Facebook Tips

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PLATFORM: Facebook

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One of the major ways we use social media today is with Facebook. Almost everyone is on it these days, and so much goes through it that I should have started an account earlier. But I didn’t! So I’m starting one now.

I decided to start a profile rather than a page because I agreed with the advice Jane Friedman gives in her post 5 Reasons to Use Facebook Profiles to Build a Platform. I’ve started by liking some of my favorite authors and favorite pages and will next focus on getting organic friends and followers (rather than fake ones). I also added the link on my Twitter account. So now you can find my profile and friend or follow me!

Here are my take on Guy’s tips for posting on FB:

  • Be aware that because of FB’s algorithm not everyone will see what you post. But, if people re-share it, more people will see it.
  • Use video whenever possible, specifically video uploaded to FB. Because Youtube is owned by FB’s rival, Google, FB has more incentive to post videos in its own media server, so these videos will be more heavily promoted by FB.
  • Add a link and FB will bring in the picture. Instead of uploading a picture, FB will insert it for you if you just paste the link in the text box (Me-Then you can delete the link so you don’t have a clunky URL distracting everyone in the text!). You can also change the picture if you like.
  • Use Facebook Insights for analytics on who you are serving and how to serve them better.
  • Pages interacting with other pages (like regular people) make your pages more powerful and popular. Pages are the business version of profiles or walls. But, they can “interact” with people or other pages just like you interact with your FB friends.

Some DON’TS

  • Don’t buy likes. You want personal engagement from people who actually like what you’re doing. Not masses of anonymous likes that don’t actually mean anything.
  • Don’t ask for re-shares or likes. No one wants to be your friend when you have to beg. They want to be your friend when you demonstrate value added. Remember the weird kid on the playground who asked everyone if they could be best friends? Don’t be that kid (even if you once were.)
  • Don’t ask why someone unfollows you. Same as above, no one wants to be grilled on why they unfollowed someone. This makes me think of those creepy boyfriend who demand a legitimate reason for being dumped. Just because! Ugh!
  • Don’t overly promote yourself or your product. Guy says the ratio should be 1:20. 20 items of value added to 1 item of selling/promoting something. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t agree more! I hate feeling like I’m being sold to when I’m just trying to catch up on my friend gossip via a FB scroll.
  • Don’t overly focus on likes or friend numbers. This one is my tip. Yes, you are there to increase exposure and gain popularity so you can make a living. But don’t make it your reason for living. So what if that one post didn’t get enough likes? Does that mean you lost value as a person? No! Just like in the first tip, you want engagement from people who actually care. If you start off small but strong, and are adding value to the conversation, you’re creating a lifelong circle of fans.

Guy Kawasaki’s Tips for Social Media

Do you know Guy Kawasaki? I didn’t really know who he was until I signed up for Lynda.com (highly recommended!) and started watching his lectures on how to properly use social media for a business. I thought that for part of my series on how I am trying to learn to “harness the power of social media” as an author, I would tell you about what I learned from him. If you want to know more I highly suggest you check him out, or buy his book, The Art of Social Media with Peg Fitzpatrick. Here are a few of his tips in general about posting on social media:

Always Add Value

You can do that in four different ways:

  • Information
  • Analysis
  • Assistance
  • Entertainment

Pass the “Re-Share” Test

Post such great content that people will want to re-share it. He gives an example of a great restaurant that you tell all your friends, “YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS PLACE!” That endorsement can be a little scary because what if your friends hate the place? Suddenly your reputation is on the line. They might not trust you anymore!

But, what if they love it? Then your reputation as a person to listen to grows. I personally love sharing things with friends and making those connections, but I am definitely hesitant to do it in a public forum. Often the things I like feel so niche that no one else will really care. On the other hand, that’s the great thing about social media, isn’t it? You can always find your people.

Use the NPR model

I got a little thrill when he mentioned NPR and some of my favorite programs. He uses them as an example because they create such great content that when they come around begging for money twice (or more) a year, people feel an obligation to reciprocate and pay back in some way. Yes, we might complain about the campaign drive, but we know we need to give back!

In addition to NPR, I personally experienced this with one of my favorite podcast teams at Storywonk. They have given me so much great information, analysis, assistance and entertainment that I felt the need to sing their praises, and show them my support in any way I can. And when they discuss their Patreon donation page I’m immediately in favor of giving them some money if they’ll just keep doing what they do!

Feed the Content Monster

When using social media you can’t pop in and out, leaving vast silent holes. I definitely find myself in this loop, partially because I don’t know what to say or share. Guy has some tips, naturally. Some people might not feel these are all genuine, but I’m going to share them any way because they give very clear answers, and maybe will help you see how others do it.

  • Piggy back off of others, using services like Alltop.comreddit.com, or feedly.com, which are aggregate services that gather popular stories on specific topics.
  • Post what’s hot on Facebook to your own page
  • Be bold. Take a stand. Show what you are interested in.

Obviously, this last one needs some clarification if you are doing this for a business. Take a stand and be bold as it relates to your brand and your company. Maybe talking about dietary restrictions isn’t right for your brand, but talking about a story about getting motivated to be creative. It depends on the angle and the topic.

Also, for those of you thinking that piggybacking is cheating, it’s not. Post what you like, and what interests you. It’s not cheating if you see a video and would also send it to your best friend and share it with your FB friends. That’s just engagement.

His last tips were a little more technical, but useful:

  • On Facebook or Google+ keep posts to 2-3 sentences
  • On Twitter, keep them to 100 characters (even though you have 140) so that others can add their two cents when they re-share
  • On blogs, keep it to 500-1000
  • Pay attention to the right size of photos so that it’s easier to view on different mobile platforms.

 

Writing Projects & the New Year

Yesterday I printed out all three stories I’ve been working on this fall so that I could read them and begin the necessary work of getting back into my writing habit. I was so busy last semester with my teaching load that my writing got put on hold towards the end.

In addition to that, I felt stymied because I didn’t know what I wanted to be writing. I had several started drafts at once, and felt pulled in multiple directions.  I had finished my novel, and the editing process (for now) and felt like I was back at the beginning, trying to retrace my steps but forgetting the path. I did some of the same things I did before, casting my characters on Pinterest, laying out the acts and the Inciting Incident and all of the crucial steps, but I was still lost and floundering. I knew I had good ideas, and they had the power to be complete stories, but I felt none of the motivation I had previously to tell the story. I felt like I didn’t know my characters very well at all.

For me, character comes out of conflict. I have a harder time with plotting than with coming up with interesting characters. I could spend all day describing and dressing my characters, giving them names and backstories and quirky traits. But I have a harder time knowing what their story will be. So I start with the harder stuff: figuring out what the central conflict is. Then, I look at the conflict and try to figure out what kinds of characters might be involved in that conflict. From there, I figure out where that character’s motivations and goals collide with the conflict. And I can work backwards to flesh out their character from that.

I finally realized, after lots of pondering and stewing and re-reading of my first pages that I had two great characters but nothing for them to do. So, I at last harped on my conflict, and must now go back to the discovery stage so I can work out the changes that this conflict will mean on my characters. Wish me luck! It’s scary to realize you messed up and have to start over! But, falling down and getting back up is part of the process.

Now, I’m going to write for 20 minutes because that is how I ease myself back in, and avoid too much procrastination. You can do anything for 20 minutes!

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

New Year's Eve 2015

This time of year is full of New Year resolutions that we start with such vigor and slowly watch them fade as the year drags us kicking and screaming along. My 2015 was full of transition and hard work. I worked my rear off (metaphorically, of course. Literally, it’s the same size it was last year). I worked a few different jobs trying to keep myself in the black, and trying to create opportunities where none existed before. I learned a lot. And now I find myself in a better position to take advantage of this yea of hard work, which is a really nice thing. A lot has happened.

  1. I finished my first novel, went through the editing process and pitched it to an agent who wanted to see the full manuscript. So far I’m not certain what will happen, but I’m cautiously optimistic and trying not to think too much about it as I know my success so far is a little atypical and I don’t want to get my hopes up.
  2. I completed 2.5 more semesters of college teaching and rediscovered my love of British literature and teaching in general. Even though I’ve absolutely needed the break for the holidays, I’m really enjoying my current teaching track and don’t want that to change!
  3. I’ve saved some money even though it’s been tight for us, and am grateful I’ve been able to do that. My husband started a new job that he really, really likes in September, but before that we were barely squeaking by. I may have contributed to that problem by leaving my soul sucking high school teaching job and teaching as an adjunct instead, but I’ve been working very hard to make up for it with my second job.
  4. I’ve come to better understand what I want out of life, and focused on how I can achieve it. In a vague way, I’ve always known what I’d like my life to look like, and most of my twenties involved a process of chipping away at other things to get to what I truly wanted. But now I’m clearer on the steps I need to take, and clearer on my ability to take them. I’m not letting anything stand in my way if I can figure out how to move it or go around it, and that is an empowering feeling.

