Editors note:  I asked long-time Women Survivors Alliance (WSA) and Unconditionally Her friend and contributor Linda Ragsdale to participate in an interview with Unconditionally Her about some of the amazing news she shared with me about the recognition she is getting for several of her books. Our own lovely Linda is now an award-winning author!   Linda Ragsdale is nothing short of amazing.  Her courage and spirit after dealing with challenges that are beyond what anyone should have to endure is simply incredible.  I encourage those who do not know Linda to get to know her through her books, her social media, and her work with Unconditionally Her and Women Survivors Alliance.   

Unconditionally Her/CC:  You’ve had some exciting news with your picture books in the past months; care to share?

LR: Shocking and exciting news, but my real thrill is that peace is taking the stage in books for our youngest hearts and minds. Like so many words, peace is thought of through a vast and varied range of definitions, most locked into a 60’s and hippy type persona. Helping define peace through playful picture book texts, inviting children (and the adults who may be reading to them!) to think of peace as the path to personal and world happiness – and get awards for it – we all win, especially and including the beyazing* illustrators and publisher who brought these books to life. 

 When I got the news about the first Gold medal for, WORDS, I went to my happy place, Bar Taco, to celebrate with my family. (Yes, a margarita was in order!) Another text came in saying I should toast with gold tequila, not knowing it was for another Gold prize for HOW I DID IT. Weeks later, the whole Peace Dragon Tale Collection was awarded NAME’s (National Association for Multicultural Education) Children’s Publication award. In between these, I received a Peace Education nomination and medal for Peace activism from the El-Hibri Foundation. Peace is getting noticed!

Unconditionally Her/CC:  What a story!  Will this make it into a book?

LR: Not sure this story will, but my writing comes from real life moments.  Some are quirky times, others, tougher times. And let’s face it, big or little, we all have those days. I find my peace in writing poetry and stories to explore my feelings and voice an idea. While writing reignites me, it’s scary to send a piece of your heart out in a book. Really scary!        

 WORDS came from a total “mom” moment and a news story. A sportscaster, thorough his microphone to the world, verbally maligned a college women’s basketball top four team championship team. What was worse, the coaches dragged the team up in front of news cameras, sharing defeat by his words. My giant mom M started glowing. Here was a moment to turn the tables on name-calling. I would’ve had those players stand up and say, “I didn’t listen to him, because I call myself, and my teammates, champions.” Mic drop.

You don’t listen to name-calling unless… WORDS encourages name calling in the positive sense, starting with the names you call yourself. Hero. Champion. Friend. The power of a positive voice is a gift to every child and adult who engages it.

 NOT OPPOSITES was written with that same glowing M. By teaching opposites at an early age, we set up a standard of thinking opposites. Good to bad, right to wrong, big to small. The problem arises when I think I’m right, opposite thinking makes you automatically wrong. This sets up non-peaceful chats! NOT OPPOSITES offers the mantra, “Not better, not worse, not opposites, just different.” This allows us to see every gradation of thinking, accepting differences as the traits that make us whole as a world community. How boring would life be if we were all the same!

 HOW I DID IT was drafted during a writer’s conference, feeling completely defeated. I found my unsinkable attitude by writing my own ending to the tale. Written in first and third person, it shows how “I” should always keep trying, and not set imitations on the outcomes of our choices. Sometimes the end result is even greater than we could ever plan. Every time I read the ending, I get teary. I admit it; I’m just a big kid!

 I admit it – I’m a logophile! ALPHABETTER is my adoration of portmanteaus (the marriage of two words.) It amplifies the power of our voice with a compabulary, a compassionate vocabulary. It started as an exercise I used for school visits, but I kept using the words. On my Facebook page you’ll find me talking about beyazing- *beyond amazing – people and adventures!

 Unconditionally Her/CC:  What’s next for you, Linda?

LR: The year ahead predicts whirlwind adventures with upcoming projects and international trips still under wraps. What I can share is the next two releases in the Peace Dragon Tales. THE PEACE DRAGON, releases the fall of 2018, in conjunction with the tenth memorial anniversary of the Mumbai attacks, and dedicated to my friends who lost their lives that night. It’s a dragon-sized heart tale with fire for peace. POSITIVELY PURPLE is loosely based upon a true story of a polar bear that turns purple after she takes some medicine. Aligning with my cancer journey, I hope to start conversations about the patient–co patient experience, and how each of us can be positively supportive for each other.     

Unconditionally Her/CC:  And you have an offer for Unconditionally Her readers – a gift that gives back to WSA?

LR:  Yes! Books are a great gift, but if you’re buying books online, please use Amazon smile and check WSA as your recipient. WSA will get portions of the proceeds. If you send an SASE to WSA, Box 222, Brentwood, TN 37024 I’ll sign a bookplate to the child, teacher or school of your choice. (Even the new releases next fall!)

 Find me on Facebook as Linda Ragsdale, The Peace Dragon, Talk Nice Tuesday; Instagram as LadyRags11 and omanithepeacedragon, talknicetuesday.