Growing up I loved to write stories and I was actually pretty good at it. But, I was a terrible test taker. Reading comprehension was always hard. My eyes would go over the words but the meaning wouldn’t get to my brain. So, I told myself that I just wasn't that smart and I stopped writing.
As I got older, I started writing notes, lots of notes, about all of the things that I needed to remember and understand. My hand would get cramped but it helped with my comprehension. It reminded me that I liked to write. So I started writing again.
Even now, when I read or have to take a test, I re-read things several times, and I take notes on the side.
It took me a long time to realize that I was smart but just had to do things differently because my brain worked a little differently. And that is OK!!
Alex and me
My first book, A Thirst for Home, took five years to write . I wrote, edited and revised the story so many times that I lost count. It was rejected by dozens and dozens of publishers. One publisher actually told me I was a terrible writer! I was going to give up.
But one night my son Alex told me he just read this great book called Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. He said, “The story was rejected by publishers over fifty times, but the author never gave up. And it is a Newberry Award winner.” Then he said, “Mom, don’t give up.”
So I kept revising and editing to make the story better until one day a publisher liked it. Alex was right. If I had given up after all of those rejections and the opinion of that one editor, I wouldn’t have a book that was chosen as a Notable Social Studies Book Honoree.
My second book, The Purple Pail, took many years to write and for the story to evolve. It was also rejected many many times. But I just loved it so much that I kept trying. I am glad I did. So…..if I can write and publish a book, you can too! Never give up!
Also about me
My grandmother Croce was three years old when she came to New York from Sicily aboard a ship named The Patria.
She was with her mother Luigina. Luigina was my great grandmother. She was in search of a better life.
I am very proud of my Sicilian heritage and the sacrifices Luigina made. It was a very hard journey for her.
My youngest daughter Eva Alemitu was born in Ethiopia. She is also proud of her heritage. And I am lucky to be connected to such a beautiful country through her.
We live in a colorful and diverse world, and I love it all. It inspires me to write the stories I write.
What is your heritage? What makes you special? What are you going to write about?
My great grandmother Luigina
Visiting family in Ethiopia