New Year, New Venture

It’s February. How did that happen? For weeks, I’ve been meaning to share some thoughts here about the new year, writing goals, personal goals, etc., but I haven’t been able to find time. I’ve been busy making plans and preparations for a new venture I’d like to share today.

I am launching my own independent, for-profit, micro-press called Raised Voice Press that will exclusively publish creative nonfiction books by authors who have found it difficult to be heard.

Yes, I’ve been very busy. Starting a business is a big deal. It’s taken a lot of contemplation and soul-searching and planning for me to get to this moment. I assessed my skills and my interests, my weaknesses and my aversions. I wrote an honest-to-god business plan, complete with a three-year cash flow estimate, to prove to myself that this idea I have is viable. Writer friends, I know you can imagine how grueling that was. I figured, if I still want to do it after going through that, I must be ready.

You see, last year I came to the conclusion that, for the sake of both my family’s and my own well-being, I needed to either get a job or start a business. Owning my own business has been on my mind since I was in my twenties. I’ve worked in a corporate environment, and I hated it. I don’t have a strong desire to teach. I scrolled through job ads for over a year, feeling ill at the thought of applying for any of them. Having been a stay-at-home mom for sixteen years, I’m used to being in control of my own time. I’m not willing to give that up unless forced.

For a number of reasons, I need to work at something other than writing. Not that I’m giving up writing. Over this past year, I’ve come to terms with the reality of the writing life, how long it takes to develop as a writer, how much I still need to learn and practice, which requires time and patience. I realized that writing being my only thing led to my putting undo pressure on myself to achieve in ways that are detrimental to the kind of work I’d ultimately like to be able to create.

And the fact of the matter is, I’m no longer a young person. I don’t want to squander any of my time.

So I’m giving myself a job that suits my passions and abilities. Being that I’m a writer who would like to have my own work valued, I take the responsibility for other’s words seriously. This is one of the reasons I decided my press would be for-profit. I want to be able to help other writers get their books in the hands of readers and be paid for their work.

I decided to focus on creative nonfiction because, though there is valuable work being done in every genre of literature, there are far fewer publishers who specialize in literary nonfiction books than either fiction or poetry. And, most of all, because I love creative nonfiction. It’s the genre I both read and write most often. It’s the genre that feels most comfortable to me and the genre in which I’m most interested in developing an expertise.

I’ve noticed, too, that there’s a lack of local literary activties for lovers of creative nonfiction outside of Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. (Shout out to cold places where I never thought I’d wish I lived!) I can find plenty of events around my home for poetry and fiction–and the occasional narrative nonfiction story, so long as it sounds an awful lot like fiction, or lyric essay, so long as we call it a prose poem–but I’ve been able find exactly zero events dedicated to nonfiction. I hope for Raised Voice Press to be able begin hosting CNF events once we get our feet on the ground.

When I say “we,” understand that the press is about 99% me, with support from my husband John on the business end. He’s my cheerleader, and that itself is more valuable than I can express, but he also has decades of experience in keeping businesses solvent. I’m fortunate to be able to rely on a little of his free labor to get this business up and running. I don’t want to rely on the free labor of others, however, so the press will utilize freelance assistance as needed until we’re able to afford hiring any permanent staff.

I’ve made a commitment not only to this new venture, but also to a new way of living my life. I’m determined to maintain high standards, yes, but also to let go of the need for perfection and embrace the idea of being good enough. As I begin, I am not an expert on publishing per se, but I am commited to doing the best job I can do and enjoying the time I’ll need to spend learning new skills.

In order to get the press off the ground, I will be publishing a book of my own. I did not ever envision publishing my own book, however I also don’t think it’s fair to work out the kinks in our publishing process on someone else’s book. I would rather be my own guinea pig. The book’s not ready yet for its big reveal, but I will say it’s not a memoir and it is about adoption. Watch this space.

I hope you’ll take a minute to look at the website and see what Raised Voice Press is all about. And if you’re so inclined, please follow on Facebook and/or Twitter.

If you have a manuscript you’re ready to publish, I’d love to hear about it. You can find our submission guidelines here.



