Monday, January 18, 2010

The Soulmate Search : A Book Review

If you think the concept of having a soul mate is crap or that “attracting” the perfect person into your life is double crap, then you should probably stop reading here. But if you have been romantically attached to a long list of losers or every weekend you find yourself reluctantly sitting on your couch with only the company of a bag of Doritos — then read on.

Arielle Ford’s The Soulmate Secret: Manifest the Love of Your Life with the Law of Attraction just might be the antidote to your partner-less life that you’ve been looking for.

I bumped into this little book of love and joy while searching the new arrival stacks at my local library. I am personally not in the market for a new mate, but Ford’s sunny and hopeful writing style compelled me to check this little puppy out and I have not been able to put it down.

Let me be clear that The Soulmate Secret isn’t bringing us any late breaking information that we have not heard before. What makes this 207 page quick read so compelling is its accessibility. Ford saves you from chapters of psycho-babble, that normally makes you feel like who would want to date you any way, and jumps right into how to find that special person.
The book takes you through a quick soulmate IQ test: Do you believe there is a soul mate out there for you? Are there past lovers who still have their energetic hooks in you — or are yours in them? Are you psychologically ready to receive your soul mate? These are just a few of the probing questions put to you on page one. If you answer “no” to any of the nine questions, Ford lets you know right off the bat that you and the current state of mind is the barrier that is stopping your soulmate from showing up. If you must know I answered “no” to half the damn questions.

But don’t fear; she has a host of activities and testimonies to get you into relationship shape. In many ways the book ask that you accept full responsibility for all the sub-par mates that have been showing up in your life. When you look back on your failed relationships you knew they were trouble or broke or alcoholics or needy or crazy from the very start, but you let them in anyway. From the start they couldn’t give you what you needed and you certainly could not impact change in their chaotic lives, so you were forced to ride it out until the relationship died some horrible, often messy, death. Then you were back on that couch, with your bag of Doritos, feeling like a failure and wondering why you are so unlucky in love.

To combat these unintentional relationships, Ford suggests that you make an exhaustive list of the attributes you want in a partner. I know it sounds super easy but try it. After you scribble down the first five or six characteristics a lot of folks find themselves struggling to come up with the recommended minimum 25 items. Partly, the exercise is about showing you you are not necessarily connected to what you want in a partner. This disconnect is why you accept anything that shows up. Once you get past the cute, nice, good in bed and not allergic to the cat, you discover there is a lot of things you hate about your new love. And there you are, back on the relationship roller coaster. The author suggests you should commit about 30 minutes to making this list.

Making your soul mate list is just the start to the process that leads you through a lot of purging and reflection in your life. When it comes to your physical space: throw away those bedsheets that are still around from two relationships ago. They are probably carrying around some bad love juju. Make a vision board of what you want your soul mate to look like and what you would like to do with them and hang it in your bedroom. Set up an altar to remind you that you “purposely” trying to attract your true love. When it comes to you, get your butt into therapy or some form of counseling. Take inventory of your life. There is a reason that you keep attracting the wrong person. Find out why, and then stop doing it.

My favorite part of the book is the couple testimonies sprinkled throughout. Ford says that all the couples highlighted took the steps recommended in the book and found their true love. We got people meeting on planes, in gyms, in snowstorms, at seminars, and in parking lots. One guy reports that he woke up one morning, with a random phone number running through his head, and when he called it it was a woman living 50 miles away that he had never heard of. After he told her how he came to call her, and she did not hang up on him, they met for coffee and have been together ever since. Stop rolling your eyes, especially if you are still sitting on that couch covered in Doritos dust.

If I had any criticism of the book are Ford’s “Feelingizations.” These are meant to be meditations that you can do when you want to connect to the idea of attracting your soul mate. I personally could not get through them, but maybe you will have better luck. There is also a website that provides a guided audio of these feelingizations that could make the meditation a little easier.

All in all, I think this book is perfect for those who are ready to take a real hard look at their romantic life and are serious about getting into an intentional and healthy long-term relationship. Happy manifesting!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Growing Up Girl contributor Cherien Dabis' film "Amreeka" nominated for three Film Independent Spirit Awards

The super talented Growing Up Girl contributor Cherien Dabis (Amsterdam It!) first feature length film "Amreeka" is getting a lot of much deserved praise. Recently it was nominated for three Spirit Awards: Best Feature, Best First Screenplay (Cherien Dabis), Best Female Lead (Nisreen Faour).

Cherien wrote and directed this film. In total "Amreeka" has won 11 awards. You can check them out here


Amreeka chronicles the adventures of Muna, a single mother who leaves the West Bank with Fadi, her teenage son, dreaming of an exciting future in small-town Illinois. In America, as her son navigates high school hallways like he used to move through military checkpoints, the indomitable Muna scrambles together a new life cooking up falafel burgers at the local White Castle.

Told with heartfelt humor by writer-director Cherien Dabis in her feature film debut, Amreeka portrays the universal journey of a family of immigrants and first-generation teenagers caught between their heritage and the new world they now call home.

The awards will be telecast live on IFC on Friday, March 10, 2010 at 8:00pm. For more information check out the Spirit Awards website.

And, of course, check out the "Amreeka" trailer below.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you were seven-years-old?

Did that dream follow you into adulthood?

When I was seven I discovered I could read an entire book (Ramona the Great). I have been in love with books and the written word ever since. I am not surprised that I run a press or that I write screenplays. But this morning it came to me that when I was little I liked reading to other people, specifically to other kids who could not read as well. I guess some where along the way words and helping others became one in the same. Do you think you can know your "calling" as early as seven?

Let us know about your little girl dreams.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Article on the Press by Lisa Rose - emPOWER Magazine

Mission Accomplished: Michelle Sewell’s GirlChild Press
Former social worker uses the power of words to help women and girls in need
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
by Lisa Rose
Article link -
What does a master’s degree in Social Work have to do with starting a publishing company? Everything!

Michelle Sewell worked with children and families for 15 years. Each year, she became more and more stressed and burned out. So in the summer of 2004, Sewell got out!

“I decided to take a sabbatical and explore the creative aspects of my life in a more full-time way,” Sewell said. “I spent that summer being a touring poet and teaching writing workshops to women and girls in shelters, group homes and detention centers. By the end of the summer I was in love with the idea of providing the opportunity for women and girls to use their voices in the way they saw fit.”

Sewell was so impressed with the stories and poems of the women and girls she met that she decided to bring those voices to a broader audience. So about a year after her break, instead of returning to social work, she decided to apply for a local arts grant. She was awarded the money and used it to fund a local anthology.

“But once I put the call for submissions online, the anthology became…an international anthology.” she said.

After nine months of hard work, Sewell finished “Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces.” The anthology features writers from the Philippines, Canada, Australia, England, and across the United States.

“The excellent reception the book received put me on the road for a year, touring bookstores, recreational centers, and universities,” she said. “During that year, I decided to formalize GirlChild Press and commit to publishing the work of girls and women (on) a regular basis.”

Sewell publishes girls and women because she doesn’t “believe women writers are given the same attention from the publishing world. Not enough eclectic voices are allowed in print and what is printed is not a representation of the brilliance and creativity that women writers bring to the table."

“Historically, women’s access to learning (reading and writing) was barred by others and then their writings were not taken seriously, sometimes forcing them to take on male pseudonyms to get their work in print (i.e. The Bronte Sisters or Louisa May Alcott). People might say that practice is a thing of the past, but you only have to look at the writer of the hugely successful “Harry Potter” series to find an example of a woman (who) was forced to use a gender neutral name—J.K. Rowlings—to get the respect of the entire literary world,” she continued.

The next project and final anthology in the “girl” trilogy is “Woman’s Work: The Short Stories,” which is a collection of short stories by 40 girl and women writers.

“As always the work is eclectic and daring,” Sewell said. “The voices are unique and their stories are filtered through extraordinary life experiences. I am really excited about this project.”

GirlChild Press received more than 300 submissions for the project, which made it difficult to choose only 40 writers.

“I really try to focus on new writers or writers who have a unique story to tell,” she said. “Having an extensive publishing resume doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your work will be included in the collection. In many ways I am looking for 40 different experiences that my readers can identify with but are also foreign to them—tricky.”

The publishing company is also planning to release its first single author project. Sonya Renee Taylor is an award-winning, international slam poet. The projected release date is late fall 2010.

“She is zany, provocative, smart and progress,” she said. “I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to publish her first poetry collection.”

In 2011, Sewell will release a parenting handbook geared to growing smart and strong girls and will be written by two licensed social workers.

Although Sewell is excited about her new venture and upcoming projects, the realities of the recession and the decline in the book publishing industry are sinking in. She has had to rethink how she markets books.

“Sales keep us alive,” she said. “As I prepare to release the next anthology, Woman’s Work: The Short Stories, I am looking to universities and colleges, book groups, sororities, online groups, designated women’s spaces and organizations to get the book out to the same audiences that might be lost because the book maybe on fewer shelves. I will also continue to use the web, social networking, YouTube, and our vast and growing database to get the word out regarding the book and the press.”

To learn more about Sewell and GirlChild Press' writing projects, visit You can also contact her directly at

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More New Titles from GirlChild Press Contributors

Upon further investigation it seems 2009 was a huge publishing year for a lot of the contributors from GirlChild Press. There were no fewer than seven new titles added to the literary universe by these talented women. Make haste and go check them all out. Most are available on and I've added a link for your buying convenience. The authors are in alphabetical order and the description of the books have been pulled from their websites or other sources when possible.

Accomplished poet Antoinette Brim (Burning Bridges),whose work appears in the anthology Just Like A Girl, released her collection of poetry PSALM OF THE SUNFLOWER in the fall of 2009. The collection was published by Willow Books. In Psalm of Sunflower, poet Antoinette Brim explores the painful reality of divorce as a foundation for self-discovery. Through exquisitely crafted poetry, filled with layered language and meaning, Brim unravels the breaking and mending of heart and spirit through a metaphoric engagement of nature, the Little Rock landscape, collective memory and song. Revelatory semantics skim just below the surface of these poems whose visionary narrative-arc mirrors the sunflower drawn to light as Brim explores a new morning of possibility through language. You can purchase the book here

Hot off the press, Just Like A Girl contributor Ellen Hagan (Our Women) new collection of poems CROWNED is ready for your reading pleasure. The Kentucky poet, who is known for bawdy, provocative, and sizzling work, doesn't disappoint with this slim volume. Ellen explores every crack and crevice, and leaves no truth untold. Her work is about intersections, history, accountability and tenderness. This is her debut collection and it is published by Sawyer House. You can purchase the book here

Growing Up Girl contributor Sheba Karim(Sacrifice) has a way with authenticating young, outsider girls' voices and does an extremely convincing job in SKUNK GIRL. Her debut young adult novel explores the world of Muslim culture and the life of a young woman on the verge. Sixteen-year-old Nina Khan feels like an outsider and finds herself chaffing and pushing against the mandates of her strict Muslim Pakistani-American parents. She feels more boxed in when she falls for a cute classmate (she is not allowed to date or go to parties), and in exploring her burgeoning romantic feelings she comes to appreciate her family. The novel is being released by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. You can purchase the book here.

Growing Up Girl contributor Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa (Hair Inspection)infused all her beautiful talent into her first novel DAUGHTERS OF THE STONES, released by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press. The novel chronicles the experiences of descendants of African slaves in Puerto Rico. It is the mid-1800s. Fela, taken from Africa, is working at her second sugar plantation in colonial Puerto Rico, where her mistress is only too happy to benefit from her impressive embroidery skills. But Fela has a secret. Before she and her husband were separated and sold into slavery, they performed a tribal ceremony in which they poured the essence of their unborn child into a very special stone. Fela keeps the stone with her, waiting for the chance to finish what she started. When the plantation owner approaches her, Fela sees a better opportunity for her child, and allows the man to act out his desire. Such is the beginning of a line of daughters connected by their intense love for one another, and the stories of a lost land. You can purchase the book here

With the health care debate playing out on the evening news nightly, Just Like A Girl contributor Colleen McKee (Libby, the Only Punk Girl), along with her co-editor Amanda Stiebel, turns the discussion toward women in their poignant anthology ARE WE FEELING BETTER YET? Women Speak About Health Care in America. In this collection of 21 essays, women from around the country recount their individual efforts to access and receive quality health care within the formidable structure of the U. S. health care system. Their many voices speak with clarity, poignancy, and humor about situations familiar to all who have entered a health care setting on behalf of themselves or their loved ones. These penetrating stories cover a spectrum of health care conditions, but they unify around the themes of strong self-advocacy and personal empowerment. The book is an enlightening read not only for health care consumers, but also for health care professionals and for health policymakers. The collection was published by Penultimate Press and can be purchased here.

I had to go all the way back to the east coast to get my review copy of Just Like A Girl contributor Andrea Nicki's (Chinese Girl) new collection of poems WELCOMING and it was well worth the wait. The 93 page book really packs a punch. The poems included in this book explore many key contemporary issues, such as the relationship between the sexes; violence against girls and women; sexuality and gender identity; the relationship between human beings, animals and the environment; religion and spirituality; mental health and psychiatry; work, meaning, and exploitation; poverty and homelessness; multiculturalism; the value of children; and social community. The book was published by Inanna Publications & Education and can be purchased here.

I was quite honored to provide a jacket blurb for Just Like A Girl contributor Jessy Randall's (The Loop) young adult novel THE WANDORA UNIT. This is a funny and dead-on story of life and friendship during those high-stakes high school years. Wanda Lowell and Dora Nussbaum are best friends. They look alike, dress alike, share the same opinions, and co-edit the school's literary magazine, Galaxy. They are so close that their friends at Brighton High School have dubbed them "The Wandora Unit." But things are shifting in their senior year of high school. What once seemed absolute and certain now are just memories. While this tight-knit group of friends discovers who they are they find themselves drifting apart. As friendships turn and relationships blossom they are held together by their love of Galaxy and their desire to be individuals in a world that doesn't always let them. The Wandora Unit is a bittersweet story about the meaning of friendship, the lessons of growing beyond one's boundaries, and the joy of being part of something that makes us bigger than who we really are. Ghost Road Press is the publisher and the book can be purchased here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Growing Up Girl Contributor Releases New Novel

The world is just a little brighter since I received word that Growing Up Girl contributor Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (The Whinings of a Cum Laude Seven Sister College Graduate Working Bored as an Assistant)will be releasing her debut novel POWDER NECKLACE on April 6, 2010. The book will be published by Simon & Schuster. You can pre-order it now, of course :-)

Set in London, rural Ghana, and Long Island, NY, Powder Necklace tells the story of young Lila Adjei, the daughter of a working class Ghanaian immigrant and single mother who is paranoid that her daughter will be "spoiled" by bad influences in London. These "bad influences" are a euphemism for boys; "spoiled" a code word for sex--which Lila isn't having. But when her mother starts to suspect she could be, Ms. Adjei abruptly sends the girl packing to Ghana

Nana is an excellent writer and I can't wait to get my hands on this little gem (wonderful cover). Look for a review in the near future.