Author Q&A: I'm More than Just a Girl!

Leah Oviedo is an artist, fundraiser and activist in Southern California. Her background include work with foster and homeless youth, domestic violence, sexual assault and environmental protection. "I am More than 'Just a Girl'!" is her first book. Leah stopped by the Secrets of Success blog to share more information about her book and her work.

Deborah Bailey: What prompted you to write your book?

Leah Oviedo: My experiences inspired me. This book has been a project in the making for the past decade, but I had never found the right outlet until the idea of putting everything in a book came about. A majority of the book came from years of my experience working and volunteering in the foster system, at domestic violence and sexual assault centers, and seeing a lack of preventative information available.

I was raised by a strong and very independent mom who raised five kids without much support from my absent father. She didn't have a lot of time to spend with us, but she instilled in me a sense that I had potential to be strong and independent and that I deserved to be treated well by men. As I grew up, I noticed most girls were not taught to be strong, but to look pretty. To follow behind men, have babies even if they didn't want to be a mother, and work jobs they didn't enjoy to support their families.

Most of what I saw were single moms raising girls to do exactly as they had. I saw and still see this cycle of women who do not feel strong or know how to be dependent. I know women don't have to be this way, and this book is a way for me to instill empowerment in girls and women before they get stuck in a negative cycle.

DB: What is your book about?  

LO: The book is an interactive book that is set to empower young women with information and resources so they don't become victims.. My goal is to teach preventative methods such as self defense, positive thought and stress management. The book includes creative activities to relieve stress. I want to end this cycle of dependence women have, believing that they need another person to take care of them.

DB: Who do you think will benefit from reading your book? 

LO: Young women ages 14-21 will get the most out of my book.  This age period is when many young women are told how they should be and how they should act instead of what they can become. Girls and young women need to be told they are indeed strong and should not be dependent on others when they are fully capable of acquiring what they need. Any woman or man can use the resources and exercises in the book.

DB: What do you feel makes your book different from others in your category?

LO: It offers resources that should be available but are usually shied away from for the younger age group. Anger management is one example of a skill women are not taught. Generally women are taught to be passive/aggressive. That is not a healthy way to solve problems. My goal is to not sugar coat the world and tell them that if they follow the rules everything will be okay. The book shows them that failures and success go hand in hand.

DB: What do you want readers to come away with?

LO: The book cover states simply, "Empowered. Informed. Equal". I want women to feel this way and live this way when they read my book. I want them to feel that as an individual they matter, and with the tools in the book they can accomplish tasks that may seem out of reach. Readers will hopefully realize that circumstances such as their economic situation, race, culture, upbringing and prejudices are not the only way to live.

DB: What inspires you to do the work you do?

LO: I see victims and events that can be prevented everyday, and I want to teach people that they have a choice.  While I do not have all the answers, I have survived my share of negative experiences and I know that despite problems and pain I always have a choice on how I react (and that there are always different solutions available).

DB: Where can people find your book?

LO: The book is available at

DB: Please share your website and social media URLs

LO: "I Am More Than Just A Girl!" is sold online at Bookemon, and I have a website with more comprehensive information at

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