Guest Post: To My Mom, Who Taught Me Not to Wait (and a Novel Giveaway)

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A guest post by writer Janet Fox:

I want to write this post about my mom.

She died young. Correction – she died at an age that I now consider too young to die, since she was only fifteen years older than I am now when she died. And frankly, fifteen years is going to go by like – click – that.

She didn’t have the chance to be the grandmother I longed for her to be for my son. She didn’t have the chance to see my first (or second…) novel published. She died suddenly and without warning, and as in all things in my life, she taught me something very important.

She taught me not to wait.

Among her papers as I was sorting them – because my father couldn’t – I found a pile of unpublished children’s stories. They were sweet, old-fashioned, lyrical. I read them and thought, huh. These are wonderful. What if I could do that. What if I could write something like that. What if…

I’ve always been a cautious person. Wait and see. Take it one step at a time. Consider the plan. But when Mom died she gave me the courage to open up my creative heart and let it all pour out. There’s no question that my first novel was written for and about her (a girl loses her mother, tries to find her, and instead finds herself).

In fact, all my writing now is about reaching out to my mother, finding the girl to woman connection, letting myself grow into the woman that she would admire.

I’m burning with stories now, stories that I must get down on paper, stories that are bursting to be told, characters that are reaching for the light, and this is all because she taught me to let them out, taught me not to wait.

What if we didn’t wait? What if we never waited for the right moment, the settled-downness, the quiet? What if we didn’t wait for the nudge of death to drive us to action? What if, as women, we shifted into the fullness of our lives right from the start?

If you are a cautious person, the time is now. Don’t wait. Take my mom’s lesson to heart. Find your stories and let them pour out like honey. Give them to the page, to your daughters, to the world.

Give them to yourself.

And, to my mom, I give my sweetest thanks.

Janet Fox is the author of award-winning books for children and young adults. FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin Young Readers 2010), set in Yellowstone National Park in 1904, is a YALSA Best Fiction for YA nominee and an Amelia Bloomer List pick, 2011. FORGIVEN (Speak 2011), set in 1906 San Francisco during the great earthquake, is a Junior Library Guild selection 2011, and a 2012 WILLA Literary Awards Finalist.

Her most recent novel, SIRENS (Speak 2012), is set in 1925 New York and is told from alternating points of view of two girls who must confront a gangster and uncover dark secrets.

Janet is a former high school English teacher and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults in 2010 (Vermont College of Fine Arts). Janet lives in Bozeman, Montana but you can also find her at www.janetsfox.com and   http://about.me/janetfox.  She blogs at: www.kidswriterjfox.blogspot.com.

Giveaway:  For a chance to win a copy of Sirens, simply enter a comment by December 5 saying you’d like to win.  I’m giving away two copies!

26 responses »

  1. Your post brought tears to my eyes. What a valuable lesson you learned from your mother! Thank you for good advice to the rest of us. I’d love to win one of your books, too.

  2. Janet, I believe that the ability to transmute personal sorrow and loss into emotions that the whole world can feel as their own is an author’s greatest gift. Congratulations on your new book!

  3. I’m so touched to read all your comments. I know that somewhere my mom is smiling. I miss her every day but feel that I can reach her through my words. Thank you all so much for coming by to read about her.

  4. Excellent guest post! Some of us wait too long till the “nudge of death” makes us find our passion or a different job, love harder or speak out!!! would love to win a cc of her book.

  5. Terrific post, Janet. Touching and the ultimate push to push procrastination and excuses out the door. I try to share the concept, “the time is now,” not manana, with my girls (and myself!). Thank you!

    • Thank you Silvia, Lucy and Erzsi! Yes, grabbing the time and connecting is not only for us but also for those we love. My mom and I did have a terrific relationship, for which I will be always grateful.

  6. I love the cover, and font on the front of your book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of Sirens. Your post is inspirational–I’m glad you found the courage after your mom’s passing to write.

  7. Oh, Janet! How I love this post, and how I needed to read it right now, this second:-D Time does go by too quickly, and that’s one of the very best things about writing–being lost in the moment with our stories and characters and creativity. Just got my copy of SIRENS and man! The book about sizzles in my hands. Am finishing a book now, but will LOVE reading it. xo

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