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.
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...
This past Sunday, I gathered with my local writing community to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the group's founding.
What a full circle moment that was for me!
Five-and-a-half years earlier, on a Wednesday night in June, 2017, I attended my first meeting of Write Now Lancaster. I'd moved to Lancaster THE DAY BEFORE, knowing practically no one.
When we circled up for introductions that June evening, I hadn't even lived the ending of the coming-out-later-in-life story that I would eventually write about in GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES, my memoir that will be published in Fall 2023 by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Now, on this Sunday night five-and-a-half years later, I was one of the leaders of the writing group, ready to put the finishing touches on my manuscript before sending it off to my editors.
Your kid wakes up one morning and he's 6'3" and...
I'm nearing the home stretch with my revision of GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES, my later in life, coming out memoir, which will be published by the University of Wisconsin Press in Fall 2023!
I'm celebrating my good fortune and hard work!
But something less pleasant is also happening as I near the end of this journey.
Your writing sucks.
You are really going to expose ALL this to the world?
Sure, you got a book deal but no one's going to buy your book except for your family and close friends. Because they have to.
You spent how many years of your life on what?
I come back to my WHY.
WHY am I writing this story in the first place? Why THIS story? Why me? Why now?
The same questions I ask my memoir clients.
Like many memoir writers, I started writing my story because I felt like I had no other choice. I started writing first for ME—to make sense of a very confusing and...
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).
You know the roller coaster I’m talking about right?
I wrote about how I felt riding the low point on the emotional roller coaster last week as the high from landing my book deal wore off and the work I have to do on my book—plus life—hit hard.
"How can I draft a book proposal if I don't even know what my title is yet?"
"I'm overwhelmed so I'm not doing anything."
"How do YOU make time for writing?"
The Serenity Prayer that is often shared in 12 Step Meetings is a great guide for writers, even if you never intend to darken the door of a church:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Accept the fact that the roller coaster will happen. Don't beat yourself up when it does.
"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...
In my early forties, I began noticing an almost supernatural glow on the faces of certain friends when they talked about a new project or work they felt passionate about. Work where their gifts and the needs of the world were aligned.
Truth be told, I envied them—I wanted to glow too.
I had left a toxic work environment as a corporate lawyer in my late twenties, and between birthing and raising two sons I'd been searching for the right fit career path.
After my kids left for college, I finally found that path.
I put a stake in the ground and claimed my call as a writer. I set aside time to write. Went to writers conferences. Joined a writing group. Hired a book coach—and later trained to become one myself.
I finished one manuscript and started another.
And in the process, my life changed, in more ways than one.
Nearly a decade after saying "I am a writer"—something I had known my whole life but had been afraid to say out loud—I...
Like he would wear a made-to-order seersucker tuxedo to a black tie wedding.
And in that very dapper seersucker tuxedo, Byron asked me about my book.
What's happening with your book?
When's it coming out?
Where can I buy it?
But Byron isn't just a good friend; he's also a board member of a nonprofit independent press that focuses on Southern authors and stories. He knows a thing or two about publishing.
After I told him that I was "this close"—I was holding my thumb and forefinger a half inch apart—to being offered a publishing contract by a university press, he asked me how many copies I expected the press to print in their first run.
A question I frankly hadn't even thought about. A question I now know to research and ask about when I...
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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