Friday, January 24, 2014

Paths to Publishing: Mary Kennedy Eastham || SQUINTING OVER WATER Stories

Path to Publishing Post by Mary Kennedy Eastham

 My mother gave me the wonder of words and storytelling by teaching me to read at age four. I was hooked. My first grade teacher Mrs. Hebert even made me her teaching assistant, helping with the kids who couldn't read. I won a writing award in fifth grade and always admired the stories women writers had to tell, but I guess it never occurred to me I could be one of them.

A move across the country from New York City to California with my husband kicked my butt into gear. I was the bigger breadwinner while he was in med school, so now it was my turn to live my dream. I signed up for a summer writing course at UC Berkeley, applied to grad school and two years later had my MFA in Creative Writing. As writers, we all face the 'what next' question so I just kept writing - short stories, poetry. I took an online class called Buzz Your Book offered by MJ Rose which was perfect in getting me to focus on what my first book could look like. I came up with a title -The Shadow of A Dog I Can't Forget: Prose & Poems, decided what to include, my husband designed the cover. A graphic designer friend created a hand-pressed beautifully rendered version of the book, I sent it out to an LA writing contest and WON. That gave me the courage to find a publisher who could do a print version. A small press here in Northern California, Robertson Publishing, was looking to expand their biz into the self-pubbing realm, so they took me on. It has been a wonderfully rich alliance that I treasure. Since I learned the book-making skills along with them, I used Robertson Publishing to publish my second book Squinting Over Water - Stories. I am so proud of how this book turned out. The cover still makes me cry.

Marketing any book is a full-time job. I had to scurry to get book reviews for both books on Amazon, sometimes asking fellow writers on Yahoo writing groups. Lisabet Sarai, one of the guest writers here recently was my first book reviewer. She was so kind and generous in her review, I will always be thankful for that. I wish I could say it gets easier. It helps to have a platform. Some writers have blogs. I prefer Guest Blogging. Keeping a blog going full-time, which I tried for a while, was taking too much time away from writing my books. Other writers offer up writing tips regularly on newsletters, get lots of people to subscribe, then that group becomes their book-buying public. I always see ads online on How to Get 10,000 fans on Facebook. I haven't tried that route, though. On Christmas Eve, I stuck a sign on the tree that faces the four-lane street in front of my house that read: Pretty books for the readers on your Christmas list. I asked them to leave $10/book in a tin can on my front porch. I sold 30 books!

I love what I do and I hope I get to keep telling stories that matter. Let's all become better known writers in 2014. Fans out there, come on down!

There are no perfect people here.

The characters in Squinting Over Water are you and me trying to make sense of things - good and bad - coming up with a Plan B when life gets messy.

One early reader said she would walk across continents to get to this book. These whimsical stories transformed her, made her believe once again in the true beauty and playfulness of life.

Mary doesn’t sugarcoat things. This is one talented writer. —Kurt Vonnegut, Author “Cat’s Cradle”, “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Breakfast of Champions”

You can’t stop thinking about Eastham’s characters like 16 year old Rebecca Louise in After The Dance. Raised by her single mother, she longs to get to know John Monroe, her father, the man who wasn’t ready for parenthood when she was born but who now wants to meet her. And then there’s poor Harry in Cat’s Eyes, sipping cheap champagne, watching his mother patch together the few strands of hair on Husband Number Five’s head with those long, lean fingers of his childhood. Johanna Dane is losing the daylight in Delicato as she searches for her twin brother Mica, missing after a devastating flood in their small, sweet town of Dane’s Crossing. There are mood-tints bursting forth here, a poignant sense of time’s passage that Hollywood Indie sadcore crooner Lana Del Ray would magically rework into a dreamy song. These two creatives need to meet. —The San Francisco WE’RE NOT SKINNY BITCHES Book Club.

Both books are available on Amazon (Print & Kindle), on my website or can be purchased through 

About the Author:

When she's not writing or blogging, Mary piles her four Golden Retrievers into the car, scouring California flea markets for Shabby Chic vintage lovelies. The dogs always love her selections!

Where to find me:
Twitter: @WordActress


  1. Hi Mary,
    Thank you for being my guest on the Snarkology. Oh man, you totally nailed it. Keeping a blog going is a full time job.

    You're cover really is gorgeous. Congratulations on your release and good luck with your promotion. :-)

  2. Congratulations! I enjoyed hearing your path to publishing, adore the cover, but also love the sound of these stories. Must go to Amazon. : )

  3. Thanks guys! It's so much fun sharing our stories with one another...

  4. Hello, Mary,

    I didn't know you'd published your second book. Congratulations!

    If you would like to come guest blog at my place, I'd love to have you. You know where to find me!

  5. Wonderful story, Mary! I also give credit to my mother for my love of reading and writing. She used to make us kids (four) read for an hour during our summer break from the encyclopedia. I always remember saying a prayer that there were lots of pictures. :) Promoting and marketing is a full-time job. There are days where I wish I could hand it over to someone else, but I would miss out on all the fun in meeting new people and helping others, too. Wishing you all the best!