Writer and poet Judith Dickerman-Nelson is a 1991 graduate of UMass Lowell, former editor of the campus literary magazine, and long-time staff member at the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association in Lowell. She also has a master’s degree from Emerson College. She sent us this update about her recent and upcoming literary activities related to publication of her first book, a memoir about being a teenage mother. The book received national attention when the Associated Press picked up a Sun article about the book.–PM
Upcoming Speaking Events:
Friday May 18, Image Theater Presents: City Stories at Old Court Pub on Central Street, 8 pm (various writers will be reading & another group on May 19)
Friday June 22, UMass Lowell Downtown Bookstore, 5 pm (B. Morrison and J D-N)
Saturday June 23, World Eye Bookshop, 1-3 pm (B. Morrison and J D-N)
My book “Believe in Me: A Teen Mom’s Story” was released in February by Jefferson Park Press, a publisher out of Charlottesville, Virginia. The book looks back to my high school years when I was a cheerleader and an honor student. I attended a Catholic girls’ school in Massachusetts, and it was the summer before my senior year. My boyfriend gave me a diamond, and we started planning for our life together. But my pregnancy changed everything, and when his parents wanted me to get an abortion, I had to make decisions that would alter my world. The book looks at my journey, internally and externally, and I hope that my story helps others remember the difficult times of high school and young love.
Since the book came out I’ve been traveling some to promote it. I went to Pennsylvania to the Write Stuff Conference and sold books at their book fair. Then I traveled to the Virginia Festival of the Book where I presented on a panel called Memoirs: Women on the Edge with B. Morrison, author of “Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother.” Later, I presented to two different groups of students at St. Anne’s-Belfield, a prep private high school in Charlottesville.
One of the interesting things I’m discovering is that my book crosses all age groups. When I wrote the story, I did hope that it would resonate beyond a teen readership. So I was thrilled when a woman contacted me and told me that her ninety-year old dad told her about my book and that he’d loved the writing in it. And then when I presented to a group of students at Chelmsford High, a teacher’s mom came to hear me speak. The eighty-year-old woman had downloaded the book to her Kindle! Back in Lowell, I presented to a group of teen mom’s at the Pollard Memorial Library. I was honored to hear their stories, too, learning how they deal with the challenges of being young moms. I’ll be meeting with another group of young parents in mid-May at the library, and I plan to get out and speak to more schools, too. At UMass Lowell, I spoke to a group of writers in a Personal and Reflective Writing class, talking about my writing process and reading from the book. Like the students I’d spoken with at high schools, these students also had great questions for me. I’m available to talk to church groups, high schools and colleges, non-profits and others and plan to present at conferences.
I’m open to suggestions and ideas and can be reached via e-mail at jnelson_302@ hotmail.com. Or look me up on Facebook (Judith Dickerman-Nelson) and send me a message. “Believe in Me: A Teen Mom’s Story” is available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. It’s also available from the publisher. But you can shop locally and find the book at the UMass Lowell Downtown Bookstore, Brewed Awakening, and St Joseph the Worker Shrine’s Gift Shop (you might want to call first to make sure they have copies). My next book, “Spirits Dancing Into Light” will be published later this year by Loom Press in English-Khmer bilingual edition. I hope to have the chance to meet some you as I’m out and about reading. Peace.