Free Audiobook Giveaway!

by Katrina on September 16, 2013

—Comments closed as of 10/1/13; Winner to be announced 10/2/13 —

People tried to talk me out of narrating my own audiobook. They said it would be really hard, it would take forever, and I would be better off hiring professional “voice talent” to read it for me.

They had a point, but I couldn’t imagine having someone else to do it. Hiring someone to read my memoir out loud would be like, I don’t know, asking a stranger to wear my socks or something. Too intimate. So I did it myself.

Here’s a sample:

Katrina Alcorn recording the audiobook for Maxed Out.It took five intense, half-day sessions to read all 88,000 words. They were right about it being hard. By the end, I lost my voice. But what they didn’t tell me is that it was also really fun, and strangely meditative. The time flew by.

Writing this book was a non-linear process. On a typical day, I might work on a first draft for chapter 22, then edit chapter 7, and then do some research for chapter 10. Reading the whole book, out loud, from beginning to end, (knowing I couldn’t change a word!) forced me to experience the story in a different way. I experienced it much like a reader would. I traveled through the whole emotional journey—it made me sad and angry and then happy and in the end, hopeful. It was cathartic.

I recorded at Live Oak Studio in Berkeley, which has an impressive history of hosting audiobook recordings for authors I admire like Anne Lamott and Michael Pollan. My sound engineer and director, James Ward, was a total pro, reminding me to take bites of green apple (to cut down on mouth noises) and keeping my spirits up when my energy was flagging. James found a diplomatic way to stop me every page or so when I’d inadvertently dropped a word, or to check my pronunciation.

The hardest decision was how to say the word “pajamas.” In the end I decided to say it the way I say it in real life, “jam” like the thing that’s jelly, not “jom” which is how most people say it. It turns out that word appears in almost every chapter, so I had lots of time to wonder if I was saying it wrong, even though it was too late to change my mind.

After I went home each night, James stayed late to cut out my weird sighs (I get a bit breathy when I read) and toning down my sibilant ‘S’s. He made me sound much more competent than I felt.

The book is now available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. But here’s the best part:

We’re giving away three free copies!


Leave a comment at the end of this blog post. Tell me when you plan to listen to the audiobook, or share your “maxed out” moment, or just tell me how you pronounced the word “pajamas.” I will select three winners (using and announce it here on the blog in two weeks.

Update 10/1 Comments now closed. Thanks everyone for participating. Winner to be announced tomorrow!

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Want a free audiobook without the wait? Sign up for a free 30-day trial at Audible, and choose Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink for your free download.

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P.S. I thought you might want to check out the interview the Washington Post ran with me last week about the book.


I say paJOMas but I can totally hear you saying paJAMas! I’m hoping that I’m going to avoid being completely maxed out by taking some concrete (and scary) steps that were inspired by your book. Will let you know how it goes!


Do the first few comment posters ever win giveaways? Just wondering… I loved the audio clip and would listen to the book on my long commute to/from work. Right now I feel exactly as you described in this clip but the only thing I can think of is getting more sleep. Everything else will have to wait. Love your blog!!


Thanks, Sandi. Yes, they do. It’s truly random. Plus we’re giving away 3 this time, so chances are very good! 😉

BTW – I agree sleep is so key. Yes, sleep, by any means necessary!

Cathy K

I say PJs, lol.

Steve Van Dyk

My wife and I both work and she’s very driven to succeed at work while also being an amazing mother to our three kids. I did the Leaning In thing while on bike rides earlier this year and would love to hear another perspective on finding the balance. I’d listen to this while driving or running. Even if I don’t win it’s on the shortlist at Audible!


I am definitely a pa”jam”as girl!

Mary Blake Oler

I am a pajama, like the jelly, kind of girl too :-). I like to throw in a PJ in the mix from time to time just to keep it interesting.


I have 3 girls! Girls–cheerleading, hair bows, noise level through the roof. I work 40 hours a week–and I am at the brink. Constant work–even getting to work is a chore, up hours before, doing 3 sets of hair, 3 outfits, 3 backpack checks, 2 drop offs, etc. Oh and not to mention my attempts at brushing out my hair, no make-up and a random outfit. I am so thankful that you wrote this book!


I changed jobs in April after maternity leave with my third child and went from a train commute to a driving commute. I’m listening to audio books in the car both ways now.


Definitely paJAMas (shortens to jammies, not jommies)!


In our house they are ‘fra-gomas’.


I say pa-JOM-as, too. But, whatever.

