Founder of pregnancy loss app hopes to provide comfort with release of candid memoir exploring grief

Bloomington, MNEmbark on a poignant journey through the pages of “When Skies Are Gray: A Grieving Mother’s Lullaby” (May 21, 2024, She Writes Press), a compelling memoir by psychotherapist Lindsey Henke. Lindsey is the visionary founder of Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS), a nonprofit offering crucial support for parents navigating pregnancy after a previous perinatal loss or infant death. Her writing has been featured on Huffington Post and New York Times and she has been interviewed by USA Today and Romper. Lindsey’s candid narrative intimately unfolds her heart-wrenching stillbirth journey and the subsequent grief that enveloped her world.

“It really does get better, but not in the way you think. Your life and heart grow bigger to hold both loss and love.”

Newlywed Lindsey joyously anticipates the arrival of her first child, only to be confronted by every parent’s worst nightmare: the devastating news of her baby’s silent heartbeat. The pages of “When Skies Are Gray” navigate Lindsey’s agonizing odyssey through loss, portraying the simultaneous dance of mourning and the anticipation of new life. This heartfelt memoir serves as a comforting companion for mothers worldwide who may be navigating their own path of grief.

Through Lindsey’s personal experience, the book delivers a poignant message: the pain of loss is undeniably real, but with time, the sharp ache of grief softens. Yet, the love for the child lost endures, offering solace to grieving mothers everywhere. In the tender pages of this memoir, Lindsey assures readers that it’s not only permissible but essential to embrace that enduring love—an everlasting lullaby that echoes the timeless truth: a mother’s love never dies.

“When Skies Are Gray: A Grieving Mother’s Lullaby”

Lindsey Henke | May 21, 2024 | She Writes Press | Memoir 

Paperback | 978-1-64742-630-9 | $17.95 

Kindle | B0C9HSZDP6 | $8.99

Advance Praise for “When Skies Are Gray”

“A poignant remembrance with therapeutic underpinnings.” 

—Kirkus Reviews

“Through When Skies Are Gray, Lindsey cracks wide open the stigma that parental grief and bereavement are topics avoided in the ‘mommy-verse.’ The reality is not every mother leaves the maternity ward with a healthy newborn. Not every birth story can be wrapped up in a perfect pink or blue bow. But through Lindsey’s words, you’ll find there is beauty in talking about the sad stories, too. Her love for her daughter Nora lives on through each and every page.”

—Jane Chertoff, former editor of Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine

“A compelling memoir about the loss of a baby and the love that lives on after death. Lindsey Henke brings beauty and lightness to even the darkest moments of a bereaved mother’s broken heart. If you are a bereaved mother, you will feel seen and comforted, and if you love a bereaved mother, you will gain a glimpse into her deep grief in this breathtaking book.”

—Anna Whiston-Donaldson, New York Times best-selling author of 

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Love and Loss

“Lindsey has turned her grief story into an exquisite and moving love story about being a bereaved mother yearning for what should have been while she learns to embrace what is. This poignant memoir contributes to the social movement of destigmatizing grief by reminding us that grief is just love.”

—Dr. Jessica Zucker, psychologist and author of I Had a Miscarriage: A Memoir, a Movement 

When Skies Are Gray is an essential memoir for bereaved parents. In this visceral and visual account, Lindsey Henke shares her experience of pregnancy, loss, and healing. She captures the duality of life, its joys and sorrows, in this authentic, lyrical, and heartfelt story. Sprinkled with wit and wisdom on every page, this honest memoir feels like coffee with a friend. When Skies Are Gray is an invaluable companion on the unpredictable path of motherhood.”

—Alexis Marie Chute, author of the award-winning memoir 

Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy After Loss

“This book is a must-read and a must-gift for anyone who has suffered loss or has loved someone who has. Lindsey’s words are so thoughtful, so poignant, so carefully placed on the page. She gently takes the reader by the hand and doesn’t just show them the way through grief, but walks with them. Lindsey, and her writing, are truly a gift.”

—Galit Breen, codirector of Listen to Your Mother Twin Cities

When Skies are Gray is a powerful story sharing the loss of a baby and the struggle of living on. Written with grace and vivid descriptions of the journey of the loss of Nora, Henke shares her climb back into a life that will never be the same alongside her continued bond and attachment to Nora. Although written mainly for bereaved parents, this book can provide helpful insight to health care providers’ understanding of parental grief. I am privileged to endorse this book.”

—Joann O’Leary, PhD, prenatal parent-infant specialist and author of Meeting the Needs of Parents Pregnant and Parenting After Loss

“Sincere, heartfelt, and real, Henke’s memoir is grief and love woven together, inextricably. Her wisely chosen and descriptive reflections belong to each bereaved parent, and all who support them.”

—Amy Wright Glenn, founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death and author of Holding Space

“Full of bravery, wisdom, and insight, When Skies Are Gray is a tender retelling of resilience. My heart ached and tears flowed as Lindsey welcomed me, as both a reader and a friend, into her invisible motherhood… While every reader may not know the loss of a child, Lindsey’s words offer something to us all.”

—Rachel Lewis, author of Unexpecting: Real Talk on Pregnancy Loss

“Deeply moving, When Skies Are Gray is a testament to the fierce power of a parent’s love—a force unbreakable even in death. A sterling new addition to the babyloss library, Lindsey Henke’s candid account of loss, despair, hope, and healing should be required reading for the newly bereft. Not to miss!”

—Samantha Durante Banerjee, founder and executive director of PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy

When Skies Are Gray comes from Lindsey’s unique viewpoint, grounded in her own experience as both a grieving mother and therapist whose knowledge couldn’t prepare her for the unfathomable loss she experienced… Bereaved parents reading this memoir and those who have not experienced this loss personally will find her story illuminating while also learning strategies for navigating life and pregnancy after loss.”

—Kiley Krekorian Hanish, founder of Return to Zero Center for Healing

Lindsey Henke is a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist specializing in the grief that accompanies life transitions. She founded Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS), a nonprofit for parents pregnant after a previous perinatal loss or infant death. Her writing has been featured TODAY, Pregnancy and Newborn magazine, Huffington Post and New York Times.

Lindsey lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where during winter she can be found with her nose in a book. The rest of the year she enjoys hiking with her two living children and husband. Find out more about her at her website.

Follow Lindsey on social media: 

Facebook: @LindseyMHenke | Instagram: @LindseyMHenke 

Pregnancy After Loss Support Instagram: @pregnancyafterlosssupport

In an interview, Lindsey can discuss:

  • How she navigated life after stillbirth grief, including learning that grief doesn’t go away, you just make room for it
  • Love and grief’s endurance and resilience when journeying back into pregnancy after baby loss
  • How to harness the power of writing for healing purposes
  • How to discover joy and illuminate life’s path after stillbirth loss
  • Ways to guide mothers who are navigating grief and loss, with compassion and insight

“I had learned grief was just love longing for its beloved—my keepsake for loving.”                              –Lindsey Henke, When Skies Are Gray: A Grieving Mother’s Lullaby

An Interview with

Lindsey Henke

1. How did you navigate the aftermath of your daughter’s stillbirth and find strength to endure?

What helped me the most during the aftermath of my daughter’s death was writing. Putting my pain onto paper and expressing my grief through words became the path toward healing for me. This was further bolstered by a supportive community of fellow bereaved parents. Additionally, I prioritized self-care by nurturing my grief, practicing self-compassion, and purposefully moving through the world at a slower pace in the days, weeks, and months following my loss. Seeking therapy was another crucial step in finding understanding and validation during this challenging time.

2. What guidance would you offer to parents facing a similar loss, based on your own experience?

I believe the most important part of grieving the death of a child as a bereaved parent is honoring the need to sustain the bonds of attachment and continuing the relationship with your child who died. This can be done by incorporating rituals that feel right for you and your family into your daily life, which serves as a form of connection to your child who passed away. These rituals help us, as bereaved parents, realize that our child will not be forgotten. For instance, lighting a candle on your child’s birthday, writing letters to them, or participating in acts of kindness in their honor, can assist in maintaining a connection that validates they did exist and that they do matter. Finding ways to continue this bond with your child who died is probably the most important way of tending to your grief as you move toward healing.

3. In what ways did the process of writing your memoir contribute to your personal healing journey?

Everyone’s path toward healing is different, and research indicates that expressing grief through creative outlets, aligned with an individual’s unique style of grieving, is one way of processing pain. For me, writing became that crucial outlet. It served not only as a means of expressing my grief but also allowed me to continue being Nora’s mom. On the page, I could still parent her daily as I wrote. Sharing her story with the world is my way of publicly proclaiming that I am still a mother, that I am still her mother.

4. What key message or insight do you aspire for readers to glean from the pages of your memoir?

It might sound cliche, but my biggest hope for my memoir is that it can help validate and acknowledge the pain of other bereaved parents, making them feel seen and understood in a world that often shies away from witnessing their suffering.

5. Can you share your post-loss journey and the transformative moments that led to finding peace and joy after the loss of your daughter?

The moment that transformed my mourning into post-trauma growth and, ultimately, acceptance occurred about five months after Nora’s stillbirth when I no longer perceived my grief as suffering. Instead, I began to view my grief as love for my daughter that will never die. This change in perspective was achieved by surrendering to my mourning—the crying fits, the physical ache in my empty arms, and the new normal that sucked. Surrendering to all of it created a shift, which helped me reach the conclusion that my grief is just love for my daughter—a keepsake for loving her. This realization of creating space for grief as love eventually resulted in creating space for joy to resurface in my life, too.

