My Other Ex

  • 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!

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    **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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  • Book Club With The HerStories Project

    Are you in a book club? Book clubs aren’t always quite as easy or fun as they sound; even our own advice columnist, Nina Badzin, has struggled with book club drama! Some book clubs run into trouble when members disagree about the “terms” (you know, whether or not your group actually reads the book or whether they just sit around and drink wine and talk about their kids), and some book clubs can’t seem to agree on a book that interests all of them. I’m embarrassed to say that every single book club I’ve ever been part of (three!) has dissolved for one reason or another.

    But maybe you are one of the lucky ones and you have the perfect book club. Now all you need is the perfect book! (Do you see where I’m going with this one?) Not surprisingly, we think My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends would make a fantastic book club book. Here are just a few reasons why:

    1. Essay collections make for an easy, enjoyable read: you can put the book down and pick it up as often as you like, reading a whole section of the book in one sitting or just an essay or two at a time.
    2. These stories are real, which makes them even more compelling and relatable. We think you’ll find yourself somewhere in these essays, if not over and over again throughout the book.
    3. Friendship breakups and loss are universal; everyone can relate to the loss of a close friendship, whether it occurred recently or many years ago, and whether you were the one who was left behind or you did the walking. Reading about the friendship endings of others is sure to stir up some memories and feelings, and that makes excellent fodder for book club conversation.
    4. You might actually experience some relief, a catharsis, or an “aha” moment by talking about friendship loss with other women. One of my best friend’s husbands always says, “Have fun at therapy!” whenever we get together. It’s true: women gathering together and talking about the richness, complexity, and pain of relationships can be extremely therapeutic.

    And if that’s not enough to convince you, we have one more fun reason why we think My Other Ex would make a great choice for your book club. If your book club decides to read and discuss My Other Ex for its next meeting, you can have a complimentary Skype call with one of the editors! During your book club meeting, either Jessica or I (Stephanie) will be available for a Skype call where members of your group can ask us questions about the book, the publishing process, the essays, or friendship breakups in general. We already have one lined up, and we think it’s going to be so much fun! Send us an email at if you’re interested in setting up a chat for your book club meeting! You can buy the book here, and we’re including some Discussion Questions below to get you thinking:

    book club HSP

    Book Club Discussion Questions for My Other Ex

    • How old were you when you experienced your first friendship breakup? Who ended it? Did it take a long time to recover?
    • Have you had many friendships end? Did they fade away or were the breakups more dramatic?
    • When was the most recent time a friendship with a close friend ended? How did you feel?
    • Have you ever broken up with a friend? Why? Did you feel guilty?
    • Has a friend ever badly hurt you by ending your relationship?
    • Have you ever had a friendship end unexpectedly? Was it more painful than a gradual ending? Why?
    • Have you ever had a friendship end because of a romantic relationship? Did you lose friends after a divorce (yours or a friend’s) or after ending a romantic relationship?
    • Have your friendship breakups affected other friends in your circle? Did people have to take sides? Have you ever been “left behind” when your friends chose another friend over you?
    • What do you wish you’d done differently in the breakup? What do you wish your friend had done differently?
    • What would you say to your friend now, if you could?
    • Did you ever have a friendship end and it brought you relief?
    • Have you broken up with a close friend only to reconnect later? How did it change your friendship?
    • Do you think friendship breakups are more or less painful than a romantic relationship ending? Why?


    We would love to hear your reactions to the book! If you’ve read it, please consider writing a review on Amazon– it means a lot to us! And please spread the word to other book clubs you know! Happy reading!

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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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  • My Other Ex’s Publication Day Is Here!

    Jessica, Stephanie, and our amazing contributors are thrilled to announce the publication of My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends! To buy the book from Amazon or Nook, click here.

    It's Here!

    It’s a collection that all of us involved in the project are proud to release to you. We hope that you are engrossed by these stories and by these women’s wisdom and experiences, as well as comforted.

    A book like this is certainly not the work of one or two women. This was truly a community effort. We had the help of a gifted designer for our covers and marketing material, a fantastic copyeditor, an organized and efficient blog tour coordinator, and so many others. All of the writers in this collection participated in shaping the book and providing us with guidance and support, and we are eternally grateful.

    We hope that you love these stories of friendship and loss as much as we did. And if you do, you can help us to spread the word by sharing what you think of the book on Amazon or GoodReads. Reviews are critical to the success of independent authors and publishers.

    And please stay in touch with us by subscribing to our newsletter and getting updates about our next project, Mothering Through the Darkness: Stories of Postpartum Struggle, our call for submissions for that project, and our writing contest!

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  • Introducing the Contributors to MY OTHER EX!

    MYOTHEREX1Writing about failure in relationships — whether in romance or in friendship — takes an enormous amount of guts. It’s brave to admit ways in which our own actions and personalities may have contributed to the loss of a person from our lives who was once dear to us. It’s brave to put these raw truths — from one woman’s perspective — out into the world in the form of a compelling, honest story.

    In my view, the women who wrote the essays that make up My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends are indeed brave writers.

    They’re also talented, unique, and generous individuals, each with their own writing pasts and interests. Many are bloggers that you already love, others are new and emerging voices in fiction and poetry, and others have long and rich backgrounds in many different writing fields. We urge you to visit our brand new Contributors page and learn about these remarkable women.

    We’re also thrilled to announce that Nicole Knepper of the famous (infamous?) blog Moms Who Drink and Swear will be writing the foreword to our book. You may know Nicole as a blogger, as a social media force, as an author of the book Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind. In addition, she’s also a licensed mental health counselor, and she has years of experience and expertise in understanding human relationships. You won’t want to miss what Nicole has to say about female friendships.

    Can’t wait until September 15th, the book’s release date on Amazon and Nook? We’re excited to let you know that you can pre-order the book from us until August 1st. You’ll get the book early (we’ll send out autographed copies on September 2nd), and you’ll also be more directly supporting our Project and our mission of sharing women’s stories and finding unique voices.

    We’ll have lots more to say — and you’ll be learning more about  and from our contributors — as the summer goes on. We hope you’re enjoying the start of your summer!

    All the best, Jessica and Stephanie


    Interested in improving your writing in a supportive online community? The HerStories Project is now offering writing classes. Learn more!


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