Becoming Mother

A book and a blog for first-time mothers

Tag: book

Week 23: Practicing Generosity

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Last week, I wrote about practicing gratitude.

And if you’re truly practicing gratitude, generosity is sure to follow.

In the whole first year of my book’s publication, I sold about 150 copies.

Last week, I gave away 309 copies.

***

Let me explain.

Last year, I learned the Number # 1 Lesson of baby fairs and expos.

Everyone is coming for FREE stuff.

To try to convince someone to buy something at these events is almost impossible.

People were so confused when they would walk up to my table, their eyes searching for what they were going to walk away with. Hmmm… papers with words on them… Some books on book stands… Their fingers would slowly trace the tablecloth, their brains registering the fact that…

I really had nothing.

What I had were fliers, cards, and pamphlets with information on something that I wanted them to buy.

Ha.

All the other vendors had enormous bowls of candy (regardless of the season) or little goodie bags filled with free magnets, pens, and pamphlets. The smart ones also had a clipboard to collect email addresses for “a chance to win this diaper bag” or basket of baby books, or whatever.

Smart.

So this year, my approach at this past weekend’s baby fair was quite different.

I gave away my book. For free.

Kindle Direct Publishing allows me to run a free book promotion every three months. The dates of the most recent period coincided perfectly with a local hospital’s community baby fair. So I scheduled my promotion to run for three days, from Saturday, September 24th to Monday, September 26th.

I decided that I would give out half-sheets of paper with directions about how to get their free Kindle copy of my book. At the bottom of that half-sheet of paper, I politely asked for their Amazon review if they enjoyed the book. I also invited them to follow my blog by email.

Then, I told them to enjoy the book.

Their eyes lit up, their eyebrows arched.

“Wow. Thanks!”

“Awesome!”

“I’ll get it tonight!”

***

I didn’t advertise the free book promotion at all until Sunday, September 25th. I thought there might be a few people who would come across my book and download it on September 24th, but my main reason for beginning on this day was to have a buffer period for things to go wrong (i.e., Hey, why isn’t my promotion showing up on Amazon???) before the actual date when I need the promotion to be working.

So imagine my surprise when I checked on Sunday morning to see how many free Kindle books had already been downloaded.

97.

97 Kindle books.

I wasn’t sure I was reading the graph right. I read it and reread it. I put my finger on my laptop screen and touched the line.

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Holy shit.

Who were these people? Was there some special link that Kindle readers follow to immediately download new free Kindle books?

Whatever the reason, I felt incredibly grateful.

No, I’m not making any money. In fact, I’m still about $1500 in the hole for my accrued publishing and marketing costs.

But, hey.

By the end of this promotion, I had reached 309 new potential readers. Some of them will actually read the book. Some of them will recommend it to others. And some of them might even buy a copy for a friend.

Generosity makes the world go round.

Maybe giving away all of these books will lead to this book’s next big break.

Maybe it won’t.

But I feel certain that some new mom out there will end up with this book in her hands and feel comforted by its message.

And that makes the whole endeavor worth it.

Self-Publishing Costs and Benefits

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I don’t know how many copies of Becoming Mother I truly expected to sell on its release date.

Maybe 20? That could as least cover some of the costs that I’ve shelled out of the last few months. Yeah, 20 seems reasonable. Okay, maybe 15.

When I checked that evening around 10:00 p.m., I braced myself.

One.

One copy.

Really?

***

Success in publishing can be measured in a lot of ways.

Before I published this book, I braced myself for how the whole publication process might affect my own feelings of accomplishment and self-worth. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s easy for me to take criticism too close to heart. I have to mentally prepare myself for any heartless comments that may come my way.

I knew that by taking on the challenge of self-publishing, I was putting the responsibility for book promotion and sales entirely into my own hands.

I’m inviting you behind the curtain today, to show what self-publishing has been like in this first year post-publication. The nuts and bolts. The costs and benefits. The frustrations and joys.

Here we go.

