Monday, March 18, 2019

Novel Progress Countdown: 11 Months from Hezada! I Miss You


Book Publication: February 2020
We are 11 months away from the publication of my next book, a novel, Hezada! I Miss You

I like a countdown. So, every month closer to the release, I'll provide an update on what's happening behind the curtains; there's much that goes into the production and publication of a book, and I find it all pretty interesting. Of course, not every publisher follows the same path, but once you've worked with two publishers, you start to recognize the basic arc from acceptance to contract to publication, and I'm seeing similarities now that I'm with book publisher number three.

Before we review what's happening in March, here's what happened December 2017-March 2019:

December 2017
I finished Hezada! I Miss You after years of work. I then stepped away from the novel because it centers on events that break my heart, and I couldn't look at it anymore. It was done.

November 2018: Acceptance Day
In mid-November, on my son's birthday, I received an email from Awst accepting the book.

November-February: Deep Revision
I'm probably more unique in this, because once I learn that a piece will be published, my perspective on my story, book, novel shifts. Now, I see through a lens that imagines actual readers (or the pressure and dismissal I associate with actual readers and reviewers). This time when I read through the work, I see new ways to move the language, reduce the language, shape the characters, answer questions readers would have that aren't answered or maybe could be articulated more clearly.

This is not to say that I didn't perform deep revision previous to submitting, but once it's accepted the "finished" quality becomes tenuous as I read through it. As such, I am absolutely not the easiest writer to work with. For example, even though the editor made extremely light notes, I was much harder in my review of the piece and ended up, for example, rearranging the narrative arc to make it read more clearly and smoothly. So, when I say deep revision, that's what I mean. For Hezada, I went through several deep revisions from Acceptance to Contract Day (November-February).

January: Request for Blurbs
Sometime in January, I started querying writers about potentially reading the novel and writing a blurb about it; these are the blurbs that appear on the dust jacket (not the reviews you read in newspapers, etc). I probably should have waited until I had signed the contract, but I was moving through such a self-made swamp of revision that to keep my mind fresh, or boost my confidence, or to make the book feel more real, or maybe to send a light at the end, I started working lightly on the production side of the book. I also reached out to a photographer to reserve her for a future author picture.

February: Contract Day
I signed the contract in mid-February. Typically, from Acceptance to Contract Day I only tell my closest family members about the acceptance. For example, my mother didn't know until a week or so before the announcement. The space between the acceptance of a book and signing the contract of the book is often several months wide, at least, that's been the case for me in all three book instances and in most all story acceptances. We could also call this the space of highest superstition akin to the first trimester, hence the not-telling anyone.

March: Announcement Day
The day that the news goes public that a book exists and will be published. This is not the same day the contract is signed. For Hezada, we announced March 1 on social media and websites; here was Awsts's announcement; here was mine: (You'll find the same on our social media sites.)

What's happening right now?
  • The book has moved from the editor to the copy-editor. The copy-editor will complete a final proof of the work itself while formatting the manuscript for the printer (for when that time comes). This will become the Advanced Review Copy (ARC).
  • The marketing person is working on a book trailer.
  • I've completed a marketing questionnaire and created a spreadsheet for promoting the book (potential bookstores, reviewers, media outlets). I've contacted only a few at this point.
  • I have found two potential venues for the book release party.
  • There's likely even more that is going on behind the scenes, but this is what I know.
How can you help as a reader?

Book Publication: February 10, 2020
We are 11 months away.


Friday, March 1, 2019



After many years of writing, stitching, thinking, walking, running, wondering, writing more, weeping, laughing, rewriting, musing, pondering, writing and writing and word-weaving and word-cutting, I am pleased to say that I have finished. And the result is a novel named Hezada! I Miss You.

The novel takes place in a village that, in my imagination, is very similar to Westfield, Illinois, a village not where I grew up but whose children I grew up with when Casey schools consolidated with Westfield. In the novel, there is a travelling circus, one of the last tent-circuses in the Midwest, and it has come to this village every summer for over a century--the last stop of the summer before returning to Florida to hibernate until it begins its travels again in spring.

And so here we are, with a circus not as it was . . . but as it is, falling apart. Here we are in a village not as it was . . . but as it is, storefronts empty except for a diner, a hardware store, a thrift store. Both circus and village wish for a thriving past they've heard of from the memories of others, and may well never have existed.

Enter Heza and Abe, twins.
Enter Frank.
Enter Hezada! the trapeze startlet and artist who once flew in the big top but years later, after a radical mastectomy, has moved to a different tent, act, life.
Enter acrobats, jugglers.
Enter Kae. Oh, my Kae.

Enter Awst Press, a publisher in Austin, Texas that has chosen to publish this novel--which means my word-work is done, and I can give the story to you now.

On February 10, 2020, Hezada! I Miss You will be bound for bookshelves, bookcases, airplanes, bathtubs, beds, reading chairs.

And I am pleased to say that.

I hope you can celebrate with me now, and again in Spokane, in Austin, in Casey, and all the places we must meet our lives to exchange this story. I think it's worth reading, through heartache and laughter, which it has, both.


P.S. Visit Awst Press for their more official announcement of Hezada! I Miss You


Monday, February 18, 2019

BIG Announcement Coming SOON!

Here is your official announcement,
announcing an announcement
to be announced on March 1, 2019.
See announcement (below).
This is an announcement.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Book Your Stocking: Recap 2018

2018 Book Your Stocking

It somehow became 2019, so quickly, in fact, that you may have missed the 2018 Book Your Stocking Series. For much of December, writers and readers shared the one book that they'd love to discover in their winter stocking or sock drawer. So, here's the list of all the contributors. Click a name to find out the recommended book, then add it to your own book list, or your 2019 resolution reading list.


December 3 Kendra Fortmeyer
December 4 Julia Drescher
December 5 Donna Miscolta
December 6 Regi Claire
December 7 Bonnie Brunt
December 8 Shellie Faught
December 9 Ann Tweedy
December 10 Jack Kaulfus
December 11 Michael J. Wolfe
December 12 Michael Noll
December 13 Eva Silverstone
December 14 Rajia Hassib
December 15 Melissa Stephenson
December 16 Tatiana Ryckman
December 17 John Kenny
December 18 Sarah Bartusch
December 19 Barbara Williamson
December 20 Sharma Shields
December 22 Maya Jewell Zeller
December 23 Aileen Keown Vaux
December 24 Henry


Monday, December 24, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Henry

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 24

It has been a thrilling ride on Book Your Stocking this holiday season, and to close out the book-recommendation series that you look forward to all year, is Henry, age 5.


What book would you want to find in your stocking this year?

Henry: Give a Mouse a Cookie

Why would you want this book?
Because I have it at school.

What do you like so well about it?
I want to read it all nights until Christmas.

What is it about?
The mouse that wants cookies.

Also, I would want a book that Give a Moose a Muffin. They're painting and then a lot of paint splashed on the moose. [Uncontained laughter.] The moose fell and then boom, the pig fell also. The moose fell and the pig fell right on the moose. Oh man. They painted after the moose had a muffin.

Learn more about this series here:


About today's reader:

Henry is five and lives in Spokane.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Aileen Keown Vaux

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 23

Clearly, you're standing in the bookstore reading today's book recommendation because this is the last Sunday before stockings are stuffed, and because you're using Book Your Stocking as your virtual book-list. Good. 

Now that we have that established, please welcome today's reader, Aileen Keown Vaux, with your day-before-the-eve book-wish.

Prepare your stockings.


Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala cover
The book I would want to see in my stocking this year is Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala a memoir written by an economics professor who lost her family (parents, husband, and two sons) to the 2004 Sri Lankan tsunami. Wave is exacting in its recall of events from that day, along with memories of Deraniyagala's past life, and her subsequent recovery. 

I checked this book out from the public library last fall on a whim and haven't stopped thinking about it since. The book is as much a celebration of her family as it is a chronicle of devastation and those two aspects combined make for one of the most haunting reading experiences I've had in awhile.

Wave is a testament to one woman's strength, but also a record of how important language is to convey our realities to others.


Aileen Keown Vaux
About today's reader:

Aileen Keown Vaux is an essayist and poet whose chapbook Consolation Prize was published by Scablands Books in 2018.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Maya Jewell Zeller

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 22

'Tis the last weekend for book-buying before the biggish day, so it's good you're here for another reading recommendation for your stocking and the stockings of people you love or like.

Maya Jewell Zeller is here to help.


