Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In Support of Strong Female Literature Characters

Not since dear Lizzy Bennet and Laura Ingals Wilder have we found the heroine of a book with strong values, who is headstrong, and won't compromise her morals or ideals for a nice tidy story resolution.

Have you ever wished you could watch a movie or read a book and not cringe at the decisions the female lead makes, usually in an effort to get the guy? In the past 10-15 years, much has been written about even our well-known fairy tale princesses, and how it's always the ingenue young girl who has to change to get her prince. Ariel gives up both her family and her fins to charm her prince. Never mind that in the Disney version.. she barely knows the guy.

My friend (and yours!) Erin Annie is writing that book! A trilogy actually.
I've had the honor of reading the story that started it all. There's adventure, political scandal, and a budding romance. All told with a sense of altruism, volunteerism, and get this - parents and family that are present! and normal! along with strong Christian values.
"Why can't we have a strong, smart, conservative woman as a heroine without compromise? Isn't it time our values were represented accurately in entertainment and media?" ~Erin Ann McBride
This book is like nothing else on the market right now - and that's why she needs your help. Traditional publishers wouldn't touch this book without forcing changes in the character's ethics to fit today's mainstream, secular culture. A smaller, niche publisher would limit the book's exposure to certain religious pockets. Erin plans to self-publish so that she maintains control of story and the message.

But self-publishing isn't without it's costs... Erin Annie explains,
"For this type of book to succeed it must be above reproach. It must be accurate, perfectly edited, and above all else, an exciting and engaging read. To ensure the top quality of a self-published book it takes more than just a passionate author. It requires editors, graphic designers, and other professional services, to produce a high quality self-published book."
I'm so proud of her! If you would like to be a part of getting a fine story, with a heroine you can relate to - out into the world... would you consider donating to her Kickstarter campaign? Or forwarding this to someone who would?

You can be a part of putting a genuine story about Christian values, and a strong no-nonsense, capable woman, in the hands of young women who could be influenced by a positive role model. This is the book series you'd be happy to see your niece or daughter reading, rather than wondering what sort of impression a silly vampire romance is going leave!

Really, if you can tally off the names of 'romance' books on one hand in less than a minute - that feature the  woman changing for the man or for society, compromising what she believes in or greatly changing herself to please others - don't you agree that our culture needs a wholesome, yet exciting story like this?

Not sure yet? Here, read the first chapter... about Haley McAdams.

As I said, I've read it. Let me tell you some of my favorite things:
Our heroine, Haley McAdams, is the kind of woman who simply does the right thing without even thinking about it. She's not holier-than-thou about it either, it's just that she doesn't flinch under pressure. She's so solid in her beliefs, she doesn't have to waver. I know women like that - doncha just love them?!
Also, the story isn't packed with improbable romance. There's more to it than getting the guy. There is drama and intrigue all in a well-told story that quite frankly, caused me to burn up some very lovely weekend afternoons because I couldn't tear myself away from the computer for reading it!

Please think about contributing to help get this published... there are plenty of rewards in it for you. (see the kickstarter page sidebar for details)

Hey, for fun... in comments here, name any books with a heroine who holds her own - Like Elizabeth Bennet and Haley McAdams. (it'll be easier to name all the Disney Princesses who change for their prince, won't it?)
Also, let me know if you contribute... or if you'll promote the campaign on YOUR blog!!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

To Have or Have Not

I have a favorite little restaurant that makes the best spinach salad you've ever had, and mouthwatering organic pizzas.  Mmmm.

I frequent the place so often that the owner knows me and stops by to chat and see how my meal is - every time I'm there. More often than not, I bring a friend with me, and he loves that I'm always introducing his place to more people, who also end up loving everything he makes!

Recently, I was there with a friend who was approaching her 40th birthday. When the owner stopped by our table to see if we were enjoying our meal - she asked about his business and he explained that they're working on opening another location, closer to where I live. (Yay!)

He's around our age, and somehow the conversation turned to my friend's upcoming birthday and the fact that she's not looking forward to it.  He asked why, and she responded that she's just not any where near where she thought she'd be in life at this point.  I sympathized, having turned 40 myself in the same situation just a couple years ago. I nodded and said, "Yep. Turning 40 really sucks."

Our proprietor friend looked confused and said, "That's funny. I didn't feel that way at all."
"Well, that's because you have all those things. You have a wife and two kids, a home, a thriving business. It's not having all that life stuff we were told we'd have that makes it hard." 
(they're not rich, but they're happy together and happy that their restaurant allows them to make a living doing what they love) 

"Oh". he said, looking at my friend, "Did you want to get married and have kids?" his voice belying a bit of disbelief, as if -  if one wanted that, one would have it. He had no idea it was elusive.

My friend lifted her chin, trying to hide a heart-breaking expression from covering her face - but it was there.  She nodded, unable to speak for fear of dissolving into tears.

A kind man, he turned his gaze to me in an effort to take the pressure off my friend.
"You too?"

He was bewildered. Truly bewildered.
In all his life it had never occurred to him that there were 40-year-old women out there living a life they'd never expected.

I have my theories, and they start with the contraceptive culture.
Once feminism insisted that all women should have all the sex they want without the risk of becoming pregnant... thinking that would give women freedom... it all went wrong.  I think those same feminists don't even realize that it instead, turned men into cowards.
Now that we can delay our childbearing years - males have delayed becoming men. They play the I'm-not-ready-card well into their 40s.

My friend, the restaurant owner wasn't one of those men. He met the woman who would be his wife and locked in. Maybe he has days that he envies his single men friends who haven't settled down... but it never occurred to him that the women his friends are dating, doing and leaving want something more.

Then there's the notion that I only recently discovered, that some of us women are single because we put our careers ahead of marriage and family. That every single one of us, turned down every man that came along because we wanted a fabulous career. As if we should have all been counter clerks until we were "rescued" by a man!  Excuse me for wanting to do something interesting and fulfilling, and not expecting Mr. Right to come along when I turned 23!!!  (I did expect him to come along at 27. So I wanted to do something interesting first.) Some of us took the initiative to take care of ourselves and then watched as all the helpless women got snatched up and married.

That, my friends is why I write this blog.
It's not because I'm obsessed with marriage. It's because I know there are millions of women out there who deserve more than they're getting.
Those same women whose friends and family don't even know or acknowledge that something is missing from their lives.
We all go out into the world each day, work hard, volunteer, have fun, have laughs - and some days going home to an empty house is a relief.  Some days, the empty house is a dagger in the heart.
Twenty-nine days out of 30 we hold our heads up and charge through the door and make it our home.  Then there are days that it takes every fiber of our being to climb into bed alone. Again.

That not only are our God-given instincts to love, nurture, to physically love a man, to cuddle and read a child a bedtime story not being met. But our need to have that loss acknowledged isn't being met... by our churches, by our families or by our friends.

I am here to at least acknowledge that Yeah, it sucks to have so many needs and desires unfulfilled. It sucks even worse to have your emptiness ignored by everyone who is important to you.
If you were married and had a miscarriage, there would be someone to acknowledge that loss. (not everyone because let's face it, people suck.) 

Maybe someones sister-in-law will read this and realize some of the things she says are hurtful or at least not helpful.
Maybe someone will recognize that their friend isn't a selfish woman who is putting off growing up - and that it's HER notion (not reality) that her friend isn't a grown up because she's not married or doesn't have kids.
Maybe someones mom will realize that it's not so much her daughter is picky, but rather, a very high probability that most of the men she's met are emotionally immature and unavailable.

Maybe if any one of those things happen - there will be more understanding in the world.
And less hurt.