Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
From the Editor, September 2017

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"Face Value" by Judy Volkmann. See more of Judy's work at

I wanted this editor's letter to celebrate a family reunion of sorts, complete with hugs and warm accolades that would welcome you back to our pages after our short summer break, but I struggled to find words strong enough to convey my thoughts. Even now, in mid-September, a summer of national unrest and uncertainty weighs heavy on my heart.

I think that's why I was struck by Judy Volkmann's art and in particular, the series she titled Faces of Humanity. In this ten-part series, Judy uses a single face to capture emotion and what it means to be human. I was especially moved by the stark blacks and whites of "Face Value," shown here, because it seems to issue some of the same challenges we make to our writers: "Dig deep. Go beneath the surface so the reader can see what you're seeing and feel what you're feeling."

Judy writes that the face is not meant to represent anyone specifically, but as I sat with each one—including pieces titled "Awakening," "Enlightenment," "Disillusionment," "Captive," "Woven"—I saw myself and others I know. I recognized these faces in the pieces we've published and the comments readers have shared. I hope you do too.

And I hope your reflections lead to discussions and that those discussions lead to action. I challenge you to dig deep.

Welcome to our September issue.


P.S. Stay connected between monthly issues by subscribing to our blog or by following us on social media. See you there!


Water Baby by Julie Rosenzweig
White Noise by Danielle LaSusa

The Architect by Becky Tuch

Literary Reflections
Comfort in Stories by Cindy House
Essential Reading: Book Club compiled by Nerys Copelovitz

The Baby Suddenly Falls by Irena Ioannou
Don't Cry by Julie Nord
Proper Pairs by Michele Herman
My Son's Tattoos by Jeannie E. Roberts
In Your Words by Mistee St. Clair

A Conversation with Jessica Strawser by Holly Rizzuto Palker

A Review of Not a Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu by Jamie Sumner
A Review of The Wide Circumference of Love by Katherine D. Stutzman

Photos and artwork by Judy Volkmann and Heather Vrattos


Karna Converse is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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Judy Volkmann grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts and earned her bachelor of fine arts degrees in painting and art education from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She has received numerous awards, including the Ellen Batell Stoeckel Fellowship to study at Yale Summer School of Music and Art in Norfolk, Connecticut. It was during that summer, inspired by the abstract painters there, when she began to explore abstraction in her figurative work. For over 20 years, Volkmann’s art has focused mainly on the human figure and expressionism. She enjoys painting commissioned portraits for her clients, and has had her work displayed in galleries throughout the northeastern region of the United States. Her art is in private collections in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida, Idaho and California.

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