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Updating My Look & Blogging for Money

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Updating My Look & Blogging for Money

The other day I was looking through photos from the past couple years, and I realized I was wearing the same dress in almost every picture. No joke, take a look:

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Cape Cod, 2012

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Mexico, 2013

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Seattle, 2014

 

I still love this dress, and it would probably be on my body right now if it wasn’t stretched out and threadbare from my wearing it approximately twice a week for the past five years.

Besides my wardrobe, you know what else has been looking the same for the past five years? This blog. Come July, In The Garden of Eva will turn five years old.

A lot has changed since I started this blog. Back then I was single, living in my friend’s guest room on Cape Cod, and just learning how to write novels.

Now I’m married with a baby, living in Maryland, with a couple of finished novels sitting on my desktop. But this blog still looks the same.

Is it time for a change?

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Vancouver. This dress. Again.

 

On the wardrobe front, I decided yes, I need some new looks, especially some nursing-friendly (but not too mom-ish) tops and dresses.

After a few disappointing trips to the mall, I decided to try Stitch Fix*. I’m sure by now you’ve heard of this service, as every blogger in the world has at least one post dedicated to what their Stitch Fix “personal stylist” sent them. So I won’t go into detail. I’ll just say that I kept one dress from my first box, one skirt from my second, and sent everything back with my third. I will also say that Stitch Fix customer service was super nice, and because I was so unhappy with my third box, they are sending me a fourth one for free. Woohoo!

(*If you decide to try Stitch Fix and use my referral link, I will get a $25 credit, but it will cost nothing extra for you. Come on, help Mama buy a new dress!)

So I’m slowly updating my look. And now the question is, should update the look of this blog?

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My mom and me at my brother’s wedding over the weekend.  I am wearing a dress from Stitch Fix.

 

My friend Jeni Wallace, who is also a new mom, recently started a beautiful food blog, The Coquette Kitchen, and she is currently learning how to make money blogging. She strongly encouraged me to think about how I could, too.

I have to admit, it’s an intriguing thought. I live in the DC area, which is ranked the most expensive place in the country for childcare. Not to mention the absurd commute times. (It often takes me 45 minutes to drive 6.5 miles to the school where I work part-time.) So the more I can work from home while my baby is napping, the better.

And besides, wouldn’t it be nice to make money doing something I enjoy… and something that I’m going to do anyway?

But the more I talked to Jeni, the more I realized that in order to make money blogging, I would have to totally change my approach.

And I’m not just talking ads or affiliate links, although those are ways to make money. According to Jeni, the number one way bloggers make money is by selling their own e-books and online courses. Some of these courses sell for as much as $40 or $50 or even $100 or $1000! As I began poking around at some of the money-making blogs out there, I realized that many offer courses on how to make money blogging.

Wait a minute… So the best way to make money blogging is to sell courses on how to make money blogging? Hmm…

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Jeni Wallace and me.

 

Not all courses are on how to blog, of course. Jeni’s husband, Daniel David Wallace, is also making a foray into the blogging business; he has a free e-book on how to write better sentences, as well as a course called “Unlock the Six-Step Story.” Right now they are both free, but I assume he’ll start charging for courses once he builds up his fan base.

Daniel’s courses make sense to me. He has a PhD in creative writing and is a successful and innovative writing instructor. He’s legitimately an expert who has unique and helpful information to share. His content is original and genuine and worth paying for.

I also have no doubt if Jeni starts offering courses, hers will be amazing as well. Not only is Jeni a fabulous cook, she basically knows everything about everything. She’s an expert at researching things and breaking them down in a friendly and helpful manner so that the average research-hating-lazy-person like me can digest them. Jeni could offer a course in anything from “how to plan a European culinary vacation with a baby in tow” to “how to always order the best thing at a restaurant both at home and abroad,” and it would be well worth the money.

So that’s great. Jeni and Daniel are going to become a blogging-business power couple. Good for them.

But what about me? What about my blog?

Is there a way that I could make a bit of money by blogging that feels genuine? Do I have unique information to offer that people would be willing to pay for? How can I get more followers? Do I need to change my blog to look more polished and professional? Do I need to change the way I write my posts? And if I change the way I blog, will it still be fun?

I don’t know.

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GET A NEW DRESS, EVA!!

 

It might be worth doing a little research at least. Maybe even forking out the money for this course on how to make money blogging**. (Jeni recommends it, and if Jeni recommends it, I know it must be good.)

(**If you purchase Blog By Number using this affiliate link, I will get a commission, but it will cost you nothing extra. See? I’m learning about this money-making stuff already!)

