Melissa Boatwright & Lou

One of the things I love about 12 x 12, and this series in particular, is that we forge bonds with others that might never happen otherwise. I had the pleasure of meeting today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 author, Melissa Boatwright, at the NJ-SCBWI conference, but until today I did not know her personal story behind the decision to join 12 x 12. I have no doubt you will be as inspired as I am by her determination to fulfill one dream while working on fulfilling another. I also have no doubt there will be a multitude of 12xers ready to cheer her on when both of them come true. Baby Boatwright is going to be one lucky child! Please welcome Melissa!

I didn’t really ever think I wanted to be a mom, until someone told me I might not be.

Becoming a mom was something I took for granted, something that even terrified me when I was younger. When I was a teenager, I told my mom I wanted to adopt the starving Ethiopian children that Sally Struthers talked about on television.

Twenty years later, while in the Air Force, stationed at the Pentagon, and just a few months from deploying to Iraq, my doctor shared with me that a dream I never really thought I had might be lost. Maybe my teenage self knew something was up.

That’s when I started to see children’s stories in every day life – imagining what my dogs were saying to each other while locked up in their kennel for sending me on an hour-long dog search through Washington D.C. suburbs:

“I told you not to follow it,” said Duncan, the wiser Irish Setter.

“I just wanted to talk to the squirrel. I don’t understand why it kept running,” said Lulu.

“Hey guys. That was fun. Don’t you think that was fun? I think that was fun,” said Elle, the Yorkie, bouncing in her kennel.

Or what stories old South Carolinian trees would share with children:

“I heard the first shots of the Civil War, and sheltered an entire family of slaves. They hid behind my trunk, in my branches, under my leaves to escape the confederate troops. For years the family would come back with their children and grandchildren and thank me. They would decorate my branches and have wonderful picnics—with music, dancing and laughter.”

The desire to create a family started about four years ago, when I threw a fit to get a dog. Literally. There was ugly crying and irrational accusations, the only thing I didn’t do was fling myself on the floor and pound my fists and feet. Surprisingly, not only did I get a dog, but a couple years later the recipient of this crazy lady tantrum even married me.

Lou, the tantrum-earned dog, has become the blundering hero and muse of my stories. This year, along with my friend and illustrator Angie, we began a journey to have Lou’s tales published, and that is what brought me to 12 x 12. This forum has helped me feel a sense of community. I had no idea where to begin on this book-writing adventure, 12 x 12 and Julie have given me a place to start, a place to keep going, and hopefully, a place to help get published.

The highlight of my 12 x 12 membership thus far was the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators conference in New Jersey. On the first day, I sat in a giant auditorium completely intimidated, knowing no one. All 12 x 12 members received a button so that we could identify one another – and instantly I had a community around me that helped me feel more comfortable. My fellow 12 x 12ers helped me feel like I belonged. You can learn more about my journey at www.squaredogroundworld.com.

It felt like a family. This year, my husband and I launched Operation Baby Boatwright to start our own family. Now, not only do I want to be a mom, but I also want to read my stories to my children someday, with Lou by our side.

Melissa Boatwright. Communicator. Bulldog lover. Yogi. Military veteran. Creativity seeker. Beauty appreciator. Story teller. Traveler. iPhone photographer. Hopeful inspirer. You can find Melissa at www.melissaboatwright.com it’s where she likes to pretend to be a professional. See also: LinkedIn. Melissa is also on pinterest where she collects stuff that she likes, but will likely never do anything with – unless it involves eating chocolate, drinking wine, or traveling. For pictures of wine, Lou & Yoga find Melissa on Instagram – missliss_us. Lou & Melissa are on twitter – @louthebulldog – bet you didn’t know there was a merry gang of bulldog tweeters. Warning Lou is not a very good tweeter. He gets bored easily. @missliss_us – melissa is also a terrible tweeter.

