Showing posts with label Women Writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Women Writers. Show all posts

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Thursday Thirteen #490

Here are 13 famous U.S. female journalists (in no particular order).

Mary Garrity - Ida B. Wells-Barnett - Google Art Project - restoration crop.jpg
Ida B. Wells
1. Ida B. Wells (1862–1931), black American journalist prominent in the civil rights and women's suffrage movements.

2. Barbara Walters (b. 1929), first woman to anchor an American evening news program on a major network.

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Helen Thomas
3. Helen Thomas (1920–2013), 50-year member of White House Press Corps, first female officer of the National Press Club, first female member and president of the White House Correspondents' Association, and first female member of the Gridiron Club.

4. Diane Sawyer (b. 1945), first female correspondent on CBS' 60 Minutes. Sawyer is well known for reporting documentaries and investigative journalism. She is the anchor of ABC's evening newscast World News. Sawyer previously co-anchored ABC's Good Morning America.

5. Nellie Bly (1867–1922), an American journalist who led an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within.

Marion Carpenter
6. Marion Carpenter, first female National Press Photographer to cover the White House.

7. Katie Couric (b. 1957), first female anchor to host her own weekday network evening news broadcast, and an anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. Prior to joining CBS, Couric co-anchored NBC's Today Show from 1991 to 2006.

8. Margaret Fuller (1810–1850), first full-time book reviewer in journalism and first female foreign correspondent.

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Martha Gellhorn with Ernest Hemingway
in China
9. Martha Gellhorn (1908–1998), an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist, who is now considered one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism is named after her.

10. Katharine Graham (1917–2001), publisher of The Washington Post through the Watergate era and the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

11. Rachel Maddow (b. 1973), host of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, first openly-gay anchor of a prime-time American news show in the United States.

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Gloria Steinem
12. Gloria Steinem (b. 1934), American media spokeswoman for the women's liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s; columnist for New York magazine, co-founded Ms. magazine.

13. Ann Compton (b. 1947), is an American former news reporter and White House correspondent for ABC News Radio. She was the first woman reporting for WDBJ TV, a CBS affiliate in Roanoke. (She graduated from my alma mater and her career started here in my hometown. I have long admired her.)


Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 490th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When Becky Came to Town

On May 12, my friend Becky Mushko, author of Them That Go and a other books, visited the Fincastle Library. She came dressed in costume.

She explained how a family mystery contributed to certain aspects of her novel, and a bit about her writing process.

Becky Mushko reading from her presentation.

Stories about her relatives mysterious death.

More family information.

Vicky, who came to listen.

Dreama, who also turned out.

A display of a quilt and some of Becky's books.

Becky reading from her book.

Earlier this week, Becky had gallbladder surgery. Join me in wishing her a quick recovery, so she can get back to telling her stories.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Author's Talk: Beth Macy on Factory Man

Saturday my husband and I went to Barnes and Noble, Tanglewood, in Roanoke, to hear Beth Macy talk about her book, Factory Man.

Beth and I attended Hollins College at the same time, though she was in the master's program while I was an undergraduate. We had several courses together, though.
Beth went on to become the star reporter for The Roanoke Times. She's had an inspirational career and her writing has won her awards, acclaim, and fame.

Author Beth Macy
My husband is the man in black. He hung out at the rear of the crowd.
Beth reading from her work.
Gesturing during discussion.
At some point I became entranced by the number of post-its Beth had placed in her book.
For some reason, I think this picture, cropped though it is, is splendid. It is the perfect example of reading and writing.
Beth's autograph and note to me. The Write!!! came from my husband, who suggested she should add it to the page.

This is the book. It's nonfiction ostensibly about a man who built furniture in a little town called Bassett, which is just down the road a piece. It is, I think, much more than that. It is, instead, a commentary on the way the powers that be pay no attention to how their actions impact those upon whose backs they stand.
I'll let you know more about that when I've actually read it.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Upcoming Author's Signing

This coming Saturday, September 10, from 1 - 3 p.m., Amanda Cockrell, Director of Hollins University’s Children’s Lit Grad Program, will be signing her book at Ram’s Head Book Shop in Roanoke.