I hope that you will select me to receive a copy of the audiobook and I will tell you the reason why. On FB one day, you asked that we buy the book THAT DAY and I really wanted to read it so I did and I bought one for a friend. I have been in possession of the book for a couple of weeks now. And I have not had time to read it. Which has been true of so many books that I had pretty much switched exclusively to audiobooks to ease my daily commute. I thought that “Maxed Out” would be a nice transition back to reading. Ha. So, now I cannot buy the audiobook because I own the actual book. It sits on my dresser as yet another thing that I have not finished. I will read it, eventually.
But I would listen to the audiobook immediately. 🙂


Thanks for buying the print book during my “book bomb,” Erika. The winner really is random (I enter the number of commenters into and it generates a winning number). You could always get a free copy on Audible by signing up for the free trial, but it sounds like you might already be a subscriber…

Nancy Cook

I plan to listen to the audiobook during my commute. Also I pronounce pajamas w/the JAM sound.


can’t wait to read the book and would love a free audiocopy! i/we say “pa-JAM-as” and i was secretly relieved to read that you went that route b/c the “JOM” version feels off to me. i also love to call them “jimmie jams” but that is just way too unprofessional for a book. congratulations!


For the record, I sometimes say “KA-jam-ahs” because that’s how my son Jake used to say it, but I didn’t think that would go over well in the book, either.


I’d listen to your book when I’m ironing shirts for work (new work “uniform” yikes!) That is, until I replace them all with a no iron variety.

Jessica Jenkins

I would love to have an audio book, so I could give my husband subliminal messages of what I’m going through since being direct and explaining things doesn’t always work. 🙂 No really, it would be nice to have. I would also like to know if you will have a reading in the southeast somewhere, like Atlanta?



PJs. 🙂 We have a new little one and it would be wonderful to “read” your book by listening.

Meghan Gilbert

I’d love to hear your book! Audiobooks are my only reading material these days, since I’m staying home with our 6-month-old daughter. Also, I’m really glad you went with JAM instead of JOM! It’s more fun to say it that way and lends nicely to the abbreviation of jammies (which is what I usually call them instead of pajamas or pajamas.)


If I win i would listen to your book as I crawl along I-10 during rush hour.

And for the record, I say it “PJs (pee-jays)”.

Deborah Denny

I used to listen to audiobooks on my 40-60 minute commute to work, now I listen to them while shuttling my three kids to their schools and activities (either with them listening to something else on headphones, or just when I’m alone heading back after drop offs). I think this would be a good listen for me!!!


For the record, I say pa-JOM-as, put pa-jammin’ suits me just fine! Oh and I will be listening to the audiobook while I’m nursing my 6-week old daughter and trying to tame my 2-year old! I NEED to listen/read your story as I prepare to return to a full-time job in a highly competitive environment. Sigh…

Beth Rudolf

I also say paJAMas. And I think I’d listen to the audiobook after dropping off my son at preschool or while making food for my baby.


I am so glad you wrote this book. It makes me think I am less crazy and not alone. I was very discouraged, however, to read some of the posts on the link for this story from the Today Show. For some reason, people think we are asking for special treatment from our employers or our government. The opinions that were expressed in those comments made me think even more of what a struggle working mom’s face in our own society. Now we are not even allowed to say we are maxed out because it is perceived as asking for special treatment! I find this exhausting. Have you experienced any of this backlash from your book?
P.S. We say “jammies” in our house! My favorite though is “undie-wears.” I don’t know why we call them that, but we do!


Thanks, JZ. Yes, there’s the inevitable backlash (see Tom’s comment below), which shows why, as a country, we still haven’t made much of a dent on this issue, and why it’s so important to keep talking about it (despite the fact that we will be accused by some of “whining.”)

Mostly, though, I’m hearing from a TON of women who are relieved that someone is telling a story that reflects their reality. They’re yearning for someone to talk about the real problem: Most jobs aren’t made for people with family responsibilities.

Tom Leykis

Nobody cares. You’re not special. Grow up.


Hi – I would listen to the book during my hour long car ride into work. I just returned to work in January after staying home for 10.5 years with my kids (both choices completely my own!). I’m still looking for the perfect work/life balance.


I can’t wait to read your book!


I hit “send” a little too soon 🙂
At our house, we say “pa-joo-mies”…it’s a work I invented one evening when I was tired out of my mind and trying to get my kids to put on their pyjamas. It worked!
I’d isten to the audiobook while doing chores around the house…it makes them get faster, I think!


I would listen to this audiobook on my phone with earbuds in, doing work around the house (laundry, dishes, etc.) I’m so glad to have stumbled across your book! I survived some of the most difficult and painful years of my life raising three kids as a single parent with minimal involvement/support from the other parent. I didn’t have a choice as to whether or not I worked and parented, if we were going to survive, it was up to me. But I did have that feeling that something wasn’t right with what we call “normal” in our culture, and I knew that life shouldn’t be this painful. I tried a lot of different ‘life experiments’ to see how I could live it more on my own terms and have ended up creating this course for women that is a shortcut for self-care from my 14 years of experimenting. I’m so glad that you decided to write this book and start this conversation. I truly feel that it will break the cycle of women thinking it’s just them, that they’re just not enough, no matter how hard they try, and bring it out into the open where we can discuss, gain our sanity and hopefully model a different path for our own children. Much gratitude to you and best wishes for a fabulous reception!


I have three kids, too, and I am working very hard to avoid being maxed out. Some days are better than others.


