News from Pen Women

(See also Branch News and NLAPW National Level News pages.)

Pen Women in the Spotlight


From The Pen Woman, Fall 2020

Mollee Kruger (Bethesda Branch) has published “Port of Call: Memories of an Ancient Mariner,” a sequel to her coming-of-age memoir, “The Cobbler’s Last.” The new book deals with the ups and downs of her career as an award-winning freelance writer and the influence that fellow Pen Women have had on her life. She was also recently honored by the University of Maryland Alumni Association in a blog-post interview and by coverage of her 91st birthday in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., area publications.

Elaine Abramson’s (Yucca Branch) book, “From Fat to Fabulous: A Lifestyle Guide for Restaurant Lovers,” received a proclamation from Mayor Timothy W. Keller of Albuquerque, New Mexico, declaring the week of July 20, 2020, “From Fat to Fabulous Week” in the city. Albuquerque’s world-class restaurants and unique culinary diversity inspired Abramson (who writes under the name E.S. Abramson) to create her series.

"A Chance Encounter" by Dawn Petrill

“A Chance Encounter” by Dawn Petrill

Dawn Petrill (Central Ohio Branch) showed work in the Dublin Art League’s Art Stroll, Dublin, Ohio, in July. Her painting, “A Chance Encounter,” was also included in the Dublin Art League’s Irish Show July 25 – Aug. 30.

Linda Trice (Metropolitan New York Branch) had two of her stories published in prestigious literary journals. “Penumbra Literary and Art Journal” published “Removal at Seminole Mound,” her Florida-based story about a Seminole Indian Woman, as part of the journal’s “Black Voices and Experiences” series. Her contemporary story, “A Bottle of Old Times,” was published in Vol. 4, Issue 3 of “Rigorous: a Literary Journal by Black, Indigenous and People of Color.”


“Prayer for the Greening,” paper cut by Debra Collins, based on the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, who believed in viriditas or the divine healing power of green.

Debra Collins and Winifred Thompson (Diablo-Alameda Branch) had their individual works — “Prayer for the Greening” and “Sailors’ Delight,” respectively — accepted into The de Young Open Exhibition. The theme of the show is “On the Edge,” and fewer than 900 works were accepted from 11,000 submissions.

Rodika Tollefson’s (member-at-large, Washington state) personal essay, “As the Wheel Turns,” received honorable mention in the memoirs/personal essay category in the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. The competition received more than 4,000 entries in nine categories. Tollefson’s essay describes her experience as a young woman living in the United States, away from all her family, after growing up in the Soviet Union.



“Sailors’ Delight,” watercolor on yupo paper by Winifred Thompson.











From The Pen Woman, Summer 2020

Rosemary Barkes’ (Central Ohio Branch) humorous article “Coronavirus Chronicles: Sitcom, reading, 5 p.m. cocktails provide a lifeline” was published in the Columbus Dispatch on April 4 — a bit of levity regarding the pandemic scare.

 Kat Heckenbach (Tampa Branch) has both her talents featured in the newly released anthology, “Stories That Sing: HAVOK Season Two,” published by HAVOK Publishing. Heckenbach’s young adult story, “A Fly on the Wall,” is a humorous take on a high school crush involving two teens and one bizarre secret. The phoenix adorning the cover of the anthology is an image of Heckenbach’s 16×20-inch mixed media piece that earned a third-place ribbon in the Florida State Fair Fine Arts Competition in February 2020 and won Best in Show at Tampa sci-fi/fantasy convention Necronomicon in October 2019.


Stories that Sing

The original art by Kat Heckenbach, “Phoenix Song” (above), and the art on the book cover (left).


From The Pen Woman, Spring 2020

Mary Jane Ingui (Vero Beach Branch) won second place at the 2019 Florida State Association Conference in Daytona Beach Shores for her nonfiction book, “Trauma and Tenacity in Vietnam, A Surgeon’s Story.” The book details Dr. Sheldon Kushner’s tour of duty in 1968-1969 in Vinh Long, Vietnam, as a trauma surgeon who worked on South Vietnamese civilians. Dr. Kushner was a longtime resident of Vero Beach, Florida, where he practiced medicine. Now retired, he resides in Point Clear, Alabama.



ShaRon Haugen (Santa Clara County Branch) won first prize at the Coastal Arts League juried show with her oil painting, “Old Man” (left). The show had more than 200 entries and Haugen’s art took the honors over the other 72 displayed.



Jennifer Hambrick (Central Ohio Branch) performed in Denison University’s TUTTI Festival in “Words and Music,” a program featuring new musical works in response to her poetry and performed by ETHEL, quartet-in-residence at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, in March.

Yucca Branch (New Mexico) and Jane Maclean, editor of the branch newsletter, won first place in the 2020 New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest. Winners were announced March 14. The award is based on the quality of writing, photography, and design of a single edition of a newsletter or non-newspaper publication by a nonprofit, government, or educational organization. The NMPW contest takes place annually, with more than 500 entrants in more than 100 press-related categories. 


Judy Nunno’s (Ft. Lauderdale Branch) painting was selected along with several other artists’ work to be duplicated and featured on bars of Hoffman’s Chocolate Art Bars and sold at a major art exhibit and fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale (Art + Soul) last November. A South Florida native, Nunno (right) is an internationally recognized, realistic-watercolor artist who has exhibited in dozens of local, national, and international shows, winning numerous awards. Her specialty is portraits and paintings of crystal and glass.


Judith La Fourest (Indianapolis Branch), past national president (1998-2000), presented a paper on Vinnie Ream to the Fortnightly Literary Club in Indiana. There were over 75 women members in the audience and some high school essay winners with their parents and teachers. Fortnightly was founded in 1885.

Deborah Anderson (Central Ohio Branch) exhibited 12 quilts at Argo-Lehne Jewelers, in January through March.


Lucy Arnold (Golden Gate-Marin Branch) had her latest children’s illustrated book, “Druk and Mita,” released in March. This is Arnold’s third collaboration with author Tracy Tandy. The other two illustrated books are “Alphabet Dreams” picture book and its companion, “Alphabet Dreams Coloring Book.” All were published by Inevitable Ink Publishing.


Dawn Petrill and Bev Goldie (Central Ohio Branch) had pieces in the prestigious Bryn Du Art Exhibition in Granville, Ohio. The Bryn Du Art Show is an annual juried exhibition held at the beautiful Bryn Du Mansion.


From The Pen Woman, Winter 2020

Jennifer Hambrick (Central Ohio Branch) performed her poem “Circles Against the Spin” in its musical setting by composer Dr. Mark Lomax II in two concerts in Columbus, Ohio, as part of The Big SCORE, an innovative poetry and music commissioning project created and supported by The Johnstone Fund for New Music. On commission from Columbus’ Sunday at Central concert series, Hambrick also wrote four new poems for Antonio Vivaldi’s masterpiece “The Four Seasons” and gave the world-premiere readings of those poems in September. Through an invitation-only application process, she was also appointed the first Artist-in-Residence at historic Bryn Du Mansion in Granville.

Karen Kirshner (Long Island Branch) is featuring 28 paintings in a solo exhibition, “Abstract Adventures,” at the Bryant Library gallery located at 2 Paper Mill Road in Roslyn, New York. The exhibit runs through Oct. 31. Kirshner also recently exhibited with the National Association of Women Artists’ 130th exhibition in Tribeca and was also voted as Artist of the Month in September by the National Art League in Douglaston, Queens.

In the photo: Former National President Anna Di Bella (center) at the Oct. 5 reception for the solo exhibition, “Abstract Adventure,” by Pen Woman Karen Kir (left). Also pictured is Dan Keene, a musician who played classical Spanish guitar at the event.

Abby Feinknopf (Central Ohio Branch) had a solo show at Argo and Lehne Jewelers in Columbus, Ohio, in September and October.

Jeny Reynolds’  (Central Ohio Branch) home and art was featured in the September “Home & Garden” issue of Columbus Monthly.

“Madonna and Baby Jesus” by Renate Fackler

“Madonna and Baby Jesus” by Renate Fackler.

Renate Fackler (Central Ohio Branch) has two bronze sculptures, “Madonna and Baby Jesus” and “Mrs. Plank,” featured in the Garden of Peace at St. Mary’s Church in German Village in Columbus, Ohio. The Kelley Family, who are grandchildren of Mrs. Plank, are responsible for the beautiful garden and the sculptural additions that were installed in summer 2019.

Priscilla Cogan, PhD (Wellesley Branch) submitted two plays to the 2019 Community Theater Association of Michigan blind playwriting contest: “Tidal Shifts” (on elder abuse) and “Love, Lust, and Other Liabilities” (on youthful passion), and won both first and second prize in the contest. Playwriting is her third career, following that of clinical psychologist and published novelist. The Wellesley Branch has been very instrumental in sharpening her theatrical skills with its annual reading of her latest play.

Bev Goldie (Central Ohio Branch) showed work in the “Wax to the Max” Encaustic Exhibition at Wittenberg University’s Koch Hall in October.

From The Pen Woman, Fall 2019

Sara McDaris (Huntsville Branch) recently celebrated 20 years singing with the acclaimed Huntsville Master Chorale, an organization whose mission is to provide excellent choral works to North Alabama residents. She also is a master storyteller of the South, sharing her storytelling talent with the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library for 30 years and Alabama Public Television for 19 years.

Jo Jo Harder (Boca Raton Branch), creator and CEO of the America’s Top Dog Model brand, is the writer, director, and producer of its new weekly reality series “How to Get to the Top,” which premiered on YouTube in August. Additionally, her new monthly pet column launched in The Observer Newspaper, with an article about taking care of your canine family member while being sustainable.

Jessica Temple, PhD (Huntsville Branch) has been named 2019 Poet of the Year by the Alabama State Poetry Society (ASPS) in recognition of her service to the organization and to poetry in the state. Temple serves as secretary/treasurer for ASPS; co-directs the syndicated poetry radio show “melodically challenged”; and teaches at Alabama A&M University. She’s the author of the chapbook “Seamless and Other Legends” (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and a forthcoming, full-length collection from Madville Publishing.

Margaret McMullan (member-at-large, Washington, D.C.) has a new memoir, “Where the Angels Lived: One Family’s Story of Loss, Exile, and Return,” based on her research as a Fulbright professor in Pécs, Hungary, where she taught and researched her mother’s family, most of whom died in the Hungarian Holocaust. Portions of the book appeared in USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She will be at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. for a book talk and signing on Oct. 13 and 14.

Susan S. Buzzi (Fort Lauderdale Branch) recently received an honorary membership to Alpha Phi Sigma, the International Honor Society for Criminal Justice under the Florida Chapter with St. Thomas University, Miami, Florida. Buzzi, a former law enforcement officer, is now a victim advocate, coach practitioner, a contributor to the Human Trafficking Academy at St. Thomas University School of Law, an adjunct faculty member, and a member of the Broward County Commission on the Status of Women.

Sara Etgen-Baker (Dallas Texas Branch)  took both first place and honorable mention in the Chesapeake Bay Writers Group annual Keating Award Contest. She also had two pieces published in Good Old Days Magazine. Her memoir, “The Lovely Month of May,” was published in the recently released “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Mom Knows Best” and “Finding My Light” was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good.” 


“Pastoral Monologues” by Dawn Petrill

Dawn Petrill’s (Central Ohio Branch) painting, “Pastoral Monologues,” was exhibited at the Ohio State Fair for two weeks in July-August. She will also have a solo exhibit, titled “Dawn Petrill Re-Imagined,” at First Commonwealth Bank in Columbus, Ohio, through Sept. 30.

Linda Trice (Manhattan-New York City Branch) received the Pewter Plate Award by the Highlights Foundation for her profile of the Harlem Renaissance artist Jacob Lawrence. The article was published in “Highlights for Children,” a magazine for young people. Lawrence, who often used bold primary colors and cubism to illustrate African-American life, is best known for his “Great Migration” paintings.

Renate Fackler’s (Central Ohio Branch) work was shown at Gallery 22 in Delaware, Ohio, along with artist James Mason, July 5 through Aug. 24. Fackler exhibited sculpture and Mason exhibited paintings.

Christina Laurie and Elizabeth Moisan (Cape Cod Branch) recently collaborated on a Christmas book, “The Lobsters’ Night Before Christmas,” an undersea retelling of the Rev. Clement Moore’s “A Visit by St. Nicholas.” Laurie wrote the tale in clever rhyme, while Moisan did watercolor illustrations. Following the poem is a tutorial, where adults and children can learn many interesting facts about lobsters. The book was released in October and is available at local bookstores.

Hannah Rogge’s (Manhattan-New York City Branch) “Hello Honeybees,” a beautifully designed board book for ages 2 to 4, was recently published by Chronicle Books. The book stands upright to make a hive and has ribbons attached with two bees that children can fly through the pages to visit a garden, tour the beehive, and learn how busy bees are.

Darlene Yeager Torre’s (Central Ohio Branch) work, “Onlookers” (see page 13), was juried into the 13th Annual Julia Margaret Cameron Awards for women photographers. Nearly 500 photographers from 71 countries submitted over 6,500 images for the awards, which will be given at an event in Barcelona, Spain, in October.


Pen Women in the Spotlight, The Pen Woman, Summer 2019

Gloria Sampson (Columbus Branch) was featured in the Sept./Oct. 2018 issue of Southwest Georgia Living magazine. The article, which was reprinted in the Columbus Artists’ Guild magazine, reflects her lifelong commitment to art, as well as showing books and paintings resulting from her extensive travels. The article is available at

Sharon Canfield Dorsey (Chesapeake Bay Branch) received first place in poetry for her poem, “Warrior”; second place in nonfiction for her article, “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History”; and third place in juvenile fiction for her story, “Lost!” at the Christopher Newport University Writer’s Conference in Newport News, Virginia, in May. In December, she also debuted her third children’s book, “Buddy and Ballerina Save the Library,” illustrated by her granddaughters, Emma (7) and Adaline (10).

Jane Parks-McKay (Santa Clara County Branch) recently placed third in a woman’s issues writing contest sponsored by the DAR (Daughters of American Revolution). She wrote about her experiences of being a longtime family caregiver, along with thoughts on what she should have known going into it.

Dawn Petrill (Central Ohio Branch) was named Artist of the Month by the Ohio Art League. Her work will be shown at First Commonwealth Bank in Columbus, Ohio, during the month of September, with a reception planned for Sept. 7.

Renate Fackler’s (Central Ohio Branch) bronze sculptures are featured in “Urban Pocket Prairie,” in the Spring and Summer edition of  Home and Garden, which features German Village garden delights, including her meadow-like garden. A colorful, full-page photo shows her bronze sculpture “Cultivating Beauty,” which is tucked among the perennials showcased in her garden. Fackler has also been commissioned to proceed with two life-sized bronze sculptures for St. Mary’s Church and a Meditation Garden. German Village and St. Mary’s Church are in Columbus, Ohio.

Meryl Davids Landau’s (Boca Raton Branch) “Warrior Won” novel was released May 14. It’s a standalone follow-up to her prior novel, “Downward Dog, Upward Fog.” Both feature a protagonist using mindfulness and yoga to keep her inner peace. Foreword Reviews called it “spiritual fiction that is both compelling and fun.”

Jeny Reynolds’ (Central Ohio Branch) artwork was included in a monthlong exhibition for Women’s History Month, titled “Women’s Palette: Women with a History, 40 Years of Fine Art” at the Shot Tower Gallery this spring.

Marcia Zina Mager’s (Honolulu Branch) award-winning, two-woman musical “MONEY TALKS: But What the hell is it saying?” is making its “mainland” debut on June 21 as part of the grand reopening of the Historic Ute Theatre in Saguache, Colorado, after three years of performances around Hawaii. Mager is the playwright, performer, composer, and performer of the musical, which tells the autobiographical story of two struggling artists, a German and a Jew, born a generation apart, trying to understand the deeper meaning of success, failure, and self-worth. Learn more at


Jacksonville Pen Woman Receives Prestigious Award

Susanne Schuenke received the prestigious ROWITA (Recognizing Outstanding Women in the Arts) Award in March at the Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine, Florida. An internationally acclaimed artist who holds a doctorate degree in art history from

“Tanja” by Susanne Schuenke, a self-portrait.

the University of Cologne, Schuenke has works in private, museum, corporate, and public collections throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States. Her work was published in a compendium of “Women in Art – The Great Female Artists from the Middle Ages to the Modern Era” by R. Fuchs (Vienna 2013). 

Schuenke paints narrative surrealism that piques the imagination and provides visual delight for the discerning eye. Her massive painting of seven butterflies, “Give Me Wings,” fills a wall at Mayo Clinic-Jacksonville and has been described as possessing “healing qualities.”

A member of the Jacksonville Branch for nearly a decade, she is exhibitions chair and is in charge of the upcoming “Visions & Verses” exhibition  at the Vandroff Art Gallery, Jewish Community Alliance, from June 30 through July 31. This multidimensional art show presented by 28 branch members pairs paintings, photographs, or woven images with the written word in poetry, essay, or prose commentary. 


Pen Women in the Spotlight, The Pen Woman, Spring 2019

Halide K. Smith (Sarasota Branch, Florida) has had a number of award-winning compositions performed in the past two years. Last March, soprano Jessica Salley and pianist Jessica Koebbe performed Smith’s “I Hear Voices” at the Kansas City SAI Musicale. Pianist Vicki Hedger performed Smith’s “A Rose” in the Sensory Friendly Concert in Overland Park, Kansas, last April and “Field of Bluebonnets” for the Sensory Friendly Concert in Overland Park, Kansas, in April 2017.

Encaustic Bev Goldie

“Rolling Along,” encaustic work by Bev Goldie

Bev Goldie’s (Central Ohio Branch) encaustic work, “Rolling Along,” was accepted into the nationally juried International Encaustics Artists show, “Survey of Contemporary Encaustic Art,” which took place Jan. 17 through March 10 at the Chaffey Community Museum of Art just outside of Los Angeles.

Brenda Layman (Central Ohio Branch) had her articles, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” and “Magician with a Message,” published in the December/January and February/March 2019 editions, respectively, of Pickerington Magazine. Her article, “To My Editors, with Thanks,” was featured in the December 2018 issue of Outdoor Lore, the newsletter of The Outdoor Writers of Ohio.

Kathy Michels (Member-at-Large, Pennsylvania) was appointed as the Pennsylvania delegate for the International Watercolor Society (IWS) USA. The goal of IWS USA is to become the largest and most active watercolor organization in the world. Plans are under way for the first USA International show as well as online contests, plein-air events, and other opportunities for watercolor artists.

Veena Bansal’s (Central Ohio Branch) paintings were included in a three-woman show at the Marcia Evans Gallery and in the Worthington Area Art League Member Exhibition at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. Her work was also featured in a solo show at Copius in Columbus.

Nancy Bloomer Deussen (Santa Clara County) had several of her compositions performed this year: in January, “Two American Songs” at NACUSA Southern Oregon Chapter, “Woodwind Quartet” at Spiritus Winds Cultural Center, and “Peninsula Suite” at Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra Prep Ensemble; in February, “Two Pieces for Violin and Piano” at St. Teresa of Avila in San Francisco and “American Hymn” at Memphis Youth Symphony; and in March, “Woodwind Quintet” at Contra Costa Performing Arts Society. Her “American Hymn” composition will be performed on May 3 by the Milpitas Community Band. Deussen has also had six orchestral compositions and many chamber music performances of her work in the past year.

Sandra Eliot’s (Member-at-Large, Pennsylvania) three sculptures, “Riding the Crest,” “Guardian,” and “Wrapped Spectre,” were accepted into the Annual Works In Wood juried show at the New Hope Arts Center through January. At the same time, her sculpture titled “Lovely as a Tree” was featured at the Johnson Educational Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Eliot’s works are assemblages of objects she creates with wood that has been weathered by natural forces, with metaphorical imagery open to different meanings and interpretations. (Read more about her process on p. 15.)

Mimi Sherman Pearce painting

“After the Rain” by Mimi Sherman Pearce

Mimi Sherman Pearce (Jacksonville Branch, Florida) won first place for her oil painting titled “After the Rain” in the juried exhibition of the Jacksonville Coalition for Visual Artists (JCVA) that took place in Pontevedra Beach, Florida through mid-January. Her mantra is, “Art is for everyone. Art should be everywhere. In the workspace as well as over the fireplace. It has the power to transport, to calm, and to heal the spirit in times of confusion.”

Miriam Cassell (Sarasota Branch) was featured in the Venü Magazine’s Winter/Spring 2019 issue. The article was titled “The Storied Life and Art of Legendary Artist and Art Activist Miriam Cassell,” and the publisher’s letter described her as “an artist ahead of her time” who “has been pushing the envelope with her outspoken images and artistic commentary against social wrongs for more than five decades.”

Karen Kirshner, Chris Greene, and Katherine Criss (Long Island Branch) recently participated in the annual Artist’s Choice 2019 exhibition at b. j. spoke gallery. With other gallery members, the three Pen Women invited Long Island artists they admire to partner with them. Additionally, Kirshner’s work was featured in the last few months in numerous exhibitions, including in New York City in two Tribeca galleries and others, and in galleries in the Hamptons, Long Island.

Maria Keane’s (Diamond State Branch) mixed media work, “Benediction,” was selected for the National Association of Women Artists, Inc. online exhibition, “Women Celebrating Creativity.” The exhibition may be viewed at through May 29.

Evelyn Swensson (Diamond State Branch) is taking her musical talents abroad from April 27 to May 7. She will sing in Munich, Vienna, and Prague with the Hickory North Carolina Concert Choir.

Elaine Abramson (Yucca Branch) has been included for the 29th year in a row in the invitation-only Marquis “Who’s Who in America” biographical directory. She has also been featured in Marquis “Who’s Who in Entertainment,” “Who’s Who in American Art,” and “Who’s Who in the South and Southwest,” and last year received the Marquis Who’s Who 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sheila Firestone’s (Boca Raton Branch) musical, “Miriam and the Women of the Desert,” premiered in February at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach, Florida. The musical — the fascinating Biblical story of Miriam and the women who surrounded her — will then be performed March 28 to April 7 at the Empire Stage Theater in Ft. Lauderdale. Bonita Tabakin (Chevy Chase Branch) created original art works featured as backdrop during various scenes.

“Second Thoughts,” photographic montage by Susan S. Buzzi

“Second Thoughts,” photographic montage by Susan S. Buzzi

Susan S. Buzzi (Ft. Lauderdale Branch) recently exhibited at The Archbishop John C. Favalora Archives & Museum at St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida, during National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. She created the ongoing series, titled “Responsibility & Vigilance,” specifically for the Human Trafficking Academy at St. Thomas School of Law. The series is a photographic documentary promoting awareness, victim advocacy, healing, and important prevention measures for all communities across the United States.

Billie Travalini (Diamond State Branch) received the 2019 Individual Artist Fellowship award in literature and fiction ($10,000) from the Delaware Division of the Arts — the highest monetary award for an individual at the master level. The fellowships recognize artists in a variety of disciplines for their outstanding quality of work and provide monetary awards. This year, 136 artists applied and 20 received fellowships in various categories.


Pen Women in the Spotlight, The Pen Woman, Winter 2019

Terry Cox-Joseph (Chesapeake Bay Branch) had her first poetry chapbook, “Between Then and Now,” published by Finishing Line Press in November. In the words of Virginia Poet Laureate Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, “An accomplished artist, the author relies on visual astuteness to recreate indelible moments of her past in poems that serve as curative antidotes. … Every word matters in this chapbook that captures truths we often fail to address.”

Martha Steger (life member-at-large) received one of 12 honorable mentions in the poetry category in the Mid-Atlantic Celebration of the Arts Contest sponsored by the Beacon Newspapers and the Maryland Federation of Art. The category, open to residents of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C, who are least 50 years of age, received 212 entries. Steger’s poem, a sestina entitled “Re-enactment,” was honored with other winners and honorable mentions in Silver Spring in October.

