• Blog,  Pitch Wars

    2021 Pitch Wars Wishlist

    A little bit about me—Samantha Rajaram: I was a Pitch Wars mentee under Carrie Callaghan in 2018 (author of A LIGHT OF HER OWN and SALT THE SNOW),  and I’ve had the honor of mentoring two brilliant (agented) authors so far: Leila Mottley in 2019 (NIGHTCRAWLING), and Milo Todd in 2020. I’m thrilled to be a mentor again this year.  As I continue on my own journey as a writer, I appreciate even more what Pitch Wars gave me: I know how to turn around work on a tight deadline, how to approach critical feedback, and how to provide and ask for support. I can’t say enough about how wonderful…

  • Blog

    Glossary for The Company Daughters

    arrak or arrack: type of hard alcohol derived from rice boterkoek: butter cake brezels: pretzels havermout: hot cereal hutspot: stew jambless: oven jenever: type of alcohol kampung: village klomps: Dutch wooden clogs kulis: slaves Lakenvelder: breed of cattle meerkoets: coot–type of water fowl olykoeks: type of ring-shaped cake passglass: type of drinking glass rederijker: theater actor roemer: large wine glass sla: salad stamppot: traditional Dutch dish made with mashed potatoes stuivers: dutch coins volkorenbrood: wheat bread zaal: salon or main room of a house

  • Blog,  Interview,  Pitch Wars

    Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Leila Mottley and her mentor, Samantha Rajaram

    (This is an archived copy of an interview originally published here at PitchWars.org) Samantha, why did you choose Leila? Leila’s manuscript and her resilient, courageous protagonist captured me from the first sentence. She deftly created a main character whose intelligence and empathy felt both realistic and compelling, and the setting in Oakland, CA clinched it for me. Her poetic descriptions of the city captured its uniqueness and energy. Leila, why did you choose to submit to Samantha? Samantha’s research background in sex trafficking and law adds a layer of understanding of the novel’s premise and complexities that allows her to support me in handling it as both an individual story…

  • Blog,  Pitch Wars

    Pitch Wars Mentor Profile

    I am a historical fiction writer focusing on stories about colonialism and people ignored by history books. I was extremely fortunate to be a Pitch Wars mentee last year (2018), mentored by Carrie Callaghan.  When I’m not writing (often at 5 in the morning), I am a college English professor and solo mom raising three tween/teen kids in the California Bay Area. I’m represented by Carrie Pestritto at LDLA and my Pitch Wars manuscript THE COMPANY DAUGHTERS is currently on submission. I am beyond thrilled to be a mentor for Pitch Wars. The Pitch Wars family truly changed my life, and I am so excited to help other aspiring writers…

  • Blog,  Interview,  Pitch Wars

    Pitch Wars Success Story with Samantha Rajaram and her mentor, Carrie Callaghan

    (This is an archived version of an interview originally posted here at PitchWars.org.) We’re back with another Pitch Wars Success Story! Please join us in congratulating and celebrating Samantha Rajaram and her mentor, Carrie Callaghan! Samantha signed with Carrie Pestritto at the Laura Dail Literary Agency. We’re so excited for them! Samanta, tell us about the revision process during Pitch Wars. It was intense! Carrie was so on top of it, and gave me my edit letter well ahead of the deadline, which was such an act of generosity given my hectic schedule. I woke up every day at 3 or 4AM to work on my revisions during that 10…

  • Blog,  Essay

    The Old Lighthouse of Pondicherry

    Original essay by Samantha Rajaram. Like other colonial towns, the architecture of Pondicherry, India, bears the imprint of its co- lonial past. The old lighthouse is such an exam- ple. Located close to the beach promenade, the lighthouse has a white, fluted tower with a lantern and gallery rising from the circular keeper’s house. A modest structure of only 27 meters (89 feet), it began operation in 1836 and was built by the engineer L. Guerre, known then as “the colonial engineer” for bringing French architecture into various colo- nies. The lighthouse was later modified—its rectangular base replaced by a circular structure in 1886 and a second story added thereafter.…

  • Blog,  Interview,  Pitch Wars

    A Pitch Wars Team Interview with Samantha Rajaram and her mentor, Carrie Callaghan

    (This is an archived version of an interview originally published here at PitchWars.org.) Carrie, why did you choose Samantha? This year’s submissions were outstanding — there were lots of excellent concepts in both historical fiction and fantasy that caught my attention. In this talented, crowded field, Samantha’s entry stood out because it was historical with a literary feel, which I adore, and her novel dealt with an important but relatively unknown subject — the women who traveled from 17th century Holland to the Dutch colonies to become wives to the men already there. The Dutch East Indies Company sponsored these women in a cross between a 17th century marriage scholarship…

  • Article,  Blog,  Essay

    Is This America?

    (This is an archived copy of an essay that was originally published here at India Currents magazine.) Imagine you are a green card holder traveling frequently between the U.S. and your native country. Perhaps you seek cheaper medical treatment in your native country and return for medical visits. Or perhaps you are elderly and have relatives still living in your birth country, but the travel exhausts you, so you stay overseas for longer periods of time. But you’ve traveled this way without incident for years.  Until now.  On one routine trip back, you arrive at the passport counter and an official from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) tells you to…

  • Blog,  Book Review

    Oriental Forays: The Last Gods of Indochine

    (This is an archived copy of a book review originally published here at India Currents magazine.) I can’t recall when I first read Edward Said’s groundbreaking book Orientalism, which critiques the oversimplification and romanticizing of the East by colonizers intent on packaging colonized cultures for their consumption. What I do recall is the immediate sense of gratitude I felt, for Said gave language to an experience I had long had as an Indian-American reader of English authors writing about India: “In a sense the limitations of Orientalism are…the limitations that follow upon disregarding, essentializing, denuding the humanity of another culture, people, or geographical region.” We see this essentializing constantly in…

  • Blog,  Short Fiction


    (This is an archived copy of a short story originally published here at India Currents Magazine.) He waits on the corner of Mission and 21st. Their third date. He wears a black shirt, blousy around his paunch. He mentioned in a text that he had ten pounds to lose, though his online profile stated he couldn’t date anyone who was even a little overweight. Well, she wrote the same thing–that she couldn’t date anyone even slightly overweight. But here she is, picking him up. She is relieved that she still finds him attractive. Dark hair, mischievous smile. She perceives a strong masculine energy that she will later wonder is something…