Using Creativity to Encourage Grrl Power

a-mighty-girl-logo

All of the stories I’m working on have one thing in common: they feature strong female protagonists. My aim is to empower girls, and the guys around them (Think #HeForShe ) of all ages through my writing.

My first finished project is my fictional, science-based graphic novel story for tweens, Hidden Heroes. Think the movie Inside Out starring Estrogen as a superhero, and Samantha, the girl Estrogen has to turn into a woman. Think a story, not a textbook, on the beginning stages of female puberty.

Facts I had to learn about graphic novels before I could attempt to write one:

–GNs are comics, but usually much longer, and don’t have tons of issues. They can be a series though—think Zita Spacrgirl, a trilogy, or Hereville, trilogy.

–Graphic novel text is written for the illustrator, NOT the reader.

–The text is written in script form. From Hidden Heroes:

PAGE 1
SPLASH PAGE: (This means only one panel for the whole page.)
Estrogen and Antibody come around the bend in a vein, cruising on the blood stream. Estrogen is in an inner tube. Antibody is swimming. Estrogen is wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Antibody resembles a friendly Mammalian sea creature. (This is the panel description that the illustrator needs, but won’t end up in the published book. BTW: Things like captions and dialogue do end up in book.)

Caption: Inside Samanthaland, Estrogen and Antibody are riding the blood slide around Ovarian Island.
Estrogen: Wheeeeee!
Antibody: Owamp!

–A typical graphic novel as 4-7 panels per page.
This is an example page from Zita Spacegirl (6 panels):

zita-page

–Because a picture tells a 1000 words, your words can’t repeat what’s going on in the panel illustration, but rather, need to show what’s not going on…think dialogue, sound effects etc.

–GNs ask readers to engage with its story on two levels: Language and pictures. This means kids are using two parts of their brains to comprehend what they are reading. Schools are noticing a significant increase in test scores when kids can study complex topics, like the Constitution, using a graphic novel instead of a regular textbook. (Check out my buds at: The Comics Education Offensive to learn more about it!)

This is the advantage of doing a science-based story as a graphic novel…accessibility and deeper comprehension.

If you haven’t read a graphic novel yet, try one out. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.

Some suggestions of fictional graphic novels with strong female characters for tweens:
Zita Spacegirl
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Princeless
Lumberjanes
Find these and other suggestions at the A Mighty Girl site.

A list of posts on  graphic novels for older girls, aka women, can be found in this Huff Post page.

Which graphic novels have you enjoyed and why? Send me your answer by replying to this letter, or post it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Batgirl costume

purplebatgirlcostume

 


Posted in Creativity, EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges, Empowerment, Girls, Inspired Creativity, Uncategorized by with no comments yet.

Do You Know How To Use Fear? I’m Still Learning.

“But you must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good {love} and evil {fear} will follow on that act. {Power} must follow knowledge, and serve need. To light a candle is to cast a shadow…”
The Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin
 
Sometimes I want to give my reptilian brain, the oldest part of our brains, a lobotomy. With no lions or tigers to face down, it feels useless. So it injects fear into all sorts of situations where it doesn’t belong, and makes them ten times worse.
 
If there’s one skill I wish I’d learned as a kid, it’s how to use fear properly. Being scared when confronted by a bear while hiking in the woods is appropriate. Suing a stranger because you’re scared of being broke, or getting your colleague fired because you’re scared they’ll take your job is not ok. Yet it happens everyday.

grizzly-bear

What if we were taught from birth to slow down? What if the golden rule required us to question our actions, to identify whether we were motivated by fear (evil) or love (good), and to act only if the answer was love?
 
For the wizards in Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea, it’s not enough to learn how to control your magic; you must learn how and when to use it as well. This is because abusing magic upsets the natural order of things. When that order, known as The Equilibrium, is disturbed, bad things happen.

wizard-of-eaethsea

Despite being trained to do otherwise, Ged, a powerful young wizard hero, lets his pride and hate unleash a shadow creature that destroys everything that stands between it and killing him.
 
Ged flees from the shadow until he discovers he must face it in order to stop it. Along the way he learns to use magic appropriately, even if it serves others’ needs instead of his own.
 
Books like The Wizard of Earthsea remind us that it’s important to disengage our autopilot, so that we act, rather than react.
 
Have you read other stories that address using fear properly?  If so, please share them with me by commenting upon this letter, or post on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A glow-in-the-dark purple magic wand! Oh, I want one!!

purple-magic-wand


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Is It Good Luck, Bad Luck or Both?

endings-are-beginnings

Every time a boyfriend would break up with me I’d think, this is it. There’s no one else out there for me. I’ll be alone forever.
 
