NLAPW National Level News

(See more news: News from Pen Women and Branch News.)


50th Biennial in D.C. April 30 – May 3, 2021

By Sheila M. Byrnes, Biennial Chair and National First Vice President

Due to the postponed Biennial, I recently negotiated a third contract with The Darcy to host the event. The Darcy has honored our previous guest room rate of $178 and has waived the hotel’s facility fee for our convention. Registrants also have the option of booking at the same rate three days prior and three days post of our Biennial, as long as rooms are available. (Go to for link.)

The Darcy hotel is within walking distance of Pen Arts, the League’s headquarters, where events will take place on Saturday, May 1. A professional sound system has been purchased in anticipation of the Biennial Music Performances to be held in the parlor of the Pen Arts Building. The Music awards and concert, with a tea reception co-hosted by the Central New York and D.C. Branches, will take place at Pen Arts.

The Letters Chair arranged for distinguished speakers for the Vinnie Ream Banquet and Letters Luncheon. Both Ann B. Friedman, founder and chair of Planet Word, and Karen Pastorello, national award-winning author and historian on women’s rights and suffrage, have stated that they are able to attend the events in 2021.

Barbara Wolanin, who served as curator for the architect of the U.S. Capitol and mural conservation in the U.S. Capitol and Library of Congress, judged the 2020 Biennial Art Contest. She will be the guest speaker at the Art luncheon.

For the latest information and schedule, go here.

Pen Women Press to Resume Operations

By Lucy Arnold, Publications Chair

Pen Women Press (PWP), the publishing imprint of NLAPW, is preparing to reopen after a two-year hiatus.

PWP differs from a vanity press in that we carefully select which books to publish, and from traditional publishers in that authors retain all net profit and royalties from book sales after paying an upfront publishing fee.

At Pen Women Press, we want to nurture talented, promising writers. Talent, however, might not equal professional experience. We believe the growth and development of authors is facilitated by providing excellent services and guidance, all with the goal of producing the best possible writers and the highest-quality books. PWP may be a business, but it also supports the values of the League to “encourage, recognize, and promote the production of creative work of professional standard in art, letters, and music.”

When PWP reopens, we will publish works by NLAPW members in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and memoir, but no technical writing.

However, before PWP can accept submissions, we must form a talent pool of expert Pen Women to fill all the necessary roles in producing our books. These positions will be paid on a per-project basis. A book coordinator will match an author with the most appropriate editors, designers, etc., for each project.

Please consider applying if you have any of the following skills:
• Editing, all levels
• Book interior (formatting, layout, design)
• Cover design
• Illustration
• Book project management
• Marketing and promotion
• Book coaching
• Voiceover for audiobooks
• Ghostwriting

Please go to for more details and to download an application.

We look forward to hearing from you.

New National Officers Installation Takes Place Virtually

A beautiful installation ceremony conducted by the NLAPW chaplain, the Rev. Robin Johnson Moscati, for the newly elected national officers took place via Zoom on Saturday, June 13, at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

The Rev. Moscati opened the service by reminding the elected officers of the mission and core values of the League as stated in the bylaws. She asked that each officer agree to uphold these goals of encouraging, recognizing, and promoting the production of creative work of professional standard in art, letters, and music and that they promote and support the core values of the NLAPW — respect, knowledge, creation, and preservation of the arts.

She asked also that each officer sincerely represent the League to the best of her ability to members and nonmembers with integrity, kindness, and dignity. Her words of affirmation, shared below, are noteworthy to all Pen Women in leadership roles across the League.

May our eternal Creator continually grant you the patience, communications, tenderness, laughter, and diligence that it takes to be a role model and leader within this far-reaching, long-cherished organization — the National League of American Pen Women.

Be steadfast in your work, your plans, and your joint decisions together as the leadership board.

Be positive and hope-filled in goals to set and achieve, as you work together in a partnership for the good of the League and of each other, as a unit.

