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Day 17 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Caroline Grant & Suzanna Kamata

Today is Literary Mama Day, which means we are welcoming some of our friends from over at Literary Mama to participate—hooray! I’m very pleased to have Caroline Grant and Suzanna Kamata presenting their latest books. Comment to win and I’ll choose a winner for each book.

• • •

Caroline M. Grant is the Editor-in-Chief and a movie columnist for Literary Mama. She is also co-editor, with Elrena Evans, of the anthology Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life (Rutgers University Press, 2008). She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley, where she taught classes on film, women’s studies, American literature, and writing; she has also taught at Stanford University and the San Francisco Art Institute. Her essays have been published in a number of journals and anthologies. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons; she writes about family on her blog and, with Lisa Harper, about food at Learning to Eat. Visit her website for more information, including clips from her radio and television events.

Mama, PhD is a literary anthology of personal narratives by women both in and out of the academy, writing about their experiences attempting to reconcile bodies with brains. The anthology voices stories of academic women choosing to have, not have, or delay children. The essays in this anthology speak to and offer support for any woman attempting to combine work and family, and make recommendations on how to make the academy a more family-friendly workplace.

1. How has writing (either just the act of writing or writing this book or both) impacted your self-confidence?

Writing my contributions to Mama, PhD and editing the collection confirmed that I made the right decision, when I became a mother, to leave higher education and pursue an independent writing life. Getting my first book published relatively easily was a great boost of self-confidence, but I know my experience was also an anomaly, so now I am relying on the confidence I developed and the knowledge I gained in that process as I shop my second book.

2. What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?

Wide-ranging, detail-oriented, deadline-driven!

3. What good has your book created in the world?

We wanted Mama, PhD both to enlighten people about the challenges facing mothers who work in higher education, and to lobby for change. Since the book came out, we—both editors and contributors—have spoken at schools, conferences and bookstores and are continuing to develop a network of people working to improve the lives of parents working in higher education. The book has provoked great conversations that have motivated policy changes at schools around the country.

• • •

Suzzana Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including New York Stories, Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, Pleiades, Kyoto Journal, The Utne Reader, The Japan Times, Brain, Child, Skirt!, Ladybug and Cicada. Her work also appears in the anthologies Yaponesia, The Beacon Best of 1999, It’s a Boy, It’s a Girl, Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, Not What I Expected and Summer Shorts. Formerly fiction editor of Being A Broad, a magazine for foreign women living in Japan, she now serves as fiction editor for the popular e-zine Literary Mama, and edits and publishes the literary magazine Yomimono. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a special mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/​Wingspan Fiction Contest.

Previously published in literary magazines and journals, this collection of stories about expatriates in Cuba, Egypt, Australia, Japan, and France confront universal matters of the heart. “The Beautiful One Has Come” is about a young Japanese woman, who nurtures an obsession with Nefertiti—with tragic results. In “Polishing The Halo,” an American mother in Japan grapples with news of her daughter’s disability, while in “Mandala,” an eccentric Japanese doctor provides an unlikely haven for a newly divorced expat.

1. How has writing (either just the act of writing or writing this book or both) impacted your self-confidence?

Finishing a story always gives me a sense of accomplishment, even though there may be many more drafts down the road. In the writing of these stories, no one was holding me to a deadline, and as I was the mother of small children, there were many obstacles and distractions. I feel proud of myself for having written them in spite of everything.

2. What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?

lengthy, messy, dreamy

3. What good has your book created in the world?

Hopefully the readers of these stories will come away with a greater understanding of people of other cultures. My goal is to increase the amount of empathy in the world.

• • •

Suzanne said that her goal with her writing is, “to increase the amount of empathy in the world.” What is your goal with your writing? Either with an individual piece you are working on right now or with your writing career in general?

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Have you told ten friends about the giveaway yet?

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  • Pam Maynard May 17, 2011, 9:15 am

    So excited  to participate this year!  I just found out about the giveway today on FB.  My goal with my writing is to educate and entertain.  I write mostly childrens articles and short stories.  Not only do I hope to teach the kids something but to entertain them as well.  From experience with my 8 year-old, science can be fun if it’s presented right!  Kids want to learn something without realizing they are learning.
    Happy Tuesday!

  • Renee May 17, 2011, 11:01 am

    With my nonfiction writing, my goal is to try and get
    readers to think about everyday subjects in different ways and learn not to
    take simple things in this world for granted. With fiction, I want to introduce
    characters that evoke emotions from the reader, and describe places and
    settings that are real but different from anything they’ve ever read about
    before. I’d also like to help readers consider that there are many different
    layers to a person, and you might never know what’s lurking in an acquaintance’s

  • Angie A May 17, 2011, 1:05 pm

    My writing goal is partly to tell stories about my family and my son, sort of a scrapbook. But my writing is also to tell stories from my own life and experience that will resonate with other people and that offer comment on the world around us.

    I have been the literary mama for many years! Finally there’s someone talking about life for women in the academy.  

  • Jen henderson May 17, 2011, 1:08 pm

    To help people have a greater appreciation and respect for the natural wold–and to recognize that humans are as much a part of the ecosystem as any other animal. To put it another way: my goal in writing is to create connections that incite action, whether that action is interpersonal or ecological.

  • Anonymous May 17, 2011, 2:01 pm

    When I began writing, my goal was to keep myself challenged and occupied while living in Hong Kong for three years. Now, my goal is to interpret our more recent history, currently WWI and WWII, in stories, scenes and characters that allow us to understand war from the perspective of ordinary people. Not the clinical, military aspects but the visceral, every day aspects; not the generals and politicians but the men, women and children affected by war.
    I believe this more recent history is compelling because we all have grandfathers and grandmothers or great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers who lived it. As their immediate descendants we know them in ways that are more tangible than long ago history.
    Just a modest ambition 🙂

  • Cara Holman May 17, 2011, 2:19 pm

    My goal in writing is to connect with others, and together
    explore the many faceted challenges and triumphs of life. I was recently
    thinking about how I started out writing personal essays, then added poetry writing
    to the mix, and now am focused on writing haiku (but not to the exclusion of
    other forms). The common factor, I realized, was that all my writing is essentially
    nonfiction, and all of it is drawn from my life or life observations. I feel
    the happiest in my writing life when I am able to strike a common chord, and
    stimulate a conversation, as I was able to with today’s haiku on NaHaiWriMo. As
    different as people seem to be on the surface, there are still shared
    experiences that tie us all together.

  • Barbara Mcdowell Whitt May 17, 2011, 2:30 pm

    My immediate goal with my blog, A 1960s High School Diary, is to allow readers to experience with me what I wrote, on a nightly basis, as a diary entry 50 years ago to the night. I recorded my thoughts as they came to me, in a “stream of consciousness” form of writing. My eventual goal is to use these vignettes as the basis for a memoir about my life as an Iowa farm girl who went to Park College, now Park University, in Parkville (suburban Kansas City), Missouri. 

  • Tania Dakka May 17, 2011, 3:01 pm

     Her goal is a noble one; one that I appreciate
    immensely.  However, my fiction goals are more
    self-centered at this point.  Once my
    craft is honed and I am more adept at it, then I could try to focus generating
    works that are meaningful.  Until that
    time, I write fiction for self-healing and therapy. 
    I write to provide myself and others with an escape from the drudgery of
    day-to-day life.  As for my nonfiction, I write to turn others onto the benefits of healthy living.  I have seen the detriment of unhealthy living firsthand and if one can find healthy living an attainable goal because of what they have been introduced to through me, that is all the better.

  • Brit St.Clair May 17, 2011, 6:38 pm

     My overall goal with writing is to offer insight, to cause someone else to see life in a new way…lofty? Naw…probably. 

  • Flwalcott May 17, 2011, 7:05 pm

     Writing became a way for me to connect with the world after I entered medical training.  I was an English major in college and had always planned to write, either as a science journalist or novelist, but after entering medicine my reading and writing were strictly limited to the technical.  In becoming a doctor I gained so much, but I also lost a key part of myself – my excitement and my curiosity.  I found it again in a creative writing class in medical school and I held on tight.   During residency, I needed to write to deal with the stress of my profession and make sense out of my experiences and feelings.  I needed to write to escape the “box” of the life of a professional woman and mother.  Writing saved me from depression and gave me hope for my future.  It inspires me to be a better doctor and mother.  I now write to educate women on their health.  I also write creatively to (hopefully) introduce a new perspective to others about women and culture. 

  • JJ May 17, 2011, 7:20 pm

    My goal in writing is to surprise myself. I once read that if you’re not surprised by your own stories, your readers won’t be either. And the more I write, the more I find the stories making twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. It seems the better I know my characters, the more that happens, which in itself is a good reason for re-writes (and re-writes and re-writes…!). 

  • Diane J. May 17, 2011, 8:13 pm

    My goal with fiction writing is to take people out of the trying moments of life. I hope my writing brings entertainment in the form of laughter.  We all need those times when we just slip into a good book that takes our minds off our to-do list and the heartbreaking moments in life.

    In nonfiction I like to provide useful tips and, when possible, a lighter look at parenting, specifically when parenting twins.

  • Beth Vogt May 17, 2011, 9:08 pm

     I posted two questions in my office: 

  • Beth Vogt May 17, 2011, 9:10 pm

     I have two questions posted in my office:
    1. Does my writing change people?
    2. Does my writing make others grapple with questions?

    Whether nonfiction or fiction, I hope to one or both of those goals. And if I can make readers laugh or cry along the way or help them with a problem they’re facing, that’s good too.

  • Malia Jacobson May 17, 2011, 11:22 pm

    My goals are to help people feel better, live better, and enjoy themselves and their children. My tagline is “Better information, Better living,” because that’s what I aim for–journalism that informs, motivates, and encourages.  When we know better, we do better, right?

  • Jayme May 18, 2011, 1:36 am

    My goal as a poet is to present difficult, odd situations that aren’t usually discussed in everyday life. I write about my own family and strange incidents that have occurred in my past.  I hope my writing forges connections with people who have experienced similar situations and allows people who have not experienced what I have a few moments to gain some insight. I hope that readers will also step into the roles of different speakers and characters. 

  • Mar Junge May 18, 2011, 1:50 am

    With marketing writing, my goal is to provide a solution to the reader’s problem. With my personal essays, the goal is immortality. Long after I’m gone, someone will read a short story I’ve written and a little bit of me will live on. I’ll have captured a moment in time and preserved it for posterity. It could be something as simple as describing a day in my life or as complex as analyzing my hopes and dreams. With fiction writing, my goal is to escape into the psyche of my characters and by doing so, learn more about myself.

  • Heather May 18, 2011, 3:27 am

    My goal with my writing is to encourage people to feel the writing.  Building pictures with words that allow the readers imagination to make something bigger than what the words portray is a challenge that I set for myself every time I set pen to paper.  To make an emotional connection with readers through my wrting is a great feeling. 

  • Laura Ackerman May 18, 2011, 4:00 am

    My goal is to educate, positively influence, and inspire.  This is what I take away from other writers whose works I read and admire and, therefore, my goal is to do the same.  I’d love to entertain and make people laugh, but I’m not that funny.  So I will stick with being serious and trying to change the world one book (article, post) at a time.

  • Rebecca Cherba May 18, 2011, 6:49 am

    I loved Suzanna’s statement that her goal is to increase readers’ empathy for the experiences of other people. This is something that drives my writing, both in fiction and the future nonfiction pursuits I hope to achieve one day. My academic background is in history, and a large part of what drives me in that field is a need to try and understand the many layers of human experience–how they are shaped by culture, time and place, but how so many of them are still recognizable (and current) today. I write historical fiction now, with the aim to open people’s eyes to a wholly unique setting, but with characters who aren’t necessarily as alien as the world they inhabit. Plus, a good mystery keeps things interesting. ~_^