I’d be sad and lonely for a time, only to wake up one morning and realize I was grateful that he’d broken up with me. That we weren’t a good fit—he’d just figured it out before I had.
 
I mourned the loss of my music career for two years. But finally letting go of being a pop star allowed me to embrace the writer in me. To acknowledge that my home was in the children’s literary world, not in clubs or on the road.
 
The bottom line is that we want to label everything that happens to us as good or bad. But in reality, ‘Good’ things can have unintended ‘bad’ consequences and vice versa. The Ugly One, by Leanne Statland Ellis, explores this notion.

theulgyone-r

When we meet Micay, she needs us to know that a horrible scar runs down the side of her face. She does her best to hide her disfigurement, but still suffers taunts from the boys in her village. An apprentice to a shaman, she fears that most of her people are too disgusted by her hideousness to allow her to heal them.
 
A series of unpredictable and fascinating events transform Micay’s attitude towards her scar. Resentment morphs into gratitude.
 
The Ugly One reminds us that it’s our perception of things that determines their value to us, and perceptions can change.
 
“Learning to live in such a way that nothing is experienced as either an advantage or a disadvantage is the source of enormous empowerment and liberation.”

Do you have a story about an event in your life that seemed like a curse, but then changed into a blessing? Tell me your story by replying to this letter, or posting it on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Fun Peru Facts (The Ugly One is set in Peru)

Print


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What Do You Expect?

when-i-let-go

In my case letting go of myself meant releasing my huge aspirations. Aspirations that I thought were my way in…into connection, into being loved. They were my lifelines. How would I survive without them?

But once I saw what my aspirations had become, I knew I had to let them go. They’d morphed into paralyzing expectations that seemed to move me further from my dream rather than closer to it. And in addition, they prevented me from enjoying the journey.

Letting go also means I have to float in the present, and allow the future to unfold on its own. To accept that I might not become a best-selling author who starts a foundation to serve kids’ needs. That I may give on a smaller scale like George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) rather than on a J. K. Rowling scale. And that that’s okay.

I’m still struggling with this, but I can acknowledge that there’s a certain freedom and relief in casting off expectations in all areas, not just my career.

Lack of expectation makes room for acceptance, for amazing surprises to happen, and removes the possibility of resentment. For we all fall short of our own, as well as others’, expectations at times.

17mqagd77sswwjpg

Deenie, the heroine of Judy Blume’s book by the same name, knows all about failing to meet another’s expectations. The popular girl in school, whose mother expects her to become a model, falls from grace when she’s forced to wear a body brace due to her severe scoliosis. Freed from the expectations of her classmates as well as her mother, Deenie eventually discovers who she can become.

I loved the book when I read it as a kid. Perhaps it’s time to read it again.

Have you let go of a dream, or expectation recently? How has it changed your life? Where/how did you find the courage to let go? Please share your stories in the comments section below, or on my Facebook page.

FYI: PLEASE SHARE THIS POST WITH ANYONE YOU THINK WOULD ENJOY IT.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Floating in the purple present

floating-in-purple-sea

 

 

 

 


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Listening To My Internal GPS

One day while working in the State Department I had a vision. I say vision because I was wide awake.

An old woman in a gorgeous canopy bed just appeared.  She was sobbing. When I approached her, she pleaded with me to not let fear, or anything else stop me from pursuing my goals. That I would succeed if only I jumped in with both feet. When I asked why she cared, she told me she was giving me a second chance to rewrite my past. (Turns out she was me.) The experience gave me the courage to go to LA and pursue acting and music.

At the time it seemed like what I needed to hear.

But now I think my older self was misguided.

unaimed arrow

Maybe using our internal GPS is the best way to approach life goals. You have destinations in mind, and are open to getting re-routed along the way. In addition, if the weather at a certain spot makes it impossible to get there, you change your destination altogether.

Flexibility allows you to swerve around the potholes, while softening the blow if you have to drive over them.

If I have a chance to go back to my younger self again, this is the advice I’d share.

As I embark upon a new journey to published writerland, I’m asking myself to stay open to detours, or new destinations, along the way.

For a good example of flexibility in action, check out The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz.

NightFAiry

Born a night fairy, Flory’s life takes a drastic turn when she loses her wings. Forced to live on the ground, Flory must learn new skills in order to survive. These include fighting off predators using a thorn sword, and finding food on foot. Ultimately, she decides to change her very nature into that of a day fairy.

Ultimately Flory succeeds because she accepts her new situation, rather than trying to get back to her old life.

Though the book is targeted for younger readers, aged 6-9, I think all of us could learn a thing or two from Flory.

Have you changed course lately? Tell me about it–what you’ve discovered, where you’re headed etc. by replying to this letter, or post your stories on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

purple arrow


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Mother Nature Lets Loose

Do you think Mother Nature feels our pain? I do.

