Tag Archive | women’s history month

Featuring Women Writers for Women’s History Month

In previous weeks, I introduced several women writers who are featured in the recently released anthology Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature . This week I am pleased to introduce yet another–Toyette Dowdell. I met Toyette years ago and know her to be a highly skilled writer. I consider it an honor for my work to appear with hers in Voices. I can’t wait for you to learn more about this gifted writer through her interview below, and if you’re interested in meeting Toyette in person, she and many of the other contributors to Voices will be at Absinthe Lounge at Southside on Lamar, Dallas, Texas, Saturday, April 5, 7:00 pm.

When did you know you wanted to write?
Toyette: I was an insatiable reader as a child and wrote lots of short stories and plays when I was young, but I decided I wanted to pursue it more seriously after watching the movie Purple Rain by Prince. I said to myself, “Prince wrote a movie so I know I can do that!”

What was your first written work?
Toyette: My first written work was a youth mystery patterned after the Encyclopedia Brown series. My first published piece was a play I wrote that was performed on stage when I was a freshman in high school.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc.
Toyette: My inspiration for writing is to make other people feel the way I do when I read a really good book which is to be totally immersed in the story. My writing is all about entertaining and engaging my readers. I want them to be caught up in what’s happening and if there is a little bit of thought provocation then all the better.

What are you currently working on?
Toyette: I am currently working on a mystery thriller based in Texas about a female Texas Ranger.

And the Women Keep Coming

Today reflects the third installment of highlighting women writers during Women’s History Month (March).

Today I introduce you to one of the most diverse women writers I know…Sharron Pete. Sharron is not only a great short story writer but also an accomplished article writer and novelist. In essence, she writes well in either long or short form.

Sharron, along with six other talented women writers, is one of the featured contributors in the recently released Voices from the Block:  A Legacy of African-American Literature, a compilation book of poems, essays and short stories written by some of the most prolific members of the Writer’s Block.

Read on to meet this talented young lady…

Sharron Pete

When did you know you wanted to write? 

Since I was a child, I have always written stories and poems. I’ve always loved to read and I enjoy the aspect of developing characters that others can enjoy. I began to write more seriously (i.e., entering contests, submitting articles) as an adult when I was searching for a way to explore my creative side.

What was your first written work?

The first thing I ever wrote for public consumption was a short piece about my travels overseas and how it deepened my relationship (and dependence) on God. I wrote it in response to a weekly challenge contest sponsored by Faithwriters.com.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc. 

I see myself as a writer whose main objective is to help spread the word of God to others. Not through a preachy, hit-you-over-the-head message but instead through flawed characters and everyday life experiences (big and small) that we can all relate to.

What are you currently working on? 

Currently I am revamping my blog. I have a passion for helping others see how God works in their everyday lives and my blog (still very much under construction) aims to do this. I’m also exploring the world of freelance in small bite-sized pieces as I manage my typical day-to-day obligations.

Women’s History Month Presents…

I opened Women’s History Month last week by stating my plan to present and honor several amazing women who I have had the pleasure of working with recently and who I am sure are planting historical footprints. Last week, I featured Faith Simone (www.faithsimone.com), a poet, short story writer, novelist and blogger. This week, I am happy to present Bennye Johnson, an essayist and poet. Both Faith and Bennye, as well as the women to follow in the coming weeks, are contributors to an anthology which will be released this month. It is titled, Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literatureand it features poems, short stories, essays, original works by seven talented African-American women. Without further delay…

Bennye Johnson 

Bennye Photo

When did you know you wanted to write?

Bennye:  I knew I wanted to write when I was in the second grade. I mentioned to my second grade teacher that I wanted to write because I loved reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. My teacher, who was my neighbor as well, encouraged me to write short stories. I wrote short stories for her, and she praised me and encouraged me to be a writer.

What was your first written work?

Bennye:  As stated earlier, the short stories I wrote for my teacher/neighbor were my first written works but Marriage, Money and Mistakes in Voices is my first published work. Like most writers, I have also kept a journal on and off since my teen years.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc. 

Bennye:  I am inspired by life in my writings. Because I understand the power of words, I enjoy having the opportunity to pen my thoughts. This is an avenue of expression for me and hopefully encouragement or heartwarming for others.

What are you currently working on?

Bennye:  I am currently working on the expanded version of Marriage, Money, and Mistakes, a creative nonfiction work that examines the mistakes (money and otherwise) we make in marriage and how to avoid them. Look for it later this year.

March Brings Women, Women, Women!

