Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Thousand Sisters for Mother's Day

These last few days I've had the honor of accompanying Lisa Shannon, author of A Thousand Sisters, to her events in the Bay Area. After listening to her discuss the war in the Congo, share the stories of survivors, and advise people on what they can do to make a difference, one thing remains clear: sponsorship offers the women of the Congo a human connection that helps them to feel like people again.

The simple knowledge that another person thinks about them, despite the distance, is a source of empowerment and encouragement for these women, helping them regain their dignity. And in return, the act of giving has helped sponsors all over the world to view the women in Congo, not as survivors of another world's war, but as their own sisters and mothers.

One of the strongest themes of A Thousand Sisters is the power of the human connection people share between and across cultures. Lisa wrote this book as if she were writing to her best friend; every word resonates with her passion, and exudes her hope for change along with her infinite love for the women of Congo.

A Thousand Sisters is about a family of women, connecting to each other across a huge cultural divide of class, of race, and of war. Lisa's words are the embodiment of a system of women helping women, of mothers helping mothers. This Mother's Day I think we should all consider giving this memoir, and making a donation to Women for Women International. Be a part of humanity's family of women by acknowledging the courageousness of our sisters of war, and thanking the mothers of Congo along with our own mothers and grandmothers this Mother's Day.

To learn more about becoming a sponsor and purchasing a copy of Lisa's memoir, please visit Women for Women International and Seal Press.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Celebrate Mother's Day with Book by Book

Celebrate Mother's Day by joining Cindy Hudson, author of Book By Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs, as she embarks on a month long blog tour organized by WOW! Women on Writing. For the next four weeks, you'll find Hudson on a new blog everyday, as she discusses mother-daughter book clubs and her life as a writer. Find her schedule below, complete with contests to win your very own copy of Book By Book.

Book By Book
Blog Tour Dates:

Monday, April 19, 2010
Hudson will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments for a chance to win a copy of Book By Book.

Tuesday April 20, 2010

Join her as she shares her thoughts on using passion to fuel writing at A Book Blogger's Diary for another chance to win a copy of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.

Wednesday April 21, 2010

Thinking of starting your own book club but don't know where to begin? Get Hudson's advice, and her recommendation of Ten Book Club Favorites at Ramblings of a Texas Housewife.

Thursday April 22, 2010
Follow up for Ramblings of a Texas Housewife's review and giveaway of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.

Friday April 23, 2010

Stop by Selling Books for questions and answers with Hudson.

Monday April 26, 2010

She visits Margot Dill’s Read These Books and Use Them for an interview. Check it out for the chance to win your own copy of Book by Book!

Tuesday April 27, 2010
Hudson talks about how Good Readers Make Good Writers at Hell or High Water Writer.

Wednesday April 28, 2010
Stop by Mom-e-Centric to find out how she makes time for herself during her busy life and how other moms can too!

Thursday April 29, 2010
Don't miss her interview at Finders & Keepers.

Friday April 30, 2010
Hudson gives helpful advice on Connecting with Readers Through Book Clubs art The Urban Muse.

Monday May 3, 2010
Read her essay, Identify Your Passions to Sustain Your Writing at Whole Latte Life, for another chance to win a copy of Book by Book.

Tuesday May 4, 2010
Visit Meryl Not's Blog for Hudson's essay on Interviewing Experts and another contest to win Book By Book.

Wednesday May 5, 2010
Stop by 5 Minutes For Books for a review of Forming a Mother-Daughter Book Club, and a chance to win Cindy Hudson's book Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.

Friday May 7, 2010
Hudson discusses Family Volunteering at Crazed Mind.

Monday May 10, 2010
Catch her educational interview about writing at Writer's Roundabout, and don't miss your chance to win a copy of Book By Book!

Tuesday May 11, 2010
Read her essay on How One Book Has Affected My Life at Write for a Reader.

Wednesday May 12, 2010 / Thursday May 13, 2010
Visit Helping Moms Connect for a book review and Hudson's thoughts on How Talking About Books Can Help You Connect with Your Daughters.

Friday May 14, 2010
Check out a review of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs and your last chance to win a copy at Words by Webb.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yes Means Yes a Publishers Weekly Best of 2009 Pick

Yes Means Yes, a Publishers Weekly pick for Best Books of 2009, was well received for its radical perspective and revolutionary aim to educate and alter the ways women and men perceive sex, rape, and each other. Now, "Toward a Performance Model of Sex," a Yes Means Yes essay written by Thomas MacAulay, is selected to appear in a new collection edited by our very own Dirty Girls author, Rachel Kramer Bussel. Her new anthology Best Sex Writing 2010, out now from Cleis Press, includes MacAulay's essay which emphasizes the notion of sex as an act of performance and collaboration, rather than an exchange of commodity and entitlement. For more information or to learn more about upcoming book events, visit the Best Sex Writing 2010 blog.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Future of Feminist Publishing panel that wasn't

I flew to Denver this weekend to attend AWP. I was supposed to be sitting on a panel called The Future of Feminism, which Amy Scholder at The Feminist Press had organized quite some time ago.

We got the very last time slot of the conference: 4.30 on Saturday afternoon. I was prepared for a not-so-good turnout, but I’ve been to enough conferences to know that sometimes the biggest impact is made on the smallest groups.

When I showed up to my panel, this was the sign I saw on the door.

At first I thought the conference had canceled the panel on our behalf, and I couldn’t understand why. As it turned out, Amy had a family emergency and was unable to attend, and the remaining panelists decided to cancel the panel because there were so few of us. Needless to say, I was as disappointed as many of the women who were hoping to attend.

One group of students from Western Washington University turned to me, and recognizing my name on my badge, asked if I would do a talk without my panel. I wish I had said yes. One of them said, “We thought it was so cool that this was going to be our last panel of the day. We were going to go out with a bang!”

Later that evening, at a meet up hosted by SheWrites, Lucy Bledsoe, a beloved Seal author who has a new novel out, asked me what happened. It was kind of ironic, she said. What does that say about the future of feminist publishing? And I had been thinking the same thing as I sulked back to my hotel room.

And because I wish I’d had the wherewithal to tear down that sign and just do a talk about feminist publishing, or about women and publishing at the bare minimum, I’ve composed a few thoughts that I might have highlighted had the panel happened:

1. We still have a presence.
The fact that presses like Seal and The Feminist Press, as well as Aunt Lute and Cleis and Belladonna and Firebrand, and many others (please comment and list yourselves!) are still out there publishing with a feminist mission is extraordinary. I meet with women all the time who think that feminism died with the second wave. They are thrilled to know that the younger generation is carrying forth messages about women’s equality, and that we don’t just sit idly by and think that all of the disparities have ceased to exist. There’s room for new feminist voices, and there’s a thriving online community of bloggers and activists (too abundant to list here) who are doing amazing work in the name of feminism. And lots of them are getting published.

2. There’s more than one kind of feminism.
Seal is increasingly publishing “mainstream” feminism, for which we’ve been criticized by some and commended by others. Whatever your feelings are about mainstream feminist writers, the good news is this: they reach a wider audience. We’re expected to bring in books that can sell---that’s the nature of the book business, even though lots of books don’t. So for us to be able to say that we have feminist books that sell well is, to me, a huge win. Notably is Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism, but there are many others. Some Seal books are overtly feminist in scope, while others simply have a feminist or pro-woman sensibility to them. That is critical to who we are, and it won’t change for as long as Seal continues to be around. I would have loved to hear what some of my fellow editors have to say about mainstream feminism and/or popular or celebrity feminism. And I want to note, in the interest of talking about a mainstream book that Seal has coming up in 2011, that we are publishing our first ever male authors*, Michael Kimmel and Michael Kaufman, who are writing a mainstream book that tackles feminism for men---and it’s actually targeted toward men (and not only their girlfriends, sisters, wives, and moms).
*It’s important to qualify here that Seal has published men in our anthologies, and we have two memoirs by trans men.

3. Women are keeping publishing real.
When it comes to accolades and honors it unfortunately seems to be the case that men are still getting more attention in the publishing industry than women. But I see women pushing the envelope. Women are bringing things that matter to their writing. Women are keeping it real. Sure, not all women are feminists, or they are and they don’t know it. This very complex issue of women and their feminisms was tacked in the Seal book Girldrive, by Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein. In my ideal world, every woman would call herself a feminist, but what I realize more and more is that all we really need to do is acknowledge that we care about the same things and that we are stronger than our differences. Feminism can be a torturously divided movement, and I hesitate to even call it that, though I’ll leave it for lack of a better word. If I were going to leave our would-have-been audience on one note, it would have to do with coming together. I don’t think the goal of feminism was ever for women to be more divided, but it can sometimes feel like that. At Seal, and I imagine this is true for my other feminist press colleagues as well, part of what we look for in our manuscripts is inclusiveness, a pro-woman sentiment, bridging the divides, educating our audience, and owning a uniquely female perspective on whatever the topic is---be it motherhood, social issues, organizing your life, or breaking out of your career rut.

So that's what happened. Because there are so many charged issues that come up around feminism, and because feminist publishing and feminist bookstores have been so obliterated over the past three decades, I thought Lucy's noting that it was indeed ironic that the panel was canceled couldn't have been more true. So I apologize to those of you who wanted to be there.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, passes"

Wilma Mankiller passed away today and our thoughts and hearts are with her family. She was an incredible woman and we are thankful for all she did in life.

Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, said today: "We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us. We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness. When we become disheartened, we will be inspired by remembering how Wilma proceeded undaunted through so many trials and tribulations. Years ago, she and her husband Charlie Soap showed the world what Cherokee people can do when given the chance, when they organized the self-help water line in the Bell community. She said Cherokees in that community learned that it was their choice, their lives, their community and their future. Her gift to us is the lesson that our lives and future are for us to decide. We can carry on that Cherokee legacy by teaching our children that lesson. Please keep Wilma’s family, especially her husband Charlie and her daughters, Gina and Felicia, in your prayers."

For the full news release, click here.