This summer, Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event, hit bookstore shelves, and not surprisingly, The New York Times best-seller list, as well.
Set in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Blume’s newest tale arises from real-life events experienced by the author herself as a teen – a series of plane crashes in the northern New Jersey town during the period of 1951- 1952. Focusing on Miri Ammerman, a ninth-grader at the time of the crashes, and looking at all of the characters’ journeys over the next 30+ years, Blume’s novel unravels secrets and emotions in a way that will not be unfamiliar to readers who have been fans of Blume for the last 30+ years themselves.
In the Unlikely Event has been called “characteristically accessible, frequently charming and always deeply human” by Publishers Weekly. Reviewing for the New York Times, Caroline Leavitt says: “Blume nails every 1950s detail, from the refinished basements with wet bars and knotty-pine walls to Elizabeth Taylor haircuts and mentions of Bogart and Bacall.”
Some have noted that while In the Unlikely Event is targeted at adults, its central teen character makes it also a book for Blume’s earliest audience: teens, despite its mature themes.
Of course, Blume is well-noted for blending mature themes into her books written specifically for teens, and she has never shied away from the ensuing challenges that resulted. Because of the controversy that surrounded Blume’s early career writing books for teens touching on topics including racism, bullying, masturbation, sex , and birth control in the 1970’s, Blume has become a fierce advocate against book-banning and censorship.
Blume’s writing style has always been bold, rather than gratuitously provocative. Says Blume: “When I began to write … I didn’t know if anyone would publish my books, but I wasn’t afraid to write them.”
Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive and best-selling author. In 2009, she left her 13-year litigation career to write and advocate for working women, later joining the executive team of the award-winning website, Hybrid Her (named by ForbesWoman as a “Top Website for Women” in 2010 and 2011). Through her work at Hybrid Her, and as Vice President, Community & Content, for its later re-brand, ShopFunder, Amy worked closely with hundreds of creative and inspiring entrepreneurs and fundraisers, writing and marketing their stories to new audiences.
In October 2014, Amy transitioned to full-time writer, with the publication of her first novel,Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) which debuted as an Amazon best-seller (Romance/Fantasy and Romance/Time Travel). Oprah’s very first Book Club Selection author and New York Times #1 Best-Selling Author, Jacquelyn Mitchard, has called Lemongrass Hopea “fine and fresh thing – a truly new story.”Lemongrass Hope was featured by Library Journaland Foreword Reviews Magazine, and has been a favorite with Book Clubs and numerous Book Bloggers (including as the #1 favorite reviewed selection in 2014 by The Literary Connoisseur).
Amy’s first non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), is due out this Spring. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, ABA Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, Skirt! Magazine, among more.
Meet Amy here… amyimpellizzeri.com or on Facebook or Twitter
It’s hard for me to remember a time when my life wasn’t filled with one aspect of my illness or another. But just as mental illness has always been there, so too has a love for the impossible; for fantasy and superheroes and stories set in universes identical to or vastly different from our own. Stories like these have always given me comfort. I can step into other lives, other worlds, and find characters who inspire me to live a life outside books; depression, anxiety, and all. Despite my adoration for these types of stories, it took decades before I began regularly reading graphic novels. Covers featuring women as objects, plotlines featuring sexual assault or death simply for motivation, and a general “boys’ club” attitude kept me away.
There were a few things that made me decide to give the genre another try. My son was getting interested in superhero shows – ones that were absolutely hilarious and featured fierce female heroes. I was going through a depressive episode and found myself re-watching some of these cartoons to improve my plummeting mood. Around the same time I finished reading Malinda Lo’s novel Ash, and was hungry for a compassionate and powerful character like Kaisa. I wanted to read about someone complicated, smart, and inspiring. An evening with Google helped me stumble upon the deluxe edition of Elegy a graphic novel featuring Batwoman – a Jewish, lesbian superhero who became a vigilante after being kicked out of the military in the midst of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for refusing to lie. Kate Kane, as she is known in her civilian identity, was lost and looking for a way to serve the greater good without compromising her morals. As Batwoman she battles supernatural demons but as Kate she struggles with complex family issues and trying to figure out who she is. These issues are universal, and her determination to do what’s right without compromising herself can inspire us all.
Batwoman was my gateway hero. From there I read everything I could get my hands on. A number of these stories stand out for having very relatable situations, even in universes where a ridiculously high number of people can literally fly.