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Former U.S. intelligence officer and award-winning author pens latest book in The Able Archer series

Sarasota, FL–Following the success of his award-winning debut novel, “The Able Archers”–hailed as “a fast-paced ride” by author Jack Carr and “a revelatory thriller” by Kirkus Reviews–former U.S. intelligence officer Brian J. Morra is back with a thrilling sequel: “The Righteous Arrows” (Koehler Books, April 16, 2024).

In the hotly-anticipated second installment of The Able Archer series, readers reconnect with American Kevin Cattani and his older Soviet counterpart, Ivan Levchenko in the mid-1980s for a chilling Cold War saga of superpower confrontation. After Cattani barely escapes with his life from an East German bunker, he and Levchenko find themselves on opposite sides of the Soviet Union’s brutal war in Afghanistan, where Cattani supplies the Islamic resistance with advanced weapons to kill Russian troops. In facing new homegrown adversaries, both men question the roles they play in the deadly superpower duel. 

“The Righteous Arrows” is an electrifying story of risky competition and the enduring legacy of the global war on terror that will appeal to readers who love thrillers and dynamic historical fiction.

“The Righteous Arrows”

Brian J. Morra | April 16, 2024 | Koeler Books | Historical Fiction, Military Thriller 

Hardcover | ISBN: 979-8-88824-282-7 | $31.95

Paperback | ISBN: 979-8-88824-280-3 | $20.95

Ebook | ISBN: 979-8-88824-281-0 | $7.99

Praise for “The Able Archers”…

“Brian J. Morra is the master craftsman. ‘The Able Archers’ is brilliant.”

–Former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

A powerful reminder of the value of human judgment and the continuing peril posed by nuclear-armed powers.”

–Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense 2006-2011

“Possibly the most important book to be published this year.”

–General Bryan Doug Brown, United States Army (Retired), 7th Commander US Special Operations Command

A fast-paced ride through one of the worst crisis periods of the Cold War. . . . a terrifying yet factual story of how a few people prevented a global nuclear war. “

–Jack Carr, Former Navy SEAL Sniper, #1 New York Times Best-selling Author

“As compelling as it is informative and as entertaining as it is terrifying” 

–NY Journal of Books

“A revelatory thriller with edge-of-your-seat, end-of-the-world suspense.” 

–Kirkus Reviews

About the Author…

BRIAN J. MORRA: is a former U.S. intelligence officer and a retired senior aerospace executive. He helped lead the American intelligence team in Japan that uncovered the true story behind the Soviet Union’s shootdown of Korean Airlines flight 007 in September 1983. He also served on the Air Staff at the Pentagon while on active duty. As an aerospace executive he worked on many important national security programs. Morra earned a BA from William and Mary, an MPA from the University of Oklahoma, an MA in National Security Studies from Georgetown University, and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.  He is a senior fellow and member of the  Board of Regents of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank that specializes in how advanced technology influences  national security. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, the world’s preeminent think tank focused on air and space power in the 21st Century. He has provided commentary for CBS, Netflix and the BBC. His debut novel, “The Able Archers” won a National Indie Excellence Award for Military Fiction, and was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Learn more at: 

In an interview, Brian J. Morra can discuss:

  • How his experience as a U.S. intelligence officer informed his new career as a novelist
  • His experience as a consultant for Netflix’s “Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War”
  • The true story of how a few people prevented a global nuclear war in 1983, as portrayed in book 1
  • The true story of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, as portrayed in book 2
  • How the events from both books connect to foreign policy today

An Interview with

Brian J. Morra

1. How did your experience as a former U.S. intelligence officer prepare you for writing The Able Archer series? 

My books are based on my time as an intelligence officer.  So, my experience is of fundamental importance to the material in the series and to the development of the two main characters Kevin Cattani and Ivan Levchenko.

2. What was the research process like? How much of these novels are factual?

I rely first on my own memory and then attempt to validate or fix my memory through primary source material. These books are historical novels so I don’t feel a need to get everything precisely correct as one would do writing non-fiction; however I want my books to be ‘right’ on the main historical facts, so a fair amount of research is required. However, as a writer I do take certain liberties so that the action doesn’t lag for the reader.

3. In “The Able Archers,” Kevin Cattani and Ivan Levchenko work together to prevent a global nuclear crisis, whereas in “The Righteous Arrows,” they find themselves at odds with one another. What is the significance of their shifting relationship?

The relationship of Kevin Cattani and Ivan Levchenko is central to the story and it evolves and morphs over time. The two men are metaphors for the broader state of relations between Moscow and Washington and East and West, so the twists and turns of their friendship are crucial to them and to the entire saga.

4. How do the events of the 1980s, as depicted in books 1 and 2, relate to foreign policy today?

Same as it ever was, unfortunately. The relations between Moscow and Washington are as fraught today as they were in the 1980s. I think there is a direct correlation to the challenges we face today in Ukraine, the Middle East, and East Asia. A key difference with the 1980s is that we have more than one nuclear adversary to worry about today and the United States is relatively weaker now.

5. What’s next for you and The Able Archer series?

We are doing our best to get the limited TV series of “The Able Archers” launched. I will be appearing in the new Netflix documentary series this spring called “Turning Point: the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War.”  I am also preparing the third book in the series for publication next year; it is called “The Wallbreakers” and concerns the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall. I hope The Able Archers series provides a context for our policy makers to think about the long-term consequences of their actions. Mostly I am just having fun with it all and I hope my readers are, too!

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Hirsch Giovanni re-releases mid-century author Fritz Peters’ books, saving a pioneering queer author from obscurity

LOS ANGELES, CA – Hailed as “an undiscovered LGBTQ classic” (Matt Donnelly, Variety), Fritz Peters’ 1951 novel “Finistère” is getting a worldwide re-release in June 2024 from publishers Hirsch Giovanni. Despite being a bestseller in its time with over 350,000 copies sold, “Finistère” has largely fallen out of public consciousness. A pioneering work of queer literature, “Finistère” was one of the first to depict the tragedy of gay life as rooted in society’s rejection and misunderstanding of the Other rather than in the perceived immoral behavior of its protagonist.

In addition to being a trailblazing queer author, Fritz Peters was also acclaimed for his frank depiction of trauma relating to WWII military service and the medical response to treating PTSD in his 1949 book, “The World Next Door.”

In order to give Fritz Peters the recognition he deserves, Hirsch Giovanni is re-publishing five of his most revered literary works as well as working with director William Gazecki to develop a documentary centered on Fritz’s life and work.

“Fritz was a renowned writer who deserves to be known… his books are transcendent works of literature with unforgettable, sensitively rendered characters from riveting times and places.” 

– Alexandra Carbone, Managing Editor for Hirsch Giovanni’s Fritz Peters’ Collection

The Complete Fritz Peters Collection…

“The World Next Door”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Literary Fiction

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-12-8

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-13-5

Originally published in 1949, “The World Next Door” is a stream of consciousness account of a psychotic break from the perspective of a WWII veteran.

“Mr. Peters has done a thrilling piece of work, which this reader, once having begun it, could not put down.”  –Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize winner



Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Literary Fiction

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-08-1

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-09-8

Originally published in 1951, “Finistère” is Fritz Peters’ LGBTQ masterpiece. The book follows a young man who falls in love with his teacher.


“The Descent”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Literary Fiction

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-06-7

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-07-4

Originally published in 1952, “The Descent” is a vivid look at post-WWII America with observations on the battle of the sexes.



“Boyhood With Gurdjieff”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Nonfiction, Memoir

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-04-3 

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-05-0

Originally published in 1964, “Boyhood” explores Fritz’s relationship with the guru Gurdjieff during his troubled formative years.

“A real treasure… Not only is it full of amazing anecdotes, it is also full of wisdom. The wisdom of life.” –Henry Miller


“Gurdjieff Remembered”

Fritz Peters | June 4, 2024 | Hirsch Giovanni | Nonfiction, Memoir

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-957241-10-4

Ebook | ISBN: 978-1-957241-11-1

Originally published in 1971, “Gurdjieff Remembered” is a sequel to “Boyhood” taking place shortly after WWII.



Meet the Hirsch Giovanni team…

CHRISTOPHER ADAMS is a British-American playwright and screenwriter based in the UK. His plays include Cooked (Bread & Roses Theatre, 2015), Antigone (Actors of Dionysus, 2017), and Tumulus (VAULT, 2018 | Soho Theatre, 2019). He currently has a television project in development with FilmNation and a film project in development with Hirsch Giovanni.

Christopher was a member of the Royal Court Theatre’s Young Writers Programme (2011) and Studio Writers Group (2013), the Arcola Theatre’s writing group (2015), and the Orange Tree Collective (2015-2016). His full-length and short plays have been performed in London, Birmingham, Dublin, and Shanghai. His plays Lynchburg (2013) and Haunts (2015) were long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize.

In his academic life, Christopher holds a PhD in mid-twentieth century queer publishing history from the Institute of English Studies, University of London. He is a co-editor of The Collected Works of John Ford: Volumes II & III (OUP). He teaches on the ‘Introduction to the Principles of Descriptive Bibliography’ course at Rare Book School (University of Virginia), and has written on John Ford for the Globe Theatre. He is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar.  

ALEXANDRA CARBONE is a graduate of Haverford College. She is Creative Executive at Hirsch Giovanni Entertainment, where she is documentarian for Unapologetically Fritz, and managing editor for the Fritz Peters Collection.

