A year ago we reviewed the first book in the Girls Who Choose God series, Stories of Strong Women from the Bible. Today we are very pleased to share that it was so well-received, a second book, Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon, has been published. This guest post by author McArthur Krishna tells the story of how it came about.
Most people in the church don’t think there are many women in the Book of Mormon… If you ask us to name women we all stumble through a few… and then are stuck. I was exactly the same.
When Bethany and I were in a meeting with Deseret Book about the first Girls Who Choose God book, I was one of the people who nodded and agreed, “Yup– there aren’t enough women in the Book of Mormon to do its own volume”– and so we decided to focus on the Bible.
Fast forward a year later– we were researching and reading and actually paying attention and we found an amazing thing– there are LOTS of times women are mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Over 155 times, in fact. Frankly, we got all excited wondering if there were actually enough substance to write a Girls Who Choose God book with these women?
Turns out, with a lot of prayerful wrangling, there is.
Drumroll…. Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon is now available.
Now, I don’t take umbrage with the Book of Mormon not having many named women. I understand it was a different time, culture, age. What I take umbrage with is myself– I had completely missed all the women, though I have read the Book of Mormon more than a dozen times.
Why did I miss the women? Simply because they often are not named? Because they are not shown as the lead role in the story? We need to get better at recognizing and honoring women’s participation in the God’s work… and not just one narrow type of work but a broad spectrum of contribution. We can all contribute with whatever gifts we have.
For example, I am feisty. I admit this, I even had it listed in my online dating profile. (Despite my mother’s pleas I tone down the word, I left it. I thought anything else would be false advertising.) However, there was a period of time when I worried about whether it was ok that I was such a firebrand. I was not very soft or tender or mild or any of those sorts of things that seemed (to me) to get held up as the way a Mormon woman should be.
It was about the same time when I got called to be the seminary teacher. When the branch president laid his hands on my head to set me apart he ran through the usual mantle…and then paused. He paused long enough that I cocked an eyebrow upwards wondering what in the world was going on. Then he spoke, “God wants you to know that He is well pleased with your fiery spirit. It is the spirit He gave you.”
I was stunned.
The branch president had no idea that I wrested with this question. He used the exact word that was my concern…
and after he closed the prayer he just shook his head at me, “You should know– that last part was not me.” Oh, I knew.
I felt a big, tight part of the inside of me breathe deeply… and release. I was known by God. And who I was was not just ok, but divinely crafted.
My very next thought after sheer humbled gratitude was, “So how do I use this gift?”
Over the years opportunities have presented themselves. But now I use all my grit and feistiness to write books that I think matter. When that process is challenging, I don’t give up. And then I speak, and write, and plot and plan to get the word out. I call all over Temple Square for a month looking for the right person who might be able to get the paintings hung in the Conference Center. Bethany and I work together to make our work as elegant and clean as possible.. and maybe a little feisty.
I can use my feistiness to serve God in this way.
Why does Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Strong Women from the Book of Mormon matter? For many reasons. But, one, is we need to recognize that women come in all different forms. They contribute to God’s work in many different ways. These stories show the power of women’s faith, prayers, courage, teaching… the power of being a daughter of God who throws herself with energy and determination into serving goodness. And that matters for the women of the Book of Mormon… and it matters for us today.
Author McArthur Krishna is passionate about helping children learn the most vital lessons of life. She publishes a social awareness series with Scholastic India Books, a diversity and celebration of life series with Amber Jack publishing, and is now publishing a Girls Who Choose God series with Deseret Book. As McArthur says, “I have loved writing for children. They are so eager for goodness and sponges for learning. There are many topics that stories can help children learn like empathy, resolving conflict peacefully, sharing– but the most important concept I would want a child to know is 1) They are a child of God and 2) So is everybody else.”
About two years ago, I started trolling around various LDS blogs. Some were interesting, some were funny, and some were heavily doctrinal. There was one author I came across a number of times, and I was impressed with a number of things about her: she used her full name (a rarity in the world of anonymous posting), she was intelligent, articulate, and sensitive, and she had a disabled son.
As the mother of a disabled son myself, I was immediately intrigued and sought out her personal website. I spent an evening reading her blog and weeping. Here was someone who thoughtfully and intelligently articulated exactly the feelings that I had but was unable to express in such a thoughtful and intelligent manner myself. Over and over as I read, I thought, “YES! I feel exactly the same way!” I never realized that there was anyone else out there, LDS or not, whose experiences mirrored mine in so many ways. Continue reading The Year My Son and I Were Born
In the spirit of all those Oscar articles right before the big night, I’d like to offer a few Whitney Award predictions. I had a great time being on the Whitney Academy this year. I have read all the finalists, and I was tickled to discover some fabulous writing that I would not have looked at before. I wish that I could attend the Whitney Awards Banquet, which will be held April 25th, but I have an unavoidable scheduling conflict. Sigh. I hope they do liveblogging again this year so I can read about it later.
Before I tell you my predictions, a bit of perspective on judging LDS fiction, and a disclaimer. Continue reading Whitney Award Predictions
Here’s your answer: yes, creative writing can be taught. Kind of. Except when it can’t.
I’ve asked myself whether or not writing can be taught many times over the years. I asked it when I was an undergraduate English major and couldn’t figure out how in the world to get my pioneer novel off the ground. (It was called Exodus, my friends. I’m not kidding. And no, it never did arrive at the promised land.) I asked it when I started teaching high school English and wondered how in the world to grade the heartfelt and mostly terrible poems that landed in my assignment basket. I asked it when I enrolled in a graduate creative writing program, full of crippling self-doubt mixed with the tiniest flicker of hope that I might someday write a short story that came to some sort of satisfying conclusion instead of wandering off to curl up in a corner and die. And I asked it again when I was hired to teach creative writing to the bright and motivated students at Brigham Young University. Continue reading Can Creative Writing Be Taught?