Welcome to the close of 2021!
It wasn't an easy year, but amidst the poop storm there were moments to treasure. Seeing family and friends, getting vaccinated and having the kids in physical school again, simple things that took on a whole new level of meaning.
More than anything this year reminded me of how important it is to lean into joy. Here's some things that have brought me considerable joy and I'm proud of them too.
1. My Partnership with Cody
I don't talk about it that much because, yes, it's private, sure, but it's more that I feel this pressure not to be defined by my relationship. And yet, I love him, we've built a life together and our relationship has changed my damn life.
2. My family (pictured here climbing a mountain)
Being together 24/7 for months, not easy, but possible because they happen to be my favorite people.
I love listening to people’s stories (and reading them too). One of the blessings of 2021 was taking part in the Project for Advancing Health Stewardship through the University of Minnesota, led by Jeannine Ouelettte. In the workshop we each completed our own Where I’m From Poem inspired by George Ella Lyon. I enjoyed the process of creating my own poem, but even more I loved listening to the poems of the other participants. Taking that kernel and running with it, for the past few months I’ve been hosting a weekly IG Live (you can follow me on Instagram HERE) where a participant shares their Where I’m From poem and we’ll chat for about 15 minutes or so. I’ve done 9 so far and the 10th is on Monday @9AM/NOON EST with Elizabeth Heise.
PLEASE join me! SHARE your poem!
You do not need to consider yourself a writer to participate. I firmly believe each of us has a story to tell and that sharing it is powerful. Plus its frikkin’ awesome! If you’re interested in participating - email (or DM) me and let me know. I can send you the prompts. You can join me on IG Live or we can record on Zoom (and I’ll post to IG Live) or you can just write it and let it be. Up to you.
Thank you for your support of the Kickstarters from Issues #1 and #2. We are incredibly proud of the work and we so look forward to sharing Issues #3 and #4 with you in 2022! I am deeply grateful to my business partner, Jessica Petelle for her determination, vision and friendship.
One more in under the wire for 2021, The Boys in this month’s issue of Dorothy Parker’s Ashes, the sibling issue. As anyone who knows me would attest, I have a few things to say about siblings and I love this essay.
I read a lot. It's an escape. It's an education.
I just finished reading The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, Seek You: A Journey through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke and Textbook Amy Krause Rosenthal by Amy Krause Rosenthal (AKR). It was a serendipitous trio of books to read together. The experience braided many of the things that have been on my mind of late and brought clarity to those very same thoughts.
I can (and will!) do little things and, yes, all those little things may add up to something larger, which is cool, but not the point. All those small steps forward, the small gestures, connections or actions, they give my life meaning, every day.
I can (and will!) pursue joy, even if what I'm doing makes sense to no one but me.
Delight is contagious, yes, and loneliness is contagious too.
And the longing to connect is real, for all of us.
AKR connected with her audience in a myriad of ways and I’d like to do every single social experiment AKR did (and I'm definitely doing some) from Textbook by AKR but I’ll begin here...
I’m planning/hoping to write a daily delight, inspired by Ross Gay, every day in 2022. Strangely I’m not a huge New Year’s resolution person but I do LOVE a good habit, so I’ll give this a try. I’ll post it on social media, if it doesn’t feel too utterly vulnerable but I have a feeling that being publicly vulnerable in delight is a worthwhile endeavor.
I’d LOVE ( LOVE, LOVE) it if you'd share a delight with me either through email or DM. Daily, Weekly, one time, whatever.
And the 50th DELIGHT I receive, I’ll send that person a copy of The Book of Delights. If it takes 50 days of the same delightful person, I will be thrilled to send them a book in February. If it's sooner (or later), that’s lovely too.
7. All of you
Reading Raptke’s book I thought of the last time I was truly lonely. It's been awhile and I am grateful for all the relationships in my life that make me feel seen, appreciated and loved.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.
See you in 2022!
P.S. And don't forget to send me your DELIGHTS!!
And it would be especially delightful if you forwarded this email to a friend, thanks!
So thrilled to share my piece, Outrageously Perfect, ran in the print edition of The New York Times yesterday and the online edition of Tiny Love in The New York Times, last week. CLICK HERE.
Annnnd, it was Halloween! And we love to dress up!
I started out a reluctant crafter but I have to say there's something very satisfying about bringing your kid's LUSH Bath Bomb dreams to reality.
REBURN Digital Issue #2 and Process Packet are out in the world! If you haven't received yours, please let me know
I've had the particular joy of immersing myself in writers I love this past month or so. In all the cases below, I picked up one work of theirs and then another. And then listened to a podcast. And then read an interview. Basking in their brilliance, it's a great way to spend some hours.
Wishing everyone a joyous Autumn!
#1 - Shameless Plug
The end of the Kickstarter for REBURN Issue #2 is two days away (get your pledges in by midnight PST on Thursday) I am overjoyed with our success so far - thank you to everyone who has backed the campaign. We are incredibly proud of Issue #2, the story, the art, the covers and the campaign. If you haven't backed it, now is a great time to check it out HERE.
#2 - Stuff I love*
I read a lot. I've been relieved to hear that a writer should also read voraciously. How convenient is it, that while I was feeding my soul, I was always doing something that was imperative for my career? Bonus!
1. Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome
If you've ever felt broken beyond repair and you needed a book to help you feel less alone, this is a powerful one. Also, it's so personal and raw about the intersection of the author's life as a queer Black man and the construct of masculinity. And it's surprisingly funny.
2. Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad
It's profound and beautiful and engages deeply with a conversation most of us are avoiding, our own mortality.
3. Good Grief
An extremely bingeable podcast about, well, grief. It's 6 part, 60 minute length was the perfect length for me to take a sunset walk alone and have a good cry.
*I think I come off a bit melancholy in the above section. Oops, I'm actually smiling right now. See below.
#3 - Course Correction, Funny Book I'm Excited to Read!
Happy Pub Day to - Babies Don't Make Small Talk (So Why Should I?) a humorous parenting book by the hilarious Julie Vick. I picked up my copy today at my local bookstore. Yes, my LOCAL INDIE BOOKSTORE. Can you tell I'm a smidge proud of myself? I am.
#4 -Stuff I'm on, i.e. Podcasts
I have been fortunate enough to chat about REBURN Issue #2 on a couple of podcasts. I enjoy the opportunity to discuss our creative process and collaboration. Plus, it's fun to talk comics.
1. Part-Time Fanboy, you can listen HERE.
2. Bearded Comic Bro, you can listen HERE.
#5 - One Last Ask
Many of you know I had a wonderful, charismatic and generous mentor in college, Delle Chatman. She died too young of ovarian cancer and left behind a daughter, Ramona. Ramona is now is her 20's and facing numerous health battles, many of which are related to her BRCA gene mutation. Her bills are piling up. Check out her GoFundMe HERE. Any amount is deeply appreciated.
As always, thank you for reading this whole dang newsletter, it's wonderful to have you! If there's something you'd like to hear more about or you have questions for me, please reach out! I'm right here.
Happy Summer to All!
Hope everyone is finding moments of respite amid the mild (massive?) chaos of re-entry. I think I'm getting used to it...kinda...though I often feel like a nap is in order.
I'm thrilled to share our Reburn Issue #2 Pre-launch page HERE.
Kickstarter likes it when people follow a project through their pre-launch page, and so do we! It factors into their algorithm which we try to keep happy, so if you have a moment please click on the LINK
In other thrilling news, Reburn Issue #1 is showing up in comic stores. (In limited supply) Here I am at one of our local stores, Pulp Fiction Culver City.
Never fear, I will send a reminder next Wednesday, July 14th, when the Kickstarter launches. Because of your incredible support on the last campaign we were able to hit our goal in less than 24 hours. Backing early is important for algorithms, 100%, but also for our peace of mind. If you are considering backing, the earlier the better so we can continue building our fan base, reaching stretch goals and raising money for Issue #3.
And if you have a friend or two (or twelve!) that is looking for an all-female kickass creative project to back, that's us!
I've read a bunch of fantastic books lately, my three faves were:
1. Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism and Treason by Gina Frangello
To say this book is FIRE, is simple but true. The fire of self-discovery, love, self-loathing, sex, motherhood and the list goes on. I loved what this book is about AND it was masterfully written.
2. Sanctuary by Emily Rapp Black
Black writes about resilience and grief in this book with such tenderness. The experience of reading it felt gentle and hopeful. I can't really summarize it. I'll just say, it spoke to me.
3. Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder
For all the motherless daughters out there, this one is for you. Or honestly, for anyone who needs a frank and humorous conversation about grief and if we're being honest, who isn't? Bonus: Tyler is a a graduate of Northwestern University (like me!) and of their Creative Writing for the Media Program (like me!) and she's a lovely person (like me! [see what I did there?]).
Also, watch HACKS. If you have HBO Max and you love funny, talented + complicated women.
As always, thank you for your support. I love hearing from you and connecting via this newsletter, social media or IN REAL LIFE. This is actually happening now and I am deeply grateful for the science that made this possible. I'll state the obvious when I say it has been a challenging 18 months. For me, for everyone, for the world. I am deeply grateful to see and feel some hope. May we all stay safe and take everything we've learned during this unprecedented time out into the world to make it a more caring and equitable place.
All the love,
P.S. Please forward this to everyone you know.
P.P.S. Attach a thoughtful note so it doesn't feel like spam.
REBURN Issue #1 is in your hands! Soooo many awesome pics! And Kickstarter for Issue #2 coming in JULY!
What an exciting couple of weeks it's been here at Reburn Central (our garage). Not only did we receive and ship hundreds of comics, it was Mother's Day! And Cody's and my 18th Wedding Anniversary! We spent those days fulfilling Reburn orders, which was not the original plan, but also felt like the most poetic and perfect way to send Reburn Issue #1 into the world. I'm grateful to my life partner, Cody. And my business partner, Jessica. Without them Reburn would still be called, The Unity, and would be sitting on my desktop.
One of the special joys of having printed issues of Reburn is hand delivering to backers and encouraging (forcing?) them to take pictures with their copies and me. JOY!
I also love pictures of friends with their comics, send those too! And if you're comfortable with me sharing them on social media, I most definitely will, if you don't first:)
Very excited to share that the REBURN Issue #2 Kickstarter is coming in JULY. Elise McCall has already finished the pencils and inks (which look gorgeous) and it's being colored by our new (and incredibly talented) team member Hilary Jenkins, as I write this update, like right now!
In the midst of all of this, I'm reading. No matter what, I am always the type of person who can curl up with a book and shut out the world.
I just finished two memoirs about cults.
1. Leaving Isn't The Hardest Thing by Lauren Hough
Hough grew up in The Children of God cult which was later called The Family. Her essays are insightful, darkly humorous and raw AF. She crafts a narrative that makes it possible to read about something so horrific without me having to put the book aside and walk away.
2. When She Comes Back by Ronit Plank
Plank's mother left her and her sister to join Rajneesh of Wild, Wild Country fame. Plank's honesty and vulnerability are a gift. Plank writes frankly about her feelings of abandonment and subsequent questioning of her own self-worth. Why didn't her mother stay for her?
Both of these books share the child's perspective of what it's like when a child's grown up is finding themselves and falling apart in equal measure, and I'm sure you already know, it isn't easy.
Annnnd..a cult podcast for good measure, A Little Bit Culty with Sarah and Nippy from The Vow. I highly recommend Episode #12: On Defining Consent.
And finally, right before diving deep into the world of Kickstarter I recorded all of my published essays and uploaded them to Sound Cloud. A couple of friends shared that reading is not their favorite hobby, but they would love to listen to me read them. I was flattered and enjoyed recording them. HERE they are.
As always, thank you for all your support, comments, love, emails, etc.
YES! What a WEEK!
So thrilled to share that my original screenplay, THE NIGHT WE MET, made it to the Second Round of the Sundance Creative Producing Lab 2021. A yes from Sundance, after more than a few no's over the years, is a wonderful feeling. It's even sweeter because of our all-female team. What an INCREDIBLE group of collaborators!
Jessica Petelle, Director
Jen Prince, Producer
Jhennifer Webberley, Producer
Annnnnd, REBURN Issue #1 and all digital materials went out to our Kickstarterbackers yesterday via WeTransfer. If you missed your chance to back the campaign and you want to purchase a Digital or Print Copy of REBURN #1, let me know. We will honor Kickstarter prices and fulfill your order. We'd love for you to read Issue #1 and join us on the journey!
Here's a link to the Audio Commentary, Jessica Petelle and I did for Issue #1. It was a stretch goal for the campaign and we had so fun sitting down and talking creative process.
I also had the singular joy of sitting down and talking about REBURN during the Kickstarter campaign. I loooove talking process. Here are a few links:
1. YouTube. Jess and I sit down with Laura Vandervoort and talk about all the things, including REBURN.
2. FTO Nerd Podcast. I talk with Dee about REBURN, the creative process and finding my voice.
3. RogueWav Podcast. I talk with Michael about REBURN for the last 20 minutes of this podcast.
During this time, I've found myself diving deeply into memoir:
1. Heavy by Kiese Laymon. One I've been meaning to read for a while and finally did. %#*&%!!! Incredible.
2. Being Lolita by Alisson Wood. Exactly what you might think from the title. Wood does a masterful job, economic, well-written and powerful.
3. Widowish by Melissa Gould. A page turner about loss. Gould's humor and honesty delve into the many shades and manifestations of grief.
What have you been reading? Doing? I have to say I'm feeling (MANY) feelings these days, with the reopening, the tragic shootings, the George Tyndall $1.1 billion judgement. I'm trying my very best to eat when I'm hungry, sleep when I'm tired and allow myself to feel whatever it is I'm feeling without shame. It's not always that simple, but it's a goal. A hope.
I appreciate the time you take to engage with me, my emails and my work. Writing has been a source of great solace over the course of my life but particularly during this past year. I still hold resentment (I'm working on it) toward USC, for what happened to me, to thousands of us when we were students there. I should have come out that program full of confidence and ready to take on the world. I didn't.
I have more confidence, hope and joy than I did then.
Thank you for your part in my process and my life.
It means more than mere words can communicate.
*If you'd like to read more about my experiences at USC, you can read my essay at Ms.
Last you heard from me I was launching a mysterious quicksilver beast called a Kickstarter for a comic book I wrote and created, REBURN.
It's gone well. Incredibly well and I have many of you to thank - so thank you.
If you haven't backed it and would still like to, follow this LINK.
The KICKSTARTER closes at 9AM PST on FRIDAY, but really do it before then, if you'd like to back it.
Quick Explanation of Kickstarter: There are lots of tiers on Kickstarter. Check them out. And now, if you buy the physical copy our book for $15 + shipping you will also get lots of FREEBIES including a Metallic REBURN Bookmark, a PDF copy of Turner Family Terrors Issue #1, 2 REBURN Stickers, A 'Poppy' 5x7 Bookplate, REBURN Magnet, Audio Commentary and a 4 page PDF preview of ISSUE #2.
Many of you backed this project which feels frikkin' fantastic, because I get to keep doing something I love, writing and creating a world where a woman, our main character MAY, finds the pieces of her soul and does her best to put them back together, while throwing fireballs and doing various other badass things. Pretty much, it's my life story.
We launched our KICKSTARTER with a goal of $7K. We discussed this number quite a bit because if you don't make your goal, you don't get any of your money AND Kickstarter is forever. The campaigns, whether they are successful or not, are saved for posterity.
$7K covered the art (paying the artists and letterer) and printing costs of ISSUE #1, but not the shipping costs or Kickstarter Fees, but we made enough for that, YES! And enough to cover all our EXTRAS and get well into ISSUE #2. JOY! When a person sees a number like $19K it might feel like a lot of money, and it is, but I want all our backers to know that the money goes right back into making the book and expanding the world. We won't be sipping Dom on Friday, we'll be doing the same things as before but with the shot of confidence that comes from having HUNDREDS of people care about what you're doing.
It feels pretty damn FANTASTIC.
All the virtual hugs,
*Please forward this to anyone you think might even be mildly interested in REBURN or ME.
Thanks for being here for my second bimonthly (ish) newsletter. Well, it’s been an eventful few months for, most importantly, our nation, but also for me.
Feeling grateful that we are still healthy (also knocking on wood). Here in Los Angeles, the reality of Covid is ever present, I am looking forward to the day (not any time soon) when I receive my vaccine.
#1 I created and wrote a comic!
REBURN Issue #1 - Kickstarter Launch this Wednesday, January 27th. Yes, this Wednesday. Yes, if you’re keeping count, the day before my birthday. Yes, there’s nothing I’d like more for my birthday than for you to back this campaign. We have tiers staring at $5, and we appreciate your support, in any amount.
Click here to navigate to our pre-launch page and to create a Kickstarter account if you don’t already have one.
*Joyful reminder, if you're interested in backing the campaign it would be absolutely terrific if you did it on January 27th, don't worry, I'll send you a brief reminder on Wednesday.
#2 Here are a few essays I wrote for you to enjoy, one light, one heavy and one in between, just to keep it fresh.
Here they are, from fluffiest to weightiest:
My First Talent Crush in Hobart Pulp
The Exact Right Place in 3Elements Review
(Fun fact: Every writer must use 3 selected words, in this issue the words were: Trapeze, Pinprick and Calico).
Not Fine, Never Fine in Inlandia Journal (audio included)
#3 What I’m reading and watching
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I tore through this book. It’s a page-turner, yes, but it's more, incredibly real characters navigating the seemingly straight-forward complexities of life. I thought she made all of it look quite effortless but I know better.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang. I’m a fan of Yang and love all of his books, this one is no exception. If you have a basketball fan in your house, read it!
Promising Young Woman, a Dark Comedy written and directed by Emerald Fennell (Yes! Camilla from The Crown) and starring Carey Mulligan. It cuts deep, doesn’t apologize and makes you think.
#4 Sincere Closing
Thanks for reading this and walking this road with me. I’ve shared on social media that 2020 was the year I owned the word writer. Like, "Hey, I’m a writer.” I appreciate each and everyone of you that has played a part in this journey. Sincerely.
All the virtual hugs,
Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @byalysonshelton
P.S. As always, I’d love to hear what you’re reading and doing. And if you have a cool (or uncool) friend who would like to receive this in their inbox, please forward!
This is the very first installment of my bimonthly (ish) newsletter. You are receiving it because you’ve subscribed (thank you!) or expressed interest in my writing or opinions (I’m blushing).
I’ve been busy. We all have been, right? Busy voting. Surviving. Trying not to doomscroll or envision ourselves in Handmaid’s Tale outfits going by names like Ofcody. Heavy sigh. Shake it off, onto the news!
#1 I wrote a play! What Brought Me Here (November 5th to 23rd) One to One Virtual Experience at Open Book Theatre Company. Yes, you read that right, One to One. Don’t get nervous, all you have to do is watch, hmmmm, be an audience member. No talking necessary is my point.
Learn more and buy tickets here: TICKETS
#2 Essays. So proud. Some are funny. Some are not.(Let's be clear, they get jealous if I praise one more than the others).
1. Lucky Little Girl at Bending Genres
2. My Mean Girl: Or Being Told Your Forehead is Too Big for Anyone For Anyone to Ever Love You at LOL Comedy
3. My First Talent Crush at Hobart Pulp
4. Trying on New Names: My Childhood Adventures Visiting Hertha, the Numerologist at LOL Comedy
Get a Tissue:
1. The Repercussions of Trauma as a Former Patient of Dr. George Tyndall at Ms. Magazine
2. Stop is a Complete Sentence at Survivor Lit
#3 Reburn, Issue #1 - A Comic Book Kickstarter launching in January These characters have lived with me for a long time. I love them, if you love them just a fraction of how much we do, we have a hit on our hands. The digital version of the first issue will be complete in December, ready to email to you the minute our Kickstarter ends. Print versions will come not long after.
It’s gorgeous, thanks to artist Elise McCall, colorist Ruth Ilano and letterer Joamette Gil. If you have ever fantasized about finding love and acting out vengeance upon those who have wronged you, this book is for you. Bonus points if you imagined doing this while summoning fire balls with your hands.
#4 What I’m reading:
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson - If you have ever caught yourself wondering why people believe in QAnon or think Amy Coney Barrett is a qualified judge, let alone Supreme Court Justice, read this book. Wilkerson posits and proves IMPO (In My Passionate Opinion) that America operates under a caste system and that the dominant caste (White folx and whoever they let in from time to time to make sure they stay in charge) will create any kind of nonsense to hold onto their dominance. Sounds right to me. Let’s get to work.
Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh - If you are a nihilist with a sense of humor and enjoy childlike drawings, this book is for you!
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat - A powerful and beautifully written exploration of trauma, identity and recovery through the lens of Arafat’s Palestenian-American Queer love addicted protagonist. Superb!
#5 Sincere Closing
Thanks for taking a moment to read my words. The pandemic has kicked my ass, certainly, but it's also pushed me out into the world and instructed me. Use your words. Sure, it's uncomfortable, vaguely terrifying and 100% necessary. May we all use our words to make this world a better place. One day at time. We can do this.
All the hugs (virtual for now), Alyson
P.S. Tell me what you're reading and loving. Or really anything (positive) at all, I love correspondence.
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Alyson Shelton did some things! Read about it here. by alysonshelton
Westside Los Angeles, CA 90230 USA
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