And the uterus and the American Dream goes to…

Categories: Uncategorized


I’m thrilled to share the news that my memoir has been acquired by Mark Doten at Soho Press for publication in Fall 2015.

Poor Your Soul is a muscular memoir about loss and self-preservation, grief and recovery, and the bewildering layover between youth and adulthood. In 2008, at age twenty-eight, I accidentally got pregnant, despite taking birth control pills and never missing a single dose. (I’m that .01 percent.) It wasn’t easy, but I embraced it. And even though we’d only known each other for three months, my boyfriend Andrew and I got engaged. Five months later, during the ultrasound that was to predict the sex of our baby, doctors found instead that our child had a constellation of birth defects and no change of survival outside my womb. I was given three choices: terminate the pregnancy, induce delivery, or do nothing and inevitably miscarry. I made the painful but necessary choice to have an abortion at 20 weeks.

Poor Your Soul simultaneously traces my mother’s immigration from Poland also at the age of twenty-eight, the adoption of her son Julian, his tragic death, and her reaction to the grief that followed. But the main narrative of Poor Your Soul centers around a bewildering experience of human sexuality that is as common as is it controversial. However, abortion continues to remain a taboo and undeveloped topic in the literary world, often avoided in publishing or shelved under “political” or “feminist” sections of the bookstore. This is not a good thing. And thank goodness for Soho Press. I believe the magnificence of my manuscript lies in how utterly personal and outside of politics my abortion is, and was, and I’m glad to have found an editor who feels the same way: that it is important that we don’t generalize the stories and situations of women who choose–or are forced to–have an abortion. I believe Poor Your Soul will add a much needed and meaningful dimension not only to literature, but to our understanding and acceptance of human sexuality, free will, and self-consciousness. Poor Your Soul isn’t just a story about abortion. It’s a memoir about the uterus and the American Dream. Empathy, people! Empathy! If you or anyone you know was birthed from a vagina, please read this book. I’ll let you know when you can order your copy.

publishers-weeklyOh! And dare I say that we’re already getting some buzz? Publisher’s Weekly’s lovely Rachel Deal gave us a shout-out the other week on Deahl’s Deals. Check it out by clicking HERE.




How to Tread Water, or My Writing Process (The Blog Tour!)

Categories: How I Write

Does everyone have their tickets, water bottles, and unnecessary safari hats and pants-that-zip-off-at-the-knees? Great! Because this is the next stop on the MY WRITING PROCESS Blog Tour that is making its way around the vast and wild tundras of the great world wide web. Thank you to the rap star (not rock star, rap star) and sweet friend author Courtney Maum (“I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You“) who asked me to participate in this wonderful tour. Next up/next week, we’ll have Allison Devers (Writers Houses), Heidi Sistare, and Kassi Underwood. Also known as three of my favorites.

1) What are you working on?
As of three days ago, I officially started a new nonfiction book project about Spiritualism in Maine and the women of Camp Etna. These two are subjects that blow my mind, with historical ties to the Women’s Suffrage and the Abolitionist movements. Clairvoyants among pine trees? It doesn’t get much better than that. And talk about women’s intuition. Spiritualism is the epitome of it.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
It differs because it has my perspective, which is heavily influenced by the accumulation of all my experiences.

3) Why do you write what you do?
Because it helps me figure out my place in the world, or make connections to reveal some kind of truth. And maybe this will help others figure out theirs.

4) How does your writing process work?
Since becoming a new mom I have to tread water–hold onto my ideas and inspirations until I have a second to myself to craft something that’s worthy of being shared. But I think good writing comes from clarity and a deep understanding, from sitting and letting things reveal themselves to you. I think good writing, or my best writing, comes from just patience with the story. Let the dots connect and let the rest fall off. That will make the story good and timeless. So I do a lot of research and meditating on the “ingredients”, and then I start sculpting. My words become a big hunk of clay on the screen and I slowly (or sometimes quickly) carve things out. I also listen to my body language. If something doesn’t work, I can tell because it just doesn’t feel right. I think the act of writing is more than just putting things on the page. Writing can be found everything I do, in sleeping and in brushing my teeth and in reading other people’s books, even in watching The Bachelorette. I think clues to the story I’m writing are everywhere.


Writer With Kids: My Come-to-Jesus with Cari Luna

Categories: How I Write

Being a mom is effing hard. It’s like holding an ice cream cone under the hot sun and having to lick it every three seconds before it drips onto your hand. For the rest of your life. But it’s also sweet and mindblowing and something I never can find the words to describe, nor will I ever figure it out. But I tried to put some of my feelings into words when asked by the wonderful Cari Luna, author of THE REVOLUTION EVERY DAY (Tin House Books) how I manage to be a mother and a writer. (Confession: I don’t manage. I Hail Mary.)

You can read the interview here: WRITERS WITH KIDS.





2014 Maine Literary Awards

Categories: Maine!


This is what your stroller looks like after you’ve just won a Maine Literary Award, then did a supermarket sweep, then found a parking spot and made it to the ferry with a minute to spare. (Note: my son was not under the groceries in this photo, but snoring and drooling on my shoulder while I took this picture.) If there’s one thing living in New York gave me, it was the earned skill of  carrying and doing and lugging everything all at once. What I wasn’t prepared for when I left Brooklyn and moved to Maine was the overwhelming kindness and welcome and support of the Maine Literary Community, and I didn’t even have to fight for their love! Maine, you’re the best. Now everyone go check out the Maine Publishers and Writers Alliance and/or send them chocolate chip cookies.


Roxana Robinson Sparta

Al Lamanda Sunrise

Mark D. Diehl Seventeen: Book One

Lincoln Paine The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World

Peter Korn Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

Christian Barter In Someone Else’s House

Lynn Plourde You’re Wearing THAT to School?!
(with illustrations by Sue Cornelison)

Maria Padian Out of Nowhere

Martha White E.B. White on Dogs

Reeser Manley & Marjorie Peronto New England Gardener’s Year

Elizabeth W. Garber & Michael Weymouth Maine (Island Time)

Deborah H. Gould

Mira Ptacin

Christopher Robley

Grace Whited

Toby Choyt

Tessa Holbrook

For exceptional and steadfast contributions to Maine’s Literary community
Bob Keyes

For placing as a finalist in Youth Fiction for 2012, 2013, 2014
Elysia Roorbach

Cherryfield Free Public Library



A Slice of Life

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Categories: New Works

front website
Happy January, everyone! No, I didn’t disappear. I had a baby, so everything else sort of fell by the wayside. But I’m back. Yes, this is my new and improved website. And yes, I’m still living in Maine. And yes, these are real. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So. What happened a few months ago when Slice Magazine asked me to write about “the unknown” as I was approaching the third trimester of my pregnancy? (Hint: the answer is not “hide under a rock.”) I’m super proud of what happened, both with my pregnancy (Theo Julian Ptacin-Jackson. Ten Pounds. Twenty-two inches. Pure joy.) as well as the essay I produced from Slice’s prompt. It’s entitled “Just a Moment” and you can read it HERE. Or better yet, you can listen to me read it to you by clicking on the very majestic tiger below!


THIS JUST IN: I’ll be moderating a memoir-writing panel at Slice’s 2014 Literary Writers’ Conference in September. The lineup will blow the roof off (and then apologize and quickly build an even better roof.) See conference website for details! TWO WORDS: Dani Shapiro!