Origin Stories: They’re not just for Superheroes!

Yesterday was one of my kids’ birthdays. I found myself thinking (and talking) all day about the day he was born. I’m going to tell you the story and I beg you to bear with me because there is a point to it.

It was snowy and cold up in Baltimore and I had been feeling bad all day, but I wasn’t supposed to be in labor yet. It was a month too early! But my husband called the doctor anyway, and he suggested we just stop by the hospital to be checked out. Better safe than sorry. We figured we’d stop by Taco Bell and pick up dinner on the way home, then cuddle up in our cozy apartment with our four-year-old son and watch “The Simpsons”.

Well, I was in labor. Long story short, they decided to stop the labor so while they fed me drugs intravenously, my husband braved the snow and took our son to the Eastern Shore to stay with his Granny. The labor stopped and I was discharged the next morning with instructions to rest. I did, but the pains started again that evening and in the early morning hours, I woke my husband and we went to the hospital again and a few hours later, my blessedly healthy five-pound son was born.

This is a story like many others. My friends and I used to get together at play dates and swap birth stories. I find myself telling these stories to strangers and acquaintances who probably don’t get why it’s so important to me and are probably hiding yawns as a I tell them.

So why is this story so interesting to me? Because it’s an origin story. Not just my son’s origin story, but the story of how I became a mom of two (the story of how I became a mom of three is another one for another time!). I love origin stories. The one book of the Bible that I have actually read and studied is Genesis. “In the beginning…” is a magical phrase for me. I think these stories are important to me because they preserve where we came from, and that’s what stories were originally intended to do.

We are made up of our origin stories. How we became who we are. Parents, writers, sons, daughters…whatever you are, you have an origin story or two or three. Probably many all intertwined like leaves and vines. We are who we are because of our stories, so the next time your mother bores you with her story of your birth or your grandfather tells you for the umpteenth time what it was like when he was a kid, listen with an ear pressed to the ground. It’s your origins—your roots—that you’re hearing.

Whoops, I did it again! Another foray into the world of self-publishing…

First of all, happy new year! In spite of all evidence and predictions to the contrary, we rang in 2013 last night. Which means we still have a chance to make this world a better place with what we do. I hope I’m accomplishing that by adding more books to it because I spent much of yesterday doing exactly that and my new book Ducks in a Row went live right about midnight last night. By the time anyone reads this, I’ll have the cover posted in the feature area to your left, but I’m very proud of this cover (designed by me), so I’ll post it here, too:

Ducks in a Row Cover

Okay, so that’s what I did yesterday, why did I do it? My former venture into the world of self-publishing may have won me critical acclaim, but it sure didn’t make me rich. And self-publishing a book, even the way I do it through Kindle Direct Program, is not an easy thing, and it is nerve-wracking. After all, my book was never professionally edited. My readers will have to do with my editing skills. Admittedly, I’m not totally untalented in that area, but even I will admit a professional editor adds a lot to my stories.

But I did it anyway. Why? My only answer…again…is that I love this story. I wanted it to be a book. And when I couldn’t find a publisher for it (it’s really more women’s fiction than romance and it leans toward the sweet instead of the spicy), I decided, what the hell? This story wants to be told. I want this story to be a book, but a book needs readers. I found some readers for Weeds and Flowers. A lot of them, actually. Maybe I can do the same for Ducks in a Row. At any rate, it’s worth a try.

Plus, since I designed the cover, I got to make my name pretty big. Nice, huh? I didn’t go Stephen King big for design reasons (I wanted everything linear on the cover because of the title), but it’s still pretty big… Still dreaming of the day when my name is bigger than the title itself.