Follow Hirsch Giovanni online:

Web: | Instagram: @hirschgiovanni

In an interview, managing editor Alexandra Carbone can discuss:

  • The art of re-releasing classic books for a contemporary audience
  • The strides that Fritz Peters made as an early pioneer of queer literature
  • How PTSD influenced Fritz’s life and what revelations he made about mental illness in his books
  • Who Gurdjieff was, what he believed, and why he was so influential to Fritz
  • The process of creating a documentary centered around Fritz’s life and what has been most surprising to learn thus far

An Interview with

Alexandra Carbone

1. What drew you to Fritz’s work, and why do you think his books will resonate with contemporary readers?

Fritz was a remarkable writer with a perceptive, authentic voice. Between his life experiences in WW2, childhood spent in the lap of spiritual and literary visionaries, struggles with mental illness, and identity as a queer writer, he has a unique perspective that he communicated with a remarkable clarity and depth. The characters in his books, from a troubled WW2 veteran locked in a VA mental ward, to a dangerously misunderstood gay teen in 1920s France, to himself, as a boy, being raised by his mentor Gurdjieff, are profoundly and touchingly presented. It is compelling literature that did not make it into the canon, and we are rectifying that.

2. What strides did Fritz make as a gay writer publishing books pre-Stonewall?

Fritz wrote “Finistère,” a gay bestseller in 1951. It was remarkable in its unapologetic portrayal of a gay teen driven to drastic acts by a family and society who judged and discriminated against him. It frankly asks how someone discovering their homosexuality can come-of-age in a society that has no place for a gay adult to love, or even freely exist. It’s a remarkable novel that happens to be a gay novel. As such, it spoke both to gay readers of the time, who had little access to such material, and for gay people of the time, who were often judged as perverse or ill. It is a highly personal and sensitive account, vulnerable and profound.

3. Can you tell us about Gurdjieff, who he was, and why he was so influential to Fritz?

Gurdjieff was a renowned guru and spiritual leader, who believed that if the east and west did not learn from each other, humanity would destroy itself. Born in Armenia in 1866, his life spanned till the mid 20th century, in which time he studied with many different esoteric groups throughout the middle east and Tibet. When Fritz’s parents divorced and his mother had a nervous breakdown in the early 1920s, he and his brother Tom were sent to Gurdjieff’s school in Fontainebleau France, by his aunt Margaret Anderson and her lover Jane Heap. They were publishers of The Little Review, in Gertrude Stein’s salon circle, and Gurdjieff followers. Fritz’s stay there is the subject of his book, “Boyhood with Gurdjieff.” Gurdjieff’s school was not a boarding school for children, it was more of a spiritual community, and Fritz, with his interest in psychology and human behavior, became Gurdjieff’s assistant, cleaning his room and helping care for him after an illness. Gurdjieff became a father figure for Fritz, and he was raised so closely by him at such a sensitive time that the lessons and philosophy he taught him, in a very hands-on way, would resonate for the rest of Fritz’s life and in his writing. Gurdjieff also, mischievously, named Fritz his “True Son” and rightful heir to his wisdom. This gave Fritz a certain contested, controversial status in the community–a mantle that Fritz struggled with for the rest of his life.

4. How did WWII affect Fritz, and what important revelations about PTSD and mental illness did he make in his books?

Fritz was a sensitive youth anyway, and spending time in enemy fire highly traumatized him. As he recounts in “Gurdjieff Remembered,” this was mainly because he had a few experiences where he was the only one who survived a strafing or bombing. He was drafted in the last few years of the war, and when he got out went almost straight into a VA hospital in the midst of a psychotic break. This experience was the subject of his first novel, “The World Next Door.” This book is remarkable for its stream-of-consciousness style, written from the point of view of a severely mentally ill patient. As such, many in the medical field found it a useful book, to be able to see things from a patient’s perspective. He also subscribes to the school of “a breakdown is a breakthrough” and feels that he gained some wisdom from experiencing that fractured state.

5. What is the documentary process like, and what have you learned so far?

We have interviewed people who knew Fritz and experts who were fans of his work. We have learned intimate details about his character and background, and have validated the assertion that his work was all highly autobiographical. Fritz’s life and work are highly intertwined, lending his writing the validity and freshness of truth. It’s also been sad but interesting to learn how he ultimately succumbed to his demons, essentially drinking himself to death, despite providing us with some impeccable writing especially when he was younger. The volatility in his youth – which included some shocking instances of abandonment, physical abuse, and even incest – surely account for this sad outcome, setting him up with obstacles he would only ever temporarily overcome. Fritz was somehow more human than most people, in every sense, in his strengths and weaknesses, powers and failings.

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Gripping coming-of-age novel asks: What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

“Silver’s unusual perspective and wide range of material are enough to make this a memorably offbeat debut. So is the palpable struggle that he captures on the page.”

New York Times, for “Backward-Facing Man” (HarperCollins, 2005)

ASHEVILLE, NC –Celebrated for his “complex, beautifully turned-out thriller” debut (Publishers Weekly), Don Silver is back on the literary scene with “Scorched” (Holloway Press, May 7, 2024), a portrait of a young man’s coming-of-age and a gripping look at what happens when he tries–and fails–to outrun his past.

When 14-year-old Jonas Shore’s father unexpectedly dies of a heart attack, he tries to support himself and his mother by selling weed and tranquilizers at parties. After a short, successful run, he’s busted and sent to a boarding school for fatherless boys. 

At Lafayette Academy, Jonas and his four roommates vow to have each others’ backs for life, but that promise is broken the weekend before graduation when they’re drawn into a violent encounter that results in a man’s death. Twenty years later, when one of his old roommates shows up unannounced, Jonas is forced to confront his complicated past once and for all.


Don Silver | May 7, 2024 | Holloway Press | Literary Fiction

Paperback | 978-09857673-2-7 | $12.99 

Ebook | 978-09857673-3-4 | $6.99

Praise for Don Silver’s “Backward-Facing Man”…

“an illuminating and entertaining book about the notion of idealism”

Pittsburgh Tribune

“A dark elegy for ’60s campus radicalism and its turn toward violence in the years that followed, Silver’s debut novel is a complex, beautifully turned-out thriller… The plot has real bite”

Publishers Weekly

Gritty and intense… has that caught-breath momentum that keeps the reader in for another page, another page, another page, right to the finish.”

Sven Birkerts, author of “The Other Walk” and “The Gutenberg Elegies”

About the Author…

DON SILVER has been a musician, talent scout for a record company, record producer, business person, and consultant to CEOs. He has an MFA from Bennington College. His first novel, “Backward-Facing Man,” published by Ecco/HarperCollins, was hailed as “memorably offbeat” (New York Times) and “illuminating and entertaining” (Pittsburgh Tribune) and was described as having “real bite” (Publishers Weekly). His second novel, “Scorched,” will be released in May 2024. Originally from Philadelphia, Don lives in Asheville, NC. Learn more at


In an interview, Don Silver can discuss:

  • What inspired him to write “Scorched,” a gripping coming-of-age story
  • His writing process, including his tips for fellow writers
  • How he blended elements of a thriller within a literary novel to create an edge-of-your seat read with great emotional depth
  • How family dynamics shape a person’s decisions and identity
  • Whether or not anyone can truly outrun their past
  • What he hopes readers take away from the book

An Interview with Don Silver

1. What inspired you to write “Scorched”? 

I had a buddy whose father died when he was thirteen. I remembered the effect this had on him into middle age and wondered what it would be like to lose a parent at that age if you had a lot of anger toward them. I started getting a picture of a character, then decided to set it in the 1970s when I was that age. The story unspooled from there. 

2. What’s your writing process like?

When I write, it’s 7 days a week. When I take more than a day off, I tend to lose connection to my characters and it’s harder to intuit dialogue and know what happens next. Early on in “Scorched,” I became a full-time single parent of a seven-year-old, so I learned to focus for short periods of time, sometimes only an hour or two. 

3. “Scorched” is undoubtedly a literary novel, and yet it has a gripping, propulsive ending as Jonas’ dark past finally catches up with him. What do you hope to achieve by blending literary and thriller techniques?

I’m interested in characters and the experiences of life, but I love a good thriller with high stakes and deadlines. In “Scorched,” I started exploring my main character during times of stress. By the middle of the book, he and his friends had gotten themselves in enough trouble to pick the pace up quite a bit. 

4. Family dynamics seem to play an important role in “Scorched.” In the book, how do family dynamics influence how the characters see themselves and the decisions they make?

“Scorched” begins with a teenager who has a complicated relationship with a parent. By late adolescence, he manifests a mental illness which, though not entirely understood, is thought to be genetic. How he deals with these issues in middle age, how it affects his friends, family and co-workers is one thing that drives the plot. 

5. Can anyone truly outrun their past?

Like all of us, the characters in “Scorched” experience the past in a few different ways. Their temperaments and circumstances of their early lives drive their behavior. Things they say and do that have consequences going forward. And the way they reflect and make meaning out of their personal histories. I think this last aspect of the past can be reshaped. 

6. What reaction do you hope to get from readers?

I like when I relate with a character and what happens in a book and lose myself in the experience of reading. “Scorched” is a window into the past. Specifically, what it was like being a certain type of kid in the U.S. in the 1970s. 

7. What’s next for you?

Over the years I’ve written characters that are adjacent to me, but not me, in that they don’t think, say, or do things I would do. I might try a novel set nearer to where I live in western NC, with a character that’s more like I am but in a made-up situation. 

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Climate industry veteran’s debut novel is “Captain Planet” for the next generation

Inspire kids to protect the planet with “climate-fighters” superhero series  

Ontario, Canada – After working in the climate-tech industry for the past fifteen years, debut author Aaron Arsenault is excited to inspire readers ages 9-12 to combat climate change. His climate fiction novel, “The Climate Diaries, Book One: The Academy” (FriesenPress, April 22, 2024) takes readers on an eco-adventure with troublemaker Jax Wilkinson, who is recruited by a top secret organization dedicated to preparing the next generation of climate-fighters. 

As global temperatures skyrocket, a two-degree rise becomes unavoidable. Is the next generation up to the challenge? The Climate Action Taskforce (CAT) is dedicated to solving the climate crisis, and about more than just predicting the next superstorm- they are safeguarding the future of humanity. When the CAT Founder mysteriously disappears, it is a race against time to recruit ‘future Elon’s’ – now!

For 11-year-old genius Jax, fighting back against bullies has cost him big time. Having pulled his last prank, he’s given an impossible choice when the authorities get involved. With no screens, no contact with the outside world–and no second chances, can Jax make the cut? Joining forces with teammates Grace, August, and Kylie, Team 19 must learn to work together to hack it at the Academy–and to survive a climate disaster beyond their wildest fears.

“The Climate Diaries: Book One: The Academy”

 Aaron Arsenault | April 22, 2024 | Borrowed Planet Press | Middle Grade

Aaron Arsenault is a citizen of Mother Earth, a climate-tech industry veteran, and a concerned dad. His passion for the environment coupled with a lack of inspirational material for young readers on the topic influenced him to become a writer of middle grade climate fiction. When he’s not writing, Aaron enjoys the outdoors, playing guitar, painting, and planning his next adventure. Aaron studied children’s writing and illustration as a postgraduate at the University of Toronto. He lives with his family and a goofy goldendoodle in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Find out more about him at his website:

Follow Aaron Arsenault on social media:

Instagram: @aaron_arsenault_


In an interview, Aaron Arsenault can discuss:

  • His 15 years in climate technologies, including working for some of the leading organizations in the industry
  • The reality of climate change and how it affects us daily, and the importance of climate fiction as a genre
  • His passion for preparing future generations for the climate crisis, including his own children
  • Why he wrote for middle grade, and how he made the topic inspiring and entertaining 
  • Specific steps young people can take right now to influence the climate crisis

An Interview with

Aaron Arsenault

1. How has your previous career in climate-tech inspired your writing?

After spending 15 years in climate-tech working with several leading organizations I learned the movement toward sustainable technologies isn’t just to influence emissions, carbon footprints and bottom lines- it’s to influence values, beliefs and ultimately, human behavior. 

We’re now at a time when we can choose- choose to continue doing things the way they’ve always been, or, choose to embrace a little discomfort, and do them a bit differently, knowing that the end that new habits will form and that results will make it all worthwhile. 

That’s essentially what we’re selling with the sustainability movement- but experience has taught me- for many adults without muscle memory, it can be a tough sell… For kids however, not so much!  

In our information-centric world, I think kids today are looking for meaning and answers more than ever before. So it’s vital that those of us who are in a position to do so do all we can to inspire kids. The next generation must be convinced that life will only continue to get better, not worse. If we fail at that, I think we fail as parents.

Even ten years ago, ‘eco-anxiety’ or ‘climate-doom’ were not household terms like they are today. Our kids are more distracted and disconnected from nature than ever before. They’re desperately seeking positive messages to anchor them and provide a sense of purpose as they embark on their journeys. My hope is that this series, in whatever way possible, will help instill the courage they need to take those first steps.

2. How do you hope this inspires the future generation to act, including your own children?

Current and future generations will be presented with choices that my generation never was. Learning to be ‘good citizens’ when I was a kid meant not being a litterbug. Today, it’s about so much more than that- far more than recycling or buying an electric family car. 

I really think the best thing we can do is teach our kids about the big picture. Too much happens ‘somewhere else’.  In the west, many municipalities ship waste products to the far side of the world. We buy things that were not made in sustainable ways, because they’re inexpensive and convenient. Other countries bear the brunt of those choices and are locked in a cycle of poverty in service of the west.  When that happens our blinders stay on.  

The beauty of the internet and social media is that they are insanely powerful tools for creating awareness… and kids are aware! They see the man behind the curtain- and they want answers.  

The aim of the Climate Diaries series is to dig into big picture thinking so kids gain an appreciation of the impacts of human behavior outside of their town, city or national borders. Our Climate Diaries crew will be quite well traveled by the end of this series- I can assure readers of that! 

I think once Kids fully understand the broader perspective and how it shapes society, government and business that they will ask more meaningful questions and eventually apply that knowledge to make more thoughtful and inclusive decisions as the future leaders of our world. 

Every choice counts, in one way or another. We’ll either pivot forward, or stay stuck. One day our kids will inherit the Earth, until its time to turn it over to their kids. 

3. How did you work to make this middle grade book not only educational, but also entertaining and inspiring to kids?

As a kid with ADHD who struggled as a young reader, I gravitated to books with pictures. My all time favorites were (and still are!) Roald Dahl books. Not just because the stories were so entertaining, but especially because of Quentin Blake’s incredible illustrations! The hilarity of Roald Dahl’s writing and the absurd situations he constructed kept me reading and laughing until I got to the next illustration. Before I knew it I was reading whole books. It set me on a journey as a young reader that I never forgot. I swore that if I ever wrote a novel for kids that it would be super approachable- especially to those  young readers who might be struggling to keep up. 

That said, I also set out to educate kids- not just to give them some perspective on the climate crisis, but as you’ll see in the book to provide many teachable ‘vignettes’ that teachers can expand on, should they choose, related to climate science, agriculture, technology, sustainable energy, and just about any other relevant bits I could cram in! The teacher’s guide on my website should help tease those out even more. 

While the book and the series will definitely have its fair share of humor and even an absurd scene now and then, I strongly believe that it’s time to start putting more meaningful content in front of our kids. We have an entire generation now growing up on fantasy and fart books. I set out to weave in a bit more substance. Hopefully it works for young readers.

4. What are some specific steps that young people can take right now to influence the climate crisis?

As I say in the Author’s Note at the back of the book, I think we need kids to start asking a lot more questions of their world. It starts with the way we buy stuff. Understanding the basics of a carbon footprint. Considering what we buy at the grocery store and how it got there. Digging deeper and using the internet as a tool – to look up people, companies and governments and hold them to account on their promises. I also think kids have forgotten how to dream because their imaginations are being overridden by social media reels, gaming and chat platforms. Unplugging and spending time brainstorming to engage their imaginations is probably the most important thing a kid can do these days. We are losing touch with some basic human competencies that are troubling. Dreaming big dreams is what makes a kid a kid! 

Of course, there are plenty of things kids can do to get their hands dirty. They can start their own ‘Climate Action Task Forces’ – in their homes, their schools and their communities. Community clean ups, upcycling drives, walk-a-thons to and from school, are just a few ideas on ways kids can get involved for little to no cost. 

5. What are your future plans for this climate fiction series? Can we expect more from Jax and friends?

Absolutely! Since I am currently an indie author my hope is that we sell enough books to at least cover the publishing costs. Like most authors, it’s my dream to leave the 9-5 world and do this full-time. To the extent I can do that, I’ll write more books, faster.  Ideally, I hope to publish a new volume at least every 12-18 months- maybe a bit quicker if a few stars align! 

Since there is an arc emerging that will require some degree of specificity on the number of books, I’ll have to figure that part out sooner than later- but as of right now, I’m not sure yet exactly how many volumes there will be in total, but definitely quite a few more!  

One thing is for certain- there will DEFINITELY be Book Two; I’ve already written the first draft- I can’t wait to deliver the conclusion to Book One! 🙂

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Woman abandons reality in Persuasion-inspired romance

Dream-induced sci-fi twist spins the classic story of second chances

SAN FRANCISCO, CA– Dream a little dream of better days gone by in this speculative contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion. The States (self-published, Apr 30, 2024) by Norah Woodsey introduces young Tildy Sullivan, who enters a sleep-study allowing her to lucidly dream of summers in Ireland and the boy she was forced to leave behind.

From the acclaimed author of The Control Problem and Lifeless, Norah Woodsey offers a fresh twist on the beloved classic. Four years in the making, this novel was first drafted during NaNoWriMo 2020. Focusing on her love for Jane Austen and inspired by Galway, Ireland. Woodsey reinterprets Anne as a young contemporary woman faced with the harsh realities of her family’s situation and the desire to escape into a dream world.

Tildy Sullivan is the middle child in an elite yet fading Manhattan family. Her quiet practicality hides her deep, profound longing for childhood summers in western Ireland. She also carries a secret regret. After her mother’s death, she’s persuaded to abandon Ireland and the love of the local boy, Aiden.

When Tildy volunteers for a lucid dreaming experiment, it gives her all she wants – a life lived for her family during the day and a secret, perfect Ireland of her own at night. Will she face reality, or succumb to the ease of her dreams? 

THE STATES is a modern reimagining of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a story of love, obligation, and second chances. 

