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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

To Show Solidarity? Be a Friend.

To some, wearing the hajib as a non-Muslim is a sign of solidarity. To others, it is a sign of misappropriation. Some women wear the hajib as part of their Muslim faith. Others do not. If not forced by another person to don the hajib, then the hajib seems to be a garment of personal choice.

Muslims are being attacked in the United States because of the actions of extremist terrorists. And many people are afraid. Not everyone is afraid that every Muslim is a terrorist. However, some people are afraid of offending Muslim people because, surrounded by non-Muslim people, they do not know how to show a Muslim person that they are a friend. Wearing the hajib makes a rather bold statement. I’m not going to put down anyone who chooses this path.

When I was teaching English as a Second Language as part of my commitment to Americorps, I took to wearing colorful kerchiefs. I chose to cover my head for speed (I’m not a morning person), for vanity (because I won’t dye my grey hair, nor am I happy about the inevitable), and for fun. My colorful kerchiefs, with peace signs, cherries, flowers, and butterflies, kept my hair out of my face and brightened my rather dull wardrobe. I am not my kerchiefs and my kerchiefs are not me, but my kerchiefs did set me apart from the other teachers. And I was asked if it was a religious thing. This gave me an opening to ask my Muslim students about their head coverings.

Had I not been teaching that class, I would not have met many wonderful people of all faiths. Now that I am not teaching the ESL class, I feel comfortable meeting my students as friends for breakfasts or lunches or other informal get togethers. I still get some funny looks when the friend I am waiting to meet does not appear to speak the same language I do, wears a hajib, or is in some other way different from me. 

But this isn’t about me. Attacks on Muslims who are not terrorists do not attack me. So I don't need to don a hajib to show solidarity. I agree with noorulannshalid who said “It’s much more constructive to actually give Muslim women a platform- sit down with us, talk to us, listen and observe. Don’t speak on our behalf or play dress up and then write [an article about it]. But others, like unveiledthought, appreciate any sign of solidarity, and see no harm in non-Muslims wearing the hajib. Neither woman is the appointed spokeswoman for all other women – Muslim or otherwise. But both bring valid points to the table of the conversation.

How should we show solidarity to our sisters when we aren’t Muslim and don’t know any Muslims? We post our solidarity on Facebook and comment on blogs, but those voices can be fairly faceless. (It is, however, a good way to present ideas to people who are reading, but afraid to speak out. Maybe something we write will inspire whatever freedom someone else needs to express their own agency.) We can talk to our friends. But if all our friends look like us, then maybe we don’t learn very much. Some of us have the opportunity, skills, or experience to work or socialize with someone who is different from us. We can learn a lot from those friendships. Other people wear the hajib as a flag – “Hey! Notice me! In a sea of hate, I would be your friend!” I can’t hate on a person willing to do that.

Hopefully, if you are one who is offended by cultural appropriation (which means you likely lean left enough to know what those words mean), you will engage the hajib-wearer positively. Befriend them. Once they know YOU, they will have a better understanding about why you feel wearing the garment is misplaced. Then they can make a decision about their attire that includes their concern for your friendship.

It is extremely awkward to approach a group of people and request friendship and a greater appreciation for other cultures. You might look for a college or an adult education center where you might volunteer. This would give you more opportunities to engage with others and learn their stories.

In the meantime, I think the best thing EVERYONE can do is be themselves (the nice version) and be a friend. Go public places with your friends in hajib and show that hajib and non-hajib wearers alike can be friends. Talk about the things you have in common – crazy family members, a love of reading, pets, disgust with traffic. Be visible being YOU with your friend as two people (or a group of people) who are different, and comfortable being different. I think that is the way to show the Great American Melting Pot – turned mosaic – that brings so many people here.
For further reading on the hajib:

Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. She writes on a variety of topics: Education, Women/Feminism/Equality, Book Reviews, and Writing. Her books are available on Amazon. If you'd like to see her speak at an upcoming function, contact her through her website or Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lacking the Appropriate Holiday Spirit

I'm certainly lacking the appropriate holiday spirit. I'm too pissed at people thinking the world should stop in recognition of only their holiday. I'm tired of trying to please people because it's Christmas when the same people don't give a damn about me or my family any other time of the year (including this one). I want to be nice, but I have limits, and they shorten each year.

So the following are two articles I wrote for Wikinut because I felt writing on there allowed me to get some things off my chest. And I thought I'd get paid for them. (I've made less than $10 since 2013 for my efforts there.) So I need to move all those articles (well over 100) to my blog and get them sorted. Fun, fun, fun.

When I Say I'm Unchurched

This is another article that isn't as rambling, but I still need to re-write and re-post. I tried for a while not to let my website and FB author page be a platform for my religious views, as I felt sure I would lose the few followers I had. But now I have come to realize that the more I speak my truth, the more I hear people respond that I never heard before. Perhaps I am too "in your face." I can be more tactful and sometimes I am. But there is also a time to be the wolf that defends the sheep. There is a time when being silent or appearing so allows other wolves to descend without anyone keeping them in check. I just can't do that anymore.

A Handful of Change

I need to edit the rambling out of this. I'm posting this here and now in hopes to find the link later, do a better job of editing what should have been about five articles, and re-posting it/them here on my blog.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Four Days to NANO

So many ideas, so the same number of hours in a day as before. It's nearly impossible to decorate for Halloween, continue my fall cleaning, work on my current WIP, help my students with their WIPs, and decide among all my lovely half-baked ideas which one I will pluck from obscurity to make into my 50,000 word November project.

Or do I rebel? Nano rebellion for me is a time honored tradition. I'd hate to start following rules now.

Or I could write a children's picture book a day. However, there is a group that already does that.

I could work on several projects simultaneously, as I do throughout the year and have done for past NANOs, but I am looking to stretch myself as an author and a person. Why not make my 2015 NANO a personal best in determination and growth?

So I created a placeholder novel -- although a part of me wants to follow that plot bunny down the rabbit hole. We'll see what book I start when the Trick-or-Treaters have all gone home.

If you want to join my NANO buddy group, my handle is phyln. If you want more info about NANO, my classes, or anything else, send me an email or a FB PM. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I’m Not Writing A Book Today — a story by Phyl Campbell

I’ve got a great idea for a story.
It’s funny.
It makes me laugh.
One day, I will put it in a book and show you.

But not today.
Today I want to read someone else’s story.
Later, I will go swimming.
Then, I have to feed the dog.
Sorry, I simply cannot write today.



The story in my mind is getting stronger.
There’s this person, see?
And this person has to go…
And do…

But I must go and do also.
I must go to school.
I must do my homework.
Seven times two is not thirteen!
My story will just have to wait.



The person in my story made me cry today.
No, I cannot tell you why.
You have to wait until I’ve written it down.
And today I don’t want to write.

It’s a beautiful day and I want to play outside.
Or it’s a horrible day and I just want to play video games.
I absolutely cannot write today.



I know what the person in my story needs!
My person needs a — !
Oh, wait.
It’s a secret.

The moon is full and the fireflies are out.
Or the wind is cold and I want to snuggle under the blankets.
The person in my story needs something, too.
And that person must wait for me to be ready.



What am I doing today?
I’m writing.
Can’t you tell?
I put off my story until I no longer could,
But now it is almost done.



When I’m finished, would you like me to share it with you?
You would?
That’s great!
Thank you!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hot Off the Presses!!

This summer, I've not written much lately -- but I've been busy helping young people publish. That's right. Five young people have gotten their first (and one young lady her first and second) novels off the ground, published, and made available on Amazon. Please show your support and check them out!
In order of publication:
Cadence Moore's Doggie Dilemma
Bella Bond's A Lemur's Life: The Power Within
Nicole Abram's Megan's Great Fear
Ian Litchford's Crystals of Light
Bella Bond's A Lemur's Life: The Royal Family
Ari Ford's The Mystery of Death Bridge


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finding Pink Elephants

The new scene with the ferris wheel in ‪#‎AMuseMeant‬ came together beautifully last night. Handwritten. Three pages. I knew right where I wanted it. I went to the electronic copy of my book to type it this morning -- and the passage where I wanted to enter it WAS NOT THERE.
I panicked, and started searching my docs for a phrase that would help me identify this chapter from the others. I laughed when I found it: "pink elephant." But I couldn't find the file with that phrase.
I didn't IMAGINE typing it. It was typed and printed out in front of me. I checked the flash drive -- other copies of the document, but no pink elephants. (And man do I make a lot of drafts!)
I had to stop looking for my pink elephant to get my son on task for the day/hour/minute, pay a bill, find a card, talk with my husband about our budget, collect air mattresses, and yes, go to the bathroom. In the last place on that list, I remembered that I had another flashdrive. Finished my business, found the other flash drive and popped it in -- Wah hoo! There was my beautiful pink elephant. 
In #AMuseMeant, the pink elephant symbolizes Samm's epiphany that with belief in herself, she can do anything. But with this belief comes the responsibility of not ignoring problems in her life, hoping they will go away or be solved by someone else. (Sometimes it's hard to tell a blessing from a curse in this regard, just ask my 12 year old!)
My larger question, worry, and concern over the next week (besides prepping for the BIG SALE and book launch May 2, of course), is in how to determine how many more pink elephant passages exist between the draft that is on the flashdrive and the one that I had stored in the cloud. If ink, paper, and time were no weights in my decision, I'd probably print out both, bamboozle a friend (or a son), and compare the drafts page by page. How I'll actually handle the situation -- well, I'll tell you when I figure it out. 
Until then, here's the newly designed cover for #AMuseMeant:
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and a hattip to the old classmate and new friend who reminded me that returning to my roots and approaching a problem in the simplest way possible CAN yield the best solution. In the meantime -- I see pink elephants that you can't stop thinking about. You're welcome!

Author Photo by Tori Brunson

Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. She writes on a variety of topics: Parenting, How-To, Grammar, Women/Feminism/Equality, Book Reviews, Work in Progress and Reflections. Her books are available on Amazon and she's pursuing her dreams as a motivational and professional speaker. If you'd like to see her speak at an upcoming function, contact her through her website or Facebook page.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Updated Goodreads Author Profile

Since Amazon now owns Goodreads, I don't often post book reviews anymore. But I am fortunate to have fans, friends, and fellow authors who have friended me on Goodreads and may wish to submit reviews on Goodreads. As a result, I have updated my profile with the new books I have published there.

Here is the link:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#25Reasons to Celebrate!!

After ten years of writing, not writing, and hitting walls, #25Reasons is finally approved by CreateSpace (had some formatting issues) and should be available (live) on by this weekend.

The official launch date is May 2 at the WACO fairgrounds in Fayetteville, AR. At that time, I will also be launching Confessions of a Grammar Enthusiast*, which came out last month.

I don't know whether #AMuseMeant will be ready in time for a triple-threat launch. On one hand, hitting that final PUBLISH key always leaves me feeling very high. On the other hand, fixing formatting issues is both exhausting and brain frying. I sat outside yesterday (it was beautiful) -- rain was threatening, not too hot, windy -- and reattached the bumper pads to my son's trampoline. I need to spend more time outside (not counting time spent in a car). I've been wanting to get my publishing "to do" list knocked out, but sharpening the saw is also good for the heart, mind, and soul.

Next week is my 13th wedding anniversary, my son's 12th birthday, my son's birthday party, and the local Renaissance Faire. Time to get out and enjoy them!

*Since I don't know how long it takes CreateSpace and Amazon to fix things -- I found an error in the "About the Author" online section. Read at face value, it alludes that I jet-set between active teaching in Arkansas and working in a library in Lexington, KY. The Lexington library and ESL teaching experiences were vital contributors to the path that led me to Confessions, but I left Lexington in 2006 and am a full time NWA resident and muck-raker.

