When I did get married and then had children, it was Beatles' songs I sang to them at night. As one of the youngest of 24 cousins, I had never held an infant or baby-sat. I didn't know any lullabies, so I sang Sam and Grace to sleep with 'I Will' and 'P.S. I Love You.'
I was a mother who worked ridiculously hard to keep catastrophe at bay. I didn't allow my kids to eat hamburgers for fear of E. coli. I didn't allow them to play with rope, string, balloons - anything that might strangle them. They had to bite grapes in half, avoid lollipops, eat only when I could watch them.
We were a family that made our Halloween costumes. Or, more accurately, my mother made them. She took no suggestions or advice. Halloween costumes were her territory. She was the brain behind my brother's winning girl costume, stuffing her own bra with newspapers for him to wear under a cashmere sweater and smearing red lipstick on his lips.
I was a daughterless mother. I had nowhere to put the things a mother places on her daughter. The nail polish I used to paint our toenails hardened. Our favorite videos gathered dust. Her small apron was in a box in the attic. Her shoes - the sparkly ones, the leopard rain boots, the ballet slippers - stood in a corner.
I was kind of an outsider growing up, and I preferred reading to being with other kids. When I was about seven, I started to write my own books. I never thought of myself as wanting to be a writer - I just was one.
My daughter, Grace, was not killed by a gun. She died suddenly at age 5 from a virulent form of strep. As I stood stunned in a church at her memorial, one of the hardest things I heard someone say was, 'I'm going to go home and hug my child a little tighter.' 'Well, good for you,' I thought. 'I'm going to go home and scream.'
Since my brother died in 1982, my parents and I had formed a shaky tripod of a family; now that I'd lost my father too, it was too easy for me to glimpse a future point where I alone was the keeper of not just my own childhood memories, but of my family lore.
Everyone has read about or knows someone who has gone through fertility treatments. It is an emotional nightmare, fueled by false hope and the promise of a treatment that will work.
I have a fondness for writing about precocious, troubled teenagers, who are alienating, but kind of endearing. It's from remembering so clearly that time in my own life. I experienced myself as more dramatically troubled than I was, but I just remember how it felt.
Through the eight books in 'The Treasure Chest' series, readers will meet twins Maisie and Felix and learn the secrets and rules of time travel, where they will encounter some of these famous and forgotten people. In Book 1, Clara Barton, then Alexander Hamilton, Pearl Buck, Harry Houdini, and on and on.
This was 1978, when flying was still an occasion, a special grand event that took planning and care. I worked as a TWA flight attendant then. I stood in my Ralph Lauren uniform at the boarding door and smiled at the passengers through lips coated with lipstick that perfectly matched the stripe on my jacket. Mostly, the passengers smiled back.
Back when I was 8 or 9 and wanted to be a nun, I would often stop at church on my way home from school.