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Day 7 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway Presents: Naseem Rakha

I cannot remember how I first met Naseem Rakha, but I remember that the first thing I thought when I heard of her book The Crying Tree was I wanted to invite her to The Northwest Author Series. She kicked off the third series with her book, which has gone on to enjoy wide critical and popular acclaim. Please help me welcome Naseem…

Naseem is an award-winning journalist whose stories have been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace Radio, Christian Science Monitor, and Living on Earth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, son, and many animals. When Naseem isn’t writing, she’s reading, knitting, hiking, gardening, collecting rocks, or just watching the seasons roll in and out.

The Crying Tree, now available in paperback, reaches into the heart of a family nearly torn apart by a mother’s act of forgiveness. It is a story of things not being what they seem, family secrets, and how these furtive actions reverberate through many lives. Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.

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

Writing a book was always the BIG thing I could NOT do. No one could. Only people born under the right stars, or who had the right connections, or possibly did obscenely crazy things, like hike across the Antarctic with nothing but a martini glass and a zoot suit (what is a zoot suit?) could get their books published. But, as it turns out, I was wrong. And in being wrong, I was simultaneously blessed. My dream came true. I wrote a book. It was picked up by Random House and publishers in ten other countries. It has won an award, and has become an international best seller. Did that boost my self-confidence? Hell yes. Now, when contemplating dreams, I no longer think it just has to do with stars aligning, but good old-fashioned hard work,  ambition, and plenty of alms to the goddess of your choice.

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

Write. Write. Write.

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

I always knew I wanted to write a book that made people think, and the feedback I receive in the mail and at book groups tells me I have done that. This is incredibly gratifying. People think about the characters, their trials, their faults and failures. They reconsider their opinions on topics of crime, punishment, the death penalty and forgiveness. Young adults and parents tell me they appreciate my addressing the issue of sexual identify and acceptance. Prisoners tell me how it has moved them to want to do more in their community. In all, the experience has been more than I could have dreamed, and is utterly humbling.

• • •

Thanks for participating, Naseem!

For today’s prompt, I’m going to riff off something that Naseem said in answering the questions. Ready?

What’s the ONE thing you are afraid to do in your writing career? And what if — gasp! — you did it? What’s the worst thing that could happen? What’s the best thing that might happen? Go ahead and dream. We do that around here sometimes. 😉

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!

Naseem is allowed to answer too, but not until tomorrow after her winner is drawn, because she can’t win her own book.

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Please bring a small crowd next time you come. :)

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  • Christa Hines May 7, 2011, 1:51 pm

    I’m afraid of self-promotion – and I don’t mean to editors, but to friends, extended family and acquaintances. This is surprising considering my background is in public relations and marketing. I sensitively believe they are thinking: “Wow, why does she think she’s so special?” Why do I distrust these people and believe that they negatively judge me instead of support me? This is truly a lack of self-confidence on my part and something I need to work on. It was a huge step for me to even post a link to my website on Facebook! In actuality if I go ahead and give myself the permission to promote myself and my career, I think the people, who truly care about me and support me, will respond positively and not think of me as a slimy, self-centered self-promoter!

  • Jan Udlock May 7, 2011, 2:34 pm

    You know I had to answer this question, Christina? 🙂 My biggest fear is to write a book. I’ve been at writing – published writing, – almost 2 years. OMGoodness, when I read what Naseem wrote, I felt like she’s inside my head. I want to write a book directed towards Christian women dealing with guilt and lies they believe. I want to encourage women to set down the lies and pick up the Truth. Worse thing: I wouldn’t get published. Best thing: I would and it would take me on a wild ride of a published book. However, somewhere in the middle of all of this would be a learning experience where I’d met some amazing people. I’d learn more about the publishing community. I’d meet other published and non-published authors. I may even do some public speaking which terrifies me but I want to try it.

  • Renee May 7, 2011, 2:41 pm

    I don’t know if this makes any sense, but the one
    thing I’m afraid to do in my writing career is to put myself in the spotlight
    too much. I have written a novel, based in the town I lived in from ages 12-18,
    but I keep tooling around with revisions because I’m actually afraid to venture
    too far into the querying process. I let fear of personal success hold me back,
    because I am a shy, introverted person with thin skin. The thought of everyone
    I know reading a book I wrote, and possibly hating it, terrifies me, as does
    continuously opening myself up from the hurt that could come from self
    promotion. Reading Christa’s response, I know exactly where she is coming from!

  • brittmedanger May 7, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I find these questions interesting because the one thing I fear the most is being published. It isn’t the act of being published itself, but more the act of people who don’t know me and who do reading my work. What if they hate it? What if they wonder why a publishing company would publish it? Of course, the best thing that could happen would be that they love it! It could receive an award and be a favorite. The what ifs dangle in front of me and I just have to have the courage to try!!!

  • Lisa May 7, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Right now the one thing I am afraid to do in my writing career is start a blog. It is something I’ve only recently really contemplated doing and the thought of it kinda freaks me out – which intrigues me more and tempts me to investigate the possibilities. I have a goal I want to accomplish and I guesss I think blogging about it would keep me honest and true to my goal if I just put it all out there for the world to see. I’ve thought about the worst that could happen and it is only some catty women in my town making snide comments, but I mean really…who cares. I’ve got better things to do. I could always use a pseudonym if I’m too shy to reveal myself.

  • Diana May 7, 2011, 4:37 pm

    The one thing I am afraid of to do in my writing career is to never write. Its my constant, its my normality. I faced one fear to do with my work already in that my first book ‘Shoy’ was about my life from the age of five to late twenties growing up with sexual abuse. The thought of writing wakes me and the thought of writing puts me to sleep. If I no longer wrote, then my life support machine has been switched off. The best thing that might happen is that my passion for my stories, my writing, my creations will ripple through the world. Thank you.

  • Beth K. Vogt May 7, 2011, 5:04 pm

    The one thing I’m afraid of doing in my writing career is failing. In a million different ways. Or in just one.
    And, well, I’ve done it–failed, that is.
    Didn’t like it.
    And here I am again, afraid I’ll fail again.
    But I’m still writing.
    Crazy writing life.

  • Ann May 7, 2011, 7:33 pm

    I’ve always been frightened of writing a book because I couldn’t bear the thought of putting all my heart and soul and a LOT of time into something which may never get published.
    Now I know this point may no longer be valid as it is becomong more and more acceptable to self-publish – so who knows maybe I’ll put this fear to bed once and for all and actually sit down and write one.

  • Mar Junge May 7, 2011, 7:57 pm

    I would love to take a few weeks, or even a month, off to go on a writing retreat. Write without worrying about how the agency is running or the family is doing. But if I were to do that without having someone in place who can run things, I could tarnish the reputation of the business I’ve worked so hard to build. And there could be serious financial repercussions. That’s the worst that could happen. The best is that I come away with a best-selling novel like The Crying Tree. I’m working towards this dream by training a second-in-command to take on more responsibilities at the agency. By building a financial cushion. By honing my writing skills through classes. And by writing, writing, writing. Come 2020, all three kids should be finished with grad school, making it easier to pursue this dream.

  • Malia Jacobson May 7, 2011, 8:24 pm

    I’ve never been afraid of failing. I’m blessed with a high
    threshold for embarrassment, I guess. Looking foolish doesn’t bother me. What I
    am afraid of is success, as ridiculous as it sounds. I’m afraid of too much
    success and the demands it would put on my time. The strain it could put on my
    family. The all-around havoc it could wreak. The pressure, the stress, the
    change. Maybe it all boils down to a fear of change. And whether or not I would
    be up for the ride if all my dreams came true. Wow—I’ve felt that way for a long
    time, but I’ve never written it down or said it out loud. Thanks, Christina.

  • Cara Holman May 7, 2011, 10:14 pm

    Writing poetry used to be the one thing that intimidated me.
    I was absolutely sure I could never pen a decent poem. But after joining
    several online poetry communities (first Poetic Asides, then the now defunct
    Read Write Poem, Big Tent Poetry, and my latest, NaHaiWriMo), and receiving
    nothing but positive feedback, the fear factor has been removed. Now my next
    greatest challenge is to try my hand at fiction someday. I guess the worst that
    can happen is that I write something I’m not happy with, but that’s okay, I’m
    used to taking things back to the drawing board. The best that
    could happen, of course, is that I find I love writing fiction, and discover
    that it’s my writing life true calling. For now, I have haiku to amuse me.

  • Kathleen Plucker May 7, 2011, 11:49 pm

    Great question. As I think about my answer, I am realizing just how many fears I have. One is not writing whatever is inside me (and meant to come out) before I die. Another one is commiting to writing next year full-time (my younger child will be starting school full-time) but not having enough to show for that (financially, especially) by year’s end. I could keep going but I’ll stop. Of course, I could be very productive, write very successfully, and surprise myself (and some others, too!)

  • Tania Dakka May 8, 2011, 12:28 am

    I have so many fears, but writing is helping me through them all. The inspiration that I read everyday from the different circles I lurk in really helps and pushes me to just do it. My first fear is of writing a book, but I put the fear aside and get busy working on it. Second, I fear not finishing. Then, I fear that it will be a wasted effort. What if my story telling ability just stinks? Lastly, I fear my ability to come up with good magazine articles stinks as bad as my storytelling ability. Don’t even start me on the mega mind blower that is platform building! All that being said, I am forever thankful for the @thewritermama. Hers was one of the first books I picked up at the library and it was invaluable…utterly invaluable to a grunt like me. SO, with the help of good resources, I am working through my fears as my dream is to finish this book and suffer through the rejections to finally find a home for it. J

  • Judy May 8, 2011, 1:22 am

    One thing? Every new step in my writing and expanding platform frightens (and challenges) me. I do what I should do—write my best work and submit it/offer it out as a class, and then I wait for the result(s). The worst thing that can happen is that someone can reject/not publish my work/not take anything away from my classes. The best thing that can happen is that my writing will be published/classes will be stimulating and helpful.

  • landguppy May 8, 2011, 2:31 am

    I’m afraid to start. Every project. Every job. I do the prep work, interview people. And then I can’t start until the ax of a deadline is poised inches from my neck. I don’t know why this is, but starting is my writing bugaboo.

  • Beth Chariton May 8, 2011, 3:41 am

    The one thing that I find daunting is submitting, a pretty key part of getting noticed, and getting paid. I have many pieces that are finished, fiction and non-fiction, that I have horribly procrastinated about submitting. I think the main problem is the overwhelming choices of where to submit, so I freeze and don’t submit at all. The worst thing, of course, would be rejection, which is really just an opportunity to submit to another market, possibly the right market. The best thing would be seeing my name in print, and the respect and acceptance of being chosen for publication. A dream, but a reachable one.

  • Judy Schwartz Haley May 8, 2011, 5:16 am

    I want to tell my own story, the real story about the real me, but I cant do that with out telling the real story about my real family. I’m terrified of offending them or airing dirty laundry or hurting them, but there is no way to tell my story absent of those elements of their stories. I love them, and I dont want to hurt them, but I also have an overwhelming urge to tell the truth. What if I do it anyway? The fabric of the universe will shred? Perhaps. Maybe not. There’s a very high likelihood of a large portion of my family being angry with me. The best thing that could happen is that I get to tell the truth, that I even get paid to tell my story, the real story, not the sanitized version for everyone who hero worships my parents. This is hard to talk about the night before mother’s day.

  • Anonymous May 10, 2011, 7:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, @db0389a935cbc0304ad9d82e9005fe55:disqus ! You are not alone. It gets easier, don’t worry!

  • Anonymous May 10, 2011, 8:00 pm

    You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing, @facebook-593683217:disqus . I think you are very much not alone in this. 🙂

  • Anonymous May 10, 2011, 8:02 pm

    Thanks, @0aedd53442b43362d7f86ad41923a917:disqus . Good luck!