But there’s this part of me that wonders, do I really want to spend my time researching how to make money blogging and writing e-courses? I don’t have much free time as it is. Wouldn’t I rather spend it working on my fiction in the hopes that one day I might make a bit of money from my published novels? That’s the type of writing I really want to be doing anyway.

But if I’m not making money from this blog, and not very many people read it, what’s the point of writing it in the first place?

Because I like it? Is that enough of a reason?

No matter what I decide, though, I do think it’s time for a blog makeover.

I’m considering upgrading my hosting site and freshening up the look of my blog. Maybe I’ll start looking into that and wait until Jeni’s figured out this blogging for money thing… then I’ll buy her course. ‘Cuz I know if she made one, it’d be good.

Hey, if I can have a Stitch Fix personal stylist pick out my clothes for me, I can have Jeni do my research for me. And in the end, both my wardrobe and my blog will have a fresh look for the world!

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Me, my husband, and our baby. I’m wearing a new skirt from Stitch Fix.

 

 

Be the Press You Want to See: An Interview with Jeni Wallace of Burlesque Press

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Be the Press You Want to See:  An Interview with Jeni Wallace of Burlesque Press

It’s like one day Jeni Wallace said to herself, hey I’d like to publish books. Then, instead of tossing the thought away as an impossible dream, she enlisted the help of her husband, Daniel Wallace, to be the editor and technology guru.  She did research, attended conferences, and organized a literary festival. She decided to call her company Burlesque Press, based on the literary definition of the word: A work that ridicules a topic by treating something exalted as if it were trivial or vice-versa.

That was a little more than three years ago.  Since then, Burlesque Press has hosted three writing festivals in New Orleans and produced a handful of beautiful books.  I still can’t get over it.  Jeni is amazing, and below she talks about Burlesque Press — how it came to be and where it’s heading.

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Me and Jeni at the Burlesque Press booth at the Southern Independent Booksellers Association conference in 2015.

 

Why did you decide to start Burlesque Press?

If you’re an author, people always tell you to write the book that you would love to read: I wanted to create the press that I most wanted to see in the world. I have always been about promoting community in the writing world, and after I left my former job as a low-residency study abroad program coordinator, I was feeling isolated. The writing world can be harsh, and it can be competitive. I have always sought to redirect that energy towards a more supportive, convivial, supportive atmosphere. And I needed a medium in which I could do that on a larger scale.

I saw that the world of publishing was changing, and I felt there was room for an enterprise that could work closely with talented authors to get their work out into the world, offering hands-on, careful editing and advice. As authors, that’s what we really want. Of course, writers still dream of that six-figure advance, but those advances are so, so rare these days. I would never encourage someone not to try for one: by all means — go forth and bowl the New York publishing world over! But I wanted to create an enterprise that could be nurturing, creative and be something more than just an old-fashioned publisher, for those that were ready, willing, and able to try something different.

 

You talk about the importance of a writing community…  is that why you created an annual writers’ festival in New Orleans?

Yes — The Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball. In my experience, writers are always looking for ways to connect. And what better way than a few days in New Orleans, over New Year’s, talking about books, writing, and publishing? People are happiest, I think, when they are talking about the things they love – and eating and drinking and getting decked out in masks and finery. That’s why we have a laid back but fun masked ball on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been so impressed with how people connect at the festival and then maintain those connections. Our festival goers have formed lasting bonds; they frequently meet up at different times throughout the year. And they have become loyal to the festival: over the last few years, we’ve built up a great community in New Orleans and throughout the wider US writing world. We are small, but we are strong.

 

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Jeni Wallace at the Hands On Festival’s Masquerade Ball

 

What did you know about the indie book publishing industry before you started this venture?  Where did you go for help and information when you decided, “yes, I’m going to do this”?

Honestly, I jumped in with both feet. I didn’t know how to go about it (sometimes I think I still don’t). The New Orleans Arts Council provided invaluable advice. In less than a day, they helped me incorporate as an LLC, and from there, it was off to the races. As far as the technicalities of publishing – I knew some. I know more now, but still not enough. For instance, I don’t know how to use InDesign, and it’s basically impossible to design a book without it. Luckily, I made the wise decision of marrying someone who knows how to do book design, and knows how to do it well. 🙂 The rest came through trial and error. It took much longer to get our first book out that I anticipated. But each one after has been smoother.

 

What have you learned about indie publishing? 

