Sunday, April 21, 2013

Changing the World

Reposted from Amy Sue Nathan's wonderful blog, Women's Fiction Writers, published April 16, 2013:

Author Jennie Shortridge says: Writing For Women Is One Of The Most Powerful Ways To Change The World

There’s much ado about women’s fiction, women authors, and women in general these days. On one hand, reports that confirm how many fewer books by women get reviewed in major publications and some women writers putting down other women writers is horrible. Okay, on two hands it’s horrible. But on that imaginary third hand, it’s bringing a lot of amazing women writers together. A band of brothers has nothing on a band of women writers. 
Author Jennie Shortridge shares her thoughts today, in a show of camaraderie with other women writers, and in celebration of her new novel, LOVE WATER MEMORY.
Please welcome Jennie to Women’s Fiction Writers!
Amy xo

Author Jennie Shortridge says: “Writing For Women Is One Of The Most Powerful Ways To Change The World”

In the year 2013, “women’s fiction” is still believed by some to be a pejorative term. The “chick lit” craze certainly didn’t help. Some early books in that category were as deeply revelatory as Catcher in the Rye, but got bedazzled in the marketing machine to scream: “Only buy me if you are female!” And begat a generation of pastel-covered books meant to categorize the stories of women’s lives as fluff, even when the messages inside might be strong as steel.
The novels I write are categorized as women’s fiction, even though my latest, Love Water Memory, has both a male protagonist and a female protagonist, and is the story of a harrowing brain disorder and its aftermath. You could imagine John Irving or Nick Hornby or Garth Stein writing about such a thing (in fact they’ve written about very similar things).
And yet, I’ve decided to come down on this issue exactly where novelist Elizabeth Berg does. To paraphrase Ms. Berg, when asked if she minded her work being categorized as women’s fiction, she said something like, “I love women! I love writing for women. Why would I mind?” (Why indeed, when women buy the vast majority of books?)
But here’s the real reason why I love writing books for women (and men, because plenty of men read my books): Writing for women is one of the most powerful ways to change the world.
Scientific studies show that college students who read fiction develop more empathy toward others than their counterparts. Those of us who’ve always read fiction know this innately. Our sensibilities, values, and core beliefs are formed and informed by the novels we read as teens, young adults, and even now.
In this new society of hardwired, head-phoned technoids tuned in electronically alone at their devices, actual human connection is eerily on the decline. We may tweet or text characters on a screen, but we can’t feel the impact of what we say or don’t say unless we can look into the other person’s eyes.
Women are biologically engineered for empathy, and yet we often get subtle (or not so subtle) messages that empathy and compassion are not as important as power and might. Don’t believe it. If more leaders of corporations, governments and religious institutions were women, integrating compassion into decision and policy making, our people and our planet would be far better off.
When women write women’s stories, we share ideas and experiences and revelations about solving problems, about surviving and thriving through difficulties, about love and the power of compassion and understanding.
And that changes the world, one reader—female or male—at a time.
Love Water Memory and four other acclaimed novels, as well as a writing teacher and avid volunteer. She is co-founder of Seattle7Writers, a nonprofit collective of over sixty published authors in the Northwest who work to give back to their community. Find her onFacebookTwitter, her blog JennieSez, and

Monday, April 1, 2013

In Bloom

Writers are a bit like gardeners. We plant seeds, lots of seeds, and hope they'll sprout and take hold in the muck that fertilizes such things and helps them grow. Like gardeners, we don’t always succeed. But when we do, and the result of our meticulous tending blooms, it’s a moment of such pride and satisfaction that it’s hard not to grin and gape and call out, “Hey, everybody! Look what I did!”

So, um, hey, everybody! Look what I* did!

Love Water Memory goes on sale Tuesday, April 2!
Please come celebrate with me at an event near you.

*And because of course I didn’t do this alone, big gratitude and huge hugs go to my fellow gardeners:

Stephanie Rostan, Karen Kosztolnyik, Jennifer Bergstrom, Jennifer Robinson, Mary McCue, Natalie Ebel, Ellen Chan, Christine Foye and everyone at Gallery Books.

Erica Bauermeister, Randy Sue Coburn, Garth Stein and all of the writers I’m lucky enough to write and work with and hang out with in the Seattle7 and everywhere.

Tim Mooney, Jay Miazga, Stan Matthews, Kaila and Scott Raiby, Lynne Kinghorn and Margaret Meineke for technical assistance.

My bandmates in The Rejections, who’ve worked hard to make my launch extra special with a live performance and a special download coming soon to my website: Matt Gani, Paul Mariz, Stevie Kallos, Garth Stein and Ben Bauermeister. And special guest in Denver, Peter Fletcher.

All of the independent booksellers who faithfully serve and support readers, writers, and books, without politics, agenda, or fail. If I listed all who have been especially kind to my books and me, this page would never end.

My family: my dad, my sisters and inlaws, my nieces and nephews, my aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins. (I’m not kidding. They’re all amazing.)

And always, my dear, sweet husband. If you wonder why I write so often about love, well. There you go.