Hudson Valley Writers Guild Newsletter, August 2014

Guild Announcements:

  • Reminder: HVWG non-fiction contest deadline is August 15
  • Hudson Valley Writers Guild 2014 Mid-Year Membership Report

Member Announcements:

  • Misfit publishes special issue: Misfit 10 1/2
  • Updates from M.E. Kemp
  • Barbara Traynor seeks feedback on self publishing experiences

Area Announcements:

  • Reading of John Hersey’s Hiroshima, August 6, 11 a.m.
  • Teresa Costa and Donald Lev to feature at Caffè Lena August 6
  • Sign up now for “Poets at the Fair,” August 15
  • Writers in the Mountains (WIM) presents personal essay workshop with Barbara Apoian
  • Mo’ Joe Comes to Smitty’s August 10
  • Poetry Workshop with Shin Yu Pai August 15
  • A sense of place: Winners and finalists of Regional Writers Contest read August 17
  • Poet Rebecca Schumejda to read at the Social Justice Center August 21
  • Arts Center of the Capital Region announces upcoming writing classes


Reminder: HVWG non-fiction contest deadline is August 15
All contestants must be residents of New York State. The entry fee is: $10 for HVWG members and $15 for non-members. Checks made payable to HVWG must accompany submissions. If $30 membership fee is paid with submission, please enclose a separate check. HVWG Board of Directors and their families and/or current or past students and family of judges are ineligible.Submission categories will be memoir/personal essay and humor. There will be a $100 award in each category, and winners will be invited to read their winning submissions at a special program in the fall of 2014. Entries must be postmarked between June 15-August 15, 2014. Contact information must not appear anywhere on the submission. A cover letter must include: name, address, phone number, email, title, submission category, and word count (1200 word maximum).

All submissions must be typed, double-spaced, in 12pt Times New Roman or Cambria font.  Send three hard copies by mail. No email submissions. Submissions must be previously unpublished. Please no pornography or erotica.

This year’s judges are Diane Cameron and Gene Damm (personal essay/memoir) and Anne Decker (humor). Diane Cameron is a writer, writing teacher and creativity coach. She is a syndicated newspaper columnist and blogger. Most recently, she’s written Out of the Woods: A Woman’s Guide to Long-Term Recovery and Looking for Signs: Essays and Columns. Humorist Anne Decker’s essays have appeared on public radio, in local newspapers and magazines. She has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. Gene Damm is past president of the Friends of the Albany Public Library. He is the author of Guanyin and Other Poems, as well as A Chinese Folk Tale and Other Stories.

All entrants will be notified of winners by email unless an SASE is provided. Results will be posted on our website:

Contact Jan Tramontano at for more information. Mail submissions and entry fee to: HVWG CONTEST c/o Jan Tramontano, 14 Brookwood Avenue, Albany, NY  12203.

Hudson Valley Writers Guild 2014 Mid-Year Membership Report
By the end of June 2014, the Hudson Valley Writers Guild had 97 “active” members, defined as people who paid membership dues during 2013 and so far in 2014. Of them, 46 (47%) already paid their 2014 dues. These 46 dues payers contributed $1,375 to the Guild’s coffers.

There were 7 new members. One person (Leslie Neustadt) made a renewal voluntarily, i.e., without being asked. The other renewals (38) came from people who responded to membership solicitations. So far this year, 60 membership solicitations have been mailed out.

The Guild is especially pleased to welcome the following new members in 2014:

  • Cathryn Abbott
  • Elaine Doremus
  • Lynn Kinlan
  • Nancy Klepsch
  • Cecilia Macheski
  • Jessica Semon
  • Keith Spencer

The Guild had an honor roll by mid-year of three members who made extra financial contributions in addition to their membership dues. They were:

  • Phyllis Hillinger
  • Kathleen O’Brien
  • David Wolcott

The Guild’s Board is most grateful for the confidence expressed by new and renewing members in your ongoing support for the Hudson Valley Writers Guild and the work we do for writers in the Hudson Valley.


Misfit publishes special issue: Misfit 10 1/2
Misfit magazine has posted a special one-time interim issue (a unique “work in progress”): What They Left Behind. These are verbatim selections from obituaries collated by local author Victor Smith with an intro by editor Alan Catlin. The issue, Misfit 10 1/2 is live now. Look for a regular issue (#11) by end of summer. We’ll be actively soliciting submissions in September, although as always, Alan will read anything that comes in before then. Check the new issue out: It really is special.

Updates from M.E. Kemp
M. E. Kemp taught her mystery writing course at two places during July: Wiawaka on Lake George and the Women’s Writers Retreat on Paradox Lake.  She also made a report on the HVWG Writers Conference for the Mustard Seed Marketing blog.  The conference theme was on marketing, and Kemp served as moderator for the panel, which included poet Dan Wilcox, self-publisher Barbara Traynor and TU Reviewer Elizabeth Floyd Mair.

Barbara Traynor seeks feedback on self publishing experiences
Barbara writes: I am considering self-publishing directly on-line i.e. Amazon, SmashWords, CreateSpace, etc. Has any author published directly via these services (or other)? I would love to speak with/meet with you and talk about your positive/negative experience. If you wish background, visit my website:, then, please email


Reading of John Hersey’s Hiroshima, August 6, 11 a.m.
A reading of John Hersey’s Hiroshima, Townsend Park, Albany (Henry Johnson Blvd. & Central Ave.). The event is free and open to the public, and the public is encouraged to join in the reading. Those interested in reading can sign up to participate when they arrive. Please bring folding chairs. Rain site is the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany.

On August 6, 1945, the United States of America used the atomic bomb for the first time to destroy the city of Hiroshima, Japan; on August 9, the U.S. used the atomic bomb again on Nagasaki, Japan.  Over 200,000 people died immediately in the two bombings, and over a hundred thousand more died in the following decades as a result of the effects of the radiation.

Hiroshima by John Hersey tells the story of the bombing on August 6, 1945, by following the stories of six of the survivors.  The book version has been in print since 1946.

Co-sponsored by the Poetry Motel Foundation, the Tom Paine Chapter Veterans for Peace, Upper Hudson Peace Action. For more information contact Dan Wilcox, 482-0262,

Teresa Costa and Donald Lev to feature at Caffè Lena August 6
On Wednesday, August 6, Caffè Lena will present  poetry readings by Teresa Costa and Donald Lev.  An open reading will follow. Doors open for sign-ups at 7 p.m., and the readings will start at 7:30. The host for the event will be Carol Graser and the cost is $5. Caffè Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022,

Sign up now for “Poets at the Fair,” August 15
It’s an annual tradition where poets from local counties meet at the Altamont Fair to read poetry. Many old, new and internationally famous poets have appeared in the past. There will be examples of performance and multi-media poetry and a Poetry Tribute to departed friends and historic writers from the Albany region. If you want to return or come out for the first time, e-mail Alan Casline to let him know at If you have a performance or multi-media  work you would like to do let Alan know that as well. There is free admission to the fair if you read. 

We will have a schedule similar to the last few years using the stage inside the Carriage Museum. We will start at 2 p.m., and there will be a break at 3 p.m. to allow a Lumberjack Show (beer garden anyone?) and a return at 3:30 for our Legends Tribute. Last year Michael Burke came by just for the Tribute and read beautifully one of Art Willis’s poems. That remains a possibility for those who have a departed poet they want to read and can’t make it to our 2 p.m. start.

Here are the event details:

  • Altamont Fair Poetry Reading: Live Poetry, Wednesday, August 15 / 28th year celebration!
  • Hotal Altamont Stage in the Village and Carriage Museum on the Altamont Fairgrounds
  • Local poets read from their own work and the works of the past
  • Performance poetry presented live from our stage
  • Starting time is 2 p.m., continuing throughout the afternoon.

Writers in the Mountains (WIM) presents personal essay workshop with Barbara Apoian
Dare to write! Writers in the Mountains (WIM) presents a personal essay workshop with Barbara Apoian, July 31-September 4. The workshop will be held Thursdays, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Fairview Library in Margaretville. Barbara Apoian, a long-time workshop teacher at WIM, will be offering her new course called “Personal Essay.” This is really “Memoir with a Purpose.” Writers will recount experiences in their lives and the way they changed their future understanding of family, love affairs, career choices and emotional decisions. Essays in general need not be about a personal experience, butpersonal essay includes an experience that changed us in a particular way, and brought about an opinion that is important to share.

Various topics will be suggested, and writers can work on a long essay over the full course or take a number of subjects that they find stimulating or are prompted by hearing the work produced in the workshop. Each piece will be read aloud and gently critiqued to make sure that the message is clear. Hearing the reaction of listeners is so helpful in realizing that we have achieved our purpose or need to make some of the issues and experiences clearer.

This is a stimulating and challenging class. Barbara has taught a similar workshop in Bradenton, Florida, over the winter months for the past four years with great success. It has prompted many writers to enlarge their work into full-length memoir, or continue writing about a variety of opinions or experiences, all generated by truth and an honest urge to communicate with others.

To register, call (845) 594-3548 or e-mail To register online, visit, go to “Register Online” page and fill in the registration form. Class fee is $75.

