Featured

  • Release Day for Mothering Through the Darkness!

    It’s finally here! For the past year, we have been preparing for the publication of Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience. We read over 200 powerful submissions, carefully selected and edited essays, ran our first ever writing contest (with help from some fantastic, talented judges), and along with our publisher, She Writes Press, created a powerful anthology that we are incredibly proud of.

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    We’re proud of the 35 gifted, brave, honest, and inspiring contributors of this book. We’re proud to have Karen Kleiman as our foreword author. We are grateful for the women who shared their stories with us throughout this experience, and we’re grateful for all the support we’ve received from our HerStories Project community.

    Today we are honored to officially release Mothering Through the Darkness; it’s available for purchase in paperback and e-book, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other indie retailers. We will be donating 10% of our profits to Postpartum Progress, a fantastic organization that provides valuable resources to mothers struggling with perinatal mood disorders.

    In addition to the publication of our anthology, we are organizing a social media campaign during the first week of November called “Shatter The Myths.

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    The goal of the campaign is to end the widespread misconceptions about maternal mental health disorders that prevent mothers from speaking up about their struggles and getting help. This month, to shatter these myths and to help end the stigma surrounding these treatable disorders, the HerStories Project is asking survivors of PMD, other mothers, clinicians, family members, and mental health advocates to post messages, images, and signs for moms who may be struggling with these conditions, using the hashtags#endPPDMyths and #motheringthrudarkness.

    Maybe you never experienced perinatal mood disorders but you still want to help—please do! You don’t even have to make a sign or share a photo. Simply write a message like “Always trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, ask for help. #endPPDmyths #motheringthrudarkness” and share on social media.

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    We want as many positive messages of hope, whether in photo or written form, to help shatter the myths associated with postpartum depression and to begin to eliminate the shame and stigma it carries.

    Please spread the word. Share your own photos and messages on social media with #endPPDmyths and #motheringthrudarkness, or email them to us at theherstoriesproject@gmail.com. Your voice matters. Whether or not you have experienced a perinatal mood disorder, we can work together to bring awareness and shatter the myths.

    You can order a copy of Mothering Through the Darkness here, and learn more about the “Shatter the Myths” social media movement here.

  • Our Summer Writing Class: Write Your Way to a Better Blog

    For bloggers, summertime means conference season, with two of the most popular blogging conferences taking place during June and July. We are excited to be attending BlogHer in New York City this July—in fact, we’ll be presenting a personal essay writing lab! As bloggers work themselves into a frenzy on social media, making plans for rooming together, attending parties, and meeting up for drinks, many of their peers experience a serious condition known as “conference envy.” It is totally no fun at all knowing that all your favorite bloggers are hanging out without you, and maybe even learning amazing new skills that will advance their craft. (I personally plan to go completely offline during Blog U this year, as I can’t bear to see cute photos of all my friends having fun without me.)

    Summer is a great time to focus attention on your blogging and writing skills, but attending a blog conference isn’t always realistic. Those of us who are parents have to consider childcare needs before we hop a flight across the country, not to mention scheduling around summer vacations, camps, and reunions. For others, it can be hard to take time off work to travel to a conference. It can be a significant financial commitment to pay for conference registration, travel, hotels, and food. And when it doesn’t work out, it is a huge bummer to miss out on the perks of conference attendance: learning, networking, and socializing with other bloggers.

    So we have a great solution for those of you who aren’t able to make it to a blogging conference this year. (And for those of you who are attending a conference? You should join us, too!) We’re offering one of our most popular online writing courses from last year, Write Your Way to a Better Blog, as a summer-long event.

    Write Your Way

    This time, since the class packs in so much valuable information, practice opportunity, guest instructor expertise, and feedback, we’re slowing it down and breaking it up a bit to cover the entire summer. And for the first time, you’ll be able to choose if you want to take the entire course, or pick and choose from four mini-courses. The sessions start June 21st and span the entire summer, on and off until August 22nd.

    Here’s a breakdown of the sessions:

    Session 1: Purpose and Authenticity

    Why are you blogging? What do you want to say to the world that is unique?

    With help from bloggers including Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brain Buddha, we’ll focus on:

    • How to define the purpose of your blog.
    • How to develop and refine a clear, authentic voice in your writing.
    • How to incorporate your blog’s purpose into each blog post.
    • How to write about diverse subjects and to write in diverse styles while still remaining true to your overall voice and purpose.
    • How to draft a compelling, concise About Me page or bio for other publications.
    • Find out how many popular bloggers write about their personal lives with integrity, and explore our own limits

    Session 2: Telling Stories on Your Blog

    We’ll learn about the power of storytelling to enhance your writing with tips and techniques from Danielle Herzog of Martinis and Minivans, as well as:

    • Learn the importance of narrative structure, character, dialogue, and sensory details.
    • Learn how to capture your audience’s attention with a strong beginning and finish your story with a powerful conclusion.
    • Brainstorm and explore ideas for blog posts that would captivate readers.

    Session 3: Humor Writing

    With practical tips from guest instructor Kate Hall of Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine and other humor bloggers, we’ll learn how to incorporate humor into your blog posts in a way that is authentic to your voice.

    We’ll explore different humor techniques, as well as:

    • How to write different types of humorous posts.
    • How to use humor in your social media platforms to engage with readers and increase your fan base.
    • Discuss when/why it is useful to use humor in a serious post, and how to do it tastefully.

    Session 4: Editing and Pitching

    We’ll discuss the importance of knowing the difference between revising, editing, and proofreading. We’ll also:

    • Discuss common grammatical errors and other mistakes to avoid in your writing.
    • Practice revising, editing, and proofreading your writing.
    • Discuss the differences in levels of editing needed for posts on own blog vs. submitting to other sites.
    • Learn how to impress an editor with a powerful pitch
    • Learn how to form productive relationships with editor

    The course will include:

    • the full class platform, including several weekly lessons and discussions about each lesson and assignment
    • instructor feedback on assignments in the class platform
    • a private Facebook group for class members, instructors, and guest instructors
    • a PDF of course lessons at the end of the class
    You can find out full details about our mini-courses, session dates, guest instructors, and other bloggers who offered their expertise for our lessons on our class information page. We hope you’ll join us this summer for a great opportunity to take your blog to the next level, practice your writing skills, learn from some fantastic bloggers, and find a new community of bloggers. Sign up today!
    **Do you have a personal essay you’d like help with? Did you know we offer editing and essay consulting services? We would love to help you polish your essay for publication: find out more information here.
  • MY OTHER EX Chosen as a Finalist for INDIEFAB Book of the Year

    Stephanie and I received some exciting news last week! MY OTHER EX: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends was named a finalist in the Anthology Category for Foreword Reviews’ 17th Annual INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

     

    From Foreword Reviews:

    Each year, Foreword Reviews shines a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses, and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd.

    In the next three months, a panel of more than 100 volunteer librarians and booksellers will determine the winners in 63 categories based on their experience with readers and patrons.

    Foreword Reviews will celebrate the winners during a program at the American Library Association Annual Conference in San Francisco on Friday, June 26 at 6 p.m. at the Pop Top Stage in the exhibit hall. Everyone is welcome. The Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction, Nonfiction, and Foreword Reviews’ 2014 INDIEFAB Publisher of the Year Award will also be announced during the presentation.

    About Foreword: Foreword Magazine, Inc is media company featuring a FOLIO: award winning quarterly print magazine Foreword Reviews and a website devoted to independently published books. In the magazine, they feature reviews of the best 160 new titles from independent publishers, university presses, and noteworthy self-published authors. Their website features daily updates: reviews along with in-depth coverage and analysis of independent publishing from a team of more than 100 reviewers, journalists, and bloggers. The print magazine is available at most Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million newsstands or by subscription.

     

  • I’m So Glad They Told Me: Changing Conversations About Motherhood

    Last week I read the viral post, “They Should’ve Warned Me,” by Jenny Studenroth Gerson, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Although it was a lovely portrayal of her smooth transition to motherhood, it rubbed me the wrong way and I decided to write a response. In my post, I wrote:

    I believe that all mothers, regardless of how smoothly or horrifically their transition to motherhood unrolled, should be part of changing the cultural dialogue about new motherhood. It is so beautiful, powerful, important, magical—of course it is. But it can be haaaard, and it doesn’t come naturally or easily to many women. Our babies don’t all coo blissfully and sh!# unicorn glitter. Sometimes they never stop crying. Sometimes we have no idea what to do with them. As I read Gerson’s article, I kept thinking, “How would a woman suffering from postpartum depression feel while reading this?” Defective, discouraged, humiliated, I suspect. Perhaps even like a failure.

    I’m Glad They Told Me,” my response to Gerson’s Huffington Post article, is the first post that has ever gone viral on my website. I was floored. The response from other mothers who had a similar reaction to Gerston’s post was overwhelming. I was truly humbled by the support and sharing. A few days later,Huffington Post ran my response, and the comments and messages kept coming.  I was so moved by how many women reached out to me to share their own perspectives. It became clear to me that many mothers felt ashamed and isolated after reading Gerston’s article, well-intentioned though it may have been, as their experiences had been a far cry from hers. They felt their voices had not been heard.

    So this week, we are issuing a challenge to mothers. Now is the time to raise your voice, and share your experience. We want to hear from YOU now. Did anyone throw you a lifesaver at some point—either during your pregnancy, postpartum period, or even later into motherhood? Did someone give you a piece of advice or an honest admission that you were profoundly grateful for? Maybe somebody gave you permission to feel your feelings, or to let go of something. This week, all across social media, we are using the hashtag #sogladtheytoldme and asking moms to share the pieces of truth and wisdom they’ve received. Things like this: I’m so glad they told me

    • That sometimes you don’t fall in love with your baby right away, and that’s OK.
    • That you might miss your old life, and crave your lost freedom.
    • Breastfeeding can be really hard work, and it may not happen for you.
    • That postpartum depression happens, and that it’s not your fault.
    • That your marriage may need a long, difficult period of adjustment. It’s normal.
    • That you may even resent your husband.
    • And worse, that you may sometimes resent your baby and your new lifestyle.
    • That it’s OK to ask for help. There is help.
    • It’s OK if you don’t feel like getting back in shape for a while. Take your time.
    • You might not feel like yourself at first. You’ll come back.
    • Every baby is different, and if yours is harder than your friend’s, it’s OK.
    • You might feel like you suck at this. You don’t.

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    One of the reasons we decided on the subject matter for our upcoming anthology, Mothering Through the Darkness, is because we believe there is a serious need to present a broader, more balanced image of motherhood in our culture. When we only present one side of the story—the serene, “natural,” smooth side—we do a disservice to mothers and families everywhere.

    I believe that there is a way to provide realistic, supportive guidance to new mothers without assaulting them with overwhelming, negative “warnings.” With our #sogladtheytoldme campaign, we want to hear how somebody supported you, or how you wish you had been supported, when you became a mother.

    We’d love to see your photos of your personal “I’m so glad they told me…” signs. Mothers, please take a photo of yourself holding your sign and share it on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the #sogladtheytoldme hashtag. Or just post a photo of your sign, or a simple text only post. Bloggers, we’d love for you to write your own blog posts or and share them with #sogladtheytoldme. Let’s spread a compassionate, real, honest message about motherhood as far as we can.

    You can also email us at theherstoriesproject@gmail.com or Facebook message your photo to us if you prefer. Jessica and I will be compiling photos in our #sogladtheytoldme campaign to create a photo gallery sharing your amazing, powerful voices. Please spread the word to all the mamas you know! Together we can change the conversation about motherhood.

