Confessions of a first-time author

Two years after the idea was born, Confessions of a Coffee Group Dropout is on the shelves

I am not good at self-promotion, but I am going to give it a shot anyway, because if you can't write about your new book with the pretty pink cover on your very own blog, there probably isn't anywhere you can safely do so.

Yes, I wrote a book, Confessions of a Coffee Group Dropout, and I am very pleased with it. It grew from a few blogs I wrote on this site, actually, (especially this one) and for those early readers and commenters, I would like to extend a belated thank you, because I probably wouldn't have had the chutzpah to write my book if it weren't for you.

You see, my book is about mothering, which can be a rather dangerous topic, inviting strong emotional responses, outright chiding, and sticky debates in which neither side comes out looking particularly good. You need to have your wits about you.

But I felt compelled to write it, and this is why: New motherhood has become a fraught arena for women, a sort of gladiator's ring for sleep-deprived, hormonally-challenged players who only ever wanted to have a baby and raise it their way, not to have to defend their choices to any passing stranger. But defend their choices they must, and after one too many discussions about the merits of disposible nappies, immunisation, working outside the home, bottled baby food, sunhats, coffee groups, professional childcare, epidurals, breastfeeding and baby routines I decided to write something useful about the whole confusing schemozzle.

In any case, it is exactly the sort of thing I would have liked to have read when I was pregnant, instead of the ghastly doctor's tomes I did pore over. Other women have told me the same.

Writing a book with a small child in the house was tricky, although there are many writers who do this, and far more gracefully and ably than I. Looking back, I may as well have propped a cardboard cutout of myself in the lounge, given how often I dived into the burnt orange confines of my circa 1981 office when people might have liked me to cook something, or fold laundry, or have a nice conversation not pertaining to nappies, vaccination, sunhats, et al. Our son Micah got fed up. He has developed a real grudge against the computer. At one point he pulled some of the keys off. Just this morning he got out a magic marker and scribbled on the keyboard. I really can't blame him.

The publicity part has all been amazingly positive so far. The Sunday Star-Times' Sunday magazine profiled me and called me a 'maverick', which mustered images of elderly American politicians driving across the desert in flag-emblazoned buses, but was quietly pleasing nonetheless. The subsequent letters to the editor were even more flattering, if you discount the woman from Timaru who seemed to think my main message was that living without coffee while pregnant is tiresome. It is, of course, but I wasn't actually complaining about it. Also, she clearly thought I should not be sharing my views on motherhood with anyone, let alone a magazine, although she was quite entitled to call me 'shallow' in the same publication.

The dear old Gisborne Herald, where I learned how to be a journalist, profiled me too. They were very kind. Little Treasures ran an interview and an enormous photograph. I was on Newstalk ZB Wellington, I even got to be on Kathryn Ryan's Nine to Noon show, which was a real thrill. I heart Kathryn.

There is more publicity to come, if all goes well, and I am hoping that when it comes to live TV I'm not going to revert to my 15-year-old self and stare at my shoes.

I keep reminding myself how small the New Zealand publishing industry is, and how few local books we Kiwis buy, and how I'd be better off writing paranormal romances a la Nalini Singh, who has been on the New York Times bestseller list six times and must surely be our most financially successful author. But I can't help being a bit excited anyway.