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Is there equality in publishing?

No. I found that out when I tried to get published by the big publishing houses. That's why I am so proud to be working with She Writes Press, a woman owned publisher who promotes diverse woman's voices. Since 2018 they have awarded 8 authors with publishing contracts to do their part to address some of the publishing industry’s systemic inequities.

Congratulations to our 2023 STEP contest winners, Ambata Kazi and Joan Sung, to publish on She Writes Press and Sparkpress in 2025

Ambata Kazi, Far Away From Here

Ambata Kazi is a writer, editor, and teacher born and raised in New Orleans, LA, and currently living in the California Bay Area with her family. She studied English at the University of New Orleans and earned an MFA in Creative Writing in 2019. She is the Senior Editor at Sapelo Square. Her writing has been published in Carve, Torch Literary Arts, Muslim American Writers at Home, CRAFT, and other publications.

Far Away From Here is a novel set in five years post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans that focuses on the lives of three young Black Muslims—Fatima, Tahani, and Said—who grew up together and drifted apart in their teenage years. Fatima left with the floodwaters of Katrina following the murder of her childhood love and fiance, Wakeel. She has returned reluctantly to care for Wakeel’s mother who is now dying. She reconnects with Tahani who has rebelled against her strict Islamic upbringing and now feels stifled in a life working as a hairdresser raising two children on her own. Fatima is also forced to reconcile with Saif, Wakeel’s cousin, a drug dealer turned imam-in-training who is responsible for Wakeel’s death. The novel follows these three characters as they confront the traumas and choices of their early lives and the impact they’ve had on their paths to adulthood. In the beginning of Far Away From Here, Fatima, Tahani, and Saif lack the imagination to envision a future for themselves that they can actively shape. By the end, they are affirmed by faith, family and tradition that they have everything they need to face their futures with confidence.

Joan Sung, Kinda Korean, 2025

A national Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) conference presenter and consultant, Joan Sung has a BA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing, an MA in English, and a Doctorate in Education. Her articles regarding Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) voices appeared on the teacher blogs BuildingBookLove and TeachNouvelle and have also been published in, Mochi Magazine, and Writerly Magazine. She has received a United States Air Force Medal of Achievement.

Kinda Korean is a memoir about the pivotal moments that shaped Sung’s identity as a Korean American woman. This book traces her journey to forgive her mother for being a Tiger Mom when all she wanted was an American mother to help her navigate society as a Korean woman.

Without her mother’s guidance, she unpacks the misconception of Asian women’s complacency through her experiences with substance misuse, sexual harassment in the military, and menial jobs. Amidst anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, she is forced to reconcile her intersectional identity when the Asian American youth in her community look to her for answers.

My book, Redeemed, A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood will be published June 25, 2024 by She Writes Press

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