March not only ushers in spring, the Lenten season and March Madness, it also heralds the opportunity to learn more about women and our contributions to the world as we celebrate Women’s History Month. This Women’s History Month, I want to take a slightly different position. I still plan to honor women in my posts this month, but my focus will be on six amazing women who I have had the pleasure of working with recently and who I am sure are creating history of their own. These women, along with yours truly, are contributors to an anthology which will be released this month. It is titled, “Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature,” and it features poems, essays and short fiction, original works by these talented women. I will showcase one or two of these great writers weekly, and I hope the introductions will inspire you to seek more of their written work. I know I am inspired by them. They truly are women of history.

Prepare to meet:  Toyette Dowdell, Bennye Johnson, Ingrid Lawton, Sharron Pete, Breggett Rideau, and Faith Simone.

First up:  Faith Simone

Jamie Gross

When did you know you wanted to write?

Faith:  I knew I wanted to be a writer as a young girl of about 9 or 10 years old. I was always writing in my journal, as well as penning short stories and poems. I knew I wanted to be an author when I grew up, but I let fear of not having a steady career cause me to relegate writing to ‘just a hobby.’ Now, I’m heading full steam ahead in pursuit of a stellar writing career!

What was your first written work?

Faith: My first written work was a fourth grade English assignment. I wrote a novella involving a young girl dealing with her mother’s abandonment and her father’s subsequent re-entry into the world of dating. It was pretty deep subject matter for a nine year old. I still have the original!

The anthology “Voices from the Block: A Legacy of African-American Literature” is my first published work. I am proud to have contributed several poems and short stories focused primarily on women’s issues and relationships.

What is your inspiration for writing? Or, where do you get your ideas for your stories, poems, etc.

Faith: Love is my inspiration for writing. The love God has for us, the love we have for ourselves, the love between a man and a woman, a mother and child, siblings and friends, etc. Love is a beautiful thing! It’s complicated and rich. It’s multi-layered and inexplicable.  I get ideas for my short stories, poems and novels from everyday life. Inspiration can come to me while watching the news, overhearing a conversation, watching a movie, reading my Facebook newsfeed or staring at a cloud. Many times I get great ideas just by sitting quietly with my own thoughts.

What are you currently working on?

Faith: Currently, I’m working on getting my first full length women’s fiction book published. It’s a contemporary inspirational novel about a woman struggling to move forward after being hurt in a past relationship. Forgiving doesn’t always mean forgetting, and the question is will the main character be able to let go of her anger and walk into all that God has for her? I’m also writing my next novel and blogging away about publishing and other shenanigans on my blog, faithsimone.com.

Women’s History Month – Sean’s Influence

I’m sad to see the end of Women’s History Month. I’ve learned so much this month about women writers (my focus for the month) and the influence they have had on many. My prayer is that we, women continue to shape and evolve this world in a way that brings truth and balance, front and center to all lives. So, as Women’s History Month comes to a close, enjoy this last commentary from writer, author Sean Wright as she shares her thoughts on the woman writer who influenced her.

Sean Wright

My first love was books, not boys—even before I could really read. I recall sitting in a sunbeam as a girl with a stack of books, enraptured yet simultaneously relaxed by the effect of the written word; they “say” something–without voice. Wow! I was hooked.

Once I learned to read, I dived right in–deeply. There were Ramona and Encyclopedia Brown books, poetry by Shel Silverstein. I even attempted to contribute to the writing craft with a story of my own at eight, about a girl who finds a strawberry in the woods the size of a Volkswagen. Years passed and I didn’t stop prowling the library, searching for the next adventure on pages. Heck, the library even rewarded me with a hot fudge sundae for my patronage and no late fines in sixth grade.

I stayed a voracious reader until one author changed my life at thirteen, calling me to write: Toni Morrison. My mother belonged to a book club and one of their books was The Bluest Eye. My mother let me read it and I was mesmerized. Ms. Morrison is a literary genius. She takes risks in her stories that seem impossible but makes them work. Her writing style is clever and beautiful. Ms. Morrison can make themes as ugly as slavery, incest and racism sound almost lyrical, poetic. You catch her drift in a way that haunts you—forever. And I wanted to do that, too: tell stories that had the staying power of a stubborn stain.

I wrote articles for some small papers and magazines but kept at my creative writing, amassing a fine collection of rejection letters—enough to wallpaper my house—but kept going. After what seemed like endless rejections and revisions, I got a short story published; thirty years after I wrote the gigantic strawberry story! The following year, an essay I wrote to Glamour magazine was selected to be made into a short, online film that an actress directed. I got another short story published last year and am working on a novel.

There were other female writers that tickled my fancy as well—Alice Walker and Terry McMillan—but Toni Morrison blew the dust off my senses, off my writing skills. I still have the same copy of The Bluest Eye. The cover is faded. Chunks of pages have separated from the binding and I’ve had to put tape on the spine to hold it together. People see it, grimace and ask, “Why don’t you buy an updated copy of that book?” The answer is simple: because I don’t want one. My battered copy of The Bluest Eye is my icon for my calling as a writer. Happy reading and writing, my friends.

