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Cover Reveal, Feminism, Ireland, Motherhood, Publishing, Romance, Social Media, Through the Veil, Uncategorized, Writing

THROUGH THE VEIL is Now Available for Pre-Order!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but it’s been a busy month for me. I finished the latest draft of Book 2 (the sequel to Through the Veil) and sent it off to beta readers, and I’ve been working hard on guest posts and articles for my book release on February 22nd. I’ve had a great time working on these as they’ve given me a chance to talk more about things I’m passionate about: Ireland, traveling, WB Yeats, Faeries…and so many different topics. I think it’s going to be a fun blog tour, so please keep an eye out for me as you’re surfing the interwebs. I’ve also been working hard to get a new project moving forward, and of course there’s the day job and the whole raising children business…

And then was this little detail of a cover reveal…

THROUGH_THE_VEIL_500x700 (2)

I know. It’s beautiful. I burst into tears (of joy!) when I saw it. The artist captured so many things about the book I can’t even begin to put into words (which is ironic because, you know, I’m a writer), but the mood, the spirit, everything, seriously everything about my story, is in this cover for me. I’m so grateful she is the face of my debut novel. Not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a better cover.

Thank you to all the book bloggers who helped me share this cover to the world. I’m so in awe of this community. They do all this work for authors for FREE. They ask for nothing in return. Their unconditional love for books inspires me so much, and I’m so thankful they could be a part of this cover reveal. I thought I love books, but it’s nothing compared to their passion, and I’m in awe of all these wonderful people working so hard to promote writers and their stories. It’s amazing.

I’m also grateful to all of my friends and family who made this day so great. You shared, you chatted me up, you sent out links, you tagged people, you commented, you pre-ordered and posted about it. To quote David Bowie, “I never thought I’d need so many people…” I need you to make this book successful. I called, and you answered. Thank you.

So, yes, Through the Veil is now available for pre-order in both e-book and paperback. Please continue sharing and spreading the word. I believe in this book–for what is says about the strength of women and the redeeming power of love. I believe we need more super heroines in the world, however flawed they might be, and I believe we need to see them growing, changing, and falling in love. If you like those things, I hope you’ll consider adding Through the Veil to your bookshelf or your kindle.

Available for pre-order now at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Amazon UK, and Amazon Canada.

xoxoxoxo

Beyonce, Editing, Feminism, Motherhood, Nanowrimo, Writing

I Woke Up Like This: On Not Paying the “Pretty Rent” as a Woman Writer

I once heard that the best thing that ever happened to novelist George Eliot’s writing was her choosing to live with philosopher George Lewes, a married man unable to divorce his estranged wife. By following this unconventional path, George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans) banned herself from polite society, but freed her social schedule up enormously. I recall hearing similar things about women and hypochondria in the 19th century. “Illness” freed women writers, such as Emily Dickinson, to pursue their literary passions in peace. Devoid of the lengthy toilettes and endless calls required of the nineteenth-century female bourgeoisie, these women could hang out in their dressing gowns (our modern equivalent of yoga pants) and write to their hearts’ content.

There’s a meme that I’ve seen posted on facebook a few times, and it really hit home for me this week. It’s from Erin McKean, and she states, “You don’t owe prettiness to anyone…Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’.” In other words, we don’t owe it to the world to look good, and we are not required by any law in the universe to spend an ounce of time, money, or energy on this elusive concept called “pretty.”

Now I know what you’re doing right now. You’re eyes are drifting over to that profile pic with my hair all curled and my makeup done just right. I won’t deny it. I love pretty things: dresses, makeup, sparkly tiaras. I find a great deal of joy in dressing up and looking nice, but the thing is, I don’t love it more than writing.

When I taught at a brick and mortar campus, I was required to dress up every day, but now that I teach online, all bets (and heels) are off. One of the bonuses of working at home is that I can wear sweats 24/7 without impunity, and with the daily beauty rituals gone, I get to spend a lot more time writing. So much more time writing!

But the “pretty rent” was hard for me to give up in the beginning. In our culture, the shlumpy yoga pant wearing mom has been a huge butt of a walking joke for talk show and “what to wear” hosts. I’ve seen episodes of Oprah where she’ll reel some “secret footage” with the mom coming out of a car dressed in sweats and the whole audience will groan. Oh, you terrible woman and your comfortable lounge wear! How dare you not put on real pants! For months, when I opted to wear pajamas to drop my kids off at school, I heard the shrill voice of one of those fashion hosts in the back of my mind. “Oh, she’s really let herself go.” I still put my hoodie up when I drop off my preschooler (as if no one recognizes me at this point, haha!).

But the thing is, no one would look twice at my husband if he showed up to drop off the kids in sweats and a messy bun with no makeup (he doesn’t wear makeup, btw. Just making a point here). And that’s what George Eliot and Emily Dickenson knew way back when. Insane beauty rituals cut into artistic productivity. As a writer, “pretty rent” has a huge price. I often stay up late to write and edit, so that’s why getting up and making myself look respectable feels like a lot more trouble than it’s worth. I also have a very brief window in the afternoon to write before I pick up the kids and the domestic grind begins all over again. A 20 minute shower may not mean a lot to most people, but I can write 700 words in 20 minutes. Add that up over five days and that’s a whole lot of words. It matters.

When I started writing seriously two years ago during NaNoWriMo, I had to say no to a lot of things. Over the course of that month, I came to understand how much of my life was consumed with pleasing others and this included making sure I paid my “pretty rent.” I’m out of that slum now. Maybe a secret camera will catch me one day un-showered in a hoodie and yoga pants and all that live studio audience will see is a sad, worn-out mom who’s lost her fashion sense.

But when I see myself, I see…well, a worn-out mom, yes. But I also see a woman who met her word count goals and is well on her way to becoming a NYT bestselling novelist.

Feminism

It’s Always Been About Princess Leia (for me): Notes on the Star Wars Trailer

Apparently, a lot of people are upset about the new Star Wars trailer featuring a woman and a black dude. I know. Crazy, right? It’s like more than straight white men are allowed to be badass, Empire-stomping heroes. I think what’s so hilarious is that for me, Star Wars has never, ever been about Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. When the prequels came out, it was surreal to my teenager self to re-watch the Star Wars series because I remembered them so much differently. Was Luke Skywalker always such a whiny bitch? What was all this stuff about his daddy issues? Who is that zombie-looking dude in the cloak? It was like I had somehow blocked all that stuff out. For me, the story always was, and maybe still is, about Princess Leia.

I had two older brothers and we were one of the first families on our block to own a VCR. We had Star Wars on a perpetual loop in our house. I went to see Return of the Jedi in the theatre on base when I was just a wee babe, and I saved up my pennies to buy a Princess Leia doll at the PX. This tiny little action figure was the center of my whole universe for a summer, the leading lady in my own intergalactic feminist fantasy. For me, the Star Wars trilogy went a little something like this.

Princess Leia risks her life to send a message to a rebel jedi. Princess Leia throws shade at that snooty British dude. “Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.” Burnnnnnnnn….

And then I think all women of my generation will remember the shot heard round the galaxy when Princess Leia, disappointed by the ineffectual pack of losers who came to rescue her, grabs the blaster and starts cutting down Stormtroopers. I was told my whole life how strong and competent men are, how if you’re pretty enough and valuable enough, someone will eventually come around and take care of you. Princess Leia kept it real. Ladies, if you want something done, you need to do it yourself.

And then there was that time Princess Leia orchestrated an attack on the Empire on the snow planet of Hoth. She stood in the middle of a circle of fighters giving orders like a boss. And of course, there was that one time she allowed herself to be vulnerable in front Han Solo, shouting out, “I love you!” in the midst of the Empire’s goons. And because Princess Leia is smart enough to know you can’t change a man, she never forced Han Solo to be anything else than a “stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder.” He had to come to the realization about his own inadequacies himself.

But Princess Leia ends up saving Han, and when some giant turd dressed her up in gold foil underwear and licked her face, she choked that bitch. Sure in Return of the Jedi there’s some shit about the force and Ewoks (!!!!) and “Luke, I am your father,” and blah, blah, blah, but there’s also Princess Leia on one of those flying bikes, rocking milkmaid braids. Man, I wish my hair would do that.

I have a daughter of my own now, and while things have gotten better in terms of representation of women, I’m still disappointed by how few Princess Leia’s we still have out there. My daughter wants to be a hero. She puts on my son’s Spiderman mask and fights imaginary crime in the yard. She begs me to teach her my “ninja moves” from karate, and she loves playing boss lady “Ms. O” from PBS’s Odd Squad. When I see the new Star Wars trailer, I think how great it is that she doesn’t have to hack her way into a hero’s journey. She doesn’t have to conveniently erase the story of some man’s fragile masculinity in order to find a character who looks, thinks, and acts like the woman she might want to be someday. That woman is center stage now. And she is looking so fierce.

Editing, Feminism, Romance, Wrting

Beyond Bechdel

In the summer of 2001, I found myself sitting on the hot concrete floor of the Florence train station in tears. Leaning against my red and black backpack and staring at the train schedule, the times and arrivals blurred into a sea of numbers as I tried to add up the various connections I needed to make. I had to get to the Cinque Terra by sunset, and as train after train pulled out of the station I wondered if that was the one meant for me or if I would sit here forever in the hot purgatorial air of the platform watching travelers hop on and off with the kind of confidence only Europeans possess with rail travel. In Germany, I could squeak out a few phrases in broken German, ask simple, basic questions about directions and travel, and most of the time they would take pity on me and switch to English. But Bush was in the White House, I was an ugly American, and the Italians were having none of it.

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