Catalyst Book Press

The places, ideas, and people that change us

Birth Parents anthology

I’m pleased to officially report that Labor Pains and Birth Stories, due out in January 2009, will be followed in the next year by an anthology of essays (and possibly poems) exploring the experiences of birth parents. We are looking for essays (and poems) written by birth mothers and birth fathers who have given up their children for adoption, of birth parents who have met their children later in life, birth parents who have navigated the difficult waters of open adoptions, adoptive parents who have struggled through or been blessed with a relationship with a birth parent or who have watched their children reach out or struggle with their birth parents, and people who have been adopted and later developed a relationship or did not develop a relationship with a birth parent. The focus, however, is on birth parents (not adoption, which we may do for a later anthology.) We hope this will be a healing book, and perhaps a resource as well.

Though lots has been written about adoption, there is a real lack of resources for birth parents. I’m very excited to participate in this project, which will be edited by mother-daughter team Ann Angel and Amanda Angel. They have their own great story to tell, which they may choose to do at a later time on this blog. Essays can be short or long. We are a literary press and looking for essays written to the highest standards. Please submit your best work.

If you want to submit an essay or poem to this upcoming anthology, please contact Amanda and Ann at the following email: alangel78 at You can also contact us here at Catalyst Book Press at info at

p.s. this is a sensitive topic; for those who need it, we will welcome essays and poems written under pseudonyms…

May 3, 2008 Posted by | adoption, anthologies, art, birth mothers, birth parents, birth stories, Catalyst Book Press, fertility | , , , | Leave a comment

What, no names?

Ken Waldman called me a few days ago to say that he had brought up Labor Pains and Birth Stories , the anthology, to a bookstore owner in the Midwest. The bookstore owner was intrigued…but, “Who are the names?” he wanted to know. In other words, who are the famous writers I’m including?

I remember this was one of the problems my agent faced when she was trying to sell it in New York. In exasperation, she finally said to me, “I keep wanting to say that famous writers aren’t the point of this anthology….”

I do understand where the editors and the bookstores are coming from. Famous writerly people are more likely to sell a literary anthology, especially among dozens of other anthologies. But part of the problem is the idea that an anthology like this should be shelved with other anthologies. Doesn’t it seem obvious that it should be shelved in the pregnancy section? And when a pregnant woman comes looking at books, and sees the birth stories anthology, she’s not going to give a flip about whether there are famous writers in it or not. She’s going to care about whether she can read about natural birth, about miscarriages, about long hospital stays, about home births, stillbirths, etc. She’s going to care that there are real people writing these essays, moms and dads, doctors, sisters, friends….The writers I’ve included are good writers. They’ve been published in parenting magazines, literary parenting magazines, newspapers. They’re good parents. They care about their kids, their spouses, their families.  They’re good people. And they’re writing from the heart, about an experience that absolutely changed how they think about themselves, life, the world, God.

About the famous writers, I understand. I do. I really, really do. But I guess I’m feeling a little rebellious about it today…

February 27, 2008 Posted by | anthologies, birth stories, fertility | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Problem with Anthologies, Writing Contests, and Other Endless Details

As I muck around trying to figure out how I can pay all my writers for the Labor Pains and Birth Stories anthology without going broke before I even start the press, I begin to realize exactly why so many presses fund their operations (or at least their payment to writers) through contests. Yet charging a submission fee isn’t something I’m especially interested in doing, especially not for an anthology. As a writer myself, I frankly don’t ever submit to contests or anywhere else that charges a submission fee. Why? Maybe I’m not desperate enough to get published. More important, if I have to shell out $10 or even $20 every time I submit something, even an entire book, I’m going to lose a lot of money over the long run.  Do you know how many times you have to submit something before it gets accepted? There are, I suppose, a few lucky folks who don’t have the problem of rejection, but most of us normal folks experience it on a regular basis. Now I have an agent, a good one, too–and I still experience rejection. So…Contests seem like another great way to go broke, unless you’re the publisher, and then they seem like a great way to maybe break even.

My friend and former boss Bobby Byrd  emailed me recently to say he’s putting together an anthology right now and, thus, remembering why you should never ever put together an anthology and, he said, I should take that advice to heart. Oops. Too late, my friend! And besides, I know he loves putting together anthologies. Anyway, I sort of intend to do a lot of anthologies, but on related topics, plus I’m going to have a webzine focused on the same topic (literary essays on topics related to fertility) so I hope I’ll build a loyal audience and a niche market. I told Bill Pierce of AGNI that I was, in a sense, publishing a literary journal but bringing it out as a book every 6 mos. to a year. He might have been bullshitting me, but he told me it was a smart idea. I hope he’s right because I certainly am approaching this publishing thing differently than a purely traditional model of publishing. Either I’m completely stupid and I’m going to work really hard and fail–or maybe I’ll be lucky.

February 26, 2008 Posted by | anthologies, fertility, independent book publishers, independent publishing culture, indie, literary contests, small press, traditional publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment