WOW! Women On Writing Blog Tour Guest: An Inteview with Sharon Simons, Author of Mom at Last

I’m excited to be participating in my first WOW! Women On Writing Blog Tour by interviewing first-time author Sharon Simons, whose memoir, Mom at Last, hits shelves August 1. Here, I ask her a few questions about her long journey to motherhood and the even-more-challenging task of penning her first book. In addition to making time for an interview, the busy mom has also offered to give away a copy of Mom at Last. The winner will be randomly selected from readers who comment on the interview below:

SharonAuthorPicCO: I’m not a mom, but I could total identify with how you found yourself in your late 30s without having found that perfect mate and future father to your children. Do you see that a lot in your work with your website and other projects?

SS: I hear that all the time. It catches up with you fast, doesn’t it? I was married the first time and I just knew it wasn’t right. Thankfully, we got divorced before having children. I dated someone else for a couple of years, and I realized he wasn’t the right one. And, as I said it the book, you wake up at 39 and ask, ‘How did I get here?’ It just goes so fast. I’m busy. I’m working, and sometimes dating these not so great men takes up a lot of valuable time because you want it to be right so badly that you kind of look past some of the faults. I just wanted so desperately to have a family. All my girlfriends had kids. I have three godchildren. I think I just wanted to find that someone who was good enough to be the father of my children. It was when I least expected it that I met my husband, Rick.

CO: Because you were so upfront about wanting a family, you and Rick started the process of trying to have children through in-vitro fertilization pretty quickly after getting together. What advice would you give to others considering IVF?

SS: You don’t know what to expect and I personally didn’t know anyone who had gone through in vitro. It’s really a scary world. I didn’t realize the emotional toll it takes because I am not that emotional. But giving myself all these hormones made me different. It made me cry. It made me gain weight. I remember being itchy after giving myself the shots. But I think there’s a lot more support now than there was then [in 2005]. Now, it’s something that you can almost talk about at the dinner table because everyone knows someone who has gone through IVF. That’s one reason I wanted to write this book. I wanted to tell the good, the bad and the ugly.

CO: Though some couples have great success with IVF, your experience was ugly, which is what made you investigate adoption. In your book, you call it a gift. What changed your thinking?

SS: Knowing what I know now, I would have never gone through IVF, but I didn’t really understand the adoption world. And you hear horror stories, but I am definitely an adoption advocate. I also understand that people want to have their own children, but these two children that I have — they are my own. But you don’t get that at the time. Now, I always ask, ‘What makes your DNA so important?’ If I was younger, I’d definitely adopt more children, but I don’t want to kill my husband because he needs to retire at some point. But I hope reading my story and seeing my family might inspire someone else to go that route.

CO: Your sons are from Russia. Late last year, Russia banned all U.S. adoptions and most say the ban is a response to an American law barring Russian human rights violators from U.S. soil. What are your thoughts on the recent change?

SS: It really has nothing to do with adoption. It’s very unfortunate because, there, the kids are in orphanages. I think they are in a baby house until they are four, and then they move to a different house. Every time they move into a house with a different age group, the level of care is lower and lower. When I brought Dylan and Hunter home at 16 months and 23 months, they were 14 and 16 pounds. So, though the place looked clean, they were not getting the care, not getting the nutrition, not getting what they needed there.

CO: Since this is part of a WOW! Blog Tour, I want to close with a question about writing. When we were exchanging emails before this interview, you mentioned that writing a book was harder than adopting the boys from Russia, which was far from easy. What made writing Mom at Last so difficult?

SS: I really have a new respect for writing and writers. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I’ll write a book.’ But it’s really difficult to get the words to come to life. It took me a while and my husband really helped me. We would pull out things and change things. And I have an editor who really helped me because I’m not a writer. I say to people, ‘Now I know why writers put themselves into a cabin in the woods for three months. I get it.’ But until you do something, you don’t really understand it, so I have a totally new respect for anyone who writes.

About the Book

Title: Mom at Last: How I Never Gave Up on Becoming a Mother

Publisher: Morgan James Publishing

Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Mom at Last is the story of one woman’s journey to parenthood. Sharon’s journey is a long one that included many obstacles: vasectomies, IVF, miscarriages and the labyrinth that is adoption. It ends with a triumphant family found in Russia and now thriving in Delaware. This book is an inspirational tale for those struggling to create their families and a rousing reminder of the preciousness of family to those already busy raising children. You can order the book here. If you comment on this post, you could also win a copy from the author!

About the Author

Sharon had a dream to become a mother which she was determined to follow. Her path was difficult but ultimately successful.  Born in New Jersey and living in Delaware, she is married to her soul mate Rick and the very proud mom to her two sons, Dylan and Hunter.

Sharon struggled to become a mom, dealing with the uncertain world of infertility including three in-vitro fertilizations, tubal pregnancy and the loss of a pregnancy with twin boys at 19 weeks. That loss only made her more determined to become a mom. Thankfully that dream became a reality due to international adoption.

Sharon is inspired to share her experiences, to offer insight and inspire other women to find their strength to achieve their goal of becoming mothers. Her passion involves using her journey to motherhood to educate and help women become a “Mom at Last. “ Her main message is to let women everywhere know that when you finally hold your child in your arms, no matter how that child became your child, you will understand and appreciate your journey to motherhood. To learn more, visit Sharon’s website http://www.momatlast.com/

Book Review – Mom at Last

Here’s a copy of a book review I posted on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m also interviewing Sharon Simons, author of Mom at Last, later this month and posting that interview here as part of her WOW! Women On Writing Blog Tour. I’ll be setting up the interview soon and would love some comments and ideas for questions about the book, the writing process or what it’s like to finally be a mom at last.

Review for Mom at Last: How I Never Gave Up on Becoming a Mother

I’m not a mom, but still found plenty to identify with in Sharon Simons’s Mom at Last: How I Never Gave Up on Becoming a Mother. Whether because of failed first marriages or wasted time with boyfriends whose true motives and motivations don’t become clear until months into a relationship, many readers will find it easy to understand how Simons reached her late thirties without finding the husband — and future father — of her dreams. She’s fortunate enough to discover both in Rick, a surgeon who already had kids of his own, but was willing to give fatherhood another try for her sake. As it turns out, finding her prince was the easiest step on her long road to motherhood. Simons endures three in-vitro fertilization procedures, a miscarriage that almost kills her in both body and spirit, an almost-laughably bad Big Brothers/Big Sisters experience, and a harrowing journey to Siberia before finally becoming a Mom at Last, and I think many women will see some of their own lives in the path she took to get there.SharonAuthorPic

More Than Thirty Days of Thankfulness

I didn’t participate in 30 days of thankfulness during the month of November, but began composing a list in my head as I read friends’ Facebook posts and blog entries about the many good things in their lives. While I was thinking of the things and people who should be on my own list, I was also brainstorming for a way to extend the new technology-driven tradition beyond the month of November.  So here are a few of the things, animals and people I am — or at least should be — thankful for each and every day. I plan to add to the list through the new month and new year and revisit it in thankless times to come.

1. I am thankful for my boyfriend. He’s paid for more than his fair share of beer, burgers and bloody marys over the past few years so I could pursue part-time professoring and full-time freelance writing.

2. I am thankful for my so-far successful return to professional writing and reporting after a decade-long detour into teaching.

3. I am thankful for my mom who is in good health and good spirits after a life-changing move to a retirement home this summer.

4. I am thankful for my sister and her family. They have provided countless hours of logistical and moral support to both me and our mom before and since the move.

5. I am thankful for my cat Lucy. Lucy Cat, who has been a faithful and fun companion through one failed relationship, three states and nearly a half dozen moves, even decided to stay close to home this summer rather than yet again answering the call of the wild while we were on vacation.

Although, as made evident by this video, she was less than happy about it.

Promoting Books on Pinterest

Here’s a link to my latest article in WOW! Women On Writing about how authors and others in the publishing industry are using Pinterest to promote their work. Now, all I need to do is write my own prose to pin.

The Dreaded Letter of Introduction

As a follower of freelancing guru Kelly James-Enger, I have been trying to heed her advice by writing a query letter almost every day, following up on queries after they’ve been sitting in cyberspace for a month or more, and responding to rejections, which she calls “bongs” not by wallowing in self pity, but by sending a fresh idea to the editor who rejected the last query within 24 hours and refashioning the old idea to fit another market.

I’ve had some success with the approach and have been busy working on articles for a variety of magazines and websites. But, with the holidays looming, my agenda of follow up reminders is full while the one marking upcoming deadlines is looking like the advent calendar from Bad Santa.

Today, I’m finally sitting down to tackle a task I’ve been dreading — writing a letter of introduction. My query letters are typically all about an idea with just a few sentences that highlight my professional credentials. A letter of introduction, on the other hand, is all about me. I’m not just tooting my own horn, I’m playing an extended solo.

As a person who recently asserted she could probably field as well as Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma (though I have to admit my bat would be lacking), this shouldn’t be so difficult. But it is, even though research shows that people who promote their own accomplishments are seen as more competent than those who downplay their hard work. So I am finally going to finish my first letter of introduction — right after I play a few rounds of Words With Friends.

My new story in WOW – Women On Writing

I wanted to take an opportunity to share one of my favorite writing websites. WOW – Women on Writing always makes the Writers Digest list of top sites for writers. And, this month, it happens to have a story from me that features interviews with freelancing expert Kelly James-Enger, Christie Morgan Ison, a fellow Arkansas State University alum better known as the Fancy Pants Foodie, and Lisa J. Jackson, a freelancer and frequent contributor to Live to Write – Write to Live, one of my favorite writing blogs.
You can read more about them all in “Freelancers: Shed Your Pajamas and Share Your Passions.”

In Praise of Adjunct Teaching

Sharing what I know and learning new things from new people are two of my favorite activities. This would explain why I became a reporter and writer. It would also explain why, after the events of September 11, I was inspired leave my job as a business reporter to join Teach For America in an effort to make a difference in the lives of those not already earning a six-figure salary.

Thanks to that amazing organization, I had the opportunity to teach special education and English in Saint Louis City’s Vashon High School. I later moved on to a nearby middle school and, after meeting and working with some incredible adults and young people, finally remembered why few would ever elect to return to middle school in any capacity. Given that I had also expended considerable time, effort and money earning a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, I also thought it was well past time for me to return to writing something other than office referrals.

Still, I knew I would miss sharing my passion for reading and writing with young people, so I settled on what has thus far proven to be an ideal compromise. In addition to adding a certain level of class to my attic storage space, that aforementioned master’s degree makes me qualified to teach college courses as an adjunct.

Adjunct teaching certainly doesn’t give me a six-figure salary comparable to those earned by the executives I used to write about. In fact, it doesn’t even offer anything close to what I brought home as a full-time public school teacher in a struggling city system. But it has been an enlightening experience that makes me honestly echo the cliché that I hope I am teaching my students as much as I am learning from them.

Indeed, it was the textbook for my business communications class, coupled with a few innovative presentations from my students, that inspired the idea behind my first published piece in a decade. And the classes I teach — in which students are encouraged to submit almost all their work through a blog — are the only reason this site exists today.

It’s true that adjunct teaching is often, if not always, a poor way to earn a living for extremely educated, underemployed degree holders hoping for substantive salaries, health insurance and a tenure track professorship. But I would argue it’s an excellent way to sharpen your skills and supplement your income while working on a book project, raising a family or pursuing your Ph.D.

And I can say from experience that it definitely beats middle school bus duty.