FEBRUARY 2018                        NEWSLETTER

There’s lots of talk these days about voice in narrative, but what is it, exactly? If the voice of our story is the doorway through which readers enter, how do we let them in? How can we consciously create a voice that is compelling, readable and true? In this two-hour workshop, we will explore what factors go into creating voice, in fiction and memoir, study some examples of amazing voices in literature, do some writing, and learn techniques for crafting a memorable narrative voice—one that not only engages the reader but also invites surprise and discovery. There is nothing more exciting, for both reader and writer, than following a live, candid and curious mind on the page. Register HERE

Dori Ostermiller
holds a BFA in writing from the University of Redlands and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals. Dori has worked for over two decades as a professional editor, and has taught literature and writing at the University of Massachusetts, Westfield State College, Springfield College and Bay Path College.  She is the recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Fellowship, a Tobias Wolf Fiction Award and a Walker Gibson Award, and is the founder of Writers in Progress, a literary arts center in Western Massachusetts.
The workshop will provide images, paper, scissors, glue sticks and tape, though you are free to bring images of your own, if you would like. You provide your openness to the process of discovery, along with pen and paper. People will have the optional opportunity to share both their writings and collages.  Register HERE 

Becky Jones
has been leading bereavement writing groups for 17 years. In this workshop, we have the opportunity to use one of her favorite exercises that combines collage and writing. Originally intended to explore grief and deepen connections to departed loved ones, it can be used equally well to get in touch with characters in your writing or to gain insight into an issue that is niggling away at you.

Photo: Carol Duke
One of the most common questions about writing plays is how to get started. The germ of an idea for a play may present itself in theme, in situation, or in character. We will discuss various ways to enter the life of a play and do writing exercises to get started on a 10-minute play.  Register HERE 
Meryl Cohn’s play, Reasons To Live was named Favorite Play by The Cape Cod Times. Awards include The 2015 Eventide Arts Jeremiah Kaplan Award, The ATHE Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, finalist for the MCC Playwriting Award, and semifinalist (twice) for the O’Neill National Playwriting Award. Meryl’s work has been produced or developed at The Skylight Theatre, The Open Fist Theatre, N.Y. International Fringe Festival, The Provincetown Theatre, W.H.A.T., The Soho Playhouse, Counter Productions, The Road Theatre, and Smith College, among others. She earned her MFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is the author of the humor book Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide To Gay And Lesbian Etiquette, published by Houghton Mifflin. Several of Meryl’s recent short stories have been Glimmer Train Finalists, and she is just finishing (she hopes) her first novel.
There is no such thing as writer’s block. Dubious? Come to the Pamela Means Songwriting Workshop and learn new tools, tips and tricks of the craft to tease out more brilliance from your brain. You will never suffer from blank pages again. Acclaimed songwriter, Pamela Means, will help inspire you to push the envelope, stretch and take risks as a writer. You will expand your lyrical menu through myriad exercises and broaden musical, melodic and chord choices with a teaspoon taste of music theory for songwriters. You will be pleasantly surprised with what comes up! Bring your instrument, notebook and a favorite writing utensil.  Register HERE
A multi-talented performer, singer, songwriter, composer and producer, Pamela Means’s multiple honors include being named Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s “# 1 Most Wanted New Artist,” “Wisconsin Folk Artist of the Year,” “Wisconsin Female Vocalist of the Year,” and her politically provocative album, Single Bullet Theory, was voted 2004’s “Outmusic Outstanding New Recording.” Her latest CD, Plainfield, was released last fall.
Our March Medley Workshops are held in memory of Eli Daniel Nemetz Todd, a writer born and raised in Northampton who died in October 2016 at the age of 23. They are made possible by donations to the Northampton Center for the Arts in Eli’s honor. 


