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: 12 x 12, Children's Books, Melissa Boatwright, Picture Books, SCBWI, Writer, Writing