Call for women veterans submissions

Call for Submissions

Upcoming Publication of Poetry by Women Veterans, Bayou City Branch, TX

All honorably discharged women veterans of all ages, all assignments, serving in U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard are invited to submit poems, short stories, and pics for consideration to Bayou City II branch of the National League of American Pen Women, Inc. Membership in NLAPW is not required.

Send Submissions to:

Barb Whitmarsh
17396 Lawrence 2150
Aurora, MO 65605

Click here to email submissions to


36 lines single spaced
Short Stories:
up to 350 words
Pics dealing with military issues only
No vulgarity merely for vulgarity sake accepted.
Keep original work. No work will be returned.

Rank will not be posted, e.g.:
Mary Smith USMC
All contributors will receive one complimentary copy of publication.

To donate to the NLAPW using our secure on line payment method on the National League of American Pen Women website, click on the blue donate button and please add “VETERANS BOOK” note.

Please click here learn more about and our nonprofit mission dedicated to promoting the Arts, and to read more about The Pen Women Press by clicking here.

Poem of the Week–Joshua Tree


Ageless rocks stand like desert monuments,
Trees with spiky arms reach toward the sky.
Roads snake into endless wilderness
Distant views bemuse the eye.

Sandy trails slice through unyielding brush
Where shy inhabitants slither, crawl and run,
Bold wildflowers in radiant colors
Lift their heads to the relentless sun.

Vast and wild, the park calls to adventurers
Who roar along its roads in fearless quest.
While those who come to look for sanctuary
Soon discover gifts of beauty, peace and rest.

Some say this place is where the spirits dwell
And who’s to know who has not felt its spell?

Dawn Huntley Spitz
Cape Cod Branch, MA

Poem of the Week–Mere Things, & Helen Holt service

Memorial Service for Helen Holt
Sat, August 15, 11am – 2pm
The National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC 20016

Mere Things

Mere things don’t matter,
or so we’d like to think;

but on the brink
of forgetting,

of letting

some mere thing
turns us

to remembering.

by Cathmar Shaw Prange
Iowa City Branch, IA

Art of the Week, New Member Profile, Carol Loethen

Continuing our series on getting to know NLAPW’s newest members, today’s Art of the Week features Carol Loethen of the Pensacola Branch. Welcome, Carol, it’s an honor to have you as a member!

Attention Branch Presidents: If you have a new member you would like to see on this monthly feature, send in (or get them to send in) their art, a bio and branch info.

Speaking of new members, Houston has a new branch — so do get the word out to your Southeast Texas friends that now they do have a NLAPW branch in the fourth largest city in the U.S. The Bayou City Branch has got some great plans for the autumn and beyond. Email

and now, to Carol and her story:

Carol Loethen
Girl In Blue by Carol Loethen Pensacola Branch

Girl In Blue
by Carol Loethen
Pensacola Branch

Owner/Loethen Design

Coming from a small town, Bunkie, Louisiana, where as a child every day after school she would have fun making ceramics. Over her elementary school years she achieved many ribbons for her ceramic designs. Carol was always told in school how good she was in art, but felt art was a hobby and not a career. Therefore when she attended college, Fine Art was a minor. She worked for many years in retail, bookkeeping, and accounting, at the same time painting, woodworking, polymer clay, and many other art forms kept her busy.
Later in life she went back to college to earn a degree in Graphic Design. Having this degree has enhanced her skills as an artist. As a Graphic Design artist Carol has her own business, Loethen Design, where she freelances as an illustrator, photographer, and jewelry designer. As a fine art photographer she specializes in fashion, travel, and food photography.
Carol now lives in Pensacola Beach, Florida with her husband who is also a photographer and artist. Carol’s work has been published in several magazines and has been exhibited in several juried art shows, fairs, and festivals. Carol belongs to “The Wide Angle Photo Club”, where she designs their Facebook page and monthly newsletters. She also belongs to “The National League of American Pen Women”, The Pensacola Branch and the National Branch.
Look for her on Facebook!

Ethics: a visual tool

From Treanor Baring:

Many who know me in the NLAPW know that I have recently worked with a project analyzing ethical behavior in corporate settings at the University of St. Thomas here in Houston (Enron’s home town). I was privy to results from research on how ethical groups behave and on the warning signs that ethics are going off the rails.

With that background and based on that unpublished research (credited on the form), I devised this evaluation to help individuals understand ethical issues at stake. I designed it with self-evaluation in mind. It puts choices in visual terms with unethical behavior on the left and ethical behavior on the right (no political meaning attached). Several Pen Women asked that I post it on the blog. Click here for a PDF of my ethics evaluation form. One choice that wasn’t included on the form since it wasn’t a part of the business setting, but would certainly apply to us as Pen Women, would be the choice between “Hostility” vs “Kindness.” Please share your comments, keeping that in mind!

I believe strongly in the Pen Women, our mission, our sisterhood, and of course in what the magazine, the website and the Pen Woman Press have brought to the table in the last five years. I’m excited about our upcoming projects and the service we bring both to our members and the Arts. I’m proud to be a Pen Woman with the likes of Helen Holt and the others mentioned in the recent blog post by Siggy Buckley on our history. All for one!

Treanor Baring
Website Content Editor
Poetry Editor

Helen Holt and Historical Perspective on our Legacy

From the editor:

I have two posts to share with you that speak to the same topic: our legacy as Pen Women. One is an obituary for Helen Holt, whose biography by Patricia Daly-Lipe was published this year by the Pen Women Press, and whose life story is an inspiration. As April Myers, Pen Woman Magazine editor put it, “We should have a national day of mourning” for this remarkable Pen Woman. The second post is an extensively researched article by Jacksonville Pen Woman Siggy Buckley on the NLAPW’s history. Quoting from a 1970s special centennial issue of the Pen Woman magazine, Siggy paints a beautiful portrait of some of the women who overcame adversity to give future generations (that would be US now!) a reason to be Pen Women. –Treanor Baring

Helen Holt, 1913-2015

“When it comes to doing things for others,
some people stop at nothing.”

These words are not just a frequent aphorism of Helen Holt. They are a true reflection of her 23 dedicated years as a public servant. Helen’s list of accolades is nothing less than remarkable. Yet the 101-year-old icon and first woman to hold a statewide-office in West Virginia was not at all shy to admit she became “a professional woman by necessity.”
Helen Holt unwittingly became a trailblazer for women in the political arena. The real irony is that she never gave politics a second thought until she married the youngest U.S. senator (1935-1941) from West Virginia, Rush D. Holt, Jr. in 1941. Helen was immediately involved in her husband’s work, and Rush was quick to teach Helen “how to work with men and to feel comfortable working with them,” since she was a lone woman in a man’s world. Sadly, Rush was only 49 at the time of his death. But, despite no income (unlike today’s members of Congress), Helen was able to provide for her family when she took over Rush’s position in the West Virginia House of Delegates. Two years later, Helen was sworn in as the first female Secretary of State of West Virginia. In 1960, President Eisenhower commissioned Helen with “the task of creating a program to fix the nation’s ailing network of nursing homes” because, as Helen wrote, “they had to get a woman—no man was sufficiently interested.” Tirelessly, she carried out this job under seven consecutive United States Presidents.

–Patricia Daly-Lipe
District of Columbia Branch

The Legacy of Pen Women

The National League of American Pen Women, Inc. is a professional organization of women in creative fields to support and promote creative excellence and professional standards in the Arts. The League reaches back for almost 120 years with a rich history of outstanding members and a colorful tapestry of talents in the fields of writing, art and music.

It was founded by five adventurous and ambitious writers in 1897 because the literary world they wanted to conquer as journalists was exclusively a male domain. Barred from the all-male Press Club, their indignation about such discrimination led them to act. Now there are branches all over the United States with distinguished programs such as competitions for young artists and writers to fulfill our nonprofit mission to promote the arts.

With the League’s membership expanding, it appointed a Music Committee in 1916.
Pen Women have made history since their founding days: “Pen Woman Anna Kelton Wiley went to jail in 1917 with 98 other women in an attempt to convince President Woodrow Wilson of the need for Women’s Suffrage.”

25 years after its inception/foundation, the League’s artistic membership had sufficiently grown to warrant a League Art Show. One of its art members was young Vinnie Ream, the sculptor of the statue of President Abraham Lincoln still admired in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
It took until 1971, however, for women to be approved for membership in the National Press Club. “On February 22, 1971, 24 newswomen were approved for membership in the National Press Club, ending the all-male member’s tradition,” Mary Manning writes in her contribution to the Centennial Celebration Pen Woman magazine. This small version of the magazine is a priceless testimonial to the many accomplishments of the League; it gives a detailed overview of the Pen Women’s renowned history and endeavors.

In 1950, a mansion was purchased in Washington D.C which became the splendid Pen Arts Building. Within walking distance of the White House, art museums, and just down the street from the National Geographic Society, its location has a historic designation. Members are encouraged to visit it and its art collections, library and archives. Currently, there is an initiative to raise funds for needed building repairs.

The Pen Women are proud to have many famous artists of international renown like Pearl Buck and Dorothy Parker among their ranks as well as several First Ladies like Florence Kling Harding, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Rodham Clinton who are Honorary Members.

Once a Pen Woman – always a Pen Woman. Paula Harding, journalist and author, one of our own members here in Jacksonville, FL was a distinguished member for over 50 years. She held every office except that of the Treasurer, “because she had no talent for that.” She met personally with Honorary Member Pearl Buck when she visited Jacksonville. She is the perfect example extending her hand into the community well beyond her retirement writing a newsletter for the community she lived in until, sadly, she passed away in 2013.

“It’s a good feeling to belong to an organization as established (78 years!), as large as 5,800 talented women!), and as prestigious as the League…not just the honor of being associated with some of the most talented creators.., not just the thrill of recognizing so many famous bylines…There is a delight…such a glow of admiration and affection that makes me proud to be able to say, “I am a Pen Woman” (Elizabeth Shafer, 1975).

The Centennial magazine revealed another true gem, the term Penguin and Penguin Parade referring to the husbands of the Pen Women. When attending one of their famous dinners in evening gear, what should one call the attending spouses appropriately? Liboria Romano who was president of the Manhattan branch at the time, in 1949, came up with the idea to call them Pen-guins.

So much has changed since the first communication bulletin was printed and distributed in 1916 and the first quarterly magazine was issued in 1920. (These magazines can be read in the Pen Arts archives!) These days the League has fully embraced the digital era with a wonderful, informative national website ( Most local branches have their own websites, e.g.,

“In an age where striving for excellence is a rare thing, what a privilege it is to belong to THE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF AMERICAN PEN WOMEN. TO THE FUTURE!” (from the Sacramento branch according to the Centennial magazine). This still holds true today. One for all and all for one, is after all, our motto.

–Siggy Buckley
Jacksonville Branch, FL

Poem of the Week–Sassafras and Roaming

Sassafras and Roaming

Behind overgrown yews, in that wreck
of a cottage the color of old bones,
there lived my other mother.
Under oaken timbers her tea steeped
in chipped earthenware mugs
and her spinning wheel twisted
flax into owl feathers
and uncommon paths.

After the hearth embers cooled,
she left footprints in the ashes,
rowed me down river,
each dip of oar stirring marsh grass,
spider webs, orange-tip butterflies.

In the shallows, egrets waded.
Here I paddled
round and round.
In the whirling, she sang
as she wove dandelions into river reeds
and crowned me queen.

Diane McDonough
Cape Cod Branch, MA

Art of the Week–Mystical Pond and Poem of the Week–Nocturne

Art of the Week

Click on the image to see it larger.

