Friday, May 8, 2009

Interview and giveaway with Jodi Marie Robinson author of "Women of Virtue" by Michele Ashman Bell

"Mom, I look ugly."

How often have we heard our young daughters proclaim such a heartbreaking statement? In a world that has convinced young women they must look like supermodels to be considered beautiful, self-esteems and self-worth are suffering greatly.

Jodie Marie Robinson refuses to allow her three daughters to grow up believing they are anything but beautiful. Not beautiful by the world s definition beautiful by the Lord s definition. And that definition is virtue.

President Hinckley said, There is none more beautiful, more inspiring than a [woman] who knows who she is, who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so. True beauty is virtuous beauty. It is felt with the heart, not seen with the eyes. It is inherently part of a woman's divine nature.

In Women of Virtue, beauty is redefined as a rare and priceless love of one's inner self. Let each of us open our eyes to discover within ourselves the beauty of virtue, and teach our children our future that therein lies true happiness.

Jodi Marie Robinson has taken on the daunting task of changing the world's perception of beauty and helping women of all ages discover the "true beauty" that lies within each of them. Her book, "Woman of Virtue" shares a message that reminds us all that we are precious daughters of our Father in Heaven, and that we indeed, are beautiful.

This book would make a perfect gift for Mother's Day. It would also make a nice gift for any young woman as she enters the Young Women Program or any time through those difficult years of junior high and high school.

I was thrilled that Jodi would let me interview her so we could find out about her journey of writing this book.

Here's my interview:

M.B.: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Honestly, it took a good friend of mine saying you need to write a book before I actually got serious about it. In 2007, I was asked to give a presentation to a group of women on the topic of “Living Virtuously in an Un-virtuous World.” After the presentation, my friend said to me: “Jodi, you need to keep going with this and put your information into Chapters.” Her words of encouragement motivated me. From there, the fire was lit! It was exciting! In writing a book I could reach more people. I could give wings to this message I so passionately believed in.

Then the experience with my 8-year-old that I write about in the Introduction of my book solidified that desire. “Mom, I look ugly.” Those words crushed me. And I had to do something. I refused to allow my three daughters to grow up in a “red carpet world” that constantly tried to convince them that beauty is about your body and your looks. I want them to know who they are and that they are beautiful not because they are beautiful by the world’s definition—because they are beautiful by the Lord’s definition. And that’s the definition that counts.

I’ve always been passionate about inner beauty. Over the last eight years, I’ve taught self-esteem workshops to women recovering from drug abuse at a treatment center in Salt Lake City. As I have watched hundreds of women rediscover who they are and learn to love themselves, my testimony of the beauty of virtue has grown stronger.

Women of all ages are thirsty for this message. They are thirsty to know who they are and what their purpose is. Each time I conduct a workshop or give a talk, women drink it up because it feels right! It’ feels right because it is true. It is “eternal truth” and eternal truths remind us who we are and who we’ve always been. It’s the Adversary who works hard to confuse women. Women today have to know how to “live in the world” but not be “of the world.” If they don’t learn how to do this, they risk losing themselves. It’s that plain and simple.

Young girls, young women, and adult women, at some point in their lives suffer with self-esteem and body image issues. It’s not something we talk about, but it’s there inside of us. I knew my experiences could help others. If I can help one girl, one woman, to see herself as God sees her, then it all will have been worth it.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

AUTHOR: When you’re writing a book about believing in your true potential, it’s hard to get a rejection letter that basically says you’re not good enough—REJECT! Well, luckily those rejection letters compelled me to try even harder—and to pray harder and to rely on the Spirit more intently. After each revision my manuscript got better. Eventually I got a “Yes!” Oh, that was a happy day.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said in the April 2008 General Conference “to step off the sidelines.” Well, I’m stepping off the sidelines. I’m speaking out to women to remind them that we can only truly be happy when we live authentically as the women God intended us to be. And that is women of virtue.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

AUTHOR: At times I faced a lot of opposition. You wouldn’t think that to be the case, because I’m writing about virtue. But you’d be surprised at what the Adversary threw in my way. When you’re trying to do something good there will always be a force working against you. Once I figured out that that was what it was, I was able to overcome it and put it in its proper place. I really had to stay close to my Heavenly Father. I needed his help to move forward. It really was such an incredible experience.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

AUTHOR: As a mother of four children, I had to be creative about when I would write. Most of my writing took place from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. There were sleepless nights when I’d wake up to thoughts flowing in my brain and I would have to get up and write them down. I believe we all have the ability to tap into that “higher source” of creativity. All we have to do is ask and in faith we will receive answers.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

I had questions and I needed answers. Really, my book is my own journey to find answers to those questions. I have definitely learned when you “knock” God answers and he leads you to where He wants you to go. Even when it comes to beauty and self-esteem issues God has answers. I have had many a moments when I worried whether or not my message was something other women were feeling. When other women told me, “I’ve thought that same thing.” Or, “Oh, you are so right!” I knew I was on to something. It wasn’t just me. It was something many women had experienced as well. I just was able to put those feelings into words.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

AUTHOR: Don’t think about the book. Think about the message. If that message adds to the good in this world, then believe that will happen. And ask for God’s help. Listen to your inner voice and don’t give up. Learn from others who have gone before you. Don’t be afraid to change what needs to be changed. I deleted an entire chapter when someone told me it didn’t work. (In my mind it was a GREAT chapter. But I listened. And now I see that the book is better without it.) Don’t be arrogant and understand you are NOT the best writer on the planet; however, you don’t have to be the best writer on the planet to write. You just have to be the best writer YOU can be. There will always be better writers. Be happy for them. And be happy for you. When someone gives you advice about your manuscript, be humble. You can learn from constructive criticism even when you don’t want to.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

AUTHOR: The process of writing this book was interesting because my thoughts were random and I could never force them. I would think about something for a while; study and pray and then I’d wait for answers. I wish my thoughts were organized and I could just make an outline and write. Oh, wouldn’t that be nice! I quickly learned when random thoughts entered my brain (and they came at the most inopportune times like while I was doing dishes or driving carpool or sleeping) I had to immediately jot them down on sticky notes or napkins, or whatever piece of paper I could find so I could come back to them later. Eventually, I could organize those thoughts into chapters. If I were to ever try writing a novel, I don’t know how I would it!

