New Monthly Berkshire Women Writers Lean In Meeting a Great Success!

The cold days of March may seem like a distant memory, but the seeds of community we planted in our 2013 Festival are continuing to grow and bloom now, as we move on into the lovely Berkshire springtime.

The first meeting of the newly established Berkshire Women Writers Lean In group brought a roomful of enthusiastic women writers together to share ideas and visions for how to use our new monthly meeting time to strengthen us as individual writers and as a writing community.

We’ll hold two more meetings this spring, on Sunday May 19 and Sunday June 16, both from 3-5 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum, hosted by Museum Director of Communications Lesley Ann Beck and Festival Founding Director Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez.  No RSVP necessary—just join us!

This will remain an open group, with the expectation that women writers will come in and out of the circle as time permits, so please know that even if you can’t make it this spring, the door will be wide open for all when we start up again next fall!

On May 19, in addition to doing some more visioning work for the future, attendees are invited to bring a piece of writing to share (no more than 500 words or so), intended as a way to introduce our writerly voices to each other.  Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez will also give a short presentation on starting up a new WordPress blog, and will facilitate a discussion on the value of blogging for women writers.

In the months to come, we anticipate a varied format, with topics ranging from the business side of writing (finding an agent, self-publishing, freelancing, grant-writing, marketing and promotion, etc); the craft of writing (in different genres, from poetry to press releases to blog posts, fiction, essays and memoir); and opening up new spaces for women writers to share their work in progress and receive thoughtful, constructive feedback.  We will share our own areas of expertise, as well as consider inviting in guest speakers.

We are also open to the possibility of meeting at different times and in different places in the county, but decided that at least for this May and June we’ll stick with our central location at the Berkshire Museum, and the Sunday afternoon time slot.  Please feel free to email us at if you have suggestions for format, venue, times and topics.

Our hope is that this new Lean In group will serve as a monthly creative catalyst for many women writers of the Berkshires and environs—we’re here for you!

It’s not too soon to start thinking about your contribution to the 2014 Berkshire Festival of Women Writers! 

The call for proposals will go out next month, but in the meantime, put on your thinking caps!  We are especially interested in proposals that address next year’s special focus theme: “Individual and Planetary Health: Women Writers Make the Link.”
Stay tuned for information on how to submit your proposal; the submission cycle will begin June 15.

News and notes of interest

Festival favorite Suzi Banks Baum, editor of the new book An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, will be gathering with several of the contributors for a special Mother’s Day reading at the Mason Library in Great Barrington, on May 7 at 7 p.m.

Suzi is also offering a new series of her popular Powder Keg writing workshops this spring, on May 19 and June 30, from 1 – 4 p.m. at Eleven, 11 School Street in Great Barrington.   For more information contact Suzi by email:

We’re also excited to announce that the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers will be partnering with the organizers of the Lift Ev’ry Voice Festival in bringing famed African American poet Nikki Giovanni to the Berkshires this summer.  More details coming soon!

Summer plans

During the summer, we’ll be working on a new Festival initiative: creating an online directory of all the books by Festival presenters, dating back to our first Festival in 2011.  A basic listing will be free, but there will also be opportunities for enhanced visibility, with fees going towards supporting the website development this directory will require.  Stay tuned for more information, coming soon!

We are also on the look-out for new Festival friends and supporters.  If you would like to become involved in the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in any capacity, from joining the organizing committee, to helping out with specific tasks like fundraising, selling advertising, working on our Festival Program or serving as a Festival Representative at events next March, please get in touch by email:

The Festival needs your financial support—we can’t continue to do this work without a strong base of sustaining underwriters.  Please join our founding circle of Festival Godmothers, or let us know if you’d like to make a more targeted gift—say, for an honorarium for a special speaker, or a gift to support the development of our new Festival Bookshelf or our vision of an annual Festival Anthology.  Your gift will enable us to continue to grow a vibrant community of women writers here in the Berkshire region.

Thank you for supporting the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers!