Trudi Trueit, Author of the Month: For All the Champions

My mom was my champion. She believed in me long before I believed in myself. For a chubby, near-sighted, shy kid, her faith became my heartbeat. My mom gave me the precious gems of wisdom every child should possess: find your passion, follow your gut, never away give your power, persevere through hard times, pick yourself up when the world kicks you down. Plus, she was my best friend. I could tell her my secrets and know they would be safe.

Three years ago, when my mom died, my spirit turned gray. I tried telling myself all the things we say when a loved one dies: she wouldn’t want me to wallow, take comfort in the memories, grieve at my own pace. Still, I had trouble tapping into my creative core. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, but I couldn’t figure out what to say. I was a jumble of emotions. Which ones should I pick? And how should I express them? Was there a right way? A way that would help me heal? One day, while looking at a picture of Mom and me I kept on my desk, I thought, ‘I feel like you took a piece of me when you left.’ And the answer came back, ‘Maybe so, but I also left a piece of myself behind.’

Me. I was, of course, that piece.

I knew I needed to write. Anything. Everything. Just write. So I did. I let my feelings of anger, sadness, frustration, and loss pour out onto the page, even if the things that came out made no sense, especially if they made no sense. I wrote short poems or jotted down memories of us; sometimes, the best I could do was scribble a sentence or two about how I was feeling that day. It took time but ever-so-slowly, the color came back into my soul. I am a firm believer that writing is cathartic. If you are willing to be honest and write about the messiness, it can save you.

Some of my work during that difficult time later became the seeds for a middle grade novel. I found myself writing a story about a 12-year-old girl named Kestrel (my mom loved birds) whose family travels to Canada after the death of her grandfather to help her grandmother save the family business. For many children, like Kestrel, the loss of a granddaresdontsssparent will be the first time they come face to face with death. Kestrel wants to be there for Grandma Lark (another bird) but isn’t sure how. Is there a right way? A way to help her grandmother heal? Or will she only make things worse? (Sound familiar?) The two begin a journey to find the answers together and, in the process, forge a powerful and lasting bond. MY TOP SECRET DARES AND DONT’S will be released next month from Aladdin MIX.

A few years before my mother passed, she told me she had her first inkling I would be a professional writer when I was seven years old. This surprised me, because we’d had many conversations about my career over the years. “You never said anything to me about it,” I said. “No,” she said. “It was your path to choose, your path to walk.” True enough. She had always supported me, but never steered me. She’d taught me to make my own choices then stepped back and let me do just that – another one of her gems.

Each day, as I sit down to write, I think how blessed I was to have a champion like her. We all need them in our lives. If I can be that for even one young writer than I will have fulfilled my artistic purpose. I think Mom would agree.

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

The giveaway of an Advanced Reviewer Copy (ARC) of MY TOP SECRET DARES & DON’Ts is now over!  Congrats to our winner: LYNN A.

truditrueit2016Trudi Trueit is an award-winning author of more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children. She enjoys giving online presentations and leading writing workshops for elementary through middle school students. Click HERE to find out how you can bring her into your classroom via Skype or Google Hangouts. To read more about Trudi and her books, visit her website at www.truditrueit.com.

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23 thoughts on “Trudi Trueit, Author of the Month: For All the Champions”

  1. So touching, Trudi. What a gift you had in your mom, and what a gift for the world that her presence helped lead you to your passion for writing. This post is a beautiful reminder of how there are gifts in everything, and how writers use those gray times to share universal truths that shed light not just on their own lives but on countless others. Thank you.

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  2. Trudi, such a sweet, touching tribute to your mom. And what a wonderful way to honor her and heal: write a book! I’ve come to realize there were adults outside of my family supporting and looking out for me, even if I didn’t realize it. Teachers, mostly. Band, writing (of course), but two of the most surprising to me as I looked back were a math teacher in elementary school and a gym (!) teacher in junior high. I wish I had thanked them then, but I didn’t see their influence at the time. So glad you and your mom were close and obviously loved and appreciated each other. Can’t wait to read about Kestrel and Lark!

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    1. Thank you, Dana! It’s wonderful to hear that teachers made such a profound impact on you. My husband is a high school teacher and sometimes, when we are out and about a former student will come up to him and say, “You were my favorite teacher. I appreciated all you did for me and I am a better person for it. Thank you.” Often, as we walk away, Bill will say to me, “I had no idea!” We don’t realize that something as simple as a word of encouragement or a kind gesture can make a world of difference in a child’s life.

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  3. I had a very difficult time during my high school because of chronic family troubles, and school became my refuge. Fortunately, I attended a very good school (public, no less!) and some of the teachers there were my biggest champions. One teacher in particular, Mr. Jerry DeBono for 12th grade AP English, pushed, cajoled, and encouraged me to focus, learn and persevere, even through a 20-page paper on “Ode on a Grecian Urn”! During a very dark time in my life, his support and encouragement meant the world to me. I especially remember the big hug he gave me when the AP English test results showed I had received the highest score possible. Unfortunately Mr. DeBono passed away of cancer in 2006, but he will never be forgotten.

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    1. What a wonderful story, Karyn! It’s such a great testament to the power teachers can have in our lives. Just having one in your corner can make a world of difference. I bet Mr. DeBono was so proud of you back then, and something tells me he’d be even more proud of you today (’cause I know how kind, generous, talented, and accomplished you are, I can say that!).

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  4. What a wonderful tribute you wrote. I tribute my father, who died of cancer when I was nine years old. Two comments I especially remember. The first regarded books about which he said, “I’ll buy you all the books you want.” The other was about types of leaders–kings, elected officials, etc. He said, “This country is a democracy. Here YOU could be president.” This was a brave thing to say to a little girl at that time.

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    1. Your dad was a wise and wonderful man, Jeanie. I am so sorry you lost him so young, but it sounds like he left a lasting impression on you and you are a tribute to his legacy. I so love, and agree, with his sentiments about books and being president! Isn’t it incredible to have a champion that sees no limits in you? Thank you for sharing!

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  5. Oh, this touched me. I have been in a creative void for the last 6- 12 months. II haven’t drawn or written anything of substance during this time.
    I had a champion in my wife. She was always encouraging. She supported me at every turn and with every new direction I angled off in. I don’t know if she was the best judge of what I did because she loved everything I did and I loved her for that. Sometimes it just encouragement and positivity from the ones you love that move you. I’m lucky our two sons got that quality from their mother among many of her other wonderful qualities.

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    1. Kevan, I think that is so true. Sometimes, all we need to know is that there is someone in our corner and they are loving us no matter what, and that is enough to keep us going when the creative well feels dry. Hold on. And hang on to the love from your boys. You are amazingly talented and I know you’ll find your spark again. Love, love, love to you and yours.

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  6. I was a single mom, to a blessing baby 10 years after being told I would have no more. My husband left when she was 1st grade and her older siblings were out of the house. So it was me and her. Today she turns 24 and her father was never in her.life from this point on. She calls me her rock, but she is mine also. We made it together, attached at the hip through many highs and lows. Thank you for this opportinity.

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    1. What an inspiration you are, Cheryl! And how blessed your daughter was to have you, and you her. Yep – you’re a great team! Thank you for sharing your beautiful, incredible story.

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  7. My mother Shirley Hassett. She taught me to be independent and to think for myself. My father died when I was 15 years old. My mother showed me how to survive despite adversity and to thrive.

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    1. What a model of courage and love your mom was, Lynn. She, and you, must have had incredible strength to get through such a difficult time. Thanks for sharing. (My mom’s name was Shirley, too – good name!).

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  8. My champions have been those who have challenged me to grow the most – my children. They believed in me when I could not find anything in myself worth saving, much less believing in. They helped me see that being the person they needed WAS enough. They helped me believe that giving them the strength to face the world, then giving them to the world, was a gift for both. The pain I learned from my mother turned to strength in the hands of my children, and I will always be thankful to them for the joys and challenges we loved and lived together.

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    1. Ayshela, you made me tear up! Such a beautiful tribute to your remarkable children and the difference they have made in your journey. Thank you!

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  9. Thanks for this heartfelt and uplifting post, Trudi. Your mom sounds like she was a wise and wonderful person. I agree about struggles giving depth and purpose to our writing. I look forward to reading your new book!

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  10. What a beautiful post, Trudi. I so identify, having experienced my own “gray spirit” period after a difficult loss, wondering if I might stop writing altogether. Time, and baby steps back into writing, absolutely brought me out of it. Oh, and my mom also always said I’d be a writer, despite my confidently (defiantly? hmmm) starting off on a very different path! Can’t wait to read MY TOP SECRET DARES AND DON’TS!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! I think it’s the struggles that give depth and purpose to our writing, even though we might not feel it or see it for ourselves at the time. I’m so glad you became a writer. It’s definitely in your blood (Moms always know this stuff!).

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