Let’s Hear It for the Ladies!

Today is International Women’s Day, which is intended to celebrate women’s contributions and the continued advancement of women’s rights. As a woman and a mother of a teen girl, this is a day worth discussing.

There are long lists of women throughout history who have changed the course of the world—Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Indira Ghandi, Princess Di, and Malala Yousafzai to name a few.

But you don’t need to be among the most courageous of all women to be a role model of femininity and feminism. Plenty of other prominent women—like Nora Ephron, Julia Child, Katherine Hepburn, Toni Morrison, Serena Williams—have followed their passion with conviction and thereby encouraged each of us to harness our own power to break through barriers. Each of them proves being authentic in our words and deeds matters.

I want to embody these ideals so that I leave behind a legacy of truth and power for my daughter and her “someday” daughters (fingers crossed!). I hope my daughter will continue to strive for those things in her life, too.

When I watched my daughter play ice hockey right after singing a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, I was so very proud. Proud that she has the courage to try new and “less traditionally” feminine sports. Proud that she’s shown commitment to her music. Proud that she is willing to pursue opportunities to achieve her goals, whatever they may be.

https://youtu.be/xCfdkwg4u2w

At a young age, she embodies the spirit of feminism. That word, to me, is about women having choices and the freedom to pursue them without judgment. The choice to take on the traditional role of a stay-at-home wife and mother. The choice to be a professional athlete. The choice to lead an organization, spearhead a medical breakthrough, or lead a revolution.

I hope that my female characters, all of whom to date have been fighting for love, friendship, family, and community, embody these ideals as well.

So today, let’s celebrate all of our choices, our diversity, and the way we women soldier on, generation after generation, with love, gratitude, and peace. That deserves some cupcakes!

xo-Jamie

Why Words Matter

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard a little something about “Fake News.” Everybody from the President to your grandmother is talking about it. The problem is that the truth about legitimate journalism is being distorted by this oft-repeated sound bite that is continually misapplied to cover a broad array of concepts. As a writer who respects the power of language, this is deeply troubling. As a citizen who demands a free press, it is frightening.

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Regardless of whom you voted for, today’s barring of several major news organizations from a White House briefing should give you pause.

Words matter. Labels matter. So let’s be clear.

Fake News should be reserved for stories that are completely unfounded in fact and/or rely upon phony sources (which differ from anonymous sources).

Biased Reporting should be used to describe articles that are based on facts but written with a slant toward a particular opinion.

The protection of “Anonymous Sources” is vital to a free press, with few legal exceptions. This concept allows whistleblowers (like Deep Throat) to come forward with legitimate information without fear of reprisal. Using an anonymous source does not constitute “Fake News” absent unethical behavior by the journalist and editor of a particular media outlet. Most long-standing, legitimate news organizations have very strict rules about using such sources. See, for example, NPR’s, the New York Times’s, and Reuters’ rules about using such sources.

The current administration’s attempt to discredit and censor news outlets that heavily scrutinize it just because those outlets occasionally use anonymous sources to get at the truth signals an attempt to control which news we have access to read or hear. It demonstrates a desire to manage information and messaging so that it can do as it pleases while keeping us ignorant. It feels like an attempt to indoctrinate us so that it can broaden its power and reach without being questioned and checked.

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The lack of willingness for transparency is unprecedented. Every single prior administration has dealt with the same reporting and biases (from one side or the other) of long-standing media outlets, yet managed to have faith in the American people to sort fact from fiction and form their own opinions.

For me, when a President attempts to shut down the free press, it sends up a huge red flag. What is he hiding? If he’s so righteous, and his policies and actions above reproach, then why not allow all the press in to see and report it? The irony of Trump enjoying campaign help from the very kinds of leaks and sources he now wants to quash is not lost, either.

We don’t have to agree on policy or be affiliated with the same party in order to agree, at a minimum, on the necessity of a free press to protect a vibrant democracy and exchange of ideas.

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So please, the next time you read or hear the term “Fake News,” stop and question whether it is actually fake or merely biased. Even if you support Trump and his agenda, demand that all legitimate investigative media be invited to the White House, if for no other reason than to preserve democracy. Those of you who support the conservative agenda will want this fairness when Democrats are in control one day (and, as we all know, the pendulum swings back and forth with regularity).

Do not let one small group of men determine where you get your information. Let your voice be heard now or risk being silenced.

xo-Jamie

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Chocolate, Wine & Sign–Valentine’s Day with Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day, all! I know this is a day people love or hate, and that mood may depend upon your relationship status in any given year. For romance authors, this is sort of like Christmas or Thanksgiving, or a combination of both.

Christi Caldwell, Jamie Beck, Erika Kelly, Katy Regnery

But if you happen to find yourself without a significant other this year, don’t despair. Love will find you one of these days. Until then, why not use Valentine’s Day to express love to friends and family, or to your community?

That’s what I did last night with fellow romance authors Erika Kelly, Christi Caldwell, and Katy Regnery.

We held an author event and fundraiser to benefit Filling In the Blanks at the Norwalk Public Library.

Tina Kramer, Founder, Filling in the Blanks

Despite it being a cold February night in New England, roughly forty readers showed up to celebrate. Together we raised several hundred dollars, which will be used to help feed hundreds of school children that otherwise go without food on the weekends. Not a bad way to spend an evening, even if Cupid didn’t make an appearance.

 

I loved sipping wine with new-to-me readers, listening to my friends read from their books, and raising money for a great cause. I honestly can’t think of anything better I could’ve done to celebrate love. And ultimately, that is what this holiday is about, right?

Speaking of love, I have lots of it for all the authors that couldn’t be with us but sent books and swag to our event to help make it a success. Who are these amazing ladies? Well, let me share their names along with a giant thank you to each of them:

Wine, chocolate, and coffee!That reminds me, I need to thank a whole bunch of authors who donated books to help make the event a success:

Regina Kyle, Kim Law, Sharon Struth Author Page, Author Tamra Baumann, Shelly Alexander, Susannah Hardy-Sadie Hartwell, Jamie Pope Author Jamie K. Schmidt Gail Chianese Megan Ryder, Author Abigail Strom Nancy Naigle Author Asa Maria Bradley Michelle Major Books Sandra Owens Author Miranda Liasson Amy Liz Talley Cindy Kirk Carolyn Brown Nancy Herkness, Author Author Susan Stoker Darcy Burke Sarah Stanton Andre Amy Patrick

Goody bags and auction baskets

Now, if you’re looking for an activity to bring a little extra romance into your day, how about falling in love with a new book boyfriend? All of the authors mentioned here have written a wide variety of stories for you to check out, so I hope you’ll do so. And I’ve got a new release next week that I hope you’ll give a try, too.

But if you aren’t going to any romance events or reading a good love story, how are you spending your day?

xo-Jamie

 

The Daily Struggle

I never intended to use this blog for political purposes. Even now, this post is not really intended as political commentary as much as a plea for personal responsibility.

Like so many, I am dismayed by the way current leaders are trampling upon the very freedom that made this nation great, in some twisted attempt to strengthen and protect us. I’m saddened by the lack of compassion I see, and by the way people are pointing fingers, blaming others for the problems in their lives and in our country. Disgusted by the superiority (moral, ethical, and educational) that leaders on both sides of every issue claim. And depressed that anyone is looking to these so-called leaders to save him—to save “us.”

None of us is perfect. None of us has all the answers. Yet, despite all the infighting, I still believe all of us want the same things: opportunity, freedom, and peace. You’d think that, given that truth, it shouldn’t be so hard to make it happen. Of course, it’s immensely complicated, and is made more complicated when divisive language is used to separate us.

So with no answers to the bigger problems our country faces, here is the one and only thing I know: the most important step to making my life, my community, and my country better is taking responsibility for my role.

My future is dependent on every decision I make every day of my life. When I meet with an obstacle, do I point the finger and blame, or do I take action to remove or jump over that obstacle? When I see injustice, do I sit back and watch it, or do I get involved and seek change? Do I let other people tell me what to think, or do I read and become educated and allow myself to be persuaded by cogent arguments? Do I ask for help when I need it? Am I willing to be wrong or say I’m sorry? Am I willing to work hard for what I want? Am I wasteful of my talents and resources? Am I willing to recognize that fear and prejudice aren’t good starting points for forming opinions and making decisions?

When I read through that list, I can claim high marks on some, less so on others. But if I dedicate myself to improving my personal score on all counts, I’m pretty sure my family, my neighborhood, and my community will be better off. And if everyone in those subsystems also focused on personal accountability, we’d see big positive changes in a relatively short span of time.

There’s a reason I write love stories. I believe that good should triumph. I believe in happy endings. And I believe that we all have the power to ensure both of those things come true. So tell me, what one thing might you do differently to make your life (and the country) a better place?

XO-Jamie

Losing Control vs. Letting Go

I confess, I like to control my environment. In fact, one of my favorite things about writing is that I can dictate every single aspect of my characters and their lives. If only my children and husband would give me that same power!

Since my 50th birthday this past fall, however, I’ve begun to accept that I can’t actually dominate anything but my own thoughts and actions, and that attempting to extend that reach is exhausting. I finally see the difference between losing control and letting go. I can’t exactly “lose control” over things I never truly governed in the first place, right? Meanwhile, “letting go” means having faith that, even without my interference, things will eventually work out for those I love.

It’s not easy. I’m not always gracious about it, either. It’s hard to bite my tongue. Sometimes things like “Try it this way” slip out. Why? you ask. Well, in my mind, I’m deeply invested in the people I love, and trying to help is one way of showing my love and commitment. But I understand that my habit can be annoying—or worse, insulting—to others. In other words, it has the opposite effect of my intentions. Thus the newfound attempt to “roll with it.”

A potential bonus of my new attitude is that a more flexible approach should also help me remain happy in my career. The publishing industry is in constant flux, which is difficult for someone with my preference for structure. And unlike my former legal career, where you could rely on hard work to achieve certain results, in publishing, you can work extremely hard and still not get to where you are trying to go. Opportunity, luck, and subjectivity play important roles in this profession, none of which are in my control. So, like the beloved Dory advises, I “just keep swimming.”

I assume some of you are like me (controlling) and others are more relaxed. I invite those who fall into the latter category to offer me some advice on how to chill out!

xo-Jamie

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