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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Apr 22, 2021

In this episode Mark interviews Denise Massar about her memoir "Matched," about adoption, and about the work being done to find the right publisher for the manuscript.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares comments from recent episodes, a personal update and a word from this episode's sponsor...

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at


During their conversation, Mark and Denise talk about:

  • Denise's memoir about adoption called "Matched"
  • The process of private domestic newborn adoption and how it is different than the systems used to be
  • How competitive the process is
  • How adoptive parents are tasked 100% with finding their own birth mom
  • The diverse range of women in a position of being pregnant and not wanting to keep their baby
  • How the search for a birth mother can feel seedy
  • Adoption being a hot-button topic, potentially as hot-button as the topic of abortion
  • Seeing how an open adoption could be, with Denise's son Henry, and comparing that to her own adoption, which was secret/hidden
  • How easy it was for both Denise and Mark to find their birth mothers thanks to the opening up of information, and the internet
  • The impact of the "yes, I am your mother" message Denise was sent
  • Calling the mother who raised her, her mother, and her birth mom her birth mother
  • How Denise has always been a writer, and that she got her MFA in writing, but that this memoir was her first tangle product
  • The process of finding a publisher for her memoir which was an unexpected journey after finishing the book
  • Hiring Jane Friedman to critique her query letter
  • What a book proposal is, what "comp titles" are
  • The popular "adoption wheel" of shame/depression/etc
  • The agent query process for Denise
  • How the book went out on submission the day that most of the United States went into pandemic lock-down in 2020
  • The importance of an author being seen as current and relevant by a potential publisher
  • The title "Matched" and consideration of creating a more intuitive/SEO based title for the book
  • And more...


After the interview Mark reflects on the concept of how an editor goes to bat for a book at the editorial round table and other concepts discussed in the interview.


Links of Interest:


Denise Massar, an adoptee and adoptive mom, lives in Orange County, California with her husband and three kids. A Washington State native, she earned her MA in English Literature from Central Washington University. Denise enjoys: Thrift store wandering, reading in bed with Aussie licorice (red), sweaty spin classes, salt air, and the belly laughs of her kids.


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0