Mommy Man Early Review Roundup!

muppet-criticsI’ve never understood writers who say they don’t read their reviews. You mean there are people out there talking about you and you don’t want to know what they’re saying? What if it’s really glowing? What if it’s insightful and constructive? What if it’s about your mama?

I’m sure I will change my mind the second someone calls my book unfunny or boring or some word I have to look up. For now, though, we’re still a couple of weeks before the release date, and everything I’ve read so far has been the kind of stuff I’d be perfectly happy posting here on my website.

So I will!

Publisher’s Weekly may not be on your personal bookshelf, but among people who make their living in books, it’s hugely influential and highly revered. It’s like what Cat Fancy is to crazy cat ladies. If they purr about your book, it’s an honor. Well, here’s what Publishers Weekly said about my book, in a review that was just released today:

“Comedy writer Mahoney answers the question, ‘Just how do two gay men become dads’ in this uproarious look at the world of surrogacy… By the end of this touching book, the proud dads feel that they are the luckiest people alive.”

There’s a bit of synopsis in between those two sentences, but I didn’t yadda yadda anything negative. Reading that review was a huge relief. Uproarious and touching? That’s totally what I was going for! Publisher’s Weekly, you get me!

I also managed to get dust jacket blurbs from some incredible writers. These were all people I’ve been a huge fan of, who I approached in the hopes that they might vouch for my book to people who trust their opinion. They didn’t get paid for this, unless you consider an email from me saying, “I love you, you’re awesome” payment. Who are these wonderful people?

  • Jill Smokler a/k/a Scary Mommy
  • Karen Alpert a/k/a Baby Sideburns
  • Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, author of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and host of Parental Discretion on NickMom
  • Tim Carvell, head writer of The Daily Show with John Stewart and executive producer of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Drew Greenberg, writer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Arrow
  • Sascha Rothchild, author of How to Get Divorced by 30
  • Susan E. Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations With God
  • Victoria Strouse, screenwriter for Pixar
  • Robin Sindler, producer for NBC’s Today Show

 

therealthingYou can read all the nice things they said on my book page or on the dust jacket itself once the book comes out.

Some of the nicest reviews of my book have come from people you haven’t heard of, regular users on GoodReads who’ve had access to advance copies through their connection to the publishing world. These are people like book buyers and librarians, who love books and love to tell people about books they particularly love. Here are a few quotes:

 “This book was simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. There were moments I was laughing out loud, and then five sentences later bawling my eyes out. In this absolutely unforgettable book, Jerry Mahoney documents the trials and tribulations he and his partner Drew face when they decide to have children.”

 “This book was absolutely wonderful — it takes an incredibly skilled writer to make us roll on the floor with laughter through the many tense moments along the way to daddy-hood… As the Bio/Memoir Collection Development librarian for our library, not only will I will be purchasing this book for our collection, but I will be recommending it to as many people as I can.”

 “It is a charming, sweet, and funny story of two dads and their quest to have a family via a surrogate. Mahoney is a great writer, and he manages to find the humor in even the most difficult and dark times of this complicated journey to parenthood.

Parental Discretion with Stefanie Wilder-TaylorWow, do I sound like a egotistic jerk by putting all these reviews on my blog? Well, I’m only doing it so I can relish the moment when all the reviews are still good. That, and to convince you to join My Amazing Chart Twerk 2, of course.

“Mommy Man” the book will be available on May 8, online or at your favorite bookstore. (The e-book will follow shortly after that date.) I’m encouraging everyone who reads this blog to buy the book on release day in hopes of making the maximum impact. Mark your calendar now, then on May 8, buy buy buy!

Buy it because you like this blog, buy it because Baby Sideburns and Scary Mommy told you to, buy it because you like things that are uproarious and touching. Just buy it…

… and then write a review! I love reviews! I’m going to read them all!

You know, at least until the first bad one comes in.

* * * * *

I’m on Twitter! I’m on Facebook! Like me, like me!

Announcing… My Amazing Chart Twerk 2!

mommymancalendarHave you preordered my book yet? You know, the one that comes out in about three (gulp!) weeks? If so, then you’re awesome, I love you and there’s no need to keep reading this post. Go watch that video of the cute old ladies riding on an airplane for the first time instead. You’ve earned it.

If you haven’t ordered it yet, though, I have one word for you…

DON’T!

Yes, I’m a crazy lunatic whose first ever book, which he’s so excited about and so proud of, is coming out in three weeks, who’s asking his blog readers NOT to buy it. Why?

Because it’s time for my Amazing Chart Twerk 2!

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you may remember my first Chart Twerk, where I asked everyone who was planning to preorder my book to do so at roughly the same time in order to make a big splash in the Amazon rankings. At the risk of sounding like a Trump-ish self-promoter, it was a huge success. The book got to #1 in its category, #260 overall and it briefly outranked “Eat Pray Love,” though I’ve still yet to interest Julia Roberts in the film rights. The most amazing part of it all was that this was seven months before the book even came out.

Imagine the potential impact when the book is actually available.

Want to take part? Hooray. Here’s what I’m asking you to do…

1. Mark your calendar to buy my book on its official release day, Thursday, May 8, 2014.

2. Live a happy, fulfilling life for the next three weeks.

3. On Thursday, May 8, 2014, BUY MY BOOK!

It’s that simple! Buy the book as close to 12PM EST as you can so we can make the maximum impact.

If you have any plans at all to buy my book, I really hope you’ll take part in this. Don’t just plan to pick up a copy whenever you get around to it or once everyone else has already read it. Help me make a big splash.

You may remember that last time, I asked you to preorder the book on Amazon. That’s because back then, Amazon was the only place that had it available for preorder. On May 8, my book will be available EVERYWHERE, so I’m asking you to buy it wherever you prefer to buy books.

But it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Soup, IndieBound, Powell’s, Books-A-Million, The Book Depository, that Belgian site a reader tipped me off to or your favorite local brick and mortar store. Buy 1 copy at each of those places if you want to. I don’t mind! Want the direct sales links? Click on this page and check out some of your options.

When the big day arrives, I’ll keep an eye on the major sites to see where the book ranks, and if you notice anything cool yourself, please let me know! If you happen to spot a copy of Mommy Man on the Best Seller table at you local bookstore, tweet me! If your Barnes & Noble hangs up a sign that reads, “Sorry! Sold out of ‘Mommy Man’! Please stop asking!”, Facebook it!

One more thing…

I have some personal appearances coming up over the next couple of months (details here), and those are also great places to buy my book. If you’re in New York, LA, DC or Rochester and you want to buy a copy in person, then feel free not to twerk, but instead mark your calendar for the appearance you can attend. I’d love to see you there!

The rest of you, get ready. It’s almost twerk time!

My Little Imagineers (For the Record, I Prefer Bennett’s Ride)

TowerOfTerrorBennett: “Daddy, when I grow up, I’m going to build a ride for Disney World.”

Me: “That’s great. What kind of ride?”

Bennett: “It’ll be for babies.”

Me: “Good idea. They don’t have a lot of rides for babies. And what will it be?”

Bennett: “A Tower of Terror.”

Me: “Hmm… OK. Well, what are you going to call it?”

Bennett: “The Baby Tower of Terror.”

Me: “How is it going to be different from the regular Tower of Terror?”

Bennett: “It’s not.”

Me: “It’ll be just as tall?”

Bennett: “Yup!”

Me: “And just as dark?”

Bennett: “Yup!”

Me: “Don’t you think babies will be scared?”

Bennett: “Nope, because it’s for babies.”

minniemouseSutton: “I’m going to make a ride called Minnie’s Fashion Bow Ride.”

Me: “What happens in your ride?”

Sutton: “You ride in a bow and you see all of Minnie’s bows and beautiful dresses.”

Me: “How long does this ride last?”

Sutton: “15 or 20 hours.”

Win a Free Copy of My Book! No Fooling!

goodreadsI guess it’s fitting that I played an April Fool’s joke about my book, since there’s a chapter in the book dealing with a very notorious (among my friends and family, at least) April Fool’s prank I pulled back in 2004.

To anyone who fell for the Oprah thing I posted yesterday, I’m incredibly flattered that you think the most powerful woman in publishing would have my little old book anywhere on her radar, let alone in her very enthusiastic hands. I sincerely thought the idea (along with the shoddy photoshopping) was too preposterous to reel anyone in. I stand corrected. Furthermore… gotcha!