Her book, What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay, is her first young adult novel. It's billed as "a quirky, surreal, and peculiar story of 15-year-old Angie, her relationship with two war-damaged men and her connection with God."

A review by the Center of Children's Books called it, “An utterly engaging narrative with a witty and thoughtful protagonist.”

I've had numerous classes with Amanda and I've read several of her books, including all of her Deer Dancer series. She is a solid writer, great with descriptions, and her characters are always believable and well-done. I have not read this book (that's why I'm going to her book signing, to obtain a copy), but knowing Amanda, I can't imagine that it is anything less than wonderful.

Amanda has published critical essays, poems, articles, and books for children and adults. She is the founding director of Hollins University's graduate program in children's literature and managing editor of the university's literary journal, The Hollins Critic. She has received fiction fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.

Visit the link above to her website and read her essay on why she writes and what she has learned in her many writing jobs. It's an interesting read and a little look at what makes us writers do what we do.

Maybe some of my fellow bloggers will join me at this event? I do hope so!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Women Writers: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) is perhaps best known for her short story/novella, The Yellow Wallpaper. This is a story which details the onset of madness. The narrator, a woman of means, is placed into her bedroom and told to stay there "for her health." This "medical treatment" ultimately drives her insane. It is a graphic and illustrative account of why women who are stuck at home when they don't want to be there go crazy. Monotony and boredom exact a terrible price.

Gilman, who was also a sociologist, wrote the story to illustrate how society has created a lack of automony and self-sufficiency for women, and how detrimental this is to their health and wellbeing. Gilman also wrote a book called Women and Economics, which was highly lauded in its day, because it points out how women are enslaved and prostituted by marriage and by their inability, through societal pressures and processes, to become creative, happy, productive citizens. The book says that women's economic dependence upon men has been detrimental to all of humanity and has, in fact, crippled mankind as a whole.

The book goes on to point out that men are crippled now by this arrangement, because society has trapped them into caring for this female they have taken on. Gilman envisioned a better society wherein each spouse has an equal role, with most household chores left to others (though one wonders what the "others" think of this society; she did not address this and it seemed to be one of the largest flaws in the book).

Gilman was a prominent lecturer and speaker of her time. She was very active in feminist and reformist organizations. She called herself a humanist and a "reform Darwinist" in that she believed Darwin neglected the female half of the population in his theories (isn't that always the case?). She claimed that society was androcentric (male or masculine point of view) and that this needed to change to better balance the roles of females in society. Her contention was that people are people, regardless of sex, and women are no worse than men.

The author published several thousand pieces of work. She married twice and had one child. She committed suicide at the age of 75 after a three-year battle with breast cancer.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I Am Me ... And I Am Okay

A very long time ago, a young girl ran across a poster. It looked exactly like this: Click Here.

It featured a short little epistle by Virginia Satir. Now, the young girl had no idea who Virginia Satir was, but she liked the words on the poster very much.

So she bought the poster and hung it in her room.

She read the words on the poster frequently because they resonated so with her.
I am not sure what made me think of this today; perhaps a copy of a desiderata plastered on the wall of a health care provider this morning.

What happened to that young girl, who stared so hard and long at the poster from so very long ago? Where did she go?

I have no idea. I guess she grew up to be me.

Virginia Satir (1916-1988), the author of the saying above, was a American psychologist, author, and educator. She was keenly interested in self-esteem issues. She was key in the development of family therapy.

She was born in Wisconsin, the daughter of a farmer. She received one of her several degrees from the University of Chicago School of Social Service. She went through two divorces, and adopted two children, both of whom were adults or nearly adults at the time she took them in.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Women Writers: Annie Marion MacLean

Annie Marion MacLean (ca. 1870 - 1934) was a sociologist and writer who lived at the turn of the century.

She was the first woman to ever earn a master's degree in sociology and the second woman to earn her Ph.D. in sociology.

MacLean was employed by the University of Chicago, where she worked in the Home Study Department as a professor of correspondence courses. Her subjects included Rural Life, Introduction to Social Problems of Industry, Social Technology, Modern Immigration, and History of the Social Reform Movement.

Her work was hampered by her gender, as the universities did not support her work as they might have had she been male. She favored suffrage, was active in philanthropic undertakings, and was a member of numerous committees working for social and civic betterment. She also gave public lectures on sociological subjects.

She believed that democracy was failing because it did not reign in capitalism.

Her work, most of which is available for free reading on google books, are highly accessible. She was a participant observer in that she actually took jobs in department stores and factories in order to experience exactly what workers were undergoing. Her work significantly contributed to many of the safety laws that are in place for workers today.
Some of her publications:
Women Workers and Society (1916)
Wage Earning Women (1910)
Our Neighbors (122)
There are many others if you google her name.
This type of social research is not done today, though I contend that it is necessary. We are so busy sweeping issues under the rug and not dealing with them that things are going unchallenged and unnoticed.
The closest thing I have seen in my lifetime to compare to MacLean's work would be Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich. I recall when this book came out several years ago that there was a massive outcry of "foul" from the right, simply because the book pointed out that no one can live on minimum wage (or less). 
Truth is truth. I am sorry it hurts. But we have a massive underclass of impoverished people in this country, and many of them are female. And there is a small group of wealthy who want to keep it this way, or even make it worse.
We need more writers like MacLean and Ehrenreich to point out the inequities and to offer solutions that work.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

On Facebook my friend Becky, who writes Peevish Pen, had a list of influential authors "who will always stick with you" listed in a note. I thought it would make a great Thursday Thirteen! These are not necessarily in order of importance but I did find it interesting to see who came tumbling out for the list first, for they are listed in that order. Although I have read many of the classics, the names of those authors did not present themselves to me with any immediacy.

1. Carolyn Keene. Who? Why, the author of the Nancy Drew books! Mildred Benson wrote the first 23 of the first 25 books in the series, and then the name was taken over by ghost writers who cranked out mysteries that starred the motherless female detective and her friends George and Bess. At one time one my life's goals was to own every Nancy Drew book, but I only collected 25. The writing lessons I learned from these books included how to create empathy with a character and how to keep a plot moving forward.

2. Laura Ingalls Wilder. The author of the Little House series of books taught me how to use detail to "paint" a story and bring a time period to life. The history settings in these books allowed me to see that some things should be remembered.

3. L. M. Montgomery penned the Anne of Green Gables series. These adventures feature a young orphaned girl who is raised by a stern woman who grows to love her cheeky charge. I found the first book online in its entirety here!

4. Victoria Holt. I read my first Gothic romance when I was nine years old (far too young, but they were in the drawer in the babysitter's hallway desk - who could resist?). It was called The Secret Woman and it was full of intrigue, mystery, death, and a little sex. The book held me rapt for days and I have never forgotten the story line.

5. Annie Dillard. The author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a narrative nonfiction book that reads like poetry, was the subject of an independent study I undertook as an undergraduate at Hollins College. The book was an exercise in minutiae, detail and self-preservation and similar to something I could see myself writing - one day. I learned that there is value in every moment and that the finest and slightest detail can make a huge difference in perception. She also graduated from Hollins.

6. Walt Whitman. Studying Whitman's poems, most especially "Song of Myself," gave me shivers when I was in school. I love to read his work aloud and to this day find inspiration in his words. I have somewhere in a drawer a very longish poem that I wrote during the time I was studying this poet.

7. Sharon Olds. Her first collection of poems, Satan Says, made me gasp with recognition and understanding. Her later collections seemed almost (but not quite) a parallel of my life when I read them (The Gold Cell is another good collection). I heard her read at Roanoke College in the 1990s and you can hear her read one of her poems here. From this poet I learned that the stuff of life is infinitely important when written down with love, direction, and attention. If you're not familiar with her work, I highly recommend it.

8. Lee Smith. I have read many of her books, including Saving Grace, On Agate Hill, Family Linen, and Oral History. She is another Hollins College graduate but her fictional works are nothing like Dillard's introspective narrative. Smith tells stories of women who are searching for that undefined something. Sometimes they find it. Strong characters and good stories set in my locale taught me the value of writing what you know. I've seen Smith at Hollins several times over the last 20 years.

9. Janet Evanovich. The author of the mystery series about Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter, taught me how humor can add to a story.

10. Phyllis Whitney. Another Gothic romance writer. I began reading her stories about the same time I began reading Victoria Holt. My first Whitney book was called Thunder Heights and like the Holt book it was one I found when I was looking where I shouldn't have been. I loved the idea of a female heroine who could outsmart the men and move on with her life, and I still love it. Additionally, Whitney's Guide to Fiction Writing is one of the best books on writing as craft that I have ever read and I keep it on my desk.

11. Jeanne Larsen and Amanda Cockrell. Okay, so these are two authors but they both were my professors at Hollins and left marks (in a good way). Jeanne, my undergraduate professor who mentored me in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is the author of the Silk Road series, which are mystical stories set in China, as well as many books of poetry. She taught me to believe in myself and to persevere, among other things. Amanda, my graduate professor who mentored me about seven years ago, is the author of several trilogies, including The Deer Dancer trilogy. She taught me to always look forward and to stay the course.  She also taught me that it is okay to write under a pseudonym and that you don't have to write the Great American Novel the first go-round. Both of these women have been among my greatest influences.

12. Dorothea Brande and Brenda Ueland. Obviously I cannot keep at 13 in this list. Brande's book, Becoming a Writer, struck at my heart as it hit all of the right notes with regards to the desire and need to write. Ueland's If You Want to Write did the same thing and offered encouragement to a fledgling writer at a critical time in my life.

13. J. K. Rowling. So I might have preferred a Henrietta Potter instead of a Harry, given my preference for female heroines in my reading, but no matter. The Harry Potter series taught me a great deal about epic story telling. In particular I have often found myself comparing the Potter books to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings because I see many similarities there. Both are good versus evil plots that also bring with them strong characters and much detail.

Looking back I find it interesting to note that aside from Whitman all of these authors are female. Whitman, as I recall, was rather feminine so perhaps this is no mistake. I also know there are many that I haven't listed - the Bronte' sisters, Mary Johnston, Tamara Pierce, Terry Goodkind, Barbara Michaels, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Harper Lee, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, a plethora of Newberry Award winning book authors whom I read when I was young, and many, many others. I am influenced somewhat by every book I read, I think, because one cannot be a writer and not learn from the good (or bad) writing of others.

Who are your favorite authors?

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here.  I've been playing for a while and this is my 164th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Mary Johnston - Ahead of Her Time Part II

Click here for a photo of Mary Johnston.

Mary Johnston's 23 novels are relatively obscure in this new millennium. The best-selling novelist of 1900 was all but forgotten by 1920 for her books had drifted from the Colonial buccaneering escapades of damsels in distress to calls for women's rights in Hagar and then onto pacifism and mysticism. These were not things her readers wanted to read about and her books were no longer selling by the time she died in 1936.

The Buchanan, VA native was a daughter of a Civil War hero and other relatives served in the Virginia General Assembly. Her family donated land to colleges that eventually became known as Hampden-Sidney, Longwood and Hollins.

She grew up on the banks of the James River in a fine home where she was surrounded by books and coddled because of fragile health. She was raised by an aunt, grandmother and governesses.

As a teenager she traveled abroad, returning home to write of her adventure in England in an article published in The Fincastle Herald in 1895. It was called "Royalty on an Outing" and she was paid $28 for it, a high sum in those days. It was then that she decided she would not be her father's burden but would instead earn her own living with her words.

Her first book, Prisoners of Hope, published in 1898, was a modest success, but To Have and To Hold, published in 1900, became a US bestseller and garnered the author followers from overseas as well.

Johnston later wrote two Civil War novels: The Long Roll and Cease Firing, both of which were so exacting in detail that it is said the General Eisenhower studied them. Margaret Mitchell once despaired during her writing of Gone With the Wind because she was sure she would never write anything so fine as Johnston's books.

In the early 1900s, Johnston, who never married, built Three Hills in Warm Springs in Bath County. She had often visited the healing waters there and found them helpful. She had thought the money from her writing would continue so that she and her two sisters, Elizabeth and Eloise, could live a modest life in a rather large mansion on the hill. She spared no expense in building the house, which has a foundation of the now-rare American chestnut.

But she could not make a living from her writing, so she began operating her home as a bed and breakfast.

Johnston soon became interested in various causes, including pacifism - she declared herself a pacifist during World War I - and women's rights. She became friends with Ellen Glasgow, another Virginia writer, and they exchanged a long and often dramatic correspondence about issues of the time. From 1903 to 1913, Johnston drove around the country in a Model-T, giving speeches on suffrage. She also wrote three books during that time.

She was the first woman to ever address the Virginia General Assembly, and she gave an impassioned and outspoken speech on women's rights and the right of the gentler gender to vote. She believed the women's vote was important because it would help create a better society, one with no war and one which humanely treated all people.

She entertained a Hindu mystic and theosophist, J. Kirshnamurti, at her home in 1926. Three of her later books, Silver Cross, Sweet Rocket, and Michael Forth, had mysticism as their subject matter.

As for her writing habits, Johnston woke early and went for walks in the woods around Three Hills, carrying with her No. 2 pencils and a yellow legal pad so that she could work on her first drafts.

She was a woman ahead of her time, perhaps even ahead of the times today.

Some of her books:

To Have and To Hold, 1900. A historical romance set in Colonial Virginia.

Cease Firing, 1911 and The Long Roll, 1912. Two novels set in the Civil War. Johnston literally travelled Stonewall Jackson's battle trail in order to accurately recreate it in her books.

Hagar, 1913. This book criticizes traditional women's roles and advocates the right to vote and endorses the feminist movement. Some consider it an autobiography.

The Great Valley, 1926. This book, set in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1700s, features a woman who is captured by Indians. It could be based on the true story of Johnston's uncle, Charles Johnston, who was captured by the Indians in 1790. (I read this book when I was in my teens, not realizing the significance of the author at the time.)

Silver Cross, 1922. One of her "mystic" books, the tale is of Henry VII in England and a rivalry between two religious establishments.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Mary Johnston - Ahead of Her Time

In a recent post about voting I mentioned Mary Johnston, so I thought I'd tell you a bit more about this novelist and relay a little story about my efforts to write about her.

Johnston (1870-1936) in 1900 wrote the best-selling book of the year, To Have and To Hold. Her first work, Prisoners of Hope, was published in 1898. Both books dealt with Colonial times and the settlement of Virginia and what was the frontier in the 1600s. She went on to write twenty-three novels, and three of them were made into movies. She also wrote shorts stories, a drama, and a couple of narrative poems.

She was raised in Buchanan, VA, a small town not far from where I live. Eventually she built a home known as Three Hills in Warm Springs, VA, because she thought the healing waters in the mineral springs there helped her.

In the early 1990s I wrote an article for The Fincastle Herald about Mary Johnston. After I received my undergraduate degree from Hollins College, I decided to go into graduate school there. Knowing I would eventually need to write a dissertation, I started studying Mary Johnston in hopes of writing about her. I even gave a few little talks about her to a few women's groups (where I learned that public speaking is not my forte').

Johnston's fame by this time had diminished and she was relatively unknown both locally and nationally, but my article, my little talks, and a spate of other news items stirred local interest in her work. In 1995, a reporter with the Roanoke Times, whom I knew from college, interviewed me as an "expert" on Johnston even though I had done little more than a lot of research. Johnston's papers are on file at the University of Virginia and I had gone through all 31 boxes of them, so I suppose that made me an expert of sorts.

After the article ran in the newspaper, I started receiving phone calls and letters from people making various claims about Johnston. At least three claimed to be Johnston reincarnated; several others told me they were in contact with her spirit.

I wasn't sure how the woman could possess three different bodies and still be a ghost. That seemed to debunk all stories as far as I was concerned.

It was a learning experience for me on how a little bit of fame brings the kooks out of the woodwork. It was probably my fault, as I had told the reporter that when I visited Three Hills (then a bed and breakfast), "I felt like I had Mary Johnston there walking beside me."

My dissertation lies unfinished in a drawer as I never progressed far enough in my studies to finish my degree. I also lost interest in the project and allowed this opportunity to bypass me, though I've never forgotten the things I learned about Johnston. I am no longer the local expert on her, as someone else took that title and ran with it.

However, tomorrow I'll write a little more about this fascinating woman, so I hope you'll come on back to learn more.