Be purposeful and cohesive, as this will sustain you,
will motivate and will give you the drive and the encouragement to move forward together even when circumstances may make you think otherwise.

In those down moments, stop. Breathe. And then remember why you are a Pen Woman and remember the important role you are undertaking on behalf of this body of creative women.

— The Rev. Robin Johnson Moscati

Pen Women at Red Carpet Event in D.C.

The John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., hosted its annual event, “Earth, Wind, and Fire,” in December. The 2019 event honored Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, “Sesame Street,” and Michael Tilson Thomas. NLAPW President Evelyn Wofford and Second Vice President Lorna Jean Hagstrom were invited to the luncheon with the honorees and Hagstrom had her photo taken with Sally Field (left).

Reaping the Creative Harvest Found in Retirement   

By Gail Speckmann, Outreach Chair

As we go through life, each of us has a rich storehouse of life experiences from which to draw our words and share our visions.

What does a writer need in order to create? Time, space, and the life experiences that give us the insights and material we can use as source for our stories and truths.

If our wells are either too full or too dry, we may not find the optimal balance for creating richly and effectively. 

A life that is too crammed with activities, responsibilities, and even material and social riches, may not have room for the type of creative outpouring that involves the gifts from the individual soul. On the other hand, a life that is running on empty, either from depletion or lack of stimulation and limited interaction with the world, may lack the energy and vibrancy to create well.

I recently had the pleasure of doing a phone interview with Patricia Black-Gould from the Pensacola Branch.  Her “stars are all aligning” at this time in her life.

Pat’s career path has traveled down some interesting avenues. Her experiences of her earlier adult years included working as an actress, playwright, theater director, and producer in New Jersey and New York. She then brought her skills to Maine, where she ran a summer stock theater company and a murder-mystery theatre company.

This original artistic direction of her life shifted to a new direction as she returned to school and received her master’s and doctorate in psychology. She published in scientific journals in the field of mental health and deafness.

Pat also pursued a career as a psychologist and neuropsychologist with the Veterans Administration and a state forensic hospital. Two years ago, she moved to Florida and worked as a forensic psychologist at a state prison for men.

Recently, Pat has semiretired and maintains a small private practice. With her time and energy opening up, her writing life blossomed. 

She joined the NLAPW Pensacola Branch and has been active in the collaborative program “Painted Sounds,” in which artists and writers combined their talents. She collaborated with artist Barbara Dunham, whose striking collage, “Escapes,” led Pat to write a poem titled “The Fireman.” Their collaboration was featured in the fall 2018 edition of The Pen Woman.

Through her involvement in Pen Women, Pat Black-Gould learned of another writers group, “In Our Write Minds,” and has become an active member, along with a group of other Pen Women from the Pensacola Branch. She is also a member of the West Florida Literary Federation, The Portfolio Exchange Society Critique Group, and the Panhandle Writers Group.

The support and feedback she receives from these groups have led to a short story published in Mused Literary Journal, and a story to be published soon at Her poem, “Getting Gunned: Life as a Female Prison Psychologist,” was published at

Two of her plays are scheduled for production in the 2021-2022 theater season. In addition, she has almost completed her first novel, “Broken Angel.”

When she worked full time, Pat noticed that the energy she needed to focus on her creativity was limited. Now that she is semiretired, her newly gained freedom allows her the time needed to wear her many creative hats.

Pat Black-Gould’s inspiring story of her writing career’s trajectory illustrates well how membership in NLAPW can help support and inspire creative women’s work. Newly retired women can be a very good fit for membership in our organization. 

Creative ways to reach out to this demographic group are wide and varied. It often starts with a simple awareness of the women in our lives who may be at this stage and would benefit from our group. 

Direct, one-on-one invitations to meetings can be personal and powerful. Some of our Pen Women branches hold teas or potlucks for prospective members. Arts competitions and workshops also help us reach out. 

Connections that our members have with other arts organizations can be a good source of finding those women whose time in their lives is opening up and might find great value in becoming Pen Women.

We can rejoice in the ways we reach out and support our sisters in bringing forth the best creative gifts that they have inside of them.

The Pen Woman Receives International Design Award

Gold-winner-bugThe Pen Woman magazine recently received a Gold MarCom Award for design in the print media, magazine category. Additionally, the NLAPW Biennial 2018 Program received honorable mention for design in the print media, program guide category.

The annual MarCom Awards is an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals. The 2019 competition had more than 6,500 entries — including from many large, prominent enterprises and nonprofits — from 20 countries.

Awards are in two categories: Platinum and Gold. The Gold Award is presented to those entries judged to exceed the high standards of the industry norm, and approximately 24 percent of this year’s entries were Gold winners.

Entries come from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, public relations firms, design shops, production companies, and freelancers. The Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals — an international organization with several thousand members — administers and judges the competition. For a list of winners, go to

‘Zoom’ into 2020: Video Meetings for Members-at-Large     

By Gail Speckmann, Outreach Chair

As those of us who are members of NLAPW branches know, there are many benefits to being part of the community of Pen Women. We are now expanding access and inclusiveness to members-at-large through a teleconferencing program called Zoom.

Zoom is a cloud-based group meeting/discussion tool that offers interactive video, audio, and screen-sharing experiences on your computer, tablet, or phone. If you are familiar with Skype, you already get the concept. When joining a Zoom conference call, members-at-large have the option to participate in the dialog or simply listen and observe.

Based on the survey responses (initially sent out in October 2018 and resent in January 2019) from members-at-large, I have been contacting those who indicated an interest in having more connections with one another. An initial Zoom launch has been made, and the program seems very workable. Special thanks to Laura Walth, Kate Petit, and Connie DeDona as we have been exploring the program and brainstorming about the possible uses of Zoom for NLAPW.

In early February, an invitation will be sent out to all members-at-large to try out Zoom and see its potential benefits. To connect with other members online, all you will need to do is click on a link in an email sent to you by the meeting host.

Our League currently has 105 members-at-large scattered across the United States. There are various reasons why these members are not part of a branch, and these include not living geographically near an existing branch, other transportation issues, health reasons, and lack of time to commit to a regularly meeting organization.  Zoom can provide a virtual branch experience with low-pressure involvement and convenient interaction for these members.

The Zoom meetings can be used for introductions and for presenting something each woman is working on or has accomplished in her field. Members can take part when it works for them and particularly if they have some creative endeavor for which they would value feedback from other professionals. Shared issues regarding work situations, creative challenges, and outreach can be discussed in the group setting. Program presentations are also possible.

An added benefit from using an option like Zoom comes from increased membership potential by attracting members working full-time, including younger members.

Please consider joining us in exploring the possibilities of this new community experience!

Congratulations to Coral Gables Branch — Highest Percentage of Growth in 2018

By Bev Goldie, National Third Vice President

Coral Gables Branch, Florida, doubled its size in 2018.  What an accomplishment!

Branch Treasurer Marilyn Valiente attributed this tremendous effort to revive and grow her branch to hard work and persistence. As a signature member of both Miami’s and Florida’s watercolor societies and past president of Florida’s Watercolor Society, she and Membership Chair Mai Yap were vigilant in inviting other outstanding visual artists they knew to apply to NLAPW. 

The branch has had some bumps in the road with ailing members who have had to drop out, and for a time it looked like the branch was in trouble. With the addition of 10 new members, the branch’s percentage of growth was 100 percent.

We congratulate the Coral Gables Branch for its flush of applications and wish the branch just as much success for future years.

We will add their name to the plaque that hangs in the Pen Arts Building commemorating this accomplishment. We hope to personally congratulate a delegate from the branch at the 2020 Biennial in Washington, D.C., in spring. At that time, we will also determine and congratulate the winner of the 2019 award.