Emily

Rainbow Babies, Bonus Books, and the Ugly Cry Queen

When I lost my first baby, I didn’t think at the time I might one day write about it.

I was so alone in the world. I had just quit my job to be a mom. My Bunco group had turned into an endless series of baby showers for its members. That was treacherous territory now. So I quit. I spent my days in solitude.

My husband was bewildered, as many spouses are, at the length and depth and breadth of my grief. I half-heartedly looked for other jobs, but mostly I planted flowers and tried to make peace with something that would never, ever make sense.

By the time I got pregnant with Emily, I was more than a little dead to optimism. There was definitely a point when I started bleeding that I completely gave up hope and assumed she was dead. (Spoiler: she’s a freshman in college now.)

I have a public journal that I kept with her, as by that time my mission to help others who had lost pregnancies was in full swing at  www.pregnancyloss.info. (If you want to see some amazeballs 90s web work, you can visit my original site on the WayBack — sadly the animated GIFs and MIDI music did not survive the backups.)

It’s painful to read those hopeless entries. I did not believe motherhood would ever be something that happened to me.

When I wrote Forever Innocent, this juxtaposition of terrible tragedy and the youthfulness of Gavin and Corabelle propelled the book into the sort of bestseller territory I hadn’t anticipated. When I finished the series with Forever Family, I really felt we were done telling that story.

But I’d skipped something important, something the women who have been with me literally from my own hard days were quick to point out. I did not have a rainbow pregnancy depicted in all its ups and downs.

So this year, I did that. I added a book to the series that begins with Corabelle’s decision to move on, forget about pregnancy, and try to live a life without that tender hope. It moves through the roller coaster of finding out that she will have to live out her fear a second time. And all the way through the inevitable hardships that come when you are that scared for that long.

Because, trust me, nine months is a really long time to be terrified.

For moms who just want to go through that process with Corabelle, it’s fine to skip straight to Forever Christmas. It stands alone in that sense. For those who want to see her and Gavin’s entire journey, it’s best to start at the beginning with  Forever Innocent .

Book one is a free download, so it’s easy to start. I hope by the time you get through the six books, whether baby loss has touched your life personally, or you are just up for an ugly cry that becomes the happiest Christmas of all, these characters are more than just a book to you. They are trusted friends who show you the path so many families must walk, and that your empathy and understanding will guide you when moments like this come to pass in your home, your extended family, your friends, or your social media feed.

It’s been quite a journey. I shed a whole lot of tears while writing these pages, and I can only hope I got it right.

Arriving Dec. 14, 2018
Just in time for the holidays

Forever Christmas

They tell mothers like me, a woman whose baby has died, that a new pregnancy will bring a rainbow baby. You know, the beauty after the storm.

What they don’t say is how hard it’s going to be. How scary. How emotional. That at the lowest point, I will completely give up hope.

I do have a saving grace. Several, in fact. Gavin, my hot, sex-on-the-kitchen-counter, loves-me-on-my-bad-days husband. He’s been with me since the beginning. And I have Jenny and Tina, girlfriends I met along the way. They’re the good ones. The ones who bring you Kleenex and vodka.

But I also have you. Tens of thousands of you who read my story and have cheered me on, waiting for me and Gavin to have a healthy baby. It helps me, knowing you’re out there, waiting, hoping. Some of you have lost babies yourselves. You know what I’m about to endure.

So it’s time for the happiest happy ending of all. What better time than at Christmas?

(Don’t forget your tissues. And maybe the vodka too.)

______

Forever Christmas can be read as a standalone, but if this is your first introduction to the Forever novels, I recommend reading Forever Innocent to understand their backstory.

PREORDER LINKS

 

 

The terrible parent or the good one? On publishing your children’s books

The terrible parent or the good one? On publishing your children’s books

Quite a lot of buzz in the author blogosphere has centered around the New York Times article about books that parents have paid to have published for their children so that they can become authors. In that story, authors weighed in on how inappropriate this action was, as kids are still learning, and false expectations of both success and what it means to be an author were damaging.

Maureen Johnson also weighed in on this, separating the act of writing from publishing. Writing was good. Going public was not.

On the forums I participate in, both public and private, the overwhelming sense has been that these parents were dead wrong, that publishing is a business meant for experienced and seasoned writers, and kids should stay within the printed-and-stapled variety of book production.

Whew.

I tended to stay out of the threads, because goodness knows I had done this very thing myself. And the backlash among authors was pretty hard to bear.

Yes, I published my daughters’ book. I had started a little publishing company and done all the paperwork, the filing fees, the accounts. And couldn’t do the book I planned to because it was full color and the overseas run was just too expensive for me right after my divorce. I had a company and no books. I was going to chuck the whole idea.

And that summer, the girls got a book idea. It was something we could do together, a picture book where we’d use my photography rather than drawings. When I checked for similiar titles on the subject on Amazon I was shocked to see there were NONE aimed at children. (A couple have come out since.)

My friend had just gotten her masters in publishing and was willing to design the book for us to have a sample (the world was smiling on us.) We all spent about eight weeks producing the title. I had no expertise whatsoever in the subject matter, so I really had to rely on the girls. They dictated; I typed. I ran changes by them. I did help make sure the sentences were consistent, especially for the part my seven-year-old did.

The book now pays much of the overhead of my small press two years later. It’s sold thousands of copies. The girls had an event at Barnes and Noble, by invitation. We look at each invitation to do an event, or talk to a classroom, and decide if they want to do it or not. We turn down most things, as they want to go on with their normal kid lives. The book has gotten some criticism, which I talked to them about and they realized–hey, good points! But they had their reasons and still stood by their ideas. These were all teachable moments, to learn about the personalities of people online. As long as I was there to introduce it, to remind them—whew, people can be mean! It became an excellent conversation on how people act online (before either of them got exposed to it WITHOUT me being there to give them perspective.)

It’s been an incredible experience, and I think even if this hadn’t happened, if we had sold ten copies to grandparents and gone on, that wouldn’t have mattered either. It was something we did together, and a project we’re proud of. We didn’t expect fame or fortune—it started out as just something to put through my press because I had nothing else. The fact that the girls have money in accounts to go toward college and that I had seed money to put out the book I dreamed of is just—well, life smiling on us.

I think anything any parent does can go well or go badly. Maybe it’s publishing a book, maybe it’s forcing them to try out for commercials, maybe it’s never encouraging them or taking their artistic sensibilities seriously. There are a thousand ways we can err, but only the parents and child within any given situation can really know if a path they’ve chosen was a good one, or something that can do harm.

 

 

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