliet-Shaker Road • Latham, NY 12110 (near Albany)  

$290 (food, lodging, workshop, concert) – Register by March 1 for these rates
After March 1, add $25.
TO REGISTER, email Mary Ellen Shirtz CSJ
sshirtz@twcny.rr.com or call 315-299-5333

IWWG Summer Conference Re-Scheduled – Back to Yale!

Received this a few days ago from Cynthia Stillwell, IWWG Exec Director. Note that workshop applications are now being accepted (through 4/30/12). It’s a short conference this year, but then perhaps it means it’ll be less expensive!

BIG NEWS….It’s official
Save the Dates: June 22-26, 2012
We return to the beautiful campus of Yale University

Friday – Check in and Welcome Ceremony
Saturday, Sunday, Monday – Full Day Workshops
Monday evening – Closing Ceremony
Tuesday – Departure

More exciting updates asap!
Please send introductory letter, bio, and writing experience to
Cynthia Fritts Stillwell at iwwgexecdir@gmail.com


And don’t forget about our Spring Big Apple Conference
April 14-15 at The National Arts Club, NYC
          3 Writing Workshops, Book Fair, and a PITCH YOUR PROJECT Meet and Greet with 10 Agents!

The International Women’s Writing Guild
317 Madison Ave.
Suite 1704
New York, NY 10017
(917) 720-6959


The Women Writers and Artists Matrix, founded by Amejo Amyot and Dorothy Randall Gray in Saratoga a mere couple of years ago, has another awesome weekend of creativity and sisterhood planned; and it includes five -yup, 5! – great workshop leaders of International Women’s Writing Guild fame as its springtime fare! As Dorothy said in her e-mail forwarding all the details, I too am “so excited… I’m about to bust my blossoms!” Added to the super roster of women who will inspire and inform us, there’s also the nostalgia of once again being on the Skidmore campus (for the workshops portion of the event), site of well over 30 of our summer conferences – where it all began for so many women: rebirth, re-discovering our Voice, meeting like-minded, like-spirited women from all over the world!

If at all possible, don’t miss this weekend. I’ve been able to attend all but the first one (leading workshops at a couple) and have never been disappointed. What else can I say? How about: they get better and better…

WWAM WEEKEND: Celebrate the Spring of Yourself!
Friday, May 4 – Sunday May 6, 2012
Saratoga Springs, New York

Marsha Browne – Digital Storytelling: Your Personal Video Project
Heather Cariou – Standing In Your Truth: Finding The Courage To Claim The Story You Need To Tell
Carol Chaput – Art & Creating Your WOW At WWAM
Zita Christian – The Characters In Your Story
Myra Shapiro – The Voice In Your Poems
(See full workshop descriptions & bios below)

$185.00 – All workshops Saturday, May 5 & Sunday May 6, 9:30 – 4:30PM
Conversation & Creativity Dinner Salon, Friday, May 4, 6:00 – 9:00PM
Women Wine & Cheese Reception- Saturday, May 5, 5:00 – 8:00PM
$75.00 Day Rate – Saturday or Sunday: all workshops offered each day
$35.00 Conversation & Creativity Dinner Salon Only

~ Intimate 2.5 hour Workshops on the Skidmore College Campus
~ Author Book Sales
~ Full 2 hour Networking Lunch Periods
~ Special WWAM Hotel Rate – $99 per room per night at the exquisite Inn at Saratoga (sleeps two and includes breakfast!)
~ Free gifts & More!

Spring is upon us. We are surrounded by the signs of life creating itself all over again.
Shouldn’t you be doing the same?
Join us for an unforgettable weekend of intimate small class atmospheres, stimulating
conversation at roundtables, and celebrations of you and your work.
Break bread, read and share your art with fellow artists and writers as you feed your soul
and spirit.
Satiate your creative juices with the precious, priceless company of kindred creative
women. We’ll leave the light on for you.

Register NOW! – space is limited
Please make checks payable to the Heartland Institute and send to:
WWAM, P.O. Box 446, Burnt Hills, NY 12027
For further information contact: 518.557.7307, writeartmatrix@aol.com

Transportation: Amtrak has trains to Saratoga Springs, NY twice a day. MegaBus now offers a new service from NYC to Saratoga Springs at 8:30AM each day in their clean, comfortable, affordable wi-fi enabled busses! Right now their introductory fare is just $1.00! Check this out at megabus.com before the fare goes up.
Albany airport is about 35 miles away and you can taxi or carpool to Saratoga. Also, Greyhound has busses that can take you from Albany to Saratoga Springs. So now you have no excuse not to join us!

Juicy Details

Conversation & Creativity Dinner Salon – The Inn at Saratoga, Friday May 4, 6:00 – 9:00PM
231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Art & Writing Workshops – Skidmore College, 815 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Women, Wine & Cheese Reception– Saturday, 5:00 – 8:00 at the Amyot Victorian Estate
(exact address given to weekend registrants)

Workshop Descriptions

Marsha Browne – Digital Storytelling: Your Personal Video Project
     In 2004, Dr. Helen C. Barrett of the Center for Digital Storytelling wrote, “digital storytelling is the act of using today’s technology to tell yesterday’s stories for tomorrow’s generations.” Digital Storytelling is also a way of sharing your life and work through electronic multimedia.
     The digital story can take several forms, from the feature-length, broadcast video documentary or the memorial, tribute or family legacy video, all the way to the 2-3 minute video clip you put on your website or your Facebook page to describe your current work endeavor. In this workshop, you’ll learn:
• basic concepts and processes for creating and completing a personal video project;
• how to assemble and edit the video for best effect using multiple media sources;
• tools and equipment that can make your digital story come to life;
• critical elements of strong digital storytelling, and how they compare/contrast to written storytelling.
     As part of the workshop, you’ll watch, evaluate and critique several short digital videos in the classroom setting, and leave with an action plan for creating a short personal video that best reflects you and your work.

Heather Cariou – Standing In Your Truth: Finding the Courage to Claim the Story You Need to Tell
If you don’t tell the truth about yourself, you can’t tell it about anyone else. ~ Virginia Woolf
     There is no such thing as the absolute truth, though many of us spend our lives either searching for it, or running from what we think it is. Our personal truths, however, are the soul of both poetry and memoir. These truths also lend integrity to fiction writing. Finding and facing them can be frightening. Reflecting on our truths with generosity and compassion is the heart of memoir. This process can be empowering.
     You can’t change the facts of your life, but you can change the way you tell your story – and liberate your truths and your writing in the process. Our own self-realization is the greatest act of healing we can offer ourselves, and the world. Adrienne Rich calls it, “diving into the wreck.”
     Whether or not you are not writing for publication, excavating your truths, writing them down and shaping them into story is a powerful act of healing and liberation. Poet Audre Lorde says, “We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for definition and language…the transformation of that silence into language always seems fraught with danger.”
     In this workshop, Heather will:
• – Share her own story of moving through the fear and sense of danger
• – Offer quotes and excerpts from other writers on the subject of truth
• – Foster a discussion on the nature and meaning of truth
• – Inspire you to dive deep into yourself, explore your truths, and emerge with the strength to claim and stand in them unshakably.
• – Provide a variety of tools, insights, resources, writing prompts and exercises to help you discover your truths, explode your myths, and artfully record your “dive into the wreck” with courage and compassion.
– – Discuss the difference between the narrative voice and the reflective voice, and how to move from self-revelation to confession to craft.

Carol Chaput – Art & Creating Your WOW at WWAM
     We all know the voice of our inner critic … the voice that says “you can’t do that” or “what do you mean, you don’t fill in the blank” and the damage it causes, especially when a creative project is new and fragile.
     In Creating Your WOW we will replace that voice with a new one–one that is fierce and compassionate–by accessing the Wise Old Woman (WOW) archetype that lives in all of us, young and old and in between. We can’t deny our inner critic or monster or else we’ll always be wary of it … waiting for it to appear again and sit down right next to us. Instead of denying it, we take the power away from it by manifesting our WOW, the intuitive part of ourselves, always present, a powerful and instinctual inner guide, ripe with wisdom.
     We will create an image–using art techniques, primarily collage (adhering images, ephemera, materials to a surface)–that portrays our own WOW. We will use writing exercises to ask our WOW for what we need. Her wisdom will reveal that we CAN create, that we have all we need to be a WOW.
     Bring your writing journal along with your curiosity, playfulness, and your commitment to explore. Leave with numerous handouts, inspiration, and an image to hang in your space.

Zita Christian – The Characters In Your Story: Go Beyond the Bio
     Learn to create characters who can grow over the course of a novel. Decipher clues in body language, clothing, and facial gestures. Build the character’s family and unearth the makings of a dynamic backstory. Identify your characters’ hot buttons. Learn how to press them! Add more characters and watch a plot develop.
     You’ll leave with a valuable collection of handouts you can refer to again and again, and a notebook brimming with people for your story.

Myra Shapiro – The Voice In Your Poems
     How are we heard? What can we listen to? We will write each day and read the poems of others to discover our uniqueness and how we may express it.


Marsha Browne is a Boston-based award-winning writer, television producer and freelance videographer. Her short film, United We Stand, won Honorable Mention for National Documentary in the 2002 Communicator Awards. Her three-part documentary, The Soul of Afghanistan, won first prize for International Documentary in the 2003 ACM Hometown Awards. Her seven-minute docudrama, Above All Else, won the silver medal at the 2008 ACM Regional Competition in the Professional Theater & Arts category. Browne’s video yearbooks and special presentations have regularly been featured at the International Women’s Writing Guild annual conferences.

Heather Cariou is author of Sixty-Five Roses: A Sister’s Memoir with a forward by Celine Dion (McArthur & Company.) Born, raised and educated in Ontario, Canada, as a child she dreamed of becoming both a writer and a ballerina. When she learned the fates of the Bronte sisters, Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath, she chose ballet over writing. Then, after seeing Elaine Stritch as Mame in 1969 she decided to become an actress. Heather made her professional debut with the company at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, where she remained for three seasons. She subsequently enjoyed a career lasting twenty years, acting professionally on stages across Canada and off-Broadway. Daughter of the founders of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, she has been involved in its fund-raising and promotion for over forty years. She is a founding member of the Galaxy Writers Workshop in New Jersey,
Married to stage and screen actor Len Cariou, Heather is her husband’s “roadie.” Known for “shooting from the hip,” she has also cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the entire cast of a Broadway show in a hotel room while on the road. Heather emigrated from Canada to NYC in 1983, and now lives on the Hudson River in NJ with a view of the city she loves. She is working on a novel.

Carol Chaput is an artist and writer. She is the creator of “Image Journaling” and other workshops that investigate the intersection of art and writing. She has taught at the International Women Writer’s Guild and at both art and writing workshops and retreats for many years. Her book of poetry, Life List, was published by Dogwood Press in 2011. She is presently at work on a novel. Carol Chaput’s works include paintings, drawings, egg temperas, and mixed media works. Her award-winning work is exhibited throughout New England, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic states.

Zita Christian is a multipublished author of book-length fiction, magazine articles, and the foreword and several chapters in a book on grieving by the late Liz Aleshire. Zita’s three historical romance novels, originally published by HarperCollins, will be reissued as e-books by Samhain Publishing. Zita is also the host and producer of two national award-winning television shows Page 1 and Full Bloom. They air weekly on public access channels in Connecticut and Massachusetts and on You Tube . In 2010, Zita co-authored the play Warriors Don’t Cry, adapted from the Little Rock Nine memoir by Dr. Melba Pattillo Beals. The one-woman show was produced by the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, performed in New York and throughout New England. It will tour nationwide in 2012-2013. See a video clip here . As an ordained interfaith celebrant, Zita officiates at weddings, funerals, and seasonal celebrations creating unique, personal ceremonies for the moments and milestones in life. See http://www.MoonRiverRituals.com

Myra Shapiro, born in the Bronx, returned to live in New York after forty- five years in Georgia and Tennessee where she married, raised two daughters and worked as a librarian and teacher of English. Her poems have appeared in Harvard Review, The Ohio Review, River Styx, Pearl, Ploughshares, The Poetry Miscellany, Southern Indiana Review, and other journals, and in many anthologies. She was awarded the New School’s Dylan Thomas Poetry Award and is the recipient of two fellowships from The MacDowell Colony. She serves on the Board of Directors of Poets House in New York City, a library and meeting place for poets. She is author of I’ll See You Thursday (Blue Sofa Press) and a memoir Four Sublets: Becoming A Poet in New York (Chicory Blue Press.) She has read her work widely, appearing at various venues throughout the country.

Women Writers & Artists Matrix (WWAM) is an activist association of kindred creative women dedicated to shifting the paradigm through words and images. We embrace the vision of gathering together to build and share women’s wisdom through the arts. We believe in creating opportunities to connect in intimate atmospheres, to inspire ourselves and others, to discover the intersections between art and writing, and to use our skills to serve our communities.

WomanWords Celebrates 15-Year Birthday on 4/4/12 – Featured at Caffe Lena in Saratoga, NY

The following WomanWords event was sent as a WomanWord E-Newsletter just today, a reminder about an event featuring an IWWG-inspired group that’s been empowering and offering fun, creative workshops for 15 years as of next week! If you can travel to this event, it’ll be a wonderful night at historic Caffe Lena!

Dear E-News Readers,

Who’da thought? When I scheduled the first WomanWords session for late March of 1997 (then rescheduled it for the first Monday in April, due to a huge snowstorm!), I wasn’t necessarily thinking of longevity. I was more interested in the immediate need of creating a safe, creative space in which local women might feel comfortable as they sought to write, find their Voices. I had experienced it at two International Women’s Writing Guild summer conferences by then, and I wanted area women to have access to that kind of environment on a more regular basis than just annually. Thus, the birth of WomanWords – initially a monthly writing group, eventually evolving into a “collective” of creative women who regularly (or irregularly, depending upon their schedules) attend special events organized under the umbrella of WomanWords, often joined by attendees from distances far beyond what would be termed “local.” It’s been an inspiring, empowering and healing journey for me and, given feedback from participants over the years, for others as well

WomanWords is honored to have been invited to be a Feature at Caffe Lena’s open poetry mic – and we’ve designated that night (at least our portion of it) as our birthday party – complete with cupcakes (a $1 donation to benefit Caffe Lena would be gratefully accepted for these luscious, homemade treats). Hope to see you at Caffe Lena next Wednesday night (& bring your own poetry to share as well!). Here’s what you need to know about it:

the first Wednesday of every Month:
Caffe Lena Open Poetry Mic
47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
7 pm to 10 pm

April 4, 2012
hosted by Carol Graser

NOTE: Carol Graser has created a Facebook event page for this reading. If you think you might attend, you might like to indicate so on this page  Also, there’s a map to Caffe Lena included!

Caffe Lena’s Open Poetry Mic in Saratoga, NY welcomes the WomanWords Collective as its April 2012 Feature on Wednesday, 4/4/12, including readings by women who’ve attended WomanWords events over the years. Doors open at 7 p.m., open mic starts at 7:30 p.m., and you can sign up to read your own poetry too!

Founder and facilitator Marilyn Zembo Day will share some of her writing, along with Kittie Bintz, Kristen Day, Kelly de la Rocha, Mary Armao McCarthy, Leslie Neustadt, Judith Prest and Lesley Tabor. WW marks its 15th birthday this April, celebrating a decade-and-a-half of providing safe, fun, creative space and activities designed to encourage women to tell their stories in whatever form(s) their Voices need to take. Come enjoy a variety of voices, a plethora of words – and even a little birthday (cup)cake!

          by Marilyn Zembo Day

Here is what I do:
I scatter seeds
I tell you, You Can.
I give you tools:
paper, pen,

Seeds require
soil, water, sunshine
Given attention, they birth.
You are Woman.
You are Creation.

Birth. Walk out into the world.
Scatter your seeds.
Tell your stories.
I give you permission.
I give you my seeds.

Sailing on Spirit Wind
          by Judith Prest

today my name is firewalker
traveling into fear’s heart
with a blowtorch
I reclaim my power

yesterday my name was
nightmare hurricane
and I thundered across oceans
flattening everything in my path

today I journey
deep into the dark
and back again
retracing the path
retelling the story
making sure it ends well
this time

someday I will call myself raven
sailing on spirit wind
and nothing will ever
hold me down again

P.O. Box 14315
Albany, NY 12212
“We are Women Who Write!”

Re-NEW the Magic in NYC – in April 2012!

