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.

 

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What’s Going On–September 2014

RoS_Cover_2014How did it get to be September? Moving to a new state sucks so much energy out of you, you lose track of the months. I’m happy to say that my family and I are finally beginning to feel settled in our new home. It’s time to turn my attention back to my creative goals.

In the midst of all the craziness, I managed to edit and publish a poetry anthology on behalf of the Georgia Poetry Society. Don’t ask me how I did it. It’s all a blur. But I’m very proud of how it turned out and thrilled to share the cover here–the first cover I’ve designed myself. I’m very grateful to artist Karen Burnette Garner for submitting to GPS’s first cover contest. Her gorgeous painting is a song.

In other news, I’ve contributed an epistolary piece to an upcoming anthology titled Dear Wonderful You: Letters to Adopted and Fostered Youth. This is a unique project that will enable young adult readers to correspond directly with the authors after the book is published. I’m looking forward to interacting with these young adoptees and foster children in a mentoring role. More information about this project will be coming in the next few months.

Now that my kids are back in school, I’m settling into a writing routine once again. The memoir I’ve had floating around for several years has finally bubbled to the top of the to-do list. Anyone who’s ever thought about writing a book probably knows this dance I’ve been doing–advancing toward the manuscript and then pushing away from it, over and over again. This is a dance that can absorb a life if you let it. I’m at last determined to finish the thing, once and for all. My goal is to have a complete draft by the end of the year, and I’ve been progressing well over the past several weeks. Hold me to this, everyone!

I have other goals in mind as well. But that’s talk for another day…

 

 

 

What’s Going On–May 2014

Living LoudI’ve been away from the blog for a while, busy navigating an enormous life change that includes relocating from Atlanta to the Tampa Bay area. Things aren’t yet settled, but life marches on despite my need for rest!

The next Big Thing on my calendar is a trip to Washington, D.C., on June 1, where I’ll read along with several of my Lost Daughters sisters in support of our anthology, Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peacewhich I’m happy to report is now available in print as well as e-book format. The event, billed as Living Loud: Unabashed Identity Exploration, will take place at the K Street location of Busboys and Poets from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Let us know you’ll be there with an RSVP to our Facebook event page.

A poem of mine was recently published in what turns out to be the final issue of Conte: A Journal of Narrative WritingI wrote this one as part of my Master’s thesis, and I’m glad it’s found just the right space in the world.

I’m thrilled to share my pick of Best Literary E-zine for the 2014 Southern Literary Festival. The Treatment: Writing Medicine and Illness submitted by Hendrix College was a pleasure to explore, from the first click to the final word. Please check out the exceptional work of these creative nonfiction students.Many thanks to Gloria Bennett for inviting me to serve as a judge.

My final literary endeavor in Georgia will be completing the manuscript for the 2014 edition of The Reach of Song, Georgia Poetry Society’s annual anthology. Final edits are in the works in preparation for the book’s release in July. Pre-orders are now being accpeted; download an order form here.

Leaving Georgia will be bittersweet, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to exploring new literary territory in Tampa Bay!

 

 

What’s Going On–February 2014

Things here have been exciting and hectic! Two weeks ago, an anthology I co-edited was published on Amazon in e-book format. Published by CQT Media and Publishing/Land of Gazillion Adoptees, Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption From a Place of Empowerment and Peace features essays and poems by the adopted women contributors of the Lost Daughters blog, edited by Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, Julie Stromberg, Jennifer Anastasi, and myself. Two pieces of mine are included–a poem from my master’s thesis and an essay I wrote specifically for the anthology.

This was a passion project from beginning to end; our proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to an adoptee-centric charity, which we’ll announce soon. My co-editors and I are very grateful to everyone who purchased the e-book during the first few days following its release, helping it make the Amazon best sellers list in the Adoption category! The book will be out shortly in paperback as well, and we’re hopeful that a reading will take place in the D.C. area in June. More on that as soon I have the details.

Also last month, I was thrilled to have one of my poems accepted by Conte, an online journal of narrative writing. The poem, along with a recording of me reading it, will appear in their next issue, which is due to be published in late February/early March.

I am honored also to have been asked to serve as judge of the Literary E-Zine category for the Southern Literary Festival, which will be held at the University of Mississippi in March. I’ve already chosen the winning entry; I’ll post a link here after the festival concludes to share the awesomeness.

March, come quickly, please!

What’s Going On–November 2013

Perputal-Child-800CoverrevealandPromotionalSo much for the blogging routine, eh?

I’ve been off the grid somewhat, busy editing a nonfiction book for a local author here in the Atlanta area. If you or someone you know is transitioning from the military to a civilian job, check out the forthcoming guide Boots to Loafers: Finding Your New True North on my editing page. I’m honored that John Phillips chose me to help bring his project to fruition.

Meanwhile, a story I wrote last year that originated from a workshop I attended at the Auburn Writers Conference has been published in the adult adoptee anthology Perpetual Child: Dismantling the Stereotype thanks to editors Diane René Christian and Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston. I’m thrilled to have my work included alongside the other highly-respected authors in this collection, and equally thrilled to be a participant in The An-Ya Project, so named after Diane’s novel, An-Ya and Her Diary. Print copies of Perpetual Child can be ordered now via Amazon and the e-book version will be available soon.

Lost Daughters: Writing Adoption from a Place of Empowerment and Peace, an anthology I co-edited with Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, Julie Stromberg, and Jennifer Anastasi, is in the capable hands of the good folks at CQT Media and Publishing. I’ll post about our book’s release as soon as it’s ready.

As the year winds down, I’ll be concentrating on a couple of personal literary projects that have been waiting on the back burner. I hope to have more to tell about those in the next few months. Stay tuned!