I am so sorry for the delay in responding to you! But I love your essay and I’d be happy to publish this on TODAY.com.
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"Holy shit!" I screamed at my sister from the passenger seat of the car.
The editor emailed two days later to say that my essay had been one of their top performing pieces all week, with over 250,000 views.
I won't deny it: the 15 minutes of fame have been a blast.
Subaru has reached out—as has a reality TV producer! Don't worry, I'm not planning to be the next Real Housewife, although the new face of Subaru might not be a bad gig.
But more important than the 15 minutes of fame is that I've taken my writing to a new level. I'm more confident. I'm less afraid of putting...
Have you ever been brought to your knees by 300-400 words?
Truth be told, I have.
Ahh ... the dreaded query letter. A three-paragraph email sent to an agent or editor with a single purpose: to entice them to read your book proposal or manuscript.
The first time I queried agents for Graveyard of Safe Choices, my memoir about reclaiming myself at midlife, was in the winter of 2021. I had set a deadline for myself to have queries sent before I turned 60.
I met my deadline. Hooray!
But my queries were met with form rejections or silence. A sign that the query was NOT working—no one, apparently, wanted to read more.
I went back to revise the query—and ultimately the manuscript.
You see, an unsuccessful query isn't always just about the query: often it reveals problems with the manuscript.
When your query is fuzzy and vague, it can indicate that you really don't know what your book is about.
The road to publication can be long, as I've shared in a recent post.
It also can be filled with rejection and never-to-be-answered queries.
And then there are those moments like my client Sarah had the other day. I won't tell you too much about her book—yet—as there are more steps on its path to publication.
But an OMG!!! email is a time to celebrate.
As soon as I read Sarah's "OMG! Can you call me?" email, I picked up the phone and seconds later I was on the verge of (happy) tears.
A dream agent had offered her representation.
He GOT her book. WHY it was important for women. Why it was important NOW.
And the book proposal that got this agent's attention?
"It's one of the best I've ever read," the agent told Sarah.
I can't lie—that comment was the icing on the cake.
My clients and I work hard—often for many months—on these proposals—which are documents that make the business case for their book.
Today is the last day of Pride Month. Normally I'd write an upbeat post celebrating the LGBTQ+ community I'm now part of—sparkly rainbows and all.
But frankly, I'm not feeling very upbeat or sparkly these days with the stripping away of women's rights and marriage equality likely next on the chopping block.
Instead of wrapping ourselves in rainbows, my wife and I are researching the best places for LGBTQ+ folk to live if—when?—things get worse in this country.
Some days feel very dark.
Then there are those unexpected moments of hope when glimmers of light shine through the cracks. The light that's always there even when we can’t see it.
This week my clients—LGBTQ+ folks & allies as well as passionate advocates for women's rights—have been those glimmers of light for me.
Here are some of their stories:
When I connect with a friend I haven't seen in a while or a new acquaintance who knows I've written a memoir, inevitably I will be asked a variation on one of these questions:
What's happening with your book?
When can I buy your book?
When's your book coming out?
Most people can't imagine why it's TAKING ME SO DAMN LONG TO WRITE AND PUBLISH MY BOOK!
Truth be told, when I started this memoir journey 4+ years ago, I had no idea it would take this long either!
A few months ago, I blogged about my memoir journey:
Recently I blogged about the protestor who showed up at my wedding and why it's important to be visible and share our stories.
Here's the post in case you missed it »
Lots of you responded to the post. Thank you! I love getting feedback from readers because sometimes as a content creator, it feels like I'm writing into a black hole.
So here's a tip for those of you who are readers—which I'm assuming are all of you! If you read a book you love, post about it on social media and tag the author. Trust me. It doesn't matter how "big" an author they are—they will appreciate the fact that you took the time to reach out.
That book you just read likely took years to create. Years where the writer experienced self-doubt. Where they wondered what they were doing. Where they asked themselves if anyone would even care.
Let them know you care!
So here's a tip for those of you who are readers—which I'm assuming are all of you! If you...
"We had a protestor at our wedding," my wife tells anyone who will listen. "I consider it a queer badge of honor," she always says, with a smile.
Maybe she's right, but a year ago when I spotted a man on a step ladder blurting obscenities through a megaphone at our wedding party, I felt horrified—and afraid.
Would he follow us through the streets of Lancaster? Were there more people like him around every corner? Would a fight break out? Would my wedding day be ruined?
I had no such worries on my first wedding day, thirty-five years earlier. The day where I wore my mother's Priscilla of Boston wedding gown and my father walked me down the aisle of the Wellesley College Chapel to my soon-to-be husband.
The man I would build a good life with. Have two sons with. The man whose heart I would eventually break when I came to terms with my sexuality late in life. The man who let me go with grace and compassion. The man who continues to extend both to me.
A few weeks ago I was doing some competitive title research for my Write Yourself Out Foundations writers. Competitive titles, also known as comparable titles, are books that a writer's ideal reader would also be reading. When a writer is drafting a book proposal, which is a detailed business plan they use to pitch their nonfiction book, there's an entire section devoted to competitive titles. The point of the section is to show how your book will fit into the marketplace. How is your book in conversation with other books in its category?
I surfed around Amazon and landed on the LGBTQ+ Demographic Studies category—and what I discovered was truly horrifying.
Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail Shrier, a disgusting book with an even more disgusting cover, was #1 in the category.
When I checked today, it had fallen to #2.
Now I don't even want to dignify this piece of trash by giving it a lot of air time. If you...
Lately, one of my favorite hours of the week is Tuesday at noon when I hop on Zoom with my Write Yourself Out Foundations cohort. As these LGBTQ+ writers wrestle to get clear on their books, they laugh—and sometimes cry. They ponder, get vulnerable, and give supportive feedback to each other.
All those things and more happened this Tuesday. But another reality colored our time together—the news that the Supreme Court is about to overturn Roe v. Wade. The implications for this decision—if it is in fact where the Court lands—go well beyond reproductive rights. The right to marry the person of your choice, regardless of gender, may be the next right on the chopping block.
I’m angry—and I’m scared. My less-than-a-year-old marriage may be in jeopardy, not to mention other issues important to the queer community.
Truth be told, to date I’ve lived a life of privilege—I’m white, well-educated, and financially secure. Sure...
Are you searching for your next read? Keep reading below to learn more or watch the video all about this recommendation!
[Video trigger warning: the recommended book mentions sexual abuse]
Like you probably do, I get my book recommendations from people I trust. I’m in several online writers groups and a member of one of those groups is Laura Davis, the author of The Burning Light of Two Stars . I heard enough buzz about the book in the group that I decided to check it out, plus the subject matter interested me.
It’s a story about a complicated mother-daughter relationship and the tension that can arise between siblings when one sibling is bearing the brunt of the care for an elderly parent. A story many adult children can relate to. I certainly can.
Key takeaways for readers and tips for memoir writers:
The #1 takeaway for me from this memoir is that it’s possible to reimagine a challenging relationship with a parent—it’s...
Writers go on a hero’s journey when they make the decision to get their story out of their heads and onto the page.
Queer writers go on a Queero’s Journey!
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