Sunday, March 4, 2018

 Co-sponsored by:
Straw Dog Writers Guild and Nan Parati (owner, Elmer's Store and the Inn at Norton Hill)
Featured Reader: Donna Jenson 

Donna Jenson founded Time To Tell™ in 2009, with a mission to spark stories from lives affected by incest and sexual abuse to be told and heard. It is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. She wrote and performs her one-woman play, What She Knows: One Woman’s Way Through Incest to Joy, which is based on her own experience of surviving incest and what she did to make her life worth living. She performs her play at conferences, for organizations focused on boys who have sexually abused others, girls in prison, college students, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates, and communities in need of healing. She leads Time To Tell What We Know writing and mindfulness workshops for survivors. She is the Board President of the non-profit MERGE: Transforming Masculinity to Advance Gender Equality. Donna is a leader, counselor and organizer who built grassroots women’s centers in New York City during the 1970’s and 1980’s and is still active in the leadership development consulting and training practice she established in 1986. Her book, Healing My Life from Incest to Joy, is a narrative of the choices she made and experiences she had that helped her heal from her childhood trauma. Published by Levellers Press, Amherst, MA. MORE
Here's how it works: The featured writer reads recent work and describes the journey to publication, followed by Q & A. Then the floor opens to other writers, who read for five minutes each. If you want to read, put your name in the hat before 3:15. 
Hosted by Jane Roy Brown ( )

Come listen to presenter Marya Zilberberg discuss how to break down the barriers and put Twitter, blogs and other online formats to work. Social media seem to be a necessity for marketing anything in the 21st century. But are they? What are the best approaches for a writer? We will discuss some of the successful strategies and potential pitfalls of this brave new communication ecosystem. In fact, you might want to bring a smart phone, tablet or laptop if you’d like to try out any of the platforms in real time.

is a physician-health services researcher living in Western Massachusetts. In addition to over 120 academic articles, she has authored the book Between the Lines: Finding the Truth in Medical Literature, which, thanks to her blogging and tweeting, is used by many residency programs as a textbook of evaluative medicine. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Six Hens, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, Cleaver, Vox Poetica, The Blue Hour and Boston Poetry Magazine, among others. If you want to follow Marya on Twitter, her handle is @murzee. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The Basement, 21 Center Street
(Down the drive, in back of building, next to the Northampton Police Department)
Northampton, MA
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Featured Reader: Tzivia Gover

Tzivia Gover is the author of The Mindful Way to a Good Night’s Sleep; Joy in Every Moment, Learning in Mrs. Towne's House, a book about teaching poetry to teen mothers in HolyokeShe is a writer, educator, and certified dreamwork professional and the Director of the Institute for Dream Studies. Her poems, stories, essays and articles have been widely published in journals and anthologies including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Poets & Writers Magazine among others. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and can be found online at

Doors open at 7 - with an Open Mic. If you'd like a chance to read, place your name in the hat up until 7:10. Ten names will be randomly selected. The reading starts at 7:15, and each reader will have five minutes.
Admission is free; participants are encouraged to buy a drink (alcohol and non-alcohol available) and tip well in support of the venue.  
Please join us!
Further information: Beth Filson at
Featured Reader
for April 3 - Kris Holloway and John Bidwell

Words at the Mic! 
A new challenge for people who attend
Writers Night Out


Each month, host and MC Jacqueline and Beth will select words or phrases from those we hear during the open mic. We’re listening for whatever strikes our fancy, and that we hope will get your Muse talking.  We will announce the phrase at the end of the presentations.  
Your challenge is to use those exact words, or phrase, in a poem, short story, or prose piece -- no more than 500 words -- and submit it by the 15th of the month. That gives you about two weeks.  
Make sure your name is on your submission. In the subject line of your email, put Words at the Mic Challenge!  We'll share a new prompt at each WNO.

The winning submission will be chosen by anonymous vote, and will be read at the next Writers Night Out. It will also appear in the SDWG month-end circular. Send to Beth Filson at  This contest is open only to those who attend Writers Night Out.
For attendees of Writers Night Out, we look forward to seeing what you've come up with. February's challenge was: who is it who waits for me. 
We had to cancel WNO for January, but the winner of the December Words at the Mic Challenge is Tzivia Gover with her gorgeous poem, Ode to a Peach (at twelve). Tzivia turned my brother's curse into a moving expedition through the territory of intimate family relations.   Here it is:
Ode to a Peach
(at twelve)
At the bowling
Alley we took
Aliases. You chose
Peaches Ann Cream.
Peaches, says Webster's:
"A person especially
Admired or enjoyed." Your
Real name, the Baby Name Book
claims, means Child of wonder.
I wonder how
you always know
Who you are.
I promised you
A sliced peach
For dessert but
The phone rang.
I took the call
In my room.
My brother lost
Another job. Another
Girl. I got lost in
My brother’s curse
And didn't hear you
Climb the stairs
Bringing a sliced
Peach, on a plate,
For me.
At twelve you
Barely fit on
My lap. I pull
Your hair into
A ponytail and
Remember when you
Were two, how
Your slight hair
Felt like peach
Fuzz tickling
My chin.
We forgot to eat
The ripe peach
My mother brought
To the pizza place
Where we celebrate
Your birthday.
We'd planned to
Slice fruit onto
The angel's food
Cake we'd brought.
But we ate the cake
Plain, instead. Days
Later, overripe, the peach
Remembered all
We forgot.
The peach bursts
Open, sunflower yellow,
Bright as the girl
Who tastes it.
Tzivia Gover, MFA, Certified Dream Professional
Author of The Mindful Way to a Good Night's Sleep

