CSUF female student authors shared their publishing experiences in panel

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Diana Phan (left), Tyrah Majors (middle) and Dianna Blake (right) are Cal State Fullerton student authors who spoke on their experiences at the Women’s History Month author panel Thursday. (Angie Suk / Daily Titan)

When asked how to start writing a book, CSUF student authors Diana Phan, Tyrah Majors and Dianna Blake advised their audience to “just write” at Thursday’s Women’s History Month author panel.

The event, hosted by the WoMen’s and Adult Reentry Center, created an intimate space where students, professors and the panelists were able to ask questions and share their own experiences not just as writers, but as women.

“The biggest challenge with my work was trying to balance everything along with school, promoting this book, trying to sell this book, organizing book signings and meetings and all kinds of things along with trying to find an internship and be involved in extracurricular activities and having a social life. It’s all a lot. It’s very overwhelming,” Majors said.

Majors, a junior broadcast journalism major, is the author of the published children’s book “Grammy and Me.” Phan, a senior English major and gender studies major, authored a novel series called “CIA Punk.” Blake, a second-year English graduate student, is the author of the published book “College Success for Moms.”

The audience was encouraged to ask questions as they discussed the problems they faced as women writers and why it is more challenging to get published as a woman.

“I think it’s because they don’t publish women. I think it is that simple … I actually self-published my dissertation under my cat’s name and it sells more. His name is Herman,” said Sharon Sekhon, an American studies lecturer who was in the audience.

Phan agreed.

“I’m in science fiction which is heavily male-dominated. I heard so many criticisms about, ‘We don’t want women of color doing it,’ which is why if I ever publish it, I have to publish it under a male name,” Phan said.

Students showed interest in how the authors balance their time. Blake, who is married with four children, explained that she plans and makes lists, but there are days when it does not work out.

“Even last night I was in my car at Target because I had to stop and get something and I called my husband and the baby was crying in the background and I was mad at myself. I’m like, ‘I know I’m going to college for my kids, but I really hate myself right now.’ So it is a constant struggle to keep everything balanced and not nose dive into just despair,” Blake said.

With less than 15 women in the room, the authors and the audience shared their struggles with one another and talked about what inspires them to write.

“It’s my kids. I’m reminding myself, ‘I’m doing this, I’m in college , I’m writing this, I’m promoting this book because I want to give it to other people. I want my kids to see what success looks like,’” Blake said.

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