November 24, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author Sarah Weathersby

The Author

Sarah Weathersby is a self-described “retired geek and card-carrying-radical Old Broad.” She was born in the rectory of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Petersburg, Virginia during the time that her Daddy was rector. She attended segregated public schools in Petersburg until her Mother died, and she was sent to live in Washington, DC with her brother and his wife. Sarah graduated from high school in Washington, and went on to college at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey where she majored in German Literature and spent a junior year in Munich. She met her first husband while he was a student in the Theological School at Drew. They settled in North Carolina and raised two sons. Sarah earned her MBA from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. After the death of her husband, she found her long-lost daughter who inspired her memoir, Motherless Child, stories from a life, her first published work. She lives in Raleigh with her second husband, when they are not traveling from Agadir to Maui, riding camels or bicycles.

Learning more about Sarah is easy; just head to one of the following places: her website // her blog // Facebook // Twitter

The Book

-The Secret that Became a Celebration

Imagine you gave a baby up for adoption forty years ago, and after years of trying to find her, she finds you. Now come the hard questions. She's healthy, beautiful, and successful, but she wants to know why you gave her away and why you didn't marry her father. And there is also the unspoken question of "What kind of black woman gives her baby away?" How do you explain to her that giving her away was the best gift you could offer? This is Sarah Weathersby's first published work, a coming-of-age-in-the-sixties-single-black-pregnant and on the way to Germany, memoir.

Click the cover above to order MOTHERLESS CHILD - STORIES FROM A LIFE today!

The Excerpt


I never thought I would find Teal’s father almost forty years after I last heard from him. Jimmy is such a common name that I didn’t even try searching on the internet until the last remaining volume of my journal fell out of a box of tax receipts. I had written in the journal that he had married Paula. That turned out to be just enough information to find him as an associate with a full page on the Howard University website that had his photograph and enough other information for me to find a phone number as well. I was trembling when I left the message, “You will remember me as Sarah Gordon. I have some exciting news to tell you.”

He returned the call the next day, but he needed his teenaged son to help him with the call. He had had a stroke that affected the speech center of his brain. His speech wasn’t at all slurred, but it was difficult for him to put the words together especially over the phone. He remembered me, of course, and he seemed happy to hear I had found our daughter. Paula came on the line to explain that he might understand it all better if I wrote him a letter. That was going to make it easier for me as well; I was shaky, trying to say the right things, since I didn’t want to lose this contact. Teal wanted to meet her father.

It had been only three months since I had met our daughter, the child I gave up for adoption so long ago. I had tried many years to find her, and even signed up with the Adoption Registry, but until she decided to look for her birth mother, they would not give out the contact information. The idea of looking for her birth parents never crossed her mind until she became a mother herself. And now she wanted to know why I gave her up.

I called Teal to tell her that I had found her father. She seemed relieved that another piece of the puzzle was completed, and happy to know there was more family for her to meet. She had already developed a strong connection with my son Joshua through regular phone calls, and she hoped to have that same connection with Jimmy’s daughters. I wrote to Jimmy, and sent photos to Paula and their daughters by email. The following month she met all of her long-lost family on both sides, giving her the brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts as she had never had and always wished for.

The experience of finding Teal has been such a blessing, but also caused me to replay that time through my memory. I hardly remember the girl I was back then, and it’s difficult to sort out all the thought processes and reasons I gave myself. When I looked back over my life, I often wondered if I should regret giving a child away. How could I regret, when I didn’t know how the story ended? I knew that at the time, I could not have provided for Teal what two loving parents could give her. Now that I know they gave her more than I ever could have, I know it was the right decision for that time, and I have no regrets.

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a female writer?

I write about the things that keep me awake at night, as well as the things that bring me joy. If you follow my blogs, the topics can be the trivial how to work my new camera or the gut-wrenching mental breakdown of a family member. I started writing poems as a little girl when my oldest brother went off to the Korean War.

My first published book Motherless Child – stories from a life is a memoir that focuses on my decision to give a child up for adoption and the years of not knowing where she was. The heart of the story touches on women’s relationships. My mother died of breast cancer when I was twelve years old, leaving me motherless, then I become the childless mother, and evolve to the point where I, in a sense, become my mother, finishing the life she wasn’t able to. The story is also a “coming-of-age-in-the sixties” story. As we baby boomers reach retirement, we will see a lot of those. But unlike some I have read from the “Woodstock” generation, mine speaks more of the Civil Rights Era. And although the experience transcends gender, I have to tell it from the heart of the girl that I was at the time.