Renee Montoya, a police officer, is one such character. One of the best stories featuring Renee is Gotham Central: Half a Life. In addition to dealing with sexism and racism, from both inside and outside the force, a villain outs her and Renee must endure the emotional, personal, and professional fallout from that revelation while trying to track down said villain.
Ms. Marvel is another example of a character who faces extraordinary challenges but also has to deal with some very down-to-Earth issues. Kamala Khan is a Muslim teenager who struggles with her faith, with her strict parents, and with trying to figure out what she wants for herself. The first three volumes of her series, No Normal, Generation Why, and Crushed have been released and are currently available.
Rocket, Raquel Ervin, was born in a poor neighbourhood, fell in with a bad crowd, and pushed her dreams of being a writer aside. A chance meeting with an alien resulted in her convincing him to become a superhero, and getting her to join him. Raquel became the first single teenaged mother in comics, returning to heroics only after her mentor’s life was at risk. Rocket’s powers are external, but the passion, drive, and ambition behind them are all from within her. Her superhero start is detailed in the graphic novel Icon: A Hero’s Welcome.
You may have heard of the “Carol Corps”, a group of comic fans devoted to the character of Carol Danvers, particularly as Captain Marvel written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Carol has a long history in comics; not all of it inspirational. The graphic novel Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight depicts Carol’s journey as she redefines herself as Captain Marvel. 2014’s Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More sees Carol take on a mission in space, but also sees her face loneliness, loss, and self-discovery.
If superheroes just aren’t your thing, there are still so many graphic novels featuring inspirational women to choose from. Trillium’s Nika Temsmith faces loss and loneliness while researching a strange plant and trying to save her people. Ellen Forney wrote a humorous yet honest memoir depicting her struggle with bipolar disorder in Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me. Lumberjanes Volume 1 is an entertaining story about a group of very different girls and their adventures at camp. Each of these women shows her courage in unique yet inspiring ways.
Graphic novels are a visually appealing break from standard novels, and can be just as fun, hilarious, or touching as traditional prose. These works are often quick reads, so you can get lost in a superhero tale one night and go back in time to a fictional paradise the next. I strongly encourage those searching for unread stories starring fierce women to give graphic novels a chance.
Ashley Perna is an administrative professional by day and a writer/consumer of geek culture by night. She’s an archer and an avid reader. Ashley credits comic books for helping her find inspiration, and wants to be Wonder Woman when she grows up. You can read more about her love for all things geek and her struggles with mental illness at her blog, The Idle Archer.
Welcome to the hallowed halls of Princess Monster Academy!
Here the future leaders of the monster world are prepared for their responsibilities.
Come walk the halls with me and view our portrait collection to learn more about some of the fascinating students who have attended our school…
“I’ve been thinking about fairy tales lately, and how they really don’t serve us.”
We are hanging out at Emily’s fourth birthday party, chatting about life and our random thoughts when AJ says this. I nod my agreement, but the conversation is stalled from going further by the cry of a child or some other distraction and we don’t have time to discuss it further. The party goes on and we leave the discussion, like so many after motherhood, unfinished. I don’t have time to tell her that I’m concerned about the stories we tell also. That I too have been thinking that our stories are not serving us in our lives.
I have been an avid reader as long as I can remember. In fact, I have no substantial memories that pre-date my ability to read. Stories have been, at various points in my life, my escape, my salvation, my deliverance. Growing up in a dysfunctional home, I retreated into the westerns of Louis L’Amour to escape the underlying tension and inevitable explosions of my father’s rage. In junior high, I hid in corners of the library reading choose your own adventure books and Sweet Valley High to escape the tormentors who bullied me. And today I escape into fantasy books to deliver me from the monotonous routines of endless laundry and meal prep that come with motherhood.
When I am reading a book, I am instantly transported to another world. Sometimes I still live half inside that world for days, which is why I love reading stories about magical worlds. The possibilities suddenly seem limitless when my mind has inhabited such a world for a few days or weeks. I love that feeling. A flickering just outside of my field of sight is suddenly a fairy. A synchronistic moment becomes magic.
Recently I attended an author event at my local library. It was wonderful to connect with other local authors and discuss the craft and business of writing. One writer came up to my table and we chatted about our work. I asked what she was working on and she said she was world building for a future sci-fi novel. What an opportunity I thought, that sci-fi and fantasty writers have. Of course, every fiction writer does world building to some degree, but in particular authors of sci-fi and fantasy have an opportunity to create without any limitations. The only rules they must pertain to are the ones that they create. Their stories do not have to be “believable” in the same way that stories set in our world do.
Lately I have been reading a whole lot of fun, escapist fantasy books. Written mainly by women, and featuring female leads as heroes, these stories let me imagine a life of great daring and adventure, without having to actually suffer the hardships of weapons training or treks through desserts. But as I plow through these stories, I have noticed a trend that seriously diminishes my enjoyment factor. These writers, who can create any world they desire, still continue to re-create patriarchy. The characters may have fantastical abilities, but the world is the same old mysoginistic, male-dominated world, in which women grow up in fear of sexual violence and slavery.
Just take a moment to really let that sink in.
If someone told you that you had the power to create a world, would your first thought be to continue re-creating a culture that de-values and debases women? A world in which rape is commonplace and women have little to no power in the institutions that run their countries?
I find it disturbing that some of our most creative writers cannot imagine equality. Because if they cannot imagine it, those who live inside the worlds that they create, then how can we?
I remember the story of how Martin Luther King Jr asked Nichelle Nichols to remain in her role as Lietenant Ohura on Star Trek. He told her that her role on that show was important to the civil rights movement because it showed a future where equality was possible. Nichols had already handed in her letter of resignation, but changed her mind when King’s impassioned plea changed her thinking. She realized that black men and women saw her character as a symbol of the future they were fighting for.
In a more modern version, actress Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin spoke eloquently about the difference having a Latina community positively represented on television makes when she accepted her Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV series:
“It allowed Latinas to see themselves in a beautiful light. When we look into that screen, we change the way we feel about ourselves; we change our perception of ourselves by the way art has created such a ripple effect. And if we can create an effect that shows Latinos like the investment bankers, doctors, lawyers that existed in my own home, I think that will change the way young girls and boys look at themselves. … we are dealing with a society that is diverse, that is so beautiful and human — we all need to remember that we all have the same stories and see them as such.”
The stories that we tell determine our reality. The archetypes that we create imbue our collective conscious with a framework that we use to build the world. So tell me, how can we create a world in which women are equal when even the most creative and limitless among us cannot? This question troubles me.
When I wrote Princess Monsters from A to Z, I was just making a little alphabet book for girls. But I wanted that world to represent the world I wanted them to live in. So I began the book with this phrase:
Here the future leaders of the monster world are prepared for their responsibilities.
I imagined a world in which girls were trained to take on a leadership role in their communities. I really hope that more authors will join me. I believe that we have a responsibility to not just our readers, but to the collective conscious.
One of my favourite fantasy writers is Canadian author Charles De Lint. In one of his novels, there exists a world entirely comprised of stories. All the worlds and characters of our stories are stitched together much like a patchwork quilt. Whenever a story falls out of favour, that part of the land and the characters die off. But the stories that are told over and over continue to thrive.
We must ask ourselves what kinds of stories we want to survive. Because AJ was right, so many of our stories are not serving us. With just a little imagination, we could create a whole new world.
Joyelle Brandt is the author/illustrator of Princess Monsters from A to Z. She is a passionate mama and creator, and a lover of dark chocolate, iced coffees and feathered earrings. Joyelle lives and creates from the mantra LOVE, KINDNESS, GRATITUDE.
Meet Joyelle here… www.joyellebrandt.com or on Facebook orInstagram
We all have a story to tell. A great story to tell. Are you ready to share your story?
When we hear the word “story” many of us immediately think about novels or bedtime stories. However, stories go much deeper than mere entertainment. Stories teach. They share knowledge. They explain things that may otherwise be hard to explain. They unite us and provide a broader understanding of how the world works.
From the time we are small children, we quickly develop a knack for storytelling. First we begin by telling tall tales that stretch the imagination. Then as we grow older we tell stories about our days, about our teachers and coworkers, friends and family members. We relay what we see and what we experience. Even now as an adult, storytelling is at the core of how we communicate whether it’s in a business meeting, at the dinner table, or online.
Most often we tell stories in short bursts. We tweet. We post on Facebook. We write 800-word blog posts. And while these stories run the gamut from inspiring to sad to purely informational, they are becoming spread so thin that it’s difficult to see a full picture.
