The Very First #Replacement Child?

When you start looking at the origins of the idea of a replacement child, you find some extremely interesting information. It doesn’t all exactly pertain to the story of my memoir, Replacement Child, but the underlying notion of the child born to replace another, who then lives in the shadow the first child, is a theme that has deep resonance for me.

Just recently, I was clued in to a reference in the Torah to possibly the very first replacement child by my diligent stepson, Rami Schwartzer, who is now studying to be a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Here’s what Rami shared with me, that I found to be a fascinating new perspective:

         I was reading through a Torah commentary on last week’s Torah portion, Noah, and the      author of this commentary referred to Noah as the “Dark Residue.” The Torah recounts the 10 generations from Adam to Noah, beginning with Adam and Eve’s little known 3rd son, Seth. This author, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, refers to Seth as a replacement child. He was born after the death of Abel, and forever bore the mark of the tragedy that was Abel’s murder. Interestingly, the Torah chose to make SETH the ancestor of our biblical heroes, not Cain. Why? You might say because Cain was a murderer. Zornberg says it was because people needed to remember what happened. Noah’s generation was one of wickedness (hence, the flood), and Noah himself was witness to that wickedness. He and his lineage are the “dark residue” of the tragedy recorded only briefly in the beginning of genesis, and carried by the lineage of Seth, our first ever replacement child. This offers a unique perspective of replacement child as “dark residue.” It really illustrates the experience of the child whereas other literature might only express the experience of the parents (who, in this case, are silent in the Torah narrative).

Here’s a link to that section of Zornberg’s book, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious:


Self-Published to Traditional #Publishing: The #Book Trailer

it was suggested to me by my publisher, Seal Press, that I consider creating a book trailer for the upcoming release of Replacement Child in March. Take a look and see what you think.


Excited to be Addressing the Westport Writers Workshop

If you are in the area, come join me in this discussion of transitioning to traditional publishing from my start as a self-published author on October 29 at the Westport Writers Workshop.




#Self-Published #Memoir to Traditional: Photo Choices

As I move closer to my publish date for Replacement Child on March 5th (Seal Press), all the details seem to be sweeping in on the fall breeze. I love this time of year, and it calms me just to look out my office window at the orange and gold leaves. Ahhh! Ok, that’s enough relaxation–back to work!

This week was dedicated to sifting through photos for the book and choosing carefully for the eight pages of photos that will be included. I’ve heard from readers of memoir that they love to see the pictures that illuminate a story, so I want to be sure to have the ones that readers will want to see. What kind of photos do you like in your memoirs? And do you look at those first before reading?

It’s so hard to decide.

I want to have pictures of my sister, Donna, who died in the plane crash.

And of my other sister, Linda, who survived against all odds.

Then there are the photos that tell the story of the different relationships within the family. My dad holding Donna and then me, the pictures of Donna and me at the same age. The ones of Linda holding me as a baby, just as Donna had held her. Those are the ones that resonate with me as intricate parts of the story, and that I think readers will want to see. Do you think so?

What makes it a little easier is that I know I can put the remainder of the photos on the Replacement Child website, so readers will be able to find them to dive more deeply into the story.

What’s your thought about photos in memoirs?


A #Mother Rant: Getting through, taking help, letting go

We build our world around our children, many of us mothers, and somewhere around their 13th birthday it dawns on us that they will leave. Which, of course, is our goal. I heard a friend of mine recently lament, “what will happen when my raison d’etre goes to college in a few years?” The short answer to that question is, you will cry. Then he will call you with a crisis. Of the heart. Of the wallet. And he will need you. And you will sigh and take your place again as the mother and FedEx him a brisket.

I remember when my son was an infant and motherhood was exhilarating, exhausting and a trial – sometimes all in the same day. A wise older woman told me that I would be fine.

“Just when you think you can’t stand a stage they are going through, it will end,” she said. “And the surprising part will be that you will miss it.”

Formerly of the 47% — and proud

Having been a single mother for a good many years, those childhood stages included finding good, affordable daycare so that I could work. I interviewed daycare centers for weeks, trying to find one that I felt confident would provide a safe, nurturing environment for my three-year-old. When I found a local center where the people seemed caring, organized and qualified, I was afraid to ask the cost. I tentatively sat in the daycare director’s office and fidgeted with the tassel on my handbag while he looked over my application. He was a big man with a dark beard, a soft voice, and kind eyes.

At the time, I held a part-time job at a college, writing for their alumni magazine, and I also published a small town newspaper. The newspaper kept me up until the wee hours most nights doing layout on the tiny screen of my Mac Plus. Believe me, I couldn’t afford many of the daycare options I preferred. Some were over half of my weekly take home pay. When the director looked up and smiled, I was prepared for a figure that would send me quickly out the door.

“We have a subsidized program that is geared specifically for you,” he said. “It will be $12 a week.”

When he saw my tears welling up, the director shoved a box of tissues toward me, which I gratefully grabbed. That government program saved us. It meant I could work a full day at the college, something they had recently asked me to do. I didn’t feel like a victim. Getting help when I needed it didn’t stop me from holding down two jobs and pursuing a career that would eventually support us. I never, in fact, pursued additional support after the one year I needed assistance to keep my son in daycare, and have always been grateful for that leg up. The experience gave me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise, that perhaps is impossible to have unless you have been in a similar situation. The truth I learned is that sometimes people just need a helping hand in life.

Our shared experience of digging out of a difficult time may be one reason my son chose a profession where he helps people who are in dire circumstances; but I know it often breaks his heart when he can’t fix their lives.

Lately I’ve been thinking how our goals for our children can conflict in some cataclysmic ways. I always hoped my boy would become a caring, sensitive and compassionate man. At 24, he is all of those things, and because of that, I know he is set up for pain. Not to mention that he will eventually lose me too. Which I know, and he doesn’t yet believe.

Face it. We can never win at this mother thing.

I have this vision of myself looking down from heaven (hopefully) and trying to still step in to ease my kid’s life in some way. Whisper in his ear while he sleeps that he should eat a good breakfast, dress warm and take his vitamins. Maybe jolt him from falling asleep at the wheel on a late night home. It won’t be a haunting, per se, just a motherly presence. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to let go even then.