Happy Friday, Shelfies! Today, I invited author Kelsey Baldwin to By Her Shelf to talk about her book, Strong Girl, Brave Girl: A Single Mother’s Candid Story of Reconciling a Life Unexpected and Navigating the Messy In-Between. Grab your morning cup of coffee (or tea, or beverage of choice), and get to know Kelsey By Her Shelf!
What’s the elevator pitch (short summary) for Strong Girl, Brave Girl?
SGBG is about my journey as a single mother, going through a pregnancy and divorce at the same time, and how I’ve reconciled a life that looks completely different than I ever expected since then. It covers a wide range of life changes beyond divorce including dating after divorce, moving to a new city (twice!), giving birth, and becoming a mother without a partner.
Why was it important to you to tell this story? Who is it written for?
The more I shared about my story on my blog in the years before writing the book, the more I knew a book was on the horizon. I’ve always loved writing and always wanted to write a book. Once I saw how my story was inspiring + encouraging people, I felt like I couldn’t not write it! I also wrote it a lot for myself to work through a lot of the seasons I’ve been through (writing is like therapy to me!), and I wrote it for my daughter to read someday to see that her family might be really different than the others around her, but she has extra people who love her and parents who aren’t perfect. And hopefully she can find some encouragement in that.
Why did you decide to write Strong Girl, Brave Girl, when you were, as you say, still in the middle of this story?
I decided to tell this story candidly, from the middle of my mess, not from the end with a wrapped up bow and rose-colored glasses. When I’m going through difficult seasons, the most helpful conversations were with women who were going through something similar. They were struggling with the same things I was, and they didn’t have it all figured out either. I wanted to be that for other women, because the middle of our stories is where we connect with each other.
How did you make time to write this story while running Paper & Oats and raising a human?
I gave myself plenty of time to write, and worked it into my calendar during a slower season for my business. I wrote mostly at night after my daughter went to bed, that’s when I feel my most creative!
Why did you choose the publishing route you took, and how has it changed your perspective on books?
I didn’t know anything about traditional publishing except that it takes a LONG time to get a publisher to say yes, and then it takes a LONG time to get it released after that. I didn’t want to drag this out forever, and I really wanted to write it on my terms and my timeline. As a former book designer, I knew the design side of things very well (which is a hang up for a lot of self-published authors), which helped make it an easy decision, too. Plus, having an existing audience who was interested in my story gave me a good head start for marketing. Someday I’d like to pursue traditional publishing, but for this very personal book, I knew self-publishing was the right choice to start.
Do you plan to release another book in the future?
Yes! I’d love to write more books! Not sure what they’ll be about, but I really loved the entire process, so I’ll for sure be doing more.
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
My website — www.paperandoats.com — has all my current projects, teaching, articles, and more about my business. I also hang out on Instagram a lot, so you can follow @paperandoats for some good behind-the-scenes stuff.
What book made you fall in love with or reignited your love of reading?
“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott. I really love all things Anne Lamott — her writing and her teaching on writing was a huge inspiration for me writing my book. It’s effortless, not dramatic, but it sounds like you’re sitting across the table from her.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelf?
I have a couple books about the LGBTQ community that I got when my brother came out as gay a few years ago. They definitely helped me understand him better and get a picture of what it’s like to be gay in middle America.
What are your ideal reading conditions?
Quiet, in bed or on the couch, fireplace going, warm drink in hand, low lights 🙂
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading “Finding God in The Waves” by Mike McHargue and “It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)” by Nora McInerny.
What book is currently on top of your TBR pile?
Anne Lamott’s new book, of course — “Almost Everything” 🙂
What book are you most looking forward to (not yet released)?
I’m really looking forward to Nora McInerny’s new book “No Happy Endings” — how she writes about her story is super inspiring to me!
Print, eBook, or audiobook?
Print all the way!
Buy or Borrow from library?
Buy — I can’t finish a book before it’s due back to the library, haha!
Bookmark, dog ear, or scrap paper to hold your place?
Scrap paper — usually a little scribble from my daughter or a plane ticket.
Write/highlight in book or leave it pristine?
Maaaaybe write in pencil, but not usually. I like to loan out books, so notes feel too personal to me.
Worst book habit?
Not finishing them in a timely manner! I either finish a book within a couple days, or it takes me months and months, haha!
Kelsey Baldwin is an author, designer, and entrepreneur. She runs Paper + Oats, an online blog and resource for creative entrepreneurs looking to do business on their own terms. She helps fellow creatives organize, design, and market their digital products, so they can share what they know, and look good doing it. As a single mother, she is also an advocate for women learning to sustain themselves and gain independence through online business. Her first book – Strong Girl, Brave Girl – chronicles her journey through divorce while being pregnant, and is now available on Amazon. She lives in Missouri with her daughter and dog, forever in search of their next ice cream cone.