May 8, 2006

Down With The D Word / Three Questions with Alana Morales

OH BEST BELOVEDS, soon you will no longer be my internets, my peeps or even my best beloveds. Soon, I will begin blog entries by just saying, YO! DUDES!

I know you will be shocked to hear that last night while I was sleeping the entire cast of the O.C. DID NOT creep in and anoint my head with a massive ladle full of Hipster-cool. Nor has your new status as DUDES been conferred upon you because Snoop Dogg decided to lend me a modicum of street cred. (I applied, but His Poundliness regretfully informed me that I had no street cred collateral. I cant even say BLING with conviction.)

The true explanation is very simple: I have a nine year old son. He says DUDE a lot.

My son is causing the DUDE, because DUDE, it turns out, is infectious. You can totally catch dude. Now even MIR, who used to say "Um, wait. Did you just call me...dude?" whenever I called her dude, is calling ME dude back. It's an earworm. I think I called my MOTHER dude today.

DUDES, I will have you know that I am writing a long DISH-FILLED thing about the CONFERENCE I attended this weekend, but I am out of time, so I will have to finish spooning the dish out tomorrow. SO, for TODAY, I better let someone else talk. How about....ALANA MORALES, a fellow mom and a fellow writer who is much cooler than me, and who can probably get through a fifteen minute phone conversation with her agent without calling him DUDE. I completely failed to do that today. Did you catch that? My agent, by the way, is 70 year old Connecticut old world gentlemanly charmer whose ancestry makes him a Belgian Viscount. But I just like to call him, you know....DUDE.

ANYWAY, Alana decided to give up her teaching career so she could stay at home and raise babies, and she realized it was one HECK of a she wrote Domestically Challenged. Written as a humorous guidebook, this book shows new stay at home moms how to:

~ Get over the myth of the Super Mom
~ Keep the kids entertained without hiring a circus
~ Find ways to keep up with housework, short of hiring a housekeeper (though we'd like to!)
~ Deal with the emotional aspects of her new job (including boredom and every mom's favorite - guilt)
~ And do things as outlandish as finding time for herself


JJ: So where did the idea for the book come from?

AM: Well, after my daughter was born I decided that there was no way I could go back to work, which was shocking since I never had a desire to be an at home mom. So I began staying home and I was completely lost! I had no idea what I was doing and was really surprised at how difficult it was.

So, being the dork that I am, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find about being an at home mom. I was very disappointed in what I found because many of the books were either out dated or they were very spiritual. I didn’t need to know about my spiritual journey through motherhood, I needed to know how to get my house clean around my kids and get dinner on the table.

One night I was sitting at the computer complaining about the books I found and my husband said “Why don’t you write your own?” So I did.

JJ: You also write a column called Fanily Business. Tell us a little about it, and tell us how writing a column differs from writing a book.

AM: The column began with me talking about all the craziness that surrounded my family since both my husband and I worked from home. As the kids grew older and I had more mishaps, the column morphed into more of a humorous mom column that recounts some of the calamities from my experiences. I plan to continue with the column and currently have it placed at about 20 different places online, as well as my local paper. It has also appeared on Club Mom and MomsTown.

Writing a book is vastly different from writing a column. Even if you are an article writer, writing a book is so much different, because you have to carry a topic for so long and be able to tie a group of topics together with a common theme. With the column, I can just think about the latest mishap from my life and run with it. With the book, there is much more thought involved - making sure the tone is the same throughout, making sure it all makes sense when put together, etc.

JJ: We have some writers on the've gone with a non-traditional publisher that opperates as a co-op. Can you explain what that is and how things work at Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing?

AM: Well, the basic premise of the co-op is strength in numbers. It focuses on mom authors and their needs. Only so many mom authors are allowed into the co-op per year and as a bonus, we not only get our own royalties, but we share royalties off of the other members sales.

It's actually kind of funny, but I didn't realize that it was a co-op at first. Once I received the contract I noticed that there was a membership fee. Now, this was a HUGE sticking point with me (still is a little) but here is why I did it. I think I needed a little more leeway and flexibility with writing my book. For example, the pub date for my book was pushed back 3 times because I kept getting busy with work and the kids. I also had confidence issues with the book. These are not things that would have been tolerated by a bigger house, but since I was with the co-op, I had that option (though the third time may have been pushing it a bit!). I also didn't want to wait even longer to try and land an agent and/or publisher. If you have a book ready to go, the book can be published within 6 months. I like that there was less lag time. I could have been more patient and kept going the traditional route, but I didn't.

Signing with the co-op also forced me to write a book. With fiction writers, they have usually written at least one book before their first one is published, but this isn't the case with non-fictions writers. I had to learn how to write a book. Now, do I think I could have gotten a deal with a traditional publisher? Yes, but not with the proposal I had. I didn't have enough of my own personality in it and I didn't know how to get that in there. Writing the book has taught me how to do that. I also know how to go about writing a book and know what I would do differently. My writing has improved remarkably since I first began the book.

One point I would like to make clear - the co-op is not self publishing - distribution is handled through CDS books (who sells to Ingram) and our titles end up in major bookstores across the country. We are responsible for the editing and proofreading, then we get all the design work, including a branding package that includes business cards, letterhead, postcards, bookmarks, etc.

The responsibility of publicity for the book lies with the author. Initially I was ok with this, but after a few months of trying to drum up my own pub, I can see how a bigger name would help with publicity. We are currently working hard to build a reputation as THE publisher for mom authors, but I think there are still skeptics out there. It is still traditional publishing, but with more of a small town feel.

JJ: THANKS DUDE! I mean, Alana.

Posted by joshilyn at May 8, 2006 6:50 PM

Dude, it's been eons since I questioned the calling of dude. I am down with the dudeness.


Posted by: Mir at May 9, 2006 12:02 AM

Ever since we saw Finding Nemo, we all say "Dude" LOL Gotta love Crush ;)

Now you *have* to watch Dude, Where's My Car?

Posted by: Angel at May 9, 2006 1:01 AM

Somehow I got into the habit of calling my two-year-old Dude. Do you know how embarrassing that is to let it slip in front of your in-laws? Almost as bad as an expletive.

Posted by: liz at May 9, 2006 7:22 AM

My six year old is now affectionately known as Little Dude.

He started with the Dude-ing at about three...

That might've had a little something to do with my response to bad drivers in New England... which is: DUDE! (better than cursing when your kids are in the car, right?)

Nothing funnier than a three year old piping up from the backseat... DUDE!

Posted by: stephanie at May 9, 2006 9:53 AM

Dude. I say that ALL THE FREAKING TIME. I have no idea where I picked it up from. My most commonly used version is:

"Dude." Which means: You are NOT serious.

See, I can use it in context:

"And then, she TOTALLY cut me off and gave me the finger!"


This comment has been brought to you by too much medication.

Posted by: Heather Cook at May 9, 2006 10:16 AM

I use "Dude" as my all-inclusive word for people who are driving stupidly. "Dude, use a turn signal!" "Dude! Don't cut me off!" "Dude!!!!!" My kids know this and tease me about it, but it's truly an all-inclusive, gender-neutral term. I sometimes throw in a "Dudette" but mostly it's just "Dude." It works for me.

Posted by: Pattie at May 9, 2006 12:09 PM

I received a not-so-polite request from the husband recently not to call him dude. Or say LIKE all the time. But seriously, I SO live with a teen and 2 tweens. Like, I can't stop saying it, dude!

Posted by: AGK at May 9, 2006 2:50 PM

My sons have contracted the use of the word "tight" to mean "of exceeding value." Therefore I hear the following sort of exchange all day,
"Did you see that bike?"
"Yeah. Tiiight."

I cannot use "tight." I would be more likely to use "bling," and I cannot do that either.

Posted by: Kira at May 9, 2006 3:36 PM

I think if I had a kid like Sam, I'd find a bunch of early-1900's British books in which the characters call each other 'old chap' and describe things as 'ripping.' See if I could start a new trend....

As a side effect, 'dude' begins to register as 'fop,' which makes life interesting.

Posted by: kate q at May 9, 2006 5:25 PM