Thursday, March 29, 2012

Women's History Month - Week 5

Women’s History Month
Special Feature
Week 5

In honor of Women’s History Month we’ve asked authors and illustrators in our booking service to participate in our special questionnaire. Each week we will be posting different member’s responses to the three questions below. We hope you enjoy their answers as much as we did!

1. What women writers do you admire?
2. What women in history would you invite to a dinner party?
3. What advice do you have for young women today?

1.      I really admire Katherine Paterson--I heard her speak at one of the conferences and I think her speech is as eloquent as her writing. Bridge to Terabithia is one of my all-time favorites. I also admire Donna Jo Napoli, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Cornelia Funke. The Thief Lord I think is an extraordinary story and also one of my all-time favorites.
2.      I would invite the astronomer Maria Mitchell, St. Joan of Arc and St. Clare, Eleanor Roosevelt, Barbara Jordan, Audrey Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman.
3.      When I visit schools I tell young women (and young men) to use their talents, work hard, and believe in themselves. I always use the example of Galileo trying at first to please his parents by studying medicine at the University, but switching to mathematics after 2 years to follow his passion.

1.      Virginia Woolf and Grace Paley.
2.      My grandmother (who was a delightful woman, very engaged with the world) and my great-grandmother, whom I never knew. She was a midwife in New England and a widow at a young age who raised 6 children, including an orphaned nephew. I inherited the rocking chair she had when she was a child. My mom has wonderful memories of spending time with her, such as hunting for mushrooms. And I'd like my mom to come to the dinner, also my sisters and our daughters, so we could all spend this moment in time together.
3.      Each day, think about (perhaps even write down) three things for which you're grateful on that particular day.

1.      I admire so many women writers, you'd run out of room! But at the top of my list are Lee Smith, Jill McCorkle, Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Berg, and Bailey White. Yes, they are mostly Southern women writers. Southern writers come from a long-standing tradition of story-telling and women writers in particular have grown up listening to the soft voices of their mothers and other female relatives talking in kitchen, in the garden, and on the porch after supper.
2.      I wish I had known Margaret Wise Brown, the flamboyant, eccentric children's picture book writer, so she would be first on my guest list. After that, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Varina Davis, and Dorothea Lange.
3.      I would advise young women today to hang on to their dream and point themselves in that direction, regardless of peer pressure, boys, and the lure of false celebrity and making money. Yes, I know it's a very unpopular stance. But it works.

1.      One writer I admire is Helen Keller. We tend to remember Keller for overcoming her disabilities to earn a college degree, and for raising public awareness of causes in which she believed, but she also published twelve books, including her autobiography, The Story of My Life. The written word became her voice. I also admire Rachel Carson. While working for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in the 1940s and 1950s and supporting herself, her mother, and two nieces, Carson produced two best-selling books, Under the Sea Wind and The Sea Around Us, which revealed to many readers the great variety of life on the shore and beneath the waves of the ocean--before the days of television documentaries. Carson was battling breast cancer when she researched and wrote the classic Silent Spring, which alerted the world to the hazards of pesticides. Her books are beautifully written; they are outstanding examples of nonfiction literature at its finest.
2.      The woman I'd most want to invite to dinner is a writer, too. I would be very curious to meet Jane Austen, the subject of my most recent biography. This would be my chance to find out what she looked like, because we really don't know. Just one portrait of Austen survives, a watercolor painted by her sister, Cassandra, but people who knew Austen said it was a poor likeness. We know from her books that Austen had a brilliant mind and a sharp wit, so she would be good company. I would ask her to bring along Cassandra, who was her closest friend and confidante, and their cousin Eliza, who was born in India and raised in France and had a sparkling sophistication. If only it were possible!
3.      My advice for young women is the same that I would give to young men. Have confidence in yourself, and never give up on your dreams. Work hard to make them come true--never be afraid of hard work. And keep on learning and growing throughout life.

1.      Here's my eclectic blend: Christina Rossetti, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Erica Jong, and Jean Fritz.
2.      George Sand, Joan of Arc, Frederic Bartholdi's mother (she supposedly was his model for the Statue of Liberty), Nellie Melba (opera singer and inspiration for a dessert.)
3.      Friends and family are everything. If you spend time and energy with them, your success will follow.

1.      Toni Morrison, Rita Dove, and Kate Chopin.
2.      Harriet Tubman, Billie Holiday, and Michelle Obama.
3.      Toot your own horn. Don't make apologies for your ideas and opinions. Trust your intuition.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Women’s History Month - Week 4

Women’s History Month
Special Feature
Week 4

In honor of Women’s History Month we’ve asked authors and illustrators in our booking service to participate in our special questionnaire. Each week we will be posting different member’s responses to the three questions below. We hope you enjoy their answers as much as we did!

1. What women writers do you admire?
2. What women in history would you invite to a dinner party?
3. What advice do you have for young women today?

1.      Toni Morrison, Anita Desai, Margaret Atwood. Among those who write for children and young adults, Katherine Paterson, Jane Yolen, Marion Dane Bauer, Norma Fox Mazer, and a writer from India who has never compromised her work to pander to audiences, Shashi Deshpande. For lots of different reasons these women writers are heroes to me--for the quality of their writing, the clear eye they turn on the world, or for sheer staying power, nimble minds, or prolific work.
2.      Jane Austen, Hypatia, the Greek philosopher and mathematician, Several of the Buddhist nuns who lived and wrote poetry in India in the 6th century BC, Lili'uokalani, the last Hawaiian queen.
3.      Grow your minds as much as you honor your bodies. Pay attention to the planet. Don't forget the work your foremothers did to make you who you can be today.

1.      I admire any writer who also manages also to be a wife and a mother.
2.      Dorothy Parker, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Gertrude Stein, Wendy Cope, Fay Weldon, E. Nesbitt, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Skip that. A date with Edna St. Vincent Millay would suffice.
3.      As an old man, I have no advice for young women that wouldn't be considered (rightly) presumptuous and absurd.

1.      For "adult" writers: Alice Munro, Wislawa Szymborska, Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickenson, Jane Austen and many more. I am leaving out my list of children's writers as it would be too long.
2.      Jane Austen, Abigail Adams, Harriet Tubman, Mary Todd Lincoln, Jane Addams (my childhood hero), Eleanor Roosevelt, Ursula Nordstrom.
3.      Young women today are amazing so I don't think they need my advice! But I would offer: Find your passion and nurture it, treasure your connections to friends and family, hang onto your sense of humor, take risks.

1.      Three women authors leap to mind: the first, 19th century poet Emily Dickinson, whose short poems illuminated large truths with precision and grace; the second, early 20th century novelist Willa Cather, whose stories of pioneer life were as expansive as the Nebraska plains; and third, contemporary fiction writer Anne Tyler, whose finely-crafted novels communicate so beautifully the fine balance required of all relationships.
2.      I would invite writer Gertrude Stein, actress Mae West, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, artist Georgia O'Keefe, and 'salon hostess'/arts patron Mabel Dodge Luhan. Each one of these ladies expressed, in their areas of expertise, the right of women to be as creative, as professionally accomplished, as independent, as a man. The conversation around that table would sparkle with strength, courage and intellect.
3.      Follow in the footsteps of the women who came before your generation, the ones who fought for the rights women enjoy today. Through your choices and actions today, you may contribute to even greater lifestyle and work opportunities for your own daughters. Dream big.

1.      Erma Bombeck, Dorothy Parker, Amy Sedaris, and Nora Ephron.
2.      Dorothy Parker, Lucille Ball, and Katharine Hepburn.
3.      Write funny stuff.

And as a special bonus, Kevin’s wife of 30 years contributed answers as well.
1.      Virginia Wolf, Isabel Allende, Eudora Welty
2.      Golda Mier
3.      Treat men fairly

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Women’s History Month - Week 3

Women’s History Month
Special Feature
Week 3

In honor of Women’s History Month we’ve asked authors and illustrators in our booking service to participate in our special questionnaire. Each week we will be posting different member’s responses to the three questions below. We hope you enjoy their answers as much as we did!

1. What women writers do you admire?
2. What women in history would you invite to a dinner party?
3. What advice do you have for young women today?

1.      Rebecca Stead, AS King, Laini Taylor, Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Suzanne Collins. Adult writers: Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, Shelia Ballantine, and Marge Piercy.
2.      Mary (Jesus's mother), Joan of Arc, Anne Boleyn, Dolly Adams, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
3.      Find something your passionate about and pursue it with all your heart.

1.      I think I still come back to my lifelong favorite women writers, Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. I admire their tenacity and commitment to their craft for long years before they were known or successful. And, of course, I admire their amazing novels!
2.      What fun! I think I would love to have a dinner party with the real women I have written about in some of my historical fiction picture books. They include astronmer Maria Mitchell, lighthouse keeper Abigail Burgess Grant, cooking instructor Fannie Merritt Farmer, baseball player Alta Weiss, pianist and Jubilee singer, Ella Sheppard, and stagecoach driver Delia Haskett Rawson. What a fantastic and diverse group of women!
3.      You know, Maria Mitchell once said, and I am paraphrasing here, that one of the hardest things in life was to find out the work you are meant to do. But I think that would be my advice to young women: to find good, compelling work that challenges you and sustains you, and that keeps you learning and growing.

1.      I really like the works of Willa Cather.
2.      Certainly Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, and Dorothy Parker as writers, Eleanor Roosevelt, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, Madame Curie.
3.      Do not give up your dreams. Do something every day to reach your goal. One step at a time will get you there, but be aware that sometimes your dreams change with time. Recognize when that happens and adapt.

1.      As a voracious reader who tends to fall in love with individual books rather than authors, I find it hard to name names. However, I do admire the poetry of Linda Pastan. I am also in awe of the consistent high quality of writing that comes from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Katherine Paterson.
2.      I'd like to meet Annie Sullivan, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sacagawea, Betsy Ross, Harriet Tubman, and Susan B. Anthony. However, I'd rather lunch individually with each one rather than watch them interact with each other at a dinner party because I have specific questions I'd like to ask each one.
3.      Persistence is the key to success. If you want something, don't let initial disappointments stop you. Keep trying until you achieve your goals.

1.      I admire Jane Yolen tremendously! She has written an incredible number of books for children of all ages--from toddlers to teens. She writes gorgeous poetry, funny picture books and thought provoking novels. She stuck with her writing, publishing regularly and winning awards (Owl Moon), but not really finding financial success as a writer until the How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight and the other Dinosaur books because bestsellers. She graciously teaches and mentors other writers though workshops and lectures, serves on the board of directors for the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators and recently funded a grant to recognize mid-list authors whose careers may have stalled a bit. Jane speaks her mind, never allowed herself to be put in a box as a writer, and self-lessly shares her knowledge. Ask many writers what her acronym "BIC" stands for, and they will answer "Butt in chair!"
2.      My dinner party would likely include women who faced challenges and suffered more than their share -- Harriett Tubman, Sally Hemings, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were the first women who came to mind. People who have faced adversity have more interesting stories and wisdom to share.
3.      I'd tell young women that the quicker they can become comfortable with who they are and recognize their strengths and talents the better life will be. Stop judging yourselves by comparison to other people and simply strive to be the best at your job, the best friend you can be, the best YOU possible. Figuring out what is really important in life is also a key to happiness. Too often women get caught up in drama over insignificant issues. Life is too short to spend half your time upset over something stupid. Anytime I feel a hint of jealousy or envy, I think of women around the world, barely surviving, sleeping on the dirt floor, scrounging just for food and water for each day. That always brings me back to seeing how incredibly blessed I am.

