Education, Health, politics

Let’s help women and girls!

Yesterday, I heard on the BBC that the UK government is planning to cut aid to a United Nations family planning program by 85%. The program provides contraceptives and maternal health care to women in poverty-stricken areas of the world, including Africa. It also works with local governments so that they can provide for their communities in the future.

Photo by UNICEF/Catherine Ntabadde. Babies at a neonatal intensive unit at a hospital in Kampala, Uganda, which was refurbished with support from UNFPA.

“When funding stops, women and girls suffer,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, said in a statement, “especially the poor, those living in remote, underserved communities and through humanitarian crises.”

The withdrawal of approximately $180 million to the UNFPA Supplies Partnership, would have helped prevent around 250,000 maternal and child deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies and 4.3 million unsafe abortions, she added.  (UK’s 85% family planning aid cut will be devastating for women and girls says UNFPA, while UNAIDS also ‘deeply regrets’ cuts | | UN News)

This news made me so angry because it seems that always women and girls, especially those of color and in poverty, are the ones left out in the cold whenever government cuts are announced. And women and girls are vitally important to our global health! No birth control means unplanned pregnancies, leading to unsafe abortions and maternal deaths.

Girls having babies means less chance of them getting an education. Those girls will not have the opportunities to study, have careers, and give back to their communities and the global community. It’s a cliché, but it’s true — we are all connected. When poorer countries suffer, we all suffer.

So, last night, I started a petition. My goal is to raise awareness of the potentially devastating effect these cuts would have on women and girls (and their communities). If enough people sign, we can sent a strong message to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office that the world sees what they are doing. And we don’t approve!

Let’s stop these cuts!! Please sign my petition today and forward it to as many people as you can!

Author experiences, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, History and culture, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

Digging into your past for relief … and stories!

When I was 16, my grandmother and I had a falling out. She died in 2010, still furious (or perhaps oblivious). I had written to her a year earlier in a final attempt at resolution. But she wasn’t interested and informed me that if I was after her money, she’d already told her lawyers not to give me a dime.

Fast forward to 2021… I see a post on Twitter about a new app that can bring old photographs back to life; I’m not a fan of “deep fake” technology, but I have to admit, I was curious. I tried it on an old photograph of my grandfather (my grandmother’s late husband who died before I was born). His younger self beamed back at me, his smile wide and infectious, eyes twinkling, and I was charmed!

My dad at about four years old.

Right away, I began digging to find out more about my grandfather and my late dad’s side of the family. It turned out my grandfather used to work in a mental health institution, and his dad was a blacksmith. His mother was a school teacher. In the 1950s, he and my grandmother lived in Malaysia, my dad traveling on a troop ship when he was only about seven or eight. The timeline began to shift around, blurred spots becoming clearer, pieces floating into place like a magical jiggle puzzle, and a gap that I hadn’t even realized existed began to fill inside of me.

It turns out, the past takes up a lot of space if it’s not resolved. The unknowns, misunderstandings, and falsehoods hit each other at odd angles, leaving empty pockets. Those “pockets” stick around until you open up the photo albums, read the old letters, study the registers of births, death, and marriages, and have the difficult conversations with family members who don’t really want you to hash it all up again. With dust motes and the bitter scent of dried glue on the backs of black-and-white photographs hovering in the air, that’s the time to talk, cry, think, sigh, take a deep breath, and let it all go.

Two doves from my mom’s garden. Tomorrow is a new day!

Right now, I don’t know where this path is going. But I already have a couple of good ideas for story characters –a mysterious secretary who lopes around a graveyard at night and a proud woman who secretly hates herself for being born a girl. It’s all fodder, after all.

If you have relatives in Great Britain you’d like to research, here are some of the sites I’ve found helpful:

FreeBMD Home Page – this is a great FREE resource to find listings of births, deaths, and marriages in England and Wales.

https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/ – where you can look up wills and probates of the deceased and purchase a digital copy if you want to.

ancestry.co.uk – you can get a free 14-day trial, and this site will help you build your family tree and keep it organized!

Home | Search the archive | British Newspaper Archive – you can search for free, but if you want to read the actual articles, you have to pay. Still, once you know the name of the newspaper and the date, you can always look the actual paper up through a library or other type of archives.

General Register Office (GRO) – Official information on births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths – the “biggie,” where to order official certificates, etc…

Author experiences, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, Getting Published, History and culture, Nonfiction, podcasts

Improving Writing Productivity Amid a Pandemic — Women Writers, Women’s Books

This is a re-post from the excellent Women Writers, Women’s Books

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and supports Delhi’s underprivileged women and children, volunteering with organisations who work for this cause. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. Her novel You Beneath Your Skin will be free between 7th and 11th August […]

Improving Writing Productivity Amid a Pandemic — Women Writers, Women’s Books
History and culture, Nonfiction, podcasts

Radio Rental and other quality podcasts…

During the “lockdown,” or whatever you want to call it, I’ve continued to listen to podcasts to keep my brain busy! Here’s a rundown of the latest ones I’ve enjoyed. Feel free to add suggestions for podcasts you like in the comments section!

Radio Rental

Hosted by Terry Carnation (a.k.a Dwight from “The Office”), Radio Rental is pure wackiness! The premise is that Terry runs a video rental store (remember those?) and shares real-life “video” stories from listeners that are weird and creepy. My favorite is the one about a doppleganger…

Guru

If you’ve ever been fascinated by self-help books, you might want to listen to Guru by Wondery. (They’re the same folk who produced “Dr. Death” and “The Shrink Next Door.”) James Arthur Ray was big in 2009, touted by Oprah and charging thousands for his so-called “sweat lodge” retreats. The results were tragic, and even scarier, Ray is still out there today.

Uncover

Another podcast by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), Uncover is an investigative series that uncovers the dirty truth behind botched investigations and unsolved mysteries. Season 7 concerns a man who was wrongly imprisoned for murder. Uncover is gritty and honest, so be forewarned.

To read more about my favorite podcasts, click here and don’t forget to share your own!

Education, Embracing Creativity, Magazines

Support learning on our “sister blog”!

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “sister blog,” but I wanted to let everyone know about an announcement on my other website jumpforkids.wordpress.com/. This is where I post my kids’ magazine JUMP!

I’m selling the summer 2020 issue for $2 each to help raise funds to print free copies of the magazine for local kids in my area (Alamance County, NC). I put them in Little Free Libraries and the children’s section of the local libraries (when they are opened again!).

If you have a couple of bucks and know a kid who’d like a fun magazine to read this summer, please buy a copy! It’s online, but you can also download the pdf and print it out. We’ve got coloring, spot-the-difference, and a ladybug maze!

Author experiences, Book Marketing, Conferences, Education, Embracing Creativity, Fiction, Getting Published, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

Spring writers’ conferences in NC

With the weather heating up (at least in the southeastern USA!) and the flowers starting to bloom, it’s a great time to think about upcoming writers’ events! In North Carolina, we’re fortunate to have lots of creative writers — of both fiction and non-fiction — who are really motivated and ready to learn.

Please share any upcoming conferences you know of (wherever you live) in the comments section!

NC events coming up …

JoCo Writers Conference 2020

March 28 — the Johnston County Writers Workshop in Selma looks fun and very affordable! If you are in the area, I’m sure it will be well worth the visit — but sign up soon, as seating is limited!

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April 17 – 19 — Asheville Word Fest offers a whole weekend of speakers and workshops with a spiritual and cultural slant. Prices for tickets start at $25 and are based on what you can afford. Presenters get 80% of funds, so be generous if you can!

April 18Charlotte hosts the 2020 North Carolina Writing Workshop, a full day of classes with the theme “How To Get Published.” Literary agents will be on-site! Seating is limited, so call head to make sure there are still places available.

April 27 — the NC Writers’ Network have their one-day spring conference at UNCG (Greensboro). I’ve been to this before, and their workshops are in-depth and focused on improving your creative writing. Limited scholarships are available.

May 2Write Now! is an excellent one-day conference hosted by the Triangle Association of Freelancers in Raleigh. I try to attend every year — the classes are very practical and are geared for writers who want to sell their articles and creative work.

So, that’s just a taste of upcoming events — there are sure to be many more! Keep writing and reading, y’all!

 

History and culture, Nonfiction, podcasts

“Accused” podcast shines bright

accused-300x300

I love listening to podcasts, especially true crimes and cold cases. I’ve listened to a LOT put out by Wondery, “the largest independent podcaster in the world,” according to their website. Wondery is a network, launched by a former FOX CEO, so it’s no small potatoes. They’re responsible for “Dr. Death,” “Over My Dead Body,” “Dirty John,” “The Shrink Next Door,” and the series I’m listening to right now — Accused.

While the other series are, in my opinion, a bit sensational, Accused is much more straightforward. The series is produced by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cincinnati newspaper, The Enquirer and its associated website http://www.cincinnati.com, It was created by Enquirer reporter Amber Hunt and photographer Amanda Rossmann in 2016 and is now on its third season.

Amber Hunt is as sharp as a tack, no-nonsense, and thorough. Accused shines the spotlight on wrongful convictions and cover-ups. I’m listening to Season 3 right now, as Hunt investigates the 1984 disappearance of a man working at the “Fernald Feed Materials Production Center” (A.K.A. a uranium processing plant owned by the government). David Bocks went to work one day and simply vanished. Suspicious remains were found in a vat of molten salt (temperature = 1350 degrees Farenheit). His death was ruled a suicide.

Accused goes after the crimes others have forgotten — or have swept under the rug. I like Hunt and her team’s doggedness to ferret out the facts. They follow a lead to the very end and are a voice for victims and the truth.

Author experiences, Book Reviews, Embracing Creativity, Health, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

Writing and the Arts as Therapy — Women Writers, Women’s Books

A repost from the excellent blog “Women Writers, Women’s Books.” Marilyn Kay Hagar talks about how embracing creativity in your life — in any form — helps unearth the inner “wild” part of us that needs expression!

I remember the day in eighth grade when our teacher, Mr. Johnson, stood in front of the class and called us to attention. “This is the best piece of student writing I have come across in my twenty-two years of teaching,” he told us. Our homework that night was to write an essay. What he…

via Writing and the Arts as Therapy — Women Writers, Women’s Books

Education, Embracing Creativity, Magazines

Halloween special issue is here! — JUMP! The mag. for creative kids

If you have little ones in your life, please share this free Halloween mag. with them!

We have a special Halloween issue, just for you! Look out for monsters, shadow puppets, scary books, and much more! The back page even has some stuff for the grown ups!

via Halloween special issue is here! — JUMP! The mag. for creative kids

Author experiences, Book Marketing, Book Reviews, Education, Getting Published, Nonfiction, Writing Tips

Last day for our freebie!

Today’s the last day to get a free copy of Make It Happen: The No-nonsense Guide to Publishing and Marketing Your Ebook!

Louisa Cover2

It’s a short, handy guide with all the fundamentals you’ll need to publish your book online — from setting up a clickable Table of Contents to choosing an editor to writing press releases.

So, give it a try, and if you find it useful, please leave us a review on Amazon!