by Barbara Renner
In 1980, President Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month. To this day, departments of education across the country have encouraged school and curriculum celebrations to recognize, honor, and celebrate the achievements of American women. Celebrating the achievements of women from the past is a commendable practice, but I would like to honor a few contemporary women I know who demonstrate their strength and individuality, just as much as an Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Susan B. Anthony.
The idea for writing on this topic was sparked by a fellow author I met in a Facebook group. Debbie Manber Kupfer will be launching her new picture book, Adana the Earth Dragon, on Earth Day, April 22, 2018. She will be featuring other authors’ picture books on her blog in exchange for promoting her new release. The blog’s theme is “April’s Blogging from A to Z April Challenge,” and my book, Quincy the Quail Saves a Life, fits nicely into the “Q” slot. With this campaign, Debbie demonstrates her willingness to help other authors through this unique marketing strategy. Debbie grew up in London but currently lives in St. Louis with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline. She’s the author of the Young Adult fantasy series, P.A.W.S. and a number of children’s picture books. The presale page for Adana the Earth Dragon’s explains how you can pre-order her book. I admire Debbie for her ingenuity and would like to pay it forward by honoring other authors.
Author/illustrator Rita Goldner is a member of my critique group. She wrote and illustrated Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy and is working on a rhyming book about Rhonda the Rhinoceros and Agent H2O Rides the Water Cycle, a story about the journey of a water droplet. I love Rita’s passion for science and creating illustrations and stories for children that are educational and understandable. She thoroughly researches her topics to ensure her stories correctly mirror the facts. In addition, she studies her craft by reading books, attending classes, and learning new technology to enhance her picture book writing skills. I had the pleasure of sharing a booth with her at the Tucson Festival of Books (#TFOB) and learned fascinating details of her life before she became an author. She served in the Navy during the Viet Nam War (I told her she needs to write a book!), she owned her own business creating character costumes, and she taught elementary school. This woman is unstoppable.
Another author from my critique group who shared our booth at the TFOB is Joanne Grady. Her involvement with her grandchildren inspired the writing and publishing of her first picture book, The LoveBugs Welcome Party. This is the first in a series that emphasizes sharing one another’s joy and working together for the common good, qualities she learned from her Midwest upbringing in the Chicago suburbs. We chatted about driving in Chicago – something I would never be brave enough to tackle. Joanne is tenacious about publishing fun books for small children. She attends the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion Meetup and children’s literature networking groups; studies books on how to write picture books; and collaborates with other authors. She created an LLC, found an illustrator, and self-published, all while holding down a full-time job in the nonprofit industry. I admire Joanne for being a strong, independent woman.
Before I started writing children’s books, one of my hair stylists who highlighted my dark locks showed me a book she published about dealing with fine hair, a trait I’m plagued with. Fast forward a few years to a book signing event at the Tempe Library where I met Caren Cantrell. Much to my amazement, I discovered she had coauthored the stylist’s book about fine hair. Caren is the owner of 102nd Place, LLC, a company she founded that specializes in helping authors who want to self-publish to bring their books to market. In addition to writing picture books, educational photo picture books, and a book about the golf swing, Caren is a member of the Literacy Committee for Southwest Human Development. Just reading Caren’s profile makes me tired; she is like the Eveready battery that keeps on going. Caren has always had the entrepreneurial spirit, especially in her previous careers in the corporate world, which included several years in the banking industry.
I’m honored to be in the company of strong, ambitious women who demonstrate entrepreneurism, individuality, and tenacity. There are so many more women I could mention whom I’ve encountered in my life, but for this brief space I chose to write about these four whom I admire and learn from. Maybe they haven’t flown solo across the Atlantic (Amelia Earhart), won a Nobel Peace Prize (Marie Curie), or served as the first female prime minister (Margaret Thatcher), but each of these women is contributing to children’s literacy by writing stories about nature, caring for each other, and overcoming challenges. Which strong women do you admire and want to honor?
Barbara Renner and her husband have lived in Phoenix for more than 40 years. As “Sun Birds,” they fly away to Minnesota to escape the summer heat – and to fish. While in Minnesota, Barbara became fascinated with its state bird, the Common Loon, and was prompted to write four picture books about Lonnie the Loon, because everyone should know about loons. However, books about loons don’t sell very well in the desert, so she is writing a new series of picture books about Quincy the Quail. Barbara visits elementary schools as a guest author to read her books and share interesting facts about loons and quails. She’s working on other children’s books and a special book about her yellow lab, Larry: Larry’s Words of Wisdom. Learn more about Barbara at RennerWrites.com, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.