Recent updates for Replacement Child – a memoir

First, many thanks to Madeline Sharples, and her Choices blog for hosting me today for a guest post. I hope you’ll check it out!

You may also want to take a look at my ongoing blog on Psychology Today.

And, a couple of articles in Book Marketing Magazine. Check it out on iTunes–it’s a great new pub!

And here are some pics from some recent book happenings::IMG_0800IMG_0799IMG_0798IWWG


My story in The Word @ASJA


In anticipation of my panel on memoir for 2013 ASJA Conference, I shared my writing journey to my memoir Replacement Child in The Word:

A Circuitous Road to Memoir

Find out more about the 2013 ASJA Conference.


The Search for Self for the Replacement Child; Captured in a Poem by Victor Hugo

In the literature and research I have read, there is agreement on at least one of the characteristics of the replacement child; the search for an individual identity apart from the child they have replaced, or have been born after. I can attest to this personally, in that the search for my own identity and for my role in my family was the strongest drive for me to write Replacement Child.

Looking at more academic studies of replacement children, I was struck by these selected lines from the poem “The One Who Returned” by Victor Hugo (1802 – 85) that are included in the article, “Life After Death: The Replacement Child’s Search for Self,” by Kristina Schellinski as part of her thesis for the Association of Graduate Analytical Psychologists in Geneva, Switzerland (2009).

The One Who Returned

Mourning mothers, your cries are heard up above.

God, who holds all lost birds in the palm of His hand,

sometimes returns the same dove to the same nest.

oh mothers, the cradle is linked to the grave …

death entered like a thief and took him

a mother, a father, the grief,

the black coffin, the head struck against a wall

the dismal sobs from the pit of the stomach …

the mother, with her wounded heart,

remained three months immobile in the shadows …

quietly pleading: “give him back to me!”

The physician advised the father, “She needs a distraction

for her unhappy heart, the dead child needs a

brother” …

time passed … she felt the stirrings of motherhood

for the second time …

when suddenly, one day she turned pale

“No, no I do not want this! You would be jealous!”

Oh, my gentle slumbering child, who are frozen in the


you would say: “they are forgetting me; another has

taken my place,” no, no! …

The day came, she gave birth to another child,

and the father joyfully exclaimed: “It’s a boy!”

But the father alone was joyful …

whilst she was bitterly, despondently

dwelling more on the departed soul than on this new

son …

saying: “My angel lies alone in this grave!”

she heard, in an oh, so familiar voice,

the newborn speak, from the crook of her arm,

and very quietly whisper: “It is I. No one must know.”


The full text is in: “Les Contemplations”, Librairie Générale Francaise, 1972, translated into English by Julia Roessler)

The poem touches on some pivotal issues that have I have thought a great deal about in my own life, especially during the four years of writing my memoir. Whether in beginning life after the death of my sister, I somehow straddled both death and life. Whether I carried my sister within me in some sense, her imprint on my soul, as both Schellinski and Hugo hint? And whether my search has been for my own identity, or hers?

Self-Published to Traditional #Publishing: The #Book Trailer

it was suggested to me by my publisher, Seal Press, that I consider creating a book trailer for the upcoming release of Replacement Child in March. Take a look and see what you think.


Excited to be Addressing the Westport Writers Workshop

If you are in the area, come join me in this discussion of transitioning to traditional publishing from my start as a self-published author on October 29 at the Westport Writers Workshop.




#Self-Published #Memoir to Traditional: Photo Choices

As I move closer to my publish date for Replacement Child on March 5th (Seal Press), all the details seem to be sweeping in on the fall breeze. I love this time of year, and it calms me just to look out my office window at the orange and gold leaves. Ahhh! Ok, that’s enough relaxation–back to work!

This week was dedicated to sifting through photos for the book and choosing carefully for the eight pages of photos that will be included. I’ve heard from readers of memoir that they love to see the pictures that illuminate a story, so I want to be sure to have the ones that readers will want to see. What kind of photos do you like in your memoirs? And do you look at those first before reading?

It’s so hard to decide.

I want to have pictures of my sister, Donna, who died in the plane crash.

And of my other sister, Linda, who survived against all odds.

Then there are the photos that tell the story of the different relationships within the family. My dad holding Donna and then me, the pictures of Donna and me at the same age. The ones of Linda holding me as a baby, just as Donna had held her. Those are the ones that resonate with me as intricate parts of the story, and that I think readers will want to see. Do you think so?

What makes it a little easier is that I know I can put the remainder of the photos on the Replacement Child website, so readers will be able to find them to dive more deeply into the story.

What’s your thought about photos in memoirs?


#Self-Published to Traditional: One #Writer’s Journey: New Cover In!


Soooo—I haven’t written in a couple of weeks because nothing new was happening and I didn’t want to waste your time. But now things are heating up and I am getting excited—which means I need to blog to you.

As you see above, we have finalized the new cover for Replacement Child. I hope you like it! Also this week I got word that my publicist is on board and we are working on the plans going forward.

 New Release Date!

Also, the release date for #Replacement Child has been moved up to March 2013—so that is big news too.

A New To-Do List

My to-do list now includes setting up a new Facebook page for the book, customizing my Twitter account and creating a new book trailer video.  I’ll be blogging all the while of course.

 Help Me Decide: Launch Party?

