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An intermittent blog

MOST DANGEROUS WOMEN: IN LIFE, ON STAGE, ON SCREEN

WHO ARE THE "MOST DANGEROUS WOMEN?"
Women who make change and who challenge the status quo have been called "dangerous" for a very long time. They are ridiculed, dismissed, and when taken seriously, harassed, threatened, and sometimes murdered. Jane Addams and other founders of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom were called "dangerous" by the War Department in their day. Addams, the first woman from the U.S. to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was called "the most dangerous woman in America." Numerous other women activists have been similarly labeled. The play Most Dangerous Women documents such women, and is continually updated to reflect new events and honor the voices of new women leaders, working for peace and gender equality, but also for environmental, social, gender, and racial justice. The movie by the same title will honor these change makers and more.
THE BEGINNINGS
It has now been nearly thirty years since the play Most Dangerous Women was first performed in celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and fourteen years since the first edition of Most Dangerous Women: Bringing History to Life through Readers' Theater was published.
Researching, compiling, and writing that first production in 1990 was enlightening and inspiring. The more my colleague and co-author Nikki Nojima Louis and I learned, the more we were awed by the intelligence, commitment, and courage of the women who gathered 75 years before at The Hague. Through World War I war zones, 1200 women from a dozen European and North American countries made their way to an international congress of women at the Hague, determined to do all they could to stop the fighting among the countries at war and keep neutrality in those not yet embroiled in it. And most of all, to bring about a just and lasting peace among nations. The more we learned, the more we wondered: why didn't we already know this history? The texts we'd had treated history as the story of wars punctuated with periods of economic booms or busts as measured by the fortunes of men. Where were the women who spoke for our collective female experiences?
THROUGH THE YEARS
Our first production was a benefit, originally intended to be a single event. But in that audience was Sylvia Lundt, whose request that we "do a little something" to celebrate WILPF's 75th first launched us on our way. We must bring this show to our national congress next year in Bryn Mawr, she said, and so we went. And there something happened that would continue to characterize the play Most Dangerous Women: We met Pamela Saffer, recently returned from a fact-finding mission in Iraq documenting the effects of the war there on women and children. This, a war that hadn't happened yet when we'd done the play the autumn before. We interviewed her, incorporated her words into the play.
Edith Bell was in the audience. We must bring this to West Virginia, she said, and began to plan for our third performance at a small peace conference at Concord College in Athens, West Virginia.
This is how Most Dangerous Women has kept going all these years. It is continually updated to reflect new events and capture the voices of new women leaders, working for peace and gender equality, but also for environmental, social, gender, and racial justice. Invariably, someone sees it or reads the book and says, "we must bring this play to….."
WHY DON'T WE KNOW THIS HISTORY?
And everywhere, always, whenever the play is performed, so many people ask "why." Why is this history so unknown? And how? How can we bring these stories into the mainstream? Reach more people? Especially young people, whose school textbooks have improved only slightly since our days as obliterated females in the stories of my high school history books.
ENTER JANET FITCH AND MERRY WIESNER-HANKS
It was in this context that decades ago, at a Milwaukee production of the play, I met documentary filmmaker Janet Fitch and historian Merry Wiesner-Hanks. We began a conversation that has continued, intermittently, over twenty+ years, until at a production three years ago at Marquette University we agreed it was time to act on our conviction that the stories of Most Dangerous Women need to be offered in ways that can reach a much wider audience. Film/video is the ideal medium for finding this wider platform, and the internet makes it possible in ways it never would have been back in 1990 to bring elements of the play and of women's history to a potentially huge audience. With Merry and me as advisors to the project, Janet began the process of planning, building her team, conducting pre-production interviews, and refining her ideas about how a movie inspired by the play might be structured.
THE MOVIE
Most Dangerous Women: The Movie, now in pre-production, will widen the lens to honor not just the women in the play but also other dangerous women in our past, and even more in our present and future. It will put today's young activists front and center, fostering their awareness not only of their foremothers but of each other. As a bridge between generations, the movie will reflect what happens whenever women of all ages come together to learn their common and stirring histories.
WHAT NOW?
With Most Dangerous Women: The Movie under Women Make Movies fiscal sponsorship and as part of WMM's Production Assistance Program, Janet and her team are beginning the process of raising funds. An initial pitch deck and pre-production trailer are complete, and the production team has begun to interview some of the dangerous women whose voices inspire us, some of them whose words are already in the stage play. Other voices broaden the story, adding context, texture and depth to our understanding of how and why history has unfolded as it has, how this history helps highlight contemporary women's leadership models, and how new generations will lead us into the future.
WHAT'S NEXT?
More documenting of the voices of contemporary women activists and cultural leaders. Seeing what emerges, where the creative and research processes leads. Refining, revisioning. Spreading the word, sharing the work-in-process, listening to feedback. Fundraising.
HOW YOU CAN HELP ASSURE THIS MOVIE GETS MADE
Adequate resources will make all the difference!
• For more information about Most Dangerous Women: The Movie, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit: https://www.wmm.com/sponsored-project/most-dangerous-women/
HOW YOU CAN HELP PROMOTE THE PLAY
• Look for a 2020 edition of Most Dangerous Women: Bringing History to Life through Readers' Theater to be available in late spring, 2020. (In the meantime, you can purchase the 2017 edition on Amazon.com.) Organize an informal reading or staged reading in your community. For more information about the stage play Most Dangerous Women, contact me, jan@localaccess.org.
HOW YOU CAN CARRY THE MESSAGE FORWARD
• Learn and share the stories of the intrepid women who have worked for peace and justice throughout the past century. Who are the dangerous women in your own community?
• Make some history yourself. Be a dangerous woman, man, person. As Edith Ballantyne has said, "Anyhow, there isn't an alternative. Just when you think you've finished, you see something happening and you say, 'Let's see what we can do about this one!'"

