Archive for January 2014

Texas writer and drummer keeps reaching for the stars

January 22, 2014
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Angela Smith

Another unique, unbelievable member of NFPW is a bundle of energy named Angela Smith. She is a talented musician, excellent writer and a fun addition to every meeting she attends. Once you meet Angela, you won’t forget this fun-loving member from Texas.

Name: Angela Smith

City and State: Austin, TX

Affiliate and leadership positions : Press Women of Texas, current President-Elect and past President; Co-Chair, 2009 NFPW Conference in San Antonio

NFPW member: Since 1978

Tell us a little about you:

I’m a rebel – always have been since I was expelled from Catechism at age 6. I’m a native Texan who went the University of Texas where I studied journalism and music.  I was the first female to be editor of the daily newspaper there but had to fight the Dean of Women to get a curfew waiver to hold that job.  I went to work for the Associated Press as a reporter in the Capitol Press Corps after receiving my BA and then followed that up with a long-time career in educational PR.  From there I went on to become Executive Director of the Writers’ League of Texas and am now proud to hold the title of Executive Director Emeritus of that organization.  Emeritus is definitely the more cushy job.

I spend most of my time these days as a freelance writer/editor; authoring books about steel drum history and badass lady drummers; playing lots of music on the steel drum, cello and piano; and gazing at the stars through telescopes I keep in New Mexico and Austin.  Did I mention my other passion along with writing and music is amateur astronomy?  I also love to travel, do things I’ve never done before, and get in the middle of a good political fight, especially when it comes to women’s rights.

Career advice:

Don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing what you feel is your calling.  Be willing to take risks and be willing to fail.  Look on life as one big learning experience.  Most of all, be open to all options.

Talent I’d like to have: 

I’d love to be able to discern the secrets of the pyramids, Stonehenge, and all the other exotic, mysterious places on earth, not to mention what’s beyond this galaxy.

Where I would most like to live:

In a cozy, little cottage by the sea, with mountains close by and an airport to get me anywhere else I want to go as quickly as possible.

What are you currently reading:

I’m currently reading Women & Music by Karin Pendle in preparation for a presentation I’m making to my local affiliate of National Federation of Music Clubs.  For fun, I’ve just finished Stephen King’s Sleep.  I’m a sucker for horror novels – especially well written ones.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? 

I wanted to be an only child and tried to kill my little brother by telling him he could fly if he jumped out a second story window.  I didn’t succeed, but he did have to get a few stitches in his head.

NFPW has been important to me since the day I joined.  As a young reporter working in the Capitol Press Corps, women such as Helen Thomas and Sarah McClendon were my mentors.  I’ve belonged to numerous communications organizations through the years, but NFPW is the only one in which I continue to be active.  The friendships I’ve made and the extraordinary members who are part of this organization make the yearly investment in dues priceless. (I’m ready to volunteer for one of those MasterCard commercials.)

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

I’m a Facebook and Twitter fool.  Follow me, please!

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Eleuterio shares passion for leadership by reviving Florida affiliate

January 15, 2014

She is energetic, dynamic and is determined to bring Florida Press Women back to life. Meet Suki Eleuterio, a former Delaware Press Woman member who recently moved closer to the sun in Florida. She has a passion for leadership and is another unique and unbelievable member of NFPW.

Name: Suki Eleuterio

City and State: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Suki Eleuterio

Suki Eleuterio

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Florida Press Women, president

Years a member of NFPW: Two

In a couple of paragraphs, tell us a little about you.

I was born in Kenya and moved to the United States in 1999. My passion has always been writing and the creative arts, so I pursued a degree in English from the University of Delaware. While there, I also realized the importance of women’s leadership and helped co-found the Women’s Leadership Organization on campus. In 2012, I made the big leap from Delaware to Florida to live a little closer to the sun. Since living down here, I have continued to write (I blog, write poetry, and children’s literature) and in 2014 aim to bring the Florida chapter back to life: Florida Press Women.

Any career advice you would give?

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and passions. If you are unhappy in your job, position, or environment, change it! I hear so many people say how miserable they are with this job or that job, but they don’t do anything about it. I say, follow that dream. As Henry David Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.” Life is too short to not do exactly what it is you want to do.

Which talent would you most like to have?

When I was little I used to be a ballerina. Every now and then I wonder what it would be like to be a star with a ballet company.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I think it would be right here in South Florida. I’m so happy to have moved here.

What book are you reading?

 I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. She is the most fascinating, mature, and wise young woman I have ever come across. It is amazing to think she is only 15 and knows so much about the world. Her strength in the face of adversity is inspiring and all she wants is equal rights for women in her country (I’m half Pakistani, so I can relate to her). It’s a great read and I encourage others to pick it up.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Probably my multiracial background. My mother is half British and half Seychellois, and my father is Pakistani. It makes me an intricate blend of cultures, religions, and customs. Being raised in Kenya is also a part of me, just as much as becoming an adult in America is. I like to think of myself as a child of the world, able to adapt and change based on my surroundings. I’m a multiracial chameleon!

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

Starting this affiliate is important to me because while in Delaware, I was blessed to be part of the DPA and meet some extraordinary people. They encouraged me to enter the NFPW communications contest and I won first place for an article I wrote. I traveled out to Iowa for the conference and was so inspired by the entire weekend. I met some amazingly talented women and left filled with creative thoughts. If I can pass that experience on to other women and men down here in South Florida, I’d feel good. It’s all about sharing and spreading the love.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

Please visit my blog http://www.sookton.com.

You can also follow me on twitter: @sooktonsays,

Instagram: Sookton

LinkedIn: Suki Eleuterio

Recovering ‘Sweet Valley High’ author focuses on new books, promotes reading

January 2, 2014
Petrini as the Cat in the Hat

Petrini as the Cat in the Hat

My daughter read ‘Sweet Valley High’ books when she was growing up. She was even impressed when I told her that one of my friends had written some of the books she enjoyed reading as a teenager. Catherine M. Petrini is that friend and she is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member. On the post-conference tour to Yellowstone National Park in 2008, she was my co-pilot as we traveled through Yellowstone and Jackson enjoying the scenery and great company. At the National Federation of Press Women conference last August in Salt Lake City, keynote speaker  Justin Osmond was autographing his book and posing for photos with members after his presentation to the group. When he met Cathy, he asked if she would mind posing for a photo with him.

Here is a little more about this unbelievable NFPW member:

Name:  Catherine M. Petrini

City and state: Alexandria, Virginia

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

CAPITAL PRESS WOMEN: I’ve been president twice, and I have at one time or another held every position on the board. I’m also a member of VIRGINIA PRESS WOMEN.

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF PRESS WOMEN:

Currently I’m the At-Large Communications Contest Director.

Past NFPW positions include Secretary, 3rd Vice President (back when we had a 3rd VP), 2nd Vice President, Communicator of Achievement Director, and President’s Advisory Board.

Years a member of NFPW: Joined in 1989.

Tell us a little about you.

I am a recovering “Sweet Valley High” author who writes fiction and nonfiction books, mostly for children and teens. Under pseudonyms, I’ve completed 20 young-adult series novels, all published by Bantam or Simon & Schuster. In my fiction, I’ve sicced a werewolf on London, created several psychopathic murderers, and in my greatest show of omnipotence, devastated Southern California in an earthquake.

After my son was born in 2002, I switched to nonfiction for a while, writing children’s and YA books on topics including Italian American immigrants, Stonehenge, and dragons. Now I’m working on a science fiction novel (for adults) for the Stargate SG1 series. But I have several other book manuscripts in various stages of completion.

A new role I’ve taken on since this fall is that of Little Free Library steward. A Little Free Library looks like a birdhouse on steroids, but it’s full of books. I had one installed in front of my house; it’s #9136. Anyone can come by and take books. Book donations are welcome, too. The books can be returned to this or any other Little Free Library, or readers can keep them. It’s a great way to build communities by sharing books. I love my Little Free Library! For more about Little Free Libraries, see www.littlefreelibrary.org.

In my spare time, I read, draw, travel, take photos, and pick out Legos from under the couch. I’ve been active in the PTA at my son’s school and sometimes masquerade in public as the Cat in the Hat. I’m also a Bookcrosser and a Postcrosser (www.bookcrossing.com, www.postcrossing.com) In a past life, I was a magazine editor and a radio host. I love road trips and am known for driving to most NFPW conferences, even those that are far away.

Any career advice you would give?

Network! People say that getting published (or hired) is all a matter of knowing the right people. Of course, that can help. But what most don’t realize is that you have the power to meet the people you want to know! For example, if you think you don’t have a chance of getting an agent because you don’t have the right connections, figure out which conferences agents attend, and sign yourself up. Yes, it may take some time and money. Consider it an investment in your future. Just remember that you’re trying to build relationships; don’t expect things to happen in one weekend. Think of networking not as an event, but as a long-term, ongoing process. It’s also a great way to make new friends!

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be fluent in several languages. I took some Spanish in school and did pretty well, but that was a long time ago, and I’ve forgotten most of it. If I can ever make the time for it, I would like to take Spanish again. And I would love to learn Italian, too. I would also like to learn Cherokee, and have started trying to teach myself the Cherokee syllabary (similar to an alphabet, but each symbol represents not a letter sound but a syllable). I once wrote a nonfiction book on the Cherokee people, and have a back-burner book manuscript that is a YA time-travel fantasy about the Cherokee Trail of Tears.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Florence, Italy. I didn’t even have to think about this one. I’m a full-blooded Italian American, but I had never been to Italy until the NFPW Tuscany trip in 2012. From the moment the plane touched down, I felt as if I’d come home. I went to several parts of the country, both with the NFPW group and by myself the following week. Rome was exciting, Assisi was absolutely gorgeous. But Florence was where I could see myself living. I loved everything about it: the Medieval and Renaissance architecture, wonderful food, world-class museums, picturesque streets, warm people, and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Unlike Rome (where I got lost every time I stepped outside of my hotel) I always seemed to know instinctively how to get around in Florence; I was immediately comfortable there. If I can’t live in Florence, I would at least love to go back, often, to visit.

What book are you reading?

I am currently re-reading A Dance With Dragons. It’s the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, “A Song of Ice and Fire” (often called Game of Thrones, the title of the first book and of the HBO series based on the books). I finished reading the books early in 2013 and was dismayed to learn that the sixth book was not out yet. Eventually, I needed another “Game of Thrones” fix, so I started re-reading the first five books, in hopes that the sixth book would be out by the time I’m finished. Alas, I’m nearly through A Dance With Dragons, and Book 6 is not out yet. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

The series is loosely based on Medieval European history; specifically, the War of the Roses. But with dragons.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Despite being a complete klutz and one of the world’s most spectacularly uncoordinated people, I am actually a purple belt in Tae Kwon Do. My son (now 11 years old and a black belt) convinced me to take lessons so we could attend classes together. I’m not very good; my completion of the requirements for purple belt says a lot more about our Master’s teaching abilities than it says about my own athletic abilities. I’m currently sidelined with a knee injury, but I hope to get back to it in 2014.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

NFPW has been a wonderful source of encouragement, professional development, inspiration, and friendship. Press Women conferences and offices have honed my leadership and public speaking skills, connected me with professional and personal contacts, and given me a great excuse to travel all around the United States, and even to Tuscany! One of the main strengths of Press Women lies in the diversity of its members. You can sit down for dinner at a national or affiliate gathering and talk with a White House correspondent, a book publicist, a small-town newspaper editor, a nationally known columnist, and the author of a Civil War novel — all at the same table! And if I ever need a place to stay in Kansas City, advice about what color my fictional characters would wear to a Colorado Rockies game, or the name of a good freelance editor in San Francisco, I know I can e-mail an NFPW member for help. Membership in NFPW has enriched me both professionally and personally. There is simply no other organization like it.

Ways to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.:

* Blog: http://petrini1.livejournal.com/

* Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/catherine.petrini

* Little Free Library #9136 Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LittleFreeLibraryOfAlexandriaAndHancock

* Twitter account: https://twitter.com/petrini1