Thursday, March 26, 2009

Relaying News from the International Women's Writing Guild

An inspiring and interesting email popped into my in-box this afternoon, and I wanted to share it with you. The following press release was sent by Hannelore Hahn, founder of the International Women's Writing Guild, telling of the imminent release of a book that is a testimonial to friendship among writers. Additional information is supplied at the bottom, telling about the Guild's 57th Big Apple Conference, a wonderful event at which the book will be formally launched. Read on!

Six Writer-Friends Complete Book
for a Dying Author/Friend

When Elizabeth Aleshire was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack last summer, she fully expected to recover and complete her book, 101 Ways You Can Help: How To Offer Comfort and Support To Those Who Are Grieving. But that was not to be. A second heart attack dimmed the prospect of recovery, and Ms. Aleshire expired at the age of 59 with a third of her book unwritten.

While still in the hospital, Ms. Aleshire received daily visits from six writer-friends, all of whom had met over the years at the International Women's Writing Guild's annual “Remember the Magic” summer conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where Ms. Aleshire had taught in each of the past 25 years.

When it became clear that Ms. Aleshire would not recover, the six writer-friends offered to complete her manuscript posthumously. Permission was granted by both the author and her publisher, Sourcebooks, and the team went into “emergency mode” to write the unwritten chapters in time to meet the book's publication deadline.

The book, 101 ways You Can Help: How To Offer Comfort And Support To Those Who Are Grieving, will be in bookstores by the end of April.

On Sunday, April 19, the six friends and co-authors—Kathy Barach, Marsha Browne, Zita Christian, Judy Huge, Paula Scardemalia and Anne Walradt—will tell the story of completing their friend and teacher's book as part of the International Women's Writing Guild's 57th Big Apple Conference's “Meet the Authors” Open House at the Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (near 38th Street) in New York City.

The “Meet the Authors” Open House will be followed in the afternoon by a “Meet the Agents” Open House where writers have the opportunity to briefly discuss their work with literary agents.

“Many writers have found their agents at this event,” says Hannelore Hahn, the IWWG’s Executive Director who founded the nonprofit organization in 1976. “Actually, some 4,000 books have been published by IWWG members since we started more than 30 years ago.

“But publication has never been our only goal,” she adds. “That is why we always begin our twice-yearly Big Apple Conference weekends with a memoir-writing workshop. Writing from personal experience is immensely important for both the writer as a writer and the writer as a person.”

This year’s Big Apple Conference begins on Saturday, April 18, with Lisa Dale Norton's all-day writing workshop, “The Compassionate Memoir: Using the Process of Memoir to Change the World.”

For further information, please contact Hannelore Hahn at the IWWG’s New York City office by telephone (212-737-7536) or email (


Friday, March 20, 2009

Nettle Meadow Goat Farm is "Big Cheese" in National Media

Isn't it great when hard work and dedication pay off in well-deserved recognition?

I've just received word that Nettle Meadow Goat Farm in Thurman will be featured on The Food Network’s new series “Will Work For Food” on March 30th at 9:30pm EST and again on April 5th at 4:30pm EST. Food Network host Adam Gertler traveled from Los Angeles, California to spend the day with owners Lorraine Lambiase and Sheila Flanagan learning how to milk goats, pasteurize milk, and make Nettle Meadow’s trademarked cheese known as Kunik. You can read details and see a few farm pictures at

In the few years that Sheila and Lorraine have owned the farm they have substantially increased the herd size and cheese production and begun repairs on the historic old barn. They have poured a ton of labor and more than a little sweat into the operation, and it's great to see their efforts recognized. Their shop is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. so you can pick up their unique cheeses, and they also offer tours on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but you must be there at noon or two p.m. Put that on your summer agenda as a trip to make with friends young and old, but in the meantime, be sure to check out "Will Work for Food."

Congratulations, Lorraine and Sheila!

Monday, March 16, 2009

P. in the Pod

I've been meaning to write about the first meeting of the novel pod I joined as part my membership in the Writers' Alliance of Gainesville. You may remember that I was nervous about that first session, held last Thursday.

I've been laughing ever since.

As our session began, each of the four members nervously fingered the marked-up copies of the other writers' chapters, wondering, I assume, as I was, how forthright to be about perceived weaknesses in the writing of these writers we didn't really know. The critique began a little tentatively, each of us tempering his/her remarks with qualifiers. "This is just my opinion, but..." or "Now you might have a reason for wanting this in there, but...."

