The EFA Upper Hudson chapter is currently co-coordinated by Teresa Barensfeld and Terese Platten. The Upper Hudson Chapter is the newest iteration of a chapter that first met in Red Hook, NY (circa 1999), then re-formed and relocated to East Greenbush, NY (circa 2005), and finally coalesced and made its new home in Chatham, NY in 2009. In every iteration, coordinators with generosity of spirit have led the chapter meetings.

We are an active chapter. We meet on a fairly regular monthly basis, interspersing formal chapter meetings with networking luncheons at various local restaurants. And every January, we celebrate the new editorial year with a well-attended and much anticipated holiday dinner, also at a local restaurant. We prepare press releases only for our formal meetings (which go in our local newspapers) and use Mailchimp for our chapter’s mailing list for both the formal meetings and the lunch meetings.

Upper Hudson chapter 2011 holiday dinner

Our formal chapter meetings are held in our ADA-compliant local town hall building, where we have access to a meeting room furnished with AV equipment that we are free to use. Our chapter meetings are usually held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday afternoons, which seem to be easy for freelancers to attend, as evidenced by the attendance at some of our more popular offerings. We have had speakers on topics ranging from how to enhance your LinkedIn profile, to working with WordPress, to an exciting discussion on the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, to how to organize your office space.

What’s new in the CMOS 17e?

We’ve had interactive workshops, such as on how to make the best use of your EFA profile and on freelancers’ self-care including ergonomic office setup and stretching exercises for sedentary workers. We had a “spa day” meeting that featured chair massages, a therapy dog and his handler, healthy snacks, and soothing meditative music—again focusing on us as editorial freelancers who generally sit at a desk and use a computer all day.

Buck and Tina therapy dog team

We always offer some light refreshments (fruit, cookies, cheese and crackers, tea, and coffee) to attendees. Our chapter meetings are free to EFA members, and we ask that non-EFA members donate $10 per meeting to cover expenses. We reward our speakers an honorarium and the much-coveted EFA mug, which we purchase at a bulk rate from EFA’s Café Press shop. We use our chapter budget in a fiscally conservative manner for the honorariums and refreshments, and to provide EFA members with stimulating chapter meetings.

Our networking lunches usually begin at 12:30 p.m., also on Thursdays, and we try to have a topic of discussion such as how and when to use style sheets (we brought several examples of our own style sheets), how to charge for work, discussion of upcoming professional development opportunities such as courses and conferences, and other pertinent themes. Often, longtime freelancers and EFA members, such as Sheila Buff, Teresa, and I offer impromptu mentoring to newly minted freelancers attending the lunches. Each person pays for his or her own lunch, so this is an easy meeting format for the coordinators to plan and facilitate.

Learning about Edith Wharton

This past August, we enjoyed our first-ever chapter field trip. We met at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s home, in Lenox, Massachusetts, on Friday, August 17, for a private house tour, a self-guided garden tour, plenty of time in the bookstore (with a large selection of Wharton titles), and for those who wanted to go the extra mile, Jazz on the Terrace. It was fun and inspirational. We had our own private docent (and group rate: free for EFA members and $16 for nonmembers) who focused on Wharton’s literary life (for our group), and we were able to enter Wharton’s library and see her notations (including easily recognizable proofreading marks) on her works. We had about 10 people in our group, including EFA members who had to drive a good distance to get there. Going to the Mount in August was the perfect summer chapter meeting. We hope to make the chapter field trip an annual summer event (like our January dinner). Because of our unique location, we have access to myriad literary historical sites.

After the tour of the Mount

Another first for our chapter was representing the EFA at the first annual Albany Book Festival at the University at Albany campus in New York. The festival was presented by the New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany. On Saturday, September 29, we set up the EFA booth and interacted with a great many people during the day. We even had people tell us that they sought us out after seeing that the EFA would be represented at the festival. From our sign-up sheet at the festival, we added twenty people to our contact list. We wrote a follow-up “Greetings from EFA” note to each of these people.

Terese Platten and Teresa Barensfeld at the end of a full day representing the EFA at the Albany Book Festival


Blog post contributed by Terese Platten and Teresa Barensfeld, co-coordinators of the EFA’s Upper Hudson chapter.

Terese Platten, a longtime EFA member, has more than 30 years in the field and more than 20 years as a freelancer with experience in publishing (book publishing and college publications), as well as publicity. She currently focuses on substantive editing of mining engineering books and copy editing books and journals in the social sciences.

Teresa Barensfeld, who has been a freelance editor since 1991, works on STEM, the social sciences, political science, and specialty fields such as brain science, firefighting, international relief, and social work. She primarily does copyediting, project management, and fact-checking. A longtime EFA member, she has served on the national EFA Board and has been a speaker on topics such as making the most of your EFA membership and marketing for freelancers.