So what’s next in 2016?

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Helping Preserve Women’s Rights History

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In 1848 the first women’s convention on equal rights was held in Seneca Falls, NY. There, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martha Coffin Wright and Lucretia Mott led the gathered women in the creation of a document modeled after the Declaration of Independence, which held that men and women were created equal.

Their Declaration of Sentiments, as the document was called, was then signed by the women and the 30 men who attended (including Frederick Douglass). This kicked off the women’s rights movement in our country and paved the way for women’s suffrage, and other vitally important changes to ensure women’s rights. But, in addition to actual improvements, it also called for things like equal pay, which is still an issue we struggle with 167 years later. Their last sentiment especially hit home. It is as follows:

He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Women still face these issues. The fight is not over. And the need for recognizing women who began this movement is not over. The White House, and the Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, have been working with the National Archives to find the original Declaration of Sentiments. After Frederick Douglass took the document to Rochester, NY to publish it in his newspaper, The Northern Star, the document has gone missing. They are hoping to find the original Declaration, or any evidence that can explain what has happened to it. In addition to this important piece of history, they are seeking other artifacts important to the women’s rights movement in this country. You can read more about it on the White House’s blog. And you can help spread the word! Get the message out so that we can find and preserve a part of history that is often ignored or unknown. Use #FindtheSentiments to spread the word!

Silver Linings & Lemonade

Inspiration Quotes

One of the downsides of being an adjunct is that occasionally you end up without work. And that is where I find myself this spring semester. Partially it is my fault, because I got distracted and didn’t turn in my faculty preferences early enough and all the classes got snatched up. I work in a weird liminal space at the college which means that English classes I am eligible for are more limited than the average college, which has students who need English all year round, which is a real lemon scenario.

The silver lining of this cloud is that I will have more time in January to devote to writing. I got overwhelmed with grading this semester and did barely any writing. It’s not always like that but it made for a frustrating 16 weeks.

And, since I want to be able to both teach and write, I need to devote myself to that, and I need to also focus more on the business end. I’ve slowly been learning about being an entrepreneur this past year (which is how I think the modern writer really needs to think to be successful) and am eager to keep learning and start applying these lessons to this blog. So, as a sort of record I will be keeping track of my progress and my actions here on this blog. Maybe it will help someone else too. And thus; we will all drink lemonade in the shade, having done some good hard work to make that silver lining grow wider and wider and take over the gloomy clouds of this unemployed educator!

Keep watching for some changes in the new year!

What I Wish I’d Said

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Recently, as I was making my rounds in one of my British Literature classes, listening to what the groups had to say, and clarifying some confusing points, I stopped to chat with a group of particularly bright and funny students. I don’t know exactly how the subject of romance novels began, but I know I wish I had ended it very differently.

My students don’t know I write historical romance, so they don’t know how I feel about the topic. Like many writers I use a pen name. I do this for several reasons, as I’m sure you do too, if you use one. I am not ashamed of my writing, but I understand that some people might not see it that way, and at the moment I’d rather keep my writing life separate from my day to day life. Nor do I talk about my writing in the classroom. I generally say I write historical fiction, which is true but doesn’t carry nearly the same connotations.

So, when one of my bright students started lambasting romance novels for all of the tired reasons you’ve heard before she didn’t know she was speaking to a writer and reader of romance. She just thought she was talking to her professor of “High Canon British Literature”. And I was thrown off my game a little bit, trying to maintain my professional persona, and wasn’t prepared to defend the genre. So I said nothing and I did nothing. But this is what I wish I had said:

“Hey, B. I hear what you’re saying about romance novels, that they are ridiculous and overly romanticized and nothing is ever really like that.  And I agree. Romance novels are ridiculous, overly romanticized and unrealistic. But I want you to stop and think about why you are criticizing a genre that millions of women (and men) read and love. What is it about the genre that you find so distasteful? Is it the fact that it’s unrealistic or overly dramatic? Because in that case you should also be criticizing the Beowulf or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight stories we just read. Or the latest Avengers movie or Stephanie Meyer novels. Vampires and superheroes and monsters and green knights who challenge people to beheading games are unrealistic and overly dramatic too.

