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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

AMUSing Thoughts for International Women's Day

Wednesday, March 8 is International Women's Day, so it's the perfect time for me to remind everyone of some wonderful books to empower feminists everywhere. Sure, I wrote them. But sometimes empowerment starts with encouraging others to support and empower YOU. This is one of those posts.

First, I'm Not Writing a Book Today empowers everyone to write. An illustrated free verse poem features image after image of children dreaming, doing, and creating. I wrote I'm Not Writing a Book Today in response to the parents of my young authors who apologized to me that their writers weren't chained to their desks all summer. But I chose illustrations to reach an even younger audience. I was reading at three years old and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. So why not other young people? And when I read I'm Not Writing a Book Today, whether to toddlers or retirees, my audience GETS it. I'm Not Writing a Book Today has become a mantra for so many people doing so many things. And if you haven't experienced it for yourself, your parents, or your kids, you really need to.

Martha's Chickens and the Pirates was the first children's book I was able to publish -- even if it wasn't one of the first ones I'd written or even finished. It is a story I wrote to honor my pioneering grandmother -- the sweet bad ass woman who endeavored to keep the peace even if she had to talk dirty to do it sometimes. In addition to the obvious ways Martha dominates the decisions made by characters in the book, I worked with the illustrator especially to make sure that genders were represented equally. And on International Woman's Day, maybe that's not equal. But as a mother with a son, I needed to see both. I needed people who talked about animals that didn't and I needed people to try new things and to be brave even though being brave means different things to different people. So if you are feeling brave, need to feel brave, or need a change in your life, pick up a copy of Martha's Chickens and the Pirates.

For the adult crowd, #25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane is a hard anti-comedy to beat. In the traditional understanding that women are from Venus and men are from Mars, each vignette highlights ways that two people who love each other very much can still lack basic communication skills or mutual understanding. The idea behind the story and the hashtag was to have a response to the popular fanfic FSOG. A lot of people argued that FSOG liberated women by exposing sexual fantasies. Others felt the lurid sex imprisoned women. I objected to the novel because it took an angst-filled teen drama series that I liked (Twilight), took away the mythological beings that made it so great, and replaced fairly extensive character development with S&M. It wasn't original, but some marketer picked it up because sex sells. How many of the same people boycotting Beauty and the Beast helped rocket FSOG into a bestselling book and movie? Not the book's fault, or the author's. Still, I wanted to provide an alternative. I think male and female feminists want more out of their relationships. #25 Reasons gives readers more.

Finally, of the books I want to talk about today, last but by no means least, is A Muse MeantSamm is the girl-next-door heroine we all want in our lives. Her dreams, her magic, and even her insecurities drive the plot of this coming-of-age story for middle grade readers. The best part is all the things she doesn't realize she's doing. Girls are so often taught to feel insecure -- in the things they are told and the things adults assume they know. So for Samm to be continuously empowered instead -- this was as challenging to write (and re-write) as it was for Samm to experience. Did I get it right?

So in summary, go check out the following on Amazon:
I'm Not Writing a Book Today
Martha's Chickens and the Pirates
#25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane
A Muse Meant

Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. Check out her website