One of my decisions is whether to have a physical launch party for the book when it is released in March. If I decide to do that, where to have it? I have so many new friends in New York City that I would want to invite, but also my local pals.

What do you think? Launch party? Where?

It’s Just a Cover! #Self-Published to Traditional: One #Writer’s Journey blog

Well, it’s really not just a cover. The cover is the first impression your book makes on a reader. And we all know what they say about first impressions. For a book, it can mean the difference between being picked up and read or being left on the shelf. No one wants that. Not you. Not your publisher. Surely not your agent. So I can justify all the angst I feel about working on iterations of my new cover with my publisher.

Of course, the cover also has to reflect the content and feel of the book. You don’t want someone picking up your book expecting steamy sex scenes because of the naked man and woman on the cover only to be disappointed with, say, a deep dive into the relationship of a man with his dog. That would be wrong. So, truth is important to consider in the process.

All this to preface that I am happy to report a near final cover for the new edition of Replacement Child being published by Seal Press in April 2013. And it is a beautiful cover incorporating a very truthful reflection of my story. We went around a bit about colors, fonts and styling details, but all for the benefit of the result. I’m pretty sure I have been more of a pain than some other authors on this point because of my background in marketing. And I’m told that previously self-published authors tend to have more of an issue with ownership and control of their books. Me? Control issues? Ha!

I give a great deal of credit to my editor and the creative team at Seal Press in working closely with me and responding to my concerns by addressing substantive changes that we agreed on. Now I can truthfully say I love the new cover!

#Copyedit: #Self-Published to Traditional: One #Writer’s Journey (3)


Oh my! How quickly I forgot the torture of re-reading my manuscript. That might be an exaggeration, but getting back the copyedit from my publisher was like déjà vu all over again.  In all honesty, she did a fabulous job copyediting my book and had some very good catches.  We have a few minor disagreements in places, but nothing major.  It was, as the copyeditor said, “a light edit.” Our most substantial discussion is about commas.  But writers know that commas are the bane of our existence.  There are so many conflicting rules regarding simple series lists, complex listings and commas before conjunctions.  You can see from this last sentence where I stand on the issue. I’m still waiting for word on this one.  Either including or excluding the comma before a conjunction in a simple listed series is correct.  It comes down to a matter of style.  I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m pretty sure some of those same commas have been added and deleted several times by the first editors of the book.

It never gets easy seeing that someone has changed a word, a sentence structure or a tense in your work.  But as William Faulkner said, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” After looking at the copyedit dispassionately, I realized that there were still some darlings left to be slaughtered in my work and went at it. Then I saw a few things I had written that I didn’t like and made some changes of my own.  Now I’m hoping that the editors agree with those changes.

We’ll go through the manuscript once more to make some decisions on changes, and then we’ll be looking at the photos to include.

Let me know if you use a comma in a listed series before a conjunction or not.

Would you write:

. . . Tom, Dick or Harry?


. . . Tom, Dick, or Harry?

#Self-Publishing to Traditional: One #Writer’s Journey (2)

Letting Go Of Editing Fear

Writers tell me they are interested in hearing about the editing process with a traditional publisher after having self-published. What happens if you don’t agree with your new editor? What if you hate the newly designed cover? How do you negotiate? Or is that even an option?

I can only talk about my own experience so far, and I’ll share as much as possible here as things progress to publication. Right now my manuscript is being copy edited. That’s not to say it hasn’t been copy edited before. It has. At least four times by different eyes other than mine. But I welcome this last pass because, as we all know, there is always something to fix. Whether a grammatical error or a missed comma, I want the book to be as free of errors as humanly possible. I probably lost the ability to proof it myself at version three, which is a very long time ago. I have 13 versions of the manuscript taking up an entire cabinet in my office. They also live in a file on my computer and someday I will have the courage to throw out the hard copy version.

Reasonable Discussions Win Out

So far, I have had an extremely smooth relationship with my publisher. They are very sensitive to the author’s need to have input into editing, and in fact have not yet suggested any substantial edits.  As I mentioned in my last post, we had some various iterations before arriving at a cover. When it is appropriate I may be able share those here. The first round of covers were far from my vision of a cover that reflected the content of my memoir. After consulting with my agent, we both agreed on that and approached the publisher with those concerns. They listened and came back with more options that included one that I felt hit just the right note and that I am truly excited about. I’m not saying there was no angst, but this was a moment when I knew I had the right publisher for my book.

Another discussion was about photos. If you have seen the self-published version of Replacement Child, there were photos introducing many of the chapters. I felt the photos were in context and added to the story that way. Most memoirs with photos, however, have a separate photo section on brighter paper within the book, which my editor was in favor of for mine. We talked about our different reasoning and I went back to look at other memoirs again. In the end I agreed that it adds interest for the reader to occasionally flip to the photo section while reading the story to take a look at the real life characters. That, along with the fact that it looks more professional convinced me. Now I am quite excited to see how this plays out in the finished book.

Self-Editing Never Stops

The other editing change was my idea. I had previously cut some chapters and sections that I wanted to take another look at including in the new release. Some were very minor, a paragraph or a line, but also two additional chapters to consider. I sent them over for my editor’s thoughts and she agreed that they enhanced the story. We will make the final decision after we hear back from the copy editor.

For writers who worry about relinquishing control to a traditional publisher, my experience is that this concern may be minimal if you are with the right publisher, you remain open to recommendations and also have a solid belief in your own vision for the final book.