Posted tagged ‘Washington’

Meet a Member: Jessie Fernandes

August 2, 2016
She might be one of our oldest NPFW members. At 95 years young, Jessie Irene Fernandes still has a passion for writing and she is still entering the NFPW communications contest. She is writing a book she hopes to have published in time for next year’s contest. She is still having fun and is greatful for all her experiences. Meet this unique and unbelievable NFPW member.
Jessie Fernandes in India with Taj Mahal in the background.

Jessie Fernandes in India with Taj Mahal in the background.

Name: Jessie Irene Fernandes

City and State: Bellevue, WA

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Member NFPW member since 2007. Washington Press Association is no long active, so I am an at-large member.

Tell us a little about you.

All my life I have told stories and by the third grade, a short research paper on local trees. garnered me a red ribbon. By high school, I was writing stories about cowboys and Master Fu Manchu to fit the portraits drawn by my friend.

My college years were blessed with an English teacher who mentored a group of aspiring journalists. We did a lot of writing and I won a prize for poetry in a state wide contest and edited the college literary journal. Those days, I dreamed of being another Martha Gellhorn.

My senior year began in 1941, the year of Pearl Harbor. World War II was the seminal experience for most of my generation. Instead of becoming a foreign correspondent, I worked as secretary in the Public Relations Office at Cochran Army Air Base, Macon, Ga. My journalism dreams vanished when I fell in love with a charming British Royal Air Force pilot and I joined him in an England at war. It was not until 2015 that I fictionalized our marriage in Long Time Passing, the novel that I submitted to this year’s NFPW contest. After World War II, as a young widow with a son to support, I found a career as director of the medical records department in a hospital on Long Island, New York. Not what I had planned for my life, but it fed and clothed my son and me and, once my son fled the nest, I was free to travel. Commercial airlines opened the door to world wide travel and I took advantage of that. To file drawers full of poetry, story ideas and character profiles, I added travel journals.

It was not until 1986, when I retired, that retirement allowed the time and opportunity for me to work at writing. Over the years, I had submitted poetry and articles, with moderate success at publication, but in the back of my mind, my college voice said, “Go ahead. Write the Great American Novel.” That never came to fruition, but six or several manuscripts later, I published The Wild Child, which, to my surprise, won first place in the Washington Press Association contest and honorable mention in the NFPW contest. There is no thrill to compare with holding a trade paperback book with your name on the cover.

Now, a grateful nonagenarian, I look back at my life: a tapestry of wonderful colors, characters from a variety of cultures, experiences of pure joy and total despair, music by Beethoven to Paul Simon and beyond — rich beyond gold and jewels.

Long Time Passing was supposed to be my last novel. Every morning felt empty, however, so I dug up a discarded murder mystery from File 13 and am happily revising it, exploring new writing techniques and plan to enter it in next year’s NFPW contest.

Any career advice you would give?

To young writers I say: eat your veggies like mother said, exercise and keep writing whenever you can. You can learn even from drudge work just for pay. The day will come when you can create to your heart’s content. I wish you as happy an old age as I am having.

Jessie Fernandes with llamas in Machu Pichu.

Jessie Fernandes with llamas in Machu Pichu.

Where would I live other than Bellevue?

I am comfortable living right where I am. I have traveled six continents and could not possible identify a favorite country or city.

What talent do you wish you had?

Ballet dancer? Musician? I love writing and work at that. Mostly, I am grateful for the variety of experiences I have had – successful and unsuccessful. A long life provides many dishes to taste – that’s an old Chinese saying that I just made up!

What are you reading? 

My choice of books to read is eclectic; murder mysteries, general literature.  I just finished Mr and Mrs Disraeli: a strange romance, by Daisy Hay and H. is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald, both worth reading.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

People who know me now might be surprised to learn that I spent Saturdays for several years digging with an archeological group. Good exercise and fun.

Why is NFPW important to you?

NFPW is important to me, because it acknowledges women’s place in journalism; it gives us a forum to express our views on the world today and a way to impact that world, one hopes for good. I’m sorry that I didn’t discover NFPW earlier in my life. I would have enjoyed joining you all. The members of the organization inspire me to keep working to improve what I write, to achieve the best of which I am capable.

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

I do not have a website or Facebook – not even a cell phone. I can be contacted at my e-mail address: and My books are available on Amazon.


Nilson spends career focusing on writing and sharing with others

April 23, 2014
Barbara Nilson

Barbara Nilson

In 1989 Idaho hosted the first of three NFPW conferences I helped organize. One of the unique and unbelievable women I met at that conference in Coeur d’Alene was Barbara Nilson. She was the national high school communications contest director and I organized Idaho’s contest. It was wonderful getting to know her better at the conference. I made black lamb table decorations for the conference with an inscription “NFPW, we believe in ewe.” Can you believe that 25 years later she still has the lamb I gave her? Barbara, you are one of the reasons NFPW friendships last a lifetime. Meet Barbara Nilson, a shining example of our unique, unbelievable members.

Name: Barbara Nilson

City and State: Seattle area

Years a member of NFPW: 58

Tell us about you:

In the fall of 2004 Meg Hunt called and asked if I would organize the 2005 NFPW conference in Seattle. I called some of the “oldtimer” members and a newly moved to Washington NFPW member I had met at the previous conference and we decided the five of us could do it. Thus I was the conference director for “Sound bytes in Seattle”, Sept, 8-10, 2005. Meg’s final words during the phone conversation were: “And you’ll take us around the peninsula again,” so I did.

I joined NFPW in 1956 when my ex-husband and I owned, published, reported, typeset, photographed etc. as a staff of two for the Quincy Valley Post-Register. I set all the copy on a typewriter that justified the lines by pulling a string AFTER EVERY LINE. I wish I still had that machine because nobody believes me. My column was called “Barb’s Wire.” I divorced him and took my four children and went back to college to get my teaching degree. I then was hired at Franklin High School in Seattle as yearbook adviser and soon became adviser to the award-winning newspaper. During this time, I also became Youth Director for NFPW and expanded the contest for high school students.

I was instrumental in building a strong student contest in Washington State both for NFPW and the Journalism Education Association. Some of the awards I received were WPA Communicator of Achievement, 1981; Carl Towley Award from the national Journalism Education Assn, 1984; JEA program director, spring 1985; and WPA Torchbearer 1984.

After retiring from teaching, I wrote for a local newspaper about 15 years focusing on travel and historical pieces.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I have visited all 50 states, all the continents, all the Provinces in Canada including the Northwest Territories and Antarctica. If I had to pick one place to live (besides Seattle) it would be New Zealand, it has it all from Fjords to English towns, Scottish tows, Yellowstone park; majestic Mt. Cook etc.

Any career advice you would give?

As for career advice, just follow what you love to do, where your heart is.

What talent would you most like to have?

Besides writing, it would be to play rinky-tink piano and entertain people, with raunchy songs, make them laugh. I guess that’s also what would surprise people about me.

What are you reading?

Since leaving our five-acre woods (just for the winters) for an apartment in Seattle I have read a couple of books each week; I love history and “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” was a favorite, as was Corky Roberts’ “Founding Mother’s.” In addition to reading, I’m doing two interviews a month for the newsletter here and working on a novel disguised as my memoirs of 85 years.

I love history and small towns; I have written several books and two of them received first place from the King County Association of Historical Organizations. One “Uncle Sam Wants You” is about the veterans who served in WWII from the small town of Maple Valley; the second one is “Ravensdale Reflections” about a small mining town in our area. This past year I completed the “100th Centennial of Renton High School.

In June our family will be gathering at the ocean at Kalaloch (the spot where busloads of Press Women spent time on both of the NFPW trips around the Olympic Peninsula that I led) to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

I hope to attend the NFPW conference in 2016 to celebrate 60 years with a truly fantastic organization.

Contact information:

Email —



Washington’s Rosie Atkinson follows her dream and writes first book at 83

February 26, 2014
Rosie Atkinson

Rosie Atkinson

She is a 50+ year member of NFPW, a contributor of articles to many boating magazines and at the young age of 83 published her first book “Albin’s Letters,” a romantic fiction novella based on the lives of her grandparents. Meet Rosie Atkinson, another unique and unbelievable NFPW member.

Name: Rosalie L. Atkinson, born Rose Lorraine, but her grandfather called her Rosalie and so the name stuck. She was baptized Rosalie, and was always called “Rosie” growing up.

City and State: Lived in Port Orchard, Washington since l959. I moved to Bremerton, Washington, from Chicago as a teenager in l946.

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Washington Press Women

Years a member of NFPW: I joined sometime in the l970s. NFPW sent a 50 year “Emeritus” certificate a few years ago, but with my unique filing system it is temporarily misplaced!

Tell us a little about you:

Rosie and her husband Charlie

Rosie and her husband Charlie

There is so much I could tell, and a lot I shouldn’t tell … but probably the most significant and revealing thing about me is the love I have for my disabled husband (who is currently living in the nursing home next door) and the love we both have for the six human beings that call us Mom and Dad, and all those wonderful grand and great grandkids. Husband and kids both indulge my pursuit of writing and my desire to write — if not the Great American Novel, then maybe to publish something that will be remembered long after I am gone.

Any career advice you would give?

Just to love your chosen job or career path enough to hang in there. I have always loved every job I ever had or at least something about every job. I guess attitude has something to do with being successful and I’m not just talking big bucks here. To me, money really isn’t everything.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Where should I begin? I’d like to be able to tap dance like Debbie Reynolds, or sing like Susan Boyle, but mostly maybe to create great stories like Debbie Macomber, Barbara Kingsolver or J.A. Jance.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Here. Because Port Orchard, Washington, is a wonderful place to live with great neighbors, old and new, and after all the traveling my husband and I have done around the country by motor home and to Canada and Alaska and back on the great Salish Sea by boat, there really is no place like home. Dorothy had it right.

What book are you reading?

A Painted House by John Grisham, on my Kindle, and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Not sure there are any surprises left to discover about me at my age. Maybe that I survived open heart surgery in 2009 and, a year later, brain surgery after a fall and I think I still have most of my marbles!

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

It serves to remind me that there are still people out there working hard to bring the truth to readers and also that NFPW and other organizations exist to encourage them.

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

I have a blog: