Friday, April 12, 2013

How BRAVE are you? (Part 1)

I have been so inspired lately by so many strong, courageous women. So this is a three-part blog post, that I'll publish over the course of the weekend, to:

1) Introduce these women to you!
2) Tell you about a new community of mine.
3) Give you a homework assignment, if you are BRAVE enough.

See, I purposefully surround myself with strong, amazingly talented, smart, BRAVE women every day. I love working with them, learning from them, and being inspired by them. They push me to examine the life I'm living and ask myself: AM I DOING ENOUGH? AM I MAKING A DIFFERENCE? Because, let's face it, we can often step up our games. And that's what I try to do every day of my life. Learn. Examine. Be brave. Inspire.

Melissa Foster

The first amazing woman is author Melissa Foster. I was first drawn into her writing style while reading Traces of Kara (TOK), which inspired me to do a book review blog post and learn more about her. I now have all of her books on my Kindle waiting to be read. *rubs hands joyously with glee* 

Her newest book, Have No Shame (HNS), will be out this May. While TOK is a heart-racing, psychological thriller with the creepiest villan you could hope for {I'm self-appointed president of the "I heart Roland" fanclub!}, HNS tackles a hard subject that is still sometimes "taboo" to talk about, but is still very relevant: discrimination. HNS explores the dark reality of segregation, racism, and equality in a time when they were still very prevalent in the south. This weekend, I'm doing an entire book review and blog post about this, so check back! 

In HNS, Melissa addresses these emotional issues head on, with beauty, courage, raw honesty, and compassion. It is a book you will never forget, and I applaud her for putting it out there. Seriously, it's pretty BRAVE, and that's what I'm celebrating. Oh, and above all, HNS also happens to be a love story that will leave you breathless. {I'm also self-appointed president of the "I heart Alison & Jackson" fanclub!} 

As if that's not enough, when she's not writing, she also puts herself and her learning experiences out there every day through the creation of her businesses. The first is World Literary Cafe, a "pay-it-forward" community FOR writers that offers opportunities to connect with readers and cross promote with other authors. She also publishes numerous articles to help writers better hone their craft, learn the business, and ponder their options between traditional publishing and Indie. Around the online writing circle, she's basically known as the go-to Indie-Author Guru, as I've deemed her.

She's also the founder of Fostering Success, which is kinda like an Author Boot Camp! It's her way of sharing her experience with authors and help them navigate the big, scary world of publishing, platforms, social media, oh my! {Coincidentally, her courses are now on sale using promo code SUPERSAVER50, which she did not tell me about or ask me to promote in any way, but I stumbled across the sale and just considered it divine timing!}

There is way more I could share, but this isn't a promo piece, seriously, it's just an appreciation post because of how much she gives back to others daily. Did I mention she also holds an annual Aspiring Authors Contest for children and paints murals for hospitals in her spare time? {I'm not kidding, she's just that cool.} 

I've had the pleasure of working with Melissa one-on-one and getting to know her as a person, as well as the inspiring author and leader she is. So, how could I not learn from her? How could I not be inspired to grow? How could I not be stretched to give back in some small way? 

Find Melissa: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Goodreads

Dylan Lin Calista

Dylan is my new soul-sister, whom I met on Twitter and now consider my lil' sister, a bestie, and my cosmic platonic-soul mate. {I posted about her earlier, in The Gift.} She's kinda shy, though you wouldn't know it from the humor and raw, gritty posts she publishes on her website, Lifegasmic.

Her most recent post, Pour Your Heart Out: My Silent Disease, was what made me start thinking about the bravery we show when times are difficult. See, Dylan lives with a silent disease, Endometriosis. It's "silent" because by looking at her, you would never know she's sick. But when you read her blog post, you will better understand the pain and frustration she feels every day. But she's BRAVE because she doesn't let this stop her from living life and having a career, and she also shares her stories to help others. I have several people in my life who live with silent diseases, and I can assure you, this blog post hit home.

It made me start thinking about how BRAVE some girls are, and how we should *celebrate* and *encourage* that EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Because, see, we Brave Girls, Kick Ass. 

What you won't find anywhere on her site, is her bragging about the kick-ass angel-like voice she also has {and that she'll totally kill me for spilling the beans about ~ whoopsie!} that WILL inspire millions some day when I can convince her to release her music to the general public. See, I'm special and have my very own Dylan Lin Calista Playlist, that I wish every person could have!

Find Dylan: Twitter | Website 

Ksenia Anske

Where do I start with the lovely Ksenia Anske. This could be a blog post unto itself, and if you know Ksenia, you know immediately what I mean, with sincere appreciation for the woman.

I also met Ksenia through Twitter. What immediately drew me in is her open accessibility to her followers, as well as her raw, humorous, heart-breaking, and AUTHENTIC tweets and blog posts. This girl holds nothing back and is not afraid to put it out there for her readers and Twitter followers {which are over 40,000 strong and she 's not technically a published novel author yet...though she will be in JUNE...squeal!}.

The book she is wrapping up is called Siren Suicides (SS). On her blog, she tells how she got the idea for SS, which has now grown from one book, to three. And, which I am thrilled to announce, I will have the pleasure of editing for her this May. I'm not usually this kind of girl, but in the legendary words of a new writer friend of mine, L.M. Augustine: "Muppetflails!" Seriously, the excitement simply called for it! {Best new word, um, like, ever!}

So, what makes Ksenia so BRAVE? Spend 5 minutes on her Twitter feed, website and blog, or Facebook page and you'll instantly see why. She's had a very difficult past that many of us are lucky enough to not be able to relate to at all. She grew up in Russia at the hands of an abusive father, ran away and became a parent at a young age, moved to America and learned a new language, and has now written an epic trilogy in perfect English.

But the most amazing thing about her, is her willingness to SHARE her painful stories, and incorporate them into her writing to HELP OTHERS. As many of you have heard, she's been basically giving away SS to anyone who asks because of her need to address the topic of suicide, which is something she's learned from. And, she was even more BRAVE when she opened up about her next novel, Rosehead, on a guest blog post for me in March. {Warning: in it she shares some difficult revelations about her upbringing and the abuse in her family which she drew on as dark inspiration for Rosehead.} 

Ksenia challenges me, every day, to live authentically, to express my TRUE self as a woman and author, to not be afraid to SHARE my feelings and experiences publicly, and to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX when it comes to writing and publishing {or eff-it, just throw the whole damn box out and think in terms of glittery, sparkly, unicorn bubbles filled with magical cookies, mystical animals, and farts or poo of some sort}.

Find Ksenia: Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Fan Page | Website

Kasey Leavitt

And last, but certainly not least, is new Twitter friend and author, Kasey Leavitt. In addition to her great blog over at the dharma diva, she's also a smarty-pants lawyer...and she likes Bourbon. So, you know this is a BRAVE woman who breaks stereotypes and OWNS it!

While I 'm still getting to know Kasey through her tweets and blog, I recently stumbled across two CRITICAL blog posts I believe EVERY PARENT should read and share with their kids someday.

I told Kasey I'm basically going to print them out, hand write "ditto" on the bottom, sign my name, and share them with my kids when they're older! 

So, here's my warning: you may find them controversial. But the are NECESSARY and she is a BRAVE woman to share her thoughts and private feelings, that she hopes to impart on her children someday, with the entire world! {Side note: Melissa Foster, you will LOVE these posts!}

The first came as an open letter to her daughter, about the tough subject of her body, and her RIGHTS to it. Simply because, IT NEEDS TO BE SAID. I wish they'd Xerox this bad boy and hand it out in sex-ed classes across the nation. Seriously.   

And if that's not BRAVE enough, at the encouragement of a friend, she then wrote and open letter to her son, about what society does that objectifies a woman's body, and how she hopes her son will conduct himself in regards to respecting women as women, and not as body parts.

Seriously: amazing, open, raw, and honest writing at its best. I can't imagine how hard it was to sit and pen these (the one to her son took two months start to finish to get it just right), and then post them for the world to see. But she OWNED them, and ROCKED them.

And she inspired me further to think about how I can make a difference in the lives of girls of every age. Because there are just some truths out there we all need to hear about, embrace, share, learn from, grow from, accept, break-the-F-apart, and change.

Find Kasey: Twitter | Blog

Wrap it up...

So, I took a small step this week and I will share that with you in another blog post this weekend, so I can give it its just due. But I'll give you this as a sneaky, little hint about its focus: 
being brave & kicking ass!
{Note: Photo credit (to left) goes to Lupytha Hermin. Visit her on Pinterest to see more of her amazing posters. Seriously, gorgeous. And she's only nineteen!} 

In the meantime, please check out these four amazing women who have inspired me recently. Visit their pages, send them notes, retweet them, and show your love for them. I hope they inspire you in some small, or BIG, HONKING, HUGE way too.

If you too are inspired by them, and you decide to do something in return, please share your stories here so others can be further inspired by you. The best thing we can do in life is to GIVE of ourselves, to love AUTHENTICALLY, to EMBRACE our god-given beauty and talents {no matter which God you pray to, we ALL have beauty and talent}, and to INSPIRE others and inspire CHANGE.

How were you BRAVE today?


  1. WOW. Wow, wow, wow. Thank you for including me in such amazing company of amazing women!

    1. They are pretty amazing, huh? =) And so are you! I am very lucky to have crossed paths with y'all! xx

  2. I am honored beyond words to be included in such a great group of women. Thank you so much for doing this! :)

    And no...I'm not gonna kill you for 'spilling the beans'...but I have to say, your gentle nudges might cause me to throw all caution to the wind and put my music up, maybe some time this year... ;) You'll be first to know and you'll get to pick the song when it happens.

    I heart you for everything you are. You always encourage me to be the best person I can be while at the same time, you always make me feel like I am enough.

    You're a wonderful, amazing woman and I am so grateful to have you in my life. (Again.)

    1. You are an amazing woman who deserves her place among other fine women =) I can't wait to help you share your music with the world, love! You just have that angelic voice that needs to be heard! You are always enough to me, but I know too that you are growing, soaring, climbing and I've not met you (again) at your peak! I can't wait to watch the climb! Love you, lady!