During discussion of one writer's work, I ventured that the chapter got off to a slow start with what I felt was too much back story and too little sizzle. I was pleased to note that the other two critics were nodding their heads as I said it. Great! I must be making astute comments, I thought.

It was not until we got around to discussing my chapter that I realized why their nods had been so enthusiastic. Guess who else's work had the same starting gate flaw? They let me know - ever so politely - that I, too, had unloaded a ton of back story before I hooked the reader's attention!

They were right, of course. How had I missed that? I swear, I read my chapter critically - many times - before printing it out! Well, I have some re-writing to do on chapter one, and I need to take off my Pulitzer-colored glasses before I hammer out the next draft of chapter two.

But that's okay. That's why I joined the pod. See you Thursday, gang.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sometimes a Lamppost, Sometimes a Dog

I wrote some time ago that, through the Writer's Alliance of Gainesville, I would soon be participating in a small critique group, dubbed a "pod." Well, last week four of us met in what I hope will be just the first of many good sessions dedicated to fiction writing. We seemed compatible, which is great for a bunch of folks crazy enough to want to write who have never met before. That was hurdle one.

At that meeting we each gave the other members a copy of several pages of our respective works-in-progress, to be taken home and critiqued before this afternoon's meeting. Hurdle two.

Will they like what I wrote? If they don't, will they say so? And if they do say so, is that bad or good? There's something about putting your work in someone's hands and saying, "Critique me" that is akin to sticking out your chin and saying, "Gimme your best shot."

Well, wouldn't you know, right when these thoughts were swirling through my head, Glenn Pearsall just sent me the following quote:

"Asking a working writer what he thinks of critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs." (Attributed to Christopher Hampton, Academy Award-winning British playwright)

Perfect! Today I am a lamppost.

But now I have to ask myself another question: How will the other writers react to my critique of their works? Were my comments on the mark? Will they be regarded as helpful and constructive or negative and picky?

Either way, I'm not just a lamppost, I am also a dog.

I'll let you know how it goes, and what wisdom I glean from this experience.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maple Fun on Tap in Thurman

Those of you who know me even a little bit are aware that I am an ardent cheerleader for the little Adirondack town where we live in spring, summer and fall. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I am able to stay connected and involved with community projects there all year long. Right now Thurman is gearing up for the annual maple events, when the town and visitors turn out to celebrate all things maple.

Thurman has quite a number of maple producers - those stalwart folks who admit to being addicted to sugaring. Many tap sugarbushes that were run by their fathers and grandfathers before them. Most primarily use plastic tubing, some with vacuum assist, to deliver the sap to the sugarhouse, and then a variety of equipment is employed to remove the extra sixty percent of water to make it syrup. There are wood- and oil-fired evaporators, SteamAways, and even reverse osmosis machines. There are bottling machines and candy making machines and equipment that makes delicious maple cream.

If you haven't had the chance to see these operations up close, March is the time. I understand the sap has started running, and a great season is anticipated. On March 14th several maple producers will welcome the public for Maple Weekends, and they will open their sugarhouses Saturdays and Sundays throughout the rest of March, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you just can't wait that long, head over to Valley Road Maple Farm, where Mike and Ralph start their breakfast at 9 a.m. They'll flip you some fluffy, hot pancakes with award-winning light amber syrup to drizzle over them. You'll see demonstrations and tours, and you can browse and buy maple goodies. There's no admission, and on certain days there will be special activities. On this first weekend, catch a live radio broadcast by Froggy 107.1. Each weekend Martin's Lumber will offer sawmill demonstrations, talk about sustainable forestry and show off their finest maple slabs and interesting stained glass stepping stones and paper bead earrings.

Saturday evening, March 14th, is the annual Maple Sugar Party, with live music, a buffet of home cooked food, and traditional jack wax (sugar on snow) for dessert. Hot maple syrup that has been cooked down is ladled over cold snow, forming a chewy confection not to be trifled with! Tickets for the dinner are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 6-11, and free for kids under six. Your support benefits the American Cancer Society, and charity never tasted so good.

I hope those of you within driving distance will pile into the car, pick up a neighbor and head for Thurman. It's a great way to celebrate spring. Details (and maps) can be found by clicking on links at or phoning 518-623-9718. Or email me,