Girls and Sex: A new book about coming-of-age.

A new book worth reading! The passage from girlhood to womanhood, particularly around sexuality, should be one of pride and discovery leading to an enhanced sense of one’s self as a woman and genuine capacity for healthy intimacy and meaningful relationships. Too often it is a journey fraught with unnecessary challenges due to ignorance and misinformation or painful wounding, whether of the body, the mind, or the spirit.

My forthcoming novel, The Flying Girl, is the story of one young woman’s struggle to find her way through the labyrinth of distorting influences which have–so far in her life–formed only shaky foundations on which to build her selfhood and ability to love and be loved. I chose to write the story of The Flying Girl because I believe it is one too seldom told, too readily swept into the dim light of secret places. For far too many girls, coming-of-age sexually means confusion, shame, and physical / psychological / emotional abuse by others, including family, friends, lovers, religious authority, politicians and government institutions, the media and other messengers of culture. As a society, we don’t easily speak openly about girls becoming sexual–even now, in 2017–and frankly, that is both crazy and crazy-making.   

Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Girls and Sex, is a welcome contribution to helping heal this significant handicapping of girls’ and women’s health and happiness. I’m glad to see it on our nation’s bookshelves! Click on the link below to see a full review.

0317_column_cover_pic_Girls_and_Sex.-per-Annie-Blooms-Books-Shelf-Awareness

Girls and Sex, by Peggy Orenstein, reviewed on

Annie Bloom’s Books Shelf-Awareness newsletter March 2017

 (And thanks to the Shelf-Awareness newsletter from Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland OR for bringing Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and Sex to my attention. Support your local bookstore!)

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Fiction, not an autobiography

african-monarch-butterfly-on-flowersSome people have asked me if my novel is really a memoir. No, The Flying Girl isn’t the true story of a part of my life nor is it a full autobiography. It is fiction. But I won’t deny that, like most if not all novelists, I’ve drawn from my own experiences, particularly earlier in life and certainly including the times and places I was living in, to help me create my characters and conceptualize the plot. Of course I have! That’s the fodder that feeds a writer’s creative muse! But then I’ve mixed it all up with other sources of information, other approaches to the story. I’ve mined psychological case studies and poured through the professional literature related to my characters’ issues, read “pop” psychology books, and even other novels to gather research data and prompt inspiration. And then there are, of course, all the people I have known over the years, closely or in passing, at home, work and at play, as well as the familiar characters of stage and screen.


I don’t think writers ought ever to sit down and think they must write about some cause, or theme, or something. If they write about their own experience, something true is going to emerge.

                                                                                       ― Doris Lessing


There is nothing I enjoy more than people! So in the end, my characters are composites of all my sources of information about people, and my story is my imagination’s way of weaving it all together. You know, I think the best part of writing a novel is that moment when I wake up in the middle of the night, click on the light beside my bed, grab a pen and my notebook and start scribbling a line of dialogue, a scene, a character’s quirks. “Ah-ha! I’ll have the character do ………!” It’s just so darned much fun to make up the stuff! Where else can you do that every day, all day, without being considered diagnosable? It’s fiction, and it’s really fun!

I believe in flying.

Seagulls-over-water-orange-sunset-I-feel-free.I collect birds. Not live birds, but beautiful little birds of pottery and porcelain, glass and mirrors, bronze and silver, straw and paper mache. I keep most of them on a round, glass-topped table in my living room, graced by a window’s natural light by day and illuminated at night by the soft glow of a table lamp. I have a few more birds here and there throughout my home. My sweet and simple birds wouldn’t be found in the cabinets of serious collectors or gallery displays, but I treasure them. For me, their value is in their meaning.

Each one, both unique and universal, reminds me of an experience years ago that changed my life forever, a transformation that lifted me from the darkest night to sustaining light. I suffered terrible angst and despair during my teenage and young adult years—yes, I was one of those “at-risk” kids. I hid it, though, turning my pain inward and wrecking havoc on myself rather than acting-out and making trouble for others. In my parents’ and teachers’ eyes, I was a good girl, and a great student. Even so, I was unable to hold onto any confident thread of hope for a fulfilled life, desperately searching for answers to questions I couldn’t even clearly formulate.

Many-flying-seagulls-blue-sky. One day, exhausted by my struggle, I just stopped trying. In the days that followed, I felt a profound sense of anticipation, akin to an intense feeling of foreboding but oddly without threat, until finally sensations and light overtook me and a vision of an exquisite, translucent white bird lifted me up from my dark night of the soul, took me on a journey up and out of my limited self, and led me to the mountaintop and an opening to all eternity. Continue reading

Maya Angelou: a woman without shame or blame

May Angelou smiling, poet,educator,author,playwright,activist,historian,producer,actor,director.

Source: MayaAngelou.com

Some of us choose to tell (or read) the stories between the lines, where the truth lives, without pretense and uncensored. Maya Angelou was such a writer. She was such a woman. For Angelou, there was no shame in having been a victim, no weakness in having to struggle to survive and find her way to a quality of womanhood perhaps only arrived at when the dues of wounding and injustice are paid. She didn’t hesitate to say the journey wasn’t easy, but with singular grace and courage, she rose above the abuse and humiliation she suffered to affirm her dignity as a woman. And did she ever! Continue reading

Love poetry from the Sufi poet, Rumi–with layers of meaning.

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Rumi quote Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all the time. over two pink and yellow roses.

I love Rumi’s poetry, the surface simplicity of his words and the depth of meaning they convey. He writes of love, and lovers, and the Beloved–not only the people we hold dear, but God–and the way all weave together and are joined in eternity. Sometimes I wonder: Do moments of synchronicity present opportunities to connect in realms of consciousness beyond our normal awareness? Is our destiny realized when our streams of consciousness cross paths of recognition in the universe and we seize the moment? Is that the essence of “soul mates”? (Or is destiny derailed and reoriented because we fail to open to what is offered us?) My novel, The Flying Girlasks such questions . . .

Writing The Flying Girl: the process

Toddler working at a laptopI’ll be honest. When I embarked on my novel-writing project—working title, The Flying Girl—I thought it would be a cinch. I knew the story I wanted to tell; I had good writing skills; and I certainly had the desire—no, the passion―to drive the story forward. Little did I know, there is a lot more to good storytelling than knowing the basics of authorship or even an inspired plot. A novelist―or any storyteller, fiction or non-fiction―must first work at cooking that plot so that future readers will taste one tempting morsel at a time, each one succulent, savory and just satisfying enough to leave him or her wanting more. Then, even when the recipe is clear and complete, the writer has to perfect its execution. Ah, yes, a noble task, and one that seems manageable until one’s muse is battered by concepts previously unheard of: protagonists and antagonists, conflict, points of view, tension arcs, flow, denouement, and so on, and on, and on. Enter, the learning process–and to think I thought once I’d conceptualized a good story and developed some interesting characters I’d have nothing more to do than check my grammar, syntax, and punctuation!


“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.” 

                                                                    –Robert McKeeStory


Well, I’m now working on a later draft of The Flying Girl, and I’m sure it will need revision and polishing, too. At least I know I’m in good company, among the best, in fact; while there are plenty of good, fun-to-read novels created in months, not years–especially “genre” thrillers, mysteries, romance and other “formula” fiction–there are also writers working on “mainstream” and “literary” fiction projects which often take several or more years, sometimes many years, to complete. Sighhhhh. I feel better.

If you’re wondering what these fiction labels mean, check out my posts on genre, mainstream, and literary fiction–distinctions that aren’t always clear, and, I think, are sometimes taken too seriously. After all, what’s important to you as a reader? A good read! Personally, I thoroughly enjoy being entertained by a fast-paced mystery or a sexy romance, just as I love being enthralled by a psychological thriller, moved by a heart-wrenching tragedy or subtly transformed by a nuanced yet profound tale of ordinary people. And undeniably, there’s nothing like the magic of beautifully written prose to tantalize my literary taste buds! And you? What kind of novels do you like to read? I’d love to hear who your favorite authors are.