I’m thrilled to share the book cover reveal of my upcoming memoir, Bloodlines: A Memoir of Harm and Healing. The book was a labor of love by me and my family. I absolutely love this cover design by She Writes Press Creative Director, Julie Metz. I hope you find it compelling, too.
How it began
How hard can it be?, I thought.
Silly, silly me. That was my first thought when I decided to write this book. I’d always loved to read, all the way back to when I piled my Nancy Drews on the floor next to a bunch of pillows and a blanket and settled in for the afternoon. My adult self figured I just had to sit down and type up my story. Ha! By next May, when my book is published by She Writes Press, eleven years will have passed since I had that first silly thought. It’s been quite a ride.
It’s finally happening!
In 2019, I got serious about finishing a full first draft of a manuscript I’d started in 2013. I’d written hundreds of pages of material. Many of the scenes and stories had been rewritten and rewritten again and again for various reasons, but I’d never completed a “real” draft, one with a beginning, middle, and end.
I signed up for the online class, Write Your Memoir in Six Months, taught by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers. Linda Joy was my assigned mentor and we worked together through 2 rounds of the class. After a year of dedicated teamwork (and the beginning of the pandemic lockdown), I was ready to reach the finish line. We started at the beginning and every 2 weeks I submitted pages. Linda Joy’s compassionate editing looked on the page like a covey of quail with red feet had flitted all over it, but she never gave up on me. And I stopped giving up on myself.
At the end of 2020, Linda Joy suggested the time had come for me to commit to the publishing process. Would I consider She Writes Press or did I want to try to go the traditional route: searching for an agent, writing hundreds of query letters, and laboring over a detailed book proposal? I chose the former. I didn’t want to spend a couple more years getting this baby born.
Together, Linda Joy and I polished my manuscript’s first 30 pages and I submitted them via the She Writes Press process. A month later, I got an email saying my book was accepted to become part of the She Writes Press sisterhood. I shed a few tears, I tell you, and still had plenty of doubts about my ability to complete the work that needed to be done.
Working through this process has been a learning curve. I’m learning about the publishing business, and I’m learning about myself. I remind myself, often, to embrace each step of this journey. I’m excited to share it with you.
Kind words about my book:
“Tracey Yokas masterfully and emotionally weaves the tale: a daughter’s mental health diagnoses and a mother’s quest to support her. Bloodlines is a raw, honest look at the limitations a history of trauma can have on us and our loved ones. A painful and arduous road to recovery—for both mom and daughter—is also a testament to acceptance, hope, and love.” – Jeni Driscoll, author of the mental health blog Peace from Panic
Words about my family and moms writing about their kids
This book is more than a “my kid got sick and this is what I did” story. It’s about patterns–the ones we learn and re-teach, usually without realizing it and waking up to wanting to change. But the impetus for change was my daughter’s illness. I already know from experience that people have strong feelings about mothers writing about their mothering experiences. There are many reasons for this. Some of them I get, some I don’t. One big one is that my daughter didn’t ask for depression. How could I, as a mom, share such personal information? Write about her struggles?
I worry. There’s no doubt about it. Even though I have her permission, and my husband’s, to share our story who knows what is yet to come. We’re dedicated to this journey because our story is playing out in millions of homes around the country and beyond. And still. There will be consequences that I can’t foresee. Not all of them will be negative, but I know some will be. We’ll deal with them the way we’ve dealt with everything that’s happened over the years: together. I urge you, if you’re of the mindset that motherhood is sacred and not to be discussed, please reconsider. Too much is at stake.
I refuse to let shame and stigma stand in my way. If you saw my last post (here), shared on Facebook, I wrote that I watched a one hour presentation last week hosted by NAMI, YouTube, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on adolescent mental health in the time of Covid. The worst statistic I heard was that the increase of psychiatric ER visits in 2020 by adolescents age 12 – 17 was 31%. That’s not the total. That’s the INCREASE.
The time for acting like mental health is not part of overall health is over. Mental illness is not weakness. My daughter is one of the most resilient people I know. Not every mother will get her child’s permission to share her story. I know that. I respect that. The decision is a personal one. But I have my daughter’s permission because she cares about people’s suffering, and she wants kids to know that hope is real. That’s what I want, too.
May is Mental Health Month. Let’s make mental health a part of the conversation now and every month.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
More May is Mental Health Month resources:
Who is She Writes Press?
She Writes Press is an independent publishing company founded to serve members of SheWrites.com, the largest global community of women writers online, and women writers everywhere. She Writes Press is both mission-driven and community-oriented, aiming to serve writers who wish to maintain greater ownership and control of their projects while still getting the highest quality editorial help possible for their work. In 2014, SheWrites.com and She Writes Press became part of SparkPoint Studio, LLC, creating a powerful combination that no other hybrid publisher brings to the table, including a strong editorial vision; traditional distribution; two award-winning hybrid imprints (She Writes Press and SparkPress); and an in-house marketing and publicity team through its publicity division, BookSparks. The SparkPoint Studio family is a female-run company with a strong vision, passion, and work ethic. In 2019, She Writes Press was named Indie Publisher of the Year.