After two years, many dirty diapers, and certainly many pops of the cork, “Must. Have. Wine.: A Toast to Motherhood” — a book by Sandestin’s Leah Speer and Katrina Epp of Colorado — is being delivered to homes everywhere. Though released just earlier this month, the book sprang to No. 1 on Amazon.com’s list of hot new releases in the motherhood category.
“It’s just a feel-good book,” said Speer, who said the feedback from friends who read each story is, “I can totally identify.”
And it’s no wonder mothers so closely identify, as the book is the tale of mothers worldwide.
Writers Epp and Speer compiled 81 stories — 40 percent from their own experiences and about 60 percent from stories shared from mothers throughout the globe, from California to Europe.
The two women also came together across many miles, around 1,500 miles to be exact, as Speer lives locally and Epp lives in Colorado.
But with cell phones and Skype, the mothers-of-two were able to create a heartfelt book — and a strong bond in the meantime.
The idea for the book first came to Speer one night when she was caring for her two sick sons, Luke and Zealand, who at the time were 2 and 1.
“I was so tired … I was crying,” she said. “I thought, ‘other moms go through this. I wish I had a book on my nightstand … a story from all moms.’ ”
And so she decided to make one. She began to write, to share her own story, but wanted to include stories from other mothers.
To collect the stories, Speer sought connections through her own mother, Carole Bellacera, a novelist and instructor of writing at Long Ridge Writers Group in Connecticut. Speer asked for stories, but soon got much more from Bellacera’s student Katrina Epp.
“She said, ‘Not only do I have a story, but I’ll help you write this,’ ” recalled Speer of her first interaction with Epp, who is mother to 5-year-old Callie and almost 3-year-old Clayton.
And from there, the idea grew and now their dream is a heartfelt paperback reality.
The book naturally evolved in the two years of its creation as the two women worked to ensure each part was perfect — from the title to the stories to the cover.
The book was originally to be called “Mommies Need Sleep, Too,” but both writers agree “Must. Have. Wine.” is much more fitting.
“This is the mantra,” said Speer. It’s the “exhale at the end of the day.”
The stories are divided into chapters by emotion, with each emotion complimented by a type of wine.
Both women are happy with the balance of stories, which range from “depressing” to “laugh-out-loud hilarious,” and touch on all aspects of motherhood.
“It’s not just the touchy feely stuff,” said Speer, adding that the book well-represents the “rollercoaster” of motherhood. “It’s the raw, real stuff.”
“They’re going to feel better about the mom that they are,” said Speer.
As one might think, balancing a full-time job as a mom while writing a book is a feat of careful scheduling for the two mothers of two.
But Speer said that is just how it is, juggling requests for juice and Legos with thoughtful writing.
“You just kind of figure out a way,” she said.
Epp recently left a full-time job to pursue this project into its next phase, as this is just the beginning. Epp and Speer already have plans in the works for other books on mother- and wife-hood, as well as a children’s book.
“We’re not stopping,” said Speer. “We’re doing it.”
The hardcopy book is available on Amazon.com, and a digital version will be available in January 2013.
For more information on “Must. Have. Wine.,” visit its blog at must-have-wine.com, follow @musthavewine on Twitter, or “Like” the book’s page on Facebook.