It’s official, ladies (& gents too- men often attend this event): The 63rd Annual Big Apple Conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild is scheduled for next month— with some of my favorite IWWG workshop directors leading sessions (boo-hoo, I can’t be there– Saturday’s my aunt’s 100th birthday party and Sunday’s booked as well). Many of the people who would be checking this blog probably are already members and received an e-blast about it – but just in case you haven’t been informed (or need to be reminded), here are the details:

63rd Spring Big Apple Conference: ReNEW the Magic
Saturday-Sunday, April 14-15, 2012
National Arts Club
15 Gramercy Park South (East 20th Street, East of Park Avenue)
New York City



Registration: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

SESSION 1: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Beyond the Margins: Rethinking the Art and Craft of Writing in the 21st Century
with June Gould

Whether you are a new or experienced writer, this hands-on, nurturing, and mind expanding workshop will take you through a series of exercises that will enable you to craft the writing you’ve always longed to write. Ms. Gould, who has taught writing workshops for the last 35 years, will incorporate inspirational quotes, vital list making, samples of exemplary writing, and moving and exhilarating assignments. In addition, she will encourage you to read your written responses to her exercises and she will show you how to tap into your own unique voice and perspective.

June S. Gould, Ph.D., national writing teacher, poet, novelist and author of THE WRITER IN ALL OF US: IMPROVING YOUR WRITING THROUGH CHILDHOOD MEMORIES, E.P. Dutton, as well as her novel, IN THE SHADOW OF TRAINS, has led writing workshops for the International Women’s Writing Guild, The National Council of Jewish Woman, The Aegean Arts Circle, New York Advanced Workshops, and weekend writing workshops at The Guest House in Connecticut. She has also published poems in numerous journals including THE JEWISH WOMEN’S LITERARY ANNUAL, PEARL, THE SHELTERED POET, THE TALISMEN, and THE MUSE MEDIA’S THE GREAT AMERICAN POETRY SHOW.

Lunch: 12:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

SESSION 2: 2:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Renewal (Re-NEW-All): Your Writing as a Tool for Transition
with Judy Huge

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes
                    — Stanley Kunitz

Writing used in a carefully focused way can be a powerful tool in helping us get more specific about what skills we’re meant to use, company we need to keep, growth we can draw from our losses, and ways to craft all around us a life that truly fits. Ms. Huge helps you explore specific ways of using writing, not only to decipher but to define changes you want to make in writing the next chapters of your life.

Judith Huge has spent over 30 years developing innovative approaches to both learning and writing. As president of her own national consulting firm, she has helped thousands of people use writing more effectively in managing their own work, lives, and transitions. For years a workshop director at the IWWG Summer Conferences, she is a co-author of 101 WAYS YOU CAN HELP, a guide to grieving, as well as A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN AND THE SEA, a tale of loss and transition.

Closing Remarks: 4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


DAY 2: SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2012

Registration: 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

SESSION 3: 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Creating with Comedy: The Truth behind the Laughter
with Anne Walradt

Learn how to imbue humor in your stories by starting with a comic premise and a cosmic vision. Discover which techniques work best for you to lure your readers into laughing with you and your characters. Humor reveals character, relieves tension, sets the point, and makes readers return again and again to your unique voice.

Anne Frazier Walradt is a freelance teacher, writer, and editor. She’s taught literature and writing on secondary and college levels. She edited ROMANCE RECIPES FOR THE SOUL (Doubleday), which includes one of her short stories, and wrote portions of Liz Aleshire’s 101 WAYS YOU CAN HELP (Sourcebooks). A long-time workshop director of IWWG, she’s a founder of Liberty States Fiction Writers. When not editing or writing articles, Ms Walradt creates “Bombeckian” essays to perform.

Lunch: 12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

SESSION 4: Meet the Agents – 2:15 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Meet and pitch to the following New York City agents in a one-on-one format:

Paul Cash
Larson Publications

Susan Gleason
Susan Gleason Literary Agency

Linda Langton
Langton’s International Agency

Sheila J. Levine, Esq.
Levine Samuel, LLP

Amanda Mecke
A. Mecke Company, Inc

Janet Rosen
Sheree Bykofsky Associates, Inc.

Rita Rosenkranz
Rita Rosenkranz Literary Agency

Regina Ryan
Regina Ryan Publishing Enterprises, Inc.

Dorothy Spencer
Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency

Questions? Check out the IWWG website here: www.iwwg.org

The International Women’s Writing Guild
317 Madison Ave., Suite 1704
New York, New York 10017