“Rivaling Faith” by Karen Kirshner

Karen L. Kirshner (Long Island Branch) received the 2018 Abstract Artist of the Year Award in a national juried art competition for her painting, “Rivaling Faith,” which was on exhibit in October and November at ADC Fine Art Gallery in Cincinnati. Organizers say the competition, called Art Comes Alive, has become known as the “Academy Awards” for artists. It awards prizes that include gallery and publishing contracts and categories such as lifetime achievement and star student.

Billie Travalini (Diamond State Branch) received the 2018 Communicator of Achievement Award from the National Federation of Press Women (NFPW) in September. This prestigious award, given for 61 years, is the highest honor bestowed by NFPW upon members who have distinguished themselves within and beyond their field. The recipient, chosen from nominees selected by state affiliates from around the country, is recognized for exceptional achievement in the communications field, as well as service to NFPW and to the community. Travalini also received the Governor’s Award for the Arts, Education, and was named an Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for her work with Delaware’s youth.

Veena Bansal (Central Ohio Branch) won first place for her oil painting, “Mystic Village in France” in an exhibit presented by the Worthington Art League. Francoise Bartram (Central Ohio Branch) has published her first novel, “French Leave,” a suspense-filled tale of a woman whose world comes apart when she finds herself squarely in the middle of dangerous events that are mysteriously connected to her life.

Mystic Village in France

“Mystic Village in France” by Veena Bansal

Sara Etgen-Baker (Dallas Branch) had her story, “Promise Me,” published in November in the anthology “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Best Advice I Ever Heard.” Additionally, her story, “The Lovely Month of May,” will be included in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Mom Knows Best,” due to be released in March. Deborah Dickinson-Deacon (Western New York Branch) had two poems published in the Pockets magazine (a subsidiary of The Upper Room): “It Takes Courage” (September 2018) and “The Golden Rule” (October 2018).

Iris Gray Dowling (Diamond State Branch) had two books released in 2018. “The Morning Surprise” is an educational, scientific story about the black swallowtail butterfly as it progresses through the metamorphic stages and becomes an adult. The book encourages children to use modern phones to photograph living specimens for study, instead of catching and mounting a disappearing species. Her second book, “Praying Mantis —Disappearing Friend,” takes place in a school classroom, with a discussion between the teacher and the children revealing the truth and misconceptions about praying mantises. Dowling illustrated the book using photography and original paintings.

The original work, “In Her Room” (ink, monotype, photo, and digital), by Maria Keanne that she cropped to use for the cover of her new book.

The original work, “In Her Room” (ink, monotype, photo, and digital), by Maria Keanne that she cropped to use for the cover of her new book.

Maria Keane’s (Diamond State Branch) collection of poems, “Being There,” was published in October by Page Publishing. The central themes are personal reflections about aging, relationships that thrive or fade, compassion needed for trials and confrontation, and the grace that blesses those who are wounded and wait patiently for healing in their special places. Keane used her original art for the cover of the book, as well as included six illustrations.

Elizabeth Diane Martin (Pikes Peak Branch) released a new book, “The Heart’s Mind: How Unconscious book coverResponses in Life and Work Naturally Improve Our Lives While We Make Other Plans.” The heart’s mind is the source of self-renewing positive motivation that stirs the heart to be happy in work, to be original, and to have courage in the face of adversity. Martin shows that unconscious behavior is proof we intuitively reach toward good in all circumstances. Go for more information.

Darlene Yeager-Torre (Central Ohio Branch) had her work juried into an exhibit in Gainesville, Florida, called “Creativity Takes Courage.” Titled “White Spring Blossoms,” her piece was a long-exposure, night photograph of a tree full of white blossoms, painted with light to provide a stark contrast that makes the tree appear to be glowing in the dark.


Pen Women in the Spotlight, The Pen Woman, Fall 2018

Susan Buzzi (Ft. Lauderdale Branch) recently completed a public art project titled “Diversity in the Community,” a collaborative initiative with the city of Tamarac, Florida, and Millennium 6-12 Collegiate Academy. During a two-month period, students created close to 200 photographs that featured customs, food, and various cultural local events and were displayed at the city’s One Multicultural Festival.

Linda Nash (Chevy Chase Branch) recently won the “Best Music Video” award for her story/song “The Legend of the Lilies” at the Voce Spettacolo Film Festival in Matera, Italy.

“Melody” by Connie Lynn Reilly

Connie Lynn Reilly’s (Atlanta Branch) painting “Melody” won best of show in the Southeastern Pastel Society 30th Anniversary International Exhibition held at Oglethorpe University Museum in Atlanta. Reilly, who founded the Southeastern Pastel Society in 1987 and is president emeritus, also delivered a speech at the opening of the exhibit. Other Atlanta Branch members who exhibited their works included Mikki Dillon, Cyndi Marble, and Joan Quillen.

Mary Jane Ingui (Vero Beach Branch, Florida) received a gold award for memoir and a silver award for cover design for her book, “Trauma and Tenacity in Vietnam: A Surgeon’s Story,” from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association in August. The book captures the defining period in the medical life of Capt. Sheldon Kushner, MD, who served as a trauma surgeon in Vietnam.

Candace Long (Atlanta Branch), former NLAPW president, was honored as a 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Finalist for her most recent title, “The Ancient Path to Creativity and Innovation: Where Left and Right Brains Meet,” which was also accepted by the National Museum for Women in the Arts Library in Washington, D.C.

Bev Goldie (Central Ohio Branch) was recently awarded the Aminah Lynn Robinson Professional Development Grant from the Columbus Arts Council. She plans to use the funds to underwrite a trip to Santa Fe for the Encaustic Institute’s biennial conference and workshops in September.

Linda Trice’s (Manhattan-New York City Branch) third picture book for ages 3- to 9 years old, “Kenya’s Art,” was recently released by Charlesbridge Publishing. The book encourages children to create art with old toys and found items.

Brenda Layman’s (Central Ohio Branch) article, “PA Wildlife Artist Selected for 2019 Duck Stamp,” was published in the Summer 2018 issue of Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine. The article features artist Jocelyn Beatty and her winning painting of a pair of redhead ducks.

Cornelia “Connie” DeDona (member at large, New York), author, photographer, and domestic violence survivor, is exhibiting her premiere photography show, “Trekking, Cruising & Scrambling Towards Recovery,” at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Newburgh, New York, through Dec. 31. She has been capturing photos as a way of healing from 37 years of domestic violence.

Christina Britton Conroy (Manhattan-New York City Branch) received an international Book Excellence Award for her four-part series, “Her Majesty’s Theatre,” published by Endeavour Media, UK. It is the story of a London theatre company in 1887-1904 and includes the titles “Not from the Stars,” “But from Thine Eyes,” “Truth and Beauty,” and “Beauty’s Doom.”

Dawn Petrill (Central Ohio Branch) has been exhibiting acrylic paintings in August and September at the Dublin Art League’s Creative Expressions High Road Gallery in Worthington and in a solo exhibit titled “China and Beyond” at the Martin De Porres Center in Columbus, Ohio. Her work is also part of Worthington Art League’s Group Exhibit at First Community Church in Columbus through  Oct. 1.

“Hollyhocks in My Garden” by Charlotte Severin

Charlotte Severin (Diablo-Alameda Branch) won a national award from the American Association of University Women. Artist members were asked to submit work to be judged for a set of notecards, as a major fundraiser benefitting women nationwide. Of the 380 entries, six were selected for the set, including Severin’s painting, “Hollyhocks In My Garden.” The notecards were sent to 84,000 members.

Nancy Dafoe’s  (Central New York Branch) new book of poetry, “Innermost Sea,” will be released in November by Finishing Line Press. In the words of poet Gwynn O’Gara, in the poetry collection, “two visions converge; one investigates the world outside us, the other the world within. Dafoe scrutinizes and ruminates, her relentless curiosity steering toward epiphany and naming. Hers is a unifying vision: immensity is recognized in the keenly observed local.”

“Sunset” by Winnie Thompson

Winnie Thompson’s (Diablo-Alameda Branch) painting, “Sunset,” is featured in the newly published anthology “San Francisco Peace and Hope: Light the Sky,” which features poetry and visual art that draws inspiration from the Bay Area. The anthology includes both local and global poets and artists. Elizabeth Hack, another Diablo-Alameda Pen Woman, edited the publication. Thompson prepared her canvas for “Sunset” by covering it with a milky texture. Once dry, her multimedia use of oil, pastels, and ink produces a soft and calming emotional response. The shimmering light symbolizes hope for a new day in which the world will be at peace.

Pen Women in the Spotlight, The Pen Woman, Summer 2018

    • Jann Haynes Gilmore (Alexandria Branch) recently received the Ralph Emerson Twitchell Award from the Historical Society of New Mexico for her biography, “Olive Rush: Finding Her Place in the Santa Fe Art Colony,” published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. The Historical Society recognized Gilmore’s work as a significant contribution to the history and culture of the American Southwest. A Quaker, Rush was the dean of women painters in Santa Fe from 1920 until her death in 1966. 


    • Brenda Layman’s (Central Ohio Branch) article, “Pickerington Graduates Give Advice for the 2018 Class,” was published in the April/May edition of Pickerington Magazine. Layman is a contributing writer for the magazine and many of her articles about local events and personalities have appeared there. 


    • Jennifer Hambrick’s (Central Ohio Branch) poem has been set to music as an orchestral song by Columbus composer Jacob Reed, and the song was given its world premiere by the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra in Worthington in April. The event had a full program, including a talkback/Q&A session after the concert, with Hambrick, Reed, the student composer, and conductor Antoine Clark.
    • pickup chicks

      “Pickup Chicks” by Judy Betts

      Judi Betts’ (Southeast Louisiana Branch) watercolor painting “Stars and Stripes” is in an article in the April issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine. The article celebrates the 25th year of the magazine. The editors chose 25 paintings from their archives of 6,500 images. Additionally, her watercolor painting “Secret Shadows” won the Margaret Martin Memorial Award ($2,000) at the American Watercolor Society’s 151st Annual Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club in New York City in April. Betts’ watercolor painting “Pickup Chicks” will be in the 82nd National Midyear Show at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, in July; and “Honky Tonk” will be in Watercolor USA 2018 at the Springfield Art Museum in Springfield, Missouri, in June.


    • Jane Parks-McKay (Santa Clara County Branch) was named Co-Caregiver of the Year by Health Projects Center, a Santa Cruz nonprofit whose focus is on helping the caregiver navigate the challenges of caregiving. Parks-McKay has been a caregiver for her husband and her father for a number of years. The award was based on an essay she wrote about her experiences. 


    • Vivian Ripley (Central Ohio Branch) was featured in the May 2018 issue of Columbus Monthly. She is a professional pianist, a music instructor, and painter. The article, “Vivian Ripley’s Endless Passion,” is also published on the Columbus Monthly website. 


    • Abby Feinknopf (Central Ohio Branch) was among 13 artists whose work was included in the Bexley Fine Art Show, which opened May 18 and was hosted by Bexley Living Magazine. Feinknopf’s work was also shown in a solo exhibit of paintings and acrylic/paper collages at the Varckette Chiropractor Offices in Worthington, Ohio. 


    • Dawn Petrill (Central Ohio Branch) was among many talented local artists with work in the Dublin Art League Exhibit Spring Show featured recently for a month at the Dublin Community Recreation Center. 


Pen Women in the Spotlight, The Pen Woman, Spring 2018

  • Carol White’s (Boca Raton Branch) novel, “A Divided Duty,” was on the bestsellers list for the second time at Murder on the Beach Bookstore in Delray Beach, Florida. Her fifth book, “Coffee Breaks,” and interview were featured in the Author Spotlight section of the March 2018 edition of Southern Writers Magazine.
  • Jennifer Hambrick (Central Ohio Branch) performed “Vive l’Espana,” a concert of French and Spanish songs, arias, and solo piano works in February at the Worthington Presbyterian Church in Worthington, Ohio.
  • Brenda Layman’s (Central Ohio Branch) article, “Yelps, Hoots, and Cackles at NTWF Calling Event,” was published in the spring 2018 issue of Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine. The magazine covers outdoor sports and events in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Layman is a frequent contributor to the magazine. She also served as one of five judges who selected the artwork to be featured on the 2018 Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp.
  • Sharon Canfield Dorsey (Chesapeake Bay Branch) had 15 of her poems included in a new anthology, “Captured Moments,” published by High Tide Publications for the James City Poets of Williamsburg, Virginia. The cover of the anthology was created by artist Peggy Newcomb, also a member of the Chesapeake Bay Branch. Dorsey also released her second children’s book in December, titled “Revolt of the Teacups.” The story was inspired by drawings by her granddaughters, Adaline, 9, and Emma, 6.
  • Marianne Taylor’s (Washington, D.C. Branch) essay,  “The Frogs of My Life,” was published in the  February 2018 edition of Sasee Magazine. The article is available at
  • Lynn Vergano (Manhattan-New York City Branch) won first prize in the 118th Annual Exhibiting Artist Members Exhibition of the National Arts Club at Gramercy Park South in New York City for her portrait of her granddaughter titled “For Norma —Autumn at the Beach.” This is the second consecutive year for Vergano to win first prize in this prestigious competition. Additionally, two of her Chinese brush paintings were accepted into the permanent collection of the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey.
  • Anne Price Yates (Portland Branch) recently published her book, “Regarding Luke,” through’s CreateSpace. The book focuses on her maternal grandfather (born in Atlanta in 1867) and some of his New England ancestors. He was a civil engineer and naval architect who was eventually employed by the U.S. War Department. The cover features an oil painting by Yates.
  • Christina Britton Conroy (Manhattan-New York City Branch) recently published the last of her four books in a serialized historical novel, “His Majesty’s Theatre,” set in Victorian England and filled with the history of the British theatre and allusions to Shakespeare. She also published her nonfiction guide for caregivers, “How to Have Fun with Your Aging Parents,” last fall.
  • Marilyn Brown (Minnesota Branch) was invited by Tristan Publishing to talk to about 60 home-schooled kids and their moms about illustrating books. Participants had a great time learning all aspects of book publishing.
  • Elaine Abramson (Yucca Branch) was nominated for the Nobel Prize in February. This is her fourth Nobel nomination for her book, “From Fat to Fabulous: A Lifestyle Guide for Restaurant Lovers.” She has also received several other recognitions for “From Fat to Fabulous.”
  • Georgia Popoff (Central New York Branch) won first place in the Central New York Book Awards for her nonfiction work, “The Whiskey of Our Discontent.” Additionally, branch member Nancy Dafoe’s poetry book, “Poets Diving in the Night,” was a finalist in this competition.

Earlier news from Pen Women:

Pen Woman editor Rodika Tollefson leads byline in Washington Post report

Rodika Tollefson in the byline.

Rodika Tollefson (member at large, Seattle area) recently contributed to an article published on the cover of The Washington Post about the Amtrak train derailment in Washington state. As part of the Post’s Talent Network of freelance journalists, Tollefson received a call from the newspaper shortly after the train accident, asking if she could report from the field. She filed story “feeds,” which were included in an article that shared the byline with two Washington Post staff reporters. Several other media sites republished the Post article.


Tollefson, who has a degree in journalism and a master’s in digital media, is self-employed full-time as a writer, ghostwriter and multimedia content producer for various publications as well as national and international brands. She is also the editor of The Pen Woman magazine and the NLAPW national public relations chair.

Spotlight on Pen Women, The Pen Woman, Winter 2018

Phyllis A. Gunderson (Santa Clara County Branch, California) was inducted into the National Association of Professional Women’s VIP Woman of the Year Circle. She is recognized with this prestigious distinction for leadership in entrepreneurship. NAPW is the nation’s leading networking organization exclusively for professional women, with more than 850,000 members and more than 200 chapters. The owner of Humming Wolf Studio, Gunderson specializes in two-dimensional oil paintings that she said  “are representational of nature reflecting the spirit of the land and animals.” This year, she successfully participated in 11 shows in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas.

  • Jane Parks-McKay (Santa Clara County, California) had two of her funny memoir stories included in “Life in Pacific Grove, California.” Published and edited by Patricia Hamilton of Park Place Publications, this book has more than 400 pages of personal stories by residents and visitors to this lovely town, tucked between world-famous Pebble Beach and Carmel/Monterey and known as “Butterfly Town USA.” The book can be purchased through, with proceeds benefiting the Pacific Grove library.
  • Sara Etgen-Baker (Dallas Branch, Texas) had her piece, “On the Wings of Creativity,” accepted for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Yes” anthology, which will be released in August. The story, about getting out of one’s comfort zone, was originally published on the Pen Women’s blog. Another story, “Zen and the Art of Handwashing Dishes,” will appear in the online version of Story Circle Network’s anthology “Real Women Write.”

  • Virginia Nygard (Vero Beach Branch, Florida) recently released “Missing,” a mystery, through Scattered Frost Publishing. The book features Detective Callenda and Angelo, her guardian angel. Nygard’s skill in weaving words into unforgettable images in poetry, novels, novellas, and short stories has been rewarded with multiple honors. She is a member, regional director, and critique group facilitator with the Florida Writers Association.
  • Carol White’s (Boca Raton Branch, Florida) novel, “A Divided Duty,” was listed in the November/December Southern Writers Magazine in the Must Reads Section. “A Divided Duty,” her fourth novel, was one of three winners in the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards for Summer 2017 in the category of fiction. One of White’s short plays, “Date Night,” was produced in November by The Players Backstage Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.
  • Bonita Tabakin’s (D.C. Branch) wood sculpture, “Earth’s Bath, Science’s Gifts,” has been selected to represent USA artists of all media at an international exhibit of 60 countries at the Milan, Italy, Contemporary Art Museum. The work is part of a five-piece series. Tabakin devotes her wood sculpture and paintings to stating Earth’s ills as well as solutions in the same creation. She has collectors around the United States and in 16 countries.

New Member-at-Large, Joy A Burki-Watson, in the spotlight

Joy A Burki-Watson, a new member-at-large from Western North Carolina is pleased to share with her fellow writers at the National League of American Pen Women her latest news as a published poet.

Joy is being recognized by Poet’s Collective as their Center Stage Poet for November. The online feature includes twelve side links to some of Joy’s poems, as well as a link to the world poetry site where Joy writes.


Click on “Imagination’s Ideation” to order a copy of Joy’s latest poem book.

Spotlight on Pen Women, The Pen Woman, Fall 2017

  • Mary Jane Ingui (Vero Beach Branch, Florida) recently published a book, “Trauma and Tenacity in Vietnam: A Surgeon’s Story,” through Amazon’s Create Space. The book captures the defining period in the medical life of Capt. Sheldon Kushner, MD, while he was stationed in Vinh Long, Vietnam, in 1968-1969. Kushner’s team used medical skills to care for wounded Vietnamese civilians caught in the middle of the war along the Mekong Delta, the rice bowl of Asia.
  • Brenda Layman (Central Ohio Branch) had her article, “Ohio Dog Trainer Offers Specialty Seminars,” published in the summer issue of Ohio Valley Outdoors Magazine. She has been a frequent contributor to the hunting, fishing, and conservation-oriented publication for several years.
  • Rachael Ikins (Central New York Branch) had her first full-length poetry book, “Just Two Girls,” published by Songbirds Publishing. The collection includes 80 poems in various form, such as villanelle, sonnets, metric verse, etheree, haibun, and free verse. Many appeared in journals. It is like a photo album, each poem giving the reader a brief, intense look at a person and his or her story.
  • Linda Varsell Smith (Portland Branch) published her latest book, “Sparks, A Soul-Splinter Experiences Earth.” She is currently working on several more books.
  • Anne Price Yates (Portland Branch) entered several acrylic paintings —  including “Toy Time” that was featured as Art of the Week by NLAPW — into the Beaverton Arts Commission juried show, which takes place in October at the Beaverton City Library.
  • Sara Etgen-Baker (Dallas Branch, Texas) will have her memoir, “Culinary Delights,” appear in two different publications: in the December issue of Good Old Days Magazine and in one of Story Circle Network’s new anthologies, “Inside and Out: Women’s Truths, Women’s Stories.” The memoir was originally published in 2013.
  • Karen McAferty Morris (Pensacola Branch poet laureate) had her poem, “Old Tire,” featured in “Encore: Prize Poems 2017,” a publication of the National Foundation of State Poetry Societies. “Old Tire” won first place in the NFSP Founders Award. Three of Morris’ other poems are included in “The Reach of Song,” the annual anthology of the Georgia Poetry Society. Several of her poems also won other awards.
  • Renate Fackler (Central Ohio Branch) exhibited her sculptures, along with works by painter Stacy Leeman, at The Works in Newark, Ohio. The Works is The Ohio Center for History, Art, and Technology. Fackler had 12 bronze sculptures in the exhibit, primarily featuring dancers. She often focuses on movement as she strives to bring the pieces to life.


Pensacola Branch Poet Karen McAferty Morris’s Prize-winning Poems

Encore: Prize Poems 2017, a publication of the National Foundation of State Poetry Societies, features the poem “Old Tire” by Karen McAferty Morris, the Pensacola Branch’s Poet Laureate. “Old Tire” won first place in the NFSP Founders Award and is excerpted on the back cover.

The NFSP has nearly 4000 members and each year sponsors 50 contests with cash prizes totaling more than $6000.

Three of Morris’ other poems are included in The Reach of Song, the annual anthology of the Georgia Poetry Society. “Though Spring Has Not Yet Come” won second place in the Byron Herbert Reece International Award, “Calligraphy” second place in the Mnemosyne Award, and “An Audience of Willows” third place in the Edgar Bowers Award.

Encore is available in paperback from Amazon.

Spotlight on Pen Women, The Pen Woman, Summer 2017

  • Brenda Layman (Central Ohio Branch) had her short story, “Kentucky Wonder Beans,” included in “Best of Ohio Short Stories, Volume II.”
  • Lynn Vergano (Manhattan-NYC Branch) was among the 118 artists exhibiting at the annual National Arts Club members’ show and won the prestigious Hope and Grace Foundation Award for her Chinese brushwork watercolor painting, “Norma – Autumn at the Beach,” a portrait of one of her granddaughters. Two of her paintings of U.S. Bicentennial Op Sail scenes were  purchased by Randolph Township and donated to the elite Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey, and are currently on exhibit there.
  • Gail Speckmann (Minnesota Branch) recently had a one-person art show at Plymouth City Hall and another at the nearby Plymouth Creek Center. In total, she had about 60 pieces on exhibit.
  • Sarah Byrn Rickman (Pikes Peak Branch, Colorado) won Story Circle Network’s 2016 May Sarton Women’s Book Award in biography for her latest book, “Finding Dorothy Scott: Letters of a WASP Pilot.” Her Scott biography also was named a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards (biography) and is a finalist in the Foreword INDIE Book Awards in adult nonfiction, history, with the winner to be announced in June. This book spawned Rickman’s essay that won the Vinnie Ream Medal for Letters last year.
  • Bonnie J. Smith (Santa Clara Branch, California) is featured in the summer issue of the European magazine “Pretty Patches.” The magazine contacted her after seeing Smith’s “Swimming Upstream” series in the promotional materials for The Festival of Quilts 2017. The article is available at
  • Joyce Daniels (Southwest Florida Branch) released her third Jessie Murphy Mystery, “Mayhem in Matlacha,” Savvy Press.  The book is an edgy, cozy mystery pulsating with turmoil and bedlam as the protagonist uses her artistic eye and deductive reasoning to solve yet another crime. For more information, go to
  • Gwen Burg (member-at-large, Winnipeg, Canada) won second place in the 2016 Nevada Watercolor Society Signature Show for her watercolor painting, “Tea For One.”
  • E. Marie Francis (Vero Beach Branch, Florida) recently had art work and professional papers from teaching art for 30 years accepted into the Claire T. Carney Archives and Special Collection of Swain School of Design in New Bedford. Swain School of Design is now part of the University of Massachusetts, and Francis’ works will be used to attract prospective students to attend the design school, where she was a 1960 graduate.