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An 8-year-old snuck his handwritten book onto a library shelf. Now it has a 56-person waiting list.

Dillon Helbig's 81-page graphic novel— written by "Dillon His Self"—captured the hearts of his local librarians and their patrons.

Dillon Helbig's 81-page graphic novel captured the hearts of his local librarians.

Writing a book is no easy task, even for adult professional writers. Many would-be authors dream of a day when their work can be found on library shelves, unsure if it will ever come.

But for 8-year-old Dillon Helbig, that day has already arrived—in truly unconventional fashion—thanks to his own determination to make it happen.

Dillon wrote his 81-page graphic novel, "The Adventures of Dillon Helbig's Crismis" (written by "Dillon His Self") in a hardcover journal with colored pencils over the course of a few days. He even put a label on the back of the book that reads "Made in Idho" [sic] and put an illustrated spine label on it as well. Then, without telling anyone, he brought it to his local library in Boise, Idaho, and slipped it in among the books in the children's section.

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The 'How would a male author describe you?' Twitter challenge is a lot of fun.

"She had an ass like a plump popsicle and I deigned to admire her."

Can male authors write powerful, strong, and accurate female characters? Totally. Do many struggle with it? Well...

Author Gwen C. Katz was scrolling through Twitter, reading a thread about members of marginalized groups advocating for more work written by marginalized individuals. Of course, it went haywire — especially when a man just had to jump in to assure others that he was every bit as capable of writing an accurate female character as any woman.

"I think writers should be able to write from any perspective as long as they can pull it off. It takes research, skill, and creativity, but if a good writer can't do those things, he/she isn't a good writer, right?" he wrote. "My book is a first-person [point-of-view] and the [main character] is a woman. I'm definitely not a woman. But it works because I was able to pull it off. I reject someone saying I couldn't write a female [main character] because I'm a male, because, well, I just did. It's called writing."

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A cheeky Twitter challenge between 2 authors aims to raise $500k for refugees.

The velvet-voiced 'American Gods' author could soon be doing a very special reading.

Like so many of the world's great stories, this one involves a couple of well-known authors, half a million dollars in charity, social media, and The Cheesecake Factory.

It began when author and comedian Sara Benincasa issued a somewhat silly challenge to fellow author Neil Gaiman on Twitter: If she could raise $500,000 for charity, would Gaiman commit to hosting a staged reading of The Cheesecake Factory's (surprisingly lengthy) menu?

Much to Twitter's delight, Gaiman said yes and selected the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as his charity.

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If you walk into the fiction section this month at Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio, you'll see a whole lot of white staring back at you.

Like this:

Photo courtesy of Harriett Logan.

And that's no accident.

Store owner Harriett Logan — with the help of her employees and a few volunteers — deliberately flipped around all the fiction books written by men, hiding their colorful spines from view.

"I wanted to do something provocative and interesting for Women's History Month that also displayed the disparity of women working in a certain field," Logan explains. And that field, naturally, was book publishing.

Logan estimates that of the approximate 10,000 fiction works at her used bookstore, nearly two-thirds were written by men.

Photo courtesy of Harriett Logan.

The gender gap in book publishing isn't limited to the fiction section at Loganberry, of course. It's reflective of a much bigger pattern.

Female authors still face hurdles getting their work published — hurdles that their male peers often don't encounter.

Although it might seem like there are just as many women as men writing books and working in publishing overall, power structures and implicit bias still influence which books get published and reviewed and, as a result, reach commercial success.

A 2011 study by VIDA, a women's literary group, found many more men were writing book reviews for major publications, such as The New York Times, and (maybe unsurprisingly) the significant majority of the books reviewed in these same publications were written by men too. In other words, book publishing, the study found, tends to be a boys' club where women's work is more easily overlooked.

One anecdote that puts this reality into perspective is author Catherine Nichols' shocking 2015 experiment submitting her novel to be published: After sending identical queries to dozens of agents under both her own name and a fictional male-sounding name,Nichols found her fake male counterpart was 8.5 times more likely than her to get manuscript requests from agents. Or, as Nichols put it, he was "eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book."

Stories like Nichols' illustrate why many female authors choose to publish their work under male or ambiguous-sounding pseudonyms (J.K. Rowling's publisher, for example, was afraid a woman's name on the cover would hurt book sales).

This inequality gets to the heart of why Logan is honoring Women's History Month the way she is: by challenging booklovers to think more critically about the titles they choose to read.

Photo courtesy of Harriett Logan.

It's damaging to all of us when books only reflect a certain perspective, Logan explains. But when we read books by people who've lived different experiences than our own, it challenges us to grow.

"Reading — and especially reading fiction — is a wonderful tool for building empathy, for building an understanding and awareness of places and times and people who are different than you," she explains, noting it's not just important to read more works by women, but from other marginalized groups as well. "That’s an important educational tool, no matter what your age is."

She made sure to point out her store's book flip certainly doesn't mean it's opposed to celebrating male authors — "We still buy and sell, read and love, novels written by men," Logan says — but Loganberry is simply taking the opportunity to do its part in righting an industry-wide wrong decades in the making.

The response to the book flip has been very positive thus far, Logan says — although she has seen a few bewildered faces upon entering the fiction section.

If you're wondering how to help solve the gender gap in publishing, you can start with your next trip to the bookstore.

Logan encourages all of us to "look at your own shelves at home" — both the titles you've already finished, and what's coming up next in your to-be-read pile — and make sure to read more works by women and other groups whose stories have been overlooked too often for too long.

"You learn empathy by listening to other voices," she says of why reading diverse books makes a difference. "You learn to have constructive criticism about the world and your place within it when you realize you’re not the only person in that world."

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