Phyl Campbell is the author of all the books you see above. She writes and teaches (privately or in workshops) in NWA. She is easiest to contact through Facebook: Phyl Campbell Author Page.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How to Monday: Quick and Dirty Book Publishing Guide

My way is not the only way to publish an Indie book. These steps are my best advice for creating a print book (paperback) that can be made available on Amazon or purchased wholesale by the author for resale at book buying events.

1. Create a manuscript using a word processor.

  • Use sections (Page Break, Section Break) for each chapter or section
  • Use Headers and Footers to create page numbers and to write your book title and author name on each page (I keep another published book in front of me as a guide)
  • Create the front matter (title, copyright page, dedication). Again, use a previously published book to see the industry standard.
  • Create the back matter (acknowledgments, author note, about the author, preview of next book)
  • Front matter and back matter should not have page numbers, headers, or footers. I use section breaks to do this, but my brother recommends applying white text boxes where text should be hidden.
  • Use Styles to establish one font and font size for chapter headers and a different font and font size for basic text. You can also use it to select indents, spacing between lines and other text features. It’s tricky to learn, but will save any many steps.
  • In my word processing tool bar, there is a paragraph mark symbol. Select it to see all hidden formatting symbols like spaces and hard/soft returns.
  • Learn how to use Find and Replace. Especially MORE/FORMAT
  • Save document (OFTEN!)

2. Create an account for or log into CreateSpace (

  • Under the My Account tab, select Add New Title
  • Follow the instructions to select book size, paper, and other attributes
  • Skip the step of adding an interior file
  • Create a Cover (Create and upload the PDF, or use their template and images – I do a combination)

3. Go back to your word processor document.

  • Adjust paper size or margins to fit the selected book size.
  • Add the CreateSpace assigned ISBNs to the copyright page
  • Export to PDF (sometimes this is “print to PDF” or “save to PDF”)
  • Open the PDF file to check for correct placement of headers, footers, and page numbers. Select “view two page” with “separate title page” (2 boxes to check)
  • Without a PDF editor, make changes to the PDF by making the changes in Word and repeating the Export to PDF/Print to PDF/Save as PDF option.

4. Go back to CreateSpace

  • Go to the Title created in Step 2.
  • Go to the step of uploading an Interior File.
  • It is possible to upload files from a word processor without the PDF step. I don’t think the files come across as cleanly --- some formatting is lost (fonts, margins, page breaks). This has been my experience.
  • Choose sales channels and set book price(s)
  • Submit files for review

5. The file review check takes 24-48 hours. It will determine whether all the content from the submitted file fits within the margins of the selected layout.

  • Make changes to the review file until CreateSpace (and you) are satisfied, either by making changes to the CreateSpace review file (when applicable), changing book attributes in CreateSpace, or making changes to the PDF/ word document.
  • Repeat the file review steps each time changes are made.
  • When the review comes back without errors, and the book is acceptable to you, select Publish.

Published titles are available immediately on CreateSpace, and within 1-5 days on Amazon (if Amazon was selected) or other channels.

6. My way is not the only way to publish an Indie book. Some people buy their own ISBNs (See LightningSource instead of CreateSpace), hire out cover artists and layout designers, formatters, editors, etc.  Some people only publish to Kindle. These steps are my best advice for creating a print book that can be made available on Amazon or purchased wholesale by the author for resale at book buying events.

7. Timeline. On average, creating the manuscript takes me a year. Preparing a cover takes me two weeks (over a month with reader input). Formatting the interior (for me) is a two-week job minimum. I try to format as I go, but best laid plans sometimes go awry, and I have to undo formatting to add pages, delete pages, or fiddle with margins. Can someone else do it faster and better? Undoubtedly. I encourage people with tips or tricks to share their knowledge.

Coming Soon: #25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane

Also Coming Soon: A Muse Meant