Summary of Expenses

  • Cover design: $200
  • ISBNs: $300
  • NetGalley listing: $400
  • Booth fees for selling events: $400
  • Wholesale copies of book: $516
  • Facebook ads: $130
  • Book award contests: $240
  • IBPY Catalogue listing: $230
  • Misc: $285

Books sold, August 2015-August 2016:

  • Printed (through Amazon): 70
  • Printed (in-person sales): 37
  • Kindle: 39
  • KENFP earnings (by Kindle pages read): 3,107 pages
  • Total copies sold: 146

Earnings: approximately $900

Book reviews published:

  • Burrito Buzz, MothersAlwaysWrite, Project: Women
  • Amazon reviews in August 2016: 15 different buyers

Countries where my book has been sold:

  • United States, Great Britain, Japan, Australia

Blog Stats

  • Blog followers in August 2015: 45 followers
  • Blog followers in August 2016: 421 followers
  • Total blog views: 11,407
  • Total blog visitors: 6,814

Most visited posts/pages:

Other publications that have helped to promote my writing:

  • Kiwi Magazine
  • MotherAlwaysWrite
  • Project: Women
  • Imperfect Life
  • Fearless Formula Feeder

 

A lot of people could scoff at me for choosing the “easy way” to publication. I would scoff right back at them and say, “Easy? Are you kidding me?”

The only “easy” quality about it is that I didn’t have to spend the time flirting around to find an agent who might be interested enough in my work to get it in the hands of an editor at a publishing house, who might actually want to take the risk of publishing my work, who might not completely change my vision. In that sense, I was able to spend more time in honing the quality of my work and deciding exactly how I wanted to market the book.

Self-publishing wasn’t the easiest way to publish. But it did help me accomplish a few goals:

  • I was able to publish this work while I am still a mother of a young child. This helps me identify with my readers.
  • I had total control over my content, organization, and book layout.
  • I had immediate access to my sales records–so I could know when certain promotions were working or not working.
  • I retained my rights over my creative work.
  • Interested readers could easily access and purchase my book through Amazon.
  • I was able to market this book however I saw fit.

Some of the things that I did to market this book flopped. Some things worked well. Here’s what I’ve learned. Take it or leave it.

  • Do not do a Goodreads giveaway with the expectation that the winners will actually review your book. They just don’t. If you want to do a Goodreads giveaway, just do it out of the goodness of your heart and be thankful that someone who is not part of your regular social circles may read your book.
  • Facebook ads didn’t really produce many sales. Maybe they get your book cover in front of eyes and lead to a few clicks, but it never made a huge difference in sales for me. This was mostly wasted money, I thought.
  • Don’t be afraid to charge a fair price for your book.
  • Sometimes your buyer isn’t your reader…
  • Selling events are great… for figuring out how to market your book. They might not be great for actually selling that many books.

 

Instead, do these things:

1.) Above all: KEEP WRITING.

If you’re really a writer, this will not be hard at all. You love to do it anyway. You love it even though it doesn’t pay the bills. You love it even though you are rejected over and over and over again. You. Just. Love it.

2. ) Promote your most trafficked blog posts through Facebook promotions. (Hint: Being vulnerable often leads to highly trafficked blog posts. This means that you write about the tough stuff.)

3.) Blog. Regularly. But…

… save some stellar work to submit to other literary magazines or websites who are looking for original, unpublished work.

Find other places to submit your writing and submit often. Take the rejection. Take all of it because there will be a lot. Swallow your pride and keep going. You’re in this for the long haul.

  • Follow other people’s blogs.
  • Identify tags for posts that appeal to your target audience.

(For me, this meant following tags like pregnancy, motherhood, writing, baby, and parenting.)

  • Like and comment on other people’s posts.
  • Respond to every comment on your blog.

4.) Embrace the Power of Social Media

Disclaimer**: I was born in 1981, the very beginning of the Millenial Generation, and God, it shows. I graduated college before the advent of Facebook and smartphones, so I have a weird mix of social media literacy and social media repulsion. And yet… I cannot deny that it has helped me reach readers that I otherwise would never have reached.

Blogging has helped me connect with readers in Australia. Facebook has helped me promote my book to Facebook friends and friends of those friends.

I have not walked through the dark, dark threshold of Twitter yet. I fear I might never return. I have too doggone much to keep track of, so I limit myself to Facebook and blogging.

  • Establish an on-line presence through social media.
  • Create a Facebook page for your book and regularly update it with new blog posts, book reviews, book progress, and other related readings that you find noteworthy.
  • Like other Facebook pages for websites and books that are related to your topic.
  • Start interacting with other bloggers whose work you admire. Comment on their posts. Follow their blogs. Like their Facebook page. Then, see if they are open to receiving a free copy of your book and reviewing it. Graciously accept whatever review they create, be it positive or negative.
  • Attend writer’s conferences and workshops. Network. Learn about their writing, their blogs, and their books. Help them out and they’ll help you out. Oh, and while you’re there, learn about writing.