Hello, New Year

At the beginning of every new year, I like to take stock of where I’ve been and where I’m heading in my life. This past year was a regrouping year for me. I spent a lot of energy investigating whether or not I’ve been on the best path, how I got to where I am, how to redirect myself toward more authenticity.

I continue to struggle, as I always have, with simply being comfortable in my own skin. I realize the phrase has become cliché, but it describes well how I literally experience my life.

I tried some things in 2016 that were new for me, but overall it was a year of laying low, of going within, of retreating. I suppose, then, that I shouldn’t be surprised at not having accomplished as much as I would have liked. I’m not surprised, yet I’m still disappointed, because letting myself off the hook continues to be one of my challenges.

Learning how to be enough just as I am would be the ultimate achievement, I think. Learning to be brave in all of my words and actions would be a worthy accomplishment as well. Continue reading “Hello, New Year”

Year of Reading

I’ve been on an expedition of reading this year. In January, I committed myself to reading fifty books in 2016 and to using the Goodreads reading challenge tool to track my progress. I’m proud to say that as of June 30, I was right on track at 50% achieved. And that’s not counting the many articles, essays, and poems I’ve read in journals, magazines, and newspapers, both online and on paper.

I’m reading deliberately, in order to broaden my knowledge and understanding of literature and craft, and I’m also allowing myself to follow my deepest interests, which draws me toward certain books and away from others. There will never be enough time to read everything I’d like to be able to read in my lifetime. I have to make hard choices about what material I allow to take up my precious reading time. I purposely choose to alternate between genres and mediums. I purposely choose to read authors who are both similar to and different from myself in obvious ways. I purposely choose to read what interests me the most right now, at this point in my life and at this point in the history of the universe.

There is no way to consume the amount of information I would like to be able to digest. I find myself interested in so many varied topics and I’m not inclined in this moment to focus too long on any one thing. Still, there are patterns in my reading, ideas I return to or come at from different angles. Loss, being lost, choosing to get lost. How to move through the world, to be fully present without being destroyed, to participate in an authentic way. Connection. Fear.  Continue reading “Year of Reading”

A Conference, a Website, and a Book

20150311_125506Whew, it’s been a long time since I posted here about what’s going on with me. Here it is March and I’m just finally feeling recovered from the holidays. I always think I’m not making enough progress in this endeavor of writing and advocacy–until I put down what I’ve been up to.

The next big thing coming up on my schedule is the American Adoption Congress Conference, where I’ll be moderating a panel discussion with my adoptee sisters from Lost Daughters on March 28. Ten of us will talk about diverse narratives within the collective adoptee voice. Early-bird registration rates have been extended, so there’s still time to make your plans to meet us in Boston. We’ll also have copies of our anthology on hand and our signing pens ready!

At the end of January, I launched a new website I’ve been working on for some time, called Adoptee Reading Resource. My goal with the site is twofold: to catalog every book written by an adoptee that I can identify and to also list adoption books authored by non-adoptees that adoptees recommend. In other words, it’s an adoptee-centric book site, to enable adoptees–and everyone else–to discover adoptee-centric books. (Yes, I can work in the word “adoptee” a few more times if you’d like.) Now that it’s live, I’m excited to see how it grows.

Continue reading “A Conference, a Website, and a Book”

Announcing Adoptee Reading Resource: New Website for Books by Adoptees

One of the requirements for my master’s thesis in creative writing was that I compile a list of books pertinent to the thing I was creating, references that might inform either the content or the form of the stories and poems I was writing. My thesis revolved around the lived experiences of adoptees, so I wanted to find published books by and about adoptees.

Have you ever tried searching for adoptee books? If you have, you know that they’re lumped in with the books explaining how to prepare to adopt a child and the books by adoptive parents about raising an adopted child and the books by professionals advising how to deal with an adopted child. Under “adoption” you’ll also find stories of birth parents and accounts of how adoption as a practice began and reports on how adoption as an industry has evolved.

It’s nearly impossible to filter out the adoptee books from the vast number of adoption books sold by major retailers or housed in library systems. Equally impossible is locating the adoptees writing poetry or literary fiction–these works often don’t even make it into the adoption category. I found lists compiled by others who were also interested in adoptee books. A list over here, another list over there–none of them comprehensive. Continue reading “Announcing Adoptee Reading Resource: New Website for Books by Adoptees”