Tag Archives: women

9 Women Who Made History You Probably Didn’t Know About

March is Women’s History Month so it’s the perfect time to celebrate the women in your life, and the ones who’ve come before you. We’ve all learned about our fearless, feminist ancestors like Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, and Julia Child. Yes, Julia Child! Before she was known for her cooking, she worked as an intelligence officer in the OSS, and she spoke four languages! She was a total badass.

Still there are many whose names we don’t know by heart, yet reap the benefits of their hard work and determination every day. So prepare for some speed dating y’all, cause it’s time to meet 9 women who made history you probably didn’t know about.

9 Women Who Made History You Probably Didn’t Know About

victoria_woodhull1. Victoria Woodhull

It amazes me we still ask the question “Is America ready for a woman president?” Um, yes. And we’ve been trying to elect one since 1870. Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president, and she did so before having the right to vote herself. In fact she spent election day in jail. Campaigning under the Equal Rights Party, her running mate was none other than abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She was also very outspoken on the issue of “free love,” which back then referred to a woman’s right to divorce her husband. No one knows how many votes Victoria received because the bastards running the patriarchy refused to count them.

henrietta_lacks_1920-19512. Henrietta Lacks

Gaining popularity and recognition thanks to a book by Rebecca Skloot, Henrietta Lacks is the reason we have most vaccines and medical advancements today. At the time of her death in 1951, medical consent forms didn’t exist, so without her permission or that of her family, doctors took samples of Henrietta’s cells. The healthcare industry was desperately trying to find cures for diseases but keeping test cells alive was impossible. Until Henrietta. The cells from Henrietta’s body, known as HeLa cells, were the first ever to be kept alive and grown, resulting in great medical advancements including the polio vaccine.

f7553b57e46042a33. Elizabeth Smith Miller

Did you put pants on today? Yoga pants and jeggings count! Well you have Elizabeth Smith Miller to thank for that. She was the first woman to wear pants in 1851. Finding the long skirts and dresses of the 1800’s too confining for her hobbies, she created an early version of the skort. At least that’s what I’m calling it. Technically she wore pantaloons with a wrap skirt over them, but we all know it was a skort, or at the very least a skant.

61964-004-d4cdcf034. Sarah Josepha Buell Hale

Think you know the story of the first Thanksgiving? Think again. Thanksgiving, as a national holiday, wasn’t celebrated until 1863, over 240 years after the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians held what we consider the first Thanksgiving. Wanting to unite our war torn country, Sarah wrote to the president and members of congress every year for 17 years asking for a national day of gratitude. In November of 1863, President Lincoln announced the first national day of giving thanks, done so at Sarah’s subtle nudging.

mte4mdazndewmdyxmtk4odyy5. Pauli Murray

Pursuing higher education in the 1930’s and 40’s when women were often barred from many colleges because of their gender, Pauli Murray became the first African-American woman to earn a graduate degree from Yale University and went on to become a civil rights lawyer and feminist. She is the co-founder of NOW (National Organization of Women) which still seeks to address issues of gender equality and women’s rights. In 1977, she also became the first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.

220px-patsy_mink_1970s6. Patsy Takemoto Mink

Patsy grew up  watching and experiencing racism against Japanese Americans following WWII. She was determined to better the lives of all people regardless of their race or gender or education level. She studied medicine and law and was an active political figure in Hawaii before it was an official U.S. state. In 1964, she became the first Asian American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Patsy is most widely known for the passing of Title IX, or the Equal Opportunity in Education Act, which she helped author. The act prohibits gender discrimination in any federally funded schools and largely opened up opportunities for women in athletics.

dix-dorothea-loc7. Dorothea Dix

Dorothea was born in 1802, and at the age of 14 she started teaching. A job in a women’s prison led Dorothea to start researching the care of the mentally ill in hospitals and penitentiaries. The documentation she presented to legislative figures allowed for larger budget allocations that improved conditions in the institutions as well as built new ones. Her diligent work improved or founded over 30 hospitals for the mentally ill. She was appointed Superintendent of U.S. Army Nurses in 1861.

ada-left-and-minna-everleigh-c-19058. Ada and Minna Everleigh

The Everleigh sisters, Ada and Minna, are some of Chicago’s most notorious historical figures. During the late 1800’s, they opened up one of the finest brothels in the country, featuring a gold piano, right on Dearborn St. Before you sneer at their historical achievement, you should know how they changed the game. At a time when women’s only opportunities outside the home were teaching or prostitution, if you had to get a job, your choices were limited. And many women were actually getting drugged and kidnapped, forced into the sex industry with violence. Ada and Minna’s “butterflies” were kept in the lap of luxury with fancy clothes, education, and 3 square meals a day. As for their patrons, the Everleigh sisters were also great businesswomen who actually demanded proof of their client’s bank accounts before entrance and tolerated zero violence in their establishment.

lillian_moller_gilbreth9. Lillian Gilbreth

Lillian is the queen of professional women. Not only did she raise 12 children, she became the first female inducted into the Society of Industrial Engineers. She earned a degree in psychology and spent years working as a business consultant for top clients like Macy’s, General Electric, and even the President of the United States. You’re probably familiar with some of her inventions such as the shelves on refrigerator doors and the foot pedal on garbage cans.

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So there you have it. Nine talented women who made history, and often aren’t recognized. Happy Women’s History Month!

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5 Ways You Can End Violence Against Women and Girls

Listen. Dance. Rise!

That’s the beautiful theme for this year’s One Billion Rising campaign, part of a global movement to end violence against women and girls.

Super Scary Fact: 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. Globally, that equals ONE BILLION women.

That’s one billion too many of our sisters, mothers, daughters, mentors, and friends.

Super Awesome Fact: It doesn’t have to be this way, and you can help change things.

Let me tell you a story about vaginas. Yes, vaginas. Back in 1994, there was a totally bomb-ass playwright named Eve Ensler who published a little show called The Vagina Monologues. In it, she shared the stories of over 100 women’s feelings toward their vaginas. Some were happy stories of women discovering themselves, meeting someone who appreciated their body, and affirming their self-love through that admiration. Some were sad stories about the bad experiences that caused them to close up shop forever and forget their bodies could be sources of pleasure. And some were downright brutal stories of rape and mutilation, both here and abroad.

After Ensler performed The Vagina Monologues, women from all over were coming up and reaching out to her, and it seemed they had a lot more to say.

The collection of these stories and experiences make up VDay: a non-profit, global movement to end violence against women and girls. VDay officially falls on February 14th, or Valentine’s Day, but from February through April, campaigns rise to include artistic events, from performances of The Vagina Monologues, to lobbying around government buildings to demand change in rape legislation and to denounce genocide in developing worlds. Additionally, many educational resource fairs provide outreach tools to interested individuals and organizations.

VDay group shotIn 2012, VDay examined the still startling numbers on gender-based violence in the United States and around the world, finding that this violence impacts over one billion women and girls worldwide. Founders and activists rallied to begin the One Billion Rising campaign as a revolt against the violence, using strikes and dance to get people’s attention turned toward this serious issue.

For many women who’ve survived sexual assault, the aftermath can be just as devastating as the trauma itself. Dance has become an integral part of One Billion Rising, because it allows women to reclaim their bodies for themselves. Even though dialogue in the US is improving, rape and sexual abuse are still largely stigmatized, and we’ve seen – even recently with examples in the NFL – how violence against women is treated as a nuisance rather than a human rights issue.

So what should we do? How do we support the revolution to end violence against women and girls?

1. Get Educated

It’s hard to create change when we don’t understand the issue. And the issues are vast and interconnected: human trafficking, female genital mutilation, victims confronting their perpetrators and escaping abusive relationships, just to name a few.

There are over 200 countries participating in VDay events. Remember: ONE BILLION women need your help, so find the closest VDay event to you and join the revolution. Don’t see one in your area? Why not start your own?

2. Make a Donation

VDay signVDay is a non-profit organization based in California, and 89 cents of every dollar donated goes toward ending violence against women and girls around the world. You can also choose to donate to a specific VDay campaign through their website.

Or you can give to your local women’s shelter, family planning clinic, YWCA, or drug rehabilitation center. Many of these agencies are the first to notice signs of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and assault, and all of them help women in crisis.

3. Volunteer

Money from local donations goes a long way, but so does the generosity of your time when you volunteer. Crisis hotlines are always in need of individuals willing to be trained and respond to emergency calls. Community outreach and education are other ways to get involved. Some agencies cover more than one county in their state, but do so with little extra funding or staff. When volunteers get involved, the agency can participate in more events and opportunities to engage the public and share service information. Every bit helps.

4. Be a Social (Justice) Butterfly

VDay dance teamPost photos of your local VDay movement or share a social justice selfie with a sign that reads “Today I rise…” with your personal story or message. Everyone loves a good coffee shop photo or kitten video, but infuse your Instagram page and Twitter feed with messages of support and calls for action, too. Follow @VDay to stay informed, and share your social media using the hashtag #OneBillionRising. Spread the message of respect and social justice for all until the violence stops.

5. Tell a Friend

This one is two-fold. If you’ve been a victim of gender-based violence and have not shared your story, I encourage you to speak up. Today, tomorrow, a year from now –as soon as you are able. Tell a trusted friend, advocate, health care professional, or authority figure. You are not alone.

Lastly, talk to your friends about gender-based violence. It comes in so many forms and can be overwhelming to tackle alone. What do you want to learn more about? Where do you want to make your personal impact? Do you want to see an end to human sex trafficking? Do you want to change the legislation around rape crimes or improve restraining orders? There’s so much work to be done, and it’s always more uplifting when you have a friend beside you.

Remember: this includes men! Some pretty spectacular campaigns like HeForShe and 1 is 2 Many are sprouting up, and I commend the male voices speaking out. Get your father, your brothers, your friends, and your lovers involved.

So start a flash mob, write a letter to your local officials, send some inspiring tweets, and share some from women across the globe. Be there for your fellow sisters at upcoming VDay events, and all the days after until the violence stops.

Do you or someone you love need help with this intense issue? While The Indie Chicks offer awesome advice, we aren’t licensed therapists or trained crisis counselors. We care about you, so please take care of yourself by using the following hotline number to get the help you need:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7244 or 1-800-787-3224
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474
Love is Respect

*Originally published on The Indie Chicks, February 27th, 2015. 

I’m participating in One Billion Rising this year!
Are you? 

I’m a Feminist. Now What?

feminismWhat does it mean to be a modern day feminist? Do you have to stop shaving your legs? Do you have to hold picket signs? Does it mean you can’t wear skirts and dresses anymore?

Ever wondered where the new wave of feminists are? You’re in luck, cuz they’re out there!

AND because I’m blogging about it at one of the coolest new e-zines for badasses out there, The Indie Chicks.

Today I’m guest posting on the conundrum: I’m a Feminist. Now What?

Learn what it really means to be a feminist – Guys, that includes you too – and find out five ways you can make a difference starting now.

Every view, comment, like, and share helps me out because The Indie Chicks are currently looking for contributing writers. And I’ll tell you a secret, so scooch in…

I WOULD REALLY REALLY, LIKE OHMYGOD FANGIRL, LOOOOOOOVE TO WRITE FOR THE INDIE CHICKS REGULARLY!!!

So please tell me I’ll see you there!

xox,

Jess

 

I’m Enough: Learning Lessons From a Mirror That Talks Back

When you look in the mirror, how do you feel about yourself?

And we’re being  honest here.

Do you believe the only value it shows is what’s on the outside? Does the mirror, to you, amplify your flaws or acknowledge the human being that you are with phenomenal virtues inside and out?

Does the mirror reflect your worth?

This is the question that a group of women from Austen, TX came together to answer. But first, they started a band.

Their group is called The Mrs.

Unable to connect with the songs they were hearing on the radio, well past the years of the teenage heartbreak and club beats, they sought to create music inspired by their own lives as passionate – and busy – wives, mothers, and girlfriends.

The all-female rock band is comprised of drummer Andra Liemandt, lead vocalists/guitarists Mandy Prater and Jennifer Zavaleta, vocals/keyboardist Larissa Ness, and bassist Jenny Mason.

They wrote a song called ‘I’m Enough.’ And from that song, they gave birth to a movement.

They plastered stickers around every mirror and window they came across with messages like “You’re awesome,” “I’m Enough,” and “You’ve never looked better!” Then they took it a step further and concocted what some might dub ‘a magic mirror’, a talking mirror that surprised women all over the county.

At first glance, the mirror on the wall appears ordinary. When you walk up to it, all you see is your reflection.

And then a voice comes on.

That voice greets you, perhaps by name. That voice tells you you’re beautiful. That voice tells you you are loved. That voice tells you you’re enough.

*****

The Mrs. performed at BlogHer live on Saturday, and their talking mirror was in the vendor hall all weekend. My pal, August McLaughlin, and I got to experience the talking mirror firsthand before we even knew what it was!

I went up to it first. I put the headphones on and immediately this friendly voice greeted me, “Hi Jess! Look at that gorgeous red hair!”

MirrorAugust listening to the Talking Mirror

The person behind the mirror told me I was beautiful. She told me I had beautiful, clear skin.

I started crying.

I wasn’t making-a-scene-hysterical, I just genuinely teared up. I don’t tell myself my skin is beautiful.

As my 30th birthday gets closer, I’ve been battling some body dysmorphia. I wrote about it in To Conceal and Carry…My Muffin Top. Besides recent weight gain, I have trouble with adult acne. It began as “teenage” acne, then “college” acne, and morphed into adulthood “I’ve paid thousands of dollars on skincare and make-up” acne. I know my skin has changed and that it has improved. But when I look in the mirror, I see only the bumps, the redness, the scarring.

I knew my attacks on myself were really bad when I nonchalantly made the comment to my sister, “You know how people sometimes ask you ‘If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?’ Well, mine would be clear skin. That’s all I want. CLEAR skin!”

I immediately felt hurt when I said it. Hurt by my OWN words. I had always been the girl who wanted to fly. How had I let myself get so stuck?

Even on my wedding day, my biggest fear was my face. Not the hundreds of dollars we paid in legal paperwork for an international wedding, or traveling to a foreign country with my wedding dress, or that Joe had not written his vows until the day of (he actually had, but was messing with me for fun). No, I was freaking out over my face. I wanted perfect skin for my wedding day, and that was the one thing beyond my grasp.

I started a mantra, “This day is not about my face. This day is not about my face.” And I said it every morning as I put my make up on for that whole week before our wedding.

So yah. I started crying when the woman behind the mirror told me I had clear skin. And then she told me my writing mattered. That my words brought joy and laughter and insight to others. And I felt – this may sound silly – but I felt like I sprouted wings. Little baby wings that flapped and triggered my brain to say “Go after your dreams.”

She's Enough

And remember I’m enough.

Do you need to be reminded?

Follow more of the movement on Twitter using the hashtag #ImEnough.

 

 

 

To Conceal and Carry…My Muffin Top, That Is

Flickr Creative Commons - Smileycreek

Flickr Creative Commons – Smileycreek

I’m making a confession today. I have a muffin top.

*phew* There, I said it.

I feel better now.

It started about a year ago when I quit my job. Don’t get me wrong, that is STILL the best decision I ever made. But I didn’t account for what would happen while transitioning from a 50-60 hour job where I was on my feet doing laps inside a mall…to sitting at a computer working, then coming home to…sit at a computer writing.

My diet habits changed drastically. While in retail, I worked so many hours and had interrupted breaks that I didn’t eat much at all for the 9-10 hour days I was there. But sitting at either my work desk or home desk, both conveniently right next to the kitchen…it’s a lot easier to snack throughout the day.

Without working out to balance my new lifestyle, my weight has fluctuated between 4-12 pounds in the past year. Now, I’m a rational person, and on a scale, that still has me at a perfectly normal and healthy weight for someone my size.

The problem is that it all sits on my middle.

I’m only 5’2″. I need all the length I can get, so adding width to my torso, not only isn’t working with my current wardrobe, but it’s affecting my self esteem.

Congratulations-Its-a-BurgerI might have been able to nip the weight gain in the butt tummy, if all I had to do this summer was lose a couple pounds. But I’m planning a wedding! And I’m on deadline to submit my book to potential agents.

My downfall has been that I want to go work out, but then I feel guilty that I’m not writing or working on wedding stuff, so I go home, but then I’m so stressed out I don’t know where to start and I end up moping around and wallowing the night away, making poor food choices on top it.

It’s tough to admit I’m still in transition. A whole year later and I haven’t magically “figured it all out.” As women, we grow up believing that on our wedding day we’re going to be the most beautiful woman in the room.

But I don’t feel beautiful.

All I see right now are my flaws. When I look in the mirror, I see my gut protruding over my pants and I see blemishes on my face.

And it makes me so sad and angry.

Sad, because I know deep down I’m pretty. And I hear my fiance tell me so. But I don’t listen, and worse, I’ve started countering him by pointing out my flaws.

Angry, because I have a degree in women’s gender and sexuality studies, so I know I’m suffering from body dysmorphia and yet, I don’t know how to turn that off.

But requiring two people to zip you into your wedding dress is a sure-fire way to put that doubt into hyperdrive.

I am a perfectly healthy and talented woman. But I’m struggling with doubt.

I am really struggling with doubt right now.

Is it just me? Is it the wedding? Is it the looming date of my 30th birthday and saying goodbye to the resilient body I had when things were good and I was still 25?

Is it potato chips? I have a hard time saying no to potato chips.

And what about society’s role in all this? My low body image issues have made me angry at society. Why have we invested so much energy into praising women for their looks rather than their brains? Why are more pages in women’s magazines filled with products for me to buy that will change my appearance “for the better” than there are articles about women making real strides for gender equality?

Aren’t we doing ourselves a disservice? Why does something as small as 4 pounds make a woman question her worth? Imagine if we spent half as much time renovating our education or health systems as we did staring in mirrors, avoiding mirrors, picking at our faces, being insulted by cat-calls, being insulted at our lack of cat calls, and only wearing open-toed shoes when our toenails are properly painted?!

We’d have solved the fucking issues by now! But instead, if you’re like me, or if you’ve been there before, we are too busy concealing that extra bit of weight we’ve gained.

 ~Sincerely, Miffed and Muffin-topped,

Jess

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Addicted to Stitch Fix

Have you tried or heard of Stitch Fix?

It’s a personal styling business for women based out of San Francisco, CA. I first heard about them on Twitter and started ogling all the cute pictures people were taking of the new clothes they received. I had to check this out.

The Scoop:

Sign up for an account, which is free, and fill out your style profile. It’s an in depth assessment of what YOU want and like, but it’s not too time consuming. I promise. It shows you pictures and lets you enter your sizes and comfort level with showing off various body parts. You input budget guidelines. You can also link to your Twitter and Pinterest accounts so the stylists can better get to know you when they select items for your fix.

Which is honestly why I started a pinterest account…but there’s writing stuff on there too!

The Cost:

$20.

For $20 a personal stylist will select 5 items for you and mail them to your house.

That’s right. To your house. No driving in circles for a parking spot at the mall, clothes shopping in places where it smells like big pretzels. You get five items personally selected for you to try on in the comfort of your own home. No shipping fee.

If you buy the whole fix, you get 25% off everything, but otherwise keep what you want, and send the rest back. Again, no shipping. Stitch Fix boxes come with a prepaid envelope inside. And that $20? Goes towards your purchase!

Stitch Fix 1This was my first Stitch Fix box. I asked for fun summer outfits to wear on my honeymoon, and the stylist wrote the sweetest personalized note to me.

style card note

The Deal-io:

Stitch Fix Founder and CEO, Katrina Lake, has always worked in some capacity with retail, but she always dreamed of starting up her own project. Her passion was in the potential for digital fashion sales. She partnered with tech wizards in Silicon Valley to create style algorithms based on people’s responses and worked with up and coming fashion designers to lower expenses of the clothes while still granting mass exposure of their labels.

Here’s a quick interview with Katrina – this woman knows her stuff.

A common thread she kept hearing from clients was how busy each woman was. Stitch Fix to the rescue! When you can try clothes on in your own home, you have your entire closet with you to see if that new top really does pair well those paisley gaucho pants you bought two years ago and have yet to match anything to. 😀

The Fun:

Photo-ops! Take one look at the twitter hashtag #StitchFix, and you’ll see women all over the country gleefully unpacking their Stick Fix box, which by the way is packed adorably and professionally and comes with style cards for your new potential wardrobe items.

style cardsI’m Addicted:

This is fun! And you should Stitch Fix with me. The most you have to lose is $20. But I’m betting you’re gonna like it!

Stitch Fix 2Stitch Fix box #2. I kept the skinny jeans and the black top.

Still curious? Try it yourself!

*****

And, the winner of Roni Loren’s e-book, Still Into You, is… brickhousechick!!! Congratulations!
Your summer just got more sizzlin’!

Write Strong Women and Marry Your Best Friend: An Interview About Romance With Author Roni Loren

As part of my To Be Read Challenge, I included a (signed – squeee!) copy of Crash Into You by erotic romance author, Roni Loren (@RoniLoren). I met Roni at DFWcon 3 years ago and have attended her sessions on writing realistic romance scenes. She is fabulous.

So are her books.

*****

Crash Into You

Sometimes the past can bring you to your knees…

Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat—a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past…

 

 I am very pleased to welcome Roni to the Happiness Project!

*****

Describe yourself in three words.

Perfectionistic, Introverted, Curious

What drew you to writing erotica? What do you love about your genre?

It was a genre I loved to read, of course. But I was really drawn to the fact that it had very few boundaries. Like I could write suspense in my story but it didn’t have to fit the restrictions of a romantic suspense. And it could be contemporary but the romance didn’t have to be light and airy. All I needed to make sure I had was a happy ending and a lot of steam (which is fun to write.) So it allows for a lot of freedom in my stories, which makes my muse happy. 🙂

I write nonfiction about my family and they all want pseudonyms. 😉 How did your friends and family respond when your first book came out?
I’ve been lucky. My family is hugely supportive and not hung up on the fact that I write the sexy stuff. My mom even reads my books (even when I told her not to, lol) and tells her friends to buy my books. I don’t hide what I write from anyone because I’m not ashamed of it. If they ask, I’ll tell them. Though, people are usually surprised when they find out because I’m the quiet, mom-next-door type. I think some people expect erotic writers to fit some outrageous image. But the people writing it (and reading it!) are every day women (and men, for that matter.)