No, I don’t think it’s the overly dramatic quality that bothers most people. I think it’s deeper than that. We have a hard time accepting sentiment and emotion. We are uncomfortable with our soft, squishy feelings in the light of the day, and so we joke about them. We make them less important than they really are. We are uncomfortable with passion and so we pretend it is silly, except when we want it ourselves, and then only as long as it stays tidy and doesn’t expose our vulnerabilities to others. I do this too. I get it.

Or, maybe you think it’s a silly genre because women are the primary readers of it? In that case, I’m disappointed. It hurts all women when we look down on our gender as somehow less than because they make up the majority of fans for a specific type of creative endeavor. Do you see other men making fun of each other because of equally ridiculous action movies? No. So why do we think it’s okay for people to make fun of romance novels?

Perhaps it’s the sex? Perhaps you are uncomfortable with a genre that accepts and praises and revers sex? Why exactly? Why can people be okay with feeling emotions of fear and anxiety in a horror movie, and be moved to scream or cover their faces, but aren’t okay with being turned on or moved by descriptions of sex?

See, I think that people are afraid of all of these things when it comes to romance novels. They’re afraid that the overly romanticized plot lines will make women unhappy with their real lives, (and if they are, is that always a bad thing? Maybe they need to change). And they’re afraid that the “formulaic nature of genre writing” will somehow dull our brains (Law & Order, any body?). Or they are afraid of the emotions or the sex. It’s a sad world we live in when we accept monsters and fear and blood, but get squeamish at the thought of love and sex.

Or maybe it goes deeper. Maybe we make fun of romance novels because they are written by women and for women. We’ve been reading a lot of literature in our class and very little of it shows a woman’s voice. Not until recently were women even allowed to be writers, and even today women are rarely recognized for their writing as men are (See: Jennifer Weiner’s campaign to get equal reviews in the NYT). We call women writers “subliterary” and we call their writing “women’s fiction” or “chick lit”. And that’s a problem, because male writers don’t face the same kind of criticism, even when their writing is formulaic as well. We don’t say that mystery writers, or sci-fi, or fantasy writers who are men are “subliterary”. We don’t have a derogatory term like “bodice-rippers” for the types of lighter fiction that men write or read. No. We save it for women. And we save our disdain for the genre of romance because women write it.

In addition to the other issues we discuss, my class has been focused on helping you and your classmates see that women’s experiences are often overlooked, negated or not acknowledged. That women are accused of being “lewd” or “coy” and everything else, but are rarely allowed to speak on their gender’s behalf, or even on their own behalf. Many of you have stated that things have gotten better, which is true, but we still undermine women at every turn, and making fun of a genre of literature is just another example of this and I’m sick of it.

The romance genre is about people falling in love, and fighting for that love. It’s about a plot that ends satisfyingly, just like John Grishman novels do. It’s about acknowledging what makes us human, and flawed and working to overcome or accept those qualities. And I don’t see how those things are some how beneath us, or should be mocked. Do you?”

Had We But World Enough and Time I Could Make You Love Poetry Too

In addition to writing about love, I spend a lot of time talking about the literature of love, and of sex. I teach British Literature as a professor at a community college in Texas, and I get to teach high school students all about British Literature from 1000 to 1800.  I say “get to” because it is my privilege. I feel very fortunate on most days to be the one who gets to introduce them to the complex wonders of Chaucer, Donne, Marvelle and yes, Shakespeare. I love showing them why I enjoy sonnets and love extended metaphors and all the other ways that poetry challenges us, and makes us respond to the words on the page. And sometimes they point out things that make me pause and re-evaluate my own responses and then I have a deeper appreciation for the poems we’ve been reading for the past 500 years. Today, I got to experience that, and it was a great way to finish the day.

Today we discussed two of the better known “Carpe Diem” poems, Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time” and Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”. (The latter happens to be one of my all time favorite poems and the link I’ve included has a great version of it read by someone who sounds awfully like Patrick Stewart.)

As we were reading the poem I pointed out why he praises various body parts of his lady, and what he is trying to do by focusing on her eyes, forehead and heart, and also why he is trying to convince her that if they had “but world enough and time” then he would be committed to loving her “ten years before the flood”.

One of my students mentioned that parts of the poem are really weird, and that the idea of worms trying her “long preserved virginity” was a really gross image. When she said this I agreed, and I also pointed out that he compares them to “amorous birds of prey” and suggests that they “tear [their] pleasure with rough strife,” and that these are not usually images or birds we associate with love. When we think of birds and love we think of songbirds, or doves or lovebirds. We rarely think of falcons and hawks.

But, I went on to say, this is one of the reasons I absolutely love this poem. Andrew Marvell contrasts these gruesome or unpleasant images with some astoundingly beautiful ones. He says to his mistress that “my vegetable love should grow / vaster than empires, and more slow” which brings to mind green growing life, and vines curling outwards across the land. I love the idea of vegetable love. It seems so precious and earthy, and yet it brings forth life and nourishes us. Or, if you aren’t a fan of vegetable love, you might prefer, “the youthful hue / sits on thy skin like morning dew”. I would swoon if someone said that to me. But, shortly after that he’s talking about death and ashes.

And for me, the contrast between the beautiful and the ugly is what makes this poem startlingly great. It’s like life, in that beautiful things are set right next to ugly ones. Amazingly beautiful flowers grow out of mud, and lovely, wonderful things are right next to gruesome, awful ones. This poem sees the reality and the beauty and isn’t trying to hide one with the other. And that makes the beautiful things all the more marvelous (get it? Marvell-ous?) and the ugly things take on their own sort of loveliness.

So many of the poems from this era try to disguise their intentions with flowery, lovely language, or complex rhymes so that we don’t notice the truth. Or, we might notice it but we see it as insincere. Marvell might be insincere in his commitment to this woman, but he’s honest about it. He’s saying if we had time, I’d make you all sorts of flowery speeches, but we don’t. We’re going to die and it will be awful. Let’s enjoy things now while we can, and even if we can’t stop time, we will give it a run for its money.

That right there is how I finished my class. *Mic drop*. Isaacks Out.

RESEARCH: Setting a Broken Bone: 19th century medical treatment was not for sissies

Oh dear! One of my characters has suffered a tragic fall from a horse! Don’t worry, she gets better and her injury only serves to bring her sister and the love interest closer together, so all is well in the end! Thanks to Jane Austen’s World for helping me get the details correct!

Source: Setting a Broken Bone: 19th century medical treatment was not for sissies

Why Anne Shirley Was My First Feminist Icon

I was thinking recently on one of my all time heroines, and contemplating how Anne Shirley has influenced my life.

I first learned of Anne of Green Gables because my mother borrowed the VHS of the two movies starring Megan Fellows. You know the one. And then, I checked the books out of the library and proceeded to read them over and over and over and over. All of them. For years. I can even re-read them now and still enjoy them, and get new insights from them (for instance, I recently re-read Anne’s House of Dreams, which chronicles her first few years of married life with Gilbert, and as a married woman as well, I gained a new perspective.) Yes, the stories are sentimental, dramatic and very romanticized, but Anne remains for me, as Mark Twain put it, “the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice.”

When it comes to boys she might have done me a little disservice. I now have a tendency to over-romanticize boys and not see when they are actually just being normal boys. And I will never be as beautiful or as good. It has been a little disappointing to realize that no matter what, I will never be the mother she was to the Ingleside crew. But in general, Anne Shirley Blythe has taught me so much about being a strong, smart, creative girl that I never really stop to think about the influence she’s had until I am doing something and realize there’s an Anne quote that fits perfectly into the moment. Sadly, I know so few other Anne-obsessives that I can’t say the quote aloud without feeling slightly ridiculous (also happens with Lorelei Gilmore quotes). But, I do it anyway, because Anne would too.

So, here are my top lessons in being a feminist from Anne Shirley Blythe:

1. She is ambitious, and doesn’t let society’s expectations get in her way:

“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

“We pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self denial, anxiety and discouragement.”

“I’ve done my best, and I begin to understand what is meant by ‘the joy of strife’. Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.”

As any good fan knows, Anne was top in her class, except when Gilbert took that honor. She worked hard to learn geometry, and all of her other lessons to keep her place. She was so ambitious that she went to high school and college, earning a B.A. in English. But she also understands what it means to fail, and what we can learn from our mistakes.