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

AUTHOR: As I mentioned above, I couldn’t force what I was writing. It had to come when the timing was right. Over the course of writing my book, I took week breaks. Those breaks seemed to make a difference and gave me a boost of energy. Then I was excited to get back to writing and editing.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

AUTHOR: If I waited for silence, I’d never write. I’ve always been able to write no matter what is going on around me. It’s the magic of a multi-tasking brain. Thirteen years ago, I was free-lance writing for a marketing company and working from home. My baby Jacqueline would sit on my desk and play with my pens and pencils, my file folders, anything I could hand her to keep her busy while I typed. My husband would come home and say, “How can you get anything done?” Honestly, I just can. Not everyone can write while everything is going on around them, but I can. And I do. And I actually prefer it. I haven’t really used music as a back drop but David Tolk’s latest piano CD is something I’m going to try.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

AUTHOR: Because I’m writing non-fiction based on gospel centered principles, my inspiration comes after I have studied the gospel principles I’m writing about. I follow the “search, ponder and pray method.” And it works for me!

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

AUTHOR: My inspiration doesn’t come from just one person. It comes from anyone who is willing to change because they find a better way and they want something better for themselves and for their children. Who inspires me? The women at House of Hope, who against all odds, overcome addiction and learn to live a better life. These women teach me humility. They are so much more humble in admitting their shortcomings than I am. They are my examples. They inspire me to be better and to do better. These women are beautiful women because they overcome the impossible. They literally “defy gravity” each and every day.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

AUTHOR: True beauty is felt more than it is seen. This is a message that will change you forever if you let it. It will teach you how to feel beautiful. I hope and pray those who are lead to read my book will discover the beauty of virtue. For that is truly the only way to be happy.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

AUTHOR: As of May 2, 2009, “Women of Virtue” is currently available at the BYU Bookstore,,,, and hopefully will make its way to other bookstores in the coming months.

Jodi is giving out two autographed books and two tiles (you can choose either 8X8 or 12X12 size (stand not included).

How to enter . . . post a comment here and announce the contest on your site! It's that easy.

Lucky winner will be announced Tuesday! Enter now!


Shauna said...

YAHOO! Awesome! I would l♥ve to win this :) Please count me in!

Jen said...

What a great thing to write a book about! Looking forward to finding myself a copy!:) Thanks for the interview Michele and Jodi!

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Great interview. Although I don't have any daughters, I can see where this might be a great book for adults as well, especially those of us who are teachers.

cd_paul said...

My nine year old daughter thinks she is unattractive and not liked by the other kids. Much too young for that. I look forward to reading this book for myself and my daughter.

Cindy Paul

Cluttered Brain said...

This is a WONDERFUL idea! If I don't win this book I am going to definitely buy a copy to have in my own book collection! I too have three daughters and it can be rough sometimes. I want my girls to have the confidence they need to succeed in the world. This book sounds great!!!
I'll blog about it too! Everyone should know about this one!

JoAnn Arnold said...

Enjoyed your review with Jodi, and I want you to know that I posted your website on my blog giving the information needed to read your review.

Tracy F said...

Sounds like a beautiful, uplifting book. It would be a great addition to my collection!

Kersten said...

Great interview Michele and Jodi! I love your beautiful message!!

A Reader said...

Great interview!
Thanks for the giveaway!

Taffy said...

What a good book for any home! I put the contest on my blog:

Taffy said...

I accidently put the link on my other blog:

Shirley Bahlmann said...

This looks like a book that is deeply needed in today's society... and it's so beautiful! Well done, ladies.

KMJ said...

I just finished reading the book. It is truly inspired. I would love another to give to my mother. I would like to be entered into the contest! Thanks.

KMJ said...

oh yes-my email address:

malleycc said...

WOW great interview this is exactly the type of book I need. My six year old said the other day her hair was ugly. She is getting self concious at that age its amazing.

malleycc (at) hotmail dot com

Lisa And Randy said...

What a great wnd needed idea for a book. With two teenage daughters, I'm well aware of the whole "beauty and have to look a certain way" concept. I will have to get a copy of this book, and read it with my girls. I'm posting about this on my facebook, Lisa Banks Bennett. Anne, be sure and check my posting out.

Lisa And Randy said...

This is what happens when I know too many authors. Sorry Michele for addressing my comment to Anne, I had just been on Anne Bradshaw's site. Anyway, please check out my facebook, because I just posted on it with a lik back to your blog.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I'm in, too! This book sounds absolutely wonderful and totally needed! And the tile is beautiful! Thanks for hosting such a great give-away.

Personage said...

Cool!!! That is awesome. P.S. Good interveiw. I should see if there is one at the library!

Hillary said...

great interview. Please enter me! Thanks