The Back Cover Story

PreemieBackCovSmmktFirst of all, huge thanks to everyone for all of your incredibly positive feedback!!

So what’s the story with the back cover?

Actually, that wasn’t the first back cover.

The original back cover had a yellow background (the same yellow as the font on the front) and a small photo of Andie from the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) in the upper left-hand corner.

It was nice.


“What do you think of this back cover,” I asked Tuck, holding the laptop screen with the first back cover design in front of his skateboarding magazine.  He studied it for a moment.  “It’s nice,” he said.


“How would you change it?” I asked.

He brushed his hair out of his eyes and studied the screen.

He sat up a bit, moved the computer cursor around and pulled up the book’s front cover – the front cover emblazoned with his little sister’s photo.  The front cover he’d referred to three times in as many weeks when responding to his sister’s seemingly trivial complaints.  “What do you have to worry about?  Your photo is on the cover of Mommy’s book.”

Ouch.  I winched each and every time, wondering how many other times he’d said similar remarks that I hadn’t heard.

“I think the back cover should be like the color of the bark on the tree on the front,” he said.

I waited while he chewed his thumb, staring at the screen.

“And softer,” he said.  “The back cover needs to be much softer.”  Then he set the laptop down, and picked up his magazine.  Clearly our meeting was adjourned.

I typed up what Tucker said in an email and hit send.

The next morning a reply was waiting in my inbox,  “Tell Tucker he nailed it,” it read.

When I opened the attachment, chills began at the top of my head and quivered down to my toes.

I showed the image to Tucker.



He studied it for but a moment before declaring, “Perfect.”  Then added, when he could see I was waiting for more, “It’s really perfect, Mom.”

“It is, isn’t it?” I said, but I wasn’t looking at the back cover.  I was looking at my boy.  My boy, who once upon a time had been that little boy in the photo – that little boy on the back cover of his Mommy’s book.


* I send my deepest love and gratitude to my brilliantly fabulous friend Shandy.


She took that photo all those years ago while we were visiting her grandmother’s farm in Maine.  Shandy somehow managed to capture an ordinary, everyday moment during a time when I wasn’t sure whether ordinary, everyday moments were even possible.


(Next week – the scoop on the back cover quote from Katrina Kenison AND a chance to win a copy of her book, Mitten Strings for God.)

Marathon Mentality

Catching up on yesterday’s Boston Marathon – marveling at the preparation and undertaking of so many, reminded me of this post from last year, about Tucker’s Marathon Mentality…such a great reminder for me as I step up to the starting line with my book!


As I listened to the news reports about the Boston Marathon, I thought back on all the years when we lived outside of Boston and took the kids to the race. It began in the town next to ours and our friend’s office building was right on the main street, providing a wonderful place to watch the start and store our sweatshirts, water bottles and sunscreen.

Thousands of runners, who’d been there since the pre-dawn hours occupied patches of grass on beach towels spread beneath trees.  Their nervous tension mingled in the air with the smell of fried dough and sausages and onions wafting from the food carts lining the town green. The atmosphere left me jittery and awestruck, but the kids sucked it up like juice through a crazy-straw.  I had to suppress my desire to approach runners and launch an investigation into why they would possibly put themselves through the rigors of running a marathon.  The longest distance I’d ever run was 5 miles, and I swore I’d never do that again.

One year in particular stands out in my memory.  The kids were young, maybe around three and five. A runner from the Children’s Hospital Team ran in Andie’s honor. We met Vicky at the start and she had Andie’s name written on her arm in the same black oily crayon football players draw under their eyes.  When I asked Vicky why she ran, she said that running brought her great joy and that children facing adversity inspired her.


After we snapped a bunch of photos of Vicky hugging Tucker and Andie, we took the kids over to the official start.  They stood on the bright blue painted line and posed for a few quick pictures with their friends Matthew and Jack.  Soon runners began lining up between the metal cattle fencing lining the start of the course.

Just as the race was set to begin, the kids ran to the fence and stood on the lower metal bar so they could reach over the top rail and high-five passing runners.  As the hoards slowly began moving forward, many runners moved from the left side of the course over to the right just to meet the kid’s hands.  I could see Lee working just as hard I was to hold back his tears.

The kid’s bodies hung uncomfortably over the rail by their armpits and as the bib numbers reached into the thousands, Andie’s arms started to look noodley and she soon jumped down from her post.  Matthew and Jack lasted a few thousand runners longer, but eventually they’d had enough and jumped down, too.

“If I know Tuck,” said Matthew and Jack’s mom, Karen,  “he’s not coming off that fence anytime soon.”

And she was right.

We watched as the bib numbers climbed into the eight thousands, nine thousands.  The payment began to heat up, but Tucker’s little body continued to hang over that metal bar.  And there he stayed until every single runner, well over twenty thousand had moved past him and through the start of the race.

When he finally turned around and hopped of the fence, I realized I didn’t need to interview any of the runners to gain insight into their marathon mentality.  My little boy had shown me that focus, purpose, perseverance and a willingness to see things through to the end seemed to be the necessary requirements.


Here it is! The back cover of the book!

Of course there’s a story to tell – there always is.

But today I think I’ll stay quiet and allow the back cover to speak

for itself.

On the other hand, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.


(Next week, look for some design changes to the website and

new added features.  I’ll also share the behind the scenes story of

the back cover!)

Throwing the Perfect Pitch


This past Saturday I attended a writer’s conference.

It’s the same conference I’ve attended for the past four years.

The same conference I’m always nervous about attending because I have to mingle with “real writers” and “put myself out there.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“Go,” my husband said. “You’ll come home inspired.  You do every year.”

“Not this year,” I said.

But I go.

Writer friends I hadn’t seen since last year beckoned me over to their table.

Before the keynote speaker took the stage, we talked quickly, trying to catch each other up on everything that had happened in the past year.

My cheeks flushed and I couldn’t stop smiling.

I walked to my first workshop with another writer friend from last year.

The workshop was titled, “Elevator Pitches:  How Does Yours Stack Up?”

As we settled into our seats a panel of three convened in the front of a large room with tall glass windows.  Introductions were made.  Panelist #1 – Senior director of publicity and acquisitions editor at a Boston publishing house.  Panelist #2 – Director of marketing and sales at a NH publishing house.  Panelist #3 – The host of NH’s highest-rated morning radio show.


#2 announced how class would proceed.

“When we call your name, come to the front of the room.  I’ll start the timer and you’ll have 60 seconds to give your best pitch.  Then we’ll critique it.”


I looked around as others started pulling loose sheets of hand written or typed paper from bags, binders and manila folders.

Wait a minute.

“Did you prepare anything?” I whispered across the table to my friend.

She looked as wild-eyed as me.

“I thought we were going to write our pitch,” I whispered.

#2 then announced, “I’ll call your names in the order they’re written on the registration list.”

A blustery wind of words and phrases began swirling around in my mind – preemie baby, born too early, alternative therapies, hospitals, life lessons.  Followed by a screaming chant of – Please don’t call my name.  Please don’t call my name.   Please don’t call my name.

A name was called.  It wasn’t mine.

A woman strode to the front of the room.  With all the blood pumping in my head, I heard little of what she said.

“54 seconds,” #2 announced.  “Very good.”

As each expert spouted their opinions, I furiously scribbled notes:  Leave your listener wanting more.  Think of the first sentence as your headline.  State your credentials – why are you the one to write this book.  Throw in a teaser – leave us wanting more.  Give a sense of place – use a local connection if you have one.  Be specific, but not too specific.  Make it universal, but not too universal. 


Another name was called.  Not mine.

More advice.  More scribbles.

More names.  More scribbles.

And then… My Name Was Called.

I stood up.  I picked up the promotional post cards the publisher had made in time for the conference and strode (like the first woman) to the front of the room.  As I crossed the room, I said loudly and clearly, “Hi.  My name is Kasey Mathews.  I have a book coming out in May.”  When I reached the front of the room I placed a promotional postcard in front of each panelist.

And after that, I don’t remember much.

I do remember turning around and looking at the class that was looking back at me and saying something about a publication date and the national conference where I was scheduled to speak in May.

And then I remember saying something about my preemie baby, how she looked “like a potato with tiny arms and legs” and that I was so afraid of her that I didn’t want anything to do with her.

And then I remember I started to cry in the middle of my elevator pitch, until Panelist #2 held up his hand and said,  “STOP.”

And I did.

“That was over a minute and 30 seconds,” he said.

My cheeks burned.

The acquisitions editor on the end gave me a “you poor woman” look.

The radio announcer said, “Yeah you went on much too long.”

I wiped a tear from my face.

“You had us in the first 30 seconds,” he said.  “It was an excellent pitch.”

Pardon me?

Then they said things about honesty and emotion and intensity, but I don’t remember exactly what they said.

I do remember collapsing in my seat and resisting the urge to scream Wahooooo and thinking, I did it!  I gave a great pitch!

And then I remember thinking, If I could only remember what I said.

How about you?  Ever been caught totally unprepared for something?  What happened?