Hudson Valley Writers Guild Newsletter, March 2015


Member Announcements:

  • Linda Freedland seeking Beta reader for her manuscript
  • Letter from my love by Miriam Newell Biskin now available

Area Announcements:

  • Berkshire Festival for Women Writers happening now
  • Celebration of the Activism of Barbara Smith March 3
  • Caffè Lena to present poet Marilyn McCabe March 4
  • “Out of the Mouths of Babes” at Berkshire Festival of Women Writers March 7
  • Second Sunday Open Mic for Poetry & Prose: March 8
  • Arthur’s Market Open Mic to feature Bob Sharkey March 11
  • March 17 deadline for Schoharie Crossing 2015 Writing Contest
  • Third Thursday to feature poet Andy Fogle March 19
  • Vermont author creates March 21 retreat to inspire creativity
  • Technical writer job openings in Albany/Rensselaer


Linda Freedland seeking Beta reader for her manuscript
New HVWG member Linda Freedland writes, “I am looking for a Beta reader for my adult erotic romance. I am currently revising the manuscript based on a review by a professional copy editor. I hope to finish this by early March. I am seeking a reader, preferably female, who enjoys contemporary romance and who will provide me with an unbiased review with comments/suggestions. If interested, please contact me by email at:”

Letter from my love by Miriam Newell Biskin now available
Letter from my love by Miriam Newell Biskin is a compilation of letters written by her soldier fiancé during WW2. The self-published book is available online.


Berkshire Festival for Women Writers happening now
The annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers is a collaborative, multi-date, multi-venue event dedicated to nourishing and showcasing the voices of women writers of all ages, from many walks of life. Only in the Berkshires is Women’s History Month celebrated with such an outpouring of creativity, with Festival events every day of the month of March.

In 2015 we’ll be celebrating the Fifth Anniversary Season of the Festival in our usual style, with more than 50 readings, lectures, workshops, performances and screenings held at more than 30 Berkshire County venues from Sheffield to North Adams.

Special events to look forward to include a keynote talk by memoirist Dani Shapiro on March 1; a special screening of Pamela Yates’ new film DISRUPTION with a talkback by the filmmaker, in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8; a behind-the-scenes interview with best-selling young adult author Mary Pope Osborne to open the Festival Book Expo event on March 29; a benefit performance directed by Jayne Atkinson-Gill on our closing weekend; and much, much more.

Join us and feel the marvelous momentum of this grand collaborative community celebration! And please support our efforts in any way you can–there are so many ways to get involved, from volunteering to becoming business sponsor or Friend of the Festival.  We can’t do it without you!

For complete Festival information:

Celebration of the Activism of Barbara Smith March 3
Rockefeller College, the New York State Writers Institute and SUNY Press invite you to a celebration of the life and work of pioneering activist Barbara Smith. We’ll begin the evening with a panel discussion moderated by Susan Arbetter of The Capitol Pressroom, featuring Barbara and Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, editors of new book, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (2014). Immediately following the discussion, there will be a dessert reception and book signing with Barbara.

As an organizer, writer, publisher, independent scholar, professor, and elected official, Barbara Smith’s work has shaped scholarship, teaching, and progressive activism that challenges classism, sexism, racism and homophobia.  Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith brings to life the controversies, players, and strategies that expanded the definitions of freedom through multiple social movements. After meticulously selecting material from over two hundred articles and interviews, the book juxtaposes hard to find historical documents with new unpublished interviews with fellow activists and scholars. In a clear, conversational style, it engages readers in fundamental questions that can deepen their social justice work and heighten their integrity, accountability, and courage. Smith is a public service professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany and a former member of Albany’s Common Council.

Please RSVP here; seating is limited.

Caffè Lena to present poet Marilyn McCabe March 4
On Wednesday, March 4, Caffè Lena will present a poetry reading by Marilyn McCabe. 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. Sponsored by Northshire Bookstore.

Marilyn McCabe’s poems can be found in literary journals on line and in print. Her book of poems, Perpetual Motion, is available through publisher The Word Works or at Small Press Distribution, Her videopoems can be seen on She blogs about writing and reading at

Caffè Lena is located at 47 Phila Street in Saratoga Springs: (518) 583-0022,

“Out of the Mouths of Babes” at Berkshire Festival of Women Writers March 7
In this fourth year of “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers on March 7, a variety of writers and performers will illume the iconic “village” of people who help raise families – however imperfect. Whether rural or urban, many mothers live in community but experience relative isolation. The quest of Out is to “take the maternal out of the kitchen and into the world” to inspire, maintain, and celebrate the community-supported creative life of women.

Suzi Banks Baum, the event organizer, has spent the past several years cultivating women’s voices through writing. Her drive came from her own “longing that had been masked by the chaos of motherhood.” Realizing women needed their own incubator to create, she formed The Powder Keg Sessions, a series of writing groups. She also edited An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice and is currently on a book tour, offering space for women around the country to express their voices through writing. This summer, she’ll take it to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she grew up.

“My desire is to spread the roots of this community past Berkshire County,” says Banks Baum. “Women the world over are stymied by a silent desperation that keeps them quiet. Whatever their life conditions, the common thread is a societal underestimation of the value of motherhood and of women’s lives in general. My quest is for women to access and nurture their inner resolve, to take a stand for their stories that are news to the world. For this, they must hear from other women.”

A variety of writers and performers, including Banks Baum, will present their work:

  • Sarah Hains DiFazio is a second-grade teacher, community leader and blogger at
  • Amy Dryansky’s newest poetry collection, Grass Whistle, received a Massachusetts Book Award. She blogs about the territory of mother/artist/poet at Pokey Mama.
  • Nichole Dupont writes about “the snarkier side of rural, single motherhood” and has been published in Newsday, Huffington Post and Berkshire Magazine.
  • Janet Reich Elsbach blogs about living on a small ludicrous farm and feeding a family of five at A Raisin & A Porpoise.
  • Lorrin Krouss used to work in publishing and was inspired to write by the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. Her first essay has already been anthologized.
  • Serene Mastrianni is a registered pharmacist who also created and co-hosts the long-running weekly radio broadcast Radio2Women.
  • Lynnette (Lucy) Najimy and her film company, Beansprout Productions, use the power of story to bridge the gap between people across social divides.
  • Rachel Siegel trained at the Royal Academy of Drama and has performed widely in the United States and UK.
  • Leigh Strimbeck is co-founder of the WAM Theatre and Artist in Residence at Russell Sage College, teaching in the theater and WORLD programs.

In addition to the live portion, there will be art by Berkshire women and a short film on the theme of “If she can, I can!” Copies of An Anthology of Babes will also be available for purchase. Bedtime snacks and socializing will close the evening. “Out of the Mouths of Babes” will be at Dewey Memorial Hall, Sheffield, MA on Saturday, March 7. It will start at 7 p.m., and a $10 suggested donation at the door will help fund the production, as well as support the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. Pajamas are perfect attire. To learn more, contact Suzi at (413) 429-1799 or

Second Sunday Open Mic for Poetry & Prose: March 8
The next “Second Sunday Open Mic for Poetry and Prose” will be Sunday, March 8, at The Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River Street, Troy, NY. Bring two poems or five minutes of prose to read. After March, we have only three more dates left:  April 12, May 10 and June 14.  Co-hosted by Nancy Klepsch and Dan Wilcox.

Arthur’s Market Open Mic to feature Bob Sharkey March 11
Second Wednesday open mic and featured poet March 11 at Arthur’s Market & Café, 35 N. Ferry Street, Schenectady. Featured poet: Bob Sharkey. Bob’s publications include Main Street Rag, Plainsongs, Pudding and his initial collection, a chapbook entitled The Yellow Fairy.

Hosted by Catherine Norr. Come listen and share in a warm welcoming venue. Good food and beverages available.

March 17 deadline for Schoharie Crossing 2015 Writing Contest
There are three categories for the Schoharie Crossing 2015 Writing Contest: child (8-12 years old), young adult (13-17) and adult (17+).

Option #1:
This entry appears on Friday, September 10, in a diary kept by a resident of Fort Hunter in 1869: “It has Rained all day today and I helped…Eb. Howards…and the …Websters also[.]  I shall never forget while I live let it Be long or short what I herd this Day.” No further mention appears in the diary after this, and there is nothing in the days leading up to it that would give any good clues.  Using a creative approach and knowledge of the canal era in Fort Hunter, develop a story about what it is the diarist might have heard.

Option #2:
The Erie Canal operated from early spring to late fall. Occasionally however, barges didn’t make it through before the water froze for the winter.  That is what happened to the line boat, “Elizabeth” operated by the Brown family in 1858. Winnie is now twelve and along with her brothers Albert (14 yrs old) and Jason (8 yrs old), they help their parents haul freight and passengers along the canal between Albany & Buffalo.  Stuck on the frozen canal near Canal town with their four mules (Daisy, Buttercup, Midnight and Magic) until the spring thaw, the family will have to find a way to earn a living and survive. Write a story telling about how they and their mules spend their days until spring.

Option #3:
In recent years archaeological exploration has yielded new information regarding 18th Century Fort Hunter.  Here are three artifacts that were discovered on site: A ring, a silver nose bob, and a black bear tooth.  These  are available to be viewed in the exhibit at the Visitor Center—call if you would like to stop in to see them.  Using one, two or all three of these artifacts, create a compelling story.  Use your own writing voice and place the setting within the 18th century Mohawk Valley frontier.

Here are the rules/guidelines:

  • Submissions must be in by 5 p.m. on March 17.
  • Please, only one entry per person.
  • Please provide with your submission your name, age category, contact information including mailing address and telephone number. Submissions can be dropped off to the site, mailed or sent via email.
  • All submissions must be legible (typed double space preferred) and the pages numbered.
  • Submit to Janice M. Fontanella, Schoharie Crossing, P.O. Box 140, Fort Hunter, NY 12069;

PRIZE WINNERS will receive:

  • Child: $25 Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce Gift Checks
  • Young Adult: $50
  • Adult: $100

Feel free to illustrate your story, however they are not necessary. If there are any questions or comments, or you would like more historical context or information for your writing, please contact us at Schoharie Crossing via phone: (518) 829-7516.

Third Thursday to feature poet Andy Fogle March 19
Poet Andy Fogle will read from his work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Avenue, Albany, on Thursday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. Andy Fogle grew up in Virginia Beach, lived for 13 years in the DC area and has now been upstate for 10 years, teaching at Bethlehem Central High School and chipping away at a PhD in Education. He has published five chapbooks of poetry and a variety of nonfiction.

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;

Vermont author creates March 21 retreat to inspire creativity
Writers, freelancers, poets and others are encouraged to attend a day-long retreat designed to assist them in overcoming blocks or resistance in the writing process. “Nourish, A Retreat for Writers” is designed to help writers care for themselves, according to author J.P. Choquette, who designed the one-day event. The retreat will be held in a spacious mansion in the quaint village of Enosburgh, Vermont, on March 21.

“I planned this one-day retreat to help fellow writers by providing the time and space needed to nurture creativity,” she said. “In a world that’s often busy and loud, it can be a challenge to find time to just be quiet and discover or re-discover the joy that comes from writing.” Choquette explained that the goal of the retreat is not to schmooze with editors and agents or worry about one’s career, but to feed creativity: “I want to work with writers to create plans for growing their creativity and their writing. This is best done by guiding writers in defining what blocks them and then create strategies to work around the blocks. It’s about helping them to blossom and strengthen their writing skills and to have fun along the way.”

The morning session will focus on a guided journaling session and on-site yoga class taught by a professional instructor. A spa-like, nourishing lunch will follow. The afternoon offers time for free-writing, creating a collage “story” without words and mini-coaching sessions with participants. “I have discovered that movement and other forms of art, such a painting and collage, both enhance your mental creativity and help your writing,” she explained.

Choquette is a writer of fiction and nonfiction works. She is the author of the guide The 15- Minute Novelist, How to Write Your First Book in Just 15 Minutes a Day. She is also a coach who helps other creatives build a strategy for successfully hurdling over stumbling blocks. Her most recent novel, Subversion, was published in late 2014. Registration is $249. Due to the nurturing atmosphere, spaces are limited. Registration can be found online at

Technical writer job openings in Albany/Rensselaer
Documentation Strategies, Inc., is a leading provider of Information, Technology and Training services to public and private organizations.  Since 1981, Documentation Strategies has served clients throughout the U.S. from its headquarters in Albany/Rensselaer, New York.  We are certified as a Woman-owned Business Enterprise by New York State, the Port Authority of NY-NJ and WBENC.  In 2013 and again in 2014 DocStrats was named an INC. 500/5000 Fastest Growing companies in the US.

Documentation Strategies is seeking to fill two openings; both require at least three years technical writing, editing and proofreading experience:

  • We are representing our client, a national systems integrator, who is in search of a Technical Writer for a New York State (NYS) project.  This is a 3-6 month contract, based in the Albany, NY area and will require 100% on-site presence.
  • We are representing our client, a materials analysis equipment firm in need of a soft- and hardware Technical Writer to join its engineering team.  This is a full-time, permanent opportunity, based in the Albany, NY area and requires 100% on-site presence.  Relocation and sponsorship are not a consideration at this time.

There are detailed job descriptions for each. Experienced technical writers, please contact Carolyn Santiago, IT Recruiter with Documentation Strategies, at, or call (518) 432-1233 x32.