Today we’d like to introduce you to Njeri Maldonado.
Njeri, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was raised in a motherless home. I struggled as a teen and young adult with understanding how to figure out womanhood without the guidance of my mother. Aunts, moms of friends, classmates, and the media gave me some insight as what I was supposed to act like, look like, and sound like as a young woman, but those opinions differed so drastically that it was still difficult to decide what way was the right way. As an adult, I have come to mother and mentor other motherless children – finding myself providing similar advice to each of them in an attempt to ease their pain, answer their questions, and validate their feelings. I used to believe that my brother and I were anomalies because we didn’t have our mom around. I now understand that there is a larger community of children who are raised without their mothers. Society focuses so much on absentee fathers and children raised without their dads while praising motherhood and the tireless efforts of single mothers, that those of us who have absentee mothers keep in the shadows because we feel like our stories don’t belong. I authored Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman to give a voice to those of us who have shied away from telling our stories out of fear of being shunned or hushed for daring to “bad-mouth” mothers. I wrote so that our loved ones could come to understand our struggles and fears. I wrote to start a conversation. Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman is a memoir focusing on my life, but it tells the story of so many. I hope Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman sheds light on a seldom-discussed topic.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Sitting down to begin the writing process was not easy. The idea of writing my story is over ten years old. I’ve never aspired to be a writer in the traditional sense of the word, so I didn’t fully understand the writing process. However, after I finally stopped giving myself excuses, once I started writing I could not stop. I wrote through a flurry of emotions and recalled events that I had not thought of in years. It was difficult to revisit some of those memories but felt it necessary to do so to complete the book. I contemplated leaving certain events out of the book, then decided to allow the book to take form as it came to me. Once complete, I educated myself about the self-publishing process, hired an editor, and self-published via KDP. The editing process was a struggle because, again, I didn’t fully understand the process. After several prodding emails, my editor finally finished just before my projected publishing date. Self-publishing was as simple as following directions, so no struggle there. Once Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman was available for purchase on Amazon and Kindle, only then did I realize that I needed to market the project. So, I kinda put the cart before the horse here. Marketing has been interesting because, for the third time, I never aspired to be a writer, so I had no idea how books were marketed. I’ve hosted several book readings/ signing, have been invited to speak to several book clubs and will be participating in a variety of book festivals. Other than public appearances, I’ve relied on Bookstagrammers, Booktubers, Good Reads members and Facebook to get the word out about Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman. I’m still trying to figure out mainstream media. I’m not sure where to obtain their direct contact information (if that exists). Two months after publication, I realized that I needed an audiobook for those of us who don’t have the time to read but are still interested in literary works. I recently completed the audiobook that will soon be available on Audible. I cried, got angry, and laughed out loud again while recording the book. In sum, writing was emotional, editing was frustrating, self-publishing was easy, marketing is experimental, and I’m still learning a lot.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman story. Tell us more about it.
Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman will be the first in a series of books on the topic. My brother is currently writing his perspective and in the future, I plan to write a third book from the perspective of a mother who has mothered/ mentored children who are not her own because their biological mother was not present. My objective is to shed light on this topic for those of us who have lived this truth and those of you who couldn’t fathom this reality. I’ve always loved biographies and memoirs because they allow the reader to peer into the lives of individuals who are nothing like them. This genre of books tells a person’s why. We cannot begin to fully understand and empathize with each other until we take the time to understand each other’s why. Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman is similar to most other memoirs in that it tells a story of triumph over adversity BUT it is set apart because there are NO OTHER books (that I’ve found, and trust me, I’ve looked) that discuss the dynamic of an absentee mother household. I am most proud when I receive an email, DM, or book review where a reader expresses how refreshing it is to learn that someone else shared their struggles and understands their story. I’m most excited when readers convey that they are encouraged to share their stories with others after reading Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman because they understand that there is power is sharing your truth. I’ve opened a small publishing company, Neutral Ground Publishing, first to publish my own books, but I ultimately hope to take on other memoirs “to seek out and tell the truth.” Let the healing process begin.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I believe that all things happen for a reason. The process of getting to or through something is the best teacher. There is no good or bad luck – only lessons.
- Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman paperback – $15.75 on Amazon.
- Now available on Audible for $19.95 and on iTunes $17.99.
- Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman e-book – $9.99 on Kindle
- Mama Didn’t Raise This Woman audiobook – TBA on Audible
- Address: Neutral Ground Publishing
3645 Marketplace Blvd.
Suite 130, Box 543
East Point, GA 30344
- Website: www.njerimaldonadoauthor.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/authornjerimaldonado/
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mamadidnt
- Other: www.goodreads.com/najamal