Greenville, I’m coming home! 

Next Saturday, 2:00 p.m. Joe’s Place on Main Street. Some of my best friends will be there. But it won’t be the same without you! Please join us! 


What I’m Reading Now

Very excited about this new book from one of the most inventive and insightful poets I know:



Unknown-1    Putting myself on the road as an author fills me with panic at times.

I’ve done lot of readings over the years, so it’s no longer the public speaking that scares me so much. (Although my knees always shake before I stand before the microphone; I’ve learned that no one ever died from trembling knees.)

The media blitz for a book you’ve edited, like the Jane’s Stories anthologies I’ve compiled in the past (most with the help of sisters Janesters), is not the same as putting yourself out there as the name writ large on the front of a novel. Yes, there’s been publicity and readings and interviews based on my poetry chapbooks, but, frankly, the audience for poetry is small and most poetry publishers don’t do a full court media press.

All that changes now. My publisher, Twisted Road, is as serious as the proverbial heart attack, and my editor will definitely push me to get out there and gather lots of exposure. And I want to. I want to sell books for this publisher for two reasons. First of all, Twisted Road publishes primarily women’s stories and marginalized voices, and I believe the world needs many more women’s stories, so that we can have a social structure and social policy based on the reality of women’s lives, instead of on some romanticized notion of femininity. Heaven knows, we need those marginalized voices who look at what we’re doing aslant, from the unexamined view. Secondly, very simply, if I sell lots of books, I will have a platform from which I can publish more.

Let me be clear: I don’t expect ever to make a lot of money as an author. That’s almost impossible, unless you write very popular, throw-away fiction, like James Patterson, or you are a world-changing phenomenon like Maya Angelou or Neil Gaiman. We authors make pennies on the book and that mostly goes to pay the hotel rooms, meals, and travel tickets required to get from one book store to another. Small presses do not pay authors’ travel costs as the giant publishers do. And to be published by the giant publishers, you have to get their attention with your previous successes, or else have the luck of Athena.

So why bother? Why do I do it? It’s simple, really: I write to know what I find true about the world in all its dizzy splendor and chaos, so that I can discuss it with you, the reader. Writing a book is starting a letter to the world, as Dickinson did with her poems, and listening for the reply.

So as I go around on this upcoming book tour, I’ll talk with readers about what I find important in Eve’s Garden, and hear their views on the same. It isn’t necessary that the readers all agree with me, just that we enter the same conversation.

Which brings me back to my nervousness. There are things in this book that will be controversial. It deals pretty openly with women and fundamentalist religion, for example, and also with the precariousness of teenage girls trying to become independent and exploring their sexuality. It digs as deeply as I can into what it means to be an outsider––by identity, by race, by sensibility. And about the saving graces that help us navigate all this, especially girl friends, family, a sense of place, and community.

With exposure comes criticism. Inevitably. I’m okay with that. Like Elton John (See below), I can take the criticism, though I hope it’s fair. And even if it’s not, I have thick skin, and will survive as long as someone out there thinks I didn’t waste my time in the writing. Near-universal disapprobation might make me pause, but I’ve been there before (Fighting for civil rights, and the ERA, peace, and reproductive rights in the early years of those issues will make you tough.) The good responses from early readers have convinced me that I will live to write again. Like Winston Churchill, I don’t quit.

There is no way I can do this alone, however. Do you know how much work goes into making a book successful? It’s mind-boggling. My novel isn’t even published yet, but everyday I have tasks that run from calling bookstore event coordinators to try for a reading, to re-doing publicity photos that didn’t come out well the first time, to writing this blog, to reading and approving edits (Still, with the typos!) And so much more. My upstairs carpets may never get cleaned till this publicity sprint is over.

I need your help. If you’re reading this, you’re a friend, or a sister or fellow writer, or someone who cares about some of the same things I do. Or all those things.

My good friends have asked, what do you need? And so, here I will tell you what you can do to help Eve’s Garden and me find our audience and get that conversation rolling. If you can help me with any one or all of these things, please let me know so I can send you kisses. And maybe bake you a cake.  (more…)

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