The Nittany Valley Writers Network Newsletter

June 2010

The Nittany Valley Writers Network (NVWN) is a sharing, supportive, inspiring community linking local writers of all genres and levels of experience:  expert and novice, published and hopeful.


Tues 15 June – NVWN Summer Social – 5:30-7pm at Zeno’s Pub at the corner of College Ave and Allen St, State College.  Look for a newsletter.

Wed 16 June – NVWN Early Risers Breakfast – 7-8am at The Waffle Shop on Blue Course Drive, State College.  Ask for the Writers Table.

Sat 10 July – BookFest PA – 10am-5pm at a booth right outside Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St., State College.  For more info, see http://www.bookfestpa.org/ .  See item below about volunteering to help!

News and Notes

NVWN 20th Anniversary Celebration

by Karen Dabney and Sally Driscoll

More than two dozen past and current NVWN officers and members gathered at the May 11th meeting to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary.  Beth Shirey, one of the nine founding members, helped to contact members, and former coordinator Fran Osseo-Asare led the meeting.

Founder Sherry Hogan Dudik started the discussion, recounting how the State College Area Writer’s Club got started in 1990 in her living room after she placed an ad in the newspaper.  The newly formed group first affiliated with the statewide Pennwriters, but broke off in 1994 and incorporated as the non-profit Nittany Valley Writers Network.  The original board consisted of Sherry Hogan, Sandra Hill, Millie Ragosta, Donna Miller, Gary Delafield, Trish Jensen, Katie Raiser, Jane Cervino, and Beth Shirey.  For the next ten years Sherry coordinated every meeting, wrote every newsletter, and led a critique group. During that time the group grew until the mailing list had 200 members.

In 2001, Sherry took time off to take care of health problems.  Schlow Memorial Library agreed to sponsor NVWN and children’s librarian Linda Lorich served as the library liaison.  Linda, recently retired, shared memories of her involvement with the group.

Co-founder Millie Ragosta reminisced about how she joined the group, after sharing how she published eleven romance novels while raising eleven children.  Her sense of humor led to the writing of “Baker’s Dozen,” a weekly column in a large Catholic newspaper.

Many longtime members attended, including Micki Pharo, currently waiting to hear about the publication of a short story and some articles, and Sue Poremba, former critique group coordinator, who is now in her fifth year of freelance writing.  Sue ghostwrites, writes for trade publications, and recently received her first contract for a book on security issues.

Virginia Loewen, a member since 1990, reminisced about the Pennwriters Conference in the Days Inn in State College.  A member of the Christian Writers Roundtable and the leader of the W4K (Writers for Kids) critique group, she has been published in Highlights for Children and has also published two books of sermons for kids.

Steve Miller joined the NVWN in 1995 and later became its coordinator.  Steve is a full-time freelance writer who writes school curricula, math and science articles, articles for children’s science magazines, and has authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Science of Everything.

Fran Osseo-Asare coordinated the group after Steve.  Fran was trained as a sociologist, married a man from Ghana, and went on to write about African food and cooking and the culture of Sub-Saharan Africa, including books for children.  Fran brought some delicious African food for the snack table: fried plantains, deep fried dough and rooibos tea.

Star Campbell, a member since 1995, assisted Fran in the leadership of the NVWN.  She has written clergy articles for the Centre Daily Times and articles for the Christian Science Monitor, and also writes curriculum materials.  Star is especially grateful to Steve Miller, who shared his knowledge about fair rates for freelancing, and to the NVWN for giving her the confidence to stand by those rates.

After Fran no longer had time to coordinate, retired psychologist Jack Williams took over, observing that it took three people to accomplish what Fran had done.  He was helped by Anne Cornell and by Fran McEachren, who wrote the newsletter and just recently published her first article in the CDT.  Jack wrote about his hometown and childhood in “Self Matters” for State College Magazine, and articles on coaching for retirement.  He was hired by a company to do retirement seminars and after “retiring from retirement”, he counsels retirees.

Longtime member Pat Potter stated that the most important thing she learned is not to write anything for free!  A crime reporter, she has written about all sorts of things, even ads for cesspool cleaners. She exclaimed, “Writing is the best life!”

Other members in attendance included John Carr, editor and author of eight novels, who not-so-fondly remembered the days of typewriters and carbon paper.  He offered his testimony about the problems of mid-list authors today, when publishers base their printing runs for a new book on sales of the author’s last book, a practice that often stalls careers unless one adopts different pseudonyms.  We hope to get John Carr back next year to tell us more about his writing and publishing experience.  His wife, Victoria Alexander, has worked as an editor for 15 years and writes non-fiction.  After moving here five years ago, she wrote a series of columns for the CDT about the origins of the term “Happy Valley.”

Current board members who attended included coordinator Sally Driscoll, Greg Halpen, Mark Shirey (“no relation”) and Karen Dabney.  Sally is looking for a replacement coordinator so that she can spend more time writing her own material, but will not abandon the group beforehand.

Other members and guests who attended included Sherry Hogan Dudik’s sister, Patti Koelle, who had also attended the first meeting, CDT reporter Stephanie Koons, playwright Jerry Sawyer, poet Zoe Brigley Thompson, her husband Dan Thompson, and writers Steve Bressler and Stewart Davis.

BookFestPA – Volunteers Needed!

The Nittany Valley Writers Network is supporting BookfestPA, a celebration of local writers to be held on Saturday, July 10, 2010, at Schlow Centre Region Library, in conjunction with the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.  Meet Martha Freeman, Ken Hull, John F. Carr and others (see schedule below), while helping to promote literature and literacy.

Volunteers will staff the booth, where they will distribute and collect raffle tickets for hourly drawings, hand out bookmarks, and answer general questions.  Help may be needed at the table inside as well.  Guest authors will read from their books at certain times during the day, while others will be there all day.

BookFestPA will run from 10am-5pm.  The booth will be right outside Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St., State College, PA.

To volunteer for as little as ½ hour, an hour or two, or even the full day, contact Sally Driscoll (sallydriscoll@verizon.net) or Pat Griffith, Head of Adult Services, Schlow Centre Region Library, 237-6236.  Remember to mention you are a member of the Nittany Valley Writers Network!

Schedule of Authors:  10 AM – Martha Freeman, 11 AM – Jeffrey Frazier, 12 Noon – Ken Hull, 1 PM – Joanne Leonard, 2 PM – Chris McDougall, 3 PM – Kieryn Nicholas, 4 PM – Georgia Anne Butler.  Lee Stout will be appearing elsewhere (tba).  Authors appearing all day:  Michael Bezilla, John F. Carr and Paul Yeager.  Mark Ross of Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet band will present his children’s book at the 3 PM Storytime in the Children’s Dept.  For more info on BookFest PA, see http://www.bookfestpa.org/.

Worthy Links

NVWN web page: http://www.schlowlibrary.org/content/adults/nittany-valley-writers/nittany-valley-writers-network

NVWN Yahoo group (Bev Molnar, “owner”): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nvwn/?yguid=28452699
NVWN Facebook page (Greg Halpin, “owner”):  http://www.facebook.com/nvwritersnetwork
NVWN 20th Anniversary attendees (video):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haAhG4Eopbc&feature=autofb
NVWN 20th Anniversary attendees (photo) (may need to login to Yahoo!):  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nvwn/photos/album/895605604/pic/857904713/view?picmode
NVWN photos of past meetings and breakfasts, by Anne Cornell:  http://picasaweb.google.com/NittanyValleyWriters

C. Hope Clark's "Funds for Writers" page and newsletter:  http://www.fundsforwriters.com/
On Writing Well: the classic guide to writing nonfiction, by William Knowlton Zinsser:  http://books.google.com/books?id=R-85PhmkW5gC
Agatha Christie's writer's notebooks:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2009/sep/15/agatha-christie-plots-val-mcdermid
The Great Mormon Novel - Where is it?:  http://www.slate.com/id/2253914/
Absolute Write – a great resource for writers, including discussion forums: http://www.absolutewrite.com/
Critique Groups

Fiction Writers Group: Current group members are working on short stories and novels.  We review, brainstorm, try writing prompts, encourage technique discussion, all in a fun, welcoming atmosphere.  We are not currently seeking new members but if you’d like to be notified of any group openings, please contact Heidi Cornwall at hecrgc@gmail.com.

CLAW (Creating Literature At Webster’s):  This group is currently looking for new members.  We critique fiction only (not workshop screenplays, poetry, memoirs, historical, or religious fiction).  Our writing tends toward the edgy, and our genres include science fiction, fantasy, mainstream, mystery, experimental, and humor (both dark and light) for all age groups.  Anyone uncomfortable with having their boundaries challenged should not apply.  Interested writers should contact Jen at facilitator@clawcritique.com.

Poetry Writing Group:  This group is seeking new members.  Interested writers should contact Karen Deutsch at kadeutsch@gmail.com.

W4K (Writers for Kids): This group covers fiction and non-fiction for children up through young adults.  Contact Virginia Loewen, 814-238-1817, vloewen@verizon.net.

The Christian Writers Roundtable:  Meets on the third or fourth Thursday of each month, according to members’ convenience.  Members write from a Christian world view, but works range widely, including fiction and non-fiction books, short stories, articles, devotionals, poetry, and children’s literature.  Membership is by invitation and is currently at its chartered limit.  Inquiries: e-mail laurelwest@usa.com or phone Laurel at 814-237-3010.

OLLI Writers Group:  Writers of all genres are welcome to join this group, which is an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Penn State Special Interest Group.  Contact Rita for more information and meeting times/dates: ritalouise@gmail.com.

Memoir Writing Group:  This group currently has a few spots available for additional members.  They meet the first Thursday of the month at 1 pm.  Interested writers should contact Barb Foley at knock3xs@hotmail.com.

State College Writer’s Group Critiques fiction and poetry.  They meet at 7pm Tuesdays at Webster’s Bookstore and are seeking new members.  For more information, contact Glenn at gbv750@hotmail.com or 234-1949.

The Potluck Writers Group: Critiques a wide range of writing, including memoirs, fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction.  They meet every third Wednesday and currently have openings for one or two new members.  For more information, contact Campbell Plowden at cplowden@comcast.net or 238-5148.


Programming: Sally Driscoll (sallydriscoll@verizon.net)

Critique Groups: Karen Dabney (greywing228@verizon.net)

Publicity: Bev Molnar (bgs3@psu.edu)

Facebook: Greg Halpin (gphalpin@gmail.com)

Marketing: Zoe Brigley Thompson (zoe.brigley@gmail.com)

Newsletter: Mark Shirey (mts@uplink.net)

Please send Events and other Newsletter items to mts@uplink.net by the 25th of the month.


“Murder your darlings.”  This common admonition to writers (suggesting they excise the parts of their work that most delight them) is widely misattributed to the likes of Samuel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and William Faulkner.  Its original author was Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who wrote in The Art of Writing (1916), “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press.  Murder your darlings.”