I’ve learned all about the ins and outs of how to get a book into print. Which printers and distributors you can work with. How unbelievable complicated it is to do an ebook version of the books you want to print. How inexpensive it can actually be to bring a book out, and (at the same time) how crazily expensive it can actually be to bring a book out.

 

Is there anything you would have done differently? Anything you plan to do differently in the future?

I would get more help. It’s hard when you have little to no budget. I can’t hire employees. We are discussing taking on some unpaid interns: I would like to pass on some of the knowledge to aspiring writers. I think if I’d had this opportunity before, when I was an MFA student, the whole process would have been much smoother. We are also looking to incorporate a piece of our enterprise as a non-profit, so that we can bring in some grant money. Right now, we aren’t limited by ideas, interest, or quality submissions. We are limited by a lack of capital.

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Jeni and Eva at AWP.

 

So far Burlesque Press has published four books (and two of them just came out this week!)  Tell me about them!

The Melting Season by Ira Sukrungruang: funny, tragic, and magical tales that explore the gap between Asian Americans and the other American cultures that try to understand them.  (Short Stories)

Postcards from the Dead Letter Office by Dawn Manning: using the ancient Japanese “tanka” poetic form to create a new look at international travel.  (Poetry )  (See my interview with Dawn.)

A House Made of Stars by Tawnysha Greene: a young girl, struggling with poverty and disability, has to escape from her violent father.  (Novel)  (See my review  and interview with Tawnysha.)

Siren Song by Tawni Waters: visionary poems about modern day goddesses.  (Poetry)  (See my interview with Tawni.)

You can buy BP books and merch (like a snazzy t-shirt) here.

 

Do you make any money from publishing books? How many books do you expect to sell?

As of right now, none of our books have reached profitable status, at least in the sense that they repay the work-hours we put into creating them. This is what we expected when we started: today, even the big presses make most of their money from a relatively small number of heavily-promoted, semi-famous books. But we’re getting closer with each release, and we’ve enjoyed expanding our reputation and our ability to interact with authors and booksellers. We have begun reaching out to bookstores and other mediums so that we may increase our sales reach; we’ve also been amazed by how good our authors are at selling copies and promoting their work. We’ve been so lucky to work with such powerfully entrepreneurial artists! You can’t be shy if you publish with a small press – you’ve got to be willing to do readings, spread the word, build a following. Our authors are the best.

Hanging out with BP authors: Eva, Tawni, & Jeni on left and Eva, Jeni. & Dawn on right.

 

All of your books are so beautiful! How do you take a word document and turn it into a pretty book?

It is vital to us that our books have strong, attractive, elegant covers. We frequently go through many designs and design permutations until we get the right one. This is often a tricky spot with writers. Many writers have an image in their head of what their cover should be. Sometimes they can articulate it, sometimes they can’t. We work with our authors more than most publishers do, and are willing to spend time and money on getting the right cover, something that will captivate would-be readers. And we also spend a lot of time researching cover design, and matching the book’s aesthetic with something that fits our brand AND does justice to the work.

Until recently, we did all of the design for our books ourselves. As we get more titles in print (and get busier with all the things) we are outsourcing some aspects of the design, particularly the illustration. We are friends, for instance, with a great artist in Borneo, Andrea Tan, and we asked her to create the cover of Dawn Manning’s poetry collection.

 

How might publishing with Burlesque Press be different from publishing with other presses (indie or otherwise)?

The difference in publishing with us is that we approach things as a kind of artistic partnership. And not just between us and the author: BP authors are very supportive of one another. This is where our love of community comes in. We work with our authors to help them network, organize events, and reach out. Plus, we have our literary festival where we present authors to the New Orleans writing scene.

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The Burlesque Press crew at Boston AWP 2013. (Eva, Daniel, Jeni, Merridith.)

 

How do you decide what to publish? What are you looking for in submissions?

We believed, when we started the press, that if we made high-quality books, with great design and attention to detail, talented writers would notice. And this has been true. We’ve already worked with some remarkably skilled, established authors.

My husband and I both have broad tastes. We like fiction with strong plots and lyrical prose. We publish a bit of poetry, but are focusing, for the near future, on prose. We are open to a variety of different subject matter: for instance, we have a literary sci-fi book planned for 2017. I love reading YA, and would consider a strong YA title. Honestly, if it’s well written and keeps you turning pages, then we’re going to be interested. But we can’t publish everything we receive. Additionally, the author also has to like us! We’re a very small team, so personal interaction is a priority for us. It’s possible we’d love a book, but maybe pass because the author isn’t looking for that kind of close working relationship — which is completely fine: there are other publishers out there that would be a better fit.

We have a full schedule through 2017 at the moment, and we have some great books in the pipeline: I can’t wait to share them with the world.

 

In my opinion, it’s incredibly brave and industrious to start your own press. Have you always been so enterprising? Where do you get your energy and confidence?

This is flattering, but I am terrified on a daily basis. I want to do so much, much more than I have the energy or resources for. It’s actually been learning process for me in managing my own expectations and the reality of what I can do. I do have a full time job after all, and it demands a lot. We’re always looking for ways to do more with a fixed amount of time, energy, and money.

If someone can send me more of any one of those things, I would be very grateful.

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Jeni Wallace and Burlesque Press are both amazing.  Visit the website, or follow her on Twitter.

AWP Pickup Lines, or, How Important is Platform?

AWP Pickup Lines, or, How Important is Platform?

Last week 12,000 writers and editors convened in Minneapolis for the annual AWP Conference (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs)… Perhaps you were one of them? Maybe you were there for the panel discussions and poetry readings. Maybe you came to buy or sell books at the book fair (or collect the free candy). But certainly you were also there, like everyone else, to network.

Sure, success in the literary world isn’t all about who you know, but who you know can help. I got my agent, for example, through a good word from my mentor, and I got my mentor through a suggestion from my friend Jeni Wallace. I didn’t meet Jeni at AWP, but you might have. She’s gone every year for over a decade.

But making contacts at AWP is no easy feat. You know the scene: thousands of sleep-deprived writers milling around under the fluorescent lights of the convention center, trying awkwardly to make conversation, despite the fact that most of them would rather be at home on the couch, curled up with a good book.

Eva and Jeni Wallace at the AWP 2015 book fair.

 

This was my third official AWP, and I told myself that this year was going to be all about making contacts. I have good reason to be collecting friends and followers. I’m now the Features Editor for Compose Journal and will soon need people to write articles for me. I’ll also (hopefully) have a book coming out some time in the next two years. And yet, I found it nearly impossible to tell people either of these things, much less hand out my silly business cards which have a picture of my face on them. I didn’t want to come off as a shameless self-promoter, like those aggressive types who thrust at you glossy postcards advertising their latest self-published memoir and then proceed to talk your ear off about it. So, I did what I normally do: I worked at the Burlesque Press table (my friend Jeni Wallace is the director) and promoted Jeni’s literary endeavors instead of my own.

But this AWP, a funny thing happened. On the first night of the conference, I composed a tweet using the hashtag “#AWP15,” I noticed that there was another trending hashtag: “#AWPPickupLines.” I laughed and told my fiancé.

“Tweet, “I’m an editor…wanna submit to me?”” he suggested.

“That’s pretty good,” I told him. So I did.

By the next morning, my tweet had been favorited and retweeted over thirty times, and I had eight new followers. I was pretty excited. I had managed to network without stepping foot inside the convention center. And I started to wonder, did I even need to go to AWP? I could sit at home in my pajamas and use Twitter to make just as many — probably a lot more — contacts than I ever could in person.

My friend (and former professor) Bill Lavender, founder of Lavender Ink, at one of the offsite reading events I attended.

On Thursday I went to a panel in which a cranky author complained about how the publishing world is now linked so heavily with social media. (And it’s true — last year I nearly got an agent through Twitter.) “My agent made me get a facebook page and an author website,” he complained. But I don’t share his negativity. If I can use social media to find readers and make contacts from the comfort of my own home… that seems pretty sweet to me.

In fact, I started tweeting more “#AWPPickupLines,” hoping to get more followers, although none of my lines were quite as good as the first one, nor garnered as immediate of a response.  (“Wanna sit on MY panel?” and “I’ve got two drink tickets in my pocket…”)

Then I started to wonder — are my Twitter followers really going to contribute to the success of my career? Writers are always being told to build platform, but according to my dear friend Jeni (who knows about these sorts of things), less than one percent of all your facebook fans and followers will actually buy your book when you have one. And according to Stephanie Bane at Creative Nonfiction, platforms are overrated:  “If you reach all one thousand fans of your author page no fewer than three times with an announcement of your book release, and include a link to Amazon, you could reasonably expect ten of them to buy your book.” And, she points out, only six percent of your fans are likely to see each of your posts, so that ten book estimate is extremely optimistic.

You know who might buy your book, though? Friends and acquaintances. And I’m not talking facebook friends or Twitter followers. I’m talking people you have met and interacted with in person. Think of how easy it is for people to click “follow” or “favorite.”   It’s just as easy for them to disregard what I have to say.

I think social media is important, and I’m thrilled to have more followers, but making the in-person contacts is important, too. In the end, you have to do both. Sure, I only made two or three real connections at AWP this year —  I’m talking people with whom I might actually get in contact or stay in touch.  That’s not much, but I suspect one face-to-face friend is worth twenty of the facebook variety.

My business card.  I gave out exactly three at the conference.

My business card. I gave out exactly three at the conference.

Interview with Daniel Wallace, Editor of Siren Song by Tawni Waters

Interview with Daniel Wallace, Editor of Siren Song by Tawni Waters

Recently my friend Daniel Wallace edited a collection of poetry called Siren Song. It was the very first book released by Burlesque Press (the brainchild of Daniel’s amazing wife, Jeni Wallace), and the poems happen to have been written by my friend, Tawni Waters.

Not only is Tawni a poet, she’s also won awards for her travel writing, recently published a breakout YA novel, Beauty of the Broken, with Simon and Schuster, written and starred in plays… the list goes on. Here’s what Daniel (who writes the blog The Incompetent Writer) has to say about working with Tawni and editing her book. (P.S. Daniel’s a Brit, so I’ve left in his wonky British spelling.)

Buy Siren Song here.

 

Daniel, tell me about Tawni Waters.

Tawni’s talent would be exasperating if I didn’t know how seriously she takes her craft, how dedicated she is to art and the imagination.

If you follow Tawni on Facebook or meet her for the first time, you might think this was merely a woman who stays up late writing inspiring messages about love, who stumbles through life having visions, and who probably loses several possessions every time she passes through an airport. But we writers, well, we have a kind of knack for spotting a person’s other side, if they have one. If you listen to Tawni talk, you’ll quickly see how seriously she takes her work, her investigation of the world around her, and her artistic vocation. When it’s time to write, she writes.

She’s someone the world should be hearing more of.

 

I agree. Now, tell me about this new book of hers.

Siren Song is a collection of poems centred around the idea of divine love. As Tawni has pointed out, this is a theme we see repeated in religion after religion, in every mythology: while there is great darkness and evil in the world, love has a transformative power. Love can make us divine, and not just by being loved by someone else; when we commit to the act of loving, we discover our own greatness, our own power.

In Siren Song, we meet goddess figures such as Persephone, Mary Magdalene, and Isis, each of them struggling to redeem and resurrect those they love—we also watch them gradually developing a proper understanding of their own independent, immortal nature.

 

What about Tawni’s poetry appeals to you? What do you think will appeal to readers?

The nice thing about editing and publishing Tawni Waters is that you don’t have to guess what parts of her work will appeal to other people: she already has a following; she already provokes amazement and delight in readers.

People find that she speaks about feelings they have long been trying to express, that she says the things they were hoping to have permission to say themselves. We all know we are greater than the contents of our wallets and our resumes; we all want to connect to forces greater than ourselves. Tawni’s poems show us how large we really are.

When people first hear or read one of the longer poems in the collection, “A Message to the Mad Ones,” they invariably end up quoting it on Facebook.

Tawni and Eva at Jeni and Daniel's wedding.

Tawni and Eva at Jeni and Daniel’s wedding.  Tawni is also a master of the selfie.

 

This was your first time editing a book, correct? Tell me about the experience.

It was a lot of work! I’m extremely grateful that Tawni was the first author I worked with on a project of this scale: she was okay with delays, with edits, with more delays, with re-imaginings and restructurings of the manuscript, with the evolution of cover designs and font choices. I can’t imagine many authors being so tolerant.

 

How long of a process was the creation of Siren Song, from conception to holding the paperback baby in your hands?

Long.

 

Can you elaborate?

We started off with a huge collection of Tawni’s stories, essays, and poems, and for a while, we thought that Siren Song would be a general introduction to her work, like a companion-piece to her YA novel, which was coming out around the time that we were putting the manuscript together. As my wife and I continued to re-read Tawni’s poetry, however, we came to see a unity within many of those poems. Eventually Jeni decided: this should primarily be a collection of poetry. We divided the poems into three sections, each dedicated to a different group of goddess figures.

Then I merely had the simple process of teaching myself Adobe InDesign, typography, book cover design, searching for the right cover images, and then learning the requirements of Lightning Source (our printer), and communicating with them as the book went through electronic and physical proofs. At one stage, I had a long phone conversation with the printer’s rep, discussing which of four different blacks I was supposed to make the text.

Then, at last, we waited (nervously) for the first print run to be delivered to New Orleans, where we launched it (at the 2014 Hands On Literary Festival).

 

How did Tawni react to the book when she first saw it?

She cried.

 

What’s next for Burlesque Press?

We will continue to host our annual writers and readers conference in New Orleans: The Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball.

We are looking for more manuscripts to publish, and we’re interested in novels, poetry collections, essay collections—we’re not so interested in genre divisions. If you’ve read this far in the interview, I hope it’s clear how firmly I stand behind Tawni Waters’s work, and how much I believe in it: that’s what I’m looking for in any future manuscript we accept.*

*Since I did this interview with Daniel, Burlesque Press has made the announcement that they will publish the debut novel A House Made of Stars by Tawnysha Greene later this year.  Apparently they have a thing for “Tawns.”

Daniel and Eva.  His head is probably not that much larger than mine in real life, His head does hold a lot of brains.

Daniel and Eva. His head is probably not that much larger than mine in real life, although it’s possible.  His head does hold a lot of brains.

 

Will you be editing more books for Burlesque Press? What sort of manuscripts are you looking for?

I’ll be editing all future books, I think.

We’re not particularly focused on how well a book will sell, but we are very, very focused on what we think readers will want to read. That doesn’t mean that a book has to be “likeable” – it could be harrowing and painful – but it should be a work that I know I could honestly tell a reader: you must take a look at this.

I’m also interested in editing and publishing a book (or three) on the craft of fiction. This is a passion of mine; I try to have read (or at least have looked into) every well-known book on the subject. So if anyone has a very good manuscript on the techniques of writing stories and novels, I’d love to look at it.

 

How can people get their very own copy of Siren Song?

You can order a gleaming new copy on Amazon. But I would prefer, for financial reasons, if you would order it directly from us. Like all small presses, we make more money if you purchase it that way, and that extra money helps us read and publish more authors.

Visit our store here: Burlesque Press.

The Burlesque Press crew at Boston AWP 2013.  (Eva, Daniel, Jeni, Merridith.)

The Burlesque Press crew at Boston AWP 2013. (Eva, Daniel, Jeni, Merridith.)

 

Would you be able to share with me one of your favorite poems from the collection?

One of my favourite poems is the first in the collection, “In Memoriam.” It’s told in the voice of Mary Magdalene: it describes Mary’s dawning realisation that she is a divine figure, just as Jesus is. Other poems in Siren Song develop her story, describing Mary’s journey from being a lost, wandering woman to becoming a goddess in her own right.

 

Here it is.   (Thanks to Daniel and Burlesque Press for this fun interview!)

 

IN MEMORIAM: FROM MAGDALENE TO THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST

by Tawni Waters

 

Did I lose the real story when I came to this place?

In visions, I’ve seen
the darkness that was over the face of the deep
before the

“let there be”

brought this dead world back to life.
Black nothing still hovers here
smothering the memory
of every soul that enters the atmosphere.
We forget the celestial spheres.

My curse is I still half-remember.

When I saw you, I knew
who you were
even though you did not.
It was that knowing that drove me
to give up everything
to be yours.
Pharisees called me crazy,
and I’d think so too
had you not whispered secrets
only God could know,
had not invisible angels
visibly conspired with me
every step of the way.

Darling, I watched you cure lepers.
Darling, we raised the dead.

I read the book. I understood
you would have to die,
though no one told me
I would be crucified too.
When I was taken to the wilderness
to face Satan first
I was stunned.
Until I was staring into the devil’s eyes,
I believed I was nothing more
than a whore kissing your feet.
I did not know that there was such
a thing as the

Daughter of God.

I saw the icons. I thought
when you breathed your last,
I’d be kneeling at your cross,
weeping.
I did not know
having conquered death
I would be watching
from some distant paradise,
barely able to see your wounds
that would someday become
sacred scars.

Savior,
this heaven is hell without you.
Divine light lived in your eyes,
but here, surrounded by the holy,
I know
it was your humanity I loved most.
The blood that poured from your mouth
when they broke you
must have tasted like salt.

My king, know this as you weep alone in your tomb.
If I could, I would wash your feet forever.
I would hold your human head against my chest
and make you remember holy.

My love, do not listen to the demons.
Death is an illusion.
When you see that
and fly free

my king
my love
Son of God
Son of Man

fly to me.

My sacred lips will kiss you
until you forget the fire.

Tawni Waters, author of Siren Song.

Tawni Waters, author of Siren Song.