A benefit for our members

 We are proud to announce that 10 writers have been accepted for this cycle.  We will make an announcement when more residencies are available.

 More information HERE



I am a senior at Westfield State University studying English with a concentration in writing. My dream for after graduation in May is to work in publishing by day and work on my novels by night. I did not realize my love for writing until I was in fourth grade when my teacher told me I had a talent for writing after grading one of my writing assignments. He let me write a story on the computers for forty minutes out of class time and let me read the story to the whole class. That experience changed my life because it had me realize that I was good at something, and I actually loved what I was doing. A year prior I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and put on an IEP. I did not know I had talent in anything. Without that teacher encouraging me and believing in me, rather than pushing me aside and assuming I was a good-for-nothing ten-year-old, I would have never fully embraced my potential and had confidence that I could put myself out there.
Years later, I wrote a novel with a local published author as a mentor for my senior project in high school. I loved the process of writing a novel so much that I continued to pursue my writing in college. I have taken multiple writing classes at Westfield State. Some of the classes I have taken are Fiction Writing, Creative Non-Fiction, and Advanced Prose in which I wrote a prologue to my novel that I wrote in high school. I also took classes that explored designing a literary journal, and how to copyedit.
I am a 22-year-old woman from a small town, Mansfield, in southeastern Massachusetts. I have an older sister, Jenna, who is going for her Ph.D. in molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley. My mom, Devon, is a nutritionist specializing in diabetes. My dad, Rick, is a licensed mental health counselor working in the Emergency Room at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also owns his own private practice in Watertown, Massachusetts. I have two pets: a five-year-old black lab named Sammie, and a three-year-old fat cat named B.K (Big Kitty).
I love writing fiction. The stories that I write for school are usually realistic fiction. However, I always wanted to write fantasy fiction. One of my all time favorite authors is Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series. Her characters are so complex and different that with each book I read, the characters grow in a way that was different from the last book. I know that writing is done well when the readers are feeling all kinds of emotions for the characters in the story as they read it. I would stay up until late hours of the night reading Clare’s books and crying my eyes out when a character felt great loss or distress. I also remember crying over the villain in the story because his story was so complex and such a gray area that I empathized with him in a way. That is how I want my characters to be, complex and dynamic.

Fun fact: I got to meet Cassandra Clare at a book signing in Wellesley, Massachusetts back when I was a senior in high school. She signed some of my books and we had a conversation about favorite authors. It was surreal.

I joined the staff of Westfield State’s literary magazine Persona when I was a freshman and have been on the staff my entire college career. I was elected Fiction Editor my junior year and elected Layout Editor my senior year. I have gotten to vote on which submissions are going to be in the journal and help design the layout of the journal using InDesign. I love being a part of the staff of Persona because I feel as though the staff is one big family. Fun fact: One of our staff members has her dog, Shelby, on campus and she became our magazine’s mascot.
I have interned at Beetle Press in Easthampton, Massachusetts with Janice Beetle. I got to learn the ins and outs of a publishing press. I have also interned remotely and on site with a non-profit organization Green Education Foundation, alongside CEO Victoria Waters, in Walpole, Massachusetts. There I learned business and technical writing. I have had two short stories published in Persona and have a magical realism story published on DearHope.
For my internship, I am working with one of the founders, Ellen Meeropol, and Administrative Director, Laura Stone, of Straw Dog Writer’s Guild in Northampton, Massachusetts. I am excited to have my internship be at Straw Dog because I feel as though I can gain a lot of knowledge on all the different kinds of writing involved in this internship. I am going to learn promotional writing via their blog, newsletter, and different platforms of social media. I am excited to be involved in the event promotion for the poetry anthology that is being published by Straw Dog. I love that Straw Dog brings a kind and humble atmosphere to the writing community, and actually brings the scattered community together. I am very proud to intern with Straw Dog and help give the support my fellow writers need.