No one can deny it’s been a tumultuous year so far.

Last Sunday night Mother Nature let her own frustration loose. (Her fury arrived between conventions, which I take to mean she’s not telling which way she’s voting.) 🙂 We had heavy rain, hail, and winds gusting up to 50 mph.

She blew down man made stuff like this stoplight, amazingly it still worked, and her own creations-think trees big and small.

fallenStoplight

I wondered whether she was trying to tell us something. Be kind to each other and me or else? Perhaps she was just venting. Spitting the negative energy she’d absorbed from us back out. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just ask her?

In the fantasy/mystery tale Gaia Girls Enter The Earth, 10-yr-old Elizabeth gets to do just that. She meets Gaia, the spirit of the earth, who resides in the body of a cute otter. Gaia explains how everything is connected, and thus why hurting the environment damages us all.

Elizabeth also has powers. She can control soil, and the trees and creatures that live in it. (Wish I could’ve controlled the wind the other day. Watching trees fly around was scary.) This comes in handy when she wants to save her family farm from being swallowed up by a corporate farming outfit.

Since I haven’t met Gaia yet, I can only guess that she wants what I want… to be treated with loving kindness and respect.

Maybe if we continue to change our ways we’ll see more of these:
doubleRainbow

Shot from my deck a few weeks ago.

If you have any cool storm or rainbow pics, please share them with me here on my Facebook page, or tweet me.

FYI: Please share this letter with others you think would enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Chicago storm captured by David Mayhew.

DavidMayhew stormPic


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Failing Saved Me

“You don’t know what you are.”
From The Iron Trail by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

Iron Trial

Finding my realm hasn’t been easy.

For one thing, I was born into the wrong tribe. Folks who told me that singing and acting were fine as hobbies, but in order to survive, I had to get a real job. BTW, the ‘real job’ was first female President of the United States. (Oh I wish I were kidding about this.)

In addition, my family’s insistence that I’d never make it as a pop star or actress fueled my already strong stubbornness. There was no doubt in my mind that they were wrong. (I’d even planned my Grammy speech. In it I told parents to support their kids’ dreams, instead of imposing their own dreams upon their children.)

So I moved to LA, expecting success to come in short order.

Anny Live

Singing Gonna Get Mine, a ditty I wrote about capital punishment. Just your typical pop song fare. 🙂

I was so busy fighting to make my dream a reality that I refused to see the red flags all around me.

My band told me to stop telling stories on stage, stop trying to provoke conversations or take listeners on an emotional journey and “just sing.”  I never felt comfortable with any of the industry types I met, and don’t get me started on the hideousness of acting auditions.

Sure, I’d traded flat land for mountains, and pines for palm trees, but instead of swimming with birds of a different feather, now I was swimming with sharks. (Great Kevin Spacey flick about the movie biz by the way.)

Ironically, it was failure that allowed me to really see myself for the first time. (Purple swan that I am.) To realize that I had to pick up my bed and leave again.  So I did.

It took a ‘dark night of the soul’ that lasted two years before I accepted that I was a writer. Then a few more years before I found my realm: kidlit.

I’m still stunned at how much I enjoy myself at industry events, or see myself in my fellow writers! Shocked at the encouragement I get to tell intelligent stories with a message. No one wants me to be younger, or dumber. I can just be me!

I learned the hard way that intention works as long as it’s not accompanied by rigid expectation, that you can point your ship towards the shore, but you have to be flexible about how you get there.

Sometimes failing is the best thing that can happen to you.

What has failure taught you? Please share your stories with me by replying to this post, or comment on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

Purple-Swan


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Do You Keep The Promises You Make To Yourself?

I’ve never been great at the physical plane. Though I’d been blessed with a low-maintenance body, I resented having to take time out to eat or sleep, and avoided sports like the plague. (I managed to come down with a fever every year on Field Day. An all-day track and field competition at my elementary school, and my version of hell.)

anny'n'julie1971

That’s me on the right at 8 yrs old. Stylish wasn’t I?

In 6th grade I read Kurt Vonnegut’s story titled Unready to Wear. That’s where I discovered my hero, Dr. Ellis Konigswasser, the answer to my whines.

Dr. K is sick of having to tend to his body’s needs all the time, so he steps out of it!  His mind spirit just floats in space. When he wants to do something physical, he just rents a body. Brilliant!

Problem was I couldn’t step out of my body, nor could I find the good doctor to help me.

Once my body became higher maintenance, as most bodies do, I got angry. Then I opted for denial.  My ‘old’ body will come back, I insisted.  This is just a phase. NOT!

Once I finally accepted that I’d changed, I made all sorts of promises to myself. . . to eat ‘better,’ to exercise, to do whatever it took to get back to my former glory.

And I broke every one of those promises for a long time.

To put this in context, I’m maniacal about keeping promises to others! I never use the ‘p’ word unless I know, short of an act of God or emergency, that I can keep my promise.  Yet I had no trouble letting myself down time after time. Why?

I’m still not sure, but I think it was due to a lack of self-acceptance. I think I was still channeling Dr. Konigswasser. Still resenting being human because of the needs/frailties that come with it. As the Buddhists say, “What we resist persists.”

That being written, I’m a few years into changing the way I eat.  I’m not perfect at it, and I suspect that even if I were, I still couldn’t capture my ‘former’ self. But I can be a healthier version of Anny, and protect against certain future changes.

Turns out acceptance is powerful mojo.  The more I succeed at my realistic goals, the more empowered I feel, which allows me to keep more promises to myself than ever before. This includes getting back in to the gym after decades of avoiding it. Don’t applaud yet, it’s only been a few weeks.  However, I do like water aerobics! Who knew?

WaterAerobics

Do you keep the promises you make to yourself? If so, what’s your secret? If not, what do you think is holding you back?

Let me know by replying to this post, or put your answers in the comments on my Facebook page, or tweet me. 

Feel free to forward this letter on to anyone you think might enjoy it.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight:

PurpleTreadmill

Wish my gym had one of these!


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Coming Out of My Cocoon

Butterflies leaving their cocoons
 
I’m preparing to leave my cocoon. . .my creative cocoon that is.
 
See first photo below.
 
I’m excited and scared.
 
Excited because I want to share my work with you. I want it to strengthen our connection and inspire us to go on a journey together. One that I hope leaves us with a new thought, or feeling, or point of view.
 
Scared because sharing means opening myself up to judgment, including rejection. Sharing means putting my dream of being a published author whose work touches many to the test.
 
Last time I left my creative cocoon as a singer/songwriter, I learned some valuable lessons. Thought it’d be useful for all of us caterpillars, soon-to-be-butterflies, to hear them.
 
1) Once you let your work go, people will put their own spin on it. For example, I wrote a song about a woman dying of lethal injection as a way to condemn capital punishment. (Gonna Get Mine) To my utter shock and horror, some folks decided that my song glorified suicide. WTF, I thought. (If you’re curious, you can find the lyric for the song  here.)
 
At first I wanted to explain my message. “No, you’re wrong. It’s about this.” Then I realized that part of making art is allowing others to do what they will with it. Even if it means their interpretation results in them not liking what you’ve done. (It sucks when this happens, but it’s part of the deal.)
 
2) Commit to ignoring both the positive as well as the negative reviews. You can’t free yourself from others’ opinions unless you let go of ALL of them. (This is once your work is out there and can’t be changed. I encourage you to allow a trusted group of friends/colleagues to critique your work to help ready it for submission, or its launch into the world. I wouldn’t dare leave my cocoon without my peeps feedback!)
 
3) This is the one truth I resisted for quite a while–no matter what you do, if you don’t have luck, you won’t make a living doing what you love. Unfortunately luck can’t be controlled, dammit! Prepare all you can because luck thrives on preparedness, but ultimately your fate is not in your hands.
 
So wish me luck as I spread my wings and fly over to some publishers and agents, to see who will give my graphic novel a home.
 
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED BY PUTTING A PIECE OF YOURSELF OR YOUR WORK ON THE LINE? SHARE WITH US by posting your story here or on my author Facebook page.
 
PLEASE FORWARD THIS LETTER TO ANYONE YOU THINK WOULD ENJOY IT.
 
Purple Passion of the Fortnight:
Monarch Butterfly wings
PurpleMonarchWings

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Lyrics For Gonna Get Mine

Gonna Get Mine, By Anny Rusk

 

They strapped her in

blood drained from her face

She tried to smile

I tried not to faint

Each tick of the clock

sounded like a blast

They put in her I.V.

said she’d go real fast

 

I saw the poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said

 

CHORUS:

They say when you die

you’ll find peace of mind

Well I hope they’re right, I hope they’re right

They say when a bell rings

an angel gets wings

and tonight when the last bell chimes

I’m gonna get mine

 

Used to believe

an eye for an eye

You cut someone down

you become the sacrifice

Not so cut and dried

when before your eyes

You watch her writhe

as death breathes in her life

 

What point has been made

through this retribution

Any souls saved, anything changed…she prayed

 

CHORUS

 

If it could bring back

just one little lamb

I could wash her blood from my hands

She looked like an angel, peace on her lips

She had flown, flown away, gotten her wings…..

 

The victim’s family

said a swift amen

Thought their hearts would heal

thru an act of revenge

 

The poison spread

like ink in a water glass

Before she went cold she said

 

CHORUS

 


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