That’s awesome! What are you reading right now?

I just finished Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland because I’m a pantser with plotter envy (and am obsessed with writing craft books.) But fiction wise, I’m reading Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (YA Steampunk Paranormal) and rereading The Shining by Stephen King.

Oooh, nice picks!
Settled in for the night after conferencing, reading Roni's book

Settled in for the night after conferencing, reading Roni’s book

I read Fifty Shades of Gray, and hated it. The main character is pretty flat – quite literally, actually, she’s tied down and having sex so much. Your lead female in Crash Into You (Brynn) is really 3-dimensional. Her mother works in the sex industry, Brynn is a sexual assault survivor, she works in a social work setting with other domestic violence victims, and she struggles to claim her own sexual identity despite her past. In what ways do you think Brynn is a champion for women, and what do you think are her shortcomings?

It’s important to me to write really strong women, particularly because of the power dynamic I use between the hero and heroine. In Brynn’s case, I wanted to show how tough and smart she is because even though she has this urge to be sexually submissive in the bedroom, she’s an independent, brave woman in her every day life. She’s driven to help others, and ultimately, she learns to help herself. The theme in all my books usually comes back to healing and self-acceptance, so I think Brynn is a prime example of that. No one fixes her problems for her. She has to learn to move through her fear, heal, and then embrace who she is.

I’m getting married in 2 months. What’s your advice for keeping the passion alive?

Yay, congrats! 🙂 I’ve been married for almost 13 years, and it still feels like we just got married (so I guess that’s good!)

 

That’s wonderful! Congrats to you, lovebirds!

 

I think the key is to marry someone you have a deep friendship with, who gets you, and who makes you laugh. That takes care of a lot of things. But with keeping the passion alive specifically, I think it’s important to develop a level of trust that you literally can talk about anything (including fantasies, likes/dislikes, etc.) with no judgment or expectations, so that you can keep things fresh. When I hear that some husbands don’t like their wives reading romance novels, I want to bonk them on the head because—hello, that’s just going to give her new ideas of what she wants to do with/to you, lol. Buy her stacks!

 

Great advice! I know you love to watch Reality TV, what are your guilty pleasures right now?

 

I just finished American Idol, of which I’m a faithful follower. And now I am so ready for Big Brother. It’s the one reality show that I can convince myself I’d have a shot at winning (ha!) unlike shows like Survivor or Amazing Race where I’d last 3.2 seconds. But there’s something about watching all those intricate human dynamics that I can’t look away from.

 

If you could host a Romance Award ceremony, who would you bestow a trophy to for the following:

 

Hottest Big Screen Actor: Oh, so many. Bradley Cooper is always a fave. And recently I’ve developed a crush on Jimmy Fallon (though, not technically a big screen actor) because funny is hot.
Best Couples Getaway: I like cold places since I live in TX, so a mountain cabin in Lake Tahoe maybe.
Most Decadent Dessert: Cheesecake

Sexiest Thing About Women: Our brains.

What’s next for you? What can readers watch out for?

In August, I’m releasing a novella called BLURRING THE LINES that is separate from my Berkley series. It will be sexy contemporary romance with a paranormal twist and is part of a multi-author continuity series called Invitation to Eden. (I’m thinking of it like the show Lost but with more sex and happily ever afters, lol.) Then in September I’m releasing a novella, FOREVER STARTS TONIGHT, and in November, my serial novel, NOT UNTIL YOU, is being put into an omnibus edition. So lots of things coming up! (In other news, I won’t be sleeping until next February, lol.)

We’ll be watching! Thanks Roni for joining us. Always a pleasure learning from you and I love your advice (and characters) about being strong, independent women with PASSION!

RoniLorenAuthorHeadshot2

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son.

If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that’s it. She is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat. Website: www.roniloren.com

*****

E-BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

One lucky commenter will be receiving an e-copy (Nook or Kindle U.S.)
of Roni’s book Still Into You!

Random drawing will be held on Wednesday @ 5pm CST,
winner announced on Thursday’s blog!

Beauty of a Woman Blogfest: 1 Billion Rising

Happy Beauty of a Woman Blogfest Day!

Today, women and men of all ages are posting around the country on the topics of women’s beauty and sexuality. It’s a celebration of what each individual connects with, be it their favorite body part, a life changing epiphany, a female mentor they have, their desires for the future, and more!