However, there is a way to gather our stories and to create a more complete picture, one that can capture our knowledge, our skills, our backgrounds, our lessons learned. And that is through writing a book.
Sure, workshops, guest posting, blogging, and webinars are excellent methods to initially connect with others but nothing makes an impression like a book. Nothing creates a well-rounded, well-developed capsule of your ideas, knowledge, and stories like a book.
A book is special. It is the culmination of hard work. It is something that can be held onto and returned to time and time again. It is a gateway for others to learn about you and for you to teach and inspire others.
Are you ready?
Becoming a published author is an option for anyone and everyone who has an inkling of motivation and the ability to open their mind and heart to the process. I know that sounds a little “woo-woo” but writing is kind of magical. It might be absolutely excruciating the first few minutes you sit down at your keyboard but once you begin to type, the words take on a life of their own. Your thoughts spill from your mind and trickle down your arms through your fingertips and onto the page. Memories are stirred up from the depths of your subconscious. Connections are made that you may not have realized before. This is the magic of writing.
There are many ways to get on the writing wagon and start your journey to becoming a published author. (Which, by the way, sounds pretty awesome, right?) If you’re interested in someday writing a book but you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay. The most important part is to just start writing–about anything! Honestly, once you get into the practice of writing, you will begin to see certain themes develop and reappear time and time again. Once this starts happening, you’ll know which direction you’re headed. Go with it!
Here are a few more of my favorite tips for writing a book:
• Schedule Your Writing Time – As Marie Forleo says, “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.” Make your writing goals real by actually putting writing time onto your calendar. I recommend 4-6 hours a week if you can!
• Use a Dedicated Notebook or Computer Folder – Go out and buy a new notebook that will be used only for book writing. Fill it with notes, short stories, research, and more. Having a dedicated notebook or even just a computer folder will help remind you that this is a special (and important) project.
• Join a Writing Group or Find an Accountability Partner – Writing can be lonely and sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated! To help keep you on track, find a writing partner, a writing group, or even just someone who will call you once a week to check in on your progress.
• Write Even When You Feel Uninspired – I have a secret… the best writers in the world don’t rely on being hit with inspiration. They just do the work, even when they really don’t feel like it! Fortunately, once you sit your butt in the chair and start writing, the words will start to flow after a few minutes if you let it happen.
If you’re ready to tackle your book writing dreams, let us know below! We would LOVE to hear from you.
Alex Zamorski is the founder and owner of Calamus Works, LLC. From the oldest publishing company in America to a newer publishing house to her own publishing services business, she has had the honor of helping people through the publishing process since 2009.
A life-long learner, reader, and writer, she worked hard in college and landed a job in book publishing right out of the gate. From there, she learned all she could about the industry, from marketing and sales to editing and writing to publishing and printing. She moved through two publishing houses before embarking on her own publishing journey with Calamus Works. These days she helps a wide range of smart, motivated individuals tackle their writing and publishing goals. From book writing coaching to editing to publishing print books and ebooks, she loves helping people create wonderful books.
Meet Alex at http://www.calamusworks.com or on Twitter . Check out her Real Life Writing Tips (http://bit.ly/179tcNj) and get started on your publishing journey today.
Photo courtesy: Flickr
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Book Riot posted their recommendations for non-fiction reads about women in history. The recommendations include:
1. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott, which tells the story of four different women who went undercover as men in the Civil War.
2. The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney, a biography on Hatshepsut, the longest-reigning female pharaoh of Ancient Egypt.
3. At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle L. McGuire, which describes the struggles of African American women during the Civil Rights Movement and their resistance towards the discrimination.
4. The Poker Bride by Christopher Corbett, which describes the lives of the Chinese in the American West during the 1800s through the telling of the story of a young Chinese teenager named Polly.
5. The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, in which the author explains how growing up as a Chinese American and the immigrant experience that shaped her.
Check out the video below for more, and tell us what books you would recommend for celebrating Women’s History Month in the comment section!
Watch the video: https://youtu.be/LAA9MbZ3tPc
Caitlin Kimball is a She Is Fierce! Editorial Assistant majoring in Communications at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Caitlin is passionate about music and fashion, hoping to have a career in either of the two industries. She enjoys vintage clothing, Patrick Swayze, and hearing the stories of inspiring women. Watch Caitlin as she explores her new life at college by following her Instagram: @caittkimball