Friday, July 3, 2009

Guest Blogger: Donna Woolfolk Cross & Giveaway

I am very excited that Donna Woolfolk Cross, author of the historical fiction novel POPE JOAN, is stopping by today with a guest post. Knowing that I'm also a mother, she tailored her essay to fit my blog and many of my readers! I think she does a fantastic job of describing Pope Joan and giving us some insight into her world.

Make sure you check out yesterday's post and learn how you can walk down the red carpet at the Pope Joan movie premiere!

I'm so glad to be writing for "Booking Mama," for the mother-daughter relationship is one dear to my heart. I wrote "Pope Joan" with my own daughter Emily (an only child) very much in mind. During the time I was writing the novel, Emily grew from a promising 14-year old to an accomplished college graduate.

For those of you who just did the math--yes, "Pope Joan" was over seven years in creation. This novel was so long in the making--with all of my friends asking "When will the book be done?--that I began to call it my "posthumous" work, for I began to wonder if I might end before the book did!

As I see her, Pope Joan is an inspirational woman--a shining example of female empowerment through learning. She lived in the ninth century, a time when it was widely believed that women could not learn, that it was unnatural, even dangerous, to educate us. One theory of the day was that the size of a woman's brain and of her uterus was inversely proportional--in other words, the more a woman learned, the less likely she would ever bear children. This concept actually has a quirky appeal, for if it were only true, then birth control would be no problem: if you don't want to get pregnant, read a book! Read 5 books! Become a follower of bookingmama and you'll never have to worry about having an unwanted pregnancy!

Alas, Joan's story, while very ancient, is strangely new, and deeply relevant to the world we live in today. Women all over the world are still fighting for the right to education--and being opposed by some of the very same arguments that Joan faced over a millennium ago. You may have recently read about the brave young Afgani girls who, on the way to school, were sprayed with acid for the "crime" of wanting to learn. What better way to deprive women--or for that matter, any social group-- of power than to take away the right to education? As our own president James Madison said, "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. So those who seek to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power of knowledge."

This is what Joan did. She armed herself with the power of knowledge, and in so doing, became one of the most influential women who ever lived. Her story proves that no matter how great the obstacles, there are always opportunities for women with the strength, the courage, and the imagination to dream.

This is why I had my daughter Emily in mind as I wrote this book. My heartfelt wish is that she--and all those of her generation (and future ones)--realizes her dreams through the full and unrestricted exercise of mind, heart, and spirit.

Does POPE JOAN sound like a book that you'd like to read? Ms. Cross has graciously agreed to giveaway an autographed copy to one very lucky reader. It's easy to enter: all you have to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address nming a female historical figure that you'd like to learn more about. To double or even triple your chances, you can blog and/or tweet about this contest with a link back to this site. The giveaway is open until July 17th at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I will contact the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. or Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!


Beth F said...

Dagmar of Denmark who lived at the turn of the thirteenth century. She died young and was mourned by all. My understanding is that she was a kind of Princess Di of her day. I really need to learn more about her.

Thanks for the great guest post and for the great giveaway. I'm tweeting about this right now.

BFish (dot) Reads (at) gmail

Beth F said...

Here's the Twitter link:

Brittany said...

I would love to win this book - it is already on my list and I really want to read it before the movie comes out!

As for a female historical figure... I did a high school project on Aspasia and would love to learn even more. I bet she could provide great inspiration for a historical fiction novel.

Pam@iwriteinbooks said...

Ah, I almost bought this book, yesterday and will still if I don't win it here. This was a fantastic post. I remarked to my husband, a few days ago, how strange it is that we have (supposed) trouble getting young men to read, now, where it used to be solely men who read at all.

Gosh, as far as women to follow go, I think I am going to go with Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath. Oh, I know those are morbid choices but I know so little about either and as a lover of literature I ought to know more.

Thanks again for a great post!

Pam said...

Wow - I can't wait to read this book. I've never heard of Pope Joan but her story sounds fascinating and so relevant. I've always found reading about the Queens of England interesting - helps me gain insight into their lives, decisions, etc. Another woman I don't know much about at all is Cleopatra but I'd like to.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Marie said...

I'd love to know more about Marie Antoinette.

Great post and giveaway. I'd love to read this book, too.


nfmgirl said...

I'm fascinated with Queen Elizabeth the Virgin Queen. What an amazing character!

This book always makes me think of one of the first "adult" books I ever read when I was about 12. It was about a woman who disguised herself as a man so she could join the monk order. Then she fell in love with a fellow monk. In the end, I seem to remember that she was stoned to death. Tragic, but fascinating story.

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Bridget said...

Hi! Just posted this on Win A Book.

bermudaonion said...

Don't enter me - I just wanted to say I enjoyed the guest post. It sounds like Pope Joan was a true labor of love.

Sheila DeChantal said...

Excellent. I did read your review yesterday as well and plan on signing up. :)

Julie said...

I really enjoyed this guest post, its so interesting to have insight on an authors writing experiences.

It's very difficult to pick a historical figure that I'm MOST interested in so for now I'll go with Catherine II of Russia.

Thanks for the great giveaway,

Beth (BBRB) said...

This looks fascinating! Please enter me!

I'd love to read more about Nefertiti. She's always interested me but I've never gotten around to reading anything about her.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Beth (BBRB) said...

I tweeted about this!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

teabird said...

Wonderful essay!
I'd love to know more about Mme. Sevigne - such a fascinating woman and splendid correspondent with her daughter!

teabird 17 &&at&& yahoo dot com

Mozi Esme said...

This book looks wonderful - I'm always interested in women in history, especially now with a little girl.

How about Madame Curie?

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I read POPE JOAN when it was first published and loved it. I am so excited to see this new edition and for the movie to premiere.

Thanks for the great guest blog, Donna, and best of luck with POPE JOAN once again. And thanks to bookingmama for bringing attention to this wonderful book.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one sounds so interesting. Female historical figures? There are so many: Queen Victoria, Alexandra, Laura Ingalls Wilder... Great guest post.

Linda said...

Wow, an autographed copy. Please sign me up. I wish someone would write a good historical novel about Edith Swan Neck, Harold Godwinson's mistress/wife.


Emma said...

I would like to learn more about Nellie Bly, who was considered a great undercover reporter of her time. Thanks for having this giveaway! Have a great 4th of July!

Becca said...

Please enter me. I'd love to read this. I'd like to learn more about Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh.

Becca said...

I blogged about it here:


CherylS22 said...

I'd like to learn more about Joan of Arc.

megalon22 at yahoo dot com

ossmcalc said...

I would very much love to win an autographed copy of Pope Joan. If given the chance, I would love to learn more about Mary, Queen of Scots.

Thank you,


chey said...

I'd like to learn more about the most recent Queen Mum.

chey said...

forgot my email address
chey127 at hotmail dot com.

Pam@iwriteinbooks said...

Wow, I completely forgot my address: iwriteinbooks at gmail com

holdenj said...

I enjoyed the guest post and was pleased to hear it will be made into a movie too. It all sounds great.
One of the more interesting females in history I'd like to learn about would be Queen Victoria. I've managed to gain a lot of info about Elizabeth I, but Victoria spawned an age as well, and I'd like to know more about it.

JHolden955 (at) gmail (dot) com


Misusedinnocence said...

Marie Antoinette! =)

Anonymous said...

Gráinne Ní Mháille, or Grace O'Malley, who was just mentioned in the book I'm reading, The Walking People.

fizzybeverage at gmail dot com

P.S. Fantastic guest post!

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'd like to learn about Hildegard of Bingen - there's plenty out there written about her, there just isn't enough time! But I'd also love to read about Pope Joan. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

. . . and, here's my Tweet:

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

J.T. Oldfield said...

I'd love to know more about several historical women. One that comes to mind is Hetshepsut because not a lot is known about her.

And Pope Joan, of course!


Rose Red said...

I'd love to learn more about Anne Boleyn. I think there is a lot more about her that is interesting than is generally known.

rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

Kohinoor said...

I'd love to learn more about strong Muslim women during the time of the birth of Islam...Khadijah or Aisha come to mind.

Thanks for including me in the giveaway!

Alyce said...

A woman from history that I would like to learn more about is Marie Antoinette. I've seen that there are a lot of books and movies about her, but I've never gotten around to reading or watching them.

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

Gaby317 said...

I would like to learn more about Mary Queen of Scots.

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

I tweeted it:

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

ibeeeg said...

First off...I am looking forward to reading Pope Joan. I have heard many good things about this book.

Which historical female would I like to read about? Hmmm...that is so tough because I am more into time periods. I would go with a woman who lived in America during the revolutionary war period.
Otherwise...Joan of Arc would be interesting but so very tragic ending...may be a bit depressing.

Jemima Warner lived 17??-1775. She was married to Private James Warner. She was fearful for his life so she falled him on his campaign in the American Revolutionary War. He died but she carried on as the cook for the troops. She eventaully is killed as well. I think it would be interesting to learn of this woman (women in general) as she lived during this time and her decision to follow her husband into battle. I am sure she had much courage.


ibeeeg said...

Posted about this giveaway on my blog's sidebar.


Valorie said...

I would love to learn more about Empress Wu of China. I learned a bit in an Asian history class, but she is such an interesting woman that I'd love to learn more.




mrsshukra said...

Jane Seymour, Henry VIII's wife!

Jenny Girl said...

Ther are lots of women I would like to learn more about. Tops on the list would be Eleanor of Aquitaine. Followed by Catherine the Great.
Very glad to hear these hidden stories of strong women are finally coming to light.


Thanks for the contest Julie!

Belinda M said...

I would be interested in learning more about Cleopatra

Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at


Libby's Library said...

I'd like to learn more about Catherine the Great.
Thanks so much - would love to win Pope Joan.


Libby's Library said...

I blogged about it here:



Libby's Library said...

I just subscribed - thanks!


Patti said...

I would love to win this book please enter me in the drawing. As far as who I would like to learn more about I guess I would say Queen Elizabeth the virgin Queen.

budletsmom at yahoo dot com

Anita Yancey said...

I'd like to learn more about Catherine The Great. Please enter me. Thanks!


dag888888 said...

Elizabeth the Virgin Queen is always intriguing.



i LOVED pope joan and lost my copy lending it out to others!

it is my understanding that in the early church there were women abbots that had the same powers as their male counterparts. i would like to hear more about them and what happened to change their rolls. so i don't have a character but someone could come up with one like ms cross did with joan.


spvaughan book giveaway "pope joan" (i read it..great read)

spvaughan yahoo com


Sandra Vaughan book giveaway "pope joan" (i read it..great read)

Booking Mama: Guest Blogger: Donna Woolfolk Cross & Giveaway

facebooked...everyone who love history, should read this book!

Nelsby said...

Thanks for the fantastic giveaway...this book looks amazing! I would really like to learn more about Gertrude Stein.
sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

Nelsby said...

sierranelsby (at) gmail (dot) com

heatherzilla said...

I have been reading about Tudor England for a while. I think I would like to read about Cleopatra next.

wheresmyrain said...

I have promised myself time and again that I would really learn about Madame Curie. I resolve to try even harder this year. She is definitly someone I would love to read about. Pope sounds fantastic.

Unknown said...

Elizabeth I of England! aitmama (at) gmail (dot) com

Unknown said...


Esme said...

great giveaway-Cleopatra fascinates me


chocolateandcroissants at yahoo dot ocm

A Reader said...

I would like to learn more about Abigail Adams as I think she was a very important first lady.


A Reader said...

Posted giveaway under current giveaways here

Unknown said...

Hi, All! Julie has sent me the name of the winner. Congratulations, Becca--I'll have a copy of Pope Joan in the mail today, with a personalized inscription to you!

Those who did not win the contest can still buy a book and be entered in my "Walk the Red Carpet" offer--chance to join me at the movie premiere! Details are at