    Or share your advice here!

  • Buy the Book Today!

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  • The Power of Finding a Writing Community

    We just wrapped up our second online writing course—Write Your Way to a Better Blog—and we learned so much while teaching it. We were first and foremost impressed and inspired by the talent of the 20-some women writers who took the course; their diversity, unique voices, honesty, and courage blew us away. Each of them brought something very authentic and different to the course.

    The most notable impression we took away from this class was the support and camaraderie that exists among bloggers. Sure, you hear about blog envy (I mean, who hasn’t had that? That viral post last week that you totally should have written yourself!), competition, and an overcrowded market. Sometimes it feels like we’re stepping on fellow bloggers’ laptops to come up with the most provocative title, most poignant reflection, or funniest personal anecdote. It can be overwhelming.

    But when we started this six-week class, we were pleasantly surprised to see how instantly the bloggers taking the course began to interact, to support one another, to offer ideas and feedback, and even to share each other’s accomplishments. Our intention was to provide a class chock-full of helpful advice, tips, and exercises, and of course we hope that happened! But another component of the course that was equally meaningful was the community of writers that emerged from within it.

    We learned that having a writing partner (all the participants in class were paired up with another writer) is an invaluable tool, as is finding a writing community. In the blogging world, we hear so much about “finding our tribe,” and many of us are lucky to do just that without too much trouble. I personally would have stopped blogging long ago were it not for the support, understanding, and virtual cheerleading of my own blogging tribe.

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    Me with two of our HerStories contributors at the BlogHer 2014 Voices of the Year Reception.

    Among the many benefits of finding a writing community are:

    1. Meeting writers who get what it’s like to be part of the online writing world: it can be overwhelming and discouraging. There’s nothing like a conversation with another writer who “gets it.”
    2. Someone to provide honest and helpful feedback on your work. It’s amazing how another pair of writer’s eyes on a piece can help you; a fresh perspective can do wonders for a blog post or potential essay that has been stagnating.
    3. Finding encouragement and inspiration. Sometimes we all need to hear that our writing matters, that our words have the power to touch, entertain, and explore, and it’s so helpful to have a community of writers to give you that much-needed lift.
    4. Learning new styles of writing, topics to explore, and opportunities for publication. Being part of a writing community can open doors that you may not have known even existed. It’s like girls’ night and a networking session all rolled into one.

    We are happy to announce that now that our online course has ended, we are offering Write Your Way to a Better Blog as a PDF! Although it won’t have the online course interaction component or instructor feedback, we think we’ve found a way for bloggers to get that writing community experience we think is so valuable.

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    We encourage bloggers who have bought the PDF to join a brand new Write Your Way to a Better Blog Facebook group we’ll be forming for discussion, interaction, and support. The group will be community-led, and we think you’ll make new connections and learn so much from each other. We encourage you to team up and find a writing partner (or maybe you already have one who will join the class with you!) within the Facebook group. Complete your exercises and assignments together; keep each other accountable; provide honest and helpful feedback on each other’s work.

    You can learn all about the course and the PDF, and buy a copy for $29 (the price will go up to $35 next week, so hurry!) right here. We hope you’ll learn a lot and find a fantastic writing community of your own. In the words of one of our students,

    I’ve taken quite a few blogging classes and a few writing ones too but what I was really craving was something that combined the two. I blog to write and my goal when sit to post on my blog is to improve my craft. The Write Your Way to a Better Blog course was exactly what I needed. The instructors are fabulous and the lessons and exercises so incredibly helpful. In the first week or two of class, everything felt so much clearer. And, so essential, everyone is so supportive. It was a truly fabulous experience and I know I’m a better writer now than I was 6 weeks ago!

    Purchase the PDF of Write Your Way to a Better Blog right here! And stay tuned next week as we announce our next online writing course, which will begin at the end of January!