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Day 9 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Rae Meadows

Therese Walsh pointed me in the direction of Rae Meadows and her recently released second book, Mother’s and Daughters. It seemed like a perfect fit for this giveaway, so I eagerly invited her to participate and I’m so glad she could join us. Thanks for helping me welcome, Rae.

Rae Meadows is the author of Mothers and Daughters (April 2011), which the Minneapolis Star Tribune called “wonderful…the perfect book club pick.” Her first novel, Calling Out, received the 2006 Utah Book Award for fiction and was named one of the Best Books of 2006 by the Chicago Tribune. No One Tells Everything, her second novel, was chosen as a Poets & Writers Notable Novel. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Minneapolis, MN. Learn more about Rae at http://raemeadows.com.

Mothers & Daughters is a rich and luminous novel about three generations of women in one family: the love they share, the dreams they refuse to surrender, and the secrets they hold.

Samantha is lost in the joys of new motherhood—the softness of her eight-month-old daughter’s skin, the lovely weight of her child in her arms—but in trading her artistic dreams to care for her child, Sam worries she’s lost something of herself. And she is still mourning another loss: her mother, Iris, died just one year ago.

When a box of Iris’s belongings arrives on Sam’s doorstep, she discovers links to pieces of her family history but is puzzled by much of the information the box contains. She learns that her grandmother Violet left New York City as an eleven-year-old girl, traveling by herself to the Midwest in search of a better life. But what was Violet’s real reason for leaving? And how could she have made that trip alone at such a tender age?

In confronting secrets from her family’s past, Sam comes to terms with deep secrets from her own. Moving back and forth in time between the stories of Sam, Violet, and Iris, Mothers and Daughters is the spellbinding tale of three remarkable women connected across a century by the complex wonder of motherhood.


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

Being a writer—knowing I found the thing I want to do—has made me more secure in who I am. Despite those moments of doubt that plague most writers from time to time, I feel confident that I have found my voice and the stories I tell are worth telling.

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

challenging, fraught, rewarding

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

I hope the book is a conversation starter about the choices we make as mothers and daughters, about the secrets we keep from those closest to us. The book might change your mind or it might make you feel less alone. Either way, I hope readers are moved by spending time with these three characters.

• • •

Yesterday was Mother’s Day! Share something with us about you and your mother or you and your daughter. It can be a memory, a moment, an object that is meaningful to your relationship, or whatever else you can come up with. Show or tell, it’s up to you.

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! Please bring your writing group next time you come. :)

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  • Jen Henderson May 9, 2011, 12:07 pm

    My first memory is of my mom. I’m two or three and recall thinking it would be a good idea to play hide & seek with her while she was tending to my younger sister. I hid behind a chair in my room, even after she had called my name several times. Then she packed my sister in a stroller and took off in the neighborhood to find me.

    When she returned home probably no more than ten minutes later, I was a wreck: crying, fearful, abandoned. Of course, I can’t imagine what she must have felt, the worry and concern about having her oldest wander off. It was a happy reunion, to say the least.

    Lesson learned: I never hide–or hide anything–from my mom.

  • Amy May 9, 2011, 1:19 pm

    My best memory of my Mom is a picture from my sixth grade graduation. The picture of me is horrid, but Mom looks so skinny and healthy. I knew she was proud of me and it was a happy moment. She died two years ago after becoming so obese that her body basically shut down. That’s why the skinny part is important – that’s how I waqnt to remember her.

  • Lela Davidson May 9, 2011, 1:33 pm

    I am savoring this time with my daughter – she’s 11. Still young enough to think I’m not wholly embarrassing, and old enough to show signs already of the thoughtful caring adult she’ll become. She couldn’t wait to give me the Mother’s Day gift she made – a canvas covered in carefully clipped newspaper excerpts, with big block letters spelling out MOM outlined by a red heart. Did I mention creative? Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but to me this gift says she’s proud of me and my work. I’m keeping it in my office for those days that stupid mommy-career guilt tries to sneak a foothold.

  • MaribethPGraham May 9, 2011, 1:34 pm

    Yay, I won one. I love The Writer Mama giveaways.

    When I read today’s question the first memory that came to my mind was of my oldest daughter and myself. Last year after a series of freaky mishaps (an infected cut and a softball to the leg-which bulls-eyed the cut) my daughter ended up in the hospital for one week. At the end of the week we were informed that she needed surgery. My baby was to go in to surgery and I was a wreck. Everything ended up to be fine(even though she had to refrain from swimming for the entire summer-which is hard for a ten-year old) but the week we spent in the hospital brought us closer. I admired my daughter for her bravery. She never complained about being holed up in a hospital room during summer or that she had to celebrate her birthday in the hospital.

    The biggest thing I took away from that experience was that we have mother’s intuition for a reason. It took 2 trips to the hospital and a dr’s visit for them to admit her. I told them I knew they were missing something and they were. If she didn’t get on the iv antibiotics and have the surgery she could have had her leg amputated (this they told us after all was said and done).

  • Ann May 9, 2011, 1:43 pm

    My mother died just a year ago and I’ve written and published about 10 essays about her since her death.
    She arrived in the UK with her three sisters on the kindertransport during the Holocaust not knowing whether she would ever see her parents again. She was one of the fortunate ones who were reunited with their parents later.
    I regret not having asked and learnt more about her childhood and teenage years while she was still alive. The small amount I do know I found out from her sisters after she died.

  • Malia Jacobson May 9, 2011, 2:09 pm

    My favorite photo of my mom is one from when I was tiny. My mom was biking to work with me in a baby seat (I don’t know if
    baby seats are even allowed on bikes anymore, but in those days, it was perfectly
    OK). On that particular day, I’m not sure whether she was planning on packing
    me to her law office with her, or dropping me at the sitter’s. I love the photo
    because she was smiling, healthy, full of hope, and undaunted about the
    prospect of balancing her career and motherhood. She didn’t stress over balance—she
    just did what she needed to do and did her best to enjoy the ride.

  • Renee May 9, 2011, 2:25 pm

    In good times and in bad, my mother has always been a
    constant force in my life. She divorced my biological father when I was still
    an infant, and married my stepfather a few years later. I have to say that
    while the many moves my family made as a child were difficult on me, the one
    thing I will always remember is how special my mom always tried to make special
    occasions for me. She never ceased to let me know how loved I was on my
    birthday and often went overboard on Christmas even when money was tight. My
    mother was never able to have any more children after me, so I guess she tried
    to overcompensate for the loneliness I often felt in the only way she knew how.
    She was only 21 when she had me, and I can’t imagine how hard it must have been
    for her to hold things together over the years while trying to be the best
    mother she could, and I’ll always respect her for that.

  • Judy May 9, 2011, 3:03 pm

    What a topic. 🙂 I can rarely speak, much less write about my mom who I lost thirteen years ago. I miss her deeply and in fact had trouble processing much of my grief until I received the referral of my oldest daughter. I try to honor my mom by being the best mother I can be to my four children. She was truly incredible—warm, compassionate, and unconditional with her attention and love. My mom bought me a hope chest, which I wrote an essay about (published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom). I still hear her laugh, feel her hugs and touches, and sense that she is often with me. Her greatest gift to me was teaching me to “be present” and open.

  • Suelick May 9, 2011, 4:32 pm

    My mom loved to read. Every two weeks, she’d take my brother Mike and me to the old library in Campbell, Calif. It was an old Victorian with wooden moldings and squeaky floors. To us, it was a treasure chest. The three of us would scatter to our favorite shelves, grabbing up armloads of books that we would start reading in the car on the way home (not Mom, of course). Mom has been gone for almost nine years, but Mike and I still collect books wherever we go, and I know that’s why we write so well. Thanks, Mom.

  • Christen May 9, 2011, 6:57 pm

    My 10-year-old daughter loves writing, just like me. We recently started doing writing practice together. She checked a book out of the library called How to be the Greatest Writer in the World, with 88 different exercises. We have been going through the exercises together. It’s a great bonding experience.

  • Cara Holman May 9, 2011, 8:08 pm

    It’s been three years since I lost my mother, and as
    Mother’s Day approached this year, I was missing her terribly. Yes, my life has
    gone on, and yes, good things have happened to me since then, but there just
    seemed to be a gap in my life that has remained unfilled. I tried to think what
    it was about my mother that I missed the most. I missed her cheerful, lilting
    voice on the other end of the telephone, I missed my biannual visits to their
    house, I missed her upbeat attitude, her interest in everything that happened
    to anyone in the extended family, our conversations, and her smile, but most of
    all, I missed her unconditional love. And then it occurred to me. Now that she
    is gone, it is my job to do all those things for my children that she did for
    me, including showering them with unconditional love, and being there for them
    24/7. That is, after all, the basic circle of life. And with that thought, my
    grief for her grew a little lighter.

  • Sandi Haustein May 9, 2011, 8:40 pm

    Twelve years separated me and my middle sister. I was “not a surprise” — I was a serendipity, my mother always said. My two older sisters were mini-mothers to me, changing my diapers, suspending me in the air playing airplane, telling me what to do and not to do.

    I was nine years old when my middle sister and her husband died in a tragic car accident. Our world changed with their deaths. My mother spent three months of the next year in a mental hospital, overcome with grief and depression. I have very few memories of that year, blotted out, I assume, by pain that a nine-year-old doesn’t know how to process. And yet, somehow, with faith, we made it through.

    And I can only imagine that it’s faith that gave my mom (and my dad) the strength to let me grow up with independence. When I look back and put myself in my mother’s shoes, I think I would hold my youngest close, being fearful of losing her as well. I think I would keep my fingernails bitten to the quick, waiting up for her to get home after every school or youth group trip. I would certainly not have the faith to put her on a plane for the other side of the world, not knowing when I would see her again.

    And yet she did. And the gift she gave me — my independence — is something I will carry with me always.

