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Ezra Klein's powerfully pointed Washington Post column this morning