I wrote a chapbook, and soon you'll be able to hold it in your hands! I'm really excited about it and proud of it, but this wouldn't be my blog if I didn't tell you the long story behind it, so before I get to the details, I'm backing up to tell you how it all came to be (details on how to order at the end of the post if you'd rather skip ahead).
Back in the summer of 2016, I set a small goal for myself: I had a handful of short stories that I felt worked well together, and I wanted to submit them to a chapbook contest. A chapbook is essentially a mini book (think 50ish pages of prose or poetry), though it's more common to see chapbooks for poetry.
I found a few presses and journals accepting chapbook submissions for prose, but there was only one that seemed like a good fit based on the contest requirements and my familiarity with the publication. I submitted to PANK's contest on June 24th, 2016, and the rest of a summer was a blur. We left for our trip to Namibia and then mourned the loss of my grandmother, Mimi, while we were literally halfway across the world. The fall brought a pregnancy...and then a pregnancy loss, and then the election happened on November 8th, and I felt shaken. To be honest, not only was my chapbook far from my mind, but I initially missed the November 10th email informing me that I'd made the shortlist of five finalists for the contest. The email came on a Thursday evening, but I didn't see it until late Friday night (and yes, this is why my cousin Amanda is always on my case about my 92,917--true number--unread messages).
I'm glad I found that email though because it wasn't just any email. The words from editor Chris Campanioni gave me hope: hope that the stories that I wanted to tell mattered and hope because life was going on. It felt particularly hard right then, but this was proof that everyone was still moving. I read the email aloud to Brendan. We were both so excited.
I had no idea how many of the chapbooks PANK was intending to publish, and while I was really hopeful, I tried, partially unsuccessfully, not to think about it too much. The holidays were a distraction, and then, I was in my office setting up for the Spring 2017 semester when I saw an announcement on Facebook.
I just remember thinking "Whoa, that's my name" and running next door to Brendan's office to show him. It felt extremely surreal.
A year later, and my chapbook has been through many rounds of edits, and I've learned a TON in the process of putting it together. Best of all, there's a finished product that I'm really proud of, and you can actually order it and have it in your hands this May!
I'm lucky to have had amazing support with this project. The team at PANK has truly poured much effort and energy into making this little book the best it could be. I reached out to authors Timothy Willis Sanders and Lindsay Hunter, and they both took the time to read my work and came back with wonderful, thoughtful blurbs. My brother and Erynn helped me find photography for the cover (which was beautifully designed by Iona Escuardo at PANK). And of course, Brendan has obsessed with me (and with deep care) over every question I've brought to his attention during the editing process. I'm grateful that my work has received loving treatment from many people.
There's still a lot that this project has left to teach me. Sadly, I will be missing AWP this year and cannot read at PANK's event (my doctor does not want me flying that late into my pregnancy, though I hope you check out the reading if you're at AWP this year--Thursday, March 8th at Rialto Theatre in Tampa, FL at 9PM!) I will need to learn how to promote my own work and will hopefully schedule a reading (or readings) for this summer after baby girl arrives.
Here's the link where you can preorder my chapbook, which actually ships this May. The cost is $12 + $5 shipping, and your support would mean a ton to me. Please feel free to share the link: https://pankmagazine.com/shop/you-could-stop-it-here/ on your own social media pages and help me spread the word. Also, check out the books by Trace DePass (poetry), Maya Sonenberg (memoir), and Laura Buccieri (poetry).
It's been a long journey with this little book, and I'm at a loss for how to express my gratitude for the experience. Thank you to PANK, to writing, and always, always to those who read. I still think discovering and embracing our shared humanity through the page is one of the most revolutionary things we can do.