Use Your Words:
A Writing Guide for Mothers

by Kate Hopper

Viva Editions, 2012. ISBN 978-1-936-74012-3.
Reviewed by Carol Smallwood
Posted on 05/20/2012

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Creative Life

Motherhood for adoptive and birth mothers is a life-changing experience. Writing helps the confusion that new mothers flounder through as they fight post-partum depression, exhaustion, and finding new coping skills. This experience, as Kate Hopper's Introduction notes, "...was the stuff of which real literature was made."

The 14 chapters on creative nonfiction cover such topics as voice, character development, using concrete details, and publishing. The exercises in each chapter will help writers block and launch new creative threads.

In her foreword, Hope Edelman, the author of The Possibility of Everything, observes: "Turning personal experience into readable prose is a daunting process for anyone, and carving out the time to do so isn't easy with a house full of short people in need of constant attention." I can personally relate to this and also agree with her comment that "...we mothers are pros at multitasking."

In the back of the book, readers will find the eighteen contributor bios, reading questions, list of resources, acknowledgments, writing prompts, index, author picture and bio, finding an agent tips and resources, and other aids. This is a guide meant to be underlined, highlighted, reread, bookmarked, carried around, shared, by countless mothers.

Kate Hopper teaches writing at The Loft Literary Center. She has an MFA in creative writing and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. Her writing has appeared in Brevity, Literary Mama, and The New York Times online. Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers is forthcoming from Viva Editions in 2012, and she's finishing a memoir, Ready for Air. She's an editor at Literary Mama. Visit her website.

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