The blogfest’s creator is August McLaughlin, a writer, dear friend, and founder of the #GirlBoner movement – in which she blogs and hosts a radio show surrounding women’s sexuality.

She’s amazing. You can follow her on Twitter @AugstMcLaughlin or check out the conversations around Girl Boner or Beauty of a Woman at the following hashtags: #GirlBoner & #BOAW3.

You can read all of the posts in the Beauty of a Woman blogfest by clicking here and seeing the full list of participants on August’s blog! Guest bloggers and readers are eligible to win gift card prizes between $5 and $50!

For my part in the blogfest, I wanted to share with you a movement called 1 Billion Rising that I’ve been involved with. It stands for 1 Billion Rising for Justice, and it’s partnered with the V-Day organization. The V-Day organization was started by author and playwright, Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues. As a women’s studies minor in college, I took part in the annual Monolgues show to raise money for our local women’s shelter every Valentine’s weekend.

The goals of both V-Day and 1 Billion Rising are to end violence against women. Now, every February 14th, these organizations host events for victims of violence and those who support them to gather in public spaces and seek justice. The events include everything from meeting with city officials to the more emotional release of artwork and dance.

This year 1 Billion Rising is also hosting a challenge on Instagram. Using the hashtag #instaRISE, they’re calling for photos that demonstrate your inner activist – showing off the quotes, body parts, artwork, dance moves, friendships, and more so the movement keeps on rising!

It’s not to late to get involved!

Here is the #instaRISE photo challenge:

instaRISE

For this year’s Beauty of a Woman blogfest, I thought I’d share my #instaRISE photos because being a part of a national movement that celebrates women and stands up against violence is important – and beautiful – to me!

Day 1: Justice – Show off your inner activist! – We sold these t-shirts when I president of the Women’s Studies Student Association in college. 

feminism

Day 2: JustSPEAK – Share a phrase that inspires you. – Adrienne Rich’s collection of poems, The Fact of a Doorframe, was my Bible for years. 

Adrienne Rich quoteDay 3: My Short Skirt (from The Vagina Monologues story, My Short Skirt)

My Short Skirt

Day 4: V-Day – Show off your Rebel Red

rebel red

Day 5: V-Girls – Power Pink – A shade for every mood you’re in: sophisticated, flirty, sporty, confident, girlie?

perfume

Day 6: JustUs – Friends – Me with the cast of The Vagina Monologues, 2006 – I performed ‘The Vagina Workshop’ which is one of my favorite stories.

vagina monologues

Day 7: JustMe – Selfie

Rise

Your turn! Get involved! Today’s post is JustBe – a shot of outdoors.
Share your own #instaRISE photos; I’d love to see them! You can connect with me on Instagram here or twitter: @jesswitkins.

And don’t forget to check out the other Beauty of a Woman blog posts!
What makes you feel beautiful?

The Ultimate Mix CD Release Party

How was everyone’s Christmas?

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with love and laughter! I’ve got more goodies coming your way!

Today’s the day I get to announce the playlists for the Phenomenal Woman and Cafe’ Mixes!

The three lucky winners of these mixes (and a bonus Dudes’ Mix cd) are:

Misty Laws, Ginger Calem, and Emma Meade!

Congratulations Ladies!!!

Out of 73 song recommendations from YOU, plus what I found trolling around on I-Tunes, behold…

The Phenomenal Woman Mix

1. Hard Way Home by Brandi Carlile

2. Torpedo by Jillette Johnson

3. From Where I’m Standing by Schuyler Fisk

4. Circle of the Sun by Serena Ryder

5. Supermarket by Leddra Chapman

6. Unconditionally by Katy Perry

7. This is What Makes Us Girls by Lana Del Rey

8. With Love by Christina Grimmie

9. My Kind of Love by Tessanne Chin

10. Every Mile of the Ride by Lindi Ortega

11. Cannonball by Lea Michele

12. Neon Lights by Natasha Bedingfield

13. Mary Go Round by Serena Ryder

14. Burn by Ellie Goulding

15. Closer by Tegan and Sara

16. What Now by Rihanna

17. Loved Me Back to Life by Celine Dion

18. The House of the Rising Sun by Jacquie Lee

19. Love Me Right! by the Swag Geeks

20. 365 Days by ZZ Ward

21. The Race by Caroline Pennell

*****

The Cafe’ Mix

1. Heart Beats by Johnnyswim

2. Radioactive by Pentatonix & Lindsey Stirling

3. My Blood by Ellie Goulding

4. People Help the People by Birdy

5. The One That Got Away by The Civil Wars

6. Basset Hound by Jillette Johnson

7. I Will Fall by the Nashville Cast

8. Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth & Emeli Sande

9. Everyday by Rogue Wave

10. Heart’s Content by Brandi Carlile

11. It’s Too Late by Wild Belle

12. Summer Wine by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood

13. Castin’ My Spell by Johnny Otis

14. Let it Go by Idina Menzel

15. Say Something by A Great Big World w/ Christina Aguilera

16. Please, Baby Please by Serena Ryder

17. Babylon by Nina Nesbitt

18. Ho Hey by the Nashville Cast

19. Skinny Love by Birdy

20. Give Me Love by Alex & Sierra

21. All I Want is You by Tristan Prettyman

*****

Happy listening! And a Happy New Year!

The Hooch That Stole Christmas

I came across this article on Jezebel.com and it really struck home with me. As you’re Christmas shopping this year, consider what you’re buying for kids.

It bothers me that so many dolls today look hoochie. Barbie’s face has permanent makeup on it, every car/house/piece of furniture is bubblegum pink and probably smells like estrogen infused cotton candy. And Polly Pocket has had some serious work done.

This is Polly when I played with her, circa 1990.

Polly Pocket – the Original

She’s a cute little plastic doll no bigger than a thimble. SHE ACTUALLY FIT IN YOUR POCKET!

She basically folds in half to sit, or stands in one of three possible pegs in her clamshell case home.

I loved her.

This is the Polly my niece plays with.

Polly Pocket – Disco Hooch Millenial Edition

Do her ginormous eyes freak anyone else out?

The better to SEE you with, my dear!

I just don’t want my 4 year old niece to think that crop tops and booty shorts are the solution to feeling beautiful, or valued, or loved.

I have no beef with grown, adult women who choose to wear those things. It’s their choice. But like the Jezebel article pointed out, why are we selling them to toys marketed for ages 4-7?

Don’t even get me started on the Bratz dolls!

I’m afraid if I stare at them too long, one of them will chant some voodoo hex and I’ll be forced to reapply my lipgloss every 15 minutes.

If you want a real laugh, you should totally check out Celia Rivenbark’s book, Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits, in which she has a chapter made up entirely of an imaginary conversation between her daughter’s Bratz dolls and her American Girl Doll.

My favorite part is when the Bratz give Kirsten, the pioneer prairie girl, advice on how to make her bonnet more fashionable.

Literary gold.

Last January I went home for my niece’s birthday and she pulled out all her Barbies for us to play with. I picked one of the dolls up and made some snarky comment when my sister informed me, “Oh yah, and that’s TEACHER Barbie.”

I couldn’t help myself.

Teacher Barbie

The left side is the dress my Teacher Barbie wore, again circa early 90’s, and the right is what she’s wearing now. My Teacher Barbie dress could eat that Teacher Barbie dress like it was a double fudge chocolate cake on the first night of her period. And she’d have seconds, baby!

Why is it sooo…tiny?…short?…suction-cupped to her already ridiculous body type standards?

I’ve heard you should dress to impress. Perhaps that’s what Smokey the Bear is doing.

What do I do when I’m not preventing forest fires? I work out. A lot.

I mean, c’mon! Smokey can’t just be a bear anymore? He’s got to be a bear with biceps and pectorals? I am of the opinion that bears, in general, are considered quite authoritative and strong already. I do not need to see the curvature of a bear’s bicep to know I am in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wilderness.

Furthermore, if I dressed like Polly Pocket, the pure weight of my oversize head would no doubt cause me to lose balance and trip over my disco glitter heels. I am now bicep bear’s lunch.

Where do we draw the line? Because I would like to step back for a minute. Are toy merchants going to start advertising Anorexic Abby into the Bratz collection? Maybe Kirsten, that American Girl doll with the bonnet and shawl, can teach Abby what inner beauty looks like…and for that matter, mayonnaise – it’s great on a turkey sub! Get a footlong! Go wild!

When did the beauty of animals become not enough? When did we decide that animals needed to also look like us? Or at least some absurd social standard of us? What’s next? Maybe the bird on all the Dove brand bars of soap can grow breasts! Oooh, or those California cow commercials can start talking about their period all the time! I would like that!

Happy cows wear Kotex.

What do you think? Has the Hooch stolen Christmas?

*****

On a brighter note, Congratulations to Nina Badzin! She’s the lucky winner of Amber’s book, The Ruth Valley Missing, and a cd playlist to go along!

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