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'We've always had a story': Ellsworth stepmom and ex-wife co-write book on their mixed family's experiences

The cover of the Gipford mothers' book which will be released on Mother's Day. Submitted photo1 / 2
The Gipford family (back, from left): Samantha Rolow, 17, Tina's daughter from another relationship; Shawn, now husband to Tina; Lance, 14, Erin and Shawn's son; April, 17, Erin and Shawn's daughter; (front) Kasey, 11, Tina and Shawn's son; Tina, stepmom; Mackenzie, 9, Tina and Shawn's daughter; Erin, Shawn's first wife. Submitted photo2 / 2

Ellsworth resident Tina Gipford said she would never consider her husband's ex-wife Erin Gipford to be the stereotypical "crazy ex-wife" as depicted by Hollywood.

On the contrary, Tina and Erin have gotten close over the last decade since Erin's divorce from Shawn Gipford in 2005.

Some parents and friends have commented on their unique relationship: Erin photographed her ex-husband's marriage to Tina in 2006 and the split family even lived on the same street in Ellsworth for some time after the divorce.

If that's not enough to constitute a unique relationship between a stepmom and ex-wife, the two have paired up this past year to co-write a dual memoir about their relationship and the story of the Gipford family told from each of their perspectives.

One year after Erin approached Tina with the idea of writing together, the book "(Step)Mom: A Dual Memoir" will be released on Mother's Day, May 12.

Erin originally had the idea to write a memoir even though she had never written a book before, she said.

She had written and rewritten a few chapters of her family's story by herself last year, but something was missing. She said she realized Tina was needed to tell her part of the full story.

On Mother's Day in 2018, Erin spoke with Tina about the possibility of writing a book. Together, they began to reminisce.

"I didn't really think twice about it. We have a story and we've always had a story," Tina said.

Shawn also was on board with the book, Tina said, and knows the women have a special connection that should be shared.

"We knew from the beginning that we did not want it to be a self-help book," Erin explained. "Like a how-to co-parent. Every situation is so different... We consider it a dual memoir. It's just an account of the last 13 years."

If anything, the Gipford authors said they want their readers to look at their own mixed family with a different perspective and hopefully move past hardships and negative emotions toward stepparents or ex-spouses.

"We definitely don't want people to think 'This is how we should do it.' We're no experts by any means. Just if this little bit helps them get over whatever rough patch they're going through," Tina said.

The book is composed of chapters outlining stories, struggles and victories that have unfolded within the family since the divorce. In each chapter Tina and Erin tell their own narrative in their different perspectives. The chapters end with a summary of what each woman learned in that season of life.

"A lot of emotion went into this book, I can honestly say. I'm hoping our readers take from everything. A good book is going through every emotion that you have. I like to cry during a book, be happy and sad," Tina said.

Readers will have the chance to understand the touching and sometimes humorous stories that built up Tina and Erin's relationship, the struggles the moms overcame as their kids grew up together and were intermingled in Ellsworth's schools and how the family has found their own special beat to life's drum.

The pair have been building their presence online and on social media to stir word of their publication using the handle @gipfordmoms on Instagram and Facebook. Over 300 people and organizations are on the list for book contacts, and Erin is hoping Huffington Post and Barnes and Noble will be a part of that bunch.

To celebrate the official release of their book, Tina and Erin are throwing a local party at Snowball's in downtown Ellsworth on May 12 from 6-8 p.m. Food, cake and the bar will be available as well as books signed by Tina and Erin.

More information about the book and the "why" behind the two deciding to co-author can be found at gipfordmoms.com

Rachel Helgeson

Rachel Helgeson

(651) 301-7864
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