  • Diane J. May 9, 2011, 9:24 pm

    I just discovered I get my wild streak from my mom. Growing up I thought she did no wrong…well, as a teen anyway. I figured she must have been the only perfect teen in the world. But, last night when we were on the phone, I learned my mother wasn’t so perfect.

    Apparently, the big thing in her day was TP’ing the school. One year the school had enough and enlisted a bunch of police officers to apprehend the culprits after a big game. She parked on a hill with her motor running and was a getaway driver for some of the TPers. She even lost an officer that came out chasing the cars with his lights blaring.

    Shocking, but funny as all get up from the way she raised me.

  • Rebecca Cherba May 9, 2011, 11:21 pm

    It’s funny how this question stumped me initially, because there are so many things about my mother that are important to me, it’s hard to pick only one to write about. I read through everyone’s comments, saw what they had to share, and that led me to this little anecdote.

    Perhaps more than I’ve ever realized, my mom is a powerful presence in the development of my childhood imagination. The world was full of wonder and possibility to me, largely because my mom encouraged me to feel that way. She made little things into an occasion, she taught my brother and I to explore the real world and the imaginary ones we created. She turned holidays like Halloween and Christmas into something magical, but managed to do the same thing by redecorating the house in honor of spring’s arrival, or that of fall leaves. She read us chapter books over dinner, finally leaving off after we’d begged her to read just one more chapter.

    That I write today, and still create imaginary worlds peopled with very real characters is part of mom’s legacy to me. I really should tell her that, too.

  • Beth K. Vogt May 10, 2011, 1:24 am

    My oldest daughter is getting married in July. I’m watching her address invitations and pack up her belongings. I’m celebrating this time in her life, even as I tear up from time to time at the thought of her leaving home to establish her new home with her husband.
    Motherhood: the paradox of the bitter and the sweet.

  • JenniferB May 10, 2011, 1:37 am

    When I was no older than 4 or 5, I remember my
    mother sitting outside in a clover patch with me and my older sister.
    She spent what seemed like hours teaching us how to make chains with the
    flowers, and made us each a beautiful clover crown. I relayed the story to my own daughters one afternoon this spring as we made clover

  • Kiakiali May 10, 2011, 2:04 am

    I remember my mother making a huge lobster dinner for the whole family when I was already married. She and my daughter, who was about 2 years old then, were sitting at the table playing with the cooked lobsters’ claws. They were both giggling so much & I was there with my camera, snapping away. I gave that photo to my daughter a few years ago, after my mother had passed away. This memory was triggered by tonight’s dinner of crab bisque.

  • Leanne May 10, 2011, 2:30 am

    My youngest daughter wrote me a song this year for Mother’s Day. Yes, the one who wants to be a singer/song writer when she grows up wrote me a song, recorded it in Garage Band and made me a CD. She then printed out the words and had them framed. I’ve already hung the words in my office and transfered the song to my Iphone. Baby daughter? If you can produce masterpieces at the age of ten, then who am I to question what I can write? My baby girl – my inspiration.

  • Mar Junge May 10, 2011, 2:37 am

    My mother passed away more than a decade ago, ravished by Parkinson’s Disease. My children never got to know the wise woman who raised me. But they hear my stories. My mother’s family emigrated from Poland to Pennsylvania to work in paper mills in the Allegheny Mountains. The “strong women from old country” held their families together. Sadly, when the mills shut down, my mother’s generation spread across the U.S. in search of work and lost touch. This month I heard from two long-lost cousins who are concerned that so many of our generation are dying before our children get to know their roots. So we’ve started planning a family reunion for summer 2012 – the first that I can remember in the extended Pavlok family. It will be interesting to see if there are mother-daughter relationships as strong as ours.

  • Terra Moore May 10, 2011, 4:43 am

    The moment I’d
    like to share is the day that I found out my birth mother was looking for me.
    She had put me up for adoption when I was a toddler, but in her heart it hadn’t
    been what she wanted. So, for many years, she searched for me, desperate to
    find out my fate. She hired an investigator who went into the state capital and
    searched records that were sealed; how she did so is a mystery to me as it was
    illegal for her to do so. I am eternally grateful to her for taking such a risk
    and giving me what I had thought was only a dream. It was just so random. When my mother
    and I finally came face to face, it was like we had never been separated at
    all. The love that we both felt was incredible and overwhelming. We hugged, we
    cried, we stared, and we hugged some more.
    We shared stories about what had happened, the whys of everything. I shared with her what my life was like and
    how I had often dreamt of her. It was the most amazing Easter of my
    life. Talk about new beginnings!

    When my mother
    and I finally came face to face, it was like we had never been separated at
    all. The love that we both felt was incredible and overwhelming. We hugged, we
    cried, we stared, and we hugged some more.
    We shared stories about what had happened, the whys of everything. I shared with her what my life was like and
    how I had often dreamt of her. It was the most amazing Easter of my
    life. Talk about new beginnings!