Be honest. Be authentic. Be you. No one wants a martyr. No one wants a superhero. People want authenticity. They want to see you down in the mud where they are–but they also want to see you climb out of it and shine.

Shine on, fellow writers.

Shine on.

Writing the Formulaic Novel: Yes, Please

In a previous post, I wrote that I had a great concept for a new novel while I was writing my last book, Becoming Mother. Of course, I didn’t have the time to pursue it while I was finishing my last book, but I scribbled out some pages in hopes of not letting the idea get too far from me.

Three weeks ago, I went on summer vacation from teaching. This is my time to write. Pretty much my only, luxurious, uninterrupted time to dive into a creative project.

I wanted to make the most of it.

Even with all uninterrupted time, writing did not come easy this time. Every time I would sit to put my characters in a scene, I would get blocked. What would he say? How would she act? What happens next?

And then the dreaded, What’s this story really about again?

Argh. So frustrating.

How could I write this story if I couldn’t even get my mind around it?

I ignored it and plowed ahead, letting the scenes take me where they wanted.

Boy, did I get lost.

I kind of started developing an understanding of the characters that I was writing about, but I still felt like I didn’t really know where the story was going. But worse, I didn’t feel like I could see into the soul of these people.

***

Last Thursday, totally in a funk, I closed the “Working_Draft_3” document that I was hammering away at. Then, I pulled this book off my shelf.

Marshall Plan

I bought this book several years ago when I was looking for ways to improve my already-written first novel.

I’ll be honest about my first impression: I scoffed at it.

This guy was presenting a “formula” for writing a great novel. It gave you guidelines for how many sections to have in the beginning, middle, and end, depending on the final word count. It pretty much laid out a lock-step guide for crafting a novel.

Great art is not formulaic, I’m sure I thought. And I’m an artist.

Yeah, but I was also a novice. I didn’t really know the first thing about crafting engaging and well-paced scenes inside narrative arcs.

I wanted to break the rules before I even knew them.

And that’s how I ended up with 400 single-spaced pages of plot-gone-wrong.

And a beast of a novel that was far to wily for me to tame after the fact.

***

When I revisited this book last Thursday, I thought, Yes! This is exactly what I need.

I need structure–badly.

My idea is great. But this book helped me work through some of the biggest challenges in creating an engaging and believable plot and characters.

I used to think (secretly) that I was too good to write a formulaic novel.

Nope. I’m not.

I’m not above it at all.

I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m ready to learn it.

And in that spirit, I’ve plotted out all 48 sections of this new novel, complete with three formulaic surprises and worsening failures for the lead character from start to finish. I also spent time creating characters notes so that I could understand my character’s inner struggles and conflicts.

Now, when I sit down to work on a scene, all I have to do is look at my notes on the current section that I’m writing, review my character notes, and jump into it. I realize that I don’t have to have this all finished before I return to teaching–because I can just look back at my notes and remember where I’m going.

I’m on my way to my SFD–my shitty, first draft.

Pride, swallowed.

The Next Book

About a year ago, in the middle of January, I was trying to fall asleep and out of nowhere, a sentence came to me.

Just one line. A line of dialogue.

It tugged at me. It kept me up.

Who said this line? Why did they say it? Where were they? What were the stakes?

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King compares the process of writing a good story to the process of unearthing a fossil. You see part of the story peeking out of the ground–then you unearth the story by asking the right questions. You don’t imagine a bunch of independent, isolated pieces lying on top of the earth and then try to fit them all together.

You start with one piece–then you see what’s already attached to it.

So that’s what I did. I got out a notebook and I started answering those questions.

And a story emerged.

long story.

Long enough for three books.

I stared down at my notes and thought, I don’t have time for this. I’ve got to finish this book I’m working on right now. When am I going to find time to write another book, let alone three? I’ve got a job. And a toddler.

writing

Still, the story wouldn’t go away. As I drove to work, the plot, the characters, and their motivations took shape. As I listened to music in my car, and I could see critical scenes playing out before me as I drove, much like a movie trailer. One morning while on a short vacation with friends, I got up at 5:30 and spent two hours writing out the first five major scenes.

But then I got stuck. I couldn’t see past a major conflict. I couldn’t figure out how to resolve the conflict in a way that fit with the characters.

So I put it away. I finished the book I was working on. I learned how to publish, how to market, and how reach new readers. I spent time blogging and writing essays to submit for publication elsewhere.

But the story wouldn’t go away.

***

My husband put several books in my stocking for Christmas this year. One of them was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic.

big magic

I wasn’t ready to read it at first. I was still working through the grief of miscarriage. But within a week, I decided it was time to allow myself to cultivate my creativity again. It was my creativity, after all, that had saved me, time and time again.

In Gilbert’s book, she articulates a belief that ideas come to people, almost like a kind of spiritual possession. And if the person doesn’t try to bring forth the idea to the world, it will move on, seeking someone else to bring it to light.

What a bunch of mystical bullshit, I thought.

But I kept thinking about the story that I had told to wait. I couldn’t deny that it was still lingering there in the deep recesses of my brain. It was like a puzzle that I couldn’t figure out.

So I dug out my notes about the story and the twelve pages that I wrote a year earlier and I read them.

As I moved through the pages I was swept up in the story that my previous self had written. Whose voice was this in these pages? Who wrote this? I know I did, but this doesn’t sound like me at all. It truly felt like I was reading someone else’s great idea.

But I still couldn’t figure out how to resolve the major conflict.

***

This last week, I had coffee with a good friend, Cate. She asked me if I had any desire to write fiction again. I rolled my eyes and shrugged, “You mean besides that one book that I can’t figure out?”

“What book?” she asked.

It occurred to me that Cate was a fresh audience with whom I’d never shared the concept of this book.

I told her everything that I knew. She listened, her eyebrows lifting in interest in all the right places. I had to backtrack a few times to clarify plot lines and motivations, but she stuck with me the whole time. As she asked me questions, I could feel the gears clicking into place again, the story starting to open up and move.

As I drove home, I started to re-imagine the story. What if this… What if that… 

I jotted some more notes down in a new notebook. I scribbled out the plot arcs for all three books. Oddly enough, the most logical and motivating place for me to begin was with the second book.

And so that’s where I’ll begin.

***

After this experience, I can’t totally write off Elizabeth Gilbert’s premise, that ideas knock on our doors, asking for us to bring them to light.

Because where did this first line of dialogue come from?

I have no idea.

While I can rationalize the experience of unearthing the fossil of this story question by question, I cannot rationalize where that first spark of curiosity came from. I can attribute my own imagination as the source that fleshed out the answers to all the questions that surrounded this line of dialogue.

But where did that first line of dialogue come from?

I know it didn’t come from me.

Damn you, Elizabeth Gilbert.

But also bless you, for convincing me to not give up on the idea that wouldn’t go away.

Now the hard work begins.

Underneath Miscarriage

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A Christmas card we received on the day we found out.

 

Death surrounds new life, but it largely goes unnoticed. It starts in a womb where the death, birth, and growth of cells happen every month. A tiny fertilized egg trusts its fate to this volatile environment. Sometimes, it works out. Sometimes, it doesn’t.

About one year ago, I wrote these words in one of the final chapters of my book, Becoming Mother.

I just recently lived to experience the pain of these words.

Truth be told, I had a miscarriage before I was pregnant with my daughter. But it happened immediately after I got a positive home pregnancy test. Just as quickly as the news came, it was taken away. It felt like a mistake. Oops! That wasn’t meant for you.

I was never able to really own that pregnancy.

But this miscarriage, this one that just happened, this one is all mine.

This pregnancy was different. Every pregnancy is different, they all say. But from the day of ovulation to the day this baby’s heart stopped, I felt that something was off. Although I’ve never been one to place much trust in intuition, my radar was on high alert this whole pregnancy.

On the day I ovulated, I felt like I had a war going on inside of me. My right ovary hurt, my right Fallopian tube ached, my uterus contracted and tugged in hot spasms. I had never felt anything quite like this, so my brain settled on the idea that I was miscarrying. Although… how could that be? I’m just now ovulating!

I came home from work, still in pain, still confused. By the next day, the pain was gone, but I was so bloated and swollen I had to wear loose fitting pants.

As timing would have it, my annual gynecological exam was the following week and my midwife told me that it had probably been a ruptured ovarian cyst, especially since the pain was now gone.

Okay, an ovarian cyst… Strike one. But maybe I can still get pregnant.

And I did.

After I got the positive pregnancy test, I calculated my expected due date: August 1, 2016.

Huh… That doesn’t sound right.

I re-entered the date of my last period. Same answer. Of course, it was the same answer, but it didn’t seem right. It didn’t feel right.

