News from Pen Women

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

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.

  • Paula Cullison’s (Scottsdale Branch) article,  “First Earth Day Remembered,” was recently published in Green Living AZ Magazine. Read the article at

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.


News of another landmark award for Nancy Bloomer Deussen

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Nancy Bloomer Deussen

I am happy to announce that my “American Hymn” (for orchestra) is going on tour in Europe. It will be performed on July 8, 9, 13 and 15 by The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra conducted by Hanrich Claassen in Vienna Muth Halle, Vienna Musikverein, Prague Dvorak Halle and Munich Sohiensaal.

Wish I could go with them!

Nancy Bloomer Deussen

Among other awards, Nancy was 2nd Place Winner of The American Prize in Chamber Music Composition (2013) for ‘Woodwind Quintet” and First Prize Winner(2014) of the biennial award in Music Composition of the National League of American Pen Women for “The Transit of Venus”for orchestra. (See the NLAPW feature on Nancy.) She was named Honored Artist for 2014 by The American Prize.

Hear audio clips of Nancy’s music on her website:


Poem by JoAnna O’Keefe formally admitted into the Congressional Record

“America at the Crossroads” by JoAnna O’Keefe, Omaha NE Branch, was read into the Congressional record by a Florida Senator on May 4 2017. The poem is an impassioned plea for unity among all Americans.

JoAnna O’Keefe is a former member of the Cape Canaveral, Florida Pen Women.


Joyce Daniels, SW FL Branch, releases third book in mystery series

Joyce Daniels (jd daniels) of the Southwest Florida Branch is proud to announce the release of the third Jessie Murphy Mystery/Savvy Press by jd daniels, “Mayhem in Matlacha,” set in Southwest Florida.

jd  holds a Doctor of Arts degree from Drake University with a dissertation of her poetry.  Her award-winning fiction, non-fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including: The Broad River Review, The Sylvan Echo, The Elkhorn Review, Doorknobs & Bodypaint: An Anthology, The Pen Woman‘s Online Magazine and riverbabble. “Nancy’s Woodcut” won a prize in a contest sponsored by Emerson College, Cambridge University.

“Say Yes,” a book of poetry, 2013 topped the local bestseller list in Iowa City. “The Old Wolf Lady:  Wawewa Mepemoa,” was awarded a publication grant from The Iowa Arts Council and three research grants from the college where she still teaches writing. “Minute of Darkness” and “Eighteen Flash Fiction Stories” debuted January 2015.

The Iowa Arts Council and Poets & Writers Directories invited her inclusion. She is also a co-founder and an editor for Prairie Wolf Press Review, a literary online journal featuring new and emerging writers and visual artists.

jd maintains a blog, is a member of PEN America, Southwest Florida Pen Women, Mystery Writers of America and this year was invited to become a member of the Academy of American Poets.


Still an active artist, Tennessee Pen Woman Kathleen Wise looks forward to her 92nd birthday

Kathy Wise, MAL, with Peter Rassi, President of American Artists Professional League,
presentation of past laureate of the organization, 2015

Kathleen Wise, Member at Large, Bartlet, TN reaches out to Pen Women to tell of her most recent art activities:

“I am planning to go to the National Portrait Society’s conference in Atlanta, April 20-24, with two former students. We always take an “art” trip to celebrate my birthday. This year, on May 4, I will be 92. Working on a new sculpture for bronze. Hope to finish soon.”

Happy Birthday, Kathleen!


The Pen Woman, Spring 2017: “Pen Women in the Spotlight”

Brenda Layman (Central Ohio Branch) had her short story, “Kentucky Wonder Beans,” included in “Best of Ohio Short Stories, Volume II.” From hundreds of submissions,  15 stories were selected for the volume, presented by Columbus Creative Cooperative.

Angela Hunt (Minnesota Branch) is one of 38 poets whose work was included in a recently released anthology celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Austin, Texas, writers community. The selected poets for the anthology, titled “When Time and Space Conspire,” come from around the world.

Kate Pettit (Minnesota Branch) won third prize and a monetary award in a League of Minnesota Poets contest.

Sara Etgen-Baker (Dallas Branch, Texas) had her memoir, “Where’s Tiny,” published in “Guideposts Joys of Christmas 2016.” Her manuscript, “The Blackest Land,” won third place in Story Circle Network’s 2016 essay competition on differences. Additionally, her story, “La profesora de ingles,” will be published this year in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Teachers.”

Carol White (Boca Raton Branch) participated in the Delray Beach Public Library’s 18th Annual Author’s Showcase in March. She discussed her award-winning third book, “Sitting Pretty.”

Gail Wilson Kenna (Chesapeake Bay Branch, Virginia) won five awards in the 25th Soul-Making Literary Competition, and then was invited to judge and sponsor the creative nonfiction category, replacing a retiring judge. Her awards were for first place in intercultural essay, first place in humor, second in short story, and honorable mentions in memoir vignette and novel excerpt.

Joanna O’Keefe (Cape Canaveral, Florida) was selected as a recipient of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge National Awards’ George Washington Honor Medal, whose past recipients include Bob Hope and Sally Ride. The FFVF said that her poem, “America at the Crossroads,” promotes “an understanding and appreciation for our country’s rich heritage, principles, and unique freedoms,” and exemplifies the essence of the National Awards.

Charlene Hampton-Holloway and Lonnie Bunch III

Charlene Hampton Holloway (D.C. Branch) attended an invitation-only reception and preview of the inside of the Museum of African American History and Culture, newly built on the last spot on the National Mall. In the photo, she is seen with Lonnie Bunch, III, founder and executive director of the museum.



Elizabeth Yahn Williams (member at large) recently released a new book in her series, “Haiku for an Artist” — a Spanish edition titled “Haiku Para Una Pintora.” The book was a collaboration with celebrated translator Dr. Edith Jonsson-Devillers. The poetry addresses the art of award-winning Los Angeles artist Marion Wong. More information at


Peg Hanna, Rosalie Ungar, Mary Hoffman, and Rosemary Barkes (Central Ohio Branch,  left to right) were invited to participate in Winterfair in Columbus, Ohio. Each had an opportunity to promote her book with a book signing.