Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Truth about Between Families

I was bullied as a kid. I'll probably never know why and I am certainly not unique in my experience but I still feel weird about it. Girls from my class would turn and hate me in a minute. No warning, no reason why. They dumped my desk, left it full of notes that said "bitch," pinched me as they walked down the aisles. Then in a second it would be over and I'd have friends again. When in the midst of an incident, I missed school, faking illness. They'd call at all hours of the day and night and hang up and then do it again, and again, and again. At the time it was unsettling and I'd get scared and cry. I'd take the phone off the hook and put it back on a couple of hours later.

The first time I considered suicide I was about 9 years old, I think. I think that because I remember holding a butter knife against the pale blue of the veins just under the skin of my wrist and wondering if I could cut them with that knife because I wasn't allowed to use sharp knives yet.

When I was 10, we moved to St. Louis and I lost all my outlets, all the things I felt good doing. I stopped swimming or dancing or doing gymnastics.

I lived in St. Louis for a long time. A lot of it was unhappy, isolated times in my life. My dad came out of the closet just before my freshman year of high school. This was in the days when many people still thought it was completely acceptable for a mob to attack a person with no other cause than that person's sexual orientation. And I had a dad, the most loved person in my life other than my mother, who could be a victim of this. And if he made it through that, there was still all the judging. People might think he was evil, or that I was.

I was young and I was scared. I kept it a secret for the first couple of years that I knew about him. I would fly to Chicago where he'd moved and have these great visits where I met all his fabulous new friends and went to gay restaurants and they were in awe of how collected I was about the whole thing. But that was a lie. It was a comfortable relief to be there, honest about my dad and happy and seeing that everyone was happy and okay.

It's easy to be collected about a thing when it sits neatly folded up in a compartment of your life, never to be seen by anyone who might judge it.

I did eventually tell people about my dad. And that actually went just fine. After years of worrying what the backlash would be for someone that clearly did not fit into their own skin the way mine misfit me, the result of my dad's homosexuality fell silently into a comfortable quirk about me. No one cared.

But the other problems of my family stayed tucked tightly away. Those things are still required secrets in my family. I did not share them then and I'm not allowed to now. Back then, I didn't fit in my skin. I was awkward. I looked around and saw friends who had great grades and ACT scores and SAT scored. I hadn't even figured out how to sign up and that I kept a secret along with all my others. I'm not sure how much of it was shame and how much of it was just my role to keep it together, but when I was 17, with college on the horizons, I couldn't keep it together any more.

I attempted suicide.

I continue to this day to be ashamed of that. I'm honest about it to people. But ashamed.

It was important for me to do it. I got the help I needed and have never suffered from that debilitating depression since.

But sometimes when I go back to St. Louis, it's like the ghosts of those feelings lurk in the locations I used to frequent. The insecurity, the shame, the constant comparisons I used to do.

I know all these brilliant, accomplished people that I love and am proud of there. I see them and am awed by what they're doing with their lives. And if they came to Colorado and I got updated on their new strides, I'd hold them up a trophies. "Do you know who I know?" My friends are awesome.

But when I'm there, it feels different. It feel haunted by the 8 year old girl I was who was never good enough.

Seffra is more me than I realized when I was writing her. She was supposed to be for the kids I'd known in treatment centers. She was supposed to represent their struggle. She was not supposed to be me.

But nearly a year after the book's come out now, I can see how much her of her story is actually mine. The bullying, feeling out of place, dirty to men, the suicide-- those were me. Are me.

Especially when I go back to where it all still feels raw and vulnerable. I'm there to promote a book that has not been a copy-selling success.

The number of copies sold are the dirty secret of author's lives, I think. Most authors, most books, sell less than 1,000 copies. Mine hasn't yet reached 500 if we're talking paper copies. I've been the finalist of an international award but I'm still secretly terrified no one likes me. Such is the truth of vulnerability, of life.

And as my 8-year-old self and my 10-year-old self, and worst of all, my 17-year-old self go about life there, packed neatly away in my suitcase, I'm reminded in my life's most vulnerable ways of how hard it is to put yourself out there. I keep me tucked away and talk about my professional experience. I don't talk about my suicide attempt or my mom and her struggles. I hope people will like the story and it will be successful but it's financially a flop. And maybe that will be the case no matter what.

Maybe it's just hard to sell books. I certainly know statistically that's true. Or maybe audiences can smell the way I hold back. The formal nature of my lie of omission. And maybe it keeps me from connecting.

So here are the lessons I've learned since the book came out:

1. I need to be honest about my own vulnerability. Otherwise anxiety and insecurity will make me crazy. I'm no good at faking things. It comes out other ways.

2. I am happiest when I connect a lot to my husband and kids and when I ski and run and play soccer and write and work. St. Louis and I can only be distant friends. It's a fabulous city and I just can't.

3. Anything in life is better when you talk about it honestly to a friend. Thank you, Chris, my friend I talked through an entire breakfast with about book publishing and how NOT perfectly it's all going. This was after going to see Stevie Wonder live the night before. FYI, listening to Stevie Wonder live makes everything awesome always. I've tested it. It does.

4. Seffra is me in a reimagined life.

The final thing that made me feel amazing was coming home and at a work event where I met someone very high up in my organization who told me I was his hero. Literally used that word. He somehow knew a lot about the work I've been doing on this book. He has books ready and waiting for publishing, more connections than I do, more letters after his name than I have including the important PhD. And he bought a book from me. I'm wowed.

I'm going for a run now. Please buy a book here if you haven't and want to read about Seffra.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Letting Thoughts Wander until you swoop them up

I like shopping for things online even though it doesn't get me out of standing in line. In the mountains where we live, the post office does not generally deliver to homes. Which means we all have PO boxes and elicit a certain amount of scrutiny from retailers and banks and also have to stand in line for all our packages that don't fit in our letter-sized PO boxes. It's annoying but it's also a nice time for my mind to wander.

In stores, I find my need to pay attention to everything exhausting. I get overstimulated from an hour of shopping because I simply must look at EVERYTHING and everyone in the store. This is tenfold more difficult if either, much less, both of my children are with me as then I must also be vigilant for their locations and that's no mean feat. It means that in addition to the lay of the store and its contents and sales and customers, I also keep track of my kids and within 15 minutes I need a margarita.

But online, I can focus on just searching for what I want and then the line at the post office is time for my thoughts to be free. I don't have to focus them, they can wander. And I love wandering thoughts. My time to have thoughts and decide which ones are precious enough to wrap up in a cloth and hold dear to me as a babe is as precious to me as writing. But I have to wrap them up and convert them to something or they get jumbled up together. I write to do that. And that's been undone lately. I haven't been in a routine.

Our lives are in total transition. It confounds any attempt at routine, our life right now. I just started a new job as the Disabilities Services Coordinator for the college where I was working as an instructor. It's awesome but a big job with a lot of details to chase. I make more details in the interest of sustainability and doing things right. Damn me! My husband is starting a new job as the director of a small non profit that provides advocates for victims of assault. My oldest son is about to turn 5 and starts Kindergarten on Wednesday. My younger son is 2 1/2 now and starting at Montessori next month.

Thankfully we finally bought a 2nd car so that's helping with this business of 4 jobs and two school changes and soccer practice and soccer coaching and OH MY! How do normal people do this stuff?

I've spent at least $150 on school supplies. I thought things were supposed to get cheaper with the kids going to school but oy! It ebbs and flows and the increase in income always seems to come along just when we need it. So life's good.

Still, I have floater ideas that need time and key strokes and editing to tie them up and make them take shape so I can figure out how to hold them and which ones to keep and which to release and which should be upcycled to something I can craft into a book. Did I say book?

It's time. I said all along that when my oldest started school, that's when I'd work on the 2nd book. So that's this week right? I'll get the whole book done this week right? No? No. But I'm preparing. I've been consuming books like I'm about to go on a diet, which in a way, I am. I don't usually read while I'm writing so I suppose doing all this reading is preparation. I hope I get my voice just right. I hope the bundles of baby-sweet thoughts make their way across dreams, swaddled up tight and warm and delivered to my arms where I can turn them over to you. You know, after sucking the goop out of their noses;)


Cathartic things I've done
Chopped down a tree with a chain saw while standing on a chain link fence
Taken a hatchet to a tree stump while angry
Scribbled furiously on a piece of paper
sprinted full speed

Proud family moments
When my mom and I played swords with the giant dead tree limbs we'd just cut down with the chainsaw
Moving my sons' bunkbeds apart the very day my oldest admitted to being afraid of spiders as the reason he didn't like sleeping on the top bunk
Watching my son pedal his bike for the first time and letting go knowing he might fall and turning to see my husband walking behind us with my other son on his shoulders.
My husband getting a job as the executive director of a victims advocacy agency and doing so memorably by talking about the importance of targeting men and boys to end violence

Things that make me happy
Watching Aspen leaves flutter
Feeling fresh air on my arms
Finding out someone liked my book
Finishing things
Peeling the lint out of the dryer trap
My son whispering that he wants gentle kisses on his cheeks in the morning when the light has just snuck in but he snuck in first.
Helping students find a way to learn and have fun doing it

Monday, July 13, 2015

To Dust We Have Already Returned

As I looked up at the clouds turning gray and showing their dust this evening, I wondered at all the incantations of my cells. How many pounds of times I've made myself over and dropped dust here or there? Whether my dust may have had your finger in it writing "you wish your girlfriend were this dirty" on a car. Or maybe I've been in the way of your bustling Eastern European cleaning woman, who hurries me away in a bucket. Maybe I get dumped out on the lawn, only to feed into... a thistle.

The hairs and skin and nails I've lost over the years, how many raised beds would they fill? Where have they gone?

Maybe my hair, once tight at the follicle to my scalp, so close to my skull, so close to the buzz of ideas in my brain that simply does not turn off but continues to tell stories as I sleep; maybe that hair has wrapped up in a nest and fed regurgitated ideas to baby doves. Maybe I am part of the cloud I just saw, graying and standing out against the ever bluer sky. Maybe I've made it beyond mountain tops and over oceans.

Maybe you and I have met and made lightening in the jolts of moisture between us as your dust and mine met in a monsoon over India. Maybe I'm flying right now, drifting and dreaming of buzz and idea. Maybe I've landed after all this in the red, red earth and become the dust under bare young soccer-playing feet, scuffling me under toenails and into cuts that will be easily disregarded in favor of more running, more goals.

Maybe that same red earth, dust of me, I've driven it back to the snow where I need to be. Thrown myself up into a cloud and come back to Colorado. I've coated myself in a layer of snow on a powder day, making you raise your goggles, "Is the snow red?"

Maybe I've already been all the places I'd ever want to go. Maybe I'm a rainbow in Maui right now. Maybe I'm in a darkened sky and you're here reading in the pitch. Maybe...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Proud to be an American

In 1993, my father came out.

It was five years later that Matthew Shepard was murdered.

For the first year after my father came out, I didn't tell anyone. I'm not new to openness and honesty so imagine a highly social 14 year old girl who simply does not tell a soul that her father has dropped the biggest shock of her life in her lap. I didn't tell because I was afraid.

I was afraid someone would hurt my dad. I was afraid he'd get AIDS and die. I was afraid someone at my school would find out and hurt me or make my life a living hell. I wasn't over-the-top in these fears. At the time, people were permissible hazed for this sort of thing. I was at a conservative school. I was genuinely afraid of the hate that might come my way.

But then I was at a pride parade where I thought, I can't be here pretending to be "proud" if there I don't tell a soul. So I went home and said, oh well. If it costs me all the social groups in the world, this is who he is and this is who I am. I'm proud and I have to be honest to be truly proud.

And I did.

I went home and told anyone, any time it came up, that my dad was gay. And interestingly no one batted an eye. I was lucky that way. I'd love to take credit for being brazen in the way I presented the information, and I was. Or give credit to the people who didn't let it influence any part of what they thought of me, because good on them. But in all reality, I think I was just lucky. I didn't get picked out as a target for the hate of that time period toward gay people.

So today, and every day that I see progress toward truly equal rights, I feel amazingly blessed. I feel grateful to see where we're headed. I feel grateful that when my son says he wants to marry the guy painting the house (he's also said he wants to marry a few girls his age,) that I can say, "you can marry anyone who you feel is the one and who feels the same way about you."

Make Matthew Shepard and all those who have fallen to the hate that went before proud. Be proud of the progress. And grateful. I am.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Magnus & the Chin Thrust

Last week, at a program I teach with childcare, a bigger kid told Magnus that he didn't like him. I was indignant when he told me, "what a jerk!"
"He wasn't a jerk, mom. Don't call him that!"

Magnus went on to tell me how he'd asked the kid why he didn't like him and the kid had said because he's a little kid. But then said-kid had helped him beat a Mario game and by the end he thought the kid had changed his mind and liked him.

That was Magnus-the-great's response to a kid not liking him. "Oh really, why don't you like me?" And then he determined to change the kid's mind. No hurt feelings, no crying, and it had worked.

This same child post-anesthesia yesterday had to be kept breathing by being held by his mandible in something called a chin thrust while I held oxygen to his face. Trust me when I tell you this is no gentle hold. A nurse means business if she holds someone this way. She means BREATHE.

He spent the night crying and whining and having nightmares. He looked so vulnerable curled in his hospital bed. His body in a wheelchair was impossibly tiny. He's breathing now, oxygen saturation not where we want it so still in the hospital, but no one's forcing him to breath by holding open his airway and forcing life in. He's breathing but I'm still catching my breath. Maybe I should skip over that part and go straight on to the next thing, which happens to be a reading of my book.

I was just about to cancel when I saw myself in the newspaper.

I went and tried out my reading skills amid a friendly crowd at a bookstore that really fits me. It's quirky and dusty with hand-written signs. Two good friends walked up together just before the start of the reading. I had been so stressed with all the ups and downs of Magnus's surgery that I pretty much lost it in relief when I saw them.

I made it through the reading, largely not thinking about Magnus. But figuratively anyway, my friends held me by the chin and I breathed and read.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Alicia Who Sees Mice

I was just in the bathroom thinking my gratitude thoughts like a good little bobblehead. I found boots that fit my skinny ankles AND are waterproof and not hideous at the thrift store and bought brand new leggings that are so soft I feel like I'm in jammies and then I looked down and wouldn't you know? A hole in my crotch. No smartass, not that one. My neck's not that long. A hole in the crotch of my leggings. Grrr.

Which got me thinking how I complain too much and why do I do that? Sometimes it's because I'm a grouchy pants. Sometimes I'm afraid I'm devolving into a family trait of being negative and complaining all the time and I definitely don't want that.

In writing it's more deliberate though. In writing I do it because I hate that fluffy crap that doesn't have the grit and substance of real life with holes in brand new clothes and all the pot holes that get us stuck.

The time I don't feel all that gritty? Teaching.

Especially teaching ESL.

Teaching ESL makes me laugh and laugh. And not fake, polite laughter, but deep belly-hurting laughter. I don't know how great I am at teaching it. Truth be told, I'm not sure I'm great at all. But dang if we don't have fun.

The funniest thing that ever happened was when a man accidentally used Urban Dictionary to look up "bottom," and gave a very strange definition regarding homosexuality that made me laugh so hard I cried and had to take five before I could even explain what had happened. Last week, I was teaching some mamas how to pronounce "brought" and kept using "bra" to get the verb sound right. One woman had forgotten one so every time I grabbed my straps and pulled my tits up, she started laughing. Then I laughed and we all just about died by the end of class.

And then one night, during a break in the high level class, I was trying to prop the door (it had gotten hot in the room from the computers.) A particularly nicely dressed, young Peruvian gal crept down to see if the stopper had gotten under a file cabinet. She pulled out a mouse trap complete with a dead mouse.

"AHhhhEEEEeeee!!!" Her scream pierced the entire lower level of the college.

More laughter, more tears as the class filed back in to see what was going on. Then we sat down to read House on Mango Street. She stepped out for a moment and when she returned and it was her turn to read the very next vignette was "Alicia Who Sees Mice."

I think that's the most fun night I've had all semester. Then I walked in,late, well after 10:00 PM (and keep in mind my bedtime is closer to 9,) and the toddler potty was in the exact center of the living room containing exactly one turd and one apple core. Life's gritty and full of turds and apple cores and soft new leggings and laughter and tears. I'm going to sew the damn hole up. Take that!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

One's cheek, so plump, like globular warm Midwest rain drops falling, plop, delicious
The other's taut and unforgiving, it wedges itself against my lips, my teeth get conked, demanding. Mama, mama, love!
And there are all these kinds of love, folding over and on top of one another, like folded used book art. Magnus love, Gavin love, love of being the mama, husband love, loving husband as father-different-from-husband-love, passion love, all these kinds of love and they fall on me in the night, like stars from the sky, peeeshooo, a meteor shower and I can't sleep. I have to teach in the morning.

There's the new love of my students. Each semester I fall in love, like just meeting my grandmother but for the first time as an adult "abuelita" I call her even though I never did. Didn't even call her "mormor" pa svenska it's mother's mother. The love is like meeting my auntie, a new cousin. Brimming with ideas, they leave. But arriving, they're like mice, sneaking, sneaking bites of cookies, or peeks at text messages, nervous. Don't look at me, don't pick me.

But I do pick you. I pry you out of yourself, push you into the middle of the room and try to make you laugh at yourself. I laugh at myself. Let's play the game together. We're in it together, this difficult business of writing. It can be fun. I promise. or class can, anyway.

Writing is what I know. It is the solid ground. I want to snap it and show it to you: words, arrange them, frame them, make them simple but give them a taste and a texture, like ice cream edged with freezer burn. You get through the bite to the taste if you stick with it. I promise.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Well, Brene, you're right. I'm vulnerable.

I love Brene Brown. I am whole-hearted. I lean into the discomfort. I push myself and believe I am worthy of love and belonging.

Except sometimes when I don't. Sometimes I'm mean. Sometimes I'm unhappy. Sometimes I'm vulnerable in more than one part of my life and then I fall to pieces and need putting back together again. I'm built like humpty dumpty. Ok, not so much with the last part.

So the other night, I had had a really, REALLY busy day. This busy day followed a series of about 12 days where my four-year-old threw screaming fits exactly EVERY time we went anywhere.

So this morning, I get up, pack up the kids for tumbling lesson for Thing 1, then put them in the rec center childcare for 45 minutes while I work out, tumbling lesson for Thing 2, then drop off Thing 1 at gramma's, take Thing 2 for errands and napping in the car... I'm going to stop now because I'm sick of this so I'm certain you've begun skimming by now.

By the time it's evening and I'm to be 10 minutes late for work, I have to jet out still in my work out clothes. I should specify exactly HOW inappropriate for work they are here. On top we have: a torn open t-shirt that says "DOPE" across the bottom in red letters with a tanktop under and who-cares-what-else. SERIOUSLY. Torn. Dope.

And sometimes, especially when I'm teaching a writing lab late into the evening in a small extra use building, I see next-to-no-one and could keep my jacket on and get away with this, sort of. But it's hot in the lab and

Not tonight. Tonight, unbeknownst to me a small group of all the higher-ups and most important of the people who could ever give me a full time jobs are all coming to have dinner with a speaker whose been flown in. So every single one of them passes by the window where I am wearing said inappropriate outfit. Thankfully I am at least working with a student.

A student whose feelings have been hurt by an instructor who was not careful wording strong direct criticism. So after working with this student for an hour, I help him through some tears and hurt feelings and he leaves and I'm left to flail uncomfortably for the next couple of hours through being in my insanely uncomfortable skin.

I fail at: making flyers, blogging, responding to emails, smelling pleasant, and that's just the beginning. In between these failures, I spend my time obsessing about what a shitty mom I am and how badly I've handled everything, um, ever.

As the event lets out, a colleague of mine comes up and we make small talk. Somehow she ends up telling me she'd like to read my book. Instead of having a normal person's reaction to this I say,

"It's a great book." (and it is. But I say this in a voice that squeaks and smells of awkward vulnerability and weird eye contact and probably old sweat since I'm still in workout clothes from approximately 10 hours earlier.)
I laugh and then say, "it'll change you're life. Well, ok that's a joke but it's a good book."
She practically sprints away.

When I get home, instead of asking directly for support from Rob, I whine about our son and he says he can't do anymore talking tonight (it's late and he's right it is.) and instead of saying anything smart, I nervously henpeck about him drinking my whiskey and any number of other things I don't actually care much about and he refuses to sleep with me (which I admittedly deserve.)

I spend hours that night tossing and turning and experiencing the hell of the evening over and over again.

The next day I wake up and cry to Rob about how I am spending a lot of time vulnerable. A LOT. And while I usually lean into it, it's all been too much. I tell him through tears how dumb I was the night before and how much pressure I'm putting on myself and how hard it all feels. The stakes are huge. I want to be a writer. I want to be a good mom. I need people to love this book. My son deserves the best of the best. And what if none of those things happens?

Publishing my book is intensely personal. A friend said when she was reading it, she felt like it was really personal to read it since she knows me and she felt like it was almost too intimate to read what I'd written. I knew exactly what she meant.

I spent years on this. I did the absolute best I could.

Doing the best you can, it turns out, is scary. Because there's no better. So if it's not good enough, that's the top.There's no better. You just failed after trying as hard as you could then.

Sure, the next book will be better than this one. I will grow as a writer for the rest of my life and continually get better at it and so someday I'll look back and think how much better I could have written this book. But for now, this is all I have. This is the best I could do. And I need it to be good enough to get to all those other books I'll write later.

And I get four and five stars. But those four stars are like in a performance review when your boss says, you're great here, here, here, and here and you have room for improvement here. I think oh god, four stars and you're my friend means that you really would've given it 2 if you didn't know me and what if everyone who sees the reviews thinks that too.

And you can see how this road of vulnerability can lead to insecurity and how much worse I can make ANYTHING if left to my own devices.

I am through-apnd-through honestly me. All the time. I'm genuine.

So if I feel like I said above, and I try to say "the book's great." It comes out weird. This is the closest I've ever been to knowing what it feels like to have Asperger's. My voice goes all flat and low and my eye contact is off and sometimes I say things as questions accidentally and then I laugh too loud and ... I mean to say, "yes, I'd love for you to read my book. thank you." But instead it comes out "I'm a weirdo!"

So instead of cheerleading and trying to convince anyone I'm anything but terrified, I started with my husband and said, "I'm spending all my time feeling vulnerable. And I can handle that in one area of life at a time but this, this is hard."

And he does what he does. He hugs me more. He tells me I'm beautiful more. He tells me, I am, in fact, not built like humpty dumpty at all but am sexy and that our 4-year-old is hard and we've all had a hard week. He tells me he's had a hard week with our 4-year-old too.

So then, when the next colleague, that very morning, congratulates me and asks about how I feel about the book, I'm honest.

I tell her it's the most time I've ever spent being vulnerable and that's good but it's hard too. And I sell a copy. Lean in.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No is really a redirection, not a slap on the wrist

My older son is into mazes right now. I loved them when I was a kid too. I remember sitting in the back of the room with the other gifted kid who was never doing his work either (we were really terrible students,) making mazes for each other. It was so fast for me to visualize the path through the maze, especially if I started at the end.

I don't want to get all self-helpy on you or anything, but I've been thinking about the word "no." And not just because my younger son recently turned two. I've been thinking about it since my novel came out.

Since I released the book I've had to do a lot of asking and promoting and tossing ideas out. Nearly all of the time when I've asked things, they've been well-received. But no one's going to hear "yes," all the time. Not every road is a simple direct path, there's bends and turns and sometimes even dead ends.

I have this shame though when I butt up against the word "no." As though my asking were unjustified.

People are generally flippant about asking for things. "You can always ask, right? What have you got to lose?"

But the truth is I do feel like I lose something when I ask. It's generally worth the risk, but the let-down of "no," can be hard to bear. It makes me feel the shame of asking for something I didn't deserve, of stepping beyond my station, beyond where I've earned being.

The feedback on the book has been phenomenal. People are up late reading. They're telling friends. They're reading!

But I knew the negative would happen eventually and so it did. A woman told me in a terse tone that she had put down the book. She'd been offended by a scene in it and refused to read the rest.

And I was devastated and ashamed.

She was a librarian. I realized that I had wanted her to like my book because I'd wanted my passions to come together. It's kind of like when you really like two people and so you want those two people to like each other but they don't.

But after some time to process the whole thing, I decided it was worth it. She's not my audience. The library's job is to create a space where everyone can be and get engaged in reading and the community. My audience has appreciated the story. And not everyone will. At least my first (not-so-constructive) criticism was in person. At least it was direct. At least it wasn't a person who truly needed the story.

The library is not the venue for my book. The library should carry copies for sure. But that's not the place to promote it. The book is about serious problems. It's uncomfortable at times. And that's not what a library is for.

I'd asked and received the answer, "no."

I self-published. No one knows where the publishing industry is headed and I took a risk and put my neck out to do this. I don't have a reputation yet. So book stores see me as a risk. I'm asking them to take that risk and it makes me terribly nervous.

But if I think of the path this book is taking like one of the mazes my son does, I can see the end. In the end, I do well as an author. In the end, I'm moved by women who read my book and tell me their stories of being sexually abused, of living in residential treatment, of finding their paths. Someone notices the line that I loved writing most when Seffra is under her kitchen table carving in the under belly of the wood and how the fibers snapped like teeth breaking. As a reader, I live for lines that I can taste in my mouth or that move my mind across skies, lines that grind grit between my teeth.

When I tell my kids no, I realize how they don't want to hear it. Sometimes I get down on their level in order to try to help them see that "no" is not really a bad thing. They simply need to change tacks.

So I continue to ask. I realize that no is a dead end in the maze. It's the part that tells me I'm going the wrong way; I need to turn around so I can get to the end. No, is simply a redirection. It says, nope, not the library. It says I need to change tacks, try something else, connect with artists, connect with the disenfranchised. That is my path.

Here are the tacks that have gotten me partway through the maze:
  • I did my first live reading at a coffee shop in Breckenridge. It was terrifying and wonderful and people listened and I got one under my belt. Plus, I got to have an evening out.
  • I met the owner of a small book shop who invited me to do a reading at his shop and offered to carry my book
  • Colorado Mountain College where I work will be selling copies of my book and will be featuring me in their Speaker Series where I'll give a reading and a talk and sell books. This will be huge in providing credibility to me as a writer and will also be a tremendous boost to me professionally. Or so I think. I'm not at the end of the maze yet.
  • I have an author event scheduled at Bookbar in Denver and am very excited for the excuse to go to that venue and check out their digs.
  • I'll be having a release party soon and dang if releasing this book isn't something to celebrate the hell out of!
If you hadn't seen it before, here's the link to pick up a copy of my book, Between Families, which I am terribly proud of and hope you enjoy:

And if you don't, change tacks.