Tag Archives: positive role models

Happy International Women’s Day

There’s a whole lot of buzz around International Women’s Day today. It’s exciting and I feel like there’s a new feminist wave in the making with all the discussion around empowering girls and also raising boys differently. Think “It’s All Right to Cry” from the Free to Be … You and Me album of the ’70s — an important influence on my youth.

To pay tribute to¬†International Women’s day, I’m flagging a few noteworthy webpages and also a STEM-related video. I know it’s a bit of a “cheat” blog post, but there is so much rich content and there are many interesting perspectives to ponder. This quote on CBC’s Writers and Company webpage that features an interview with Gloria Steinem says a lot:

“We were so occupied with trying to raise our daughters more like our sons that we probably are only now seeing how much we need to raise our sons more like our daughters – so that both of them can be whole people.” – Gloria Steinem

Great facts and stats are laid out on the Because I Am a Girl‘s website. The article “Attention women: Ignore the glass ceiling (we have other problems at work)” refers to women falling into a “helper” role and often being “bogged down by menial tasks.”

Last week, in conjunction with my Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs book, I was invited to attend the launch of the Lassonde School of Engineering’s 50:50 Challenge. Entrepreneurs_web

View the video about this very exciting initiative at York University in Toronto: The Lassonde 50:50 Challenge.

It’s also great to see all the lists emerging with books featuring strong female characters:

All and all, conversations are happening and ideas are swirling; great things are happening for girls, boys, and the planet. Let’s celebrate the achievements. Happy International Women’s Day!

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Bank Street Books

Hi, all:

I just found out that Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs has earned a spot on the Bank Street Books “Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2014” list. I’m so pleased! The Bank Street College of Education, based in New York, New York, has a Children’s Book Committee, which was founded in 1909. This committee “fostered a growing awareness of the emotional needs of children, and of how books might affect children’s feelings of themselves and the world around them.” They began by publishing a pamphlet, but as time went by, they developed lists, reviews, a magazine, and now a booklet. The 2014 list is not yet available on the Web, but I’ll be sure to provide a link as soon as it is. In the meantime, you can read more about the work of Bank Street Books at these links:

Bankstreet College of Education: About the Children’s Book Committee

The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2013

Other good news: shoots are finally started to sprout in my garden and one clump of snowdrops is in full bloom. After a long, cold winter, it looks like spring is finally making a sunny appearance. Happy spring!

~ Jill

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Informal Book Reviews

Book reviews are a vital part of a book’s footprint. Critical reviews can offer a stamp of approval, a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down verdict on the final, published result of a writer’s hard work. More importantly, reviews help spread the word. They can say, “Hey, look at this book! It’s really good!” Nowadays it’s easy for anyone to log into any number of online bookseller sites to give their two cents worth and their own emotive summary of what a book means to them. Certainly, the reviews can go either way — favourable or unfavourable, lukewarm or cool. The most constructive are a tempered blend of both, but, in the end, it seems that publishers agree these informal book clubs take what used to be livingroom chit chat and transform it into public, shared, and widely accessible feedback. Listen to the buzz!

Writers love to write. What outsiders to the craft may not know is that few if any writers believe writing is simple. Rather, writing, which quickly evolves to rewriting and more rewriting, is enormously challenging. The process of bringing an idea to full fruition, in book form, normally takes at least a year. The journey is fraught with seemingly insurmountable hurdles, annoying glitches, and road blocks that send you back to the drawing board. As drafts are completed, as editors step in with their professional wordsmith skills, and as all the components (e.g., design, photographs, illustrations) fall into place, hope rises that the book will make a difference, have an impact, and be noticed. Certainly, seeing the book in print and holding it your hands is one of the greatest feelings. As word spreads, the rewards can be very affirming.

As author of three of The Women’s Hall of Fame Series books — most recently Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs — my greatest wish for these books (above and beyond stellar sales fantasies) is that they have an impact on the lives of some girls’ lives, helping girls be more confident, more bold, and eager to pursue their goals, unimpeded by societal constraints. Seeing reader feedback is enormously rewarding and helpful in informing me whether I’ve succeeded in my goal. Consequently, I welcome your feedback about my books. Thoughtful comments help me grow as a writer and let me know which aspects were most effective, and which needed more finessing. Just knowing that someone has taken time out of the crazy, fast-paced life we lead to read a book and fully and critically engage with it in a well-informed, carefully considered way, is truly the greatest gift of all. It is an honour to be reviewed, formally or informally. It’s all good.

If you’ve read Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs, here are some quick links to pages where you can rate or review it:




Thank you also to Leanne Lieberman, a YA author and elementary school teacher, who reviewed Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs on her blog: http://leannelieberman.blogspot.ca/

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I Love Book Talks!

I Love Book Talks!

Spring and fall are the choice times to schedule school book talks. The weather is more predictable for longer commutes, which means fewer snow days and cancellations. By this time of the school year — June — students are longing for summer. Classes take on a more celebratory tone with outdoor poetry lessons, strolls around the neighbourhood, and large-scale art projects, such as painting murals for graduation ceremonies. Fall marks the start of the school year and is a-buzz with enthusiasm, planning, and bountiful ideas for an exciting year ahead. Whatever the season, you can bet an author in your region will be happy to accept a booking to speak to students about the writing process, the challenges and successes of the writing life, and how they got into this rewarding but tumultuous biz in the first place. Subsidies are available under various schemes, as are customized talks tailored to your needs, so don’t hesitate to inquire.

I had the great pleasure of presenting book talks to two eastern Ontario schools last week. Focusing on my book Dazzling Women Designers I showed kids how strong role models can help shake up stereotypes and open up a wide range of career choices for everyone, regardless of whether they are female or male. We have so much to learn from successful, kind-hearted, hard-working people who give back to their communities in admirable ways.

Some highlights of the talk included playing the “pink hat game” with the kids — a game that gave students a chance to examine designed objects and consider their qualities. We talked about what makes a winning design and the importance of function in design. Objects can’t just look good; they have to work well, too, to get the thumbs up. We focused on three designers: Jane Jacobs, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and Ritu Kumar. Environment-friendly design characterized the first two, while the third is instrumental in helping rural communities achieve sustainability by restoring their livelihoods. (Oh, and yes, there are links to the Science & Technology curriculum.) Students in grades 3 to 8, or 4 to 7, were keen to participate, handle real designed objects, answer questions, and offer their own ideas. By the end of the presentation, students had a deeper understanding of how design impacts our world. The talks wrapped up with questions posed by the students and teachers, mainly dealing with the publishing process.

I’d like to extend my gratitude to the principals and teachers for inviting me to speak to their students. It was a wonderful opportunity. Children — with their positive attitude, joy, and exuberance — are a great inspiration to us adults in so many beautiful ways. I take my (pink) hat off to children, and say: Kids rule!!!!

Keep reading, keep writing, and keep celebrating the rich community of readers and writers all around.

Until next time,


PS:¬† As noted in my last blog post, Second Story Press has set the pub date for Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs ($10.95) at September 16th. I expect to have a cover image to share with you soon. Also, the amazing Nicole Robertson, media specialist, will be issuing a press release detailing her involvement in this project as one of the ten entrepreneurs featured.¬† The “2013 Kids’ Preview” article by Dory Cerny, Laura Godfrey, and Stuart Woods in the June issue of Quill & Quire includes a mention of Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs in the Non-Fiction section, which was lovely to see. You can see it on the Quill blog by clicking here. (Note: Yikes! There is a cover image shown there, but it is not final!)

PPSS: Young Kingston’s June 15th event in Picton, Ontario at Books & Company has been cancelled; other plans are in the works.

Game Time!

Game Time!

Book Display at TCS

Book Display

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Pub Date

Pub Date

Hello, friends. I have a date! The publishing date for Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs is September 16, 2013. After that date, you can find, or ask for, this title at your favourite local bookshop. It is possible to pre-order the book now. It is still early days in the production process, so I don’t yet have a cover to share. Keep checking in, though, because I expect to have a cover design in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I’ll be planning some publicity events. Young Kingston has a upcoming event in Picton, Ontario at Books & Company. This gorgeous and spacious bookstore, in the heart of Prince Edward County, is a favourite spot for locals, book lovers, and tourists. There, on June 15 at 2:00, I’ll be talking about Dazzling Women Designers, also in The Women’s Hall of Fame Series. Young Kingston members will be there from 1:00 until 3:30 p.m. talking about one or two of their books. The full line-up includes Mary Alice Downie, Ann-Maureen Owens, Y.S. Lee, and Christine Fader. The diversity of our group means we can target children and youths from ages 5 to 15+.

If you are a teacher and your school is within driving distance, please contact me about book talks. I have space available this spring for book talks and also in the fall. Please enquire if you would like a customized book talk, or if you have any questions about presentations. Some information is available here on my website, and also on my webpage of The Writers’ Union of Canada at this link.

F.Y.I.: My website was acting up this month and was becoming rather sluggish. This seems to be due to the large number of images. I may have to scale back on the number of images I use in future blogs, which is unfortunate. I will keep experimenting, however, and will try to find a way to retain the photo format. As a quick fix, I’ve de-activated the blog scroller at the bottom of the home page. If you experience any problems viewing my website, please let me know. I am hopeful now that this problem is behind me!

Until next time!

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