BY ALISA WEIS
for The Daily Record
New Authors Katrina Epp and Leah Speer
Somewhere in the midst of filling sippy cups, changing diapers and putting their kids down for bed, two mothers living miles apart decided to write a book together.
It all began when Katrina Epp, an Ellensburg native, took a class through a writing group from her co-author’s mother. After turning in several papers, Leah Speer’s mom noticed Katrina’s gift with words and offered her a life-changing suggestion.
“Why don’t you contact my daughter about writing a book?” she said.
Thus began the nearly two-year research and writing process for Katrina Epp, mother to a now 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, and Leah Speer, mother to two sons, ages 3 and 4. Finishing their book required many late night Skype sessions and conversations during their children’s nap times over the months. Epp lives in Colorado, while Speer resides in Florida.
“We’ve never met face-to-face, but we made it work and are close friends as well as business partners,” says Epp, reflecting on their success since “Must.Have.Wine. A Toast to Motherhood” has climbed its way up to No. 1 in the mothering category on Amazon since its release in December. “Must.Have.Wine.” is ahead of popular books including Jenny McCarthy’s “Baby Laughs” and Vicki Iovine’s “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy.”
Finding a niche
As soon as the two writers spoke, they knew their focus would be motherhood and all its joys and trials, but it didn’t take long for them to realize their book needed an original focus if it was going to stand out from the competition.
Through the process of contacting and being rejected by agents, the aspiring authors kept hearing, “How are you going to be different?” They worked through the constructive criticism and made the changes their manuscript required.
In considering the books that have “made it” such as “Ketchup is a Vegetable” and “Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul,” Epp and Speer uncovered what was still missing from the “mothering market.” They decided their specific draw would be wine.
“There are six chapters focusing on the different emotions of motherhood in our book, and each chapter is paired with a wine,” Epp says.
Woven into these chapters are about 80 personal accounts of motherhood, which the authors gathered from family members, friends and acquaintances. When Epp and Speer started talking about their book two years ago, they didn’t realize the scope of information they’d cover. They told each other “you write 10 stories, and I’ll write 10 stories,” but they didn’t know they’d interview women about everything from amusing parenting anecdotes to losing a child from sudden infant death syndrome.
Epp’s parents, Nick and Kim Parcel, reside in Ellensburg, but the author now lives with her family in Colorado. She has gone from being an accounts executive at a large insurance agency to a full-time mom and writer. Though she is fine-tuning her first solo project, Epp has two books in progress with Speer, the first of which is a children’s book entitled “Daddy’s Favorite Ways to Escape Unwind” Epp says that the head editor of “Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul” has approached them for a sequel to “Must.Have.Wine.”
Epp and Speer are looking into selling bottles of wine with titles such as “I Haven’t Slept in a Week” or “Potty Training: Epic Fail.” Since motherhood doesn’t come effort-free, the authors have an inkling that fellow moms will appreciate the sentiment of their books and take that bottle of wine off the shelf, too.
The authors hope prospective readers will open “Must.Have.Wine” and “feel lifted up when low,” says Epp.
The tagline of their book captures the intent of their book the best: “Everyday moms assuring that none of us are perfect and we’re all in this crazy race together.”
*Picture Courtesy of authors of Must.Have.Wine.