Sean C. Wright is native to Dallas, TX, and earned a degree in English from University of North Texas. She is the author of the short stories Hazel Hogan and Devil Does Dallas. For more information about Sean, visit http://www.iwrightaway.com and her blog: http://www.seanarchy.wordpress.com.

Women’s History Month – Simone’s Influence

Simone da Costa
Simone da Costa
Creative Writer, Author, and Journalist

When Ann first asked me to be a part of an initiative she was concocting, a big smile swept across my face and lingered there for several seconds. Little did she know that I was elated at the thought of being considered for her project, an undertaking to recognize women writers as it is Women’s History Month in America.

There are a few great women writers who have helped influence my writing style, ones such as Mary Monroe, Philippa Gregory and Jane Austen, but mostly American novelist, editor and professor, Chloe Anthony Wofford who goes by the pen name of Toni Morrison.

I first came across Ms. Morrison’s epic work, The Bluest Eye let’s say in my late high school years, long ago. My first thought was wow, such rich detail of her characters and the brazen realism so meticulously ironed out. I speculate that Ms. Morrison purposely did not want to leave anything out. She had a story to tell and she would be damned if she did not tell it the way she saw fitting and she did just that.

With reading just a few words from her books she held my gaze, captured my eyes, moving from side–to-side, scurrying to get to the next page while my willing fingers worked in partnership with my eyes that somehow said to them, “Hurry, turn the page.” Her off-putting words commanded my attention; I became defenseless and I had to read on. I kept reading, though at times I might have tried to stop. Unaware of the grasp her words had, that her words had already won me over, I did not even know it until my scampering eyes told my willing fingers again to, “Hurry, turn the page” until I finished the book.

As a young writer, I am always growing and learning, and over the years I have come into my own style of inscription in that I believe in not only creating a good story for entertainment or amusement purposes, but also to unmask its true essence and make it believable. Whether it is fiction, non-fiction, romance or literature, I want to create and capture a world like no other.

Ms. Morrison has helped to shape my writing style because she has an innate boldness to stylistically write without fear, a fearlessness that surpasses all writing boundaries and communication barriers that some writers may be too weak or too afraid to try. Ms. Morrison has said, “I am sometimes frightened of what I write, but I can’t look away. I will not look away. That’s the one place where I’m going to, you know, make eye contact. It’s a free place for me. It’s not always safe, but that’s the one place where all my little vulnerabilities, and cowardice, cannot come to the surface.” http://www.empirezine.com. So, you see, if the stroke of Ms. Morrison’s pen can inscribe with such spirit, I one day hope to be able to do the same, of course in my own way.

The Bluest Eye
A Novel by Toni Morrison

Women’s History Month – Kate’s Influence

Meet Kate Policani – Author, Writer, Blogger, Journalist and More

Kate Policani

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, I asked Kate to share a little something about the woman writer who influenced her most, and below is her offering. Fascinating! Read on…

“When considering my favorite women authors, Jane Austen is the first name that comes to mind and one of my favorite authors of all time. She is a classic author holding the status of a staple of English literature. But her writing means more to me than just classics that we all read and metaphorically dissect in high school English class. Her books, and not just the ones made into movies, provided me with a wealth lacking in my culture.

Austen’s work has a wealth of culture. When I first read them in my teen years they supplied me with rich, mature subjects at a time when I was surrounded by shallow media. The stories brim with dynamic relationships and overflow with emotional intelligence. I loved, and still love, the simplicity coupled with the complexity of life. They were the opposites of my full, loud, busy life with scant substance.

My love for Austen’s books and the modesty of the period spurred me to seek other authors from her era. Bronte, Burney, and others provided me with entertaining stories as well as insight into my own culture’s downfalls and virtues. I lived in a culture where I had to cling to and protect my own innocence from intruding media filled with pornography and violence. It seems life is more violent and explicit now, at least in public, than it was through their eyes.

Austen and her contemporaries struggled with life as second-class beings, dependent on their fathers and husbands for freedoms most of us take for granted these days. Their culture was very different but their desires were the same: to be loved, to be respected, to protect those they loved, and to succeed in life. All this, Austen conveyed through story and character in a way that brought the struggles to life. As women who can own property, can be educated equally with men, and can make legal decisions ourselves, we can learn a lot from Austen’s work about strength and resourcefulness. We can remember that the freedoms we have aren’t something that women have always enjoyed, and we can be grateful to those who won those freedoms for us.”

Thank you Kate for sharing your thoughts about the woman writer who influenced you. You are not alone; there are many Jane Austen fans, and isn’t it wonderful to know that even generations later, she is still shaping lives with her masterfully crafted words.

To learn more about Kate’s wonderful collection of books and writings (and purchase a copy or two), visit her at:
Kate Policani.com
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads