Q&A with best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe New book, ‘A Lowcountry Christmas,’ out this week

mary-alice-monroe-2014-for-webMary Alice Monroe believes in the power of stories. The best-selling author writes about our connection to animals from her home on the Isle of Palms. Her latest book, “A Lowcountry Christmas,” will be released Tuesday. It tells the story of a wounded warrior and his younger brother who discover the true meaning of Christmas.

Read more of my interview with the author on the Post and Courier.

What’s on your Bookshelf?

This essay in today’s New York Times Style section has made me so happy! Author Teddy Wayne writes about the importance of tangible artifacts (books and records or even cd’s) on the shelves of our homes. In Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves (a sly reference to a book that should be on all parent’s bookshelves in my opinion because it allows curious adolescent kids to sneak a healthy peek! I will never forget sneaking a peek into the alluring and disturbing illustrations in the 1970’s edition of my parent’s copy of Our Bodies, Our Selves. It was eye-opening!)

“The implications are clear: Owning books in the home is one of the best things you can do for your children academically. It helps, of course, if parents are reading to their children and reading themselves, not simply buying books by the yard as décor.”

Thank you, thank you Teddy Wayne! I wholeheartedly agree. The bookshelves in our house are overflowing, much to my husband’s dismay, but I refuse to part with them. The books are reminders to me of my past because I can pick one up and remember where I was when I read it. I may never read the book again, but maybe my kids will. In fact just last week I handed my 14 year old son my high school copy of Catcher int he Rye. It was a really exciting moment for me. He says he likes it a lot. I’m trying to sustain my glee…..some of the bookshelves in our house.

Accepting (and modeling) my Sensitive Side

Being a writer is tough. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be, but there are some days when I want to crawl under the covers and hide from my editors. I try to be tough, I am a natural born people pleaser and as much as I wish I could change that part of myself, and not care what others (my editors) thought, I can’t. So my goal for 2012 is to accept my sensitive side.

 

I turned in a story this week that was totally off. It took me back to 7th grade when I stood at the front of the classroom giving my oral report on the capital of Virginia and my teacher said, “what are you doing?” The room went dead quiet. “Reading my report about Richmond,” I said. “Well you’ve done it all wrong,” she said. I was humiliated. I can’t remember now what I’d done wrong, maybe it was supposed to be modern day Richmond and I’d done the historical version, but nonetheless, I stood there at the front of the room devastated. That’s how I felt yesterday. I don’t like to be wrong, I don’t like to have screwed up, I don’t like to make mistakes. I wanted to cry but I also wanted to tell myself to toughen up! Editors edit, that’s what they do and writers write and rewrite, right? But sometimes it’s so hard to listen to the feedback, to shake it off and keep going. Sometimes I wish I were less sensitive.

 

I was up all night thinking about how I could have done this assignment different. When I woke up I was short with my kids, hurrying them through the breakfast routine and rushing them off to school. “Sorry guys, I’m in a bad mood because my editor didn’t like my story,” I said. “Oh that’s too bad Mom!” they said and I shrugged. “I just need to toughen up!” I said. Then My 7 year old needed help because he was supposed to dress up “tacky.” (They’ve been reading Tacky the Penguin.) He didn’t know what tacky was, and of course we’d waited until the last minute to prepare, and frustrated, I told him that tacky was subjective and to just find something already! Ugh! Get dressed! What’s the big deal?!

 

He retreated to his room in tears (my boys who rarely cries but is sensitive all the same), and I took a deep breath. I went after him and we sat on his bed and he told me that he didn’t want to wear the wrong thing. He didn’t want his teacher to get mad at him. It was a big deal for him, and here I was trying to make him toughen up. I apologized and we found him something to wear and I sent him off to school hoping his teacher wouldn’t make him feel like my 7th grade teacher made me feel. And then I realized we are the only ones who can “make ourselves feel a certain way. Editors will always offer feedback and suggestions, that’s their job. If I feel stupid, that’s my own doing. It’s my job to accept my sensitive nature, and not beat myself up when I don’t get it right. It’s okay to be sensitive. I think I just need to learn how to give myself approval instead of seeking it from others, and model that for my kids.

 

Being a writer is tough, but it’s also the best job in the world.

Diabetes Alert Dogs

My latest article in Diabetes Health:

Tarra Robinson was afraid that she was going to lose her job. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 18 months old, Tarra had recently developed hypoglycemic unawareness, which  affects about 17% of type 1 diabetics. Tarra was passing out at work, and once she even crashed her car when her blood sugar dropped unexpectedly. She went on a pump and tried a CGM, but nothing seemed to help. She was still having frequent, dangerous lows. Read more…