Discover more from It's All Still True by Maggie Ginsberg
Full circle moments
The 'mommyblogging' years, a shared drinking story, upcoming events and book launch love
On January 20, 2010, my life changed forever after reading a post like this one. It wasn’t a newsletter per se — back in the day, we had blogs. Specifically, in my case, “mommyblogs,” as they were often derisively called, dismissed in a way that grassroots women-led initiatives often are. But this isn’t a moody think piece about blogging and the patriarchy, it’s a page out of my scrapbook I’m revisiting as yet another chapter of my writing life comes full circle.
I’d been a working freelance writer for a couple years before I started blogging. I think it was 2007, and my editor at Madison Magazine had started dabbling in it herself because “they” were starting to tell us it was necessary in the battle to keep print journalism alive. It was in that reluctant, tongue-firmly-in-cheek spirit that I started a blog called “Okay, Fine, Dammit,” and, to maintain some anonymity, wrote and commented with the username “Maggie, dammit.”
But I quickly found an honest-to-god community. I connected with other early-stage moms who felt isolated beneath nursing babies and clunky laptops balanced together on boppies. I was in the middle of nowhere in rural Wisconsin, and they were all over the world. Because of that community, I founded a nonprofit called Violence UnSilenced that gave abuse survivors a platform and access to the supportive writers I’d found. And I made friends that I still have today — one of whom, Heather Westberg King, wrote the aforementioned post that changed my life.
Heather’s post was essentially a confessional. A brutally honest, beautifully written, public detailing of her biggest secret: She couldn’t stop drinking. I, too, couldn’t stop drinking — but that day, miracle of miracles, we both did. It’s a shared story we’ve never told publicly before, but we did finally tell it in an episode of Heather’s new-ish podcast that aired this week. She and fellow former “mommyblogger” Stephanie Wilson started the Writing Threads podcast this year (calling it a “very fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants endeavor”) in part to reconvene some of that old community of bloggers, many of whom did go on to publish books and have also appeared on the podcast, including Deb Rogers, Rebecca Woolf and Ann Imig.
When Heather invited me on to talk about my debut novel, “Still True” — in which one of the three point-of-view characters is a young and unhappily married mom struggling with her relationship with alcohol — I knew that Heather and I could have a conversation unlike any other I’d be having for this book.
And we did.
News and Interviews
I also had the opportunity for another live radio interview this week on Kristin Brey’s As Goes Wisconsin. Although alcoholism is only one theme in Still True, several news outlets have wanted to talk more about that piece of it, including Wisconsin Public Radio (a follow-up to the WPR piece I shared in the last newsletter) — an interview Kristin heard and then invited me on her show to talk more about. You can listen to that episode of As Goes Wisconsin here.
You can also find a full and evolving roundup of recent interviews on my website.
I’ve got four upcoming events this week and next that I’m really excited about. I hope you can join me for one or all of them.
VERONA: Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Kismet Bookshop. In conversation with Laura Anne Bird, reading, Q&A and signing to follow.
MADISON: Sunday, Oct. 16 at noon, Central Library downtown — the 20th anniversary Wisconsin Book Festival! I'm so thrilled to join fellow UW Press author Mary Wimmer (THE ART OF THE BREAK) to talk about our new books. We're in the same room as Matt Bell (before) and Pete Souza (after), please come!
LAKE MILLS: Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 5:30 pm at Daydream Believer books. I'm married to a 4th generation Lake Mills business owner, parent and resident, with tons of family and friends in Lake Mills, so this one is a special hometown-away-from-hometown event for me.
BLACK EARTH: Friday, Oct. 21 at 6:00 pm at the Black Earth Historical Society. This is a five-author Local Author Fair event sponsored by the Black Earth Public Library, with readings, Q&As and book sales/signings. Alex Bledsoe will be there, too!
There are more book launch events coming in November and December, check my website for updates!
I was so moved by this mention in Holly Rabalais’ Release & Gather newsletter, which is full of all kinds of good stuff (including four recipes I bookmarked). I don’t know Holly, she lives in Mississippi and apparently found my book from a mention in Sarah Miller’s valuable Can We Read? newsletter. I’m new to Substack but so grateful to them both.
Finally, I’m having an unbelievably fun time launching this book. The people I’m meeting — readers, bookshop proprietors, librarians, book group members — are bringing a whole new layer to this experience. It is such a humbling thing to listen to other people talk about the story that for so long lived only in my mind. I’m trying to post some pics on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter when I can, but here are just a few glimpses of the gorgeous moments I’ve been living these last few weeks.
Incredible time in conversation with author Nickolas Butler at the grand reopening of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, hosted by the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild.
Dropped in to A Room of One’s Own Bookstore and had a blast visiting my book on the Staff Picks shelf (!) and signing their stack (!!) of copies.
Visited a book group in Chicago and enjoyed one of the most meaningful nights of my bookish life so far.
Visited Blue House Books in Kenosha to do some shopping and they had my books out on the counter, so I signed them all!
It was an absolute thrill to visit my own book at the Mount Horeb Public Library, a safe haven I essentially grew up in. When the director emailed me to tell me their copies had arrived, I just had to run straight over and take a bunch of photos.
My amazing coworkers at Madison Magazine declared book launch day “truesday” in a move that absolutely made my day.
I spontaneously dropped in to Spring Green’s Arcadia Books to sign their copies, but I’ll be back in November for an official signing event!
Speaking of signed copies, I’m still flying high from my official launch event at Mystery to Me books last month, and they’re currently one of only two bookstores in town with signed copies in stock. Give them a visit!