Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Little Truth on Your Shirt -Photo Shoot

An amazingly busy weekend in DC. One of the tasks on my to-do-list was the photo shoot for the new book by Sonya Renee Taylor.

We have been putting the A Little Truth on Your Shirt project together while 3,000 miles apart. While I was in L.A., Sonya met with the official GirlChild Press graphic designer, Kendra Kuliga, to sketch out some ideas for what she would like to see for the cover. Now I am in DC and Sonya is gigging some where in the south, so I am overseeing the photo shoot.

Our model for this project is the Sudanese beauty Elen Awalom. Elen is a talented photographer in her own right - which made the shoot so much easier and efficient.

Check out our video on the shoot and keep an eye out for the new cover.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Interview at WPFW with Nkenge Toure - In Our Voices

Living a bicoastal life for the next couple months and this week finds me in snowy Washington, DC.

This morning I battled to find parking (don't let me get started about lawn chairs in parking spaces) so I could hang out with Nkenge Toure (In Our Voices) at Pacifica Radio WPFW. She has hosted the show for over 20 years and has always been a strong advocate for women and strengthening our voices.

I came in to talk about the press and our upcoming projects (Woman's Work and A Little Truth on Your Shirt), but I also got the chance to help out with their winter pledge drive. WPFW has been a part of Washington, DC for over 30 years and they have been a vital, informed voice in the progressive dialogue about all the issues that impact the city.

I appreciate their continued support of GirlChild Press.

Friday, February 12, 2010

GirlChild Press Accepting Manuscripts

Although we have set the publishing slate for 2010 with the anticipated release of Woman's Work: The Short Stories (the final anthology from the girls series) and our first single-author book, A Little Truth on Your Shirt, by Sonya Renee Taylor, we are already preparing for 2011.

In line with the GirlChild Press mission, we are interested in publishing the works of women and girl writers. We are especially interested in submissions from writers 21-years-old and younger, although writers of all ages are invited to submit their work.

We are currently looking for manuscripts in the following areas:
* YA Novels(with special interest in a Native American/Latina/Arab/Asian protagonist)
* Speculative Fiction
* Historical Fiction
* Poetry
* Memoirs
* How to (with an emphasis on girls)
No exclusively erotica manuscripts at this time. Also no anthologies.

Submission Guidelines:
1. Submit the first ten (10) pages of your manuscript electronically to

2. The subject line of the email should include the title of the work, your name and the genre. Example: Black Swan submitted by Michelle Sewell - memoir.

3. A basic summary of the work should be included in the body of the email, along with your bio.

4. Also share why you believe this book should be published and who is the intended audience.

5. Please allow 3-4 weeks for reveiw. If we are interested in seeing the entire manuscript we will contact you for a hard copy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Adventures in Mothering Mother: A Book Review

The winter Meg Federico’s 81-year-old mother, Addie, fell and hit her head on the sidewalk, while vacationing in Florida, they suddenly found themselves cast in a geriatric version of the movie Freaky Friday. Seemingly overnight, they swap roles in the parent/child dynamic and every day, for the next three years, is a series of unexpected and unbelievable adventures.

Federico’s bittersweet and humorous memoir, Welcome to the Departure Lounge: Adventures in Mothering Mother, is in many ways an instructive step-by-step narrative on the Herculean task of taking care of an aging parent, while trying to live your own life.

If the natural cycle of life plays itself out as intended we will outlive our parents; and in doing so we might also be placed in the position of caring for them in their final years. Federico bravely writes about her imperfect attempt to do just that and the lessons learned along the way.

The story is told in a series of compelling flashbacks, starting with the author’s father dying on her wedding day. If there was ever an example of foreshadowing you couldn’t get a better one than that. It is also clear early on that Meg and Addie have a strained relationship, a fact that will become critical as Meg becomes one of the central people in charge of her mother’s care.

Once Federico and her siblings make the decision not to place their frail mother in a nursing home (prompted by Addie’s earlier escape, aided and abetted by her Alzheimer's-addled, 83-year-old second husband) they realize how ill-equipped they are to take care of their strong-willed and sometimes alcoholic mother. But determined to give her the best care possible they call in a team of in-home “experts” that range from tremendously caring to outright crooks.

As Addie and her sex-crazed husband, Walter, become more like petulant teenagers, the author the frazzled parent, and the incidents stack up at an outlandish (sometimes outright life threatening) rate the reader can’t help but wonder why they continue at this impossible circus, with all its loony characters. No one would judge them if they called it quits.

In the midst of the chaos of bedpans, missing jewelry, and sex-toys, Federico must also come to terms with the uneven and sometimes-distant relationship she has had with her diva mother. As the youngest of five children, Federico always felt that her mother saw her as an inconvenience that never met her expectations. Faced with these long held resentments, now butted up against her new power and responsibility, she somehow resists the temptation to “pay her mother back.” In fact, as Addie decompensates, and her own family life starts to show the strain of her routine absence, Federico renews her commitment to maintaining her mother’s dignity and making room for her to have a say so in her care, even when it was inconvenient or impractical to do so.

Just as the author deftly uses humor as a way to soften some of the more difficult issues caretakers face (i.e. changing diapers, dementia, and slowly losing the person who once took care of you), she is also straightforward in the reality that ultimately, unlike parents taking care of children, there is no future or bettering to the situation and what frees you from this obligation is death.

Their last days together are both tender and a celebration of her mother’s long and determined life. And although Federico knows that death is how this obligation will end, it doesn’t make it any easier when her mother takes her final breath while sleeping in her arms.

Welcome to the Departure Lounge is a poignant testament to how human we all are, including our parents.

Michelle Sewell, founder of GirlChild Press, has recently been hired to write a memoir involving death, teen pregnancy, and raising kids in the Valley. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.