Subject line: "Title Talk."
The marketing team had concerns about the title of my coming out later in life memoir. They were worried that a book called Graveyard of Safe Choices could potentially sound "like a real bummer." And my book is anything but. It's a hopeful story about finding the courage to leave the graveyard of safe choices, not wallow in it.
I loved my title! I had gone through many other working titles and thought I had finally landed on a winner. After all, it was the title that landed me a book deal.
But the more I sat with the feedback on my title, I realized that the marketing team was right.
Book buyers are heavily influenced by titles and cover art. So it was really important to get my title right and not settle for something that was potentially "a bummer." And the cover designer was waiting on the right-fit title so she could...
A couple of weeks ago I began requesting blurbs for Graveyard of Safe Choices, my memoir about coming out later in life—which meant emailing authors I didn't know at all or I knew only a little to ask if they would spend THEIR precious time reading MY book and then endorsing it.
I heard back right away from one author who said yes (thank goodness!).
The other three, including one who is kind of a big wig in queer literary circles: radio silence.
Maybe they missed the email in their overcrowded inboxes.
Maybe they thought, "Who the hell is this person who has the nerve to ask me to read her book and endorse it?"
Okay, I only thought that about the kind of big wig person—the other two authors actually know who I am.
All week long, the task of following up hung over my head. Plus, I was supposed to send out even more blurb requests.
The absolute last thing I wanted to do.
I had a long professional identity crisis in my thirties and forties. After practicing law for a brief period, then caring for young children, the wandering and searching for the "thing I was meant to do" ensued.
For years, I felt frozen—and shame—every time someone asked me "What do you do?"
You know that question everyone inevitably asks when they first meet you.
I stammered and made apologies when I didn't have a simple—or satisfactory-to-me—answer, and pretty much wanted to dig a hole and bury myself in it in those moments.
I forgot that I had been a teenager who published my first article when I was a high school senior, a personal essay in my local newspaper about a study abroad experience in England.
My father, back in New York with the rest of my family, had mailed me a copy of the newspaper clipping with this note:
My yoga studio has a Century Club—you earn a prize once you reach 100 classes a year. One year, pre-pandemic, I practiced over 200 times! That meant showing up on my mat 5 x a week on average.
This fall, I barely showed up at all.
In October I practiced yoga ONCE.
I’d sign up for classes and cancel at the last minute.
It got to the point that I was embarrassed to go to the studio because I hadn’t been there for so long.
I stopped thinking of myself as a yogi. I stopped even signing up for classes because what a joke! I knew I would cancel.
One day I said to myself, you are getting on your mat no matter what. You don’t have to practice 5-6x a week. You just have to practice today.
I showed up to class. It was hard, but I felt...
I'm a little late to the game for a 2022 book roundup, but better late than never.
This year, like the two years before it, is a time to give each other grace, don't you agree?
Readers aren't always writers—but writers should always be readers! If you aren't reading in the genre you are writing in, start now! That's the number one thing you can do to improve your writing.
You'll notice that my list is heavily skewed toward memoir ...
1. Lost and Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz
The author explores the relationship between grief and joy, two emotions that feel like opposites but are very often held in the same experience. That certainly has been the case for me in my "new life," and it's a tension I plan to explore in my next book.
2. Plain: A Memoir of Mennonite Girlhood by Mary Alice Hostetter
This is a cool one for me! The author grew up in Lancaster PA, where I now live, although under very...
I smiled earlier this month when my business coach asked a fill-in-the-blank question during a goal-setting workshop:
Really? My memoir, GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES, is all about breaking free from a play-it-safe and small life. Do I have to keep being brave? Wasn't leaving everything I knew behind and starting over in my mid-50s brave enough?
Yes, that's a photo of my condo on move-in day five years ago.
But as I held a pen in my hand, the answer came quickly:
I’m going to have to put it out there soon—my coming out later-in-life memoir will be published in late Fall 2023 or early Winter 2024.
It feels so VULNERABLE. So visible. So public.
This is especially true for people in the LGBTQ+ community who've been judged and shamed for simply being who they are.
These writers are brave souls who know there are readers...
After Thanksgiving Day, my fridge is always teeming with leftovers, which, in my opinion, is one of the best parts of the season!
Constructing the perfect meal—or bite—from what didn't get eaten in the first place.
Often, that leftover meal or bite is even tastier than the original, don't you think?
It's not that different for writing.
“Kill your darlings” has been a favorite phrase of writers for over a century. In his 1916 book On the Art of Writing, British writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch wrote:
“Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”
While I prefer to use less violent language to describe...
I've always been fascinated by the idea that a single moment can change the entire trajectory of a life.
Sometimes that moment feels out of our hands and controlled by "fate"—you catch the train or you don't, like in the movie Sliding Doors.
And sometimes it feels more like "agency"—you're at a crossroads and you make a choice to go one way or the other.
And you know what fascinates me the most? Those choices that seem insignificant but later you realize, they changed your life.
“I’m knee-deep in NANOWRIMO,” my friend Lisa said to me in early November, 2012.
“What’s that?” It sounded like a secret society.
“It stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month.’ You pledge to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days.”
My youngest had just gone off to college, and I was trying to figure out my next chapter (pun intended).
Today is National Coming Out Day, a day I didn't even know existed when I was living as a straight woman in a mixed-gender marriage.
Back then, I was oblivious to the struggles of LGBTQ+ folx and the history of that community. I "knew of" gay people, but I didn't have a single LGBTQ+ friend. Or at least I didn't think I did.
This isn't an uncommon experience.
Robert Eichberg, one of the founders of NCOD, said in 1993:
"Most people think they don't know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact, everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes."
It wasn't until I made a pilgrimage to Iona, a tiny isle off the southwest coast of Scotland, that I realized I did have an LGBTQ+ friend after all.
The year was 2001, and I was a forty-year-old stay-at-home mom searching for my purpose.
I'd left a toxic work environment as a corporate...
"Normalize the roller coaster" is one of the mantras of Dallas Travers who runs The Hive, a business mentorship program for coaches.
Ahh ... the emotional roller coaster.
One day you’re a coach or an entrepreneur flying as high as a kite! You've gotten a few new clients, have discovery calls lined up, and your bank account is finally looking healthy.
Everything is clicking on all cylinders.
Until it isn't.
One of those new clients backs out. On one of those discovery calls you were so excited about, the prospect challenges your prices. You start panicking about the money you're spending on your virtual assistant.
It happens to writers.
This week it happened to me.
Last week I was still flying high after getting a book deal!
But this week life happened and the high wore off.
My elderly mother fell and was sent by ambulance to the hospital.
I started my book...
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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