Opening Doors: Girls Write Now Party!

You have heard me rave and rave and rave about Girls Write Now. If you are in New York and want to see for yourself why it's such an amazing organization, why it continually inspires me, and why I'm taking a quick break from writing to celebrate with them, why not stop by their new space next Tuesday, October 5th? I'll be there!

Lizzie Skurnick for Girls Write Now

I’ve encouraged you all to go to the Chapters Readings before, and Friday brings another chance. The wonderfully smart and funny Lizzie Skurnick will be reading from her new book, Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading (2009). Lizzie’s book is a love letter to some of the great young adult fiction of the seventies, much of it by women and about real girls facing real and interesting problems: the very books that I hope the girls of Girls Write Now discover and find refuge in. My mother-in-law and I devoured the book together last summer, reminiscing about all the books we had loved and the ones that had meant so much to her 9th graders back when she was teaching. Reading with Lizzie will be some of the teen girls and their mentors who are participating in Girls Write Now this year. Here is the roster:
  • Emily Alvarez, "I Write for a Reason"

  • Michaela Burns, "Red Apple Pie"

  • Tianna Coleman, "Who am I: An Ode to Precious"

  • Clio Contogenis, "Mary Ellen, Nana Mary"

  • L’Eunice Faust & Tasha Gordon-Solmon, "If God Had Made Eve First"

  • Rachel Garcia, "The Yellow Dress"

  • Dalina Jimenez & Corey Binns, "Welcome Home"

  • Ceasia King & Ariana Proehl, "Ego Trips (We Know Exactly Why)"

  • Syeda Showkat & Kirthana Ramisetti, "Nora and Carol at the Discount Plus Christmas Party"

  • Shannon Talley & Jen McFann
Pamela Vasquez, "Bark Bark Roof Bark"

  • Quanasia Wheeler & Cynara Charles-Pierre, "The Yum that Keeps Giving" & "Thanksgiving No More"
I’ll confess that the first time I went to a paired reading, my heart sank a little at the length of the program. But, trust me, the women of Girls Write Now are fierce and organized: the readings are snappy, and the girls will have you laughing and crying. It’s the kind of event to make you remember why all the work we do, all the love we have, for literature really counts.

The event happens at the wonderful Center for Fiction (17 E 47th), this Friday from 6:00-8:00. I will be there & I hope to see you, too.

P.S. It’s not too late to apply to be a mentor for 2010-2011.

P.P.S. Finally, whether you’re in New York or not, you can pretty up your home and help the cause by buying one of (Seattle’s own) glassybaby votives/vases. Stop by their beautiful New York shop (in Jane Jacobs’s old house!) at 55 Hudson Street or just enter the code GWN on their website. (You can also just donate to Girls Write Now through the Network for Good here.)

These are the prettiest candleholders ever. Our apartment is FULL of them and I cannot get enough.

Three Great Ways to Help Girls Write Now

Those of you who read this blog know that I’m a passionate member of the advisory board for Girls Write Now, a New York City mentoring organization that pairs high school girls with professional women writers. If you’re in the New York City and are interested in getting involved, there are 3 great ways you can do it.

1. Listening
Maud Newton is curating the wonderful CHAPTERS reading series, featuring the work of New York City's best teen writers and the professional women who mentor them, and a dynamic, diverse line-up of special guest authors. This Friday, March 26, will feature Nami Mun, author of Miles from Nowhere. CHAPTERS readings will be held at the Center for Fiction (17 East 47th Street bet. 5th Ave. & Madison), from 6:00PM to 8:00PM.

2. Shopping
10% of anything you buy at any of Eileen Fisher’s New York City stores on Saturday, March 27 goes straight to Girls Write Now! You know you want a new skirt! (I’m pretty much head to toe in Eileen Fisher at the Public Library these days. No one makes a more flattering skirt that works for work.)

3. Mentoring
If you’re a professional woman writer, why not apply to be a mentor for the 2010-2011 school year? Applications are here are due by May 1.

And, of course, near or far, a quick click on the Network for Good website will allow you to make a donation.

Chapters Reading Series & Girls Write Now

As you may know, I’m on the board of Girls Write Now, the peerless mentoring organization that pairs women writers with girls from the New York City public schools. If you like great fiction and care about girls’ education (and why would you be here if that weren’t true?) and you live in New York, you might add the Chapters series to your calendar for spring. The line-up is great!

Beginning Friday, February 26, please join us for a series of evenings, featuring Girls Write Now students and the professional writers who inspire them, at the Center for Fiction (, 17 East 47th Street, between Fifth and Madison. Each event will take place from 6-8PM, and admission is free and open to the public. 
CHAPTERS also features a line-up of special guest authors, curated by Maud Newton
Friday, February 26: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of Wench
Friday, March 26: Nami Mun, author of Miles From Nowhere
Friday, April 23: Lizzie Skurnick, author of Shelf Discovery
Friday, May 21: Ru Freeman, author of A Disobedient Girl
Friday, June 18: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of The Thing Around Your Neck

Girls Write Now

If you read litblogs, you’ll have heard of Girls Write Now. Lauren Cerand is the Board Chair. Tayari Jones and Maud Newton are on the board. So am I. Truly, it is humbling and thrilling to be in the company of such inspiring women. But it’s the girls who inspire us all.

If you don’t know about Girls Write Now—this brilliant non-profit that pairs NYC high school girls with women writers—or if you haven’t yet given them a little Christmas/Hanukah/Eid/year-end donation, now is the moment for this amazing little non-profit is trying to raise $50,000 this holiday season, to keep their programs running and to expand them to serve more girls in need.

You can click right here and make an express donation through the Network for good.

At Girls Write Now's Holiday Soiree last month, I spent a festive evening with many of you at the Center for Fiction, where we each reached out to friends and family, writing letters for the Annual Holiday Appeal. I took this time because I believe, to my core, that helping girls write will change the world. Those letters have elicited a warm response, and to date we've raised $18,706. I wrote 34 letters that night to friends (and won the prize for the most letters written!); so far those letters have brought $625 to Girls Write Now. Every little bit counts.

Girls Write Now is on the rise. You may have heard that on November 4, Brooklyn high school senior Tina Gao joined founder and executive director Maya Nussbaum in accepting the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, distinguishing Girls Write Now as one of the top 15 after-school arts and humanities-based programs in the country.

I came to my first Girls Write Now event to hear Tayari Jones and Janice Erlbaum read from their work; I stayed--and went on to join the Advisory Board--for the girls. As a Virginia Woolf Scholar, I guessed that other Woolfians and feminists might respond to the power of the mission, too, so last spring I made Girls Write Now the beneficiary of our silent auction. So moved were the 200+ attendees that we were able to raise more than $2,000.

When people hear about Girls Write Now, they give to Girls Write Now. It's as simple as that. Won't you please consider giving and help me spread the word?