MA: I’m delighted to introduce today’s guest-blogger, children’s book author, Susan Crites. Susan lives in Warrenton, VA (a town with which I am familiar from my assignments to the northern Virginia region) with Jeff, her husband of over 15 years, and two dogs: Emma (a ten-year-old blond mutt from the SPCA) and Sophie (a two-year-old Shiba Inu, also a rescue). Susan has a Bachelor of Science in Business with a double major in Economics from Mary Washington College 1991 (now University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA). Her first book is I Love You More than Rainbows.
Welcome, Susan. Please tell us why you chose to write I Love You More than Rainbows.
SC: I’ve always loved children’s books, but hadn’t ever really thought to write one to be published. If I wrote one, it would be for fun, but the idea of seriously writing was suggested by my husband. I’ve spent so much time with children of all ages and love being with them that he knew I’d have a flurry of ideas if I put pen to paper. Sure enough I did and it’s been fun, fulfilling and has expanded my horizons to an area that I never considered to be a strength of mine. I wanted to put values and life lessons into words for children and I wanted them to learn and grow while enjoying a fun story.
MA: I think that’s real nice how you transformed the values you hold so dear, and the clear love you have for children, into a book. But it’s not just a book for children, is it?
SC: I Love You More Than Rainbows is a book that helps an adult express the depth of the love they have for the little ones in their lives using fun and every day joys a child experiences with fun and flowing rhymes and vivid illustrations. Using some of the tangible things children find fun and exciting allows them to grasp the abstract concept of love and wrap their minds around it. For example, one of the rhymes states, “I love you more than ice cream with sprinkles on the top, or jumping into the pool with a great big belly flop!” The result is a light bulb turning on in a child’s mind. They can put the pieces together and come up with the desired result. “I love ice cream with sprinkles! It’s one of my favorite treats and I’m loved more than that?” The abstract has now become tangible and the concept is understood by a young mind.
MA: When we were setting up this interview, I shared with you a story about how I expressed my love to my daughter as far back as when she was three or four years old. I told her I had asked God to send me his best angel, and he did so in her. She’s almost 16 years old now and still remembers that story, and it still makes her melt. I think what you have done with your book is a great approach parents can take to helping their children understand love.
SC: As parents read my book to their children, it allows them to stop and savor the simple joys of life and helps them step back into childhood. My book is merely a launching pad for them to share joys with their children. I have parent after parent tell me they and their children use all sorts of comparisons to express how much they love each other. It creates a bond and both the child and the parent remember those words “I love you more than . . .” now and years down the road.
Even as life seems to grow busier as time goes by, there are always opportunities for parents to tell and more importantly, show their children how much they’re loved whether they’re together or apart.
MA: How so?
SC: Writing a simple sweet note on a sticky pad and putting it on the bathroom mirror so they see it when they wake up or head to bed can put a smile on a child’s face. They can write things they love about their child’s character – honesty, kindness, etc. that not only makes the child feel good, but it encourages them to keep it up. They can take a photo together and let the child keep it with them or put in a special place. It can be from a place the parent and child went together, being at home, being silly together, whatever. Time, even in small quantities, makes a huge impact on children. Turn off the cell phones, TV, video games, etc. and do something together. It can be as simple as listening to them. A parent can learn a lot about their child’s life that they can’t be a part of, such as when a parent is at work, the child is at school, etc. if they just take the time to ask questions and truly listen. Even better, follow up on those difficult areas and see if they’re getting easier for the child. A child needs love, structure and guidance to thrive. Spending time with them will provide that.
MA: You must have a special temperament, a way of seeing the world that helped shape your approach to I Love You More than Rainbows.
SC: I’ve always loved the simple things in life and have always been one to stop and watch a sunset, swing at the playground, enjoy nature on a walk, spend time being a kid again with the kids in my life, etc. so it was easy for me to pull from my life what brings a child joy. The desire to help a child understand how much they’re loved was a goal for my book because I don’t think they can hear it enough. It makes them feel safe and gives them confidence and security. For a child to know he / she is special to someone is priceless and makes a huge impact on a young life. It carries them through life’s valleys and I see time and again how a simple hug and “I think you’re so special,” can make a child’s face light up. Especially after I sustained a brain injury years ago, the love of God was even more evident to me as I experienced His Sovereign hand keeping me safe. It was something I had to share with others.
MA: Is I Love You More than Rainbows the end of your writing ambitions, or will we be hearing from Susan Crites in the future?
SC: I love to write and keep a notebook of ideas to pull from. I have several manuscripts that I’d feel comfortable sending out to a publisher or agent and will keep working on the others. If my manuscripts turn into published books, I’ll be thrilled, for each one shares a life lesson for both the reader and listener that I think our busy lives can sometimes overlook. If I stay a one book author, I’ll still be pleased because of the impact I Love You More Than Rainbows has made on so many lives, including mine. For that to be recognized by the Mom’s Choice Awards was absolute icing on the cake for me. What an honor! The greatest honor, though, is to see the smiles and hear the giggles and excitement when my book is read.
MA: Well said, kudos to you for the award, and thanks for being my guest today. Please visit Susan’s website and friend her on FaceBook: www.susancrites.com, facebook.com/authorsusanecrites.