Of course, if Oprah were involved, I could just sit back and let the royalties wash over me in giant tsunamis of bling. Instead, I’ll be treading the more typical publicity routes… appearances and giveaways!

I’ve already set up appearances in Manhattan, LA and Rochester, with more to be announced soon. Check out my new appearances page for details. If you’ve been reading the blog and you live in one of these areas, I really hope you’ll show up. It’s a great opportunity to buy a copy or ten of my book — or, for those of you on the fence about shelling out the cash, you can listen to me read, be won over and then buy it. It’s win-win!

Now, for the free part… Goodreads is giving away 15 copies of Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad to nice readers like you. If you’re not on Goodreads, this is a great reason to join, along with the fact that Goodreads is just plain awesome (and yes, FREE!). It’s like Facebook for readers. You can even sign up through your Facebook account rather than fill out a bunch of new forms. Feel free to friend me and/or mark my book “to read” while you’re there.

Once you’re a member, go to this page to sign up for the giveaway. The contest runs through April 21, 2014.

Also, be sure to check out the early reviews of my book on Goodreads. (I know, it’s weird that some people have already read it, but people in publishing and distribution have access to advance copies, and some of them are nice enough to post reviews. I promise those are real, honest reviews from people I’ve never met. Especially the lady who suspects Drew might be a psychopath. Should I be concerned???)

And good luck!

I’d Say This Qualifies As Major Book News

Um, wow.

MommyManOprahAnnouncement

* I’d love it if you’d preorder, but you might want to check your calendar first.

** PLEASE NOTE THIS WAS PUBLISHED ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY. IF YOU’RE READING THIS ON ANY OTHER DAY, FEEL FREE TO CONSIDER IT A POORLY PHOTOSHOPPED LIE.

My 5 Biggest Fears About Surrogacy — and How I Overcame Them

Note: To ramp up for my appearance this weekend at the Families Through Surrogacy conference in San Francisco, I’m posting another informational/opinion piece (infopinion?) on gestational surrogacy, the route my partner and I took to have kids. It’s not right for everyone, but if you’re thinking about it, you’re welcome to read all my previous posts on the subject by clicking here.

When my partner Drew and I decided to have a baby, we had so many reservations about surrogacy, we initially didn’t even consider it. As we investigated other routes to parenthood for same-sex couples, we learned that every method involves its own pitfalls, heartbreaks and great expense, so there was no easy road to choose. Most foreign countries with a surplus of adoptable children don’t allow gays to adopt. Domestic adoption is complicated, too. Some birth mothers reconsider their decision to give up their baby, leaving would-be parents crushed. Foster children can be reunited with their own families. Even when you’re raising a kid who’s been with you since birth, legal struggles can tie up your parental rights for years.

We eventually realized that, no matter which path we chose, the road ahead would be bumpy. That’s when we gave surrogacy a more serious look, and we found that the main fears that scared us away from it were all unfounded.  Here’s what we were afraid of — and what we learned.

1. FEAR: The surrogate will want to keep the baby.

BabyMminiseries1988In 1986, there was a very famous court case centered around a child known as “Baby M”. The details were as follows: a New Jersey couple named William and Elizabeth Stern contracted a woman named Mary Beth Whitehead to be their surrogate. Whitehead was inseminated with William’s sperm and became pregnant with a fetus conceived from his sperm and her own egg.

After the baby, called Baby M to protect her privacy, was born, Whitehead refused to relinquish her parental rights and insisted on keeping the little girl. The Sterns took her to court, and after an agonizing legal struggle which was tabloid fodder for years, the surrogacy contract was ruled invalid. Whitehead was recognized as the legal mother, and although the Sterns retained primary custody, Whitehead was permitted visitation rights.

In short, it was a mess, and it scared a generation of people away from the idea of surrogacy.

Here’s the upside of the Baby M hullabaloo: it forced would-be surrogates, intended parents and the legal system to take surrogacy more seriously. Some states outlawed surrogacy altogether, but others passed laws laying out the terms under which surrogacy contracts would be enforceable. It became far, far less likely that parental rights would remain up in the air after a baby was born.

You could also say that Baby M led indirectly to the rise of gestational surrogacy. As in vitro technology improved, people increasingly used surrogates who were not expected to provide their own eggs. The thinking went that, if a surrogate wasn’t biologically connected to the child, she wouldn’t consider it her baby. It also made it clearer to the courts that she was not intended to have parental rights.

These days, the ideal candidate for gestational surrogacy has already had children of her own and feels her family is complete. She’s more likely to fear that the intended parents will walk away and leave her with an infant she doesn’t want to keep.

Situations like Baby M are pretty much unheard of today, at least in the United States. If you have a baby with the help of a gestational surrogate, you can rest assured that the infant will go home from the hospital with you, not her.

2. FEAR: Surrogacy exploits women.

I consider myself a feminist, but some feminists want to kick me out of the club for having a child with a surrogate. Before I truly investigated surrogacy, I worried that they were right. A part of my conscience told me surrogacy was equivalent to renting a womb, that it was a case of a wealthier person buying something from a less-well-off person that they really shouldn’t be selling. It felt icky.

On the one hand, that’s an incredibly paternalistic argument. No one’s forced into surrogacy against her will. (At least in the U.S. If you’re pursuing surrogacy internationally, you need to be sure to use reputable agencies.) A surrogacy contract is an agreement between consenting adults, all of sound mind, and most states make it fairly clear whether they will recognize the contract or not. If I rejected the idea of surrogacy in order to “protect” women, that would be more sexist than respecting the surrogate’s right to make that decision for herself.

Put another way, I believe a surrogate has the right to choose what to do with her own body. By having a baby with a surrogate, I’m not dictating how women should use their wombs, but laws that tell women they can’t be surrogates are restricting their rights.

As for the money, yes, a surrogate gets paid. Yes, a lot of surrogates use the cash to supplement their income. But no one’s getting rich as a surrogate. And the money that these women do make, they earn. The payment can be an incentive for many, but there has to be a deeper reason as well, a desire to help infertile couples.

When we met with our surrogate, we were stunned to see that she drove a nicer car than we did. She had a full-time job and a big heart, and when she told us she was going to say yes to moving forward with us, the tears in her eyes were happy tears.

There are people who will never accept this argument, who will always insist that surrogacy exploits women and shouldn’t be legal. If it nags you that seriously, then surrogacy isn’t right for you. As for me, I have no regrets, and neither do my partner or our surrogate. We’re all extremely proud of the way we created our kids. In fact, our surrogate later gave birth for another couple as well.

3. FEAR: Surrogacy reduces the miracle of life to a series of business transactions.

Every kid is eventually going to ask how she or he came into the world. Most parents can explain it pretty easily: “Well, Mommy and Daddy love each other very much, so we made a baby together. We’ll give you more details in a few years.”

Parents of adopted children also get to say something very sweet. “Well, your birth parent(s) couldn’t take care of you the way they thought you deserved, but they knew that we could, so they chose us to love you and raise you, and that’s how we became a family.”

I feared that, as a dad through gestational surrogacy, I’d have to say something like this to my kids: “Daddy and Daddy found a couple of women who needed some cash, we hired lawyers, signed some paperwork and bam, there you were!”

That was before I actually went through the surrogacy process. Now, I’d say something like this: “Daddy and I wanted very much to have a baby, but it takes a woman’s help to have one. Your Aunt Susie saw how much love we had to give, and because she loves us so much, she donated her eggs to help create you. Then we met Aunt Tiffany, who saw what good daddies we’d be, and she carried you inside her for nine months so that we could have a family. You were so loved before you were even born that four people came together to help make you.”

That sounds a lot nicer, doesn’t it?

4. FEAR: We can’t afford it.

This probably should be #1.  When we started looking into surrogacy, my partner and I both made decent salaries, but we were hardly wealthy. We didn’t have trust funds or rich parents willing to write us six-figure checks. Whatever money we had in the bank was supposed to help us buy a house and to retire.

Ultimately, we decided that having a family was our top priority. It mattered more to us than owning a big house, taking fancy vacations or being able to live comfortably. If it meant we could have a baby, we would sacrifice everything else.

Our surrogacy agency required a $7,500 downpayment, and they told us that we’d be on the waiting list for a surrogate for about a year before we’d have to pay the balance. I admit that when we gave them the deposit, we weren’t totally sure we’d have enough money when the time came. But we started saving like mad and searching for funds under every financial couch cushion, and somehow, we made it.

5. FEAR: We could spend a fortune and still end up babyless.

I knew that, despite its high price tag, there were no guarantees to in vitro fertilization. We could make embryo after embryo but never get pregnant. In fact, just as we were starting our baby journey, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of articles about a gay couple who invested their life savings trying to have a baby through surrogacy. Their tale had a tragic ending, and I feared the same could happen to us.

The surrogacy agency we spoke to was much more confident about our odds. They said their gay male clients had a success rate, over their first 3 in vitro cycles, of 98%. How is that possible? Well, unlike with infertile straight couples who pursue IVF, no one involved in gay surrogacy has any prior history of infertility. Egg donors and surrogates are tested for their fitness for their respective tasks before they’re approved.

Furthermore, through a process called IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), even a man with a very low sperm count can create healthy embryos.

Most straight couples want to use a husband’s sperm and wife’s egg, and they’re dealing with low quality on one or both counts. But for same-sex couples, every participant can be replaced if things aren’t working. If their first IVF cycle is unsuccessful, they can find a new egg donor and/or a new surrogate. They can even switch out which of them is donating sperm.

There are still no guarantees, and as they Los Angeles Times articles show, even a successful IVF can end badly. But in many ways, the odds of having a baby with a surrogate are greater than with the other methods.

*****

My book’s release date (5/8/14) is less than two months away. Have you preordered your copy yet? Yes? OK, I’ll shut up then. Wait, did some of you say no? REALLY?!? Don’t you know you can find a bookseller to preorder from by clicking here? It’s that simple! Then you get to read a book full of all-new, all-funny, all-heartwarming goodness before most or all of the people you know. That’s right. If you don’t preorder soon, other people you know might read it first. Don’t let that happen. Preorder now! Why are you reading this sentence? Don’t you know what “now” means? Click on that link! Or this one! Or the next one. Which one? This one here, that’s which one. Now! (Thanks.)

The Big Book Update

mommymanpostcardsIt’s hard to believe my book will be released in just over two months. It was picked up by the publisher early last year, but due to the editing and promotion schedules, the actual books are still a few weeks away from being printed. (That picture above is a box of promotional postcards that came in the mail.)

It’s been a long wait, and I couldn’t be more excited for it to come out so everyone can finally read it. Anyone who enjoys this blog will appreciate the humor and will get to hear a lot more about me and how my family came to be.

As the release date approaches, I expect to be increasingly insufferable with my promotion efforts, both here on the blog and, hopefully, live at a bookstore near you as well. I’ll keep the blog updated with any appearances, and if you do get a chance to come see me, I’d love to meet you. Yes, you!

Next week, I’ll be traveling to San Francisco to speak at the Families Through Surrogacy conference. I’m very honored to have been invited, and I’ll be doing a talk that’s a bit of The 5 People You Meet as a Gay Dad, a bit of What to Expect When You’re Expecting (and Gay), a bunch of new stuff and mostly, lots of cute pictures of my kids, because I know how to shamelessly pander to a crowd.

The entire lineup is great, and it should be very fun and informative for anyone considering surrogacy. If you’re interested, you can register to attend here.

I’m also very excited to announce a reading/signing at one of my absolute favorite book stores in the universe, Book Soup in Los Angeles, on Monday, June 9. If you’re on GoodReads, you can RSVP for the event here.

Thanks again to everyone who twerked their preorder with me, and if you haven’t ordered yet, you can find information and links here. If you prefer to patronize a brick-and-mortar store (and if so, good on ya!), then now’s a great time to check in with your favorite one and make sure they’re ordering it and will have a fresh, shiny new copy waiting for you on release day.

Keep checking back for updates. Or better yet, subscribe, Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, yadda yadda.

Our Disney Visit, in Pictures

FamilySelfieThe response to my Disney post has really blown me away. I’ve heard from so many cast members, many of whom have shared my post and all of whom have been astonishingly nice and complimentary. There have even been a few who remember my family from our trip! It’s never fun to come back from vacation, but all of you helped keep the magic going for a few more days, so thanks.

To everyone who read the post, I want to say a couple of things. One, many people wanted to make sure I know that Disney treats everyone as well as they treated my family. It’s their goal to make us all feel special. That couldn’t make me happier. I’d love to think that everyone who goes to Disney World has as wonderful a vacation as we did.

Two, the Fairy Godmother I wrote about is apparently well-known for being extra awesome. That makes me happy, too, because she definitely deserves the recognition. If you go to Orlando, make sure you pay her a visit.

Since people seemed to connect so well with that post, I figured I’d share a few more photos and anecdotes from our trip. Some of them have already appeared on my Facebook page, but I think they’re worth reposting here. Continue reading

5 Christmas Secrets I Keep From My Kids

pictured (l-r): Sutton, a complete fraud, Bennett

pictured (l-r): Sutton, a complete fraud, Bennett

Ho ho ho, guys! It’s me! No, not Santa. Daddy! Although, actually, since you mention it…

No, nevermind. Forget I said that. With Christmas coming up so soon, I’m just giddy with anticipation for you-know-who’s arrival. Or should I say “you-think-you-know-who.” Ha, ha, ha!

Sorry, I’m doing it again. Look, it’s best if you don’t read this post, not for a few years, at least. Go watch Dora save Christmas. I have some Yuletide-related secrets I want to talk about, so it’s best if this post – kind of like this post and this one – is just between me and the grown-ups for now.

Ready? Here goes…

Continue reading

Holy Wow! I’m on the Babble 100!

Babble-100-Logo2There is very little reward that comes with blogging. I’m certainly not earning any money off this site. Yes, it’s a great place to promote my upcoming book, which you can preorder at the sites listed here, but come on. If I were really on the ball, I’d have a big ad for my book on my home page. Gotta get on that.

Are you new here? Why not order a copy of this! It's just as good as anything on this site, but not free!

Are you new here? Why not order a copy of this! It’s all-new content. It’s just as good as anything on this site, but you get to pay to read it!

For the most part, I write these posts for the comments, likes, follows, reposts and whatever other forms of cyber-attention I can get.

And then there are lists.

Lists have never been good to me. I can’t remember any lists of good things that I’ve ever been on, but I sure do remember all the lists I’ve been left off, which is pretty much every list, ever. Lists bring out the worst in me. It’s hard to see a list I didn’t make the cut for and not go, “Really? She made it?!” “Oh, come on, in what world is that blog better than MINE?”

I know. I’m not proud.

Well, I have some good news: for once, I don’t have to be petty and jerkish about other people’s success. I made a list! A really big, influential list. A list that’s surely on the list of the top lists of its kind.

Yes, I’m on this year’s Babble 100.

Hoping my new "in" with the Disney corporation will allow me to get away with using this copyrighted image.

Hoping my new “in” with the Disney corporation will allow me to get away with using this copyrighted image.

100 blogs from all over the internet, and I made the cut. Specifically, I made the humor category. Babble, if you didn’t know, is owned by Disney, which means I’m kind of like the Olaf of this group. (If you haven’t seen Frozen yet, you really have to… and not just because it was made by the wonderful Disney corporation, which owns Babble.)

Seriously, I love Babble.

Not just now, and not just for this. I love Babble. I trust Babble. I read Babble. Their list is full of wonderful blogs that I really enjoy. And now it turns out that Babble likes me, they really like me! I feel good.

And guilty.

Now, I look at the list and think, “Wait a second. How did he not make the list?!” “They can’t possibly think I’m funnier than her, can they?!”

I am incredibly flattered. I am incredibly grateful to Babble. I am ridiculously excited about all the new people who will discover my blog and hopefully like, follow, comment and repost me as a result.

Lists can never be perfect, but I’ll say this: It’s better to be on one than off it.

If you found this blog through Babble, then welcome. That scroll bar of featured posts at the top of the page is a good place to start, as is my Best O’Blog page, which lists most of the same stuff.

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, then you’re already on my list of awesome people. Maybe you can stop by Babble and thank them for making me feel good about all the time I spend neglecting my children so I can write these blog posts.

And while you’re there, stick around and read some of their other stuff. Have I mentioned how much I love Babble?