 

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The Ecstacy and the Agony - Writing in Cafes

An unexpected opportunity for a cup of Peet's while editing at Baystate in Springfield. The only drawback: no reusable mugs offered.

For most of my writing life, I've preferred the setting of a coffee shop for first drafts and for final editing and proofreading, and sometimes for the many phases in between. There's a particular, perhaps peculiar ecstacy that fills me when I'm working in a public space with ideas flowing fast and furious through my fingers. Maybe it's something about being entirely contained on the outside, looking rather normal and ordinary, but knowing wild things are happening in my brain that no one knows but me. At any rate, I love writing in coffee shops.

Much of my first novel, Heaven, Indiana was scrawled (my handwriting is chaotic, especially when I'm in creative mode) in journals that I carried with me to The New York Style Deli in Seattle.

My play Ismene was penned in large part in French cafés, the year my husband and I vacationed there.

Earth As It Is meandered: When the NY Style Deli closed, I moved my base to the Essential Bakery in our Seattle neighborhood, thence to Plattsburgh, NY where we lived for a decade and I followed three or four small cafes through their entire life cycles but could always find a productive hour or two at the Bagel Pit, née Baxter's Bagels, with side trips in Chicago, Provincetown, Burlington--Here's looking at you, Nunyun's!-Vermont.

When we scouted the town we'd retire in, we noted two coffee shops at or near the main intersection, and now another has opened just down the street. I'm writing from it now. Rise Above is the name, and I consider it an auspicious one, though I still have loyalties to Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters as well, and occasionally also sit to write at Greenfield Coffee and Green Fields Market.

The problem is I'm supposed to be living a gluten-free, sugar-free life at this point and now trying to focus in coffee shops with enticing almond croissants, corner pieces of banana or carrot cake, breakfast rolls drenched in cinnamon, delicate rugala cookies, and even gluten-free macaroons at times – well, it's agonizing.

Will I find a way to continue my love of writing in coffee shops and cafés while adhering to my late-in-life dietary restrictions? Will my health deteriorate as I persist in old habits, munching goodies while jotting words? Will I have to find new places to supplant the coffee shops that don't tempt? Libraries perhaps?

In these times of climate catastrophes and political ugliness, to have such a delicious dilemma to distract me provides at least momentary respite.

 

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Blog Tour Guest: Gabriella Balcom

Today’s guest on my page is Gabriella Balcom whose short, “Bobby—You’d Never Guess,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is the one thing  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: Brian Paone

Today I’d like to introduce you to author Brian Paone whose short, “Two Gunslingers,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: Sheena Robin Harris

Today my guest is Sheena Robin Harris whose short, “Technical Jargon,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?
My family.  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: S. Lyle Lunt

Today I welcome author S. Lyle Lunt as guest. Her short “A Guy Walks into a Bar" was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing  Read More 

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Blog Tour Guest: Gemma Lambart

Today author Gemma Lambart is my guest on my page.

Her short, “Alice’s Promise,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: Laurie Gardiner

Today author Laurie Gardiner is special guest on my page. Her short, “Don’t Forget Me,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: C. E. Rickard

Today I'm hosting author C.E. Rickard whose short, “The Hangman’s House,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, which is the one thing you couldn’t  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: Curtis Deeter

Today author Curtis Deeter is my guest. His short, “Clark the Herald Sings,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?

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Blog Tour Guest: David Williams

Today it is author David Williams turn to be featured here. His short, “The Main Event,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you  Read More 
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Today I am my own guest!

Getting stuck in an elevator with the person you're about to divorce. What's not to like?
Here are my answers to the questions authors of stories in A Contract of Words responded to. Monday there will be a new guest on my page, certifiably not me!

My short, “Dancing in the Dark,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world.  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: William Thatch

Today’s guest on my page is William Thatch whose short story, “For Science!,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: Rayona Lovely Wilson

Today author Rayona Lovely Wilson is guest on my page. Rayona's short, “The Sammy Clause,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: M. R. Ward

Today my guest is M.R. Ward whose short, “The Road Back,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?
Coffee.  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: K. M. Reynolds

The blog tour for authors with stories in the anthology A Contract of Words continues. Author K.M. Reynolds ("The Twelfth Maid") is one of the 28 authors from around the world whose work is included and she is guest on my page today. Here's what she had to say about life, writing, and her  Read More 
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Blog Tour Guest: Kari Holloway

Today’s guest on my blog is author Kari Holloway, whose short, “Catching Up,” was just published in the anthology A Contract of Words. Over the next few weeks, I'll be introducing many of the authors here on my blog. My story "Dancing in the Dark" is also part of the anthology. Here is what Kari had to say  Read More 
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What Makes Us Human Is Our Questions

Robots in Rebellion in R.U.R.
In 1921, almost a hundred years ago, two Czech brothers wrote a play that introduced a new word to the world and with it, questions of what the world might be like by the turn of the 21st century. The word was “robot,” and the questions are ones that have populated speculative fiction, drama, and film ever since: will there come a time when humans and the machines they create can no longer be distinguished one from another? Will our machines someday outpace us, become smarter than we are? And will they then prefer to be the dominant form, rather than servant to a human master? Will they develop that element in Rossum’s Universal Robots, the play by the Capek brothers, evidenced by irritability? A soul? Read More 
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Oh My Stars

From now on, I'm going to append this statement to every review I write in a forum (such as Amazon or Goodreads) that requires me to select a number of stars.

***A word about stars***
I can't tell you how much I dislike stars. Like the grades I hated to give when I taught  Read More 
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Julie Weston's Moonshadows

MOONSHADOWSMOONSHADOWS by Julie Whitesel Weston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Remove everything that has no relevance to the story,” said Anton Chekhov. “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.”
Julie Weston’s MOONSHADOWS rises to Chekhov’s standards. Packed with rich details of history, geography, and character, MOONSHADOWS is a delightful and absorbing mystery. Nellie Burns is the perfect imperfect first-wave feminist heroine: determined to negotiate her own way—sometimes with nearly fatal results—as she faces the raw power of nature and the rough realities of frontier life in 1920s Idaho. Nellie is determined, too, to make sure the things she learns about tolerance and trust in a town that has plenty of ethnic tensions are passed on to others. Her stubborn insistence on testing her talents and courage leads her to err at times, but it is this same trait that sees her through solving the puzzle of what appears to be a double murder before she herself can be counted among the corpses.
And in the process, she establishes herself not only as an emerging detective, but as a gifted photographer.



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