Mystical Pond at High Lane  Mary Lou Griffin Diamond State Branch, DE Pastel

Mystical Pond at High Lane
Mary Lou Griffin
Diamond State Branch, DE

Poem of the Week


I dip my feet and slowly enter the quiet pool of the river,
breaking its mirror- like face.
Soon algae and leaves come to attach themselves to my skin;
they conspire to camouflage me.
I think of my New York apartment’s bathtub
and my attempt at turning it into a spa.
One cup of epsom salts and five drops of lavender oil poured into it.
Here I am one with nature, part of earth,
like going back to being dust,
but while alive.
There’s a concert of muted murmurs and a harmony of subtle scents.
My arms sway, sending ripples to the weathered stone edge,
and my cupped hands try to scoop up slices of the white moon.
A bull frog pulls its long tongue out.
Is it considering I maybe be something to nibble at?
The river, including all of us in it, is a big eye staring at the sky.

Liliana Luppi Dossola
Alexandria Branch, VA

Editor’s Note:
I have just returned from an all too short spiritual retreat in the hill country of Texas where I swam in natural springs to beat the heat–less than 24 hours after I wintered in the Southern Hemisphere. This poem by Liliana Dossola was waiting in my inbox. Kismet! The pastel by Mary Lou Griffin appeared in a previous website art gallery.

Speaking of travel, if you are in need of restoration and great get-aways (sorry for the cheesy segue), the NLAPW has two incredible travel opportunities coming up: click here to see our News and Events page for details about our “Garden Tour and Pen Arts Stay” and “NLAPW in Italy.”
–Treanor Baring, NLAPW Website Content Editor

Art of the Week (At Repose with Mitsy) and Poem of the Week (Cuba)

Art of the Week

Click on the image to see it larger.

At Repose with Mitsy E. Marie Francis Vero Beach Branch, FL Acrylic

At Repose with Mitsy
E. Marie Francis
Vero Beach Branch, FL

Poem of the Week


Amalia, but we called her Molly
The first and only Cuban I have known
She was orphaned when
Her parents died in a train wreck
She and her brother were raised by the nuns and brothers
The children were not permitted to see each other for a year
Thinking that would allow their unspeakable loss to heal
Like an unpicked scab
Her family name, unknown to me, had stature but no money, she said
Molly married a US navy man and left the island by twenty
Castro’s revolution was on its way
In the United States the soap operas taught her English
An economics course taught her capitalism
Amalia transformed herself into Molly
We met when teachers at a Catholic School
She taught Spanish; I taught English
I was a twenty-seven year old ex-nun fresh from the convent
Molly was a thirty-seven year old with a master’s degree in psychology
She became my counselor ex-officio
Molly transformed me.
She was outgoing and fun
She gave me permission to shake off the habits of my old life
And embrace my new life with gusto
Just as she had done for herself.
We partied with faculty and attended weddings together
We went for dinner and drinks often
One night she let down her guard
Her brother was waiting for his son’s release
He’d been imprisoned for handing out anti-Castro pamphlets on a street corner
They’d cross the Straits when the boat of opportunity sailed
As soon as her words dropped from her lips
Panic set in
Now, she had to trust me with her secret
I never spoke a word; not even to ask the outcome
Molly divorced and I married; our friendship suffered
I moved hundreds of miles away, we lost touch
But thirty years later, I wanted to mend the rift
The internet quickly gave up Amalia’s address
A letter came back
My opportunity had sailed a year too late
In 2003 Molly had died.

Descansa en paz, Amalia. Descansa en paz.

by Susan Bassler Pickford
Member at large

Poem of the Week–Dancer


Under ebony hair and smooth skin
her flashing eyes twinkle
like sun dancing on summer waves.
Graceful hands paint the air
as she punctuates the dance
with tongue clicks and song.
When she walks, she flows
sweeping away the hearts of men.
Yet deep within
there is a bruise
that only her eyes reveal.

from: Song of the Dancer, my second book of poetry
Christina Laurie, Cape Cod Branch, MA

NLAPW Art trip to Italy — discounted price and a wonderful opportunity!! See our news page for more info: news page click here