“The States”

Norah Woodsey | April 30, 2024 | Speculative Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Ebook | 9798988445708 | $9.99

Paperback | 9798988445708 | $15

NORAH WOODSEY is the author of The States, The Control Problem, Lifeless, and the novella When the Wave Collapses. After short careers in finance and tech, she has dedicated herself to creating fiction. Her subjects of intense interest but not quite expertise include history, physics, genetics, sociology and gender studies. The product of four generations of Brooklynites,“she now lives in California with her husband, children and their dog Saoirse. Find out more about her at

Follow Norah Woodsey on social media:

Instagram: @nwoodsey | BlueSky:



In an interview, Norah Woodsey can discuss:

  • Her process for reimagining the classic story Persuasion and making it her own
  • How Jane Austen inspired her writing and how she modernizes her story for a fresh audience
  • Her journey writing this novel–from its original NaNoWriMo draft in 2020 to a published version in 2024
  • The similarities she has with Tildy’s struggle to connect with her Irish heritage as an American and its themes throughout the story
  • How finding happiness through nostalgia keeps Tildy moving forward despite reality
  • Why she chose to self-publish all of her books
  • How she transitioned from writing hard science fiction to a softer romance story

Advanced Praise for The States

“…the novel casts a definite spell over the reader, who can’t help but be drawn into Tildy’s fantasies. It’s a triple escape, after all: into a dream, over the sea, to the arms of a lost love.”

-Kirkus Reviews

“A contemporary reimagining of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this lovely novel from Woodsey (author of When the Wave Collapses) is rich in romance, fantasy, and a tender yearning to make the best of a do-over.”

-PW’s BookLife Reviews

”The novel is clever in its explorations of escapism and wish fulfillment. Despite the allure of dreaming, Tildy’s knowledge that real longings demand real actions also results in pain.” 

-Foreword Clarion Reviews

“Any Janeite will recognize Norah Woodsey’s THE STATES by the first chapter as a modern retelling of Miss Austen’s Persuasion…while the foundation of the story is indeed based on that great novel, this author has really thought about the necessary changes a modern context implies for her heroine’s life.”

-IndieReader Review

An Interview with

Norah Woodsey

1. Did The States originate as a reimagining of Persuasion or did that happen later in your writing process? 

Initially, the story began as a NaNoWriMo in the depths of lockdown. Years later, I took a look at what I had written and realized there was hardly any conflict, and what little there was looked a lot like Persuasion, my favorite Jane Austen novel. I think we all felt the longing Anne Elliot feels in that story during 2020 – a world was lost to us and connections were left incomplete. 

2. Why Persuasion? What drew you to that story and its characters?

For me, Jane Austen’s last completed novel is her most accessible. We all have paths untaken, that we look back on with complicated emotions. While Elizabeth Bennett is a heroine in the truest sense, Emma is wealthy and beautiful and admired, the Dashwoods are delightful women in complicated circumstances, etc, Anne Elliot must evolve to achieve her happiness. She has to escape a prison of her obligations, ones that no one evidently feels towards her. I also wanted to explore her mother, the absent heart of Persuasion who is often the unspoken center of Anne’s choices, though she herself is never really described in any detail. 

3. You have discussed that some of the dialogue you wrote was inspired by conversations between your grandmother and her cousin, Caitlín Maude. Can you tell us more about this?

Growing up, my grandmother told me about her visits to family in Ros Moc, a village in Connemara where my grandmother’s family came from. She specifically told me about one cousin, a fierce intellectual whose anger gave her comfort in the aftermath of my uncle’s death, a young man drafted in the Vietnam War. I knew of Caitlín’s accomplishments and how she reportedly resented speaking in English to my ignorant family members, but like a lot of grandchildren I didn’t really look her up until after my grandmother had passed away. Caitlín Maude was a poet, sean-nós singer, anti-war activist who died far too young. Her poetry and interviews are really stunning. My grandmother mourned her, the loss of what she had to teach those around her, as different as they were. 

4. The States began as a draft during NaNoWriMo. What was your journey of taking your book all the way to publication like?

The first thing I did was buy another copy of Persuasion, not a sacrifice in the least! I read the novel as a writer, noting how each character’s motivations were revealed, what moments would pose a challenge in a modernization. I also listened to the audiobook several times, which helped give me a feel for the flow of the overall story structure. Then, I rewrote the original NaNoWriMo. Many scenes that I adored were cut, others changed beyond recognition, the order shuffled. The original had very little conflict, few obstacles, and hardly any tension, unlike Persuasion. That said, I feel as though the heart of the original and The States are the same. Longing and regret can tempt you into accepting misery, but overcoming that impulse is a great hero’s journey. 

5. How has your experience of feeling like an “outsider” to the Irish language influenced your writing?

One of my earliest memories is going to a family reunion in Brooklyn and hearing older relatives sitting around a beat up circular table, leaning back in metal folding chairs and speaking to one another in Irish. I don’t know what they were saying. There was a wall between the generations built of this language that no one had bothered to teach us. It’s weird to have Irish citizenship without knowing the language, particularly when family not far removed from me have dedicated their lives to saving the language from oblivion. So I knew if I ever wrote a book set in Ireland, there would have to be Irish in it. I hired an amazing translator, Andrea Brown, to get the passages correct. I made sure to include some words I remember the most vividly, such as ‘sutach’ – a hearty baby boy, something I heard a lot when my brothers were around, and amadán, a fool or idiot. That one I heard a lot, too!

I tried to use the language in the story as close to my own experience with it, but also in a way that is likely more familiar to first generation Americans whose parents came from a non-English speaking country. Tildy rarely uses the language when she speaks, but she understands it, most of the time. I felt like that could best represent her own relationship with the country and the past she wishes to return to – a sense of partial belonging that is frustratingly incomplete. 

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Shaman’s poetry collection explores disability and the Ifá religion from a woman’s point of view

San Francisco, CAWhen I have wandered long enough what am I still beholden to? 

Ifá. Nature. Illness. Love. Loss. Misogyny. Aging. Africa. Our wounded planet. In this sweeping yet intensely personal collection, Lauren Martin tells the untold stories of the marginalized, the abused, the ill, the disabled—the different. Inspired by her life’s experiences, including the isolation she has suffered as a result both of living with chronic illness and having devoted herself to a religion outside of the mainstream, these poems explore with raw vulnerability and unflinching honesty what it is to live apart—even as one yearns for connection.

But Night of the Hawk is no lament; it is powerful, reverential, sometimes humorous, often defiant—“Oh heat me and fill me / I rise above lines”—and full of wisdom. Visceral and stirring, the poems in this collection touch on vastly disparate subjects but are ultimately unified in a singular quest: to inspire those who read them toward kindness, compassion, and questioning.

“Intimate and political…contemplative and strong” –Kirkus Reviews

“Night of the Hawk”

Lauren Martin | May 14, 2024 | She Writes Press | Poetry

Paperback | ISBN: 978-1-64742-658-3 | $17.95

“The poems gathered here address themes of survival, chronic illness, shamanism, and feminism against the backdrop of daily life. . . . The diversity of experience examined makes for a collection that is both full and human. A whole life in one volume.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Night of the Hawk is a luminous and numinous collection about women and men, about betrayal and forbearance, about endurance, death, and art, and, most essentially, about the search for a sacred path through life. There is so much love in these poems”

–Michael Laurence, award-winning playwright

“Lauren’s poems drop into your psyche and ripple outward, echoing in the moments of life. Their beauty haunts.” 

–Sallie Ann Glassman, Head Manbo Asogwe of La Source Ancienne Ounfo

LAUREN MARTIN is a psychotherapist, poet, and a devoted Ìyânífá of Tunisian heritage and of Sephardic/Mizrahi descent. She lives in Oakland, California. Lauren studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She spent years writing without submitting her work due to a long shamanic journey, which led her to both Ifá, and to the writing of this collection of poems. Learn more at: 





In an interview, Lauren Martin can discuss:

  • Her perspective as a woman aging in contemporary culture
  • The importance of nature in Ifá and in her poems
  • Writing about disability and chronic illness
  • How her poems, which often reflect on the inhospitable world around us, ultimately call readers to compassion and questioning

An Interview with

Lauren Martin

1. What was your shamanic journey like?

That’s a tough question and one that is incredibly difficult to distill into a few sentences. Like most truly shamanic journeys, it was arduous and unpredictable. My journey meant that I was constantly negotiating my relationship to the dead.

2. What would you like others to know about Yoruba culture and the Ifá religion?

Ifá is considered the root of all religions and there are seeds of Ifá in many organized religions. Ifá has the pitfalls of other religions but the spirits of nature exist outside of human control and are available to all of us. 

3. How does Ifá influence your poetry?

Ifá is the prism through which I understand the world. The Òrìsà are my deepest relationships with whom I feel profound resonance. Those concepts of reverence towards the natural world as representations of God, manifest organically in my work.

4. What is your writing process like?

I am a medium and more often than not, I dream my poems. I wake and they are with me. I don’t do many rewrites and perceive them as gifts.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from this collection?

An openness to difference and kindness in the face of the disabled, the strange and the unfamiliar. Reverence towards nature and eldership.

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Moth StorySLAM winner’s memoir honors dogs’ positive impact on wellbeing, mental health

NEW YORK – If you’ve ever known and loved a dog, it’s not hard to understand why they’re dubbed “[human’s] best friend.” But they’re often so much more – our confidants, our teachers and even our healers. In her new book, “Mattie, Milo, and Me” (She Writes Press, April 23, 2024), author Anne Abel shares the central role her dogs played in her healing journey.

Anne grew up in an abusive home, leading to severe depression and a determination to do better as a mother. One of her sons wants a dog from the time he is a baby; Anne very much does not. For years she appeases him with creatures who live in cages and tanks, but on his tenth birthday she can no longer say no — and she proceeds to fall in love with their new four-legged family member, Mattie. When Mattie dies a sudden and tragic death, Anne begins to sink back into depression. 

Trying to cope, she immediately adopts Milo, a dog who, unbeknownst to her, has already been returned to the rescue by several families due to his aggressive behavior. But even after Anne realizes Milo is dangerous, she’s committed to trying to give him a chance at a good life.

Anne’s journey takes the reader from dog school into the deep woods as she perseveres with Milo’s lifelong rehabilitation and her unwavering efforts to be a good mother to her sons. Working with Milo strengthens Anne and expands her ability to love. Ten years later, when Milo dies, Anne faces another choice: close the door to that part of her heart, or risk loving another dog after two tragic losses?

“Mattie, Milo, and Me”

Anne Abel | April 23, 2024 | She Writes Press | Memoir 

Paperback | ISBN 978-1-64742-622-4 | $17.95 

Ebook | ISBN 978-1-64742-623-1 | $8.99

Anne Abel is the author of “Mattie, Milo, and Me” (She Writes Press, April 23, 2024). Her story about unwittingly rescuing an aggressive dog, Milo, won a Moth StorySLAM in New York City. She has won two additional Moth StorySLAMs in Chicago. Her credentials include an MFA from The New School for Social Research, an MBA from the University of Chicago, and a BS in chemical engineering from Tufts University. She has freelanced for Lilith; Philadelphia Daily News; The Jewish Exponent; Philadelphia Weekly, Main Line Life and Main Line Today, and formerly wrote a weekly column, “The Homefront,” for Main Line Welcomat. She also taught English and creative writing at the Community College of Philadelphia. Anne lives in New York City with her husband, Andy, and their three rescue dogs, Ryan, Megan, and Chase. She grew up outside Boston, MA. Find out more about her at

Follow Anne Abel on social media:

Facebook: @anne.abel4 | Twitter: @annesimaabel 

Instagram: @annesimaabel  

TikTok: @annesimaabel  | Threads: @annesimaabel

Praise for “Mattie, Milo, and Me” by Anne Abel

“… a certain kind of pet lover, looking for a comforting reminder of the powerful bond that can occur between animals and humans, may finish this book teary-eyed.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“Mattie, Milo and Me is a warm memoir about a woman’s connection to—and transformation because of—her dog.”

— Foreword Reviews

“Abel debuts with a heart-warming memoir spotlighting the intense bond between dogs and their owners. . . . Animal lovers will relish the central role that Abel’s pets play in her wellbeing throughout the narrative.”

— BookLife

“A moving and fearless exploration of resilience, atonement, and the healing power of the link between people and their furry companions. Abel’s writing is both introspective and heart-wrenchingly honest.”

– The Book Revue

“Mattie, Milo, and Me began as the winning story at a Moth StorySLAM in NYC. The story of Anne and her dog Milo captured the hearts of the audience. She wrote this memoir to answer the many questions posed by people who wanted to know more. This is one of those books you won’t want to put down, but also one you won’t want to finish.”

— Inga Glodowski, The Moth

“I love Mattie, Milo, and Me. It had me laughing out loud—yet it’s so touching that it had me in tears, too. This book is brilliant. Anne’s joys and struggles are relatable. I learned a lot. I highly recommend Mattie, Milo, and Me.”

— Natalie Aronow, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

“Mattie, Milo, and Me is a beautifully written book. This memoir takes you on an emotional ride. You’ll laugh, cry, and want to hug a dog by the end. A must-read.”

                             — Gary and Allie Vider, Metro Pets NYC

In an interview, Anne Abel can discuss:

  • How pets can become essential companions in healing journeys, offering unconditional love and support
  • The intimate and emotional stories of Mattie and Milo, and how these two special dogs helped her navigate grief and depression
  • The complexities of adopting pets with undisclosed behavioral issues, highlighting the compassion and commitment required to nurture their well-being
  • The profound influence of her challenging childhood on her storytelling, exploring how parental dynamics shaped her voice and narrative style
  • Life lessons of love, loss, resilience and personal growth
  • The transformative power of storytelling in connecting with others, finding laughter and creating a sense of community. Plus, the pivotal role that storytelling played in her life upon moving to Chicago and later to New York City 

An Interview with

Anne Abel

Tell us about your life before Mattie and Milo entered the picture.

My life before Mattie and Milo involved distracting my son from his lifelong quest to obtain a dog. Although his first word was “dog.” His first sentence was, “I want a dog.” But, I did not. Until he was 10, I was able to keep him content with caged and tanked creatures. 

I was determined to be a different kind of parent than the parents I had. My mother and father each attempted to eliminate any individuality that I had. They wanted to shape me in a certain direction that suited their needs but had nothing to do with my interests or inclinations. My mother was harsh, dismissive and sarcastic with me. My father forbade me to speak at the dinner table and told me he had no interest in what I had to say. “I don’t want to talk to you,” he would say to me on the rare occasions that I tried to speak to him. So, I was determined to show interest in what my children had to say and to encourage them to develop and follow their interests. 

My father worked next to an animal experimentation lab. One day when I was 7 he  brought home a beagle puppy. “She Wore An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” was a song playing on radios everywhere that summer. I named the dog Teeny. I loved Teeny. I loved cuddling him and loving him. Teeny slept in the kitchen, a gate separating him from the green carpeted dining room. One morning I came downstairs to say good morning to Teeny and found him in the dining room, and a big wet yellow spot on the rug. When my father came down and saw it, he hit Teeny on the nose several times and then took him into the kitchen, saying, “Bad dog, bad dog.” Then I heard him open the door to the basement and say “bad dog” again, before throwing Teeny down the basement stairs. I heard Teeny yelp. Next thing I knew my father was walking out the door with Teeny. “Your father is taking Teeny to the vet,” my mother said. That was the last time I heard the name “Teeny” spoken in my house by either my mother or my father. I never saw Teeny again. I was too afraid to ask what happened. I don’t remember when I realized Teeny had died. But all summer when I heard the “Yellow Polka Dot” song on the radio, I cried.

In childhood I did not feel liked, loved or welcomed by my parents. I was determined to let each of my sons experience those feelings that I had longed for. And, when I got Mattie and then Milo I was determined to let each of them be who they wanted and needed to be, to appreciate them for their traits, and to love them for who they were.

And then you became a pet parent to Mattie. Can you tell us about her?
Even though I dreaded getting a dog, I wanted to do it for my son. The day we went to meet Mattie, we were sent into the kitchen to wait for her. I was comatose, I so much did not want a dog. Then, a white ball of fluff came bounding up the stairs and into the middle of the room where we were standing. I fell to the floor, my arms wrapped around this bundle of energy. I was in love. For the seven years until she was accidently killed, Mattie was a living, breathing, love-giving, love-taking stuffed animal. She required nothing but love.

In your book, you describe the aftermath of Mattie’s unexpected death. Was it difficult for you to relive that time following this heartbreaking loss while writing your book?

I had processed the grief long before I wrote the book.

How did Milo find his way into your life?

When Mattie was killed, I knew I needed to replace her immediately to keep myself from falling into the abyss of depression. The next day I was with my family at the rescue meeting Milo. He was magnificently beautiful, had soulful eyes and was very mellow. He seemed like a good choice.

Your initial relationship with Milo turned out to be very difficult. What was it about him that didn’t make you throw your hands up in defeat and bring him back to the rescue? 

I soon learned that he had been returned by several other families in his 18-month life. I could not bear to think of him sleeping on the bed of rags in his cage at the rescue. I could not bear the thought of driving him back there and seeing his reaction when he realized he was being returned, again. Milo did not ask to be born. It was not Milo’s fault that no one had taken the time to socialize him. 

What life lessons did you learn from Milo?

One lesson that I learned  was how important it is for every living being to be who he was meant to be and who he wants to be. Before Milo, I learned how to help each of my sons find their individual paths. Milo’s individual path was outside the realm of what I knew. I learned that sometimes it is important to consult an expert who can help figure out someone’s individual needs. I also learned that Milo needed to express himself by running wild in the woods every day.

At what point did you realize the pivotal role pet parenting played in your life and healing? Why did you want to share this story?

I wanted to share this story because I believe that Milo and Mattie deserve to be remembered for what they brought to my family and me. I hope that by sharing this story I could encourage other people to understand a little bit more about what different kinds of dogs can contribute to a meaningful life. An easy dog like Mattie brings comfort and joy and love. A difficult dog like Milo brings a different kind of satisfaction and love. 

Do you currently have any pets?

I have two 14-year old bichons rescues, Chase and Megan, and a 19.5 year-old chihuahua rescue named Ryan. I got Ryan at the same rescue Milo came from, the day after Milo died. And, on December 29, 2023, Ryan married a 14-year-old 3.5 pound blind chihuahua from Russia. The caterers said it was the best event they had been to all year. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Photos and videos available upon request.  

The original reason I had the wedding is that my daughter-in-law informed me in June that my 6-year-old granddaughter is no longer allowed to get a dress except for a wedding. And there are no more weddings in the family. And my granddaughter loves dresses. That got me thinking.

When Ryan’s health and my mobility began to deteriorate last winter, early spring while my husband, Andy, was still living in NYC and going to Philadelphia three nights a week to teach at the University of Pennsylvania, it became difficult if not impossible for me to take care of Ryan. We asked our dog-walker, Anna, if she could help out, and help out she did! The morning after she moved into her new apartment, we drove over with all of Ryan’s belongings. His bed, his bag of medicines, his food and his treats. There in the apartment to greet us was Anna’s 3.5 pound, blind, chihuahua, Africa. I had never seen such a tiny, energetic dog. (We now call her our little ballerina.) I don’t know if it was love at first meet for Africa and Ryan. Maybe it was that when Ryan stays over, Africa got treats because Ryan gets treats all the time at home, not something Anna ever did with Africa. But, personal growth is a good thing and I am happy to report that Anna says that she now gives Africa treats even when Ryan isn’t visiting. Whether it was instant love or not, it soon was true love. Anna told me that before Ryan, Africa had been afraid to go to the dog park at the top of their building because the air blower scared her. To be honest, it’s hard for me to imagine Africa afraid of anything. But, when Africa and Ryan went to the rooftop dog park together, Africa was so focused on listening to the jingle of Ryan’s tags so she could follow him and be with him, that she forgot about being afraid of the loud blower. If that isn’t love, what is? And, whenever Ryan returns from his visits with Anna and Africa, he is frisky, alert and very happy. Again, if that isn’t love what is?

So, I decided a wedding for Ryan and Africa on December 29, 2023, would be the perfect event for my granddaughter to get a dress. And as we got closer, the wedding took on a life of its own. I hired a caterer. Anna has friends who are a photographer and a balloonist. We had two 6-year-old two-legged bridesmaids. My 14-year-old bichon, Megan, was also a bridesmaid in a matching dress. My 9-year-old grandson was the ring bearer. At the end of the afternoon one of the caterers said, “This was the best event I have been to all year. You made my day!” I don’t remember having so much fun in a very long time. And the day after the wedding my granddaughter said, “Nana, this is the most beautiful dress I have ever seen.” So the wedding was a success all around. 

What would you say to someone who generally isn’t a dog person? What can they take away from your book?

It would be hard to meet anyone who was less of a dog person than I was during the first 10 years of my son, Joseph’s, life. Not only was I not a dog person, I was emphatically anti-dog. Not only did I not have any interest in a dog, I imagined that all they did was ruin rugs, eat slippers, and require long walks on cold mornings. When I was driving in my warm car, I often felt very sorry for people I saw walking their dogs out in the cold. I just did not care about dogs. At friends’ houses I ignored their dogs, not wanting to pat them or be near their wet mouths and shedding fur. 

One thing non-pet people can take from this book is that they may think they are not pet people because they are focusing on a negative aspect of pets, but when they get an animal they could find there are many characteristics to love.

Another thing non-pet people can take from his book is that all living beings – two and four-leggeds – are unique individuals and deserve to be known for who they are. It’s no more reasonable to say “I don’t like dogs” than it is to say “I don’t like people.”  I loved Mattie for being the sweet lovable dog that she was. I loved Milo for being the adventurous, athletic, strong-willed dog that he was. 

Can you discuss your beginnings in storytelling? What made you start? 

When I moved to Chicago in 2016 due to my husband’s work, I realized it was 8 degrees, and I would be alone all week. I needed something to do in order not to fall into the abyss of depression. I tried improv and got kicked out of class after not too long. My dog walker told me about this thing called “storytelling,” something I had never heard of. I went to my first open mic and was surprised that the audience laughed and cheered. I was hooked. I began going to open mics telling stories that I had worked on. Soon people with curated shows were asking me to tell stories at their shows. Then an acquaintance said, “You’ve got to go to The Moth.” Believe it or not I had never heard of The Moth. I said I would go. Then the acquaintance said I had to tell a story there. I prepared a story, but thankfully my name was not picked from the basket. I went a couple more times and was called. It was amazing being on the stage. The lights were so bright I could not see the audience. I didn’t win the first couple of times, but I did pretty well. Then, in February 2018 I was chosen for the Love Hurts show. I told a story about my family of origin. And, I won. The following month, I went to another show, alone, on the spur of the moment. There were no more tickets, but they said if I got there early, I might be able to get one. So I got there at 4:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. show and got in. My name was called last. I stumbled on my way up the stairs to the stage but didn’t fall. I told about my solo trip to Australia at the age of 60, to follow a Bruce Sprngsteen’s tour, when I had quit my job teaching at the Community College of Philadelphia after having one desk too many thrown at me. And, I won!

A few months later I moved to NYC. My goal was to win one Moth StorySLAM in NYC. So, in April, 2019, for the theme of Bamboozled, I told the story of Milo. And I won.

Do you ever encounter writer’s block?

All the time. In my childhood and in my upbringing, my father told me not to say anything. He said I had nothing interesting to say. When I sent him my first published piece he said, “I’ll read something you write when you win a Pulitizer.” My mother wouldn’t even acknowledge that I had sent her something I’d published. I have come to understand that these are some of the reasons I have found it difficult to write. When I know that there is someone who truly wants to know what I have to say about a certain topic, I often have more to say than I have room or time for. 

What’s next for you?

In Fall 2025 my second memoir is being published by She Writes Press. After having one desk too many thrown at me at the Community College of Philadelphia where I had taught for five years, I walked out the door and thought, “I am never coming back.” But as soon as I was making a u-turn to go home I was panicking. I suffer from severe depression, and I was terrified of falling into the abyss once again. I needed a plan. I needed a project. As I was merging onto the expressway home, I thought, “I know, I’ll go to Australia and see Bruce Springsteen’s tour.” So, at the age of 60, even though I hate to travel and I hate to be alone, and a year earlier I had not even known what a Bruce Spingsteen was, I WENT!

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‘Shark Tank’ winner & Prep Expert founder helps students ace new Digital SAT and win huge scholarships

Entrepreneur helped students win $100 million in scholarships– and now he’s helping them win $1 billion more 

LAS VEGAS, Nevada– Since appearing on ‘Shark Tank’ and striking an investment deal with businessman and TV personality, Mark Cuban, #1 bestselling author Dr. Shaan Patel, MD, MBA has turned Prep Expert into the industry leader of SAT and ACT preparation. In anticipation of the SAT going digital for the first time in March 2024, Dr. Patel is helping students raise their SAT scores and win huge scholarships with his new guide, “Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook: Winning Strategies to Achieve Your Dream Score” (Prep Expert, March 3, 2024).

“If you want to get scholarships, if you want to get financial aid, if you want to reduce your cost of college, Prep Expert is the only way to go!” 

–Mark Cuban, businessman & ‘Shark Tank’ TV Star

  • March 9th, 2024: the SAT is going digital, the biggest change to it in almost 100 years
  • Two million students take the SAT every year
  • The transition from a paper-based to digital format marks a huge change to the college entrance exam
  • In high school Patel raised his own SAT score 640 points from average to perfect, and received more than $500,000 in college scholarships
  • Prep Expert has helped over 100,000 students improve test scores, get into top colleges, and win $100 million in scholarships
  • Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook focuses all of Patel’s results-driven expertise into the definitive guide for helping students ace the new Digital SAT and win scholarships 
  • $1 Billion Scholarship Mission: Over the past decade, Prep Expert has helped students win over $100 million in scholarships. Over the next decade, Prep Expert has an even bigger mission: help students win over $1,000,000,0000 in scholarships!

“Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook: 

Winning Strategies to Achieve Your Dream Score”

Shaan Patel | March 3, 2024 | Prep Expert | Test Prep

Hardcover, 978-1-5445-4528-8, $47.99 | Paperback, 978-1-5445-4527-1, $37.99

Audiobook, 978-1-5445-4525-7, $19.99 | Ebook, 978-1-5445-4526-4, $9.99

DR. SHAAN PATEL, MD, MBA: In high school, Shaan Patel was like many of the students reading “Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook.” He was a good student who got As and Bs. However, he was a poor standardized test-taker. Shaan had a lot of test anxiety, had no idea how to prepare for standardized exams, and received only an average score on his first SAT. 

After spending hundreds of hours studying for the SAT in high school, Patel raised his SAT score 640 points from average to perfect. Only 0.02% of all high school students achieve a perfect SAT score. Patel’s perfect SAT score completely changed his life. He received admission to top universities and received over $500,000 in scholarships and awards.

Now, Patel has created Prep Expert to help high school students achieve their own dreams. The education company has helped more than 100,000 students improve their SAT and ACT scores, get into top colleges, and win over $100 million in scholarships. Prep Expert offers online SAT and ACT courses, academic tutoring, and college admissions consulting.

Patel completed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree at the University of Southern California, Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Yale University, Medical Degree (MD) at the University of Southern California, and dermatology residency at Temple University Hospital. He is a board-certified dermatologist who practices teledermatology, and as the Founder and CEO of Prep Expert, Patel closed a deal with Mark Cuban on ABC’s Shark Tank for an investment in the company.

Follow Dr. Shaan Patel & Prep Expert on social media:

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | TikTok

Testimonials for Prep Expert: 

“After taking Prep Expert, my SAT score improved 300 points and I got a full tuition scholarship offer to the University of San Diego worth over $100,000! I highly recommend Prep Expert!” 

–Alexis Hilts, Miss Nevada 2018

“I improved my SAT score 390 points, much higher than I expected; raising my SAT score through your program made a world of difference. I was accepted to Stanford!”

–Julia Espero, Accepted to Stanford

“After both my son and daughter took Prep Expert SAT courses, my son improved 260 points and my daughter 340 points, and both got full ride scholarships worth $500,000!”

–Ami Vaughn, Parent of 2 High School Students

In an interview, Dr. Shaan Patel can discuss:

  • What inspired him to create a company and resources to support students obtain their dreams of higher education
  • How Dr. Patel spearheaded Prep Expert with just $900 of extra scholarship money out of his college dorm room 
  • How Prep Expert has helped over 100,000 students improve test scores, get into top colleges, and win $100 million in scholarships
  • His success and tenacity as a 34 year old who has authored 15+ books on test prep, entrepreneurship, and self help
  • Why he’s invested in aiding students in winning scholarships and his upcoming mission to help students win $1 billion in scholarships
  • His journey to publication after overcoming over 100 rejections from literary agents and publishers on his first SAT prep book proposal

An Interview with

Dr. Shaan Patel, MD, MBA

1. What inspired you to create Prep Expert? How did you turn $900 into the leading industry standard for SAT courses and preparation? 

I never planned to start a test prep company. Instead, I just wanted to write an SAT prep book to help students change their scores to change their lives. But after my first book proposal in 2010 was rejected by 100+ literary agents and publishers, I decided to use the material I had worked so hard to write to instead create Prep Expert. In the first SAT course I ever taught, my students had an average SAT score improvement of 376 points, which is equivalent to going from the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile. Now, over the past 13 years, Prep Expert has helped over 100,000+ students improve their SAT or ACT scores, get into top colleges, and win over $100 million in college scholarships. In addition, I have also sold over 100,000 test prep books. Moral of the story: when you initially face rejections, don’t give up – keep working to produce value and the marketplace will reward you for it! 

2. How is “Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook” different from other SAT guides? 

Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook reveals the step-by-step blueprint to maximize your SAT score. Dr. Shaan Patel has helped over 100,000 students improve their own SAT scores using the methods in this book. Unlock perfect-score strategies for every section of the SAT. Learn secrets to solve the toughest questions. Discover how to read passages faster and identify phrases that are always incorrect. Master how to solve algebra problems without doing any algebra. Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook delivers powerful techniques to ensure the academic success of every student!

3. Why does the SAT’s shift to a digital platform matter to students, families, and educators? 

The SAT may be the most important test of your life. Your SAT performance impacts your college acceptances. It affects your scholarship opportunities. Your SAT score even influences consideration from “test-optional” universities. High school doesn’t prepare you for the SAT. Many who perform well in high school score poorly on standardized tests. That’s about to change. The SAT has been a paper-based exam for 100+ years. The new shift to a digital platform presents many new challenges that students and educators must prepare for. Prep Expert Digital SAT Playbook will help students, parents, families, and educators become fully prepared for test day!  

4. Tell us more about your initiative to win $1 billion dollars in scholarships for students, why are you so personally passionate about this mission? 

College tuition costs continue to skyrocket. The average cost of attendance for a public in-state university is over $100,000 and a private out-of-state university is over $200,000. Student loan debt is also at an all-time high, nearing $2 trillion in the United States. But there is good news! You can reduce or even eliminate your college costs with scholarships. There are over 1.7 million private scholarships awarded each year worth over $7.4 billion. Achieving good grades and a high SAT score will help you get a share of those scholarships. Prep Expert’s motto is Change Your Score, Change Your Life. Over the past decade, Prep Expert has helped students win over $100 million in scholarships. Over the next decade, Prep Expert has an even bigger mission: help students win over $1,000,000,0000 in scholarships! 

5. What have you learned working alongside businessman and Shark Tank TV personality, Mark Cuban? 

Mark Cuban has been an amazing investor, partner, and advocate for Prep Expert over the past 8 years. He has provided strategic direction, negotiated business partnerships, and made key introductions. Even though Mark Cuban is one of the most famous businessmen in the world, he always makes time to help his Shark Tank entrepreneurs like myself. I can email Mark at any time of the day, and expect a response within minutes! It’s actually incredible. From Mark, I have learned how to manage my time more effectively, the power of saying “no”, and always making sure I am doing right by our customers and employees as a business owner. I have been lucky  to have had Mark Cuban as a business advisor and mentor over the years and it’s been an amazing partnership. I have  even had the opportunity to co-author books together, co-invest in investment deals together, and co-host entrepreneurship panels together. Mark Cuban also vouched for me for INC Magazine’s 30 Under 30 and told TMZ that he sees me as the “next Mark Cuban”. You can see the clip from TMZ here: 

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Mother reconnects with son years after forced adoption

Tracy Mayo breaks ranks with the institutionalized secrecy, shame, and silencing that shattered countless pregnant girls and young women prior to legalized abortion and open adoption.” – Kate Moses, author of “Wintering, Cakewalk: A Memoir, and Mothers Who Think”

BOULDER, Colorado – Debut author Tracy Mayo had a successful career, but one choice from her past continued to haunt her: forcibly giving up her baby at the age of fifteen. Now she’s sharing the inspiring story of her impossible journey to find him during the pre-Internet era  in her memoir, “Childless Mother: A Search for Son and Self” (Vanguard Press, Mar 28, 2024).

Before Roe v. Wade, Tracy Mayo found herself pregnant at the age of fourteen and exiled to a maternity home. There, she bore not only a child but also the weight of the culture’s shame. She was required to surrender her newborn baby boy – the only child she would ever have – and expected. “You’ll forget it ever happened,” she was told.

Twenty-two years later,  her longing undiminished, with no internet, DNA testing, and not even knowing his adoptive name, Tracy set out to find him – and in her search she finds more than just her son, but herself. In a world drifting back to where women have no agency, Tracy’s story of one frightened, grief-stricken young mother who was ordered to forget may be even more important to remember. 

“Childless Mother: A Search for Son and Self”

Tracy Mayo | March 28, 2024 | Vanguard Press | Memoir 

Paperback | 9781837940240 | $19.99 USD

TRACY MAYO has two degrees from Duke University. After a homesteading experiment, she embarked on a thirty-year career in commercial construction management, as a trailblazing woman in a man’s world. She is a 2020/2021 artist-in-residence at Craigardan and an alumnus of the Bookgardan writing program.  Her writing has appeared at Aspen Summer Words’ juried workshops, in Heimat Review, and in The Ocotillo Review. Tracy lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and Flat-Coated Retriever.

Follow Tracy Mayo on social media:

Instagram: @TracyMayoAuthor | LinkedIn: @TracyMayo | Facebook: @TracyMayoAuthor

In an interview, Tracy Mayo can discuss:

  • How she navigated through a young pregnancy before Roe v. Wade
  • How she went about searching for her son without any information
  • The time she spent within a maternity home and its effects on her mental health
  • Her journey with meditation and LSD as forms of therapy to deal with grief
  • How she managed her relationship with her own parents, her son, and her son’s adoptive parents
  • Why her story plays as a cautionary tale in the current overturning of Roe v. Wade
  • The arduous task of keeping her son’s birth a secret and how its destructive power impacted her

Advanced praise for Childless Mother

Mayo creates a compelling nonfiction narrative that effectively conveys her feelings as a child and as an adult dealing with the fallout of choices her parents made…examines the complexities of reuniting with children given up for adoption—including birth parents’ acceptance of, and by, the families that raised their children—in a nuanced and insightful manner.”

-Kirkus Reviews

Tracy Mayo breaks ranks with the institutionalized secrecy, shame, and silencing that shattered countless pregnant girls and young women prior to legalized abortion and open adoption.” 

Kate Moses, author of “Wintering, Cakewalk: A Memoir, and Mothers Who Think”

An Interview with

Tracy Mayo

1. In your writing, you discuss the military culture that you grew up in? How did this experience affect your life as you became pregnant? 

I think in part, the experience helps explain why I became pregnant. The constant moves, the ever-changing landscape (eight moves in my thirteen short years) made me long to have friends, to feel rooted. When I met Ken Locke, a kindred navy spirit, I found someone who understood what it feels like to pack up and start one’s life over every year or two. Additionally, the military culture – in which we were expected to appreciate protocol, conformance, obedience, and discipline – was a prime target for adolescent rebellion, especially for an only child like myself, long the focus of my parents’ intense aspirations.

2. During your search for David, what aspects did you find the most challenging?

The simple answer to this question is a question itself: How do you find someone when you don’t know who you are looking for? All I had to go on was his place of birth and his birth date. His real birth certificate (with his given name at birth) was in a sealed file  in the state capitol and an “amended” one issued with his new name and his adoptive parents’ names. Birth parents have no rights to information in Virginia, other than the very rudimentary “non-identifying information” I was provided at relinquishment. Because I had been told that he was adopted by a military family, I assumed he had moved around like I had. Where might he be and who might he be? It was a daunting challenge.

3. When you and David first met, you discovered that the two of you had many similarities despite being raised very differently. Did this surprise you?

Upon exchanging photos, we realized we looked very much alike. But I think both of us were surprised to discover our many common interests: bird-watching, in-line skating, tastes in music, and an abiding interest in wildlife and the natural world. I learned that my university would have been his first choice if money had been no object. And when younger he was interested in becoming a naval aviator, like the birth grandfather he hadn’t yet met. The synchronicities kept crashing down. Does this mean there is a genetic component to personal preferences?

4. You discuss a lot of heavy topics when recalling your past experiences. What effect did writing this story have on you? 

I did a lot of healthy grieving while unearthing long-buried painful memories. And in taking charge of my own search, I felt empowered for the first time in decades. On a few occasions during my search when I came across written documentation of what had happened, I had this flush of feeling that I hadn’t imagined my son, hadn’t dreamed him up. After being instructed “To Forget,” and not allowed to speak of his birth around my own parents, I finally was receiving validation – which for so long, in almost every context, I had not. Recounting this process in writing has proved to be healing.

5. In terms of your son, his adoptive parents, as well as your own parents, did you find yourself taking risks while recounting your story?

It’s difficult to write about people who are still alive. I waited to start this memoir until my parents had died, as I knew I would struggle to speak my raw truth if they were here to read it. But observing the close relationship that David had developed with them, I felt a great measure of forgiveness and compassion. I took a risk re my son – would he view his upbringing differently from my perception of it? How would he view my take on our relationship? And on behalf of his adoptive parents, who passed away before this memoir was published, did I properly reveal the depth of my gratitude to them, for loving him as they so fully did?

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