1.      Soooooo many! But the first to mind are Marjane Satrapi, Sue Miller, Dayal Kaur Khalsa, and Temple Grandin.
2.      Dorothy Parker and Lisa Endig.
3.      Don't listen to any advice, including this. Just write!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Women’s History Month – Week 2

Women's History Month
Special Feature
Week 2

In honor of Women’s History Month we’ve asked authors and illustrators in our booking service to participate in our special questionnaire. Each week we will be posting different member’s responses to the three questions below. We hope you enjoy their answers as much as we did!

1. What women writers do you admire?
2. What women in history would you invite to a dinner party?
3. What advice do you have for young women today?

1. Edith Wharton. Bobbie Ann Mason. The women in my writing group: those yet to be published and those already published, including Kristin Levine, whose novel was just named a NYTimes Editors' Choice!
2. My four great-grandmothers. Though I would probably agonize quite a bit about what to feed them.
3. My advice is to seek out mentors who can help you sort out a path for yourself that will involve financial sustenance, any family or other goals you might have, and lifelong work toward fulfilling your passion. Because really the work and the passion are the same, aren't they?

1. There are so many. Of course, Emily Dickinson, the American poet. She's on my mind because my new book Emily and Carlo celebrates her sixteen-year relationship with her Newfoundland dog, Carlo. I find her poetry so truthful, even though she wrote "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant." I also have a fond place in my heart for the women writers who emerged before and after the Civil War. Especially Harriet Beecher Stowe, for her powerful anti-slavery prose in Uncle Tom's Cabin that might have prompted President Abraham Lincoln to say, "So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war?" I also love the local colorist Sarah Orne Jewett (The Country of the Pointed Firs) and Kate Chopin (The Yellow Wallpaper).
2. Emily Dickinson, Margaret Thatcher, and Marilyn Monroe. Now, that's a dinner party!
3. Educate yourself, follow your dreams, be self-sufficient, and don't hitch your hopes on any man (even though I've been happily married for 41 years)-perhaps that's why.

1. I am a mystery nut. My favorite women mystery writers are Faye Kellerman and Sarah Paretsky.
2. Probably Ida B. Wells--a revolutionary woman well ahead of her times.
3. Make 40 the new 50. Most women I know learn not to give a damn about others' opinions of them when they turn 50. It's one of the advantages of turning older and gaining a certain level of confidence. So try it at 40; it's liberating to feel secure in your own skin.

1. Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elinor Wylie, Sara Teasdale, Emily Dickinson, Myra Cohn Livingston, Aileen Fisher, and Rachel Field.
2. Dorothy Parker and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
3. Sing, dance, write poetry, make art...follow your heart.

1. Margaret Atwood, Alice Hoffman, Isabel Allende, Jodi Picoult, and Julia Alvarez.
2. Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassat, Suzanne Valdon, Paula Modesohn-Becker, Gold Meir, Laura Nyro, Joan Baez, Amelia Earhart, Isadora Duncan, Margaret Sanger, Queen Hatshepsut, Queen Liliuokalani, Dian Fossey, Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Rachel Carson, Harriet Tubman, and Marie LaVeau.
3. Follow your dreams, don't let anyone tell you you can't do something because you are a women, never lose your sense of compassion, do not let anyone else tell you what you should do with your body, treat the planet, animals and other humans with reverence, don't be a slave to fashion and only have a child if you really want one and are prepared to commit to it for the rest of your life.

1. What women writers don't I admire for one reason or another? But Keri Hulme, Gayl Jones, Janette Winterson, Octavia Butler, Linda Hogan and Virginia Hamilton come to mind right away. All of them have some serious brass ovaries to write with such courage!
2. I'd love to have a dinner party with Mary Ann Shad Cary, Alice Dunbar and Sally Hemmings.
3. Listen to the advice of men and women equally but follow your own heart.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Women's History Month - Week 1

Women’s History Month
Special Feature
Week 1

In honor of Women’s History Month we’ve asked authors and illustrators in our booking service to participate in our special questionnaire. Each week we will be posting different member’s responses to the three questions below. We hope you enjoy their answers as much as we did!

1. What women writers do you admire?
2. What women in history would you invite to a dinner party?
3. What advice do you have for young women today?

Darleen Bailey Beard:
1. There are so many wonderful women writers that's it's hard to say just a few. Off the top of my head, I'd have to say Katherine Patterson, Judy Bloom, Eve Bunting. Then I have several women friends who write for children who are fabulous writers--Gwendolyn Hooks, Anna Myers, Tammi Sauer, and so many more.
2. I'd invite Eleanor Roosevelt, Lucy Maude Montgomery, and all the women suffragists who worked long and hard to allow women the right to vote.
3. Believe in yourself. Don't worry about what others are doing. Just run your race the best you can and everything will fall into place. Keep your eyes on your goal and run, girl, run!

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen:
1. There are so many to list that I want to make sure to put a disclaimer at the beginning--this is not an all-inclusive listing! But, to continue.... Top of the list: Virginia Wolf. Long before I ever dreamed of being a writer, I discovered Virginia Wolf's A Room of One's Own in college, long before I ever dreamed about being a writer. But everything she said about a woman needing a room of her own and money to support herself in order to truly create seems as brilliant to me today as it did when I first read the words. As a more contemporary option, I admire Sandra Boynton. So many times I read her books and then pay her the highest compliment I could give another writer: I wish that I'd written that same book first.
2. Again, so many to list, but here's a few: Cleopatra: The jewels, the power, the men...who wouldn't want to know how she handled all of that? Belva Lockwood: I admire her so much, I wrote a biography of her! Mary Magdalene: I'd love to get the inside scoop on the most influential book ever written…. Jane Austen: Could there be a better brain to pick for story ideas? Marie Antoinette: I'd want to watch her eat cake...
3. Know who you are, and be that person no matter what challenges you face. Live until it hurts, as life is too short to take the safe path. Be proud of everything you do, because chances are if you are ashamed of it, you shouldn't have done it.

Vikki Carrel:
1. Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and Margaret Mitchell.
2. Eleanor Roosevelt, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Mother Teresa, and Princess Diana.
3. To make certain that their self-definition and the direction their life is moving are compatible. To speak up and recognize that assertive communication is an important skill to learn. To live in the present.

Sneed Collard:
1. Lois Lowry, E.L. Konigsburg, Margaret Atwood, Candice Millard, and Donna Jo Napoli.
2. All of the above.
3. Don't be afraid to "talk back". Take every math course available to you!

Lulu Delacre:
1. Margaret Atwood, Isabel Allende, Ann Patchett, and Amy Tan.
2. Mary Magdalene, to ask if she ever wrote an account of Jesus' teachings.
3. Believe in yourself, listen to your inner voice, and be persistent.

Moira Donohue:
1. Of course I admire Jane Austen for her insight into the human heart. I also admire Beatrix Potter for the tender charm and imagination she imbued her books with. And I am particularly enchanted by Daphne du Maurier whose stories are so complex and so far ahead of her time!
2. This was hard as I couldn't think of many. The two that come to mind are Queen Elizabeth the first--can't imagine what she would have to say about life and men and power, and Maggie Walker, a woman I just researched for a children's book I wrote as part of a series for an educational publisher. Maggie Walker captivated me because she was the first African American woman to charter a bank back in 1903!
3. Life for women today is primarily about choice. There is no inherently right or wrong choice in terms of lifestyles (well, except self-destructive ones), but each choice should be made in accordance with an individual's heart and strengths, knowing that we can't have it all because each choice limits our options. And no one should judge another's choice except to see if it is the best possible way of using her talents.