When I was in college I used to remind myself of Anne’s study habits and this inspired me to work a little harder. I wouldn’t want to disappoint her.

2. She is smart, and isn’t afraid to admit it

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”

Anne is a reader, and an imaginative thinker. She isn’t afraid of being perceived as “too smart”. She accepts her love of literature, poetry and writing, and even though it makes her seem odd to others, she refuses to apologize for it. She says that she needs her big words because she has big ideas. Her example made me proud of loving books and being smart as well. The fact that she never hid this made me more courageous too.

3. She doesn’t let boys or romance distract her from her goals. 

“Young men are all very well in their place, but it doesn’t do to drag them into everything, does it?”

Not only is she smart, she’s not afraid to let boys know it. Anne uses her competition with Gilbert to become the best in their class. She refuses to accept any disrespect and refuses to be swayed by a pretty face, even when that pretty face is trying to apologize for wounding her pride and calling her “Carrots”. Of course, later on, when they’ve grown up she becomes friends with Gilbert, but even then, their feelings for each other don’t keep her from working. She earns her degree in a time when co-education is rare and not well accepted, then becomes an English teacher and also a high school principal in Kingstown while Gilbert goes to medical school.

4. She is a good friend, who won’t let others talk badly of those she cares about.

“We ought always to try to influence others for good.”

Too often we tend to disparage or insult our friends, or other women in general.  But Anne Shirley isn’t standing for it. Anne tells Phillippa Gordon that she won’t hear anyone talk badly about her friends, even if it’s self-disparaging talk. She encourages positive thinking, and friendship above all else. When I hear myself saying something negative about a woman in my head I remember her example and repent.

5. She knows herself and accepts herself.

 “Well, I don’t want to be anyone but myself, even if I go uncomforted by diamonds all my life,” declared Anne. “I’m quite content to be Anne of Green Gables, with my string of pearl beads.”

When Anne and Gilbert finally get engaged she wants a circle of pearls, even though Gilbert says that diamonds are traditional (actually this tradition didn’t start until the 1920s, well after Anne and Gilbert were married, but L.M. was writing in the 20th century, so we’ll excuse her. Besides, without the error we wouldn’t have this great quote). Anne learns to accept herself over the years and knows what she does and doesn’t want. And what she doesn’t want is a bunch of diamonds that don’t fit her, even if everyone else is doing it. I remember this lesson sometimes when I’m feeling discouraged because my path differs from the people around me. I remind myself to choose what works for me, not what others think I should be doing. I might not have monetary goods, but I still get to be me.

6. She understands the power of clothes.

“It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable.”

“All I want is a dress with puffed sleeves”

Some might say that feminists shouldn’t worry about clothes, but to paraphrase Anne, it’s easier to be good if you look good too. When I like my appearance, and my clothes I find it makes me more confident and happier. When I take care of myself, I’m loving myself.

7. When she does have children she doesn’t play the mommy wars

Anne is ambitious, and loves teaching. But the social expectations of her day require her to devote herself to her family. But that doesn’t mean everyone agrees with her choices. Anne has five children, and little time to do the writing that she so loved. But when someone calls her out on it at a dinner party, trying to make her feel badly for having so many children! she responds gracefully, and tells the busybody that she is writing “living epistles now,” meaning that she is focusing on creating living, breathing letters to the world in the form of her children. She doesn’t feel guilty for her choices, and refuses to downplay her role as a mother. She might not have the same choices I have today to be married, work and have children, but she’s not about to let someone insult the choice she does make.

8. She’s human and makes mistakes too.

When she was a child, Anne once told Marilla that she never repeats the same mistake. Marilla replies by saying something like, “but there are plenty more out there for you to discover.” And it’s true. Anne is constantly learning more about herself, and growing from the experience. Whether it’s her hair dye fiasco, her red currant cordial mix-up, lashing out when people insult her red hair, her almost engagement with Royal Gardner in college, her poor love advice to Janet while she’s substitute teaching, or her jealousy over Christine Stuart (both during college and later, when she and Gilbert are married) Anne isn’t perfect, and she sometimes makes a mistake, driven by vanity, pride or jealousy. But she takes it all with the spirit of one who is optimistic, and wants to learn from her mistakes. And that’s some great advice.

There you have it, my top 8 reasons why Anne Shirley is a feminist icon. Who are your early fictional icons? Or, if Anne is one of yours, what lessons did you learn from her?