Motherhood & Words

I’ve spent the last few days obsessively reading the New York Times and listening to public radio as they cover the devastating shootings in Arizona. I can’t stop thinking of the victims’ families, and I feel heartsick about the whole thing.

But today I want to focus on something positive. I *will* be positive. Here it goes:

One of the most satisfying things about being part of a writing community is celebrating the hard work and successes of my friends and colleagues. There are many successes and new books to celebrate this year, and I’d like to start with my dad, David Hopper:

I’m thrilled to announce that my dad’s fourth book, Divine Transcendence and the Culture of Change, was just published by W.B. Eerdmans. The book explores several significant historical and cultural effects of Reformation theology. (Check out these amazing blurbs.) It’s not the kind of book I generally read, but I’m so proud of and happy for my dad. He spent SEVENTEEN years writing this book. Talk about persistence and perseverance. Way to go, Dad!

My high-school friend, Michael Ebner, just came out with his first book, Ordinary Violence in Mussolini’s Italy. Like my dad’s book, this probably wouldn’t be considered light reading, but it looks fascinating.

Charles Baxter’s Gryphon: New and Selected Stories is getting rave reviews. Baxter is clearly a master of the short story form, so you can’t go wrong if you buy this book. Whenever my characters feel flat, I turn to Baxter’s stories, which are full of nuance and subtly. You can hear Baxter read and discuss Gryphon at Micawber’s on Friday, January 28 or at the University of Minnesota Bookstore on February 8.

I am also very excited about the following two books, which I helped edit:

Kara Thom’s and Laurie Kocanda’s Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom. Kara was in my first Mother Words class (and a number of subsequent classes), and I used to trail behind her on the track until I realized I wouldn’t actually catch her. This book will be out March 29, and it’s a must-read for any mom who is fit or wants to be. Kara also writes the wonderful blog, Mama Sweat.

Elisabeth O’Toole’s In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You to Know About Adoption was published in October, 2010. It’s a wonderful guide for friends and relatives of adoptive families. (I know I feel better able to support adoptive families after reading this book.)

And last, but certainly not least:

Kevin Fenton’s debut novel, Merit Badges, which won the 2009 AWP Awards Series in the Novel, is just out from New Issues Press. Kevin’s prose is lovely, his characters quirky and relatable. You’re not going to want to put this book down. You can hear Kevin read on Wednesday night, January 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Swedenborgian Church in St. Paul.

Congratulations to all of these wonderful authors!! I’m lucky to call you my friends!

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Andrea on January 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Wow, what an amazing community of writers you belong to! And how cool that your dad is a writer too (and 17 years??? Holy stick-to-it-ness). Thanks for the recommendations!

  2. Kara on January 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Blown away to be included in such company. Honored. Humbled. And, let's get back to the track soon:-)

  3. Alexis on January 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Very inspiring post Kate! Will be checking out some of those books…

  4. Elizabeth on January 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you for all the interesting links, Kate! I will definitely be checking them out.

  5. Sarah on January 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Your first paragraph pretty much captures exactly what's been going on with me since Saturday. Thanks for this healthy dose of positivity!

  6. Amber on January 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Wow! Lots of fascinating writing!