My friend and digital kids’ author, Karen Robertson, whose work includes the Treasure Kai series plus the Author’s Guide to Book Apps, contacted me about “The Next Big Thing.” Essentially it’s a “blog chain” for writers to help fellow writers get some buzz about their latest books and/or upcoming projects. Anything that helps me promote my work and simultaneously allows me to shine a light on other people’s writing sounds like a winner. “Sure!” I told Karen. “I’m in.”
She sent me 10 questions to answer. She’s linking to my blog from hers and, in turn, I’m supposed to link to the blogs of writers to whom I’ve reached out. Only one snag. At the moment, none of the 10 writers I’ve pitched the idea to have responded to me. I chalk it up as part of a well-deserved holiday slacker attitude. (Not even sure why I’m blogging today, except that I promised Karen and I’m big on keeping agreements.) When my writer friends get around to reading the email I sent them a week ago and decide to jump into The Next Big Thing, I’ll update this blog and link to their sites. In the meantime, here are my answers to the 10 questions. It was fun to answer them. Hopefully, you’ll find something interesting in what I have to say here.
1) What is the title of your latest book? Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century. It was published in October, 2012.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book? Well, we sure need more good people in the world. Can’t have too many of them… ever! But right at this point in history, I’d say we’re dealing with a world that is speedier, noisier, and in many ways more “I, Me, Mine” than ever before. Good people are desperately needed. Definition of a good person? Well, in my book… (and this is my book) a good person is one who looks for opportunities to do good in the world and has the social courage to act on those good intentions.
3) What genre does your book fall under? Non-fiction, parenting. But on a much broader level, this is a book about emotional intelligence and the tools to resolve issues from our own childhood so each of us may move forward toward a healthier relationship with ourself, our parents, our children, and everyone else. This may actually be a book about creating world peace. (Wow, that was a bigger answer than the “genre” question, wasn’t it?)
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? I get that this question was devised for fiction writers, but I’ll take a sincere crack at it. Since the basis of my book is 32 personal essays, I’d say the best person to play the lead character in the movie rendition of Teaching Kids to Be Good People would have to be me. But I could totally do it! I was voted Class Actress in high school and I’ve done tons of community theatre. I already know all the lines, so I’m ready!
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? We desperately need more good people and they’re going to come from parents with a game plan. Teaching Kids to Be Good People is the game plan. (OK, that was two sentences. Sorry.) Here’s a free excerpt of Chapter 1, just to give you a taste of what this is all about.
6) Was your book self-published or represented by an agency? Electric Eggplant (which is my husband, David Fox, and me) published Teaching Kids… So, the answer is self-published. And I say that with no small amount of pride. The book looks and reads like the professional product it is.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? About a year, though many of the essays were originally written in other forms within the past five years. Two-thirds of the book is brand new content. Even with the “older” stuff, I had to get in there and re-work each essay because a) I’m a compulsive editor and b) I’m a better writer than I was when I first wrote them. I’ll be a better writer tomorrow than I am today. If I were to revisit this book a year from now, I’m sure I’d find ways to take it to still another level. But at some point you have to say, “This is good. I stand by it as is.” And then you put it out there in the world. I’m gratified by the enthusiastic reviews the book has received so far.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? There are hundreds of top-notch parenting books out there, with more coming to market each month. It’s a very competitive genre to be publishing in. Many of these books are written by MDs, and PhDs and are very helpful to very specific parenting challenges like: parenting kids with special needs, parenting adoptive kids from “hard” places, step-parenting, etc. My book is for all parents who recognize that their #2 objective (after keeping their children safe and healthy) is to help kids develop into people of good character.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? I’ve been answering email questions from tweens and teens since 1997. More and more of their questions reflect a huge gap in their understanding of how to treat themselves and others with compassion and respect. I wrote the book because kids have told me (in so many words) that they need tools to help them develop a moral compass. I wrote the book to help parents help their kids on their journey into young adulthood and beyond. A big part of the challenge parents have is in the area of communication. We wrongly assume that adults and kids mean the same thing when we use words like “fair” “mean” “love” “trust” “friendship.” That ain’t necessarily so. Parents need to do whatever it takes to get on the same page as their children (no small feat when our kids spend 24/7 mind-melded with their peers). My book offers parents new ways to see 21st century life from the eyes of their kids and provides guidelines to Conversations that Count. We need to listen to each other so a kid’s perspective is part of every parent’s frame of reference and a parent’s perspective is part of the mix inside a kid’s head when s/he is making choices amongst peers.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest? Read it and you’ll learn more about yourself and your kids. Then you’ll be able to use what you learn to be the kind of parent you have always wanted to be.