Categories: 12 x 12, Books, Children's Books, Guest Blogging, SCBWI, Writing · Tags: , , , , , ,

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25 Comments

  1. “Hey guys. That was fun. Don’t you think that was fun? I think that was fun,” said Elle, the Yorkie, bouncing in her kennel.
    HA! Love the image this evokes.

    Old South Carolinian trees: A bond forged for a lifetime. What a beautiful story!

    Melissa,
    Best of luck to you and the recipient of the crazy lady tantrum on Operation Baby Boatwright!!

  2. oh love.. if its any help.. i was told at 23 i would never have kids even with the help of ivf.. i had my son at 33, and his sister at 40…naturally, so hold that dream alive x x x x x

  3. Nice post, Melissa. Best of luck on both, and all, your creative ventures.

  4. Here’s to all your successful missions, Melissa! I’m a crazy dog lady too. :0)

  5. Fabulous post, Melissa! Sounds like you’ve got a life chock-full of ideas. 😉 I did actually adopt from Ethiopia, but my two weren’t starving. They continue to provide me with a constant stream of fun, love, and ideas. Best of luck with your writing journey and your journey to become a mom. It took me a while for both, but it was so very worth the time!

  6. What a great story. Good luck Melissa!

  7. Hoping to read your 12×12 post one day about both your babies–the one in print and the one in your arms. My prayers go out to you and your husband. Keep us posted!

  8. Sending loads of luck to you, Melissa. I know I’ll be reading about your success one day. (I love what you said about imagining what your dogs were saying to each other.) Wonderful post!

  9. Melissa, your story really resonated with me. It took my husband and me five long years before our Operation Baby was a success. And I count my curious kids as my inspirations for the career path I’ve chosen. Hang in there, and good luck with your writing and your expanding family.

  10. I love this post. Isn’t that how we get our stories – but seeing something others don’t in the world around us. And by letting circumstances lead our creative minds down an otherwise untraveled path. Thank you for sharing. My prayers for Operation Baby. My daughter and her husband spent seven years in Operation Baby mode but I now have three absolutely beautiful talented wonderful granddaughters.

  11. Melanie Ellsworth

    Thanks for sharing your story, Melissa. My dog is my muse too, and inspired my first 3 stories. Sounds like you’ve been successful following several dreams already, and I hope your writing and baby dreams are next in line.

  12. Enjoyed hearing about your journey, and desire to start a family. An exciting thing, indeed! I love your unusual POV stories. . .keep on writing. And good to have you in our 12×12 family. I hope to attend a SCBWI conference some day soon. . .

  13. Your journey is an inspiring story, indeed. And I have no doubt you will succeed in all that you pursue. You have the will and the way. Brava!

  14. Nice story, Melissa. There’s nothing wrong with a bulldog-wanting-tantrum. Gotta start somewhere…. You seem like a person who WILL get what she wants. All of it. Good luck!

  15. Thanks everyone! It’s been amazing reading all of your comments and encouragement!

  16. I hope your dreams come true!

  17. I love this story, Melissa. I wish I’d known you felt that way in NJ! You could’ve sat with us!

  18. Count me in for cheering you on, Melissa! 🙂 I wish you all the best in your journey to motherhood and publication!

  19. Kathy Cornell Berman

    I really enjoyed reading about your impressive background. What a stories you must have! I met you at the NJSCBWI conference. You were in my peer critiquing group, which was very productive. We stayed outside until the bugs started biting. Best of luck to you! Hope to see you at the next conference in NJ.

  20. Adventure drives the best writing, so I know your stories will be vivid fun!
    Keep that passion and trust the dog…they are some of the best friends you can have.
    Also, prayers for Operation Baby Boatwright!

  21. Thanks for sharing with us and congratulations on Baby Boatwright. Best of luck with your writing.

  22. Melissa, with your great attitude I’m sure it will all come true! Remember, the doctors don’t have the final word. I was also told it would not happen, and my wonderful surprise is now old enough to drive. Good luck with all your projects! Hugs and prayers.

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