Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Finally Here!

Book giveaway 
The two people who received a copy of No Substitute are Robin Bayne and Anne Mateer.

Please join me in celebrating the release of 
No Substitute

I am so thrilled that my lifelong dream is finally being realized. No Substitute is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Pelican Books, and other online retailers (I will add a complete list as soon as I can gather all of the links), and it can also be ordered from your local bookstore.

I'll be giving away a book to two readers who leave a comment here any time before midnight on December 31st, 2012. No purchase necessary. Please be sure and leave your encrypted email address to protect from web crawling spiders. Example: myname (at) yahoo (dot) com. Info will only be used to contact the two readers whose names will be drawn at random.

There are two other opportunities to win a copy of No Substitute this coming week. Sunday, December 2nd, I'll be guest blogging at Winning Secrets of 7 Scribes, and starting December 3rd, we'll be celebrating at Inkwell Inspirations all next week. Stop by and leave a comment at either place - or even both places, and I'll be drawing names for those two blogs on December 8th.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Hundred Thousand Miles: Women Explorers in History

This post originally appeared June 19, 2012, on Inkwell Inspirations, where I am a regular contributor.

In 1872, in Stockton, California, a baby girl was born into a life of adventure. At the age of eight years old Harriet Chalmers explored the entire state of California on horseback with her father, including the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Quite an accomplishment for such a young girl, especially in the 1880s, and perhaps this was where her love of adventure began.

As her father was an adventurer from Scotland by way of Canada, and her mother the daughter of early California settlers, Harriet likely came by this love naturally. Her childhood was spent swimming, hiking, hunting, fishing and horseback riding. When she was fourteen she spent a year on horseback with her father, traveling through what was then known as the Mexican border-lands.

Young Harriet was quoted as saying she wanted to go to the ends of the earth, so it’s no small wonder her adventures did not end as she grew into a woman. In 1899 she married a man with her same same energy and zest for life. With her new husband, Franklin Pierce Adams, Harriet took an extended road trip through Mexico and California in their motor car1.

Harriet Chalmers Adams courtesy of Library of Congress

The people of Mexico stole Harriet’s heart and after her honeymoon trip ended, she was already making plans to go back and immediately immersed herself in learning their customs. In 19042, Harriet and Franklin made a two-year journey through South America. Franklin was a mine inspector for the Inca Mining and Rubber Company but the couple funded most of the trip themselves. While in the mining camps they had hot baths and comfortable beds. In port cities they were able to enjoy fine dining, but they also spent a great deal of time poring over maps and planning out their next adventure.

During this two-year adventure, Harriet and Franklin climbed the Andes, walked the jungles, canoed through the Amazon, and spent time with the natives. They encountered rough weather, uncomfortable conditions, moments of fear, but their joy for the journey rose far above any discomfort brought about by vampire bats, harsh weather and hunger. Not only did they go back, but Harriet went by herself when her husband was unable to accompany her.

Harriet Chalmers Adams
courtesy of Library of Congress

The couple documented their explorations with photography, journals, and later with magazine and newspaper articles including The New York Times, National Geographic, and The Ladies Home Journal.

Later, Harriet would travel through Haiti, Siberia, Sumatra, the Philippines and every country in the world that was in some way connected with people of Latin ancestry. She included Asian countries in her travels to prove her theory that the Asian peoples were the first settlers in the Americas and that the natives were of Asian descent.

Harriet is quoted as having said to her editor at National Geographic, “What I would like most on earth to do is accomplish work which would reflect glory on the National Geographic Society, which has so befriended me.”

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday

And what would a woman who loves life, adventure and her fellow man do when war breaks out? Become a war correspondent, of course. Harriet was one of the first women war correspondents in the First World War, representing Harper’s Magazine on the French front. She was the first woman allowed in the trenches.

After the war, Harriet and Franklin continued their travels. On a trip through the Mediterranean, Harriet fell off a sea wall and broke her back. Told she’d never walk again, she of course did. Once recovered, she traveled in Africa.

Harriet and Franklin spent their retired years living in different European cities. In 1937 after having lived a life of amazing adventure, Harriet died peacefully in Nice, France.

1One source states Harriet and Franklin decided not to take a honeymoon trip until they saved enough for a trip somewhere “exciting”. One source refers to their trip in the motor car as their honeymoon trip, and another refers to it as occurring soon after they were married. (I chose to go with the two sources that were written based on accounts in Harriet’s journals.)

2One source states this trip began in 1903 and two others state it began in 1904. Harriet began her diary in January of 1904 and ended it in May of 1906.

Every female explorer I’ve read about to date has written down her adventures. 
  • What do they have in common with writers? 
  • Or, should we ask what do we writers have in common with the women who sought adventure? 
  • Are we creating the adventures we wish we were following?
Resources used:

Ahead of Their Time: A Biographical Dictionary of Risk-Taking Women by Joyce D. Duncan; Greenwood Publishing Group, Copyright 2001
Presenting America’s World: Strategies of Innocence in National Geographic, 1888-1945 by Tamar Y. Rothenberg; Ashgate Publishing LTD, Copyright 2007
Harriet Chalmers Adams Got Around by Penny White
New York Times, August 18, 1912; Woman Explorer’s Hazardous Trip in South America

Women Making an Impact in the Lives of Others

This post original appeared June 25, 2012, on Inkwell Inspirations where I am a regular contributor.

Strong women:
Leaders, dreamers, achievers, caregivers, helpers, encouragers, teachers, doers, prayers….

I love reading about strong women; women who have an impact throughout history, in current events, and in fiction. Listed above are just a few of the words we can use to describe strong women. One thing they each have above all else is heart, and one thing they all need to achieve their goals is faith.

One such woman made headlines just about a month ago for being a woman of strength, a dreamer and an achiever. Now she wants to be a teacher and encourager.

Mount Everest
courtesy of wikipedia
On May 19th, 2012, Tamae Watanabe broke her own record as the oldest woman to ever climb Mount Everest. She originally set the record ten years prior – ten years where some other woman could have broken her record, and yet none did. Tamae Watanabe is seventy-three years old!

Tamae, who lives near the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, is a retired office worker who has spent years climbing mountains. Perhaps living so close to the largest mountain in Japan is part of what inspired her to climb. From Alaska, to Switzerland to Nepal, Tamae has climbed mountains all over the world.

Mount Fuji
courtesy of wikipedia
Seven years ago, at the age of sixty-six, three years after she initially set the record on Mount Everest, Tamae fell and broke her back. She was afraid she’d never climb again. Driven, she pushed forward and realized her dream.

For now, Tamae has no further plans to climb Everest. She does, however, intend to spread her enthusiasm and knowledge by teaching and encouraging young women of Japan who wish to also achieve their dream of climbing mountains.

While Tamae may be the oldest woman to climb Mount Everest, she is not the first. The first woman to successfully climb Mount Everest was Junko Tabei, in 1975, also of Japan. Junko was also only the thirty-ninth person to complete the climb.

Another woman making recent headlines is thirty-three-year-old Liu Yang of China. When Liu Yang was a young girl, she loved riding the bus so much that she wanted to be a bus conductor so she could ride every day. Later she decided to become a lawyer. But when members of her country’s army visited her school, Liu decided she wanted to become a pilot.

On June 16, 2012, Liu Yang became the first Chinese woman to be launched into space headed toward the Tiangong space lab where she and two male colleagues were to spend a week doing space experiments. She is only one of two women, and one of six people to have been considered for this space mission and China is only the third country to send a woman into space.

Learning about these two women, and other women like them – women who dare to follow their dreams, women who want to experience all life has to offer and to perhaps be an influence on other women, women who put their lives in danger for their beliefs – is inspirational to say the least.

But there are other women out there doing things right now, today, who aren’t in the headlines; women who are changing lives because of their faith and their calling – women who are giving of themselves to help others.

My friend, Amy Hauser, whom I wrote about here in early 2011, is leaving today for Haiti. She’s made several trips there since I first told you about her. Not because she wants attention or headlines, but because she wants to help those in need. Amy is a physical therapist and the first time she went to Haiti she lost her heart to the people who were hurt, devastated, hungry and grieving. Because her life’s mission is to help bring comfort and aid to those in need, and because she’s been blessed with the gift of healing hands, Amy has become involved with missions such as Hands of Light in Action and To Love A Child, Inc.

Then we have Christi Sleiman, daughter of our own Inky Dina Sleiman, who also has a heart for helping others. Christi says it best on her blog sitewhen she says, “I love helping people and making them smile.” Christi is getting ready for a mission-trip to the Philippines. Is Christi doing this for glory and accolades? No. She was called to this through faith, and she’s going with the heart and attitude to help minister to the poverty-stricken children of the Philippines.

God bless Amy, Christi, Dina who instilled her love for all of humanity into her daughter, and other women out there who have the courage to put themselves out there and make a difference in peoples’ lives.

You have to be physically strong to climb mountains and go into space. But you don't have to be physically strong to be a woman of strength and courage. Those who make the greatest impact are those who do so with spiritual strength, relying on their faith to help them make a lasting difference in people’s lives.

To read about Christi and her mission trip to the Philippines, read here.

Suzie Johnson’s debut novel, No Substitute, a contemporary inspirational novel, will be released by White Rose Press later this year. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and is the cancer registrar at her local hospital. The mother of a wonderful young man, who makes her proud every day, Suzie lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and naughty little cat.  You can visit her at the following places: