Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome guests Traci Hall and Rhonda Pollero



We have another treat today at Top Down. Gifted writers Traci Hall and Rhonda Pollero have agreed to join us to talk about their non fiction book on adoption. I think you're really going to enjoy these two. How about a rousing TopDown welcome, okay? There's a book in it for some lucky poster.

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Forget Thinking Outside the Box - Try a Completely Different Box

Times are tough everywhere and publishing is not immune. So what are two fiction writers to do? Well, how about giving non-fiction a go.

When Traci Hall and I met as new arrivals to Florida, we discovered we had something in common. Adoption. Traci as a birth mom and me (Rhonda) as an adoptive mom. We spent about two years threatening to write a book about adoption that wasn’t sugarcoated, or simplistic, or remotely like any of the gazillion books already on the market. We share a similar sense of humor and we really wanted people to see adoption from the inside of both sides of the process. We also decided that we wanted people to laugh, cry and feel the gauntlet of emotions that are all part of adoption. So that’s how Adoption is Forever was born.

Like the format of the book (which is available on Amazon.com and by special order at your local bookstore), we’re dividing up this post in a kind of she-said/ she-said fashion.


FROM Rhonda Pollero www.rhondapollero.com www.kelseyroberts.net
For me the whole idea of writing non-fiction was far outside my comfort zone. I’d written 30+ romantic suspense novels and was writing the second Finley Tanner novel when Traci and I decided to get serious. The only problem . . . neither one of us is overly serious, so we had to dig deep to find a format that would allow us to share intimate details of our lives while maintaining the one element we knew would make the book salable - incorporating humor. Until we wrote Adoption is Forever, every book on the subject was either a horror story written by an adoptee or birth mom or a sanitized, simplistic approach to building a family through adoption. My husband and I adopted a little girl from Russia. Russia sucks. It’s corrupt, run-down and has zero infrastructure. I have been telling Rhonda Goes to Russia stories since 2000. Yes, I was there on a very serious mission, but c’mon. I’m a pretty high-maintenance woman and they sent me to the nether regions (Kursk) where I ate vile meals and had no electricity and no dish soap. Oh, did I mention they share utensils and plates with their dogs and cats? I spent 18 days living like a heroin addict holding my lighter under ever spoon hoping to kill the cooties. I paid bribes to the Russian mafia - wait . . . I’m supposed to call those ‘gifts to my host country.’ I realized I had a dozens of stories about that experience and some of them were worthy of sharing.


FROM: Traci Hall www.tracihall.com
Hi!! I am so happy to be here! Thanks to all the girls at Riding With The Top Down. Okay – as Rhon mentioned, we have the adoption thing in common – but totally not. Rhon’s story is about a wonderful woman willing to travel the third world in search of motherhood – I didn’t have so noble a cause. Getting knocked up at eighteen isn’t exactly something to flaunt with pride. Yeah, yeah, I was old enough to know better – obviously that didn’t stop me. So writing a book about it…well.I’m forty plus. A professional writer - a mother, a wife. There was a part of me that didn’t want to stir up all those icky feelings. What would people think about me? I’ve grown up (although not too much, lol) since then. But the good the book could do was always on my mind. I would shove the idea down and tell myself “later”. Staying away from the adoption story was like keeping my tongue away from a cracked tooth. I had to tell the story. Back in the Dark Ages, mine was one of the few open adoptions in Spokane. I had to go to a lawyer – and I am still in touch with my birth son and his family. My kids grew up knowing they had an older brother – they played hockey together! We shared birthdays and holidays. I am very, very blessed. I feel that people need to know how to make adoption work – from the birth mom’s point of view.

Rhon and I decided that we will give a signed book to a lucky winner – our call on who has the most insightful comment or question. We encourage them all! This book came about because we each had something unique to talk about – our adoption stories - but common enough that the subject touched almost everyone.

Rhonda: That’s the thing about non-fiction. Almost everyone has something in his or her life worth sharing with the world. I think you have to have a particularly exemplary life to write a memoir, but each of us has some situation or event of interest. So, as you read the grim statistics coming out of the publishing world, consider trying your hand at non-fiction. No one can say yes if you don’t try.

Traci: Hmm. A memoir? Lol. I don’t think being a Guard Mom qualifies as sainthood worthy, but it should. You try being on a bus of horny high schoolers for twelve hours! I kept walking around with a flashlight saying, “Let me see your hands!” Now there’s a story… We all have something that is interesting about us, or that we are particularly good at – other than the fiction writing gig. If a book seems too big, think articles. Maybe you grow blue-ribbon tomatoes with your grandma’s secret for perfect soil – a gardening magazine might want to share that with readers. And pay you for it

I will be checking back in with you all as I fly across the states – Florida to Washington in nine hours but I will answer everyone, I promise!

27 comments:

Kylie said...

Welcome to the convertible, ladies! Your book sounds wonderful and just what the market needs. It's great that you had the fortitude to do it!

Leanne said...

I bought this book and have to say that I'm amazed by how both of you handled. You provided such an intimate portrayal of your feelings and thoughts. So human and real and courageous. Thank you for writing this book!

Playground Monitor said...

My cousin-in-law and her husband who is a news correspondant for CNN adopted twin girls from Russia. I never heard about the Mafia and cooties and sharing your fork with the dog. Oh. My. God!! Obviously the desire to have a child won out over the cootie fear. And thanks for being so open with your story.

Same to you, Traci. And how wonderful that you have contact with your birth son and that your two families have such an open relationship.

Marilyn

Helen Brenna said...

Wow! Welcome to the vert, Traci and Rhonda! This book as well as your journeys sound amazing. It must feel good to know that your stories have most assuredly helped many families deal with adoption issues. Humor can be so healing.

Have you found the theme of adoption coming up in your fiction stories, Rhonda?

lois greiman said...

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I'm so glad to have you here. Adoption is something that really fascinates (and sometimes terrifies) me. I have a friend who has adopted ummmm 3? at risk kids over the age of four. Scary brave thing to do. I'm hoping she'll drop by and share some of her stories with us. They can scare the bejeezus out of us lesser folk.

Thanks, ladies, for joining us.

anne said...

Welcome Rhonda and Traci,
What a fascinating and inspiring post today. It has given me much to think baout and I have learned from your lovely post. I have read this past year about adoptions from a memoir about the Bernstein twins who were separated and only found out about each other. Utterly captivating. Also about the young twin girls in their early twenties who grew up in N.Y. near each other and met. Thanks for this delightful insight and best wishes.

My Writer's Attic said...

I don't have any experience with adoption myself, but I think it's a wonderful option for those who can't have their own children or those who choose adoption over abortion. You guys are awesome for putting your stories out there. I know it's difficult to talk about certain issues in your life. My best friend and I are talking about writing a non-fiction book ourselves; about surviving physical, sexual & mental abuse. Our lives are eerily similar but also so different and we want the world to know that what happened to us did not break us and brought us through to be the women we are today. My question for you guys is How were you able to structure and write your book in such a way that your true feelings came across without bogging the reader down in the seriousness of the situations?

ellie said...

Thanks for being here today. You have opened up an entirely new area for me which is interesting.
It is daunting to say the least to become involved with adoption procedure. How can you become trusting enough to know what you are becoming involved with and whom can be trusted. I have seen various television programs with adults who were reunited with their sibling. So shocking and amazing as well.

Keri Ford said...

Well done, Ladies. I know someone who has adopted two kids. I had no idea and was looking at the kids pictures and commented that the daughter looked just like her (and she did!). She got all teary eyed and told me that was her adopted daughter but everytime she hears that, she can't help but cry.

Traci said...

Hi Keri - I tell Rhonda all the time that Katie has blue eyes just like hers, lol. She just shakes her head and pronounces it a miracle

Traci said...

Kylie - thank you for the convertible welcome!

Traci said...

Hi Leanne! You are a fast reader, girlfriend - thank you so much for your unwavering support (hugs)

Traci said...

Hi marilyn - cooties are icky but a child is worth a lot of ick-factor. As parents, we change diapers, clean dirt with our spit, eat baby food, taste formula...I'm just glad I got local cooties instead of having to travel so far, lol

Traci said...

Hi Lois! Three kids? Your friend deserves a special place in the cosmos. And a raise.

Traci said...

Hi Anne - thank you so much for commenting!

Traci said...

Hello Writers Attic! Rhon is amazing, as we can all attest to - and her organizational skills kick butt. She had an outline - very loose - and we each wrote our own stories following the same sub headers. Humor is necessary in dark times to make it through the day - and it is our hope that we showed the funny parts of our stories as well as the serious stuff. We aren't aiming to cross over into literary fiction...but never say never, lol

Traci said...

Hi Ellie! It is so hard to be trusting with anyone...it requires an act of faith - and possibly a detailed background check, lol. I love the reuniting stories too!

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Traci
Hugs to Rhonda who is under the weather. Feel better soon, girl!

Traci - the book sounds fantastic. You are both to bright and funny and I just know you've covered a delicate and emotional subject with wit, empathy and charm.
And you're very brave to share your stories with us

Kathleen Eagle said...

Traci and Rhonda, welcome!

I've thought about non-fiction, digging deep on a couple of different topics. I think you have to be ready. I just read a terrific memoir by Richard Cohen called BLINDSIDED about living with chronic illness. He's had MS since he was in his mid-twenties. It's an outstanding book, mainly because he's an excellent writer (journalism background, TV and print) but also because he dug really deep. That takes real courage. I admire you both for doing the same.

This is such a wonderful topic. I think we've got some seriously tangled up threads in our social fabric when it comes to becoming parents. Adoption makes so much more sense to me than the "fertility industry." As a culture we've opted for nuclear family over extended family identification, which might be why people are desperate to have "their own" children. But I agree with the notion that it takes a village, and if we we have a global economy now, let's all pitch in and take care of the children.

Amy J. Fetzer said...

I love this book. Its intimate, poignant and funny. SO well done Rhon and Traci. KUDOS!
I think it screams to be made into a Hallmark movie! Even if you haven't bee touched by the subject(but who hasn't?) you will be touched by this book. Beautifully handled.

Traci said...

Thanks for the welcome, Cindy. We miss poor Rhon, but hopefully she will be better soon. OMG. There is snow on the ground here and it is 17 degrees.
Agh!

Traci said...

Hi Amy - thank you ((hugs)) having great friends who you know will still love you - warts and all - made it easier to come out with this story - everyone has been incredibly supportive, and I am super uber duper grateful!

Traci said...

Hi Kathleen - family is such a hot topic - it will be interesting to see if the economy creates a tighter family unit. I saw a commercial where a young 'tween' girl was talking about game night and popped corn versus going to the movies and getting the combo with candy.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Traci, I'm looking at my comment and realizing I maybe didn't make it clear that I think adoption is a loving option for birth mother and adoptive parents both. In the situation you describe, the way I see it, you created an extended family. I think open adoption is a good thing--about time we opened our minds and hearts to a kinder, non-judgmental way of doing things. Thank you for telling your story.

Rhonda Pollero said...

Thank you all for the wonderful welcome!!! My Strep and I are sorry for my tardiness. Have I ever used the adoption theme in fiction? Absolutely. Ironically I always wrote adoptive parents in a positive light and avoided the cliche of the evil adoptive family. Maybe that was because my sister was an adoptive mom or maybe it was because I have many adult friends who are adoptees and they have great lives. One friend did track down her birth mom and instead of the hearts and flowers she was hoping for, she got dissed and rejected. Needless to say, she was crushed. My hat is off to Traci (and yes, she insists my daughter's hazel eyes are blue but I still love her) for her decision. It took a lot of guts to do what she did. Wise beyond her years.

Rhondas

Cindy Gerard said...

So glad you're feeling better Rhon. Thanks to both you and Traci for being here.

Traci said...

Thank you so much for having us! And thanks for clarifying, Kathleen - although I probably just went off on a jet lag tangent and the confusion was no fault of yours, lol

The cruise was great on Riding with the Top Down!!