In response to the overwhelming interest in peer-led critique groups expressed at the Annual Meeting, Straw Dog Writers Guild is offering a service to help writers create these groups.
Although SDWG cannot sponsor the groups, we offer:

•a web page with guidelines for starting and maintaining supportive and constructive critique groups
•a new writing group directory, to help writers find potential group members in their genre and/or geographical area, which can be accessed after reading the guidelines
•an experienced critique writer to attend the first meeting of new groups to offer suggestions and support. 
This directory is open to both members and nonmembers in order to join and connect writers and create new peer led writing groups.

Readings and Events

 Luvvie Ajayi – Mount Holyoke College Black History Month Keynote Speaker, Mount Holyoke College

Event date:  

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 7:30 pm
Event address: 
Mount Holyoke College
Gamble Auditorium
South Hadley, MA 01075

Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning author, speaker and digital strategist who thrives at the intersection of comedy, technology, and activism.  MORE

Readings & Book Launch Party - Robert Redick

Amherst Books - 8 Main Street  Amherst, MA 01002  

Thursday, March 8th at 7:00 pm 

Robert Redick, author of fantasy series, “The Chathrand Voyage Quartet” (The Red Wolf Conspiracy, The Ruling Sea, The River of Shadows, & The Night of the Swarm) will read from the first volume in a new series, “The Fire Sacrements Trilogy”—Master Assassins.   Of Redick’s first novel, Terry Brooks wrote “So trust me on this one; you won't be disappointed.”  MORE

Book Launch: Meet Me at the Well with Jane Yolen and Barbara Diamond Goldin

Wednesday, March 14, 5:00 pm
Southampton Public Library, 30 East St, Southampton, MA 01073

Old Testament stories center around men. Leaders, prophets, kings, and priests are all male. But hidden in the background are strong-willed, daring females.

Jane Yolen and Barbara Diamond Goldin’s masterful retellings pair eloquent profiles with stunning art, answering one question: What makes these women heroes? From first woman, Eve, to Deborah the judge, to Queen Esther, savior of her people, females in the Hebrew Bible are resourceful and courageous.  MORE


Spring Weekly Writing Workshops at Patchwork Farm
with Patricia Lee Lewis. 

Tuesdays or Thursdays beginning in May
.  Watch spring turn into summer from the vantage of our little mountain in Westhampton.  Walk the trails, meet fellow writers and make progress on your writing project. Experienced and beginning writers alike meet weekly for meditation, guided writing sessions, and inspiring exercises. Individual consultations are included.

The weekly workshop is a wonderful way to take time out and allow the deeper levels of your own creative self to emerge onto the page. Besides all of this, we have fun.  MORE


Announces Winter/Spring 2018 Class Schedule

Great Barrington—Green Fire Writers’ Workshops, founded by local authors Jennifer Browdy and Jana Laiz, offer a rich array of workshops for writers of every level,

All workshops will be held at the South Berkshire Friends Meeting House, 280 State Road in Great Barrington, for three-hour sessions on weekend afternoons or Thursday mornings. The full schedule is available at

Overcoming the Mid-Manuscript Slump, with Randy Susan Meyers

Too often, we begin our book with burning excitement, race ahead on raw energy alone, only to hit a wall halfway through when we come up against a myriad of challenges. In this one-day workshop, we will identify common mid-manuscript sticking points and explore some literary, emotional and organizational strategies for pushing through to a satisfying first draft!  Examining structural and practical elements, participants will learn new tools to help them break through their mid-manuscript blues and keep writing all the way to the end! Saturday, March 17, 9:30 am -4:30 pm ($150)  Register 

Randy Susan Meyers is the author of four novels:  The Murderer’s Daughters (a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award); The Comfort of Lies, Accidents of Marriage, and recently, the critically acclaimed, The Widow of Wall Street. Meyers lives in Boston and teaches writing at Grub Street and Writers in Progress.