I have two projects that I’m working on that also come from personal experience, more things that keep me awake at night. First is a murder mystery that takes place on the internet. It is loosely based on events that happened on a social networking site. In my 10 years of social networking on the internet, I have usually been the senior member of a circle of friends. People know me as “saraphen” and have come to trust me as a motherly advisor, telling me their secrets. The story is fiction with my fictional character as a sleuth. There was no murder in real life, but there was intrigue, a lot of humor, and the death of a dear friend. I hope I can write it to honor my friend and bring some closure to the grief.

The second project also comes from a woman’s perspective. I’m struggling with how to tell it without violating the privacy of a family member. It will become either a fictionalized account from the perspective of a mother, or non-fiction report of the failures of the mental health system and the black community’s inability to deal with mental illness.

November 17, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author Annette Fix

The Author

Annette Fix published numerous articles and editorials in her high school newspaper, located in a town full of trailer parks and meth labs. She moved on to write a campus lifestyle column for a community college newspaper until her 4.0 grade-point average propelled her into a private university.

Once there, she worked 40 hours a week in a government job, attended school fulltime, and cared for her beautiful toddler son (the direct result of a nightclub drinking and dancing accident). Annette dropped out of college 8 units short of graduation because she refused to rewrite her thesis. She still believes absurdist theatre is a vital contribution to world dramaturgy.

Annette went on to have grand aspirations of writing the next great American novelty. On her journey toward that lofty goal, she often found inspiration while busting her tail working as an exotic dancer to support her son and feed her writing habit.

She is currently designing ancillary merchandise such as T-shirts, chocolate-scented perfume, and an emaciated action figure to promote her memoir, The Break-Up Diet. These products will be sold in the alley after her spoken-word readings.

Annette lives in Laguna Niguel, California with her Prince Charming, teenage son, and two rescued dogs.

Wanna learn more about The World of Annette? There's a slew of places online to get the 411:

The Book

Annette Fix always believed in happily-ever-after and was busy working her Five-Year Plan: marry her golf-pro boyfriend, homeschool her preteen son, become a famous writer, and retire to Fiji. When her live-in boyfriend calls it quits, Annette finds herself on The Break-Up Diet, consuming vast amounts of chocolate and exercising by diving blindly into the shallow end of the dating pool.

Working as an exotic dancer to bankroll her aspiring writing career and support her son alone, Annette uses her blue-collar instinct to survive in the plastic jungle of The OC.

Annette’s adventures take her on a wild ride as she attempts find the perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

“The Break-Up Diet is delicious. Heartbreaking and humorous...any woman can relate.” ~ Jill Soloway, author of Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, and writer for ABC's Grey's Anatomy

"In this delectable memoir, Annette Fix serves up a fresh, funny, honest, and insightful dish of sex and the single mom." ~ Colleen Sell, editor of A Cup of Comfort series

Click the cover above to order THE BREAK-UP DIET today!

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a female writer?

I’ve written freelance copy, articles, interviews, and reviews, but I consider that more business than pleasure. I’ve written creatively in many genres: stage play, feature film screenplay, personal essay/spoken-word, fiction, and memoir. When I look at my creative body of work, both published and unpublished/unproduced, the common theme always revolves around relationships.

I find myself drawn to write memoir and stories based on true events and the experiences of actual people. I’ve become less enamored with fiction—both reading and writing. Anyone can imagine how characters might behave in a certain situation, what internal and external motivations might cause them to think, speak, or act in a particular way. But, I’m fascinated by the truth of these things—what real people have actually done when faced with ordinary and extraordinary challenges, significant moments in their lives that have changed them in some way.

I enjoy finding universal experiences in my life that connect me to others. One of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had, as a writer, has been when I’ve received emails from readers who were touched by and resonated with the experiences I related in my book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir.

My next two books-in-progress are both memoirs. One is a prequel to The Break-Up Diet that chronicles the misadventures that resulted in me becoming a 21-year-old single mother—the story of my wild-child youth and how motherhood altered my consciousness. I believe there are certain turning points in a woman’s life when a decision she makes changes the course of her life, and ultimately her, forever. I want to explore that concept and share it with readers.

The other book idea was inspired by the audiences who have seen my spoken-word performances of my personal essay, The Tao of Stripping, which reveals what I learned about society, men, and myself while working in a gentlemen’s club for six years—the dynamics of prejudice, hypocrisy, visual needs and desire for connection, body image and sexuality, and so many other forces at work in relationships between men and women. The essay touched on many topics I intend to explore further in book form. I never thought it would be a story I would ever tell, but after each performance, women came to me asking if the essay was an excerpt of a published book they could buy somewhere. They all wanted to know more about the insights I shared. With such fervent interest—how could I not put that story out into the world?

