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So, if I had to list the top ten reasons why I am published, Lisa Schroeder would fill about three spots. Lisa and I met on a writers board four or five years ago and exchanged manuscripts. After we both laid those stories to rest, she wrote me periodically to check and see what else I was doing. She was agented and published well before me, but she always treated me like I was a bonafide writer, like it was just a matter of time, like I was legit. She believed in me, so I did too. When I got a rejection, I would email Lisa with subject lines like: WHYYYYYYY and she would give my hand a cyber-squeeze. She was the person who insisted I finish PRINCESS FOR HIRE. Lisa has been a mentor and a friend, and so I'm very happy to have this person who has had such an impact on me here today.
A few months ago, a woman named Teresa e-mailed me, telling me she had run across my blog and wanted to know if I had ever made the playlist for Chasing Brooklyn like I had said I’d do ( the one referenced in the book, JOY, NOT SORROW). When I replied back that I hadn’t done it yet, she sent a message back and said she was in the process of making up a playlist for her teen daughter, Hailee, who had just lost her best friend in a car accident.
We had some more back and forth, and my heart really hurt for her and her daughter. I mean, I’m a mother. I know how hard it must have been to watch her daughter be in that much pain.
For a good day or so, I debated about whether or not I should offer to send a copy of my book I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME to her daughter. I wanted to, but part of me was going – come on, Lisa. You think something like your silly little book can help this poor girl? But something kept nagging at me to do it. And I told myself I’ve had teens tell me the book did help them to not feel so alone in their grief.
I finally decided it never hurts to be kind, so I e-mailed her again, and offered to send it to Hailee. She was touched by my gesture and said to go ahead and send it, and gave me her address. I ended up sending CHASING BROOKLYN as well, each with a heartfelt message inside for Hailee.
Turns out, Teresa is a librarian at a high school. I didn’t know this when I offered to send the books to her daughter. And she hadn’t read my books. When the package arrived, Teresa opened it and started reading them. She knew Hailee might not be ready to read them for awhile, because they are somewhat sad. After reading them, Teresa ordered them for her library and began to share them with students and teachers at her school, because Hailee wasn’t the only one dealing with the pain of losing a beloved friend. The whole school was grieving.
In a blog post, Teresa wrote: “At this moment, I can honestly say that Lisa Schroeder’s books are the most requested books in my library. Kids who NEVER, and I mean NEVER read on purpose, just because they want to, are asking for more from her. Her books are a salve for the souls and emotions of people who are dealing with loss and grief.”
Soon, I started receiving wonderful notes from readers at Teresa’s school, telling me how my books helped them.
Now, I hesitated sharing this story because I know most people are going to talk about how certain gestures have impacted their lives, because to shine the light on yourself can be viewed as rather, um, self-centered? Egotistical? And it sounds like I’m telling everyone how great my books are. ACK!
But I promise, that’s not the point I’m trying to make!! There’s another, bigger, better, MUCH more important point, and it’s at the heart of why I believe we must reach out and offer a hand to someone when the opportunity presents itself. WE NEVER KNOW HOW FAR A KIND GESTURE WILL REACH, OR HOW MANY PEOPLE IT WILL TOUCH.
I really didn’t do much. I mean, I sent a couple of books to a girl. That’s it. But the universe is a funny thing. It takes the gift received, and multiplies it.
We all can’t be Oprah. We don’t have the ability to impact millions of lives like she does. But that’s okay. No gesture is too small, no act of kindness too inconsequential. Each day, we just need to do what we can. And then we can stand back and watch in awe, like I did with Teresa and Pettus High School, as the universe does the rest.
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Lisa Schroeder is a native Oregonian, which means her childhood summers were spent camping, fishing, reading books (of course!), and playing in the sun, when it finally came out. These days, Lisa spends her summers, and every other part of the year, sharing all the wonderful things Oregon has to offer with her husband and two sons. She is the author of three verse novels for young adults published by Simon Pulse - I Heart You, You Haunt Me, an ALA 2009 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Far From You, a Texas TAYSHAS selection, and Chasing Brooklyn. She is also the author of It's Raining Cupcakes, a middle-grade novel published by Aladdin.