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Book launch party is ON!

When I signed my contract for Community Klepto in September 2020, I said to my publisher “surely we’ll be able to have an in-person book launch in June 2022”. Well, it was close, but it’s happening! I’ll be at BookWoman Austin on 5501 N Lamar Blvd on Monday, July 11 at 7 P.M. There’ll be more in person and online events to come, so stay tuned!

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I’m featured in Moms Don’t Have Time to Write (again!)

I recently went through some unpleasant shit with my lady doctor’s office and it brought up a lot of equally unpleasant and shitty feelings about my long and complicated history with lady doctors over the years, to the point that I felt compelled to sit down and write about it.

And now it’s an essay on Moms Don’t Have Time to Write! Go check out my 3-minute read when you have 3 minutes to spare. Cheers.

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COVER REVEAL for Community Klepto!

How beautiful is this cover?

OMG y’all my cover is here and shit is getting real. Unlike my first two novels, I really didn’t have a concrete picture in mind about what the cover of this book might look like, but the designers over at She Writes Press really nailed it and I can’t stop looking at it.

In other big Community Klepto news, the book hit the data feed for all major and most independent bookseller’s websites this week so you can now find it EVERYWHERE for preorder: BookPeople, Barnes & Noble, Rainy Day Books, (and of course Amazon, too). It is available for preorder now, and I won’t stop you if you do, but it doesn’t come out ’til June so you can slow your roll a bit (unless you just really want to give yourself a nice surprise in June 2022 because you will undoubtedly have forgotten about it by then).

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The Rastaman is out!

I was randomly scrolling through my Tweetdeck when I ran across an open submission call for poems and art about Bob Marley. I don’t often hop on these types of calls unless I have something on theme already in the hopper, but this immediately brought to mind my time at home on maternity leave with my twins, when I would play Bob Marley when I was at the end of my rope with two crying babies.

I wrote the poem one night, edited it the next, and sent it out before the submission deadline the day after that, and it was almost immediately accepted! I’ve been so busy this summer that I admit I completely missed the publication announcement, but the anthology is out now, and my poem Alexa, Play Bob Marley is the last poem in the book. Check it out and support an independent press in the process.

Get yourself a copy on Amazon.

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I got featured again!

I had a lot of complicated thoughts of fever-induced mom guilt after COVID hit our house, and threw some of them into an essay that I put together hoping to get picked up by Working Mother magazine or something.

I never heard from them, but it was accepted by Moms Don’t Have Time to Write and the post is now live on Medium! This is my second essay to be accepted by them, so I hope that this means I could end up becoming a regular contributor as the one-year countdown to Community Klepto’s release begins.

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I’m featured in Moms Don’t Have Time to Write

I recently had an essay get accepted to Moms Don’t Have Time to Write, a new website brainchild of award-winning book podcaster Zibby Owens. A fellow author clued me into their call for submissions, and though I was nervous about submitting since I have never written anything expressly through the lens of being a mom before, I was pleased when they accepted my submission the very next today.

It was published today, and I hope you enjoy it! My Less-Than-Triumphant Return to the Barre

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The paradox of perfect pandemic parenting

Is today the day that I infect everyone in my life because I dared to leave my own house,
Or is today the day that I lose my job because my children interrupted me every 5 minutes?

Maybe you shouldn’t have had kids if you weren’t prepared to take care of them 24/7,
But you also definitely shouldn’t have kids if you can’t provide for them financially.

Of course our first solution to this crisis shouldn’t be for all female parents to just stop working,
But we can’t really expect both parents to exit the workforce for 18 years, now can we?

You’re selfish if you don’t put the health, safety, and needs of your children first,
But you’re also selfish if you expect your work colleagues to pick up your slack.

If you go get your hair done, then everyone around you will die,
But you’re on camera a lot more these days, so you should really fix your hair.

Restaurants aren’t safe right now – even if you’re out on a patio, even if you’re getting takeout,
But if you don’t support your local restaurants then only Applebee’s will survive.

No one should set foot inside a school building until everyone has had a vaccine,
But the first vaccines to reach the market were rushed through trials and can’t be trusted.

A learning pod with people you trust is a great way educate your kids and get social interaction,
But these pods are also tools of the elite that only serve to deepen inequality.

Wearing a face mask isn’t political and everyone should just do the right thing for the public’s health,
But it’s critical that you vote for someone who’ll mandate masks, or everyone will die.

If you need one hour of quiet just to get through an important meeting, Moana’s got your back,
But just remember that the only kids who really thrive are those who never have screen time.

You and your kids can’t wait for all of this to be over so things can get back to normal,
But normal was over-scheduled weekends and letting someone else raise them during the week.

Fully vaccinated adults can gather together safely without masking,
But your children can’t get vaccinated yet so you better keep them away from unsuspecting adults.

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Let the publizity begin!

With my first two books, marketing and publicity was hands-down the thing I hated doing the most and also was the worst at. On the other hand, I had a lot more time to devote to things like querying book bloggers and doing guest interviews back then, too. This time around I was not only resolved to let a professional handle all that stuff I suck at for me, I also had a nice list of referrals for good publicists from my publisher.

I queried four of them and had phone meetings with two of them. I would have had three meetings, but they all fell during the week of the freak winter storm we had down here in Austin. I dismissed one of them almost immediately because they put off a very “Publizity” from Kroll Show vibe. What stuck out to me, and ultimately solidified my decision to go with the publicist I did, was that only one of the companies asked to see my manuscript. I know a lot of busy marketing people don’t have time to read everything that comes across their desk, but how do you know if you’re the right person to market the book if you don’t know the book? How do you know who you’re going to sell it to?

After reading horror stories of authors hiring multiple publicists to do multiple things, I was really resolved to only do this once and find someone who really wanted to work with me and wanted to represent my work. And I didn’t want a Liz. So when I talked to potential publicists to represent me, these were the 3 most important questions I asked, and made my decision easier (taken from the larger list from BookBub):

  1. What kind of experience do you have marketing books like mine? This not only leaves room to answer the obvious question, but also lets you know how much effort they put into learning about your book before talking to you.
  2. What kind of promotions would you envision running for my book? This gives you an opportunity to make sure you’re not going to get cookie-cutter promos that don’t fit your book well.
  3. What media contacts do you have that would be interested in my book? One, you get to know what kind of media contacts they have and how many, and two, you can get a good feel of how comfortable they feel about promoting your book where it fits.

Of course the hope is that by June of 2022 I can have a real in-person book launch and sign books face to face after poorly reading from my own novel. But more than anything I am happy that I have someone to handle all the promotional logistics of it for me! Looking forward to a long relationship with Caitlin Hamilton Marketing.

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I survived Texas Winterclysm 2021

This week has sucked balls. It sucked more balls for a lot more people in this state, but it still sucked for us too. Ice and snow basically trapped us in our home for a full week. We lost power and heat for a total of 8 hours, which was a lot less than much of Austin and Texas at large, and we were lucky to not lose power on the single digit days (SO not fair; I left Kansas City to get away from single-digit temperatures). We lost running water on Wednesday and we still don’t have it back. Rumor is it might be next Wednesday before that happens. I need a shower. I need to wash sheets that have been peed upon (by the 4-year-olds, not me). I can’t wait to wash dishes… which is something I never thought I’d hear myself say out loud, but here we are.

Shittiness aside, here’s what I learned this week:

  • I write my best poetry when I am pissed off… like, really, really pissed off.
  • My loving spouse, who has far more doomsday prepper bones in his body than I do, will never tire of hearing “Yes, you were right.”
  • My children will still want to eat ice cream and wear swimsuits when it is 55 degrees in our house.
  • People like book publicists are really forgiving about rescheduling meetings when you have no electricity, spotty internet on your phone, and no running water.
  • No amount of experience of driving on ice and snow (and I have plenty) will make me willing to brave roads in inclement weather with Texas drivers.
  • One box of wine was not enough.
  • Little Fires Everywhere was a damn good miniseries, but still a better book.

In a lot of ways it felt like the early days of COVID: daycare was closed, everything was closed, and anything that was open was mobbed and picked over. Luckily no one expected me to be productive this week, otherwise I might have actually had those book publicist meetings with hair that hasn’t been washed since Tuesday, or made more progress on my next novel. But it was survival mode… literally. Survival was easy enough for us because we were prepared for it, but it didn’t bode well for author work. I may write my best poetry during apocalypses, but fiction not so much. Fuck COVID, and fuck once-in-a-lifetime winter storms. I’m over it.

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My new friend, Amanda Gorman

Like most of the country, I didn’t know who Amanda Gorman was before Tuesday, January 20. At any given time I could tell you a few of my favorite poems, a few of my favorite poets, but I couldn’t tell you who the current poet laureate or youth poet laureate is. I couldn’t even tell you who the poet in residence on The West Wing was, and I’ve seen that whole series three times. But I can tell you that despite my best efforts to be nonplussed by everything inaugural, I was legitimately excited to see that the youngest inaugural poet ever was a female person of color, and excited that I identified a lot with her story.

Granted, she is from Los Angeles and I am from about the furthest thing from Los Angeles. She grew up with a single mom; I grew up with a single dad. But like Gorman, I fell in love with poetry from a very young age (although my very young age was much before Amanda’s) because it felt like one of the only ways I could truly express myself. I wrote a ton of (really bad) poems as a kid, as an adolescent, and beyond. I still write bad poems when there’s a really big feeling I have that I don’t know how else to get through. For every poem I have had published, there are 20 more sitting in a folder.

And like Gorman, I have a speech impediment, too. Sometimes my stutter is barely noticeable if I am relaxed, not overthinking my speech, and talking to people I know, like when I read books to my kids. Other times, especially when I am talking to new people or speaking up in front of people, my brain will completely short-circuit my speech and cripple my ability to get through certain sounds without stuttering. And the longer I am away from regularly talking to people, like a whole year working from home in quarantine, the worse my stutter gets. It’s like, 18 months away, but I am already dreading doing book readings for Community Klepto and stuttering over certain words. Good thing I didn’t name my protagonist Millie or Rachel.

Poetry is a very solitary, deeply personal art. For most poets, it’s one of the only ways to express feelings and emotions they may not even consciously know they’re feeling. Refining a poem to use just the right words in a very concise form is long, tedious work. “The Hill We Climb” wasn’t written overnight. I’m no Amanda Gorman, but a poem of that length would have taken me weeks, maybe months. When we see a poem like “The Hill We Climb” read aloud for a few minutes on a national stage for the whole world to see, it’s easy to forget the long, lonely work of turning those personal thoughts into something worth reading. Watching someone who’s fought struggles with speech read her heart’s work so passionately and eloquently in front of the entire world… that’s incredibly inspiring to me.

It’s become part of my weekday monthly routine to listen to a poetry podcast while I walk around the block, drink my coffee, and wake the fuck up. Hearing Padraig O’Tuama read on Poetry Unbound sets the tone for the rest of my day and it’s been a great way to get introduced to new poets beyond the Seamus Haney and Emily Dickinson I had to read in college. Poets, especially modern poets, don’t get a lot of respect. They’re viewed as weirdos (and to be fair, some are – I distinctly remember going to a slam poetry open mic for extra credit and hearing a very hairy dude tell us not to clap for him because he was not a poet, but a conduit for a higher power). It’s easy to see poetry as something kitschy or woke or elitist. But after Tuesday, more people bought poetry than ever, and a 22-year-old poet is going to be taking her kitschy, woke, elitist work straight to the bank. And that’s awesome.

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