Join us at Women Opening Doors for Women and Hear from the Best on How to Get Published

WIN’s signature event, Women Opening Doors for Women (WODW) is always a night to remember. It starts with a reception, sure to have amazing speakers (not to mention delicious food and an open bar), and a chance to mingle and network with a room full of accomplished and inspiring women. The heart of the event though, are the dinners. Once the reception ends, everyone breaks out and goes to one of about 30 dinners, held all over the city. Invoking the spirit of WIN’s origin story, where women came together around a kitchen table, with the goal to help other women achieve their goals and provide a network that would only grow over the decades, the dinners offer attendees a a chance to hear from the best. The topics range from personal development to professional development, with a lot in between. This year’s dinners cover topics like health care, women in the military, the need for a National Women’s History Museum, and of course, our personal favorite: Turn Your Passion into Your Profession: Tips for Getting Published. This dinner, brought to you by your favorite Writing Group, will offer tips from published authors on how to take that book you’ve been working on and turn into a real, actual, published work. You know it’s your turn to be the featured author at Politics and Prose. So sign up for our dinner and get your writing career in gear.

Our speakers include:

Cathy Alter
Author of “Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over”
www.cathyalter.com

Allison Silberberg
Author of “Visionaries In Our Midst: Ordinary People who are Changing our World”
www.allisonsilberberg.com

Holly Kearl
Author of “Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women”
www.hollykearl.com

Ruth Schimel
Ph.D., Career and Life Management Consultant, Writer of book series “Choose Courage”
http://ruthschimel.com

So you can see why we’re excited. We hope you can join us. Details are below.

No Reservations: Proud to be Pro-Choice.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 22
Reception: 6:00- 7:00
Dinner: 7:30 – 9:30 Doors open at 5:30

WHERE: Reception: National Education Association 1201 16th Street, NW
Dinner: based on your dinner choice

Get your tickets here: www.tinyurl.com/wodw2011

See you on June 22!

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Recap: Finding Your Online Voice: Political Blogging 101

photo from CommonCensus blog

“Look for things to have an opinion on. They won’t always come to you.” – Amanda Hess”

Pay attention to the races nobody else is paying attention to.” – Kay Steiger

“You can pack a lot of right wing anger into 140 characters.” – Michelle Kinsey Bruns

These are just some of the pieces of advice offered to attendees of our recent event, titled “Finding Your Political Voice: Political Blogging 101.” Our panelists, Amanda Hess, Kay Steiger and Michelle Kinsey Bruns spoke to an enthusiastic crowd about the importance of women writing, and more specifically about politics. They also shared their insights on topics like the different avenues that are available for getting published, and (cue cheers from the Writing Group) a community where women can write and get supportive and constructive feedback. Yes, without any prompting, our fabulous panel suggested that women who want to write seek out a community that will encourage them to do so and will help them improve their craft. We wholeheartedly agree.

What else they said:

Get better at writing by reading
Classic. Keep up on what your fellow writers are writing. Books, news, everything. Especially work in the style you want to write.

Write every day
Another classic that bears repeating. It takes discipline, but always pays off. It also supports Amanda Hess’ earlier piece of advice to seek out things to have an opinion on. So, read every day, including the news, and you should find something worth writing on. Even if no one reads it, write it.

Meet people in person whenever you can
This speaks more to the importance of participating in the community to which you want to be a part. Online communication is important, but it doesn’t replace the significance of offline meetings. People will remember you better once they’ve met you and spoken to you in person.

Find a race nobody else is paying attention to
In the spirit of straight up political writing, check out a local race, or a race that’s not getting a lot of coverage. By fall of 2012, everyone will have espoused their beliefs on the presidential race, as well as prominent Senate and House races. But there are always gems flying under the radar. It’s great way to make your voice heard, especially if you can start early and establish yourself as the go-to person for the most up-to-date and relevant information.

Don’t be afraid to be critical of your friends and allies
Michelle gave the example of calling out the DCCC and the Democratic party for the Democratic Reps who voted for HR3, the rabidly anti-choice bill that recently passed the House.

