On Thursday, July 16, writers around the world were inspired by NaNoInspiredDay. On that day, writers encouraged each other by posting words, quotes and actions meant to inspire: to inspire words, to inspire the completion of works, to inspire turning on the computer or picking up the pen, to inspire the prioritization of writing, etc. I found the inspired postings on Twitter and Facebook did just what they were intended to do–inspire. I was inspired to honor a truth concerning a short story I had been struggling with. I was inspired to write more words. I personally did not post anything on Thursday, but I am today. A friend sent me the link below and I am sharing it with you in an effort to keep the inspiration going. Click on the link and after you’ve read the 25 quotes, let me know the ones that move you. The ones that moved me? #2, #3, #9, #13, #16 and #25. Be inspired! Happy writing!
Unfortunately Women’s History Month (March) has ended but I’ve found a way (aha!) to keep the spotlight on women history makers while also acknowledging National Poetry Month (April).
I am blessed to have met several women poets who are amazing wordsmiths and lovely survivors. Two in particular are Becky Baggett and Serena Wills. I asked these two poets the same question I asked Lovenia Leapart and Carol Balawyder, two women writers that I featured in March. That question: what woman/woman writer influenced you and/or your literary career? Both Becky and Serena agreed to answer the question in article form and share their articles with me. I, in turn, am happy to share them with you. First up is Becky.
Becky blogs at Sweet Alchemy Poetry Farm and there you can enjoy some of her poetry as well as her article on Adeline Hornbek, pioneer and woman history maker. Click here for a treat…https://sweetalchemypoetryfarm.wordpress.com/
I am continuing the Women’s History Month celebration by sharing an article written by Carol Balawyder.
Carol is a fiction and non-fiction author who writes about things that matter to her such as justice, mid-life dating, grief and writing workshops. She also publishes several blog series: How I Got Published, Femme Fatale, Nobel Prize Laureates, Writers’ Desks and Ten Great First Dates. Her recent book-length works, Getting to Mr. Right and Missi’s Dating Adventures are receiving starred and high-praise reviews from readers. I know this reader (me!) personally enjoyed both books and can’t read more from this talented lady.
When I asked Carol which woman or female writer had the greatest influence on her literary career, she, like so many others, had a list yea-long. But after much thought, she settled on one person. Read on to learn about her greatest influencer…
Honoring a History Maker
by Carol Balawyder
There are so many women writers who have inspired me and from whom I’ve taken something and applied to my own collage of writing. They range from Jacqueline Susann to Nobel Prize Laureates. But no writer, whether male or female, has had such an impact on my choice to write crime fiction than Sara Paretsky.
In 2011 Paretsky was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. She is the recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers’ Association. She is also considered the founding mother of Sisters in Crime, an organization which supports and promotes women in the mystery field.
Traditionally in noir fiction, women were either helpless sex symbols tempting the man (usually a detective) into illicit behavior or they were portrayed as cold and selfish. However, through her V.I Warshawski private investigator, Paretsky transformed the role and image of women in noir fiction.
V.I. Warshawski is no helpless femme fatale. Nor does she fit into the Chandleresque female role of vixen, vamp or victim. Warshawski is a woman who isn’t defined by sexuality and needs no rescuing.
She is physically tough but no bully. Courageous and yet self-doubting. She is introspective and has a strong moral conscience. Warshawski is smart and well-educated, having attended university on an athletic scholarship to earn a law degree and worked in the Public Defender’s office before becoming a private investigator.
Sara Paretsky created the first credible female investigator in American crime fiction – a feminist detective with high ideals. One who is concerned about the effects of racism, classism and sexism. She is out to right social wrongs most often found in the crook and crannies of white-collar crime. Paretsky, through her sixteen bestselling V.I. novels (and still writing), has made it her mission to speak for those in society’s margins who are underheard.
For that, I believe, she merits honor in Women’s History Month.
Thank you Carol for sharing your thoughts on women history makers, and specifically Sara Paretsky. I had no idea Paretsky challenged the noir crime fiction status and thereby changed the genre for all times. Good for her; good for us, women; and good for the world.
Meet one of the most courageous writers I know…Lovenia Leapart. Some years ago, Lovenia and I belonged to the same writers group. We clicked on so many levels that even though time has marched on and many miles separate us, we have remained connected. I am so proud of her and all she is accomplishing, so much so that when I considered women writers to profile this month along with the woman history-maker that they admire or were influenced by, I thought of her. Below is Lovenia’s article and I’m sure you’ll be as impressed and inspired as I am.
Wrapped in Rainbows
Most people know Zora Neale Hurston almost exclusively in terms of her writing, but not many know her as an adventurer. At a time when most women lived lives of quiet domesticity and it was extremely rare for blacks to travel internationally, Zora Neale Hurston, driven by her deep and enduring curiosity about people and culture, traveled alone throughout the deep South (reportedly carrying a chrome-plated pistol for protection), and spent time living in Jamaica, Haiti and Honduras. It was through reading Valerie Boyd’s exceptional work (aka masterpiece), Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, that I was able to really gain a true understanding of the fearless kind of way in which Ms. Hurston lived. And ironically, soon after reading this work, I found myself entertaining opportunities to go abroad to live and work. Needless to say, I had to deal with a myriad of fears that threatened to keep me from doing what my spirit was calling me to do. But having read about Ms. Hurston’s travels, it was clear that there were times when Ms. Hurston found herself quite outside of her comfort zone in these foreign lands, and at a time before cell phones and internet access could have cushioned the fallout from any number of misadventures. Reading that, I thought, if Ms. Hurston could follow her heart’s urgings and live so boldly in her day, in this time of modern technology surely I can find the internal wherewithal to do the same.
I did. So off I went to China, not knowing a drop of Chinese and not having the slightest idea about what to expect from myself or the culture. And the trip blew my mind so wide open that I have been irrevocably changed by the experience. So, beyond sharing a love of the craft of writing, I also feel a “kindred connection” with Ms. Hurston that now includes a passion for adventure, exploration, and discovery that comes from traveling and living internationally and off the beaten path.
It often takes tremendous courage and internal fortitude to break away from the herd and go after one’s dreams and live life on one’s own terms. To honor that, Evelyn Bourne and I have created a podcast called Working Your Mission, which is an interview series that highlights people who are making a living doing work they love. Through this project, we hope to provide inspiration and useful advice to others who would do the same. I think all artists have within them an innate level of fearlessness (otherwise, we simply could not do the work that we do) and I’ve come to believe that allowing that fearlessness to unfold in areas of our lives beyond our work not only makes us better artists, but ultimately, more fulfilled and self-actualized human beings as well. Zora Neale Hurston certainly did that, and the bold and courageous way in which she lived her life continues to give me inspiration to do the same.
Lovenia is the author of the paranormal romance novella, Marked by Temptation. She is currently at work on the sequel, as yet untitled, and is planning to release her novel, Consolation Prize next spring. She partners with Evelyn Bourne on the Working Your Mission podcast series.
I am always excited when a new year rolls around because it offers three great months—back to back no less—to celebrate greatness. In January we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In February we trumpet the achievements of African-Americans and in March we shine the light on the accomplishments of women.
Due to a writing deadline and a series of family situations, I was unable to celebrate Dr. King or Black History Month. This means I must do March BIG, and I am. I am merging two great things—Women’s History Month and A Tour through Blogland (an online tour of various blogs that deserve recognition) to spotlight four remarkably talented women writers (who have amazing blogs or outstanding content on their websites) and the women in history who influenced them. These four women have agreed to blog on my site this month and I am proud to present them to you now. They are:
Becky Baggett – week of March 8
Carol Balawyder – week of March 15
Lovenia Leapart – week of March 22
Serena Wills – week of March 29
Some of the guest writers will answer four questions about their creative selves and their creative process (this is the A Tour through Blogland portion) before sharing remarks about their chosen history-maker (this is the Women’s History Month portion). I am so excited to learn more about them and I can’t wait to read their articles because I know it will be yet another opportunity to stick out my chest and proudly call myself a woman.
To start off this great month, I will present my history-maker. She is not a woman who is known worldwide and she is not recorded in any history books that I am aware of, but she is an historical figure nonetheless. She is Rev. Bonell Fields, my mother.
Honor the Choosing
It is an established fact that education for girls and women is the most effective way to elevate the living conditions (wealth, health, emotional stability, future, etc.) of families and subsequently communities. I can attest to this in my own life.
In her twenties, my mother was a divorcee with three young children. We moved in with my grandmother and my mother immediately enrolled in nursing school at a vocational and technical school. After completing her studies, she worked full-time as a pediatric nurse and focused the rest of her time on raising her children, managing to send all of us off to college. In her forties, with her children grown and gone, she began work on her undergraduate degree at seminary and graduated within four years with a higher grade point average than any of her children. This while also working full-time in nursing and raising one nephew and two of her teenage nieces. She then embarked on a five year pastoral study to receive her license to preach and pastor. Ordination was next, followed by her first assignment–pastor of St. Stephen’s AME church in Enid, OK. This marked the occasion of the first female African-American pastor in Enid. And when I tell you she went through hell in those early years, that’s an understatement. In the Christian world, one would not expect pastors to be judgmental and unwelcoming, but that’s exactly the treatment my mom received. She was ostracized, criticized and harshly judged. Sounds an awful lot like the treatment Jesus received, huh? But, she endured and today although she is retired from both nursing and pastoring, she mentors neophyte pastors, both male and female, and writes about her life experiences.
I thank God for choosing my mom to be my mom. She is an amazing woman! Even though her name is not in the history books, she is my history-maker, my role model, my positive influence, and I love her dearly. So in honor of Women’s History Month, I salute my mother—Rev. Bonell Fields.
November is National Novel Writing Month and since I have a short story that is due at the end of this year, I am using this dedicated month of writing to finish it. Which means…I am going dark. Talk to you in December.
November 1-30 • The world needs your novel.
Recently, I read five quotes on writing by Elmore Leonard (Western and mystery writer, screenwriter, novelist, and more). They are listed below:
1. “… The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind it out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write. …”
2. “A writer has to read. Read all the time. Decide who you like then study that author’s style. Take the author’s book or story and break it down to see how he put it together.”
3. “The main thing I set out to do is tell the point of view of the antagonist as much as the good guy. And that’s the big difference between the way I write and the way most mysteries are written.”
4. “It is the most satisfying thing I can think of, to write a scene and have it come out the way I want. Or be surprised and have it come out even better than I thought.”
5. “Write the book the way it should be written, then give it to somebody to put in the commas and shit.”
I think these are some of the most “spot on” descriptions/explanations of the writing process. But writing and reading go together, right? Two sides of the same coin, right? So when considering one, it’s nearly impossible not to think of the other. Right? Right. So as I considered these quotes I couldn’t stop myself from tossing reading quotes around in my head. And of course, as a writer, once it’s in the head, paper is next. So I found myself typing a short list of reading quotes. I’m not sure where I read or heard the quotes below but they well represent the readers’ side of the writing process. Give it a quick scan and tell me if you agree.
1. “Giving one’s time and attention to reading is as vital as giving one’s time and attention to thinking.”
2. “Reading a variety of genres is the equivalent of having a variety of spices in one’s pantry.”
3. “Reading is to mental growth as prayer/meditation is to spiritual growth.”
4. “A good book is near even when family and friends are not.”
5. “Reading forms bonds of friendship by unraveling the many artificial threads meant to separate.”
Aaahhhh! Reading and writing, writing and reading…gotta love ’em!