Every woman is strong in some way.
Often, she does not see herself in this capacity. She thinks she is plain, ordinary. She may feel overlooked and underappreciated. Or she is content because she might not know what possibly awaits on the other side of a door she’s been staring at for years. She might yearn for something she cannot name but is not sure of herself.
And why would she be sure? Subtle and not so subtle cultural and educational and societal undercurrents undermine women’s confidence. Such forces are designed to make us question, who are we to do X, Y, or Z?
I feel fortunate to have been exposed to a different narrative growing up. I was led to believe I could do anything as long as I was willing to work hard to achieve it. I credit my parents and grandparents for this wise counsel and later a lengthy list of authors and female figures too numerous to mention here. Now I write historical fiction, my way of saying thanks to those women on whose shoulders my modern sisters and I stand.
My debut novel Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft is in the querying stage. Meanwhile, my second novel, which takes place in eighteenth century Boston, is underway. I also host a blog. Women from the Past: Facts and Fiction profiles women from history along with titles that tell their stories through women’s fiction. Who doesn’t love a good story with a strong female lead?
The decision to focus on historical fiction was an easy one for me. An avid reader since childhood, I especially gravitated toward stories from the past. Reading combined with the joy creative writing brings me, I have found my happy place.
Writing can be a lonely endeavor. Membership in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the South Carolina Writers Association ensures I do not feel alone. I also take part in two skilled critique groups who’ve become more than a lifeline; they are my people. They get what this journey looks and feels like. We cheer each other on.
My love for reading and writing perhaps can be attributed to my educational background. I have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and had the extraordinary privilege of teaching young children to read and write (and other things, of course) for nearly a decade.
There is something astonishing about watching a child learn how to navigate words. The process seems almost magical. I later earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in educational leadership and served for over twenty years in school leadership positions, including principal, curriculum director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.
It would be easy to spend my whole day writing. Louisa May Alcott described feeling like she’d entered a vortex when she wrote. I know what she means. I write. Every day. I read. Every day. Time stops when you enter another world. I cherish this feeling!
But like you, I too must eat. I have a passion for cooking. Excellent wine makes this all the more pleasurable. Homemade bread and pasta are my specialties. After consuming all these carbs, I must exercise. Golf and walking are my go-to outlets, along with aerobic exercise when I force myself. I bicycle when I have access to trails. Travel is yet another passion; I’ll go just about anywhere. Podcasts keep me learning.
Rounding out my days and years are the wonderful men in my life. I have one son who is grown and lives in Minneapolis in my home state of Minnesota.
My fix-anything husband and I live in South Carolina. Both of them make everything in life feel complete.
Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here.
N.J. (Nancy) Mastro