Women need to pitch more
You’ve probably heard the statistics. Men pitch stories at a much higher rate that women. This isn’t because they are more qualified. In fact, there’s a good chance you are just as, if not more, qualified to write on that topic. Plus, editors are often looking for more female writers, so keep pitching your writing.

Politics is struggle, and there is no struggle without passion
What else needs to be said here?

A few more things to keep in mind…

Share your writing with friends, fellow writers, and of course your beloved Writing Group. Don’t be afraid to get – and give – criticism (constructively, of course).

For formal training, check out the Writers Center and Media Bistro.

Use social media. Michelle live tweets the anti-choice protesters outside her local clinic every Saturday morning, and has a gained a substantial following for doing so.

photo from Her Royal Highness blog

So, here’s what you need to do: Write! Read as much as you can, write as much as you can, and share it with as many people as possible. Now get started!

We’ll see you at our next meeting.

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Finding Your Online Voice: Political Blogging 101

JOIN US!

WIN’s  Political Training Team and the WIN Writing Group Proudly Present: 

Finding Your Online Voice: Political Blogging 101

 True or False: There are more female bloggers than male in today’s online media?

If you answered true, you are correct! Women made up 50.9% of online blogs in 2010.

However, the New York Times recently reported that men are twice as more likely to take to political blogging than women.

It’s no surprise that online media has become a powerful tool in everyday politics. As attacks on Democrats in the 2012 election promise to be fierce, it’s more important than ever to get your blogging skills in gear!

Join WIN’s Political Training team as we team up with Writing Group for an exciting panel on political blogging. Listen to top female bloggers speak about the basics of online journalism and how you can find your “online” voice.

Amanda Hess, DC sex and gender columnist and blogger
Kay Steiger, online managing editor at Washingtonian magazine and the former editor of CampusProgress.org
Zerline Hughes, communications manager for the Justice Policy Institute
Michelle Kinsey Bruns, tweets for @ClinicEscort and blogs at The Inevitable Preggobelly

WHEN:

Thursday May 12th, 2011
6:30-8pm
RSVP via email to politicaltrainings@winonline.org

WHERE:

Farragut North Area – Address provided to RSVP’s

Refreshments Will Be Served!

SPACE IS LIMITED. PLEASE BE SURE TO RSVP TO ENSURE A SPOT.

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Happy Anniversary Affordable Care Act!

Congratulations! You’re One! It’s a big milestone for sure, and we all know it’s been a rocky one. Unfortunately, not everyone was excited about your passage, and like all big reform bills, you’re still growing. Hang in there! Despite the howls from some, there are a lot of folks who are rooting for you and can’t wait to see you grow up into the comprehensive act we envisioned.

Because of you, other newborns and infants now have coverage, and their moms and dads have more health care too, including family planning. Not to mention no more co-pays for cervical cancer screenings or mammograms. And no more gender discrimination! At least in insurance premiums (you’re only one bill). Plus, if you get sick, you can’t be kicked off your insurance plan. The benefits are rolling in. Let’s review some more:

  • Insurers are banned from imposing lifetime dollar limits on coverage
  • Insurers cannot charge higher costs for emergency services obtained outside of their network
  • Insurers, including Medicaire, are required to cover a core set of preventive services without cost-sharing requirements such as co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance.
  • Insurers must spend at least 80-85% of premium dollars on providing beneficiaries with health care and improving the quality of their care, and NOT on administrative costs and profits.
  • Any insurers receiving federal funds will not be able to discriminate on the grounds of race, national origin, gender, age, or disability.
  • Women may be eligible for premium and cost-sharing assistance if they purchase insurance through a health insurance exchange in the individual market.
  • Insurers will be required to comply with limits on annual cost-sharing.
  • Health plans are prohibited from denying coverage to children ages 0-19 with “pre-existing conditions” such as asthma and diabetes.
  • A new tax credit that helps small businesses provide coverage to their employees. Women are more likely than men to work for small businesses that don’t offer health insurance.

You’ve even got a snazzy new website to help everyone navigate the new system. Not too shabby Lil ACA. With a little bit of luck and some help from your friends, I’m sure you’ll even weather the spending cuts and litigation. It won’t be easy, but as you get older and really come into your own, things will settle down. Your foes will get used to you, and many will even come to appreciate you. Hey, you’re here for everyone.  So, have a slice of cake, make a little noisemaker noise, and sing yourself a hearty Happy Birthday. You’ve earned it!

Thanks to the National Partnership for Women and Families and the National Women’s Law Center for the facts.

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Inspiration from Fellow Women Writers

Christine de Pizan, 14th century poet

Sure, the extra hour of daylight is nice, but here are a few fem-based sources of inspiration to help you put your fingers to the keypad and start writing – and then sharing your work.

Thanks to Kimberly, fellow Writing Group member, we are including Feminism 2.0 to our list of blogging resources. This list will be moved to its own page soon, but can also be seen here in its original form as a blog post.

About Feminism 2.0: “Feminism 2.0 brings together the leadership of major women’s advocacy organizations and online women’s communities to further the connection between today’s issues and women’s voices. Feminism2.0 is intended for all women interested in better policy for women, families and society.” Just email them with your ideas and let us know if you get featured!

Still need a another reason to get started? Feministing had a great post yesterday by Ann Friedman, about the importance of encouraging women to write. It’s a great read, so please do so asap, then follow Ann’s advice and encourage other women to write. That byline gap she notes isn’t going to take care of itself.

If that still isn’t enough to get you in the mood, here’s a video of Susan Orlean and Elizabeth Gilbert discussing the experience of writing as women. Among may topics, they talk about the aspects of reporting that can be easier for women, including the assumption that women are not as threatening, and how that can make it easier for people to open up. The entire chat is here (just over an hour long, but totally worth it). For a shorter version from the New York Times, go here.

Maguerite Countess of Blessington, Irish writer (1789 – 1849)

Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, here’s a little Irish blessing:

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

May you merrily write til your heart’s content!

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Get Your Voice Out There! Blogging Opportunities

In keeping with the spirit of encouraging you to write, and to get your voice out there, here is a list of places online that you can contribute to, with some information on what they look for and what you can expect.

If you know of others, or have other information to contribute, email us at writing@winonline.org. We’re hoping to keep this list as a growing and frequently updated resource.

Feministing
From the site: Feministing’s Community blog exists to provide a platform for feminist and pro-feminist writing, to connect feminists online and off, and to encourage activism. We hope that the Community blog will be a forum for a variety of feminist voices and organizations. The Community blog is open to anyone who would like to join.  However, in order to maintain a progressive and safe discourse on the site, anti-feminist Community posts are not permitted; the Feministing editors believe that racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and hate speech constitute anti-feminism and have no place on the site.  Additionally, posts that contain no feminist lens or analysis, or that are “spammy” in nature may also be held for moderation.  If your post does not meet Community standards, a member of the Feministing staff will notify you by email.

Also, if you’re interested in ever writing for Feministing, this is a good way to start. Not to mention, in the feminist community, Feministing well-regarded, and they will post some community blogs on their “front page.”

SheWrites
SW is all about a community for women writers. While clearly geared toward getting more women to write and to get more women in the public sphere, this is an apolitical site, which distinguishes it from most of the others on this list. In addition they have a couple genre-specific groups, including one for blogging, which has over 1700 members.

When you sign up, you are given a profile page, where you can post a status update, and information about yourself. People can comment on your post as well. Think Facebook for women writers. Even if you don’t post blogs here, SW is an active organization and site for women writers, so it’s worth signing up just for the resources and opportunities for interaction with other writers.

RH Reality Check
This site is focused on prochoice, reproductive rights issues, though it sometimes will include related pieces, as long as they still concern women or reproductive rights from a prochoice lens. It’s well-regarded in the choice community and their articles are often circulated widely.

You can submit articles, occasionally for payment, if its journalistic or investigative in nature. They also have a community diarist section, open to anyone who signs up. If your diary is gets enough traffic, they will feature it on their homepage.

Daily Kos
There’s a waiting period for posting, 1 week, to discourage trolls. Daily Kos is popular and well-read, with a progressive edge. Like RH, DK stories are often circulated widely. It’s political in nature and focused on current events.

Mod Cloth
The site is an online clothing store, but in addition to their own blog they also have The Written Wardrobe. The WW recently released its inaugural issue,  and is taking submissions for the next one. Like SheWrites, this isn’t political, but is specific to stories involving clothing, fashion or something similar.

BlogHer
This is not a diarist site. They are looking for women bloggers to connect with, though, so if you blog on a regular basis (they want blogs updated weekly), and have a demonstrated female audience, check them out.

Are there others on this that we’re missing? Or is there more to be said about the sites listed here? Let us know at writing@winonline.org.

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Tis the Season for Giving Back

It’s that time of year. To run around the malls like crazy, buying presents for loved-ones, and for that co-worker you drew from the Secret Santa pool. Maybe even to toss a little change to the Salvation Army guy. In keeping with that last thought, here are some charities that have writing and giving back at heart. This list is by no means exhaustive. Just a sample to get you thinking. In fact, if you know of another that should be on this list, let us know at writing@winonline.org.

826 National
http://826national.org/about/
A “a nonprofit tutoring, writing, and publishing organization with locations in eight cities across the country,” 826 works with school-age students to improve their writing skills, and works with teachers to help them get their students excited about writing. In addition to tutoring and workshops, it offers field trips, publishing opportunities and college scholarships. There’s even an online store to make your holiday shopping easier, with gifts geared toward writers, readers and anyone who wears shirts. In keeping with their spirit and mission, 826 also has a list of other nonprofits dedicated to helping the next generation of writers.

Girls Write Now
http://www.girlswritenow.org/gwn/
As the name suggests, it’s about getting girls writing. And if you’ve ever perused an op-ed page, or a best-seller list, there is a need for getting more female voices out in the public space. From their site: Girls Write Now (GWN) is the first organization in the United States, and the only one on the East coast, to combine mentoring and writing instruction within the context of all-girl programming. Since 1998, we have given more than 3,000 at-risk girls from New York City’s under-funded public high schools access to a supportive mentoring relationship, a safe space to share ideas, and an intergenerational writing community.

Words Without Borders
http://wordswithoutborders.org/about/
Words Without Borders is a nonprofit committed to spreading the word around the world. WWB “translates, publishes, and promotes the finest contemporary international literature.” They produce a monthly online magazine with pieces by various international writers, from Nobel winners to rising stars. If you’re a little more inclined to buy something tangible, consider an anthology co-published by WWB. You get the book, they get the proceeds.

JOT
http://www.jot.org/about_us.php
Based in Chicago, the Neighborhood Writing Alliance “provokes dialogue, builds community, and promotes change by creating opportunities for adults in Chicago’s underserved neighborhoods to write, publish, and perform works about their lives.” Their Journal of Ordinary Thought publishes the reflections of ordinary people on their lives, working on the belief that “every person is a philosopher.” It’s creative nonfiction that Studs Terkel would be proud of. A People’s Experiences if you will.

Donors Choose
http://www.donorschoose.org/
This one is not necessarily writing-related, but it can give the donor a chance to fund a specific project that could be writing or reading-related, for example giving money to donate pens and pencils for a writing contest. It works essentially like this: teachers from all over the country post classroom project requests, then donors search through the list and donate to whatever project/s they want. Once the goal is reached, the supplies are delivered.

Another way to give back while supporting writing is to consider a donation to your local public library. It’s not a writing group or organization, but public libraries are often great – and sometimes the only – free resources in an area that allow folks to access books for free, as well as other important resources like internet access and a place to sit and read or write. Which is all crucial for fostering a literary society.

Happy Writing and Happy Holidays!

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Beating Writer’s Block Down

It happens to everyone. If you’ve ever tried to write, deadline looming or not, it happens. It happened to Tolstoy, and it can happen to you. Except that now, we have more resources to help us. Of course, these resources and the Internet they reside in can also become the cause of that other sinister bane of writing: procrastination. But tough times call for tough decisions. So, if you’re seriously blocked, it might be worth a trip to the Net to check these sites out for help.