This interview question really made me think about my purpose and intention with my writing—something I feel at a gut level, but never actually articulated until now. As a female writer and memoirist, I want to reach out to other women with my stories, unite with these sisters, and give a voice to (and create a tangible record of) our universal experiences. There is plenty of history in books, but not nearly enough herstory.

November 10, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author J. D. Mason

The Author

J.D. Mason is the author of several bestselling novels including, And On The Eighth Day She Rested, This Fire Down In My Soul, and her latest novel, You Gotta Sin To Get Saved. She is the recipient of the Atlanta Choice Award and has been nominated for the American Literary Award Show 2008 Award and The Romantic Times award for Best Contemporary Fiction. Her novels have all been selected by The Black Expressions Book Club as main selections.

Her work has made the Dallas Morning News and Black Expressions, and’s bestseller lists. She is currently hard at work on her next book, and her upcoming novel, That Devil’s No Friend of Mine, will be released in March 2009 from St. Martin’s Press.

You can learn more about J.D. by checking her out at MySpace and her website.

The Book

Charlotte Rodgers has always wanted too much; love, attention, and to live the life of her dreams in a rich man’s arms. It was the reason she ended up abandoning her two daughters, Connie and Reesy to chase after a man and the promise of her dream life. Now, twenty-seven years later, her whole world shifts yet again with a letter from one of her daughters. And the past is about to bust wide open.

Reesy has always been obsessed with something, including finding the mother who abandoned her and her sister when they were children, That is until Reesy is brought crashing back to earth to find that her perfect marriage is in tattered pieces.

Connie has always expected too little, from the man in her life, and especially herself. Until she discovers she is pregnant again and decides that this time she is keeping her baby, sending her life and her relationship into a tailspin.

Thrown back together again, in a maelstrom of shocking truths, Charlotte, Reesy and Connie will discover on their journey to forgiveness and redemption that you just might have to sin first in order to be saved.

Click the cover above to order YOU GOTTA SIN TO GET SAVED today!

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a female writer?

I think I’m psychic! LOL Or, maybe just very intuitive. I seem to find myself pursuing the story within the story, meaning, the story of turmoil or revelation going on inside the characters, in addition to the turmoil and revelations going on around them. I don’t know if anyone else would agree, but that’s the heart of the story to me. I look at it like this, five totally unrelated people could be going through the exact same problem (or pretty similar); they could all be broke, or sick, or having problems in their romantic relationships. But those five people will each have a different perspective of their issues, and they’ll each approach their solutions to those issues differently. For instance, one woman might discover that her husband is cheating on her, and go ballistic beating him with a broomstick. Whereas another woman could have the same discovery, but ends up throwing his clothes on the front lawn, sets them on fire, changes all the locks on the house and files for divorce. WWTCD (What Would The Character Do?)? Once I determine who the character is, that’s the question I continually ask myself from the beginning to the end of the story. And that means that I have to know this character well enough to realistically create her storyline from her perspective. Sometimes that means going against tendencies that would come naturally to me. In my first novel, And On The Eighth Day She Rested, my main character Ruth Johnson stayed in an abusive marriage for 14 years because she was the kind of woman who would do that. I personally wouldn’t stay in one for 14 seconds, but the story wasn’t my story. It was hers.

So, I get a kick out of writing stories that force me to step outside myself and to wear someone else’s shoes for awhile. The biggest challenge I’ve had doing this so far was when I decided to write from a man’s perspective, which I did in One Day I Saw A Black King, and even more challenging, from a crazy man’s perspective in my short story "The Lazarus Man", in my latest book, Sleep Don’t Come Easy, co-written with Victor McGlothin. Being a woman, and like most women, I think I know what men are really like, but I can admit that in most cases, I get it wrong. Writing from a man’s perspective is tough, and if

I’ve been successful; it’s because I’ve been pretty doggone lucky. I have loved doing it, though, and look forward to venturing out and trying new and different types of characters who absolutely do not represent me. That’s the heart and soul of creativity.

More and more, I find myself really wanting to step outside my comfort zone to try drastically new and different storylines and genres. I’ve recently decided to take a shot at writing science fiction/horror, which is odd because I tend to scare quite easily. But I’m excited about it, because it’s exhilarating and new and challenging, and what’s even funnier is that, when I’m doing the writing, I’m not afraid. I don’t get it, but that’s how it’s worked. I guess the creative side of me thrives on new challenges and on venturing out into new frontiers. My attention span is very short, so once I feel as if I’ve accomplished one goal, then I set my sights on something new, and with that, I’m always being driven forward as a writer, reaching out to those undiscovered and unsuspecting types of characters that, while on the surface may not appear to be very interesting or outstanding, under the surface, may have vivid and compelling stories, the kind that hold readers captive and keep them riveted.

