Who’s That Indie Author? Elizabeth Hein

I am excited to be featured in Book Club Mom’s series on Indie Authors. I urge you to check out some of the other featured authors, as well.

Book Club Mom

Who's That Indie Author pic

Elizabeth Hein Elizabeth Hein

Author name:  Elizabeth Hein

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

Books: How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, Overlook, Escape Plan (2016)

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Bio: Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her novel, How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, examines the redemptive power of friendship in the face of cancer. Overlook, highlights the darker side of suburban life, and Escape Plan (2016) will pick up where Overlook leaves off.

Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer, which motivated her to devote her life to parenting her two beautiful daughters and pursue her dream of sharing her stories with…

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Author focus – Elizabeth Hein

I’m honored to be Alison Williams’ guest on her blog today. Check out our interview and click around to read more about Alison and her latest book, The Black Hours.

Alison Williams Writing

rosie3                           Elizabeth book cover

I reviewed Elizabeth’s book ‘How to Climb the Eiffel Tower’ for Rosie Amber’s blog.  The book follows the story of Lara as she undergoes treatment for cancer – I lost my mum to cancer so I was worried that I would find the book upsetting, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was surprised to feel so uplifted – this was a book that, while telling it like it is, wasn’t depressing or maudlin in any way. I’m delighted to have Elizabeth as a guest on the blog to find out more about her, her writing, and what inspired her to write.

Tell me a little about your writing history. 

I was an avid reader long before I ever put pen to paper. As a kid, I spent my afternoons reading in my room. My…

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Is reading romance novels a feminist activity?

Monday night, Summer Kinard and I went to the first in a lecture series at Duke University about Women, Fiction & Popular Perception. It was a thought provoking evening full of excellent scholarship. If you are in the central NC area, I highly recommend you check the series out and attend.

In her comments, Maya Rodale spoke about how as a young academic, she read “serious” books and thought of romance novels as “unsuitable” or less than appropriate for an educated feminist until her mom pushed her to read a few romances before declaring she didn’t like them. Apparently, that suggestion changed Maya’s academic path because she now studies the genre and writes romance.

Which brings me to what I wanted to talk to you all about today – Is reading romance novels a feminist activity?

I have to admit, until I attended this lecture, I would not have put those two concepts together. I definitely was trained to consider romance novels as fluffy and somehow unimportant. During the lecture, several of the women talked about how their mothers would keep their romance collections hidden away in the bedroom or, now with the advent of ereaders, locked away in a device. That was not my experience. There were no romance novels in my home growing up. I once took a few Harlequins out of the library and my mom teased me so mercilessly about reading fluff, I took them back. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romantic yarn but I have experienced a sense of shame for “wasting” my valuable time reading them. Until I attended this lecture, I never questioned my perception of this whole genre.

Within the conversation, several of the panelists spoke about how historically romance novels, and the novel in general, were frowned upon because their plots are counterproductive for the patriarchy. That took me a few minutes to get my head around. I never really thought about romance novels as being dangerous to the cultural status quo, but I see what they were talking about. In a traditional romance, the heroine has the power to choose who she is going to love and marry, her sexuality is acknowledged and encouraged, and she lives happily ever after with the man she loves. That is pretty dangerous.

So … I think I need to start reading more romances. What should I read?  Who are your favorite authors? Should I read historical romance or contemporary? What would be a good entry point into the genre for a cynic that rolls her eyes at the kissing scenes in movies?

Someday is Today

September is Blood Cancer Awareness month. Every seven minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with a type of lymphoma—that is why it is so important to not only raise awareness for this disease, but to fund cutting-edge research to one day find a cure.  If you would like to donate to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, click on the link.  They are making great strides toward finding a cure.

Even though I write about cancer, I have not talked about my own cancer very much. I am one of the over 700,000 Americans currently living with, or in remission from, the different types of lymphoma.  I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2002 at the age of 34.  I was older than the average Hodgkins patient. Many of the other patients I met were teenagers. A few times, a nurse or technician looked around the waiting room assuming I was the mother of the patient, rather than being the patient.  As the mother of two young girls at the time, my heart went out to the moms and dads sitting in the waiting rooms with their children. I’m sure they would have traded places with their child any day.

Thankfully, there was an effective treatment regimen of chemotherapy and radiation when I was diagnosed. The treatments were awful, but effective. I quickly went into remission and have been cancer free since 2002.  In the last decade, research has shown that less harsh regimens are as effective, so people diagnosed today have an even better prognosis than I did.

Please, be aware of the symptoms of lymphoma (swollen lymph nodes, unexplained fever, weight loss, night sweats, lack of energy, itchy skin) and take them seriously.  Early detection is key in successfully treating cancer of all types.

Be well.

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Advice to young college women

I was out and about today and heard today’s Diane Rehm Show on The Role of Fraternities and Sororities Today. Although one of the guests did a valiant job of trying to highlight the positive aspects of Greek life on college campuses, the discussion quickly moved to the preponderance of binge drinking and sexual violence associated with Frats. As the mother of two college aged daughters, I am very aware of the problem and rushed home to listen to the entire discussion.

Wow.

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg President Emeritus of George Washington University made a provocative statement that caused the comments section to explode. He said –

“The women … go to the parties at the fraternities. So it’s not as if the women aren’t drinking. They are, in fact. Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in the position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave.  Part of the problem is there are men that take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who  drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters, and our children, on that regard.”

The other guests quickly upbraided Dr. Trachtenberg for implying that young women hold any responsibility for being subjected to sexual violence and the conversation moved on. He backed down and I don’t think he realized just how inflammatory his words were. Using terms like “misbehave” minimizes the serious crime of rape and implying that a 135 pound girl could just “punch the guys in the nose” and escape a potential gang rape is beyond patronizing.

What has stuck with me for the rest of the afternoon was just how much Dr. Trachtenberg’s words echoed the things the administration at my college said to me back in the 80’s. I had a campus police officer once tell me that if I chose to walk beyond the gates of the school to get to my off-campus apartment, I was “on my own.” That didn’t sit well with me. This was before schools had “blue light” systems where students are never very far from a panic button. We were truly on our own in the city.  I was the chair of the Women’s Forum at my college at the time, so I had a built in soapbox. ( If we had social media back then, I could have been dangerous.) I rallied my fellow Women’s Forum members and we petitioned the administration for safer policies. The school ended up creating a pool of students, mostly football and rugby players, that would walk groups of students from the library to the off-campus apartments. I am a firm believer in women standing up to authority.

Since then, I have tried my best to raise two young women with a healthy senses of self-worth and feminist attitudes. I have had many conversations with them about the rape culture we live in and taught them to recognize sexual assault as a violent crime that is never the victims fault. That being said, like Dr. Trachtenberg suggested, I have taught my girls to not drink to excess and not to go to frat parties. The girls think I am exceedingly cynical about the world. I hope I am.

I hope I am wrong about the vulnerability of young women in the world, but just in case, I’ve developed a list of “rules for self-preservation” for my girls. Feel free to share them with your girls.

  • Don’t go to parties where girls get in free. Nothing is ever really free.
  • Never put your drink down.
  • Don’t go to parties where you buy a cup and can drink as much as you want.
  • Always assume the punch is spiked.
  • Only drink beers you’ve opened yourself. Never drink from a keg.
  • Don’t go to parties that are held in basements.
  • Always look for a second way to get out of any room.
  • Don’t go to parties without a buddy, preferably a trusted male buddy.
  • Don’t trust people until you are sure they are trustworthy.
  • Never walk anywhere alone.
  • Walk with your keys laced through your fingers. Go for the eyes if possible.
  • Don’t trust the campus police to report a crime. They work for the school, not for the students.
  • Know your rights. You are valuable. If a young man does something that could ruin his life if it was reported, that’s his problem.
  • Never let anyone tell you that a victim is to blame for a crime committed against them.

Parents, what advice did you send your kids off to school with? Did your parents give you good advice? How do you talk to your children about violence against women?