Casting Characters for Memorable Fiction, with Cindy Littlefield

Protagonist, antagonist, mentor, minion, and foil—each and every character plays a necessary role in your stories!  In this one-day workshop, we will delve deep into the psyche of primary and secondary character types, mining for those buried secrets, dicey dynamics, and ulterior motives that make all good stories a must-read. Through a series of fun, imaginative exercises, characters will be put to the test, navigating unexpected challenges and making impossible choices. We’ll also explore the amazing things that can happen when a character goes off script, or when a brand new character makes an unexpected appearance. Workshop participants will leave with a fully fleshed cast ready to take stage plus plenty of inspiration for several brand new scenes!  Register Now  Saturday, April 21, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm ($150)  

Cindy Littlefield’s fiction has appeared in Litro, Dogzplot, and the Rose & Thorn Journal, and she was a former finalist in the Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.  Find out more


Nerissa Nields Writing It Up in the Garden Spring Equinox Retreat
March 9-11, 2018 in Northampton MA.

Retreat starts Friday at 5:30 with dinner served. Ends Sunday at 5. Lunches served Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $300.  Further details are HERE

Writers and Artists Retreat in Ireland

June 30-July 28
County Galway/Kinvara

Share a beautiful 5 bedroom home in the west of Ireland. Double and single rooms available. One week minimum. Shared kitchen, walking distance to town, 30 minutes from Shannon Airport. Master class in Hybrid Writing will be offered. July 16-29 is the Galway Arts Festival, an extravaganza of art, music, writing, and theater. Galway City is 30 minutes away. $400 for a double room per week (double bed) and $350 for a single room (twin bed) for a week. Literary gathering once a week—otherwise you are free to write or do your art. There are ferries to the Aran Islands from Galway and the Burren, Flaggy Shore, and the Cliffs of Moher are nearby. The small harbor town of Kinvara has traditional music and good restaurants. Shopping is about 15 minutes away though there are grocery shops in town and a wonderful Farmer’s Market once a week.
For information, contact Lisa C. Taylor  


Yenna Yi - Ring of Fire

Yenna Yi, a Straw Dog Writers Guild member, has published her memoir, Ring of Fire.
Ring of Fire:  A story of time and Places about my growing up in the post-war (Korean War 1950-1953) poverty and leaving Korea at the age of 19, living in Hawaii on a home-built catamaran, sailing big waters of the globe as a family with two sons for 12 years.  It is also about joy of life and sorrow of loss of loved ones.

Her book is available here



Green Fire Writers

  • Do you care passionately about our world? 
  • Do you want to use writing or other forms of creative expression to make a difference?
  • If so, you should contribute to Fired Up!

Editors Jana Laiz and Jennifer Browdy seek writing in any genre, along with photography, short videos or podcasts that express positive, forward-thinking perspectives on where we are now as individuals and as a society and envision the better world we hope to create.

We accept submissions on a rolling basis and will publish a new online edition once a month. 
Check out our submission guidelines HERE


Honest reviews needed~


Honest reviews needed for increased book visibility - On Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, and/or other sites. My novel Earth As It Is available in exchange for your honest review. Please respond with your preference of print or ebook, and if print, your mailing address. (10 total) Thanks in advance.

Contact Jan Maher -



Consultation w/ Gail Thomas

Poet and teacher Gail Thomas is available for individual consultation on your poetry submissions, manuscripts and residency applications. With more than 40 years of publishing and teaching experience, Gail offers feedback that not only focuses on your writing goals, but also strengthens your craft. Contact her at  or

Manuscript Review by D M Gordon

Want your writing to be the best it can be? Aching to be published? Thinking of an MFA? Why not work with an individual editor first. I’m less expensive than a low-residency program, with more focused, extensive attention. I work with post-MFA grads towards publication, poetry, and prose, as well as writers first seeking to share their work. From query letters to self-publication, we can discuss your immediate goals and how to achieve them. A prize-winning poet and fiction writer, and an experienced, respectful editor in multiple genres, I’d love to talk with you.
Visit my website at for more information, then write to me, Diana Gordon, at I look forward to hearing from you.

Body-Mind Centering work with Beth Goren

Gentle and effective hands-on sessions in the Body-Mind Centering work. Beth is a certified and registered teacher-practitioner with 40+ years of practice. She offers sliding scale rates for elders via her Hands-on Elders non-profit. Approach bones, muscles, nerves, glands, fluids, organs, voice/reading with integrity. Single session or series.
Learn more:

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