Text by Diane Slocum

March is Women’s History Month and a good time to explore the often-ignored contributions that women have made throughout history.

“Anonymous Is a Woman: A Global Chronicle of Gender Inequality” (Revela Press, April 2020) by Nina Ansary takes us on a 4,000-year journey across diverse cultures to highlight the achievements of women. The title comes from author Virginia Woolf’s speculating that maybe the reason women writers seemed lacking during Shakespeare’s time was that they were called “Anonymous.” Ansary’s book takes us from Sumerian astronomer and poet En Hedu-Anna through American chemist Alice Ball.

“A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II” (Viking, April 2019) by Sonia Purnell reveals the exploits of Virginia Hall, a socialite turned spy working for the British agency to create spy networks behind German lines in support of the French resistance. Despite a prosthetic leg and her face on wanted posters, she persisted in her work, refusing orders to flee as long as she could.

“A Black Women’s History of the United States” (Beacon Press, February 2020) by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross showcases stories of enslaved women, freed women, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists and outlaws. The book shows how Black women have worked in their communities combating racism and sexism from the earliest Africans to arrive on this continent until today.

VALLEY WRITERS

Visalia native Jane Porter continues to write three or four novels of romance and women’s stories every year. One of her latest is “The Price of a Dangerous Passion,” a classic romance, which tells the story of Charlotte Parks, a no-non-sense, highly successful redeemer of VIP reputations. Her primary rule is never mix business with pleasure. Until she meets Brando Ricci.

“His Shock Marriage in Greece” is a classic romance and also one of Porter’s The Mediterranean Marriages Series. Damen Alexopoulos is another character who does not let emotion interfere with his life, so even his choice of a bride is based on business. When it turns out that the bride at the altar is actually the younger sister of his chosen, it makes little difference. But not to her.

Another classic romance is “The Prince’s Scandalous Wedding Vow.” Josephine is a shy scientist who rescues a drowning man. She is captured by his charms before she learns that he is Prince Alexander, whose merciless reputation hardly matches the man she thought that he was and who she is now being forced to marry.

WRITING CONTESTS

The deadline for the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest is April 1. The contest is in its 20th year and offers $3,500 in prizes for published and unpublished humorous poetry with

no entry fee. The top 12 entries will be published online. Details: winningwriters.com/our-contests/wergle-flomp-humor-poetry-contest-free.

Another Winning Writers competition is the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. The deadline for the 29th annual contest is April 30. Again, published or unpublished work is accepted. There will be $8,000 in prizes awarded and the top 12 entries will be published online. Maximum word count is 6,000. Details at winningwriters.com/our-contests/tom-howard-john-h-reid-fiction-essay-contest.

WRITING COURSES

Become a Writer Today offers its suggestions on the best online writing courses with Masterclass in first place. According to the description, classes in fiction, creative nonfiction and script writers are always open at $100 each. Go to becomeawritertoday.com/best-online-writing-courses.

RENGAY

Writing poetry is generally a solitary occupation. Rengay is different. It is a type of haiku that is usually a joint effort. The linked verses are often written in alternating patterns by two

or three poets; sometimes even six poets contribute one verse each. The Haiku Society of America lists Garry Gay as the founder of the rengay form. In judging rengay, Gay looks for such things as compelling themes, what the poem speaks to, and the linking of the verses so that they flow well and add new dimensions as they proceed. It is also important to leave something unsaid, provide a satisfying ending and enough depth that repeated readings uncover more meaning.

THE LAST WORD

“A woman is like a tea bag — you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)

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