More than one suggests carrying a notebook or other recording device with you. Even if it’s just the memo app on your smartphone, it’s worth getting in the habit of writing down the great ideas that come to you when you least expect it.

Some of the quirkier ideas include writing or talking to a monkey or cardboard cutout, creating an inspiration board, and vacuuming your lungs. Hey, whatever works. Perdue has a series of symptoms and cures based on the type of issue, such as when you have to write about a topic that bores you, or if you’re very self-conscious. Of course, some of the ideas could be applied more widely, for example the suggestion to just, in fact, start writing; even if the content isn’t great. Some advice seems contradictory, such as the tip to “provide structure,” or to “throw out the rules.” If there’s a common thread here, it might be to shake up your situation. If you typically write with structure, throw out a rule or two. If you can’t be bothered to do the same thing twice, try creating a rule.

More popular ideas are free writing, setting small goals, starting from somewhere other than the beginning, and moving around. Go for a run, take out the recycling, walk the dog. Whatever you want. You’ll change your perspective (if only briefly), accomplish something, and actually get yourself – very literally – moving. Then sit down and start. Start from where you most want to, or just start writing at all, for a set amount of time. As the poet William Stafford once said, “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” Not the most eloquent or lofty of suggestions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without some truth. Maybe you just need to get started. Let yourself stumble around the page a bit, write some worthless fodder down.  Just start damn it! Or take a break. Whatever gets you back to writing.

Web Design Schools Guide
Overcoming Writer’s Block
About.com
43folders.com
vacuuming your lungs
Perdue

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Upcoming Writing Contests: Write, Win and Get Paid

Looking for some motivation to get writing? Check out these upcoming contests:

Poets and Writers magazine has a vetted list that allows you to sort by genre and submission date. These are the creative nonfiction listings, but of course P&W lists other genres as well. The CNF list includes contests open to anyone, as well as contests geared toward students, published authors, authors of color, and even authors looking or willing to spend time in the desert.  Looking for a major motivator? Check out the contest by Narrative Magazine, open to anyone, with a deadline of November 30! With an award of $3250, this just might be the time to hit print and send your piece in.

WordPress also has a list, which you can find here. This list includes multiple writing forms, including the Wag Revue Winter 2011 contest and a chance to win a trip to Belize for your travel writing story. You can also find these and more on our Resources page.

Good luck and let us know when you win!

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Welcome to the WIN Writing Group blog!

Welcome to the WIN Writing Group blog! We hope you enjoy your stay, come back often and are even inspired to meet us in person, at one of our meetings around town. We are relatively new to the WIN family, being just a year old, and continue to grow. For the lowdown on our meetings and the type of writing we focus on, check out our About Us page. For information on WIN, check out the About WIN page.

As a writing group, we’re all about writing, writers and encouraging our fellow scribes to not only write more, but to write better and to challenge ourselves. Our group is decidedly low-key, and we welcome anyone to join us, at all or just a few of our meetings. You don’t have to share anything – you don’t even need to bring a pen and paper, we’ll take care of you – you just need to show up. We’ll take it from there, and you can share whenever you’re ready. What do we do at our meetings? We begin with a quick icebreaker, then do a free write session (usually about 5-10 minutes), then read and workshop a piece that has been submitted beforehand. We focus on creative nonfiction, and the submissions can be anonymous or open. The choice is with the author. If you have a piece of no more than 5 pages you’d like to submit, email us at writing@winonline.org.

About that writing. Here are some prompts to get you started:

  1. Write about your favorite article of winter clothing.  When did you get it, and where, and what do you like about it, and when have you used it?
  2. Think back over the weekend and record, in as much detail as possible, the most interesting conversation you can remember having.
  3. Set a timer to 10 minutes and free write a response to this ee cummings poem.

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)

Do you have suggestions for writing prompts? Tips to share? Let us know! writing@winonline.org

Happy Writing!

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