I gave the pregnancy test to my daughter and told her to give to my husband. I thought it would be cute. He was still in bed, still groggy. He rolled over, looked at it, and asked if there were two lines there. I said yes.

He seemed underwhelmed, so I asked him what was wrong.

“I’d just feel more comfortable about this if you hadn’t had so much pain when you were ovulating.”

Husband doubting the good news. Strike two.

At five weeks pregnant, I was reeling. I had lost my emotional footing. I was so irritable that I couldn’t stand myself. Absolutely everyone was pissing me off. A colleague belaboring a point. My husband leaving dishes in the sink. My daughter not wanting to get in her car seat. My students not doing the reading. Every time someone pissed me off, I had to talk myself through it. This is a stupid thing to be upset about. You’re only feeling this way because you’re pregnant. Calm down and don’t say something that you’ll regret later.

And then the foggy thinking. I was so much foggier than I remember being at the end of the third trimester with my daughter. One day, my brain switched over from knowing it was Tuesday to thinking it was Wednesday. I rushed to create a lesson plan for my Wednesday class in one hour when I had another day to do it. Only as I was about to walk to the class did I realize that it was really Tuesday.

At six weeks pregnant, the extreme fatigue started. No. Let’s be real. It was extreme exhaustion. Between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. every day, I was utterly useless. I had to work, sure, but I was completely checked out mentally. If I could leave work early, I did. Once I made it into our house, I immediately crashed on the sofa. Not enough energy to get upstairs.

This baby was kicking my ass. And I still wasn’t telling anyone about it, save my  mother.

Then at seven weeks pregnant, on the morning of Monday, December 14th, I was brushing my teeth and looking in the mirror. And I had a horrible thought.

I’m not pregnant anymore. 

I wasn’t reeling.

I wasn’t foggy.

That day, I was tired, but not nearly as exhausted as I had been.

Maybe I’m not pregnant anymore.

What a morbid thought! What the hell is the matter with you! Think positive. Maybe this is just going to be an easy pregnancy. 

That week, my digestion slowed to an absolute crawl. I started eating smaller meals more frequently, and I felt better. Then, the nausea started to kick in and I took comfort in it.

See? There. I told you.

At eight weeks and one day, I went in for the first ultrasound. For days, I had been prepping myself mentally for this.

But why?

I had never had an ultrasound where a doctor had given me bad news. They had always been exciting. I had always left with either good stats or pictures to show off.

Yet in my head, I went over the scenarios.

A baby in a Fallopian tube.

A dead baby.

A baby with no head.

A baby with no legs.

Two babies, both dead.

After each scenario, I would chide myself.

What the hell is the matter with you! What kind of mother are you to be thinking such morbid thoughts? You’re going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you’re not careful.

Imagining my child dead. Strike three.

***

In the days after I received the bad news that the baby had stopped growing at six weeks and six days (i.e. the day before I had my first thought that I was no longer pregnant), I felt the full gamut of emotions.

Anger.

Sadness.

Frustration.

I wanted to know where I had been when this baby’s heart stopped beating on Sunday, December 13th.

Was I in church? Had I been reciting the liturgy? Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord?

Was I singing “We Need a Little Christmas” to my daughter as we drove home from church?

Was I napping?

Was I doing a prenatal yoga video, my hand resting over my abdomen in shavasana pose?

I was so furious.

***

“How are you doing, baby girl?” my husband asked me on the day after we found out. The house was quiet. Our daughter in bed. Christmas Eve still a day away.

I shrugged.

“What are you thinking?” he asked.

“Pshhh… You’re not going to like what I have to say.”

“Just say it.”

“What am I thinking? I’m thinking, what a waste of time. What a waste of effort. We had this all planned out so that I’d have the longest maternity leave possible, given the holidays and the academic year. And now, it’s just all gone. All that coping with irritability and the fatigue and the nausea…  All of that time… My birthday, Thanksgiving, our anniversary, and now Christmas… all of it spent emotionally invested in this thing that didn’t go anywhere. That’s what I’m thinking.”

But I held back.

I didn’t tell him that I was also thinking, Let’s just get this over with so I can move on. Let’s cut this thing out of me so I can replace this empty hole with something living. Something more worth my time. Let’s just get on with this so that I can stop being so damned depressed and start feeling happy again. 

Doug leaned back in his chair, a frown on his face.

“It wasn’t a waste of time, Sweets. Don’t think that.”

I shook my head.

