Scary Mommy’s Thanksgiving Project

Scary Mommy Nation

One of the best things about blogging is meeting other bloggers who are insightful, hilarious, awesome and all the things you aspire to be. Few people fit that description as well as Scary Mommy, whom it’s been my pleasure to get to know this year.

Well, it turns out Scary Mommy is also (who knew?) a good person. After a bunch of moms anonymously confessed on her site that they were having trouble feeding their families, she started her own charity to treat them to Thanksgiving dinners. She’s been doing it for the last two years and feeding hundreds of families.

Because I am far too lazy to organize something like this myself and arguably not as good a person as she is, I am simply linking to her Thanksgiving Project here. It’s a good cause, it’s tax deductible and for $50 you can help feed an entire family. If you don’t have that much to give, then give what you can and let someone else chip in the cranberry sauce. It’s all good.

Or if you need help yourself, she’s also taking applications.

Good luck with the project, Jill!

An Open Letter to the Muppets, From a Little Girl and Her Dad

Rockin'_RobinDear Muppets,

One of the best things about having kids is getting to introduce them to the things you loved when you were young. One of the worst comes when they don’t see those things quite the way you always did.

I was really excited this morning when my 4-year-old son, Bennett, raced up to me to say he’d just seen the greatest YouTube video ever — and it starred the Muppets! I love the Muppets! I’ve even written about them before on this blog! Bennett started describing it to me in his adorably excitable way.

“Daddy, you won’t believe what they were sitting on… BRANCHES! Isn’t that CRAAAAZY? And there were BIRDS! They were going, ‘Tweet, tweet!’”

“Wait a second, dude,” I said, in my older, excitable way. “Was this song called ‘Rockin’ Robin’?”

“YES!!!”

“I REMEMBER THAT!!!”

“WOW!!!”

“LET’S WATCH IT RIGHT NOW!!!”

“OK!!!”

I grabbed Bennett’s twin sister, Sutton, and the three of us ran to the iPad. As the video played, Bennett and I giggled and sang along. Sutton just watched.

“Daddy,” she said, about halfway through, “there aren’t a lot of girl Muppets.”

Cue the record scratch here.

I’m not going to pretend that this was news to me. Sure, everyone knows Miss Piggy, and any true Muppet fan is aware of Janice, who in fact, sings lead vocals on “Rockin’ Robin.” Other than her, though, it was a total sausage factory on those branches, the same way it is in the Muppet Theater, the Muppet movies, the Muppet TV specials and everything else Muppet-related.

camilla

The 3rd most popular “girl Muppet”

Think about it. After Miss Piggy and Janice, what other female Muppets are there? Camilla the chicken?

I don’t want to play up this moment too much. It’s not like my daughter burst into tears or stormed away declaring she didn’t like the Muppets anymore. She was just making an observation. And that is exactly why I’m so upset.

At 4 years old, my daughter has already figured out that sometimes, there just aren’t a lot of girls. Some people create entire realms of characters where women are an afterthought or a token, where one or two females can represent every feminine characteristic they intend to portray. The boys come in endless varieties, each with their own lovable quirks. There’s Kermit, the avuncular optimist, Fozzie, the goofy vaudevillian, Swedish Chef, the, well, Swedish Chef… and then there’s Miss Piggy, the girl.

What really hurts about this is how otherwise inclusive the Muppets are. Muppets come in all shapes and species, all colors of the rainbow, some have different accents or dress in a unique way. The only blind spot the Muppets seem to have is the one that covers, you know, roughly half of the entire world’s population — and 100% of my daughter.

I realize this isn’t a new thing. The Muppets have always been a boys’ club. What’s changed, of course, is that I have a daughter now, and I want her to feel as welcome and included in this fun little fantasy world as I do.

suttonanddolls

Sutton and 1/1,000,000,000th of her stuffed animal collection

I could very easily steer her toward other pop culture choices. Believe me, she knows about princesses and Strawberry Shortcake, properties that were created specifically for her gender and where girl characters typically outnumber boys. But she wants to like the Muppets, and I want to share them with her without her feeling like she needs to sit on the sidelines while her brother and I geek out over their videos.

The Children’s Television Workshop has done a good job of integrating new female characters, like Abby Cadabby, Zoe and Rosita. There’s no reason the Muppets (who are owned by Disney and operate as a separate entity) can’t do the same.

Come on, Disney. This is on you. I know you know how to market things to little girls, so let’s get on this, OK?

I am not wagging a finger at you so much as I am waving dollar bills in your face. My son owns about half a dozen stuffed animals, including Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo. My daughter owns about nine squijillion. Many of them are your characters. If you make some new girl Muppets, we will buy the toys. We will buy the original doll, we will buy the “young” version of the doll, we will buy the Classic Animator edition of the doll, the Barbie version of the doll, the pillow pet of the doll, the miniature figurine of the doll. The last time I counted, I believe Sutton had six Rapunzels, and she’s never even sat all the way through Tangled. Whatever you churn out and squeeze onto the shelves of the Disney Store, we will charge on our Disney credit card and take home with us. You will have us on the hook for years and years, for hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars.

What I am begging you for is the opportunity to make you considerably richer. If that’s not win-win, I don’t know what is.

Look, I realize my timing is terrible. The next Muppet movie, Muppets Most Wanted, comes out in March, and from what I’ve seen, it’s just as testosterone-heavy as all the other Muppet films. No new girl Muppets, although there is Tina Fey — who, by the way, I’m pretty sure will be with me on this.

It's almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two women before the time runs out.

It’s almost like one of those Pictureka pictures, where the goal is to find two female characters before the time runs out.

Maybe you can squeeze in a few reshoots or CGI in Beaker’s mom or something. Bring back Skeeter if you want to. I’m not picky. At the very least, you’re probably in development on the next Muppet movie after this one. (I hope so. I hope there are a hundred more Muppet movies on the way, ones both my kids will want to see with me.)

If you’re still in need of ideas, here’s one for you. After we watched the video this morning, I told Sutton she should create her own girl Muppet. Then at preschool, that’s exactly what she did. When I picked her up at the end of the day, she couldn’t wait to show me her drawing. Her name is Rosada.

EPSON MFP image

Rosada, according to Sutton, is nice, quiet and as smart as a bug. She likes Milano cookies, her shoes and her bag that her mother got her. She is not a ladybug.

A four-year-old came up with this. What have you got?

Sincerely,

Jerry Mahoney

Good News For People Who Preordered My Book!

booksellersAnyone who preordered my book from Amazon is covered by their preorder price guarantee, which means that you’ll only pay the lowest price posted between now and when the book is released. As of the moment I’m publishing this post, the book has been discounted to $19.60, so no matter what you agreed to pay when you bought it, that’s all you’ll be charged when it ships… unless, of course, the price goes down again, in which case you’ll pay even less!

If you haven’t preordered, you can take advantage of the sale price here (for as long as it lasts).

More good news — the book is now up on Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Book Depository and Powell’s. More to come, so if it’s not showing up on your favorite bookseller yet, just enter it in their search bar 500 times a day until someone over there takes notice. (I’m guessing that’s how I got on Barnes & Noble.) And for those of you who asked, yes, there will be an eBook, but that may not be available for preorder until closer to the release date. I’ll be adding a separate page here for book ordering when I get a chance.

There’s also a page for it on GoodReads, where Viktor has already marked it as “Want to Read”. Thanks, Viktor!

Finally, I apologize for incredibly lopsided ratio of book pimping to original material that’s been going on here lately, but I’m hoping to have something new up next week.

Grateful Man: How I Went from Self-Promoting Author to #1 Best-Seller*

BestsellerNo1I almost started writing this post too soon.

I tried not to get my hopes up too much about my Amazon Preorder Chart Twerk, wherein I brazenly begged everyone who would listen to me to preorder my book, 7 months before it’s even released, so that I could make a big splash on the Amazon sales chart. I had no idea what kind of difference a stunt like this could make, but it felt good going into it ranked #403,253. The only way to go was up!

Or so I thought.

So many people, from close friends to readers of this blog whom I’ve never even met, shared my link and tried to get others to sign on. At noon sharp, I started tweeting, Facebooking, emailing and basically squeezing every bit of juice out of all the social networks I’ve built up over the last few years to hype the presale. Then I sat back to watch my book coast up the charts.

I couldn’t wait to write this blog post, the one where I told everyone how much all their help paid off. I only wondered what numbers I would be able to boast about. Hey, I made it to #1,486 in the rankings! Hooray, I cracked the top 900! Oh my God, I’m outselling Catcher in the Rye**!

At 12:01, I hit REFRESH. No change. At 12:01 and 5 seconds, I hit REFRESH again. And again. And again. Hmm… maybe these charts didn’t update as frequently as I thought.

Finally, at 12:49, I saw a new rank… 409,937.

Huh?!

I asked everyone I know to buy my book, and it was actually going down in the rankings? This can’t be right. REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH!

At 2:17pm, I saw another new rank…

420,449

Now I was panicked. My chart twerk had been going on for 2 full hours, and the book was still plummeting like a Saw sequel the week after Halloween. What if Amazon didn’t rank preorders the same way as books that have been released? What if this didn’t work the way I’d led people to believe it would? What if I’d cashed in all the good will I’d amassed my whole life FOR NOTHING?

REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH REFRESH…

By 5:00 I’d pretty much given up hope. I was composing an email to Drew asking him what I should do. Apologize to everyone and tell them to cancel their preorders? Change my name and leave the country?

Right before I was about to hit SEND, I refreshed one more time. That’s when I saw this:

Rankings1Just as I was staring at the numbers, my phone rang, and I knew right away it was the one person who was probably hitting REFRESH as much as I was.

“DID YOU SEE IT? HOLY SHIT!”

“I was just sending you an email,” I said, as I immediately deleted everything I’d just typed to him.

Just like that, my book shot up 420,083 places, to #366. As in 0 million, 0 hundred thousand, three hundred sixty-six.

Holy shit, indeed.

Even better, it was #15 in Parenting… and #1 in Gay & Lesbian Memoirs and Biographies!

I didn’t stop refreshing. At 6:43, the book was up even more… #260! Still #1 in LGBT memoirs and now #9 in Parenting. I was ahead of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child!

I giddily looked up some other books. Eat Pray Love? #3,070. Pfft! Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? #1,068. Ha ha! Sure it was just for one brief moment in time on one retailer, but I was outselling J.K. Rowling!

The book popped up in Hot New Releases for Gay & Lesbian Biographies. It ranked #2 on Amazon’s Movers & Shakers chart (based on a sales surge of 98,150%). Best of all, if you searched for my book, it popped up with a sticker that said “#1 Best-Seller” because of its placement in its category chart.

Admittedly, part of me felt guilty. I was gaming the system, after all. There was no way my ranking would hold, and I’d displaced authors who’d earned their sales the hard way. Still, I couldn’t feel too bad because I was too busy feeling something else instead…

An overwhelming rush of love and gratitude.

I have the best friends, family, followers and blog readers in the world. I am silly with affection for you guys right now. The rank may have been inflated, but there’s no way I could overstate how loved I feel at this moment. I was moved to tears when I saw what you did for my book, and it’s ultimately not about selling a book as much as it is feeling like I’ve done something right with my life. I’ve surrounded myself with amazing people.

There are too many people to thank individually here, but two bloggers really went above and beyond in helping me promote this, so the least I can do is point you toward their awesome blogs. John Kinnear and Miceala Shocklee, you guys rock.

With seven months until the book comes out, I’m not sure what comes next. I’ll probably talk to my publisher about how we can garner some more attention out of this, and I’m sure they’ll have plenty of marketing schemes to implement as my book comes closer to being released. But even if my book never reaches these kinds of numbers again, this already seems like a win.

My book is about how I became a dad, so it recounts some of the happiest moments of my life. Today, you gave me another one, which goes in a new chapter all its own.

… a figurative chapter. Don’t worry, I’m not setting you up to buy another book already.

—–

* Gay & Lesbian Biography & Memoir category

** That never happened. But I slaughtered Franny & Zooey.

One More Day to the Chart Twerk for My Book! Thanks for Spreading the Word!

For no good reason, a picture of my children getting along.

For no good reason, a picture of my children getting along.

Are these book preorder updates getting obnoxious?  Here’s the deal: You indulge me with these self-promotional shenanigans for a couple of days, then we go back to normal here for a while, at least until a few weeks before the book comes out next May, when all bets are off. OK? Thanks…

I just want to thank all of you who have posted about my Amazon Preorder Chart Twerk on your Facebooks, Twitters and what have you. (You have Keek? Great, thanks for Keeking me, whatever that is.)

The awesome Miceala Shocklee of the Quill even created a Facebook event to promote my thing. And I’m not even paying her!  Feel free to jump into her party here. I also created a Facebook event through my Mommy Man page, but Facebook only showed it to 90 people. Rumor has it this is how they get people to pay to promote their posts. The few times I’ve seen bloggers do that, their post shows up like a hundred times in everyone’s feed, and we all just get annoyed. So I’m not going to do that to you, not this time at least.

So if you’re on board with preordering my book tomorrow at 12pm EDT and helping me make a big dent in the Amazon sales charts, set your alerts. Join Miceala’s thing. Sign up for an email reminder by requesting one in the comments below. Follow me on Twitter. Subscribe to this blog. If you do any of those things, you’ll get a reminder when it’s time to buy.

Amazon seems to be the only retailer that has the presale up as of now, which is why I’m asking everyone to do it there. It should be available just about everywhere eventually, and I’ll provide that info on my site when I have it.

It’d be nice if Amazon discounted the price to coincide with this, but remember, they have a preorder price guarantee, which means if you order tomorrow, you’ll only pay the lowest price they offer it at between now and the release date. So you can’t lose, and that’s a very good reason for ordering early.

Thanks again!

3 Days And Counting… Amazon Chart Twerk update!


amazonrank

Great news! My book has cracked the top 674,000 on Amazon! I actually noticed it go as high as the top 176,000 shortly after I announced the presale, but clearly most of you have been holding out for the official chart twerk, which takes place this Friday, October 4, at 12pm EDT (or as close to that as you can manage to be near a device running Amazon.com). I’m hoping then that I’ll see a much higher ranking, which of course, will give my publisher a big boost of confidence and hopefully convince more booksellers to stock it.

I’ve been so touched by all of you who’ve said you’re going to participate. I’m happy you want to read the book and grateful that you’re willing to help me out with my crazy little plan. (Admittedly, the one thing that’s likely to get a bigger boost than my book’s ranking is my own ego.)

For the rest of you, I’ve realized that maybe you need some more convincing. Maybe just some more information about this book I’m asking you to shell out your preorder money for. So, if you’re curious what’s contained in these 264 pages, here goes:

This memoir began as kind of an expanded version of a Modern Love column I wrote for the New York Times. You can read that original column here. That piece mostly centered on the amazing gift my partner and I received from my sister-in-law Susie, who selflessly donated her eggs to help us have children. The hardest thing about writing that column was fitting the whole thing into such a limited space. There was so much more to our story. So many more amazing people who deserved to be included, so many more unbelievable anecdotes I was dying to share. Writing the short version convinced me that I wanted to write about all of it. For my own sake, for my kids’ sake and, hopefully, for a bunch of people who might be moved by or just get a kick out of our story.

What I didn’t want to write was some deep, ponderous, self-important memoir like so many of the others out there. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’re familiar with my writing voice – snarky, jokey and then, when you least expect, ridiculously sentimental, because that’s just the kind of guy I am. That’s exactly what you’ll get from the book, too.

If I do say so myself, it’s also just a great story. Here’s the synopsis I put together for the publisher, which you can also find on the book’s Amazon page.

As a teenager growing up in the 1980s, all Jerry Mahoney wanted was a nice, normal sham marriage. 2.5 kids and a frustrated, dissatisfied wife living in denial of her husband’s sexuality. Hey, why not? It seemed much more attainable and fulfilling than the alternative—coming out of the closet and making peace with the fact that he’d never have a family at all.

Twenty years later, Jerry is living with his long-term boyfriend, Drew, and they’re ready to take the plunge into parenthood. But how? Adoption? Foster parenting? Kidnapping? What they want most of all is a great story to tell their future kid about where he or she came from.

Their search leads them to gestational surrogacy, a road less traveled where they’ll be borrowing a stranger’s ladyparts for nine months. Thus begins Jerry and Drew’s hilarious and unexpected journey to daddyhood. They meet a surrogate who’s perfect in every way… until she rejects them. They squabble over potential egg donors, discovering that they have very different notions of what makes the ideal woman. Then, Drew’s sister Susie makes a stunning offer that turns their entire journey on its head. If they’re interested, she’ll donate her eggs.

For the first time, Jerry and Drew imagine what it would be like to have a baby who’s a little bit of both of them. From then on, they’re in uncharted waters. They’re forced to face down homophobic baby store clerks, a hospital that doesn’t know what to do with them, even members of their own family who think what they’re doing is a little nutty. Along the way, Susie receives some devastating news that threatens to crush all their dreams of parenthood. One thing’s for sure. If this all works out, they’re going to have an incredible birth story to tell their kid.

With honesty, emotion, and laugh-out-loud humor, Jerry Mahoney ponders what it means to become a Mommy Man . . . and discovers that the answer is as varied and beautiful as the concept of family itself.

If you have any questions, post them here. I’d be happy to answer them. And if you need a reminder to place your order with the rest of us, just let me know and I’ll add you to my email list.

I have no idea how high a ranking this book can get, but I’m dying to find out. Maybe some day you can say you helped me crack the top 8,000!

[Remember: the Amazing Amazon Preorder Sales Twerk is this Friday, October 4, at 12pm EDT. You can place your orders here.]