November 1, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author Annette Marie Hyder

The Author

Annette Marie Hyder is a freelance journalist; an editor, artist and author. She selfishly—yes, selfishly—involves herself in issues and causes that she feels will impact the life of her daughter, issues such as: feminism, global conservation/ecology, human rights, literacy and education, empowerment and identity and just plain fun (she admits to being interested in these things on their own merit too.)

She is the founder and curator of the international feminist project Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know and the Literature Editor for INTHEFRAY Magazine. Her poetry has been translated into German, Italian and Spanish, included in numerous anthologies and published in book form.

Her book "The Consequence of Wings (On Angels and Monsters and Other Winged Things) has been praised by Larry Jaffe (Co-Founder of the United Nation's DIALOGUE AMONG CIVILIZATIONS THROUGH POETRY program) and has been reviewed by the United Kingdom's premiere arts and literature magazine, AESTHETICA MAGAZINE. Her articles appear in print throughout the United States and internationally while her publishing credits encompass both print and electronic World Wide Web publication.

Learn more about Annette Marie Hyder at her website, her MySpace and Facebook pages.

The Book

Annette Marie Hyder’s signature attention to metaphor—metaphors that "ring all the bells in the kingdom"—leaves the reader resonant long after the last page has been turned and the book has been reluctantly put down.

Her latest book, The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow (and Other Stories), is a collection of short stories, poems and mythos miscellany inspired and informed by Fairy Tales, Folklore and Mythology. With influences such as Jung, the Brothers Grimm, Marina Warner and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the collection's voice is modern and feminist in nature.

Click the cover above to order THE REAL REASON THE QUEEN HATED SNOW (and Other Stories) today!

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a female writer?

Stories are the promise of fire in a winter tundra land. Passion, exploration, discovery, and adversity are the huskies that draw my sled.

I am drawn to stories about passion, exploration and discovery. Adversity captures my imagination as well. Myths, fairytales and legends are woven throughout my work as reference, allusion, retelling, and mirror.

My heroine’s grow wings – are forbidden to fly – but flaunt their feathers anyway, lose their voices to Winter but find new ways to speak, meet the Big Bad Wolf and tell his tale with sympathy, pluck truths like fruits from fairytale trees and sink their teeth in. They fill their aprons and offer these fruits to others, make delicious dishes of them, preserve them, candied and canned but always with the essence remaining.

My heroines, whether walking through the shadows of adversity, running through avenues of fear, or pausing at intersections of indecision, have shod their feet with winged sandals and wear passion as a blade to pierce mysteries and conundrums alike. They search for the bridge that spans a void which has, on the one side fear, and on the other side discovery.

I am intrigued by not only the process of crossing that divide – but also what moves us to cross it in the first place. Some individuals by their very inquisitiveness, their looking around corners and into shadows, drive themselves forward in discovery. Other individuals need some sort of outside impetus – loss or danger – before they can be brought to the pathway of change to face and conquer fears.

Storytelling can be the narrative of change as well as the impetus of change. I hope for that with much of my writing, as when I illustrate modern evils through ancient motifs, such as the representation of abusive child labor with the poem, Batuk and his flying carpet, and reveal the ways that real life contemporaries can achieve things so phenomenal that they seem as far-fetched as any fairy tale as in my story, The Strength of Stones. In, Flowers: an essay, I hope that by using allegory I can open eyes and change minds.

My mind immediately makes connections between pin pricks (of the distaff in Sleeping Beauty or of the voodoo doll pins in Queenies Best), conscience pricks, the pricking of desire and the pricking of one’s thumbs when ‘something wicked this way comes’. It’s the way that I think and I think it is a feminine way of thinking – to connect so many things and be able to make common cloth of all of the connotations that converge.

As a woman writer, if I am a tree lining a bank – the bank to a river of stories which inspires and flows through me – you won’t find me just leaning over that bank. I am a tree with roots that curl and unfurl, take steps and walk. Not entirely rooted when my will takes me that way – I am a mangrove tree.

I am also interested in defying stereotypes and breaking down barriers to communication. In addition to my writing, my work, as the founder and curator of the Facing Feminism: Feminist I Know project and as the Literature Editor for IN THE FRAY Magazine, allows me to do this in a rewarding and meaningful way that incorporates the telling of stories.