Last week I spoke with fifth graders at Pine-Richland’s Eden Hall Upper Elementary school about being a writer. Later that day, I promised to share with you the advice I gave the budding authors. I’ll work up to it because really this whole post illustrates my point, but it might not mean anything yet. While preparing for the talk, I asked myself what makes writing and reading worthwhile to me. A common denominator seems to transcend genre and audience—a thread woven through literature from the beginning of time. And that is this: at the heart of a good book is a story that makes us feel something. Kids are no exception. They want to feel something, too. But how does the author do it?
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but not long ago I found myself out of touch with my kids and their books. I know that sounds odd coming from a parent who is also a writer, so let me explain. I often seek out books for my kids to read—from the library, bookstore, or my own stash. Books that either resonated with me at their ages or a new title I think they’d like based on the genre or author. Never is a bedside table bare. But lately, I’ve been missing the mark. It occurred to me that when my kids began reading independently, I’d assumed they didn’t need me, and I’d drifted out of their literary world a bit. The bedtime routine became simpler. No longer was I re-reading the same picture book a gazillion times while in the back of my mind was that tower of dirty dishes, emails to answer, and catch-up time with my husband. This was a good thing, right?
Today I’m speaking with Jennifer Salvage, co-author with her husband, Jeff, of One Dress, One Woman, One World: Experience the World Through the Eyes of a Bride. On their wedding day in 2008, Jennifer and Jeff Salvage hiked across Easter Island with her lace gown stuffed in a backpack. The photographs Jeff took of Jennifer inspired the extreme-loving couple to continue their adventures—with Jennifer wearing the same dress—in more than 150 exotic places around the world. What I want to know is how this globe-trotting duo gel when the photo shoots and nationally-televised interviews end—when they are a typical couple like the rest of us, dealing with the day-to-day. Jennifer shares:
It’s not often that I get one-on-one time with one of my daughters who are now 6, 8 and 10. Having three girls in four years means a whole lot of togetherness. They share most of the same activities, friends, and secret pacts. As it should be. So when my tween asked me to take her to the mall to shop for clothes for her birthday, I jumped at the chance to hang out with her. But wait—did she say clothes? Not toys? My baby was officially a tween.
I’m all for healthy food my kids will eat and enjoy. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not above slinging hot dogs to the back of the minivan on our way to gymnastics and I can whip up mac-n-cheese in my sleep, but thanks to my sister, I learned a thing or two about how to shop for and prepare more healthy meals for my family. At first, I resisted, thinking it’s all a ruse. Organic anything is trendy and costly. Are we simply absorbing the extra costs created by the certification process for farms to be labeled as organic, or does it really benefit us? A pesticide-free ear of corn from a local farmer may be laced with worms or go off in a day. And who has time to be running out every two seconds for fresh produce. But what if there is a better way?
I kill plants. It’s what I do. My mom gave me a potted ficus in my first apartment. All the leaves turned yellow and dropped off. It weeped a pile of curled brown leaves, suffering a slow, painful death under my negligence. Mom whisked it out the door, promising to nurse it back to life. My boyfriend (who later married me despite my curse on all things green) gave me a love knot tree and I killed that, too. It resurfaced probably to taunt me as the topiary centerpiece at our best friends’ wedding. My friend teased, “You gonna forget to feed your kid someday?”
Return To Me was selected for the upcoming 2013 Baker's Dozen Agent Auction that takes place on December 3. You can go to the blog as early as November 29 to see my logline and first 250 words, available for public critique! Then on Dec 3, the agents will begin bidding on manuscripts. Thank you
Return To Me - forthcoming late summer of 2015! Eighteen-year-old Sadie Stark, raised by the governor of Pennsylvania, has got the world on a string. She doesn’t need the mother who left her any more than she needs the fiance who promises to change. What she needs is to finish college, and keep her wits about
Just when I thought I had awkward social situations figured out, I experienced the dog park. A sprawling green space where frisbees fly and golden retrievers leap in the air like a dog food commercial – that’s what I was expecting. But no. My first time there, our goldendoodle puppy cowered behind my legs as a stampede of drool-dangling, bohemian-ish, rescued pit-bull mixes bulldozed toward her. I, of course, freaked. I crouched down to protect my furry baby, as any good dog-mother should do. Right? Wrong.
As we pulled up my driveway, he appeared at my bedroom window and pulled back. I knew why he’d come. But I didn’t want the kid driving me home to see him and think it was weird. “Thanks for the ride,” I mumbled. Not many kids were willing to drive this far to take me home, but the carpool had been planned by our moms and he said he wanted to play pick-up football over the hill. I climbed the steps to my front door, my cheeks hot with embarrassment. “Lou?”