This fall, the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers invites you to:


Women’s book clubs in the region are invited to read our 2014 Festival Book Club pickThe Celestialsand come to a special presentation in March by author Karen Shepard, a professor of literature and writing at Williams College.The Celestials is a historical novel set in North Adams, Massachusetts, in 1870, when 75 Chinese laborers were brought in from California to work for shoe manufacturer Calvin Sampson. When Sampson’s wife Julia gives birth to a clearly mixed-race baby, the infant becomes a lightning rod for the novel’s questions concerning identity, alienation, and exile.


Taking an up-close-and-personal look at issues of American immigration, multiculturalism, labor, community, alienation and reinvention, The Celestials is about our shared sense that we’re all aliens of some kind.  Shepard asks us to think about how we make ourselves into the people we want to be, and what gets sacrificed along the way.


Karen Shepard will give a special reading and discussion of the book for Festival audiences at The Mount in March, which we warmly invite women’s book club members—and anyone interested in a good read!—to attend.




Our November 10 Lean In with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Group will focus on alternatives to mainstream publishing. 


Experts Kathi Casey and Jana Laiz will share their knowledge and lead a discussion on the complexities of the brave new world of 21st century publishing, from 3 – 5 p.m. at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield.


Kathi Casey is the author of Get Off The Couch, Potato andSTOP Back Pain – Kiss Your Back, Neck and Sciatic Nerve Pain Goodbye, both international bestsellers on Amazon.  A wellness coach, public speaker and workshop leader, Kathi is an expert in building an author and business platform that really works.  She has been featured on the ABC-8 Evening News, Fox 23, CT Style Show and her own TV show,  “To Your Health,” which airs in the Berkshires where she also owns and operates the Healthy Boomer Body Center.


Jana Laiz is the author of the triple Award Winning novel Weeping Under This Same Moon; The Twelfth Stone, Book of the Year Award nominee and Kids’ Indie Next List pick; Elephants of the Tsunami, written to raise money for tsunami relief; and the co-author of “A Free Woman On God’s Earth, The True Story of Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, The Slave Who Won Her Freedom.” She runs her own publishing house,Crow Flies Press, and is the very first writer-in-residence at Herman Melville’s beloved Arrowhead.


Join Kathi and Jana at the free, drop-in Lean In group from 3 to 5 p.m. on November 10 at the Berkshire Museum.  Meetings are facilitated by Berkshire Museum Director of Communications Lesley Ann Beck and Festival Director Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez. After November 10, the next Lean In meetings will take place Jan. 12, Feb. 9 and April 13.



Festival collaborator WAM Theatre is putting on a show this month of particular interest to women writers and anyone interested in women’s history.


“Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight,” written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by WAM Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven, will run from Nov. 7 through 24 at the St. Germain Stage in the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield.


Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749), best known for her 15-year-liaison with Voltaire, the French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, was far more than a great man’s mistress. She became a highly regarded interpreter of modern physics and a master of mathematics and linguistics during the Age of Enlightenment. In the play, Emilie searches for a formula that will convince the world of her worth by tallying her achievements in love and philosophy.


“Emilie: La Marquise Du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight” has been described as “fiercely inquisitive and joyfully sexy” (The San Francisco Chronicle) and an “ambitious, highly theatrical romp that literally crackles with electricity” (LA/OC Examiner).  We know Festival audiences will love it!


For tickets and more information, see or call (800) 838-3006.



Women of any age, writing in any genre, are encouraged to enter the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers writing contest, curated byMichelle Gillett and Nina Ryan.

This year’s theme takes aim at the subject of “weather,” keeping in mind the special focus of the 2014  Festival, “Writing the Self, Righting the World: New Visions of Personal and Planetary Health.”

Writers may interpret the topic in various ways, for example: weather of the heart, weathering the storm, being under the weather, internal weather, climate change, how weather extremes are affecting us personally, politically, socially, culturally, environmentally.

The contest will culminate in a reading and panel discussion of four to six pieces chosen by the organizers and panelists.  We will be looking for pieces that use the subject of “weather” to provoke, examine and spark new perspectives on the links between personal and planetary wellness, particularly within our own lives and community.

Submissions must be 750 words or less. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a short bio, and indicate the genre and title of your piece on your cover page. Mail hard copy to: Nina Ryan, PO 1134, Stockbridge, MA 01262.  Deadline January 15, 2014.


Do you own a business?  Do you frequent local businesses? Please help us spread the word about exciting new opportunities for businesses to join the grand community collaboration that is our Berkshire Festival of Women Writers!

We are now taking reservations for ads in our 2014 Festival Program, 5,000 copies of which circulate in Berkshire County and environs throughout the month of March.  The Festival Program, with full listings of all events, is treated as “the Festival bible” by our audiences of more than 3,000 throughout the Festival month.  Ad deadline is December 4, 2013. 

Businesses are also welcome to sponsor one or more individual events, and in return we’ll help promote your business to the thousands of engaged local and regional women and men who participate in our Festival each year.  See our website for complete details.

And as always, we warmly welcome new and returning individual Festival supporters. Please consider becoming a Friend of the Festival, joining our Godmother’s Circle, or becoming a business or corporate sponsor.
We can’t do it without you!

Contact Festival Director Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez to discuss how we can create a mutually rewarding partnership for the benefit of local women and girls.  For more information: 413-528-7224;