Writers in the Mountains is a 501 ( c ) (3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide to the general public a nurturing environment for the practice, appreciation and sharing of creative writing.

Mo’ Joe Comes to Smitty’s August 10
A celebration of the new Joe the Poet book, Mo’ Joe the Anthology (Beatlick Press, Albuquerque), featuring editor John Roche, designer Jules Nyquist and contributors Alan Casline and Mark W. Ó Brien (and hopefully some others). Jules will also read from her latest book, Behind the Volcanoes. 
Open mic to follow. Hope many of you will stay to sup on Smitty’s great pizza! Details:

  • Sunday, August 10
  • 2-5 p.m.
  • Smith’s Tavern, 112 Maple Avenue, Voorheesville

Poetry Workshop with Shin Yu Pai August 15
Friday, August 15. 10 a.m. – noon. Rensselaerville Library. Registration Fee: $25. Description: In this two-hour generative poetry workshop, participants will focus on writing poems inspired by works of art. A variety of writing prompts will be provided to stimulate writing and conversation. Participants are invited to bring pictures of their favorite artworks. Images will also be provided.This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc., with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This unique workshop is scheduled to take place during the Rensselaerville Library’s annual Festival of Writers.  All proceeds benefit the Rensselaerville Library. For more information, call the Rensselaerville Library at 518 797-3949.

A sense of place: Winners and finalists of Regional Writers Contest read August 17
On Sunday afternoon, August 17, at 2 p.m. at Conkling Hall, Rensselaerville, please join us for readings by the winners and finalists of our Regional Writers Contest, as well as by invited local authors.  Go to for more info.

Here are the winners and finalists of the Regional Competition —


  • Norman Cohen is a Delmar resident, who wrote a column “Family Matters” for the Spotlight Newspapers in the 1980’s, which published a paperback collection of his columns under the same title.
  • John Worth Gordon “Jack,” enlisted at age nineteen in the Canadian armed forces in 1940. Later, serving in India with the United States Air Force, he joined the 27th Troop Carrier Squadron in Assam. Returning to the Capital Region in 1945, he attended Cornell University and bought the farm in Livingstonville where he still lives, works, and writes.
  • Howard J. Kogan is a psychotherapist and poet living in the Taconic Mountains. His poems have appeared in Naugatuck River Review, Still Crazy, and many other publications. His latest book of poems, Indian Summer, is available from Amazon.


  • Diane Kavanaugh-Black, in addition to writing, leads Kripalu yoga classes, hikes with a passion, and teaches healthy cooking classes. Her work appears along with original photographs at
  • Mary Armao McCarthy of Albany, is a past president of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild and has published in various anthologies and periodicals.
  • Irene Mitchell, a longtime teacher of writing, is the author of A Study of Extremes in Six Suites and Sea Wind on the White Pillow. She is former poetry editor of the Hudson River Art Journal.
  • Barbara Louise Ungar has published three full-length collections of poetry. The Origin of the Milky Way won the Gival Press Poetry award, a silver “IPPY” from the Independent Publishers organization and a Hoffer award. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals. Ms. Ungar is a professor of English at the College of St. Rose and director of the MFA program there.


  • Peter Boudreaux is a local handyman and musician who has traded his shingle to join the large diversity of writers in our area.
  • Marion Menna is a retired special ed teacher originally from Long Island who has had poems published in a variety of journals, as well as two chapbooks.
  • Claire North, a writer in several genres, moderates a Poetry Writing and Reading Group in VT, has been a Minister of Spiritual Science for 22 years and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College.
  • Maryann Ronconi is former director of Minds – On Workshops at The Rensselaerville Institute for almost 20 years. A homesteading life on an old Helderberg farm and frequent travel have offered her

Poet Rebecca Schumejda to read at the Social Justice Center August 21
Kingston Poet Rebecca Schumejda will read from her work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany, on Thursday, August 21, at 7:30 p.m.  Rebecca Schumejda is the author of five poetry chapbooks; Cadillac Men (NYQ Books, 2012), a poetic memoir inspired by her experience as a co-owner of a pool hall; and the recent collection of linked poems, Waiting at the Dead End Diner (Bottom Dog Press).

A reading by a local or regional poet is held each Third Thursday at the Social Justice Center.  The event includes an open mic for audience members to read.  Sign-up starts at 7 p.m., with the reading beginning at 7:30.  The host of the readings is Albany poet and photographer Dan Wilcox.  The suggested donation is $3, which helps support this and other poetry programs of the Poetry Motel Foundation and the work of the Social Justice Center.  For more information about this event contact Dan Wilcox, 518-482-0262; e-mail:

Arts Center of the Capital Region announces upcoming writing classes
Here is a list of writing classes starting at the Arts Center in August and September (additional classes begin in October). For more information and to register, visit WRITER’S CIRCLE: ENCOURAGING FEEDBACK & ADVICE FOR WRITERS

  • Thursdays, August 7-21
  • 6-8 p.m.
  • Instructor: Coleen M. Paratore
  • Member: $100. Non-Member: $110.
  • Enrollment Max: 10

Led by prolific author and inspirational teacher Coleen Murtagh Paratore, each class time will be equally divided among participants, and when it’s “your turn” you may use your minutes as you wish: get critiques of a first page or chapter, feedback on a book idea, help with a title, advice on publishing, answers to questions that are blocking you — whatever will help you move forward with your writing. Come write away and be inspired in an encouraging atmosphere. Troy native and resident Coleen Murtagh Paratore is the award-winning author of 17 books. Her publishers include Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Scholastic Press. Her latest publication is FIREFLIES: A Writer’s Notebook (for all ages), pub. date 1-20-14, Little Pickle Press. Check out her


  • Wednesdays,September 10-October 15
  • 6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: Marion Roach Smith
  • Member: $280. Non-Member: $310
  • Enrollment Max: 20

Flannery O’Connor said that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life. She’s right, of course. But writing about yourself and your crazy (or not-so-crazy) family can be the big vein, if you’re ready, or the brick wall, if you’re not. This course will help you dig among your stuff and get it down on paper in some interesting, funny, enlightening, compelling, readable and possibly saleable way. Let’s go. It’s there for the mining. Marion Roach Smith is a former New York Times staffer, author of four mass-market books and commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Suggested reading for the class is her book, The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life (Grand Central, 2011).


  • Mondays, September 15-November 3
  • 7:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: Susan Comninos
  • Member: $173. Non-Member: $192
  • Enrollment Max: 12

What makes a poem contemporary? Is it awareness of the public sphere? Inclusion of brand names? Creation of a conversational voice? Explore what it means, and how, to write contemporary poetry with local published poet Susan Comninos. During an eight week reading and writing course, together we’ll learn, through discussion and exercises, how to repurpose cliches; create “observational” poetry that lends itself to seeming humor and depth; and work on verse forms that counter-intuitively free us up to surprise both ourselves and our readers through self-imposed boundaries. Come prepared to write and participate. Susan Comninos holds a B.A. in English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Her poetry has appeared in Subtropics, TriQuarterly, Quarterly West, The Cortland Review, Tulane Review, Nashville Review, Lilith, Tikkun, Literary Mama, J Journal: New Writing on Justice andGastronomica, among others. In 2010, she won the Yehuda Halevi Poetry Contest run by Tablet magazine. She lives in Guilderland.


  • Thursdays, September 25-October 30
  • 5:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Enrollment Max: 15
  • Instructor: Steve Barnes

Join Steve Barnes, restaurant columnist for the Times Union and author of the popular “Table Hopping” blog, for a 6-week exploration of writing about food, from the way it tastes to its role in our lives. Sometimes just fuel for our bodies, food more often nourishes us emotionally as well, and since we experience it primarily through taste and smell, senses rooted in primal parts of our brain, food connects us profoundly to our past, our families, our memories and our experiences. The class will cover writing about food in a variety of ways, including but not limited to memoirs, essays, descriptive features and criticism.


  • Saturdays, September 27, 2014
  • 10 a.m. to noon
  • Instructor: Coleen M. Paratore

Do you have a personal story you’ve been thinking of writing as realistic or historical fiction, memoir, or other genre? More than a decade ago, I began writing a coming-of-age piece about a girl in a troubled family in 1970’s Troy, NY. While therapeutic, it read like a weepy diary entry. I asked a noted author: “Should I keep writing it like this or wait until I can craft it into fiction?’ The one word reply was: “Wait.” That was good advice. My novel Dreamsleeves (Scholastic Press) is the result. If possible, read the book so we will have a common ground for our discussion of character, plot, setting and other topics. I will then lead us through several simple but powerful write-and-share rounds aimed at getting us closer to the heart of the story, an essential goal. Writer, teacher, and inspirational speaker Coleen Paratore is the author of 19 books. Visit her website:


  • Tuesdays, September 30-October 7
  • 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Instructor: David A. Salomon
  • Member: $58. Non-Member: $64
  • Enrollment Max: 15

In literature, the author’s point of view is the lens through which the reader looks at the world, therefore coloring everything taken in from that angle. This two-week workshop will explore the wide variety of available points of view in writing fiction. We will look at examples and then do some experimenting ourselves.