I just came across your book and blog and would love to listen to your book,, probably while on the shuttle bus to/from work/school. I flip-flop, but usually say pajOmas.

Beth Schmidt

I don’t know how to thank you enough. I am 38, married, have 3 beautiful children, and work. I have been trying to “figure things out” for a long time. And during all of this time, I felt so alone. Why did I feel angry and alone? Why do I have to do all of these jobs, school activities, sports, orthodontic appointments, and laundry – alone. I simply appreciate your validating my feelings, thank you.
I recently listened to my first audiobook. After many times my husband teased me about listening to books, rather than reading them. I don’t know when he thought I had as much time as him to read! I LOVED it though! I finished listening to the book in 4 days. I would love to listen to your book, or I will just go buy it on iTunes.

In our house, we say pa-JAM-as. In reality, I won’t lie. There have been a couple of times when one of our children fell asleep in their bed wearing their clothes! Queue the Mom guilt here, but, it’s a great day when they get their own clean pa-JAM-as on themselves. Hoo-ray!!!

I live in Sacramento, and would love to visit you at a bookstore here.
Thank you again,


Don’t feel guilty. My kids sleep in their clothes almost every night–this is a new trend. They prefer it, and I decided it’s harmless and one less thing to argue about. Thank you for the kind words.


I’d get up earlier than anyone else in the house to listen to it on my phone for the few minutes I get to myself per day, or on my work commutes that I wish would go away forever. And around here, we say PJs.


I love books. I used to read all the time, but in the past 3-4 years have switched over to audio books. I used the library for ‘candybar’ books for a quick listen, but I love to load up my ipod and listen at all hours in short and long bursts, while doing most anything – commute, dishes, cooking, lunch break. Some books I want to listen to over and over again. I can be very critical of the readers, and know that my switching over to audio is both a blessing that I can still have my book fix, but also comes with the knowledge that if I don’t like the reader’s style, it does have an impact on how I perceive the book. I really look forward to hearing your book (and hope I win!!)


I commented first (because I want to win) and then went to listen to your clip. You have a fantastic voice!!! your story is both personal and every family’s story. I think you were right to read it yourself. Congratulations on getting published, getting this story out, and also, making time to read it for all the audio book readers out there.


Phew! I’m not an audiobook listener, and I those who are can be really picky about voice so it’s great to get that feedback. Thank you!

Shannon @nwaMotherlode

I’m reading your book right now. I’ve been reading it all weekend, in fact! Just mesmerized by your story and the amazing writing. I’d love to hear the book read aloud by you. I always find myself wondering how authors would really say certain things. Speaking of, I say puh-JOM-uhs 🙂 One of my big takeaways from your book has been about boundaries. The need for them, that is.


I’m a research geologist doing amazing work to save the environment and finally see marriage and kids in my future. I’ve started consulting only because projects have fallen on my lap, and it would be incredible if I could have control over my days and my life. On top of the work-family balance, I have a debilitating injury and I’m reading disabled, which makes me very demanding for my workstation (and makes me love audiobooks). I need so much control over my day that I think going solo may be the only way. Thank you for your inspiration!


I plan to listen to this audiobook in my car when I go to work.


I’m reading your book now and really enjoying it!

Forgive me if you have already covered this, but I was wondering what advice you have for someone who is in their 30s with a full time job who someday wants to get married and start a family. What are some things I can do now to prepare or maybe something you wish you had done or known. Thanks!


I would plan to start listening to your book on an upcoming business trip (I hate traveling and being away from my family) at the risk of returning and promptly quitting my job 🙂 And I would finish if needed on my daily commute, if I stay. I often listen to audiobooks on my commute – working mom’s gotta multitask right?! P.S. I never say pajamas – in either form…always “pj’s”.

Susana Cunha

I’m reading the book and would love to listen to it too. I’d probably listen while ironing the laundry on the weekend. I’m a working mom of 2 small children, me and my husband both work full-time, and I’m loving your book. It’s making me feel that I’m not alone, as I can see myself in your words.


I heard an interview with you on our local Seattle radio station yesterday morning. What you were saying really spoke to me – I am the primary breadwinner for my family and struggle constantly with the weight that puts on my shoulders, in addition to all the things others have said: guilt, lack of free time, etc. I have a son and twin daughters. I would probably listen to this on my commute or on an upcoming business trip. I am looking so forward to hearing and reading more; I figure I need it if just listening to your interview made me cry in my car yesterday because so much of it spoke to me. (Yes, I am a dork) 🙂


My friend just told me about your book last Friday–I commute for work
and listening to your book would be great ! I have so much guilt and sleep
so little–I know things have to become different or we won’t make it ! And I’m lucky as I have a husband who is extremely supportive and we have a good system of sharing the household chores. I think the mirco-management in the lives of our kids is a bigger burden then our parents ever had to shoulder. We are also living in a very competitive society, I like to call it the “era of competitive child rearing” ! It use to be that the community was interested more in the lives of everyone’s children–now we are much more narrowly focused on our own kids. Not healthy !

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