All in

The books are ALL IN!!

It feels like it’s taken forever,

gif of Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy saying finally

but the books are finally here, piled up in my dining room and in Amanda’s living room.

books and greeting cards propped on the pile of boxes in my dining room

The hardcovers came in yesterday (finally!), so now we’ve got all the books. I am totally biased, but they are gorgeous. The paper is nice and thick, the covers so nice and soft that I keep wanting to pet them, the colors so vibrant. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you can order them here, on sale for $12 and $17 for the release month.)

“But wait,” you may be saying, “what are those things that look like greeting cards?”

Well, they’re greeting cards 🙂 If you’re in the Zeeland, Michigan area this Saturday, May 21, come and see me and Amanda at the Peddler’s Market, where we’ll be selling the books as well as some cards. We’ll be putting the cards for sale on after the weekend ($4 each) — three birthday cards, one Father’s Day card (the one of the dad making silly T Rex arms), and three cards with general statements that could be used for birthdays, Happy Adoption Days, and any day “You are so loved” and “We’re in this together” would be appropriate.

There are what seems like a thousand things to do: get the Kickstarter hardcovers signed by all three of us, send them to our contributors, send the orders that are coming in through the website, make price tags for the Peddler’s Market, get us set up on Fulfillment by Amazon so the books will be for sale there (soon!), get set up on Goodreads, get onto the SEO wagon for the website, make sure my Square reader works, put the cards on the website….

The list also includes fun things. I got to upgrade my membership in the Alliance of Independent Authors from Associate to Author (see the shiny new badge in the sidebar).

And we got our first feedback from a reader:


As Real As It Gets is getting very real!

My new best friend is command + shift + 4. Because that’s how you take a screen shot on a Mac while choosing exactly what image you want to steal … um, I mean share.

Back in October, I posted a lot about a Kickstarter project for a picture book about a boy who can’t help yelling, “You’re not my real mother!” We made the goal (hooray!) and the always-brilliant Joel Schoon-Tanis has finished the illustrations, so now the project is on to the photographer and the book designer. It’s getting closer!

As a writer, it’s unusual for me to be at a loss for words, but that’s where I’m at every time I look at these illustrations. My co-author, Amanda Barton, and I pounded out the story and shaped my words, and now here they are, given bodies. It’s moving.

So as a treat for us all, here are a few of the illustrations I screen-shotted from Joel’s Instagram feed. To see more of them, as well as other great paintings and images, follow him:

If you weren’t part of the Kickstarter and you’d like to find out when the book is available, head over to West Olive Press and sign up.


It's like a T Rex taking over my body, jaws opening wide for a prehistoric roar.
Some kid on the playground was going on about the monster under his bed. Hah.
I know where a real monster lives.
In my belly.
It’s like a T Rex taking over my body, jaws opening wide for a prehistoric roar.


Like a gas bubble, stretching me until I’m a balloon about to pop.
Like a gas bubble, stretching me until I’m a balloon about to pop.


The monster always thinks this will be the time it shocks my mother...
The monster always thinks this will be the time it shocks my mother…


She plops down with me. “Forever means always. Longer than you can imagine. Longer than even I can imagine.” My “okay” is kind of wobbly...
She plops down with me. “Forever means always. Longer than you can imagine. Longer than even I can imagine.”
My “okay” is kind of wobbly…

Let’s never go through this again

Boys and girls, this will be my last Kickstarter-related post.

[I pause here to give you a moment to say, “Thank goodness.”]

In three days, the campaign will be over. We’re getting closer: less than $10,000 to go. And there are a few big contributions that I’ve been told to expect that haven’t come in yet. Still, hope and anxiety are battling it out inside me, swooping in and out of prominence like a murmuration of starlings.

Frankly, that was so mesmerizing, I’m already a little calmer. Mesmerizing murmuration. That’s fun to say. Go ahead, take a moment to say it out loud.

But the reality of all that swooping in my emotional life isn’t nearly so beautiful. I will be relieved when, in three days, we know the status of this project. When we know whether we’re moving full steam ahead, or scrambling to rethink everything.

It’s been a privilege to hear so many of our supporters tell us their adoption and fostering stories. It’s been moving to feel the support of so many people. Still, I will do everything in my power to never do another crowdfunding campaign ever again. I know it’s a good business model for testing market support and building buzz, but I am not well-suited to the emotional roller-coaster.

So one final plea. One final link. I’d be a bad entrepreneur if I didn’t. Here’s the video, and here’s the link.

I love each and every one of you for sticking with me through this month. Let’s never go through this again.

I am not a natural entrepreneur

But my father is. Which may be why I am not one. Or, rather, why I never wanted to be one.

Do you know how long and how hard entrepreneurs work? My dad was still pulling all-nighters well into his fifties.

gif of Homer Simpson reading hard

Do you know how much entrepreneurs carry on their shoulders? For a year after high school, I worked for my dad’s fledgling company, and since I was daughter, as well as employee, I knew those times he was one day away from not making payroll. He always worked it out and found backers, but that’s a lot of stress for one person who’s simultaneously building a product, managing the people making and selling the product, finding new markets, taking care of current customers, pushing innovation, coming up with new ideas so there will be more products in the future, traveling to spread the word, wondering whether they’re making money fast enough to keep the investors happy, making sure that the deals made are solid enough for both the near and the far future, all while doing things like spending time with family and friends (who add their own stresses, as well as joys). Entrepreneurs are superheroes. Seriously.

Mr. Incredible lifts a car

Their ability to maintain hope and determination in the face of rejection and long odds is amazing.

Katara looks hopeful.

I like to have a job I can complete. I like to have work I don’t have to worry about after I leave the office. I like clear expectations and reachable goals. I like to have my evenings free. If I can swing it, I like to have my late-afternoons free.

But, alas. I am too much like my father: I have ideas that inspire and delight and confound me, and in pursuing them, I’ve become a writer who is independently publishing her work.

In other words: I’ve become an entrepreneur.

Tina Fey is in hysterics

This year, I’ve started two companies and brought two writing projects to ever-nearing fruition. I’ve got this Kickstarter thing happening for As Real As It Gets (a picture book about an adopted or foster child who yells, “You’re not my real mother!”) (less than two weeks to see whether we’ll make it!), which is a constant dance of pitching, rejection, acceptance, and learning. So, so much learning. And the thing about mistakes is that you can only see them after you’ve made a decision and acted on it, not before. I am constantly anxious, yet still a little hopeful. Committed to moving forward, mistakes and all.

Given that there are 11 days to go and we aren’t even a third of the way funded, it feels like there is a good chance we won’t make our goal for the Kickstarter, which means that we don’t get any of that money, which means that we have to find other methods for getting this book published. Because we will get this book published.

If every person who told us they think the book is amazing and asked us to let them know when it’s published (not to mention the organizations that do the same), contributed to the crowd funding campaign, we’d be set. But they don’t. Is it because you have to be a little entrepreneurial to contribute to a Kickstarter campaign? I don’t know, but we’re working as hard as we can to get the word out to anyone who might be just that little bit of entrepreneurial. Or to any adoptive or foster parents who might be just a little bit desperate for books that address their kids’ experiences.

Speaking of which, Amanda and I will be interviewed by Grand Rapids community powerhouse Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Morning Show on Friday (I’ll post a link once it’s on the web).

So check us out, if you haven’t already. Spread the link around if you haven’t already.

And pray for me. I’m not a natural entrepreneur and I hate asking people to do things for me … but I’m learning.