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...
My client, Chris Chandler, is about to become a published author!
Her memoir Stay Sweet: Tales of Quirky Southern Love, will be published on May 12th, 2023 by Red Thread Publishing.
Here's the first part of her advice that I shared last week.
Want the cliff notes version?
Just do it.
You don't have to know everything to get started.
#1: My writing community has been invaluable to me, so I would definitely encourage people to develop a writing community in whatever way they can. Through the years I've taken a lot of writing classes and and I do that both for learning, but it's also community building for me.
Community. If you've been following me for a while, you know this is a biggie for me. It's one of the pillars of WRITE YOURSELF OUT, my 12-month mentorship for LGBTQ+ writers.
I've been conducting "Author Chats" with former clients and other writers I'm connected to where we talk about their writing and publication journeys—and where I ask them to pass on their wisdom on to writers who are just getting started.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Chandler, a soon-to-be published memoir author. In the summer of 2021, Chris came to me with a loose collection of family stories that she wasn't sure what to do with.
Over several months, Chris and I identified an overarching theme for her stories, revised the ones she'd already written, added some new ones, and decided on a structure for her book.
Her memoir Stay Sweet: Tales of Quirky Southern Love will be published on May 12th, 2023 by Red Thread Publishing.
Stay Sweet reminds us that unconditional love still exists in the world and that families can provide safe landing places for children at any age. Plus you'll get to meet the unforgettable May, the...
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.
In her memoir The Family Outing, author Jessi Hempel writes: "The more I live in the world, the more I come to understand that everyone has a closet."
Maybe your closet is:
Claiming your identity as a writer—someone who has something to say to the world—is brave and it's scary.
I know what that feels like.
When I first came out in 2016, I couldn't say I was gay or lesbian or queer—let alone that I was a queer writer. I didn't really know what label to attach to the life-changing awakening I'd experienced at midlife.
Shortly after my husband and I decided to divorce, I...
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...
Monday morning I sent the final draft of GRAVEYARD OF SAFE CHOICES to my editors at the University of Wisconsin Press!
And ever since, I've been sitting with all the feels.
I'm thrilled. Terrified. Proud of myself for being brave enough to tell my story. Happy I didn't give up when the rejections piled up and it seemed like I would never get clear on what my story was really "about."
The final edits were "interesting" to say the least. As I went through my manuscript ONE LAST TIME (okay, who am I kidding? THREE LAST TIMES), several important insights emerged.
1. Trust your gut
There were sentences, phrases, and even words that bothered me every time I reviewed my draft. Sometimes it was because the text was awkwardly written or the words did not communicate exactly what I wanted to say.
I wondered if the detail was necessary or gratuitous—was this a "darling" I needed to chop or was it important to the story? If I was...
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...
Last week I wrote about how National Novel Writing Month 2012 (NANOWRIMO) changed my life.
It can change yours too!
No, I didn't write a novel or a memoir in 30 days—in fact I ended up with a tangle of 50,000 words that were largely a stream of consciousness (see below for how you can avoid the same).
Most of the LGBTQ+ folx & allies I work with have never written a book before, let alone taken on the challenge of writing a memoir.
NANOWRIMO is a great place to start.
Block out time on your calendar every day to write and set a daily goal. 50,000 words divided by 30=1,667 words a day. The equivalent of 6 to 7 pages double-spaced every day.
If you know...
In 1978, I was a high school senior and an exchange student living in Knutsford England, and I wrote a personal essay for my hometown paper about my study abroad experience.
My first byline!
But it wasn’t until the Southampton Writers Conference in 2013, when I took the plunge and applied for Mary Karr’s memoir workshop that I finally—publicly—declared “I’m a writer.”
They don't call me a late-in-lifer for nothing!
When I soaked in Mary Karr’s wisdom as I sat around the table with 12 other writers, many of whom were much more accomplished than me, I realized how much I didn’t know AND I knew that I was in the right place.
The learning curve would be steep and I would get there someday. And someday has happened.
More details to come!
Now that I work with...
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!
Just fill out the details below and you'll be good to go. Please note, your information is safe with me, and welcome!