Daniels explores subjects with a lyricism I admire; her deft weaving of Sergei Esenin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Leonard Wolf, and her own narrative offers a poetic rendering of the topic of mental illness. She also portrays the images of the world through a lovely slanted lensing. 


Maya Jewell Zeller
About today's reader: 

Maya Jewell Zeller is the author of the interdisciplinary collaboration (with visual artist Carrie DeBacker) Alchemy For Cells & Other Beasts (Entre Rios Books, 2017), the chapbook Yesterday, the Bees (Floating Bridge Press, 2015), and the poetry collection Rust Fish (Lost Horse Press, 2011). Recipient of a Promise Award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation as well as a Residency in the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Maya teaches for Central Washington University and edits poetry for Scablands Books.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Sharma Shields

Book Your Stocking: December 20

Here we are, twenty days into December and no sign to the end of books that could appear in your stocking or the sock drawers of your favorite people. And, so, let's keep this daily book-wish experience going. 

Please welcome writer, publisher, and avid reader, Sharma Shields.


The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani, cover
THE PERFECT NANNY by Leïla Slimani

I've already read this title, as a checkout from Spokane County Library District, and I would love to own a copy. It's a dark, dark book (it begins with the aftermath of a brutal murder of two children, so don't gift this to a lighthearted reader on your list), but it's also a blunt and perfectly executed commentary on parenthood, privilege, race, and class. An expert study in pacing, it's impossible to put down, but also multi-layered, even-toned, and smart as hell. Translated from the French; it's always a great idea to gift women writers in translation.


Sharma Shields, photo by Rajah Bose
About today's reader:

Sharma Shields's newest novel is The Cassandra, out soon from Henry Holt. She is the founder of Scablands Books, began the annual reading series and anthology Lilac City Fairytales, and works actively to connect writers to readers and readers to each other. Learn more about Sharma and her writing at


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Barbara Williamson

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 19

You're back, Stocking Reader. Good. You know where you are, but if you are not you, but new, you've reached Book Your Stocking, the annual holiday series in which avid readers share the books they'd love to discover in their stockings, or leg warmers, or sock drawers.

Please welcome today's guest, film and literature professor, Barbara Williamson. 


Educated:  A Memoir by Tara Westover
Educated by Tara Westover

I haven’t read this book yet, but it seems to ping many of my buttons:  cultism, survivalism, local area issues, childhood trauma, the meaning and power of education, and the ability to overcome against the odds.  Named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, Educated:  A Memoir, recounts Westover’s experience growing up isolated in an abusive, rural Idaho home with a father who believed public school was indoctrination.  Eventually, she earns her Ph.D. from Cambridge, and this book is her journey.  I am attracted to such books, I think, because I wasn’t supposed to make something of myself, so watching that process of transformation in others is both heartening and inspiring, and I think we need inspiring at this point in history. 


Barbara Williamson
About today's reader:

Barbara Williamson is both a high-school dropout and a proud community-college graduate. She eventually moved on to earn other degrees, including a Ph.D. with a triple emphasis:  Popular Culture with an emphasis in film, Women’s Literature, and 20th Century American and Canadian Literature. She loves teaching film, cultural studies, literature and writing, particularly at a community college, and particularly at Spokane Falls, because she believes teaching at a community college is an act of revolution.


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Sarah Bartusch

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 18

You've found yourself at Book Your Stocking, the annual reading series in which writers and readers wish for the book they most want to discover in their stocking or sock drawer this year.

Please welcome Sarah Bartusch to today's edition. 

Calypso by David Sedaris, cover

So, I really struggle to make time for myself to read. However, I really, really enjoy David Sedaris's books, essays, diaries, and so on. I love his dry, dark humor. I almost need a diaper when reading his stuff. He says what I think--only funnier.

I read that Calypso is Sedaris' "top read," and if I love all of the other books that I've read so far, then this must be an amusing riot!


About today's reader:

Sarah Bartusch
Sarah Bartusch lives in Terre Haute, Indiana where she works as a psychotherapist, writes poetry, and lives with her daughter and husband. She also runs 'th Poetry Asylum, a monthly poetry-reading series in its tenth year of existence. Learn more about the series at its Facebook page:


Check out more recommendations from Book Your Stocking contributors: