Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Tour With Dancing At The Shame Prom

WOW (Women on Writing) has organized a blog tour fdancingshameprom-f-webor the anthology DANCING AT THE SHAME PROM, co-edited by Hollye Dexter and Amy Ferris, unlike any other tour they have done before. 

Because it's an anthology, the tour features guest posts and interviews with either (and both) of the co-editors, as well as many of the contributors. This is a unique tour as readers have the opportunity to not only talk about different topics each day, but also talk with different people associated with the book. More can also be found by tweeting. The hash tag for this tour is #theshameprom

DANCING AT THE SHAME PROM  is a collection of 26 essays about the shame individual women have been carrying around...sometimes for decades. These brave writers, journalists, musicians, artists, directors and activists have offered up their most funny, sad, poignant, miraculous, life-changing and jaw-dropping secrets as they tell the world: I'm done with the shame! Letting go feels so good!

The co-editors, Hollye and Amy, join us today and have graciously answered some questions about their writing.

Where did the idea for an anthology on the shame we keep bottled up inside us come from? 

AMY - It came from Hollye & I talking incessantly (we speak all the time!) about our lives, our issues, our fears, our regrets and OUR SHAME. We also, for the record, talk about our joys and happiness and great marriages, great husbands and good friends. We didn't set out to do an anthology. We set out to inspire & encourage women to share their stories with us. We wrote blogs, individually & one together, and through that... through daily life... we realized and recognized that so many of us kept shame tucked in our souls. The anthology literally came out of that very organic experience.  

How does creating an anthology work? Do you collect essays from contributors and then find a publisher or vice-versa?

HOLLYE - First we had to get a commitment from writers, along with a general idea of what their essay would be about. Amy and I were fortunate to know some pretty extraordinary women-- writers, actors, singers, feminists, artists, activists...even an Episcopalian priest. Once we got the commitments, we put a proposal together, including the list of writers who had committed and the topics they would be covering. Seal Press bought it! After the proposal sold, the writers began their essays.

Speaking of contributors, how do you find them? Do you personally approach writers you know or put out a “writers’ call”? If you put out a call to all writers, how do you get the word around the writing community?

AMY - Just as Hollye mentioned, we both know pretty amazing women - some are great friends. We sent emails to them asking if they would like to contribute to the book and I believe within 24 hours we heard back from each woman, and they all said yes. 

DANCING AT THE SHAME PROM has the work of 27 writers. How many essays did you have to consider for the book? Is it difficult to narrow down your choices? Did the two of you ever disagree on whether to include and essay of not?

HOLLYE - We originally had about 33 writers commit. Then we sold it to Seal, which is a feminist press, so we couldn't include our male writers. The writers had about 10 months to get the essay to us. During that time, a few dropped out due to other commitments, which allowed us to grab a few other writers we really wanted at the last minute. We didn't really disagree about the writers. I think we were each really pleased with the authors we brought in. It felt like the perfect mix.

There are so many stages of this progress: idea, finding writers, choosing essays, editing, finding a publisher … how long did it take you to get from that first glimmer of an idea to publication?

AMY - I think it took about a year. Pretty astonishing if you think about it - from conception to fruition. An amazing experience.

What did you enjoy/not enjoy about editing an anthology?

HOLLYE - I loved receiving the essays. Every time one would pop up in my inbox, it felt like Christmas. I loved working with the writers on shaping the essays. I loved diving deep with them and pulling all the best out of them (Amy and I have a knack for that.) I didn't love all the technical, tedious stuff- converting files to send to the publisher, uploading software, reading the publisher manuals, blah, blah, blah. Those were the most irritating, stressful days.

What are you both working on now? Will you be partnering up in the future?

HOLLYE -My #1 priority is promoting DANCING AT THE SHAME PROM, and doing the Shame Prom workshops with Amy (See our website for links to our workshops in Aspen, San Miguel De Allende, Costa Rica: I am also shopping my second memoir.

AMY - For the past two years - along with DANCING AT THE SHAME PROM - I've been (co)writing a play based on my memoir, MARRYING GEORGE CLOONEY, which opened Off-Broadway this past March (It's opening at another Off-Broadway theater within the next few months). So I've been sort of regrouping & rethinking - toying with - what I want to write next. Possibly write another memoir. I love writing my blog weekly. That gives me great joy! And yes, yes, yes God yes, I will be partnering again with Hollye.

Hollye and Amy, thank you both for joining us today and answering these questions. It’s interesting learning how this anthology came about and then came together.

Here’s a little more insight into Hollye and Amy.

Hollye recently completed a second memoir, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU. Her essays have been published in anthologies (Chicken Soup For the Soul, Answered Prayers, and Character Consciousness) and in many online publications. She writes regularly for iPinion Syndicate and AOL Patch News. A singer/songwriter with four albums out, she also founded the award-winning nonprofit Art and Soul, running workshops for teenagers in the foster care system. In 2007 she received the Agape Spirit award from Dr. Michael Beckwith (from The Secret) for her work with at-risk youth.

Together, with Amy (Ferris) she teaches writing workshops, helping others to find their authentic voices. She is on staff for the San Miguel Writer’s Conference and a visiting author at UCLA extension. She lives in Southern California with her husband and three children, where she hikes, plays music and blogs about living an authentic life at

Amy is an author, editor, screenwriter and playwright. Her memoir, MARRYING GEORGE CLOONEY, CONFESSIONS FROM A MIDLIFE CRISIS (Seal Press) opened off-Broadway bound, CAP21 Theater Company, in March. She has contributed to numerous anthologies, and has written everything from Young Adult novels to movies and films. She co-wrote Funny Valentines (Julie Dash, Director), and Mr. Wonderful (Anthony Minghella, Director). Funny Valentines was nominated for a Best Screenplay award, and numerous BET awards. She co-created and co-edited the first ever "all women's issue" of Living Buddhism magazine. She serves on the Executive Board of Directors at The Pages & Places Literary Festival, Peters Valley Arts, Education and Craft Center, and is on the Advisory Board of The Women's Media Center. 

She is on faculty at The San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference. She is a visiting teacher at the UCLA Writers Workshop (extension). She contributes regularly to iPinion Syndicate. Her number one goal, desire, dream: Is that all women awaken to their greatness. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ken. You can find her blogging in the middle of the night at

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Ladies do you feel we tend to carry shame (no matter what kind) with us much more than men do?


  1. Amy and Hollye, thanks to both of you for answering these questions for us. It's interesting learning how this anthology came about. Wishing ya'll much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for introducing us to Amy and Hollye.

    Amy and Hollye - Thanks for taking a unique look at how destructive it can be when we carry a burden of shame. I wish you both much success.

  3. That sounds like quite an accomplishment - good subject matter.

  4. Hi All-
    thank you so much for dropping by to read about our book! And a huge thank you to the Mason Canyon blog for hosting us!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.