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Updates. Giveaways. Interviews. Reviews. Info. New Releases.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Winners of the Giveaway and Other Announcements

The giveaway for the ebook version of "Insanity: A Love Story" is over--for the list of winners, check below.  You can still buy "Insanity: A Love Story" online at smashwords or for the Kindle on Amazon.  As a book launch promotion, you can get the ebook on Kindle for free from March 28-29 or until April 1st you can get 25% off the 5.99 price using this coupon code at smashwords: VS35P.  If you would like to review the book I can send you a free ebook copy.

In other news, William Matthew McCarter, who is editing a new anthology for us, just published his academic treatise on white trash culture, "Homo Redneckus."  You can find his book at Amazon.

Spotlight on Margaret Kramar and Karen Lockett Warinsky

We are honored to introduce two contributors to our anthology, "Joy, Interrupted" on motherhood and loss, Margaret Kramar and Karen Lockett Warinsky.

Margaret Kramar

Margaret Kramar contributed the piece “The Dining Hall,” which is about “the unexpected and not very readily acknowledged grief parents feel when they send their child away to college. This story is framed by the vantage point of Benjamin's sophomore year at Grinnell College, but explores his growing independence and the memorable day that we brought him to Grinnell for the first time.”

Margaret is on track for receiving a PhD. in literature from the University of Kansas this spring (2012), and for her creative dissertation she wrote a memoir about a disabled child who died titled, “My Son the Actor.” She says, “My reward for completing the degree will be to get sheep and/or goats. We live out in the country in northeast Kansas and operate Hidden Hollow Farm, where we grow organic produce and raise free-range chickens.”

Her work has been in two anthologies : “Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages” and “Reading Lips and Other Ways to Overcome a Disability.” She also has an academic submission in “Bringing Light to Twilight: Perspectives on the Pop Culture Phenomenon,” and in several magazines and newspapers.

Margaret has written extensively, almost exclusively, about loss and motherhood because she has a disabled child who died when he was ten years old.

She says, “Most representations of motherhood in the media are overly sentimentalized and create guilt, in that mothers are made to feel like they are inadequate. I like the magazine “Brain, Child” (usually)because it presents a more objective and intellectually-challenging perspective on motherhood issues.”

Margaret is looking forward to the publication of our anthology. Further, she suggests, “It would be exciting if we could have a public reading somewhere to get to meet each other and share.” Margaret can be reached by email at kramarmt@hotmail.com

Karen Lockett Warinsky

Karen Warinsky contributed “Departure for College” and “The Wheel.” “Departure for College” is a poem “reflecting on what it means to watch your young adult children go on to the next phase, and what it means for them.” “The Wheel” is about “a moment when you realize that everything is changing; about knowing your set pattern of life is about to be disrupted, and wondering how to feel about that.”

Professionally, Karen worked as a reporter for about 15 years, taught English in Japan in her late 20's from 1984-88, and now teaches high school English.

According to Karen, “Mothering my three children continues to be wonderful and difficult (they are 24, 21 and 16), and since 2007 I have been writing poetry and recently began having some success at getting published.”

She was a semi-finalist in the 2011 Montreal International Poetry Contest and her work can be seen at Crazy Pineapple Press www.crazypineapplepress.com; at redfez online at www.redfez.net, and at Redneck Press: Fried Chicken and Coffee www.friedchickenandcoffee.com

Karen says, “Departure for College was written mostly about my daughter and her friends the summer they graduated high school. Our son was still in college and we had to have our daughter live home one year to save money. Most of her friends were leaving that fall, and she was feeling very hurt and angry. For years I had heard about this break away time, but when it hit it truly was difficult to see them leave home.”

Also, Karen knew she had these two poems that would fit the theme of the book and thought others could appreciate them and understand what she had to say.

In terms of representations about motherhood, Karen says, “Of course Mary Cassatt's paintings are touching and masterpieces, and made me realize the sacrifice of motherhood in all those small moments we put in every day, but I also get a laugh out of that other side of motherhood: The “Throw Momma from the Train,” type humor, or the stereotypical nagging mothers in films are funny to me.”

Karen also says, “It is true that motherhood is the busiest, most intense ride you'll take in life, and when trouble hits you will feel like you won't make it through (yes, talking about teenagers here!), but hang in because once they realize you are valuable, the love is even better than when they were tiny babies and knew no better!!”

Karen can be reached at karen.warinsky@gmail.com

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spotlight on Carol Alexander and Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

We are proud to introduce two contributors to our anthology, "Joy, Interrupted," Carol Alexander and Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow.

Carol Alexander
Carol Alexander wrote the poem “Dandelion Child” and be reached at caa11212@earthlink.net Her poem “tells of a child being routed through the foster care system, going from "mother" to "mother," but still hopeful of finding a loving family.” She has concentrated on writing for children and a couple of years ago, she began “sending out poems full of the things we can't say to children.” Carol has been a foster parent, raised a biological child, and continues to interest herself in the needs of kids.

Her work has been published or is scheduled to be published in/by Avocet, Boyne Berries, Cave Moon Press, The Canary, Chiron Review, Danse Macabre, Earthspeak, Fade, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Mobius, Numinous, OVS, Red Poppy Review, Red Review Review, River Poets, Journal, Sleeping Cat Books, and The Whistling Fire. Carol has also published ten books for children, and writes regularly for the educational publishing market.

According to Carol, “I believe my work may have been selected because it explores loss from the point of view of a child, rather than a mother, and lends another perspective to the collection. When I saw that Melissa was gathering work for an anthology on motherhood and loss, I hoped that this would be the right place for "Dandelion Child."”

Her favorite literary figures relating to motherhood include “Proust's doting mother or Rimbaud's deranged mere!” She adds, “One of my favorite comedies is "Baby Boom"--it's hard to top that one for the zaniness of modern parenthood. I also just saw Vera Farmiga in the film "Higher Ground" and was impressed by the struggle to live an examined life, raise children, and remain intact.”

Finally, Carol says, “I feel it's a privilege to add my work to an anthology that explores this potent subject.”

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow
Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow contributed “RG” to our anthology and can be reached at elynne1@attglobal.net 

What is your piece about?
Marrying late in life, my husband and I did not have children. My story is about how I see my life as a woman who has not been blessed with having a child but has lived a fulfilled life and has enjoyed a close second experience to mothering. I am the eldest of four sisters. I lost my grandmother in a plane crash and my father and 16 yr. old sister in a second plane crash. I understand loss and survival.  

Why did you contribute to our anthology?
I wanted to share my perspective and experience with other women and men. Also, "RG" exists in the pages of this anthology.  A gift I purchased for my sister and brother-in-law's anniversary inspired my writing "RG". It was a time of reflection and insight. I was elated to see the submission call for Joy, Interrupted which I found after having completed my story. I am honored to be part of this anthology.

Tell us about yourself:
I am Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College, Founding General Manager of WYCC-TV/PBS in Chicago and a Pushcart Prize nominated author. I write to motivate and inspire others through my short memoirs. I have the great pleasure of performing my work for audiences and recently performed in NYC at The Museum of Motherhood.  My performances of my stories have been broadcast on The Bob Edwards Show on NPR, and Rick Kogan's Sunday Papers on WGN radio. In addition to having recently returned from my performance in NYC, I have performed my stories throughout Chicago including the Printer's Row Lit Fest. My work has been part of the production "Dear Mother" in L.A. at The Lyric Theater. April 29th, 2012 I will perform my stories at the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan. If you live close, I would love to have you in my audience.

Where else have you been published?
My short memoirs, short stories and essays have been published in magazines and newspapers and are anthologized in the books: Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover's Soul (HCI Books) THE REVOLVING DOOR; The Wisdom of Old Souls (Hidden Brook Press) GRANDMA LEBEDOW; Forever Friends (Mandinam Press) features THE ELEVATOR, MR. X and MR. Y, and LIFE 101; My Dad Is My Hero (Adams Media Publishing) HIS WAY; The Ultimate Teacher (HCI Books) THE HAT; Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages (All Things That Matter Press) THE NEEDLE IN THE HAYSTACK and MY GIFT OF NOW; Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love (Simon and Schuster) RONALD; FOUR SISTERS IN LIFE AND DEATH is published in the new anthology THIS I BELIEVE: ON LOVE. This book is based on the popular NPR radio series. (Wiley Publishing); THE HAT is published in Living Lessons (Whispering Angel Books); DANCER'S LANE and MY OFFICE are published in Press Pause Moments: Essays About Life Transitions By Women Writers, (Winner of a 2011 Clarion Award) (Kiwi Publishing); THE HAT is published in Thin Threads of Teachers & Mentors (Kiwi Publishing); Thin Threads Anthology - More Real Stories of Life Changing Moments has also published THE HAT (Kiwi Publishing); Forever Travels features 10 of Elynne's travel stories ( Mandinam Press); Chicken Soup for the Soul Grieving and Recovery featuring THE RED PEN; Thin Threads Women & Friendship (Kiwi Publishing) featuring WAITING; Nurturing Paws (Whispering Angel Press) featuring DREAM GIRL; Thin Threads Moms & Grandmas (Kiwi Publishing) featuring MORE THAN LIFE, her Pushcart Prize nominated story. Coming in 2012: FIRST IN LINE will be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life; RG in Joy, Interrupted; THE ANSWER in Warpaint; MY BEST AUDIENCE in Thin Threads: Hadassah; HER FIRST GRANDCHILD in another Mothers & Grandmothers anthology (Title TBA); DREAM GIRL in The Animal Project Anthology.

Writing "More Than Life" about my mother and her inspiring grace and strength in the face of overwhelming loss was a gift I could share with her. She is now 87 yrs. old. The anthology Moms & Grandmas with my Pushcart Prize nominated story was launched on her birthday by Kiwi Publishing in NYC at The Museum of Motherhood where I performed it.

Elynne also shares, "My husband Richard is my muse."   Her
 blog is at http://lookaroundme.blogspot.com/

Guest Inteview with Ellen Gerst: Part 2

Ellen Gerst is a grief and relationship coach who uses her experiences to help clients through the grief process.  She can be reached via facebook.  You can find the first part of the interview here.

What is the mission of the website "lost and found" and how might non-widows, such as people in general struggling with losses of all kinds, use the resources offered on this site?

“Lost and Found” is a pair of opposites that reflect the natural duality of the universe. By experiencing both ends of the spectrum, one comes to understand and appreciate the other. This concept does not only apply to one type of loss but all kinds, both big and small.

Learning to move gracefully through the cycles of loss and subsequent rebirth in one’s life is a skill not taught by society. In fact, most shy away from talking about loss and feel awkward around those who are grieving. I believe this is because it brings up one’s own mortality or how frail the line is between success and failure. And no one really wants to go there!

When loss occurs, mourners are dropped into a foreign land. It’s almost as if they are watching a movie with subtitles, but the words scroll across the screen so fast that they can’t read them. On top of feeling rejected by society, there are no instructions on what to do and how to feel. They are lost without a map to follow.

This website offers a lifeline back to the main road – to help mourners of all categories find their way back to solid ground and eventual renewal.

The name of the website was also chosen from a quote by Clement Robinson, who said in 1584 that “I much rather be lost than found.”  This struck a chord within me, for I wholeheartedly agree with him.

When you’re lost, you become a seeker. You seek for knowledge, understanding, love, truth, your place in the world, and how to connect to yourself, to others and the world-at-large, amongst other things.

On the other hand, “being found” can equal complacency or stagnation. It’s possible that you’ve reached a place in life that all is going smoothly. You may feel comfortable enough to lift your hand off the “tiller of your ship.” When you do, what can happen? Your ship, or life, may start to veer off course because you weren’t paying attention or you allowed yourself to operate on auto pilot.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating that you look for drama in your life, and you certainly need to appreciate and revel in the times when things are going well. You simply need to pay attention and to always be seeking to become the best version of yourself. It’s a lot easier to make minor corrections as you go along vs. having to make a complete turnaround.

Although the word lost usually holds a negative connotation and found a positive one, when you take into consideration the explanations I’ve offered above, “being (a little) lost” is really a good thing. It makes you always strive to be and do your best.

You mention the idea of a "grief journey" --what can people do to navigate this journey with grace and dignity?

The grief journey is all about self-reflection and introspective thought. When the life you had planned gets ripped away, it is virtually impossible for you to remain the same person you were before your loss. Your grief journey is really a journey to find the new you who will emerge as you face the challenges (and rewards) of loss.

One suggestion on how to accomplish this feat is to become a reporter of your own life. By that I mean, ask yourself the six questions that every reporter attempts to answer when writing a story. In fact, you are writing the Story of Your Life Part II, so ask: Who? What? When? Why? Where? and How?

During your quest for answers, here’s a small sample of some questions you can ask yourself.
Who are you now? Who will be the participants in your life going forward?
What am I going to do with the rest of my life? What do I want to accomplish going forward?
When, if ever, will I feel like myself again? When will it get better?
Why did this happen to me?
Where am I going to live, work, etc.? Where do I fit in?
How am I going to do this?

Moving forward through grief with grace and dignity is a process. It’s pretty hard at the beginning when all you want to do is crawl into a hole and not come out. In your anger, you might lash out at those who are trying to help you the most. Moreover, your emotions reside on the surface of your being, and so you are especially sensitive to the comments and actions of others.

Mourners always have a choice to either reflectively respond or reflexively react to their circumstances.  They must also conserve their limited energy. For example, mourners can choose to waste their energy on anger over inappropriate or hurtful comments or choose to be happy for the people who have never experienced loss and realize that is the reason they don’t know how to act toward one who is grieving.

I believe that moving through all circumstances of life with grace and dignity comes down to a person’s perspective. Move a couple of degrees to the positive and a whole new world can open up. Additionally, the universe is a giant mirror and whatever messages are transmitted reflect back to the sender.

Accordingly, if you stay mired in negativity and mad at the world, you will encounter more situations that will make you angry. On the other hand, if you make conscious decisions to project out hope, gratitude, love, and grace under pressure, you will be presented with situations in which these positive feelings can be planted, take root and bloom.

How can writers dealing with topics and loss find a supportive community for sharing their stories and connecting with other people?

When I was widowed 17 years ago, the availability of a supportive community for young widows was practically non-existent. As the Internet grew and social media pervaded society, lots of organizations that connect widow/ers globally have sprung up, including, Hope For Widows, the Widdahood, Open To Hope, Legacy.com, and Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, to name but a few.  Each of these communities offers mourners a venue to share their stories and connect with others in similar circumstances. Blogging is also another popular way to tell your story. There are also anthologies who look to publish stories of loss, too, one of which I was the co-editor, Thin Threads of Grief and Renewal.

I have found all the aforementioned communities to be warm and welcoming. Those who have experienced loss seem to feel an almost immediate connection to others who have experienced the same pain. They are willing to open their hearts and their ears to hear the stories of others.

I might briefly add some of the reasons why it is important to tell our stories.

  • To heal. When you touch the life of another, especially one who has experienced something similar, an immediate bond is formed. The gap is bridged between the teller and the listener, and both feel less alone. This act of connecting and knowing that somebody “gets you” is very healing.
  • To evaluate. You may feel that you haven’t progressed very far on your journey. However, when you hear the story of someone who has spent less time on the roads of grief, you can accept that, even though you may not be in the place you want to be, you have come a long way on your own travels.
  • To change your perspective. When you swap stories with others, it allows you to hear different perspectives as well as learn about different ways to handle similar situations you’re encountering. When you only hear your own story in your head, it can become difficult to decide what sounds right or wrong. When you release your thoughts, out in the air (so to speak), it allows you to hear your story with a fresh ear and to decide if your feelings are appropriate or not.
  • To validate.  Without connecting to others in similar situations, it is easy to think you’re going crazy with all the random thoughts that may cross your mind. When you share and discover that others feel the same, you can heave a big sigh of relief.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Less than four days in book giveaway for "Insanity: A Love Story"

Free Giveaway Below
"Insanity: A Love Story" is Melissa Miles McCarter's memoir about the hospitalization that lead to her diagnosis with bipolar disorder.  In both her narrative and interludes reflecting on various aspects of coping with mental illness, she resists the stigma so often associated with bipolar disorder. Her memoir adds to the mental hospital genre that includes such books as "Girl, Interrupted," "I never promised you a rose garden," and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest."  This new and improved e-book version of "Insanity: A Love Story" is an honest, raw and emotional account of a world many never experience.  This memoir of "madness and mania" challenges the thin line between sanity and insanity.

See this youtube video about "Insanity: A Love Story"

If you would like to do a book review of "Insanity: A Love Story" for your blog, or some other forum/publication, email info@fatdaddysfarm.org and we will provide you with a free copy.

There are less than four days in the book giveaway for "Insanity: A Love Story." Enter below for a chance to win!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Interview: Ellen Gerst (Part 1)

We are proud to have the opportunity to get to know Ellen Gerst in the following interview. I decided that, in addition to our contributor interviews, it would be good to talk to people whose interests overlap with our anthology, "Joy, Interrupted."  This is the first part of the interview with Ellen; the second part will be on this blog later in the week.

Ellen Gerst is a grief and relationship coach who uses both her personal experience as a young widow and her professional expertise to help clients and readers experience a change in perspective to held them gracefully move from the darkness of loss to the light of renewal.

She is a member of the Advisory Board of Hope For Widows, a workshop leader, and the author of several books on both grief and relationships, which are available through her website at or via Amazon.  You can also connect with her on Facebook to receive tips and thoughts on finding love after loss.

INTERVIEW: ELLEN GERST, March 2012, Part 1

What role do you think writing has in the grief process and/or in your own situation as a widow at 39 years old and beyond?

I believe that putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it is nowadays) and producing the written word is a magical medium. It is a vehicle that allows you to write to yourself about your own confused set of emotions. In this way, it is a cathartic device, for it permits you to move your difficult and racing thoughts to another physical location. When you are done “throwing up” these types of thoughts, you always have the option of deleting the words off your computer or crumbling up the piece of paper onto which you inscribed your diatribe of despair and to throw it away. Whether you keep or discard your musings, you are figuratively ridding yourself of negativity/sadness/anger and allowing a space to open within you for more positive thoughts to flow.

And, although I am a big believer of writing about your angst, I think it is equally important to journal positive experiences and thoughts. When you are encountering an especially difficult time and feel nothing ever goes your way, this practice will allow you to review past entries and realize that you have also had many good days. This helps you to keep everything in proper perspective.

Many use the writing process to share their thoughts with others, as evidenced by the many “grief” blogs and articles that appear on the Internet. When I was widowed almost 17 years ago, blogs were non-existent. Instead, I started sharing my thoughts through a newsletter that I wrote for a local Arizona grief group. I wrote about all aspects of grieving – emotional, mental, spiritual and physical. It was a record of my journey as I encountered all the new circumstances I needed to conquer; I just experienced it aloud as I shared it with my audience.

Until I started getting feedback from other widow/ers, I didn’t know that most of what I was experiencing was commonly felt by others, too. Of course, everyone grieves in their own way, but there are universal and shared underlying truths about grief, and these are the ones that came shining through in my writings. This was very validating for me and encouraged me to share more as I figured out my new life. As I continued in my efforts, I helped others by providing suggestions and options on how they could approach similar issues.

So writing is both a mechanism that helps the writer and the reader. I consider that a winning combination and one of the reasons why writing through grief is so popular.

The articles I wrote for that newsletter were so well received that they became the foundation for my first coping with grief book, Suddenly Single: How To find Renewal After Loss.

What's your best advice for someone looking for "love after loss," whether in the form of a romance or other relationships?

There are many self-help books written to help you find love, mine included (Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story). It’s important, though, to keep in mind that books have a tendency to “intellectualize” the process of developing a relationship by providing a blueprint to follow. It is just as important to recognize that love is a feeling or emotion, and that it is hard for it to always flourish within rigid rules and boundaries. Sometimes when the right person comes along, you must simply discard your stringent list of requirements.

I always say that you must listen to your inner knowing or your intuition. Your body will never lie to you; you just need to learn how to recognize the language it speaks. I suggest that when you are trying to make a decision, complete a quick check to make sure that your head, your heart and your gut are in alignment. If they are, you won’t be second guessing yourself or see red flags in the distance that you may be choosing to ignore. You will feel calm and at peace with your decision.

That said, of utmost importance, before jumping into a new relationship, you must first complete your grief work. A good majority of relationships fail because either one or both parties are not ready to make the full commitment a successful relationship requires.

Consider the fact that your loss has precipitated a monumental change in your life. Consequently, the answers to the following questions have different answers now, and you need to figure out what they are.

Who do you think you are?
Is this the same as how others see you?
So, who are you really now?
How are you approaching your life now?
What do you need and want in life and in a partner going forward, and is this different from what you wanted before your loss?

This is only a small smattering of the long list of questions you will have to answer in order to figure out the new you. When you can fully recognize (and accept/love) the new you, it is then you can first begin your search for a new other. If you look for love before this point, you will very likely wind up with the wrong person.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t practice! Practice dating is one of the ways that helps you to figure out this new you because it is a source of immediate feedback. You can try out new personas and determine what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, as you continue to figure out and refine the new you, learn to appreciate the small moments of happiness found in just living everyday life. Project this happiness, and the universe will reflect it back upon you.

Please look forward to more interviews with contributors to "Joy, Interrupted" and part two of our interview with Ellen Gerst.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spotlight on contributors to "Joy, Interrupted": Terri Elders and Megan Moore

We are honored to put the spotlight on two contributors for our anthology, “Joy, Interrupted,” Terri and Megan.

Terri Elders
Terri Elders has two pieces in the anthology, “Ready for Stardust” and “Dreaming as the Summers Die.”

What inspired your work to be published in the anthology? 
Though I became a step-grandmother when I remarried in my sixties, the children all had other grandmothers already. Kendra was born just a few days after my husband died, and is my "official" step-grandchild, since her maternal grandmother lives in Eastern Europe, and her paternal grandmother has had little contact because of illness.

"Ready for Stardust" is about the emotions I felt when I attended her christening. I was adopted by my birth father's sister and her husband, and in “Dreaming as the Summers Die,” I recount the last day I saw my birth mother.

Even in old age, I wonder about her life and wish I'd had a chance to talk to her about her girl-hood. 

Who are you and what is interesting about yourself, personally, or as a writer? 
I am a retired psychiatric social worker, and now live in the country near Colville, Washington in the far northeast corner of the state. I grew up in Los Angeles, and lived for decades in Long Beach, so I miss the ocean. I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize, Dominican Republic and Seychelles and also worked at Peace Corps Headquarter as a program and training specialist. I've been to over 50 countries. 

Where else have you been published? 
I started writing as a child, and have been published in dozens of anthologies and periodicals, including multiple editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Cup of Comfort, Patchwork Path, HCI Ultimate, Literary Cottage, and other anthologies and magazines. I'm writing my memoir story by story for anthologies. Through these books I have a chance to reflect on how events shaped my life, and perhaps to influence or inspire others.

Why did you submit to our anthology? 
The title appealed to me...Joy, Interrupted. I've seen so many lives shattered by unfulfilled dreams and dashed hopes. Yet we all suffer losses, and the longer we live the more we lose.

What are some favorite books, movies, or other representations of motherhood have you liked or appreciated? 
Lisa See's Shanghai Girls comes immediately to mind. Also, the classic, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, the first children's book I read that focused on growing up.

Anything else you would like to share? 
I'm grateful that Fat Daddy's Farm plans to publish anthologies, and look forward to seeing call outs for more stories.

Terri Elders can reached by email at elders@hotmail.com and her blog is at http://atouchoftarragon.blogspot.com/

Megan Moore
Megan's piece is called “Life without Rain” and is about “my baby girl being born sleeping.” She is the mother of three and loves traveling and Tinkerbell. She is 25 years old and lives in Texas. She was inspired by “my angel baby Rain” and wanted “to get the story of my Rain out” in the world. She would also like people to know, “Heaven is for real.”

Megan can be reached at Selesprincess@yahoo.com

Please look forward to more interviews with contributors and a guest interview with Ellen Gerst, a grief and relationship coach, this week.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Get ready for a cool giveaway

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Joy, Interrupted Cover

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Call for Submissions

Fat Daddy’s Farm Press has partnered with Vicki Sapp and William Matthew McCarter (Editors) to bring you Trash Told Tales: Trash Talkin’ from Whitetrashistan.  The editors are requesting short fiction, poetry, plays, or creative non-fiction, and various types of artwork, for an anthology of white trash literature.  

It is the mission of Fat Daddy’s Farm Press (fatdaddysfarm.org) to publish marginalized voices – narratives that fall through the cracks of the dominant discourse – and we feel that this topic deserves some serious consideration.  If you would like information about the press and to keep up with the progress of this anthology, please:  Subscribe to Fat Daddy's Farm News

From the Editors:

Vicki Sapp: “Here’s your chance to submit your tales of white people doing trashy things. Or trashy people doing white things (it being commonly--pun intended--presumed that any respectable white trash party includes lots of booze, vomit, violence, and at least one report of what might be called rape in some circles (William Byrd II of Westover). However, WT has its more constructive pastimes as well: the phrase ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ was coined by a wordsmith hanging out at the trailer park. So we are calling for your truths, told in the inimitable WT way. If you are not sure that your submission is about “white trash,” or you don’t know what “trashy” means, you should probably submit elsewhere now and revisit us after cultural enlightenment via the forthcoming volume. Words of advice for submissions: No Tobacco Road tragedies as we mean to keep it both real and fun. Also none of that Tucker Max xtreme stuff; we run a relatively clean trailer around here. And finally, submissions from advanced degree holders are welcome; paper might cover rock--but sheepskin don't cover trash."

William Matthew McCarter:  “In my book, Homo Redneckus: On Being Not Qwhite in America, I discussed the discursive anomaly that exists in terms of whiteness and terms like cracker, hillbilly, redneck, and white trash.  Now, I am looking forward to reading and editing a collection of works that really speaks to the heart of the white trash aesthetic.  We all know that Southerners and those who have historically lived in conditions of institutional poverty are natural storytellers.  Let’s tell our ‘white trash’ stories to a larger audience in this anthology.  Send us your trash and let us look forward to dumpster diving.” 

The editors are seeking short stories, poetry, plays, creative non-fiction, comics, and art work that embodies the white trash experience.  The stories can take place in trailer parks, rural country settings, or even in tenements.  Authors can celebrate the aesthetic of excess by writing about white trash parties, celebrations, or vacations.  There can be white trash characters like the Snopes clan from a Faulkner novel or Bone from Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina. Send us your best trashy stories and help us to compile an anthology of white trash literature. 

The deadline for submissions is July 1st, 2012.  Potential contributors will be notified of acceptance about 90 days after that.  

Submit a brief bio, cover letter, and your contribution to the anthology to Fat Daddy's Farm @Submishmash

For questions or queries, please send your e-mails to profmccarter@yahoo.com.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Excerpt from upcoming release "Insanity: A Love Story"

In the next month, Fat Daddy's Farm with be releasing an e-book version of "Insanity: A Love Story" --it is a memoir about dealing with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the hospitalization after a manic-induced psychosis--below is an excerpt from the book

Want to win a free copy? Check out this free giveaway. 

