Writing

GUTS Goes on Tour

There have been so many wonderful moments in the month since GUTS’ publication day! I’ve gotten many messages from friends and family as they’ve read and enjoyed the book, and had several experiences talking about GUTS and reading from the book in public venues. Huge thanks to all of you for reading GUTS, for coming to my events, for sending me photos of your copies of GUTS “in the wild.” A few people/events I want to highlight:

  • This week I am proud to be a sponsor for the wonderful Seattle Review of Books. All week they will feature an excerpt from GUTS and purchase links. They have been a pleasure to work with and I love their sponsorship program.
  • My first-ever radio interview on WRITERS ON WRITING is now available as a podcast. My interview starts around the 29-minute mark, though it’s worth listening to the first interview with Attica Locke too. Thank you Marrie Stone!
  • My publication day began on a poignant note with an email from my Kindergarten, First, & Second grade teacher from Shady Hill School, Louise McIlhenny. Louise was visiting her daughter Emily, who was born at the end of my 2nd grade year. Emily lives in the Boston area and her twins go to Shady Hill. Louise sent me the photo below, of her with her twin granddaughters and GUTS, in my former classroom where Louise taught me how to write. IMG_8256

Receiving this photo, and the accompanying praise from my former teachwr, is one of the moments that makes the whole book-publishing effort worth it.

  • I had a wonderful launch party  hosted by Hugo House at the beautiful Hotel Sorrento in Seattle. Approximately 80 people attended. I didn’t know that I knew 80 people in Seattle, let alone that I knew that many who would come to my party. Friends from all parts of my Seattle life were there, and even one of my doctors showed up. I got my hair done and wore the sparkliest piece of clothing I’ve ever owned.sorrentosigning
  • I had two great events in Colorado: a talk at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in my former temporary home of Steamboat Springs. Family, friends, and strangers braved a huge snowstorm to come hear me talk. Then I headed to Boulder for a reading at the wonderful Trident Bookstore & Cafe, where I read to a friendly audience of strangers and friends, including childhood classmate from ages 4-15 Matthew Cushing, who is now a g.i. radiologist in Boulder. What are the odds of our lives intersecting in this way?? My dear friend Ross McCall interviewed me onstage at the Trident. He thoroughly prepared and did a beautiful job. I’m thinking of asking him to accompany me on the remainder of my tour.rossjanettrident
  • The Trident is an awesome bookstore. They were great hosts, bought some copies of GUTS for their store, and shelved me two books away from STILL LIFE WITH WOODPECKER by Tom Robbins, a favorite book when I lived in Colorado. So, career goal accomplished.tridentbooks
Writing

Happy Birthday to GUTS!

It’s finally here: the publication day for GUTS!! I’m over the moon that this long-awaited day has finally arrived. Tonight is the first of many celebrations and events: a launch party hosted by the wonderful Hugo House.

For the past few weeks, as people have received and read advance copies of GUTS, I’ve been sent the loveliest messages. One of my favorites came from my Kindergarten, first-, and second-grade teacher, who interrupted her reading to email me and tell me how proud of me she was. Thank you all so much for your support and kind words; they mean the world to me.

Lots of GUTS In the Wild photos sent to me, including this one from my aunt the terrific  photographer:

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Tin House, the fabulous magazine, book press, and writers workshop (where I’ve had the fortune to be a participant 3 times) has kindly posted an excerpt from GUTS on their website. And I made the delightful discovery that Seattle Review of Books has featured my book launch as one of the best literary events of the week. Side note: the quote they provide is not from anything I’ve ever written, and doesn’t have the facts of my illness correct. It doesn’t matter, but I just don’t want you all to think I ever went 2 months without eating. I’m sorry for the person who has – that sounds worse than anything I ever faced.

The launching of my first book is a surreal moment. I don’t think it’s possible to pause and soak it all in, but I’m doing my best to savor the experience. I feel very fortunate to have a book out in the world. Thank you Vine Leaves Press, and thank you readers!!

 

Writing

On the Radio

“A million ancient bees
Began to sting our knees
While we were on our knees
Praying that disease
Would leave the ones we love
And never come again”

— from On the Radio by Regina Spector

This morning, a first: me, on the radio! My friend Marrie Stone (a fellow member of Jess Walter’s Rock Star Workshop at the 2016 Tin House Summer Workshop in Portland) co-hosts a program called Writers on Writing. They have big-time people on the show: Tom Perrota. Cheryl Strayed. Roxanne Gay. And on and on. It turns out that they have debut authors too, and Marrie kindly agreed to have me.

I’ve had long-held fantasies of being on the radio, but they are more like me reading an essay I’ve written on This American Life or All Things Considered, or the director of NPR calling me up to tell me Terry Gross is retiring and would I like to take over for her? In other words, me reading things I’ve already written, or me asking the questions.

But having to speak off-the-cuff? Not really my strong suit. My kids go to a school where they have to speak publicly often, so I went to my 8-year-old, Helen, for advice.

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“Be prepared,” she told me. “Imagine what questions they are going to ask you, and think about how you’ll answer them.” Very impressive for her to know that’s exactly what to do. So I did. I was nervous, and I may have stammered and um-ed my way through, but I don’t think so. My answers were long, but that’s not a fatal flaw. And I had fun! Marrie is a great interviewer. The time flew by as it does when you are talking to a friend and/or talking about yourself.

The station, KUCI, is in California, so the interview took place over the phone. Even so, I made it a special occasion work day by showering and putting on a nice sweater and a special necklace so that I would feel more like an almost-47-year-old soon-to-be-published author. My dog (ironically, considering the book’s subject) developed a case of intestinal distress, so the hour before the interview saw me running back and forth from yard to house, amassing a pile of amusements for the dog to entertain herself with outside that would not further the distress. She would bark to come in, I knew, so I positioned myself in the corner of the house farthest from the back yard: Helen’s bed. So there I sat among the stuffed animals in my nice clothes, hoping the occasional barks couldn’t be heard through the phone line.

Here’s the part where I would include the link to the show’s podcast, if I’d been patient enough to wait for this blog post until that came out. But I wasn’t, so I’ll post it when it’s available. In the meantime, here’s another photo of GUTS In the Wild:

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Isn’t that fireside the coziest? This is a special GUTS photo, taken by our dear friend and Beth’s former husband, Kevin from the home he built himself in Sitka. So GUTS has already left the Continental US! I hope she’ll continue to be well-traveled.

Writing

Gratitude, Part 1

Soon I head to beautiful Whidbey Island to prepare for my upcoming events in support of GUTS. I now have several things on my calendar: author talks and readings and even a radio appearance!

Here is my first photo of GUTS in the wild, Christmas Day 2017, Raglan, New Zealand:

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Thank you Penny for sending this photo and thank you Dan for gifting an advanced copy to Penny for Christmas. I like the look of my book nestled among the tropical fruit.

I’m feeling overwhelmed (in a good, awash in gratitude kind of way) for all of the support I’ve received from friends and family emailing me to tell me how much they like the book, or that they’ve ordered it, or that they are bringing their entire book group to my launch party! It’s a too-many-people-to-thank situation all around, but I’m going to thank a few anyway:

  • A new friend, Marrie Stone, for inviting me onto her illustrious show, Writers on Writing. I’m both terrified and excited at the thought of being on a live radio show!
  •  An old friend, Ross McCall, for agreeing to facilitate the Q & A at my upcoming reading in Boulder (and to his whole family for hosting me for 3 nights).
  • The reviewer I’ve never met, who emailed me to say she’d started reading GUTS and “I’m loving it!”
  • My grade school science teacher, Sally Crissman, for tracking down my blog and commenting about how excited she was to read GUTS.
  • My dear friend Amy’s mother Suzie Moore for stealing Amy’s copy of GUTS and staying up all night on the red eye home reading it.
  • All of the people who’ve pre-ordered.
  • And of course, Matt Wiley for being a daily booster and for soloing this weekend so I can do the aforementioned Book Tour Preparation (BTP).

 

 

 

 

Book Publication, GUTS, Writing

GUTS on Pre-Order, and other surrealities

T-Minus 41 days until 2/13/18, the book birthday of GUTS! Right now it’s out in the world in a mostly “coming soon” kind of way, but each mention of me or GUTS in a public forum still catches me by surprise.

First, there’s the pre-order. I can go to AmazonBarnes & Noble, Indiebound and see my book. I have an author page on Amazon, with my photo and everything. I took advantage of a special ad sale for authors and sprung for an ad in the Jan/Feb (“Inspiration”) issue of Poets & Writers, a magazine with a huge circulation. There’s GUTS in the New Titles section on page 82, and my name, spelled correctly and everything.

Next, I’ve started scheduling events, here in Seattle and elsewhere. Hugo House, where I teach occasionally, is kindly hosting my book launch party on 2/13 at the very cool Hotel Sorrento. My friend Stephanie Barbe Hammer is jetting in from LA to emcee the event, and former Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen is leading an onstage Q & A.

Family ski trip to Colorado? I’ll give an author talk at the library and then head down the road to Boulder to teach a class called “Acts of Courage: Writing and Publishing Memoir.” (Big thanks to Tin House 2013 friend Ashley Simpson Shires for connecting me with the Colorado Writing School, which is willing to pay me even though they’ve never met me).  I’m quite humbled by everyone’s generosity and enthusiasm.

 

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Stay tuned for more news as I have it!

Book Publication, GUTS, Vine Leaves Press, Writing

GUTS: The Path to Publication

Now that the kids are settled in at school, I can turn my attention to the child I’ve neglected over the summer: my memoir. My publication date for GUTS is February 13, 2018, a date that will no doubt come up quickly. The next few months will feature the tasks that many authors dread: marketing our work. Most writers prefer the hermit life of putting words on the page in the privacy of their writing spaces to the more public tasks of self-promoting, readings, conference presentations.

I do like the solitude of writing, but I’m also excited to get out from behind my writing desk and talk to readers about my book and the writing life. Self-promotion is difficult for me, but I’m trying to get over it. Just today at the dog park, I sent an email to a friendly woman I’d just met so she could have my contact information. “I’ll come to your reading!” she said as we parted a few minutes later. An almost complete stranger is planning to come to my reading – hooray!

Now all I need to do is schedule it.

Setting up readings, it turns out, is slow going, though yesterday I had my first success. The week my book comes out, I’m going to be on vacation with my family (parents, siblings & their families, Matt and the kids, Matt’s brother) in Steamboat Springs, CO. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read with my whole family present, so I contacted the librarian at the beautifully renovated Bud Werner Memorial Library and I’ll be giving a talk and a reading there on February 19, 2018. Wow! Though it may seem strange to kick off my book tour so far from home, Steamboat was my off-and-on home for 2 years post-college, and there are even a few paragraphs of GUTS that take place in Steamboat.

It’s great to be able to have such an attractively designed website — courtesy of Sharon Mentyka — to help me with that self-marketing. And now I’m thrilled to have a beautiful cover to share with everyone. We Vine Leaves Press authors are fortunate to have a publisher who is also a book designer, Jessica Bell. I love the way that Jessica listened to my ideas and created a cover that conveys the theme of bravery.

So here it is…the cover!!

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And yes, it’s very cool and totally surreal to see my name in print on a book cover. And have a page on Vine Leaves’ website dedicated to GUTS, and even have it show up with a 5-star review (thanks Jessica!) on Goodreads!

I’m planning to blog more regularly in the lead-up to February 13th, and keep the site updated as I schedule events. I hope my friends and family will follow my blog so you can all keep tabs on GUTS as it makes its way into the world.

Book Publication, Vine Leaves Press, Writing

Guest Blogger – Theresa Milstein

Today I’m pleased to present a guest blog post by fellow Vine Leaves Press author Theresa Milstein. Theresa is an editor at Vine Leaves as well as an author. She lives in the Boston area and teaches special ed in my hometown of Belmont, so I already like her even though I don’t know her! I’m excited to read Theresa’s prose & poetry collection, TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCE, which was released this week. Check out the information at the bottom of this post for where to buy the book, as well as info about a contest where you can win a FREE copy (or other cool prize)!

Take it away, Theresa!

My writing process has changed considerably over the years. When I first began, I worked part time and was much younger (had more energy). My children were younger too, so life was busy until they went to bed. I found it easiest to write at night. Since I didn’t know many of the rules, I could belt out a cliché-ridden manuscript in a couple of months. And I had little idea of what revision meant, so I’d look it over a bunch of times, tweak it, and be done. There would be months I wouldn’t write again until another idea came to me. This routine went on for a number of years.

Luckily, I soon found a writing community that connected me with critique groups, workshops, conferences, retreats, and books on writing. The more I learned (and aged), the more I slowed down during drafts, and they were all the better for it. Eventually I began working full time as a teacher. That changed everything. I was too busy to write during the day, too exhausted at night, and so I experienced my longest drought. I was miserable.

Something had to give. I’d received the advice to write short stories to learn to make each word count and have an easier time becoming published. I thought an added bonus would be I could manage writing smaller pieces when I was busy. But something else occurred to me—time wouldn’t be handed to me on a silver platter. I had to make time. From that point on, writing became non-negotiable. I started a Facebook group to hold myself accountable on a daily basis. So nearly every day, I wrote something: a short story, a piece of flash fiction, a poem. And I became happier.

Then I started graduate school, and scheduling time seemed impossible. After a few attempts and almost giving up, I decided to set my alarm an hour earlier than I needed to. When everyone else is sleeping, I sit with a cup of coffee, cat on lap, and a laptop. And I write.

Recently, I’ve been tested again. Since the election, I’ve been using my writing time to inform myself of what’s going on and to take action. This “informing myself” part has been pretty depressing. I’ve been going days without writing. I’ve read a couple of articles* from people who are going through something similar, but it hasn’t helped me to write consistently. I’m trying to give myself a break. And I’ve written some poems in reaction to our new reality, so all is not lost on the writing front. I tell myself that writing is still too important to me, and I’ll find my way back into a routine. In the meantime, I’ve also been focusing my energies in preparing for my book launch.

How do you make time to write?

*

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-hollywood-values-updates-john-scalzi-s-10-point-plan-for-getting-1483653314-htmlstory.html

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/a51111/making-art-in-trumps-america/

Theresa Milstein writes middle grade and YA, but poetry is her secret passion. Her vignette collection, TIME & CIRCUMSTANCE, will be published by Vine Leaves Press in March 21, 2017. She lives near Boston Massachusetts with her husband, two children, a dog-like cat, and a cat-like dog. For her day job, she works as a special education teacher in a public school, which gives her ample opportunity to observe teens and tweens in their natural habitat.

TIME & CIRCUMSTANCE is available:

$3.99 AUD (eBook)
Kindle AUS
Kindle US
Kindle UK
Kindle CA
iBooks | Kobo | Nook

$12.99 AUD (paperback)
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Chapters Indigo

Leave a comment and you’re eligible to win a prize during my blog tour!

1 $25 Amazon gift card

1 signed paperback copy

1 ebook

Answer the question:

“If you could relive any moment in time, what would it be?”

Extra entries if you share on Facebook or Twitter and link it to me.

@TheresaMilstein on Twitter.

@Theresa Milstein on Facebook

#ReliveMoment or #TimeandCircumstance

Winners will be announced on April 5, 2017

 

Writing

Rock Skiing

“And how stands the city [on a hill] on this winter night?…After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.

— From President Ronald Reagan’ Farewell Address, 1989

 

Of the many things I don’t understand about the Executive Order banning refugees, there is this: how can you look at a photograph of a family fleeing Syria and say that they cannot come here? It is easier to discriminate against people you don’t know. Is it possible that President Trump has never met a Muslim, never met a refugee? I doubt it. I think he’s just racist.

I, on the other hand, have met Muslims and refugees. Many of them. I have worked with various refugee populations on and off for most of my adult life. In 1994, my first year out of college, I lived in Denver for 5 months.

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While there I held an assortment of paid and volunteer jobs. I worked as a teacher’s aide at a day care center, and did some babysitting on the side. I wrote and edited articles for Colorado Women News magazine. I wrote a grant proposal for a group of lawyers doing pro bono work on affordable housing. And I was a tutor for a “talk time” conversation practice group for ESL students.

Our talk time group met in a dilapidated classroom of an old building in downtown Denver. The students were refugees and immigrants from Asia, Eastern Europe, Central America, Mexico. Each session, we divided into groups and were given conversation topics. At the start of our first meeting, the lead teacher made a skiing analogy. Here in Colorado, she explained, the snow is plentiful and forgiving. The sun shines over 300 days of the year.

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The best skiers are the ones who learn to ski in other parts of the country, like New England. There, you ski in unforgiving cold. It’s common to ski on ice, or encounter rocks that poke up out of the snow.

 

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“Learning English is like skiing on rocks,” she said. “Everything is easy after this.”

One conversation prompt that I remember is when we discussed the phrase “pet peeve.” I was partnered with a teenaged girl who’d recently arrived from Vietnam. She was in the advanced class, and seemed like she’d been rock skiing for awhile. I struggled to explain what a “pet peeve” meant – something unimportant that bothers you. I thought of the two men I shared a house with, friends of a college friend of mine.

“After they get a dish out of the cupboard, they leave the cupboard door open. It drives me crazy.”

“Oh,” she said. “Like when my sister leaves a light on after she leaves the room. I hate that. It’s a waste of electricity!”

Did we talk about other pet peeves, so that my student understood they weren’t limited to housekeeping irritations? I don’t remember. I do remember that Talk Time volunteer was my favorite of the positions I held while living in Denver. I loved the energy exuded by everyone in that class. They were so excited to learn English well enough that they could get jobs, go to school, conduct the various transactions of their new American lives. As a volunteer, I knew little about the situations that had led them to come to the United States, and nothing about all of the hoops they’d jumped through just to be allowed to board the plane.

I wonder where that woman is now – does she still live in Denver? Did she become a citizen? Does she still have family in Vietnam, or anyone trying hard to get to the U.S.? Maybe she has children, and admonishes them to turn off the lights when they leave the room. Maybe they’ve become skiers there in Colorado, where the snow is champagne powder and the sun shines all winter long.

[photo courtesy of UNHCR.org]

 

Parenting, Writing

The Amazing “True” Story of a Teenage Single Mom

Katherine Arnoldi, author of the powerful graphic memoir THE AMAZING “TRUE” STORY OF A TEENAGE SINGLE MOM, is a champion of teen mothers everywhere. Originally published as a zine to distribute to teen Moms near her home in New York City, the book was published by Hyperion in 1998. It has just been reprinted as a paperback by Graymalkin Press.

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As a teen services librarian in the early 2000’s, I observed this award-winning book in constant circulation. Our library’s copies were often marked in the system as lost or stolen, a sure sign of a popular book. It wasn’t until a few months ago, though, that I had the chance to be introduced over email to Katherine through a former library patron (thank you Dana!) and to read her book. Arnoldi’s story is indeed an amazing story and inspiring example for teen moms and others. It’s also a sexual assault survivor story, and gives support to the (too many) people with similar experiences. Above all, it’s a story of tenacity in the face of many obstacles.

Below, my interview with Katherine. I continue to remain inspired by all that she’s done in her life, through writing, art, and beyond. Thank you, Katherine, for your time, for sharing your images, and for your book.

JB: Please describe your original intention in creating and publishing this book, and what subsequently happened with its publication. Can you talk about the different experiences of working with a large press, a small press, and self-publishing?

KA: This was first a “zine” that I would copy myself and take with me, along with FAFSA forms and college applications, to GED programs, neighborhood centers, homeless centers and at Charas Community Center on the Lower East Side of New York City where I ran a College Mom Program. My idea was that, if I told my story of my own struggle to find the way to college, that the teenage mothers would understand that I had had similar experiences as they were having.

It was so fun to go to the 24 hour Kinko’s on Astor Place in New York and spend the entire night putting together a new copy of the zine. Actually, the manager and employees would join me on the floor in putting the zine together. It was a blast. When it was published, I took a copy to the manager to thank him for his support.

Of course, Hyperion is a big publisher and so they arranged for me to appear on the Today Show, the Nightly News, CNN Entertainment Today, the Lenny Lopate Show and many others, which allowed me to say my soundbite, that “teenage mothers do not have equal rights to education.” Also, I do not know if it would have been chosen as One of the Top Ten Books of the Year by Entertainment Weekly without a big press. The fact that it won two American Library Association Awards meant that it was in all of the 6,000 plus libraries in the United States.

[Then] David Zindell, of Graymalkin Media, contacted Binghamton University, where I took my Ph.D, to try to find me to ask if he could publish The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom as a paperback. I am so grateful for the courage and support of Graymalkin Media. Now that it has been updated and re-released as a paperback by Graymalkin I am focused on contacting libraries in hopes they will order it. Robert Clough also bravely wrote a review for the Comics Journal. http://www.tcj.com/reviews/the-amazing-true-story-of-a-teenage-single-mom/

JB: The graphic memoir seems to be the perfect format for this story. What was the process of creating it like?

KA: Fun! My undergraduate degree is in Art, my Master’s and Ph.D. are in Creative Writing, so this form allowed me to combine those degrees with my increasing awareness of the political implications of my own experience.

JB: To sum it up in the most basic terms, your book tells the incredible story of your path from single motherhood – truly unable to rely on anyone – to your starting college and finding a supportive community. Looking at your resume, it looks like the incredible story continued. Can you give a brief synopsis of what you’ve been up to since your early college days (including your scholarship for teenage moms who go to college)?

KA: I would work, then go to school, then work, then go to school. Finally, I now have a Ph.D. But the highlight was my Fulbright Award in 2008-9 to Paraguay. I am an adjunct Professor at CUNY and Fordham University in New York City. In 2005 the Kennedy/Marshall Film Company bought the film rights to The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom and I took some of that money and opened a Calvert Foundation Giving Fund Award. It gives a scholarship each year (from $400-500) on the interest it earns. The most recent recipient in 2017 was at John Jay College in NYC. This award will go on forever.

JB: Even though this is a serious topic, and a lot of terrible things happen to you over the course of the story, there are touches of humor in the book. Can you talk about using humor in writing about serious subjects?

KA: For example, someone gives me a small tip at a restaurant and tells me to “buy something to wear for myself” but my thought bubble says, “But I wear the same clothes all the way to the end of this book.” The humor is often very self-reflective. Thanks for noticing!

JB: Why is “true” in quotation marks in your title? Is that part of the tribute to superhero stories? Do you consider it to be any less true than any other memoir (beyond the disclaimer at the beginning)?

KA: I was making fun of the first issue of superhero comics, such as the Amazing Spiderman or the Incredible Hulk but, in my case, all I wanted to do was go to college, a very simple desire. Everything in the book is true, and happened to me, but I am not a cartoon character and those huge events are not completely portrayed in such a short book. I chose the events that would move the story forward and tell about my struggle to find the way to college. Much is omitted, of course.

JB: How old is your daughter now? What does she think of the book?

KA: My daughter recognizes that the book helps to inspire teenage mothers to go to college. She is in her late 40’s.

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JB: What advice would you give to your younger self at the outset of the project? Advice for readers who want to tell their own stories?

KA: My advice to myself and others would be to be bolder, to realize the significance of our own experiences and to understand how they apply to many, many others.

JB: Anything else you’d like to add?

KA: Because of the book, I was invited to New York Civil Liberties Union and we started a class action lawsuit against the New York City Board of Education for coercing teenage mothers to leave school. Now, things are better. However, there are 12,000 new teenage mothers each year in NYC and only 700 slots in the child care program in the high schools. What happens to the other 11,300 mothers? I urge everyone to find out how teenage mothers are faring in your community.

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Book Publication, GUTS, Vine Leaves Press, Writing

Publication News!

How long have I wanted to write the (inelegant) sentence my book is being published? Perhaps since I wrote the first words of what would eventually become my memoir, GUTS, 7 years ago. Perhaps since the age of nine, when I filled in “a writer” next to the question printed in a fill-in-the-blanks book I owned, what do you want to be when you grow up? However I do the math, the result is the same: I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve just signed a contract for publication of GUTS by Vine Leaves Press!

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[Melborne, the virtual home of Vine Leaves Press.]

Vine Leaves and I found each other in an unexpected way, or at least it was a surprise to me. After many moons of querying agents and editors, I decided on a whim to participate in a Twitter pitching party.

I know. I’d never heard of one either.

On a designated day (6/9/16, in my case), agents and editors scan Twitter for worthy projects. Authors distill their book synopsis down to 140 characters, add the appropriate hashtag (#PitMad), and hope that someone spots their awesome tweet and requests a submission. Although I have a Twitter account, I’m really more of a Facebook girl, and had to get my friend Marin – an excellent writer and pro-Twitterer – to help me compose my tweets. Here is the tweet that caught the Vine Leaves editors’ attention: “BRAIN ON FIRE meets TRUTH AND BEAUTY in a story of friendship, a mysterious illness, colostomies, death, and a triathlon.

From the originally requested excerpt came a request for the full manuscript. And one evening in late August I got the email offering me publication. My face looked something like a paler, older version of this as I read the email, sitting home alone, my kids already asleep:

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Yesterday I sent the signed contract, and now I’m on my way. I’ll start working with a Vine Leaves editor in the Spring of 2017, and things will clip along from there, I have no doubt. I’ve spoken to several Vine Leaves authors and read some of their books and I’m honored to be in their company. Look, here I am, listed at the bottom underneath the gorgeous covers of the already-published and soon-to-be-published books: http://www.vineleavespress.com/books.html

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I think the press will be a wonderful home for GUTS. I’m grateful to acquisitions editor Peter Snell, publisher Jessica Bell, and the whole Vine Leaves team for their enthusiasm for GUTS.

Last night I was at the aforementioned Marin’s launch for her excellent young adult book, BLEED, BLISTER, PUKE, and PURGE: The Dirty Secrets Behind Early American Medicine. While waiting in the signing line, I was introduced to a woman. “Sarah has a book coming out in 2018.”

“Me too,” I said. Which felt weird. But also awesome.