“It wasn’t a waste. We made something special. Yeah, it didn’t last very long, but it was something we made together. And I think that’s nice.”

His words cut me. And what I bled was the truth that had been too painful for me to admit.

I had loved this baby.

Yes, this six-week-six-day-old baby, which medical textbooks call a “fetus.”

I loved it.

Me. The pro-choice woman who had also been comfortable using the word “fetus” instead of “baby.”

I loved this baby.

All of my anger and frustration had been window dressing for the simple fact that I was sad to lose someone that I had loved.

And here I was, denying it. Because denial was easier than facing the truth. That I had lost someone that I had loved. That I could feel so strongly about this baby that I would never meet.

I would be the only person on this planet that would ever know this baby the way that I did. And here I was, calling it a waste of timeA waste of effort.

I was so ashamed.

***

I said my good-bye to this baby on Christmas Eve after a long, desperately needed workout. Sweating, lying on the floor in the back room of our house, I rested my hand over my abdomen and cried.

I don’t want you to think that I didn’t love you because you couldn’t live up to my expectations. Just because your heart stopped beating… it doesn’t mean I didn’t love you. You didn’t have to be perfect. You didn’t even need to be fully formed. I still loved you. It doesn’t help me to imagine that you might be better off dead if you had some chromosomal abnormality–because I know I would have loved you no matter what your problems were. I would have taken you in whatever form you came. 

Because that’s love.

Irrational.

Wholehearted.

All-in.

***

This miscarriage has brought gratitude into full view again. When we’re deep in pain, we’re suddenly able to look back and identify all those moments when we should have been feeling gratitude–but we chose to feel a thousand other emotions.

Like it or not, I’m re-learning the humility of waiting. Waiting to heal. Waiting to pick myself back up. Waiting to try again.

But perhaps the waiting will be good for the part of me that foolishly believed that I could just remove death and replace it with life, just like that. A switcheroo before I would have time to deal with the pain of this loss. In a Facebook world brimming with good news and happy times, loss has become even harder to deal with. “Happiness” becomes the new default setting, and everyone seems to be experiencing it. And so it’s easier these days for loss to feel abnormal.

But the truth is, the abnormal is often the normal that we just don’t talk about in polite company.

Perhaps I need to learn that again. Perhaps I need to remember my own words.

Motherhood does take away. But it also replaces. Sometimes our hands are empty and sometimes they are full. And accepting this truth helps me find contentment and joy.

About one year ago, I wrote these words.

But it was just recently that I was reminded of their power.

 

Christmas Promotion: “Becoming Mother” $0.99 Kindle Book, 11/30 only!

If you’re a first-time mother (or father!), I wrote this book for you.

becoming mother cover

This book isn’t about the baby.

It’s about the mother.

It’s about the huge physical, emotional, and psychological challenges that she faces every day as she struggles to be a mother. Not only is it great for first-time mothers, it’s awesome for new fathers and for friends who don’t have kids, but want to have an idea of what new mothers experience.

But I’d prefer to let you read what others are saying about this book. Check out these reviews below:

Dana Schwartz, Writing at the Table

http://danaschwartzwrites.com/2015/11/02/becoming-mother/

Tara Tona, Project: Women

http://thisisprojectwomen.com/2015/11/20/book-review-becoming-mother-by-sharon-tjaden-glass/

You can download the Kindle version of Becoming Mother: A Journey of Identity for only $0.99, (normally $6.99) on Monday, 11/30/2015 only! 

On Tuesday, 12/1, you can purchase it for $2.99.

On Wednesday, 12/2, you can purchase it for $4.99.

Spread the word!

 

 

 

Black Friday Selling Updates

So Black Friday selling wasn’t a complete bust.

Here are some highlights:

I was yelled at by a woman who was disgusted with my book.

She had corkscrew red and white hair and wore thin penciled eyebrows and a rumpled cream tunic. And she was most likely crazy. The interchange went like this.

“Becoming mother?” she said in disbelief. “What is this?”

“It’s a book about becoming a mother,” I stated the obvious.

She shook her head in disgust.

“What do you need a book for? God. What the hell?”

She points to the women walking behind her before she continued.

“We all did it! And we’re fine. We didn’t need a book!

“Well, it’s for first-time moms. Do you remember being a first-time mom?”

“Yeah, I do!” she yelled.

“Oh, okay. And you think it just wasn’t that hard?” I asked.

She shook her head in utter disbelief.

“I mean, what’s there to talk about?” she asked. “You have the baby, you take it home, they grow up, and then they die! God!”

(No, I’m not exaggerating this conversation at all. My mother was there to witness the whole thing–along with the other crazy dude that wandered behind my table and demanded to know WHAT I WAS DOING WITH ALL OF THIS!!!)

My guess is that this woman’s disgust with the concept of my book is a generational thing. Her comments struck me as implying something like, “Real women don’t think this is a big deal. You younger women need to get over yourselves and get on with being a mom. God!”

But then, I also had some nice conversations.

Besides the crazy people, I had some nice conversations with several women who were expecting babies in March and April. I talked with some excited future grandmothers who were thrilled to buy something for their newly pregnant daughters.

One pregnant woman told me that she had had four miscarriages in the last year and she was now at 23 weeks with her fifth pregnancy.

“This is the farthest I’ve gotten so…”

We commiserated about obstetricians and pregnancy and wondered why some doctors don’t try harder to figure out why you miscarry. (The culprit in her miscarriages was low progesterone levels–left undiagnosed throughout all of her miscarriages).

She bought a copy and I wished her good luck.

One woman had just become a grandmother twice in the last two months. She bragged about how big one of the babies was (“Eleven pounds, sixteen ounces!”) as she bought two copies of my book.

I sold five copies of my book, packaged in $20 gift sets, so I’ve covered about half of my booth fee.

Okay, so I knew I wasn’t going to be raking in money hand over fist at this event, but I don’t think my time spent today was a total loss.

I reached five new readers that I wouldn’t have otherwise reached.

I realized that it doesn’t really matter if I stand at my table or if I sit and do something else.

All of my customers have approached me while I’ve been typing or while I’ve been talking with my mother or sister. Not one person paused at my table while I was actively trying to get their attention or start a conversation. In fact, I think people preferred to not have the pressure of the vendor trying to reel them in (Hey, I know that I hate that…)

Tomorrow, I’ll go easier on myself and just try to enjoy the possibility of selling more books.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing this journey with me!

 

Live from Black Friday Book Selling

So I’m selling my newly published book at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio for the next three days.

A disclaimer: Selling like this makes me feel uncomfortable. As I’ve said before, selling like this makes me feel like *I* am on sale. This is a memoir, a book about my life.

So I tried to take the first comment of the day in stride.

An older man, a fellow exhibitor, walked by my booth as the doors were just about to open. He sized up my book and said, “Is this a book about being a mom?”

I said, “Well, it’s a book about becoming a mom.”

“Okay…”

He looked around my table.

“Is that all you have? Just the book?”

“Yep.”

“Hmm…”

Long silence.

I know that this booth is a bit out of place. There are hardly any items on the table.

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Just a small stack of books and a display of items for the gift set.

“Interesting…”

“Thank you,” I said.

“This isn’t really a reading crowd, but… good luck to you.”

Geez, Dude. Thanks for the pick-me-up.

Okay, so I’m more than a bit out of place.

I’m surrounded by far more exciting booths: a posh clothing boutique decorated with all things Parisian, a booth dripping with jewelry, and I swear to God, an Ohio State Football booth, manned by an actual Ohio State Football player (his jersey says “Cotton?”).

The doors opened at 9:00 and I debated in my head about whether or not it would be better to sit or stand.

I tried standing, looking out at the people passing by and saying hello.

Most of them didn’t want to make eye contact. Or they missed me completely as they darted to the Ohio State booth. I smiled. I said hello. I smiled. I said hello. Hello. Good morning.

Oh! Someone with a baby! Get her! Oh… she’s gone. 

Look at all of them around the Ohio State booth. God, they can’t get enough of it. 

No one here is going to buy this book. Look at all of them. He’s right. No one here reads…

Okay, maybe standing isn’t working. Maybe I should try the disinterested approach.

I sit down and start typing away on my computer.

At least I don’t have to be bored while I tailspin into low self-esteem.

***

At least there are a lot of people here. There is a steady stream of people passing by my booth.

While I’ve been writing this, a woman stopped by my table and said that she wished she would have known about this book a little sooner. Her niece just had a baby on Monday.

“Oh, really? This is actually even better for her now that she’s had the baby. This book goes all the way to the end of the first year postpartum.”

Her eyebrows lifted. She thumbed through the book as we chatted.

She eyed the price, the purchasing options. I told her that I was selling the gift set today and that if she wanted just the book she could get it on Amazon for a bit cheaper.

“I’ll think on it.”

I offered her my card and she smiled as she took it.

We said good-bye.

Oh well…  I thought.

I resumed typing away on this blog post and noticed someone staring at my table.

We struck up a conversation. Her daughter is expecting a baby next April. I pitched her the book.

She bought a copy.

More to come…

 

Why I don’t want to be great: An artist’s reflection

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I’ve never thought that “greatness” was wealth.

I’ve always thought that “greatness” meant that you were one of the go-to people for a particular niche. That your name would be indelibly associated with a subject or concept or theory or whatever. And for some innate reason, I’ve always pictured that I would achieve that greatness through writing.

So for years and years, I wrote with the purpose of achieving my own personal greatness.

What amazing idea could I write about that could make me great?

Maybe that. Or that.

Yeah! What a great idea. No one else is doing that, so I could become great by doing that.

At this stage, a lot of my writing could be called the dreaded forced and one-dimensional. It was missing a certain je ne sais quoi. Only, I do know what to call it.

Voice.

It was missing voice.

My voice.

And although my goal had been to become a great writer, nothing that I had written had been that great.

And then came the concept of this book.

Suddenly, my reason for writing changed drastically.

I was no longer seeking out “greatness” or fame. I was writing it because I had to. There was such a drive in me to get this book out of my head and into the hands of someone else that I didn’t care anymore about how people were going to see me. God, if I cared about how people were going to see me, I would have picked another topic that wouldn’t have required me to write about my torn vagina or defective boobs.

If I didn’t have this need to write this book, it would have never gotten done.

Let’s put this into context.

Writing a book.

From concept to publication.

Independently.

In two years.

With a baby.

While working full-time 11 months of the year.

That’s drive.

In his new book, How Did I Get Here?: Making Peace with the Road not Taken, Jesse Browner writes about this same drive that artistic minds experience when engaging in the creative process:

“You do it because you need to do it, because you are commanded to do it, and you can only hope and pray that in return it will give you what you need, even if you have no idea what that might be, other than some nebulous principle of fulfillment.”

It could very well be that my book sells fewer than 500 copies and never quite breaks through. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. Because this book has already given back to me what I needed it to give me. It has given me feedback and reviews like this:

“… I’m confident that this book will really help other mothers and mothers-to-be to feel not so alone.”

“No one else I know has (or could?) put into words this crazy, life-altering process… She writes with a deep honesty and humility. It is at turns humorous and deeply emotional, and I found it hard to put down.”

“I laughed, I cried, I related, and I looked forward to each new step of this journey knowing that someone else could relate and had the eloquence to put such profound experiences into words. “

“Becoming Mother is a TRUE account of how many women feel once becoming mothers, but many are unwilling, or afraid, to share with the world.”

What I love most about these reviews are that they reveal that I have been relatable to my readers—and that gives me back all that I need from this creative process.

Being relatable keeps me among the masses, and in my heart, that’s where I’m most comfortable. I don’t want people to envy my life or what I have. It makes me feel spoiled to the point that I want to give away everything that I own.

I don’t want to be a hero. It makes me want to point out to everyone else why they are just as heroic as me. And I only really want to be a role model to my children. (Okay, and maybe my students.)

Maybe I don’t want to be “great” because I fear that it will create a large divide between me and my readers.

Maybe I don’t ever want to think of myself as someone who has completely “arrived” in life. I fear that it might numb me to all the possibilities that still await me.

Although pushing into new territory has never, ever been something that I look forward to, I know that stretching myself beyond my previous capabilities has always, always rewarded me with confidence in my own capability and resilience.

I always want to acknowledge that I have further to go.

I always want to believe that I am a better person when I acknowledge that I am, and always will be, incomplete.

I will always yearn for something more. Something else. Something just far enough out of view that I can’t see it yet.

It feels good to understand at this point in my life that this is not a reflection of how much I love my family or how satisfied I am with my life. This is just the drive of the artist. The drive that I can’t wish away.

For me, writing is my ministry to others. Because this is where I find the most fulfillment. The greatest satisfaction.

And so I must dare to believe that in exchange for giving parts of myself away, new and unexpected things come my way.

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A short tear-jerker for all you new parents

Just passing along a tear-jerker for all you expecting and new parents. Enjoy!

And if you’re one of those people who wants to know what it was like for someone else to go through this big leap into parenthood, check out my new book, “Becoming Mother.” (also available in print) I guarantee you, you will not regret walking with me in the journey of this book.

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