...from"Insanity: A Love Story" by Melissa Miles McCarter

I was always mercurial, moody and fickle. I came by this naturally, witnessing the mood shifts of members of my family, trying to cope with a world that seemed so intense I wanted to hide sometimes. I was the type of child who cried at my own birthday parties, overwhelmed by the crowd of people singing “Happy Birthday” to me while all I wanted to do was play with my new toys in peace. Every moment seemed larger in importance than anything, and my own mind either raced in high speed or trudged through the lows I felt I could never escape.

Born in 1975, in Houston, Texas, I moved to California when I was eleven years old. Already a severely introverted child, the move shifted me into the first depression I have the clearest memory of. I spent my first summer in the new and extreme brightness of the San Fernando Valley, feeling intense anxiety about the life I had left behind and the life I was about to have. I spent many hours obsessing over what could have been.

My Southern drawl separated me instantly from my new sun-kissed classmates and subjected me to attention anathema to my withdrawn nature. In Houston, I had been bright, but never considered an intellectual. Now, in my new school and my new large lensed glasses, my reputation as the smart one grew in proportion to my deepening sense of inadequacy.

One of the ways my insecurity exhibited itself was my longing for love. I was now an outsider in my new location, an experience I had never felt before in the middle class suburban life I had led in Texas. I might have been moody, but I always felt I belonged. In Houston, we had been comfortable, but now in California, the higher standard of living meant we could only live in a working class neighborhood. Gone were the ever-present room-mothers and well-employed fathers.

Now I felt untethered, not fitting in with anyone, and it set the stage for wanting to find a sense of rooted-ness in the relationships I would have later in life. My sense of self had been challenged, no longer shaped by the innocence of childhood—and I was to seek a foundation in my ability to have deep and intense connections within friendships and romantic interactions.

This desire to merge and find my identity in relationships, plus the fear I would never rid myself of the intense loneliness I felt in this new place, motivated me to later on leave high school a year early in 1996 and attend Scripps College, without a high school diploma and only to get a GED when I was a sophomore. This wasn't the result of some heroic ambition, but the desire to follow my then boyfriend, who was to attend a college in the same Claremont Colleges consortium. Just like any adolescence, I craved freedom, but I also had an ever-present desire to emerge myself in the safety romantic relationships could provide.

Unfortunately, this relationship ended after I had already been accepted by Scripps and had made a commitment to go to college. I could have stayed in high school and made a different, more solid, decision based on my own independent long-term goals. But I was already committed to the fantasy of freedom I saw in the collegiate experience and the possibility I might win my boyfriend back. My co-dependency desires continued, but this was not to be. Instead I was to enter into a grief induced cycle of depression and mania that would continue on for my whole freshman year.

During college was when my mood shifts seemed to be most apparent. Every semester I started out with the manic belief I could do anything and would enroll in five courses, an overload beyond the required four courses that only the most ambitious and confident would attempt. My overconfidence would not be sustained because the darkness would always be a moment away. By the end of each semester, in the depths of a predictable depression, I would have grades that were contradictory at best—one or two courses I would excel in, others I would have barely attended and barely passed, and one class I invariably would fail. These failures were always avoidable—I could have easily dropped these courses, but it would have meant interacting with the professor, seeking their signature, when I felt the most anxiety in my contact with people. I felt so ashamed of not being able to attain the goals I had set during my mania.

Thus, most courses had been peppered with absences, and I never signed up for classes before noon, the result of an increasing insomnia and crashing, numbing sleep I succumbed to at the first light on the morning sun. My freshman year was marked by the first time I ever went to a therapist at the mental health center on campus. Cognitive therapy was supposed to be my answer to everything, a vaccination against my mood shifts I couldn't even put into words. Eventually, I would give up therapy at the same time I fell in love with a senior who seemed to be the anti-thesis of me: stable, confident based on real accomplishments, and who I tried desperately to hide my flaws from. I was deeply in love with him and yet he didn't feel the same way. With each rejection, interspersed with a physical connection I had never felt before, my insecurity was nurtured. I felt like I was nothing if I wasn't in love. Soon after this ended, I met my next boyfriend, who I would be with off and on for the next five years. At first, we were inseparable and this relationship provided me with a way to mask my social anxiety and find a safe emotional haven for my moods. Soon enough, we danced the dance of rejection and intense melding of selves, chipping away at my delicate sense of self-worth.

This relationship precipitated my first manic-induced psychotic ending. We had a series of breakups and makeups before, but when the ending seemed the most definite, I cycled into the most disorienting depression I had ever experienced. Most of my dreams for the future had been tied to this relationship, and with its ending, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My long ago deeply held goals had been abandoned with the sense of purpose this relationship had given me. Without this emotional compass, I was adrift.

An interloping relationship, right before this psychotic break, would fuel an even deeper sense of insecurity. I clung to the fantasy that this new boyfriend would be an antidote to the deep loneliness and purposeless I felt at the time. Our courtship provided a band-aid to my wounded soul, but in the end would leave me broken and empty.

With that crushing disappointment, in a relationship that increasingly my poisoned my sense of self--

I couldn't exist anymore within reality.
Want to win a free copy of "Insanity: A Love Story"? Check out this free giveaway. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spotlight on Anna Steen and Lottie Cellini-Corley

We are honored to introduce Anna and Lottie, two contributors to our anthology, "Joy, Interrupted."

(And don't forget to enter our giveaway!)

Anna Steen

Anna Steen wrote “Star Bunk” and can be reached at annasteen@me.com This is one of her first pieces of flash fiction (less than five hundred words); she usually writes short stories and is working on her second novel.

Anna describes herself as “a mother, writer, and coffee roaster,” and says, “If I had to pick three things to do with my life, these would be it.  So I consider myself lucky and grateful.”

Anna also has written a story about motherhood titled "Jericho Road," which won Best Emerging Artist on the online journal Our Stories.  The story is about a mother faced with a Good Samaritan decision. Anna addresses various questions, such as:  When do you help someone else?  What if your life is at risk?  What if the lives of your children?  Where is that line in helping someone else whose life is in peril?

Anna says her inspired her work and describes “Star Bunk” as “a snapshot of my nights with him. “ She also says, “I'm glad I wrote it so I can always look back on it and remember how I felt during those years.” According to Anna, her piece has a “cord of motherhood and deals completely with feelings a child growing up can arise in a mother.”

Anna finally shared, “This was the perfect home for the piece. In general pure themes of motherhood are not written about enough but play back themes or side plots in books. That said, favorites would have to include Kingsolver's "Poisonwood Bible", Cleave's "Little Bee," McCann's "Let The Great World Spin," Harris's "5 Quarters of an Orange," and Schwartz's "Drowning Ruth."

Lottie Cellini-Corley

Lottie Cellini-Corley wrote “Sweet Little One” and “Trinkets” and can be reached at mlcorley1@embarqmail.com 

According to Lottie, the first piece is about a person who would like to be a mother but all odds are against her having a child. “The anguish she feels every moment of her life. She asks why?? Did she do something wrong and that is why she is not blessed with a child?”

Lottie describes “Trinkets” as, “Three sisters brought together to go through their mothers trinkets after her passing away. The times they cannot spend with her. No mother's day. The pain of losing someone who after all the years collected these items out of love for them.”

In addition to Lottie's “becoming a soon to be author, I became an illustrator with my pen and ink work.” In addition to spending much time working on her memoirs, poetry and songs, she likes to play golf, dabble in the parapsychology and is a huge Beatles fan.

Lottie also has a book coming out soon called "Trials and Turbulence"  She has also been a published illustrator with "Prick of the Spindle" and various other publishers.

She credits her mother as her inspiration for her contributions to our anthology: “My mother was right behind me, giving me subtle loving pokes to go after what made me happy.” Her work was also inspired by “my own anguish with my infertility.”

Lottie feels like "Fat Daddy's Farm" would be the perfect platform to reach out to others and all who have had similar experiences.

Lottie also shares that her favorite movie is Titanic and loves to read Steven King and Edgar Alan Poe.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Greetings from Chicago

Greetings from the AWP in Chicago-- for those who don't know, we are at the Association of Writers & Writing programs conference.

When we get back, I will convey all the lessons and advice I think you all might be interested in.

Here are some highlights so far:

Getting to see Nikki Giovani (poet @ Virginia Tech) read some of her poetry

Being in the audience for Margaret Atwood's keynote address at the wonderful auditorium at Roosevelt University (Atwood is one of my favorite authors--you might have heard her "Handmaid's Tale" novel). She was so charming and has a huge twitter following @margaretatwood

Getting to see Kate Hopper and others at a presentation on mothering and the writing process; Kate has expressed interest in reviewing our anthology (her website is http://motherhoodandwords.com) and is open to being interviewed on our blog.

Meeting one of our anthology contributors, Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, and her husband, Richard, for a wonderful dinner at The Park Grill; look forward to her future interview on our blog and you can also see what a talented and interesting person and writer Elynne is. In addition, she gave great advice about marketing and promoting our book-- we are very grateful to her recent efforts to get a large number of "likes" on our facebook page. Btw, if you haven't already, come check out our page--and like and/or share it--at http://Facebook.com/fatdaddysfarm.org

If you haven't already, scroll down and check out the first contributor interviews of Nina and Ann and keep an eye out for more.

Please join us in getting the buzz going for our upcoming anthology and other efforts by following us via twitter @fatdaddysfarm -it is a great way to find out about our projects, giveaways and other info!

Take care,