Lian Dolan


(April 21) Lian Dolan is a writer and podcaster. She is the author of three best-selling novels, The Sweeney Sisters, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife. Her latest book, Lost and Found in Paris, was published in April 2022 and is a Southern California Indie Bestseller. Lian has written regular columns for Pasadena MagazineO Magazine and Working Mother Magazine and is the creator, producer, and host of Satellite Sisters, the award-winning podcast she created with her four real sisters. In 2017, Lian was given the Podcast Pioneer Award by Women in Podcasting. She lives in Pasadena, California with her husband and has two adult sons. Lian describes writer-motherhood in three words as Controlled Compartmentalized Chaos.

Chaya Bhuvaneswar


Chaya Bhuvaneswar is a practicing physician, writer and PEN American award finalist for her debut collection WHITE DANCING ELEPHANTS: STORIES, which was also selected as a Kirkus Reviews Best Debut Fiction and Best Short Story Collection. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Narrative Magazine, Tin House, Electric Literature, Kenyon Review, The Millions, Joyland, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Awl, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, Squaw Valley/ Community of Writers and Sewanee Writers Workshop. Chaya has 2 kids, age 9 and 12 and describes writer-motherhood as Arduous, irrational and fun. 

Mireya Vela


Mireya S. Vela is a Mexican-American creative nonfiction writer, storyteller, and artist. Vestiges of Courage is her work of collected essays. In her work, Mireya addresses the needs of immigrant Mexican families and the disparities they face every day. She tackles issues of inequity and how ingrained societal systems support the (ongoing) injustice that contributes to continuing poverty and abuse. Her work has been published in Hippocampus Magazine, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Not Your Mother’s Breastmilk, The Nasiona, Miracle Monocle, Blanket Sea, and Collective Unrest, and she is also a visual artist. She she lives in Los Angeles has  two children, a 27-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. She describes writer-motherhood in three words as OMG, WTF, LMAO

Special Episode: Writing, Motherhood & Gender Identity

This is a special episode on Writing, Mothering & Gender Identity with Stephanie Burt, Jennifer Chen, and Toni McLellan. We talked about writing and mothering nonbinary and trans children, and writing and mothering as trans and nonbinary mothers. It’s no accident that we held this conversation on International Transgender Day of Visibility, even as LGBTQ+ rights are being attacked throughout the US, from child welfare investigations targeting families of transgender children in Texas to the Florida Senate passing the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill to a bill that sought to repeal New Hampshire’s ban on “conversion therapy” for minors.


OUR PANELISTS

Stephanie Burt

Stephanie Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor who the New York Times called “one of the most influential poetry critics of her generation.” She has published four collections of poems: Advice from the LightsBelmontParallel Play, and Popular Music, and her works of criticism include Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Stephanie earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale and is a Professor of English at Harvard University. She lives in the suburbs of Boston with her spouse and their two children ages 16 and 11.

Jennifer Chen

Jennifer Chen is a freelance journalist who has written for Today, New York Times, Oprah Daily, Real Simple, and Bust. Jennifer has a MFA and BFA in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a proud alumnae of Hedgebrook, a women’s writing residency. Her debut YA rom-com book, ARTIFACTS OF AN EX, will be published by Wednesday Books in summer 2023. Jennifer lives in Los Angeles with her TV writer husband and 6-yr-old twins.

Toni McLellan

An attorney by training, Toni began her career writing about parenting, health, and outdoor family travel for major magazines and websites, pivoting to content marketing and strategy for brands including Outside, Disney, KitchenAid, and AT&T. When she’s not crafting content on topics as varied as higher ed, luxury bedding, or tourism, Toni writes personal essays and New-to-me Phrases, a weekly newsletter celebrating the love of language and ridiculousness. Toni lives with her husband and three kids ages 22, 19, and 17 near Chicago.

Jessica Pierce


Poet Jessica Pierce is the author of Consider the Body, Winged, and has been published in numerous magazines, including Nimrod International Journal selected her as a finalist for the 2020 and 2021 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She was also a finalist in poetry prizes from CALYX Journal, the New Ohio Review, and MVICW, where she also earned a fellowship. Jessica earned her master’s in education from Harvard and works in a large public school district in Oregon to create anti-racist alternatives to exclusionary discipline. She has two children and describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as: fuck the patriarchy.

Hilda Raz

Note: Due to technical difficulties, there may be moments of awkwardness in this interview. Apologies!


Hilda Raz has been a director, award judge, and contributor in this country’s most prestigious poetry journals and contests. She has published 14 books as a poet, nonfiction writer, and editor, including the poetry collections include What Happens (2009), All Odd and Splendid (2008), Trans (2001), and Divine Honors (1997). Her current projects include a book of poems, List and Story and a nonfiction book about transitions. She was editor of the literary journal Prairie Schooner and served as president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. She lives in Placitas, New Mexico, where she works as the series editor for poetry at the University of New Mexico Press.

Alena Dillon


(February 10) Alena Dillon is the author of Mercy House, a Library Journal Best Book of 2020, which has been optioned as a television series produced by Amy Schumer, The Happiest Girl in the World, a Good Morning America pick, My Body Is A Big Fat Temple, a memoir of pregnancy and early parenting, and Eyes Turned Skyward, a novel forthcoming Fall 2022. Her work has appeared in publications including The Daily BeastLitHubRiver Teeth, Slice MagazineThe Rumpus, and Bustle. She teaches creative writing and lives on the north shore of Boston where she has a 3-year-old son and a baby due in June. She describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as fierce, tender, marathon.

Crystal Maldonado


Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, was a Cosmopolitan Best New Book and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her next novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age—and the lies we tell to ourselves and others. By day, Crystal is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra. Her work has also been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and 2.5-year-old daughter and describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as chaotic, emotional, sparkly.

Anna V. Q. Ross


Anna V. Q. Ross’s most recent book, Flutter, Kick, won the 2020 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and will be published by Red Hen Press in 2022. Her previous collections include If a Storm (Anhinga Press, winner of the Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry); Figuring (Bull City Press); and Hawk Weather (winner the New Women’s Voices Prize from Finishing Line Press and the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award from the New England Poetry Society). Her recent work appears in The NationPoetry Northwest, Southern Humanities ReviewThe Southern Review, and elsewhere, and she is poetry editor for Salamander Magazine. Anna teaches at Emerson College, and lives with her family in Dorchester, where she runs the poetry and music series Unearthed Song & Poetry and raises chickens.

Sara Hosey


Sara Hosey is the author of an academic study of representations of women in popular culture—Home is Where the Hurt Is: Media Depictions of Wives and Mothers—as well as two young adult novels: Iphigenia Murphy and Imagining Elsewhere. Sara’s fiction has also appeared in the Running Wild Press Novella Anthology as well as publications including Cordella Literary and North by Northeast Literary Magazine. Her screenplay adaptation of Iphigenia Murphy was a semifinalist at the Austin Film Festival and came in third place in the Reading Film Fest screenwriting competition. She has a Ph.D. in American Literature and is a professor of English, Creative Writing, and Women and Gender Studies at a New York area community college. She has an 11-year old and a 9-year old and she and her partner are certified foster parents; they recently had a 4-year old foster daughter staying with them.