KALA@HIFiSHMONTHLY PROUDLY presents author Mindy Stokes, in a Book Release Celebration event, TUESDAY, JULY 26, at 7pm. Mama Baby Mama, Story of a Knocked-Up Lesbian, is a heartwarming and saucy tale of two women on their way to motherhood. This is Stokes’ first book, a memoir born of desire between she and her lifelong partner Katie and their journey to bring daughter Soleil, into the world.
An Astoria resident, and no recluse writer is she; Stokes is a vibrant fixture at Clatsop Community College, at least since 2008, when she and her family moved across the US to Astoria, Oregon from Florida. A counselor and instructor in the Lives in Transition program, she also runs her own Wellness Education practice, and is involved in numerous community volunteer positions. And, if you saw the most recent staging of The Vagina Monologues at Clatsop Community College, it was a production driven by Stokes as part of Women’s History Month, and a performance “Herstory” project she has spearheaded for 3 years.
Mama Baby Mama is a culmination of 5 years of “writing and mothering,” and as Stokes admits, “They don’t go hand in hand. Finding the time to write was the most challenging aspect of completing the book.” Friends who own a writing studio in Oysterville, Washington (established writer’s retreat location), loaned out the place, “and that’s how I finished my book,” says Stokes.
Mama Baby Mama is Stokes first foray into narrative writing. Prior to that she had written predominantly for academia, with an M.A in Women’s Studies and B.S. in Dietetics.
But about 6 months into her pregnancy, Stokes refers to episodes in the middle of the night — she would wake up with paragraphs of the book stamped into her head. And she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep until she got up and wrote. Once she began the process, she knew she was destined to turn these vignettes into a book.
Mama Baby Mama is in three parts, and begins with the trials and tribulations of home insemination, (endearing episodes of a gay male friend who wasn’t destined to be a sperm donor after all and sperm shipped by UPS to remote mountain vacation spots), progresses to conception and the rigorous duties of pregnancy (being as big as a billboard and hating everyone with whom she comes in contact, including her entire pre-natal yoga class) and then eventually the falling in love with a newborn baby girl.
If you do have the pleasure of knowing Mindy Stokes, you know that humor is her arsenal; she’s straightforward as hell, and a passionate, outspoken feminist. In Mama Baby Mama, her voice is loud, clear, and true to heart.
In the beauty of her storytelling, Stokes doesn’t hold back, soften or sugar coat the details, as she busts on through to the next practical revelation in childbirth. Be it finding sperm donors, sex while preggars, her fears ad infinitum on becoming a mother; she’ll have you in stitches, and in tears. Mama Baby Mama also keenly observes the effects of discrimination and hate-filled laws on same-sex partners, as well gives us new concepts of family and friends, parenting, today’s changing values put into practice, and alternative lifestyles.
In February of 2007, just months after Soleil’s birth, Stokes submitted an abstract to the Assoc. for Research on Mothering (ARM) in, Toronto, Canada. They were planning a conference in Toronto and were looking for submissions on various topics relating to feminist mothering. Stokes was accepted and read her narrative pieces (the beginnings of Mama Baby Mama).
“The response was positive,” says Stokes, “Professors of Women’s Studies asked me to let them know when I was finished with my work so that they could use my book in their classrooms. “
Stokes has gone the indie author route. After querying publishers for two and half years she has joined onto an online eBook publishing vehicle, Smashwords, and has done a first print in hard copy through a self-publishing company.
Says Stokes, “Getting published these days is extremely difficult. Who you are and your platform is more important than your craft. When I did get rejection letters with feedback, they’d always tell me they liked my sardonic humor, sense of place, etc… but their company wasn’t doing my type of book. So I decided to do it myself. Decided I’d be the Ani Difranco of publishing. “
Of course today, indie publishing, be it music or literature is running a steady, viable course. The many online vehicles, from iPads, to laptops, iPhones and Kindles have readers going for easy access. An online publishing company like Smashwords directly links your book with online book companies and tutors you on how to reach and publicize to your potential audience. Self-publishing can draw attention to mainstream publishers. But with the high quality and accessibility of indie publishing, a passionate author such as Stokes, can reach out to a target audience and begin the work of getting her book read.
When Stokes moved to the region, she met Jan Bono, an accomplished columnist, and writing coach from the Washington Peninsula. Bono became her editor throughout the process of finishing the book. And now with the satisfaction of soon having a hard copy in her hands, says Stokes, “It’s a dream come true.”
Every Tuesday Stokes sends out her blog, also titled STORY OF A KNOCKED-UP LESBIAN. With a title as brazen, this is a taste of Stokes’ refreshing and spicy lesbian feminist personae. You can sample or buy her book at smashwords.com/books/view/61371, or look her up on her new website.
But you can also meet her, have her sign a copy of her book and help celebrate an exciting, local, independent author. Refreshments too. Tuesday, July 26, 7pm, KALA at 1017 Marine Dr. in Astoria. 503.338.4878