Source: Children Come First

NLAPW: National League of American Pen Women
By Olgy Gary, 11.14.08

I wanted to share my excitement and let everyone know that I have been accepted as a member in the National League of American Pen Women! This is a pretty cool honor I'm getting in recognition of the work I've published over the years and the writing projects I've been involved in.

I've heard about the NLAPW here and there for quite some time. Every time I hear it mentioned, it comes along with a good deal of pride and respect for the organization and what membership in it represents. So I figured it must be a good thing to belong to as a writer and, since I'm a woman, I thought I'd fit right in. :-)

I googled them online and found out you have to be sponsored in. You need to have two current members of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW) sponsor you.

Since I'd never attended their meetings I checked the national website for the organization and that led me to their regional Colorado branches. They have one in Denver and one in Colorado Springs. I knew the current president at the time, from being a member of the Pikes Peak Writers (who also speak highly of Pen Women) so I felt I could email and ask her whether I could apply and what was involved and would she sponsor me. She enthusiastically replied to me and sent me application materials.

In the application you have to fill out all your writing, art or music credits, depending on what category you're applying for. Your sponsor and endorser, local members in good standing, look your credentials over and pretty much can give you an idea of whether you'll qualify as a member or not and whether you're including all that's being asked of you or not. Then the membership officer from the local branch you're applying from sends the packet of information to the national headquarters, including your application, application fee, copies of your published work. As their website states, "all credentials shall be submitted with accompanying proof of payment." You then wait and see if they approve you as a member.

Back to what writers I know and respect think of NLAPW, not too long ago a PPW member received some type of award, whether it was a new book published or something like that, and when folks responded to the PPW list to congratulate her, I noticed that a well published PPW member I look up to made it a point to mention that this particular author was "a Pen Woman!!!" with exclamation points and all. So, again, this reinforced in my mind the idea that this would be a good professional organization for me to apply to and hopefully be accepted as a member, in the same way that me being a full member of SCBWI carries its own pedigree. 

Often I see writers working hard at their craft, publishing, writing, publishing some more. That's AWESOME!!! That's what we're meant to do. But I also think it's good along the way to hang a few certificates in your office that represent what respectected, established, and well-thought of writing organizations think of you as a writer and/or illustrator. My membership in SCBWI, and now NLAPW, represent those certificates for me. They count when you're writing query letters, when submitting your work for publication, for those wonderful back-cover copy blurbs when the book comes out. They also count when I'm writing away on various projects and I look up and see those pieces of paper in my office. They encourage me to keep on keeping on and validate the road I've travelled thus far. They're very much a part of the platform building effort of any writer and illustrator that I'm so keen in seeing they pay attention to.

Visiting the NLAPW's website folks can see all the things the organization is involved in and who they are. As Nancy Bentley, the current president of the Pikes Peak Branch, said in her recent post to the b4c list, "NLAPW is a one hundred and eleven year-old organization dedicated to encourage and inspire women in all the arts. Members include writers, artists, photographers, and musicians. One of our goals is to reach out and support women of all ages in the arts." That's it in a nutshell. And there's so much more to be discovered as we browse through the NLAPW website and google them online.

The organization has a rich national history, going back to its founding in 1897. Their first national convention was held in 1921 in Washington, DC,

"and the 300 women in attendance were received by President and Mrs. Warren G. Harding. Mrs. Harding was a distinguished member of the League, as was Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1978, following its 80th birthday, the League was presented with the Literary Hall of Fame Award in recognition of its contribution to the cultural life of the United States. Other recipients of the award have included Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Ariel and Will Durant, and Charles Schulz." [NLAPW History].

An article from tells us that, "League members, inspired by their motto - Dumas's "All for one; one for all" - award scholarships and grants as well as provide workshops, discussion groups, and lectures related to the creative process; writing and poetry contests; juried and judged art exhibitions; and music composition competitions."

The Cape Canaveral Chapter of the NLAPW's website tells us that,

"NLAPW members promote development of the creative talents of professional women in the arts, and competitions are held at Branch, State and National levels. Membership in the League is comprised of Active, Associate, International Affiliate and Honorary members engaged in creative work in one or more of the three comprehensive membership classifications: Letters, Art, and Music."

The Cape Canaveral Chapter of the NLAPW's website also tells us that, "Many First Ladies are honorary members of the League: Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Eleanor Roosevelt.  Other famous women to belong are Erma Bombeck, Janet Daily, Helen Keller, Georgia O’Keefe, Dale Evans, Helen Thomas, Eudora Welty." So, yeah, you're in good company if you are a NLAPW member. :-)

All this to say that, for me, it's a delight and honor to have been accepted as a member of the National League of American Pen Women. :-)

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