Our posts

  • 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.


    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!

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  • Get Published: A New Class and Writing Goals for the New Year

    It’s a new year, and for many writers, that means an opportunity to reflect on a new set of writing goals. For some that may mean carving out more time to write regularly, to overhaul and rebrand our blog, or to improve networking skills. But for the vast majority of us, writing goals in the new year involve getting our work published. But where? And how?

    Some people may not know that a lot of writers struggle with insecurities, envy, and self-doubt that can lead to a lack of focus and ultimately, inaction. (Oh, God. It’s not just me, is it?) We see links from our writer friends show up in our newsfeed, sharing articles they’ve published on prestigious websites; we scan our favorite magazines to discover who wrote that incredible piece we wish that we had written, and we stare at the same rough draft in our folder that has been taunting us for months. Why is it so hard to take the next step? And how exactly can we achieve our goals of getting published in the new year?

    If you have dreams of getting your work “out there” this year, you’re not alone. We love this article  and podcast on Beyond Your Blog, sharing some of the writing goals bloggers want to accomplish in 2015. Many writers have the drive to keep writing and submitting, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it. That confusion can be a roadblock to taking any steps at all—finding the impetus to just take that first step can be hugely important.

    We are beyond excited to announce our next writing class, an interactive online course that will focus on that one thing that so many writers want to accomplish in 2015: getting their work published. The Publish Your Personal Essay Writing Bootcamp will focus on several key objectives: crafting an excellent personal essay, revising, editing, and polishing it for a particular publication, and submitting your essay to the perfect place.  We will provide a roadmap of popular publications for submitting work, including both traditional print and online magazines as well as high-profile websites. Writers can learn more about the publications they’ve had their eye on, gain a better understanding of the submissions process, and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how to impress editors.


    In addition, this course will also emphasize the value of participating in a writer’s group community; participants will learn specific skills to help one another revise and edit their work. Have you ever been asked by a fellow writer to help edit an essay? It’s often difficult to know where to begin. The Publish Your Personal Essay Writing Bootcamp will provide unique tools for critiquing the work of your fellow writing group members in addition to providing important strategies for crafting and revising your own essay.

    We are pleased to include the expertise of Susan Maccarelli of Beyond Your Blog and Norine Dworkin-McDaniel of the Science of Parenthood, as well as Lauren Apfel of Omnimom and debate editor at Brain, Child magazine and The HerStories Project’s developmental and copyeditor. Both will provide feedback on your essays, from editorial suggestions to tips for submitting to the perfect publication.

    Common obstacles for writers who want to get published are:

    1. A lack of clear direction— what are my options? Where do I begin?
    2. Uncertainty about which publications are out there, which ones would be a good fit for their work, and how to submit.
    3. Challenges with revising and editing their pieces– revisions are often the most challenging (and yet essential!) part of the writing process, and many writers have a hard time editing their own work.
    4. They feel like they’re working in a bubble without any feedback, suggestions, or inspiration from other writers.

    The Publish Your Personal Essay Writing Bootcamp will address all of these obstacles to help you achieve your publication goals in 2015. Being part of a writing community can be such a powerful experience. We hope you’ll join ours! The online course begins February 2nd, and is limited to 20 students because of the interactive nature and personalized feedback provided in the course. The class is now full. Make sure you sign up to learn more about spring classes!

    **Are you a blogger who wants to take their writing to the next level but are short on time or money? Try our Write Your Way to a Better Blog course; the PDF is available for only $20 for the remainder of January to help you with your blogging New Year’s resolutions! Along with the six weeks of lessons, you’ll also be invited to join an interactive Facebook discussion group. Find out more about the course and download the PDF here.


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  • How to Publish a Book With Toddlers

    When Jessica and I began the submission process for My Other Exeach of us had a two-year-old at home. By the time we’d published the book, our kids had turned three, an age I maintain is even more challenging. Any veteran parents out there know the woes of raising toddlers and can attest to the impact they have on one’s productivity. Frankly, it’s shocking that we got any work done at all during the hours our children were conscious. Somehow, we pulled it off, and looking back on the whole experience, there are a few, um, memorable aspects that stand out.


    1. Phone conversations are less than professional. To anyone who doesn’t know, Jessica and I live dozens of states away from each other and have never actually met in person. Which means that daily emails and weekly phone calls are absolutely essential for us to stay organized and on top of things. Often, one of us would cover the mouthpiece to urge our offspring to go ahead and watch one more Daniel Tiger or to remind them that no, it wasn’t Daddy on the other end of the line. Or Grandma. Yes, have another bowl of Goldfish. But there was one epic phone call when both our children were at home and awake. Mine was upstairs in her bedroom, supposed to be napping, and she was hollering, singing, and banging the wall, all the while strumming a plastic guitar with her foot through the slats of her crib. I’m dead serious. As the two of us attempted to engage in a coherent conversation, both of our children could be heard screeching, whining, and bellowing demands in the background. It sounded as though we were conducting business in a lunatic asylum. Which, we kind of were.
    2. Mommy’s “office” gets very little respect. When we were in the thick of the book mailing process, the floor of my toy storage area living room office was littered with boxes, envelopes, books, and those annoying little adhesive label pieces from the back of the mailers. My toddler insisted on wrapping every single last one of those strips around someone’s wrist as though it were the 21-and-over bracelet slapped on hipsters at the entrance to a seedy nightclub. This was the delightful era in which she, if left unsupervised, would poke holes in any and all pieces of paper with a pencil. Thus, she literally poked holes in much of my work, including the address labels I had printed to ship books. Paper was wasted. But that wasn’t the worst of it…
      Boxes, mailers, address labels, those fun “wristbands” strewn about… and of course naked baby dolls and discarded dogs.
    3. Bodily functions and fluids played a prominent role I know. We’re grossed out, too. One of our children, whose identity shall be protected, actually pooped on his/her mother’s book notes. That may have been the same day in which he/she dumped a toddler potty full of urine into the heating vent—it’s hard to say. The day that I stopped by the hip indie bookstore to meet the owner, schedule a book event, and drop off a copy of My Other Ex, I had to bring my daughter with me. Being the stellar parent that I am, I of course bribed her with a lollipop for good behavior. And she was downright charming while we were there. Except for when, in the middle of our conversation about my book event, she loudly announced that she needed to poop. Poop happens– what are you going to do? Not bring your toddler on professional meetings, for one, but such is the life of a work-at-home mom with limited childcare. Of course, the biggest doozy of them all occurred at the actual book party. Everything was going beautifully … until my three-year-old vomited all over my husband. At my book release party. It’s true. Fortunately, after hearing her weakly proclaim, “I don’t feel well,” he hurried outside where she promptly threw up on him, avoiding contaminating the bookstore itself and preventing me from scoring any future book gigs with them. They managed to catch my brief reading and thank-you to my family and friends (Incidentally, I thanked my daughter for not throwing up on me), but pretty much missed the party.
    4. Snacks, Netflix, grandparents, and preschool are absolute necessities. Oh, and husbands help, too. Those hours when our children are being cared for by other family members or were at preschool were golden. During those magical windows, I often had to force myself to step away from my laptop to use the bathroom, as I was bound and determined to make every second count. Due to the nature of publishing, there were times when our kids were home and there was still work to be done. Enter aforementioned parenting crutches. Sure, we don’t recommend planting your child in front of the television with a handful of juice boxes and Uncrustables for hours on end(although it does sound tempting), but there’s no way we would have been able to have a phone call, return an email, or get all that editing done were it not for the miracle of the uninterrupted Netflix children’s series. Yes—even Caillou. Sometimes we choose the lesser of two evils: constant interruptions and shirt-tugging or the muted soundtrack of a whiny bald kid? Desperate times.

    Although the presence of two- and three-year-olds is less than desirable when attempting to read submissions, edit essays, and publish a book, we’re here to tell you: It can be done. Our first book about women’s friendship came out exactly a year ago, when our kids were two, and we can’t wait to see what the next publication experience will bring with a couple of three-and-a-half year olds and a new baby for Jessica!

    Join our community and sign up to receive our newsletter! Receive email updates by subscribing in the sidebar. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter, too.

    **Remember! Our deadline for submitting to Mothering Through the Darkness, our upcoming anthology about postpartum depression and struggles, has been extended to January 1st. Submit an essay here.

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  • We Have a Big Announcement!

    We have exciting news, and we are thrilled to finally share it with our HerStories community today! Last week, we signed a contract with She Writes Press to publish our next anthology, Mothering Through the Darkness! We could not be happier about this. Have you heard of She Writes Press? In the publishing world, many people refer to them as a “hybrid publisher.” In their own words, this is how the She Writes team describes their business:

    She Writes Press is unique in the world of publishing because we’re neither traditional publishing, nor are we self-publishing. We have begun to bill ourselves as a “third way” and we proudly occupy the gray zone, a much-needed alternative in a rapidly changing publishing landscape.”

    She Writes is an independent publishing company that gives writers more control than a traditional publisher; they provide high-quality services as well as a positive community experience.

    Jessica and I have had a great experience with self-publishing our first two books; we particularly found our groove with My Other Ex. But we are very much looking forward to publishing with She Writes—from working with their cover designer, to their editing team, to being part of a community that helps promote women writers and their work.

    For more information on She Writes Press, their services, and how to submit your manuscript to them for consideration, visit their website. Right now, our book is slated for publication in fall 2015! We are so excited; we’ve been steadily receiving submissions, and we look forward to receiving more in the coming weeks. If you’re thinking about submitting an essay but you’ve been on the fence, we hope you’ll take the plunge.

    On that note, we are happy to share that we will be extending our deadline for our call for submissions and writing contest for Mothering Through the Darkness. The deadline for submissions is now January 1st, 2015. For more information on the anthology, the guidelines, the contest, and how to submit, read this post. And you can submit your essay directly by following this link.




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  • My Other Ex Contributors Dish About Their Essays and New Projects

    It’s been more than a month since My Other Ex released! Recently we asked our contributors to reflect on the experience of writing, editing, and submitting their essays, as well as becoming a part of the HerStories Project community and their future projects.



    How long did it take you to write and edit your essay for My Other Ex? Did you receive any feedback on it before you submitted it?

    Elline Lipkin: About three weeks.  Got great feedback from a local writing group I belong to.

    Alyson Herzig: It took me about a month and I worked with a professional editor.

    Katrina Willis: I wrote the essay in an afternoon and tweaked it for about a week or so. I didn’t let anyone read it before I submitted, and I didn’t tell anyone that I had submitted — not even my husband.

    Jennifer Simon: Maybe 3 months? My husband and two writer friends all read and edited it.

    Alethea Kehas: Not too long, since I adapted it from my memoir manuscript. It underwent some editing in the earlier stages.

    Did you have any concerns about privacy, about protecting the identity of the characters in your essay, and about your essay affecting your present relationships? If so, how did you deal with your concerns?

    Shannan Younger: I did, and while I had a few different friendships in mind to write about, I selected the one that would least impact present relationships. I did feel like I should tell my subject that I wrote about her, but my efforts to find her have been unsuccessful.

    Katrina Willis: I wasn’t concerned about privacy. As a blogger, my life is pretty public, anyway. But my former friend and I do have mutual friends, and I was concerned about their reactions. My intent was not to defame, but to present my own feelings, my own viewpoint. I fully understand and respect that she has hers, too.

    Estelle Erasmus: No. [My friend] Laura was involved every step of the way. I even changed some of the sentences based on her input.

    Alison Lee: Yes, because I reconciled with the friend I wrote about. I asked her first if it was alright if I shared our story (she’d read the blog post I wrote), and she said, yes, go ahead! She also read the final draft before I sent it in for submission. I did change her name.

    Other than your own, which essay resonated with you most deeply? Why?

    Shannan Younger: Alethea Kehas’ story of tween struggles may have struck a chord with me both because of my experiences and because my daughter is in junior high now and I write about tween issues. She captured the pain that tween girls can cause each other, and it made me think about her mother, too, in terms of both what Althea did and did not share with her and her reaction. It hit home on multiple levels.

    Estelle Erasmus: I would say Alexandra Rosas’ because she just wouldn’t get that the woman didn’t want any kind of deep friendship with her. She was lonely and I remember being so lonely in the beginning of motherhood when I hadn’t yet formed any kind of community. It was hard and I could definitely see my feelings leading to that kind of desperation. I actually grabbed a guy who had a baby girl my daughter’s age in the elevator of my building and asked (or was that demanded ) for  him to have his wife call me. She was my first mom friend and my story is a happy one. Although she has moved away, we are still friends to this day.

    Alyson Herzig: “Girls Interrupted” by Alexis Calabrese touched me deeply. Having a son with autism has taught me that many people don’t know what to say or do. For years others fell by the wayside leaving him and us looking in. I felt her pain when she realized that her friend had diminished her child and his life through the heartless play her husband had put on. Her friend Erika’s lack of understanding and compassion resonated with me, because I have lived that life. I live that life now.

    Sandy Ebner: Each of the essays touched me deeply so it’s very difficult to single out just one. However, Alison Lee’s, “The Internet Breakup” really hit home for me because I’m going through something very similar to what she describes in her essay.

    Katie Sluiter: Oh gosh. This is a hard choice. I am going to pick Arneyba Herndon’s because I laughed and got angry while I read it. I mean, if I was there, I would have at LEAST saved her sandwich for her!

    Lea Grover: I think “Delilah.” The narrator was very much me, at the beginning of middle school. Unlike the Delilah of the story, though, my friend became incredibly abusive, and dominated my life for years. That story broke my heart, because there were so many times I wish I’d just disappeared and broken our friendship instead of sticking around, and the sense of regret in there about doing it kind of healed something in me that’s been broken for a long time.

    What have you enjoyed most about being a part of this anthology?

    Elline Lipkin: The incredible community online.

    Shannan Younger: My favorite part has been hearing the stories from contributors of how they have heard from friends and sometimes reconnected, of being reminded that people change and that there’s hope for some people on whom we have given up.

    Estelle Erasmus: The leadership of the editorial team, Jessica and Stephanie. They have gracefully and graciously navigated us through the publishing journey with them and in the process we have met and befriended each other.

    Alison Lee: Everything. The thrill of seeing my name in print, of being part of the project alongside 34 other amazing writers and two incredible editors. Reading the reviews has been wonderful, learning about the reviewer’s stories and their thoughts about friendship. I’m just so proud to be part of this anthology.

    Alexandra Rosas: Being able to no longer carry my story inside of me. I felt freed.

    Sue Fagalde Lick: The sisterhood that has developed among the writers.

    Alyson Herzig: The interaction with so many wonderful and amazing ladies that are outside my normal genre. I have been humbled by the credentials of the others. I have also been enjoying the camaraderie.

    Lea Grover: Realizing that there is a much higher standard I should be holding myself to as a writer, and aspiring to do that.

    Katie Sluiter: Other than the fact that I now have my own author page on Amazon, I have really loved the new connections I’ve made with the contributors. We are all pretty diverse, but this one thing – losing friends – has brought us together. It’s a pretty cool thing.

    What is your advice to other writers who hope to get published in anthologies?

    Alyson Herzig: Even if it is not your normal genre you should submit. Let your readers see all the many facets of you, not just one. It expands your base and builds a solidarity with a group of women that you most likely would not have had otherwise.

    Kristin Shaw: Try, and try, and try again.  First, polish your work before it’s submitted – it’s hard to see the mistakes in your own essay, and you become melded to the words you have created without looking at them objectively. It’s important to find a few editors you trust to give you honest improvement suggestions.

    Victoria Fedden: Look for calls for submissions that speak to your experiences. Then try to imagine what the most common submissions will read like and be about and write the total opposite so that your piece stands out. Any way that you can be original or unique or find a new perspective on the topic will better your chances.

    Alison Lee: Write and submit. In writing your story, stay true to your voice. Edit brutally. Ask for feedback and be prepared to take any criticism, because they’re there to help you. Then submit. Don’t think that your writing or story isn’t good enough.

    What are your current and future writing projects?

    Elline Lipkin: I’d love to write both essays and more reported pieces for sites like the Atlantic and Slate (dreaming here!) about things/topics that affect women and girls.

    Estelle Erasmus: I am working on getting some of my essays published that have been taking space in my laptop for years. I sort of put stuff on hold in the early years of motherhood, but now it’s time to take everything off the back burner and begin again. I was thrilled to be published on Marie Claire and that is just the start for me. I’ve also reconnected with some publishing mentors from my early career and I’m excited to see where that will lead.

    Alyson Herzig: I am working on my Mental Healthy anthology, having just gone through all the submissions. It will be published in 2015.

    Kristin Shaw: One of my essays will be featured in Bannerwing Book’s Precipice anthology in October, and I have written two chapters for Carolyn Savage’s new book series (she is an author and Today show correspondent) that will be released early next year.  I have written a children’s book with Kelly and Rick Dale from the History show American Restoration, and we’re hoping it will go to print later this year.

    Katrina Willis: I just finished my next novel, tentatively titled “Parting Gifts.”

    Sandy Ebner: I’m working on a short story about a Vietnam vet, and am getting ready to start a revision on the novel I’ve been working on for what seems like forever. I’d also like to do a collection of essays.

    Lea Grover: I’m querying a memoir, and I’m working on an erotic fantasy e-book series. It’s AWFUL.

    Victoria Fedden: I just finished a piece about postpartum depression and OCD and I am about to embark on my third memoir.

    Jennifer Simon: I am publishing articles on various websites and working on my piece for the new anthology!

    Alison Lee: I just had twins at 34 weeks, and I have many thoughts and emotions about our time in NICU. I plan to write a series of essays on this, as well as general experience with twins (and four kids!). I’m also keeping an eye out on future anthologies and other writing opportunities at various websites and magazines. I’d love to be published again!

    Alethea Kehas: I’m working on some poetry and a Y/A book that would probably be in the category of Fantasy.

    Katie Sluiter: I just submitted an article on using mental health issues in a secondary classroom (I’m an English teacher) to a scholarly journal. I am also working on an essay for the HerStories Project’s next anthology about Postpartum Mood Disorders.  And I’m always writing alongside my students. Since they will soon be writing personal narratives, I have started my drafts so they can use them as mentor texts as they start their drafting processes.

    Alexandra Rosas: Hoping to have my collection of 35 short stories published under cultural memoir/Latina heritage.

    Sue Fagalde Lick: I’m marketing a novel and working on a memoir about the years I cared for my husband through Alzheimer’s disease.

    Do you have any questions for any of our contributors about their writing and submitting experiences?


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  • Come to the HerStories Project’s My Other Ex Twitter Party!

    You are cordially invited to celebrate the release of My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends with us!


    Join us on Twitter this Thursday (October 16) night at 9 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Follow along with the hashtag #myotherex.

    We’ll be talking with our contributors. Come to ask them questions and share your own stories with us!

    Have you read the book and want to share what you thought? Are you curious about the topic of friendship breakups? Come to the party! And you may win one of two copies of My Other Ex that we’ll be giving away….

    No need to RSVP but if you want to leave your Twitter handle in the comments, we’ll be sure to follow you before the party starts….

    See you then!

    Writers and bloggers, this is THE class to take!”

    This is what people are saying about our new Write Your Way to a Better Blog class! Get instruction, tips, and feedback from some of the best bloggers around. Learn how to improve your writing content and try out new types of writing. Starts October 27th. Sign up today while there are still spaces!


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