NOTE:  I had this post scheduled for March 28, 2019, but many readers said they never received it, so I’m running it here to close out 2019.
As we enter 2020, I’m reaching out to readers and asking them to submit names of women I haven’t featured who have overcome obstacles and succeeded. I cover the gamut of lifestyles, careers, ethnic backgrounds and women in foreign countries. Put your suggestions in the comment section below.
Thank you to all my readers. Have a wonderful holiday season and a great 2020.

Jo Ann Mathews

Jodi Picoult, Bestselling Novelist (Picture from her website)


Readers and writers alike are awed by Jodi Picoult’s accomplishments. She has more than two dozen novels published in 34 countries with an estimated 40 million copies of her books in print. Her most recent release in October 2018, A Spark of Light, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list as her previous nine books had. She tackles controversial social issues and weaves family relationships into the story so that a reader reacts. She has won innumerable awards and is ranked in Princeton’s Top Ten most influential living alumni.

Jodi was born in 1966 in Long Island, NY but her family moved to New Hampshire when she was 13. She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University where she studied creative writing then received her master’s degree in education from Harvard. She held several jobs before dedicating her time solely to writing.

She married Timothy van Leer in 1989, and the couple have three children. Her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale, was published in 1992.

I contacted Jodi because I never read anything about snags she encountered on her way to getting published. She said she had them.

JAM: What was the biggest obstacle you faced when you wanted Songs of the Humpback Whale published?
JP: I was an unknown author, and that is always a risk. It was harder for me to find an agent who believed in me, however, than a publisher. I had over 100 rejections from agents, because what I was writing – ethical/moral fiction — wasn’t really done so they couldn’t pitch me as the “new John Grisham/Janet Evanovich/Sue Miller.”

JAM: Did new or unique obstacles occur as you wrote each of your books?
JP: I think that once you succeed you suffer from fear of failure. My success was SO slow growing that I just put my nose to the grindstone and kept writing!

JAM: What obstacle/s do you face now as a writer?
JP: Gender discrimination in publishing.  The fact that I am a woman, and my name in on the cover of my books, means people assume that I write women’s fiction, when in fact my books are far from that. Small Great Things, which is about racism, won “best romance” in Poland!!! There isn’t even a KISS in that book. If you want to learn more about how much gender discrimination runs through publishing, I suggest checking out VIDA online ( – they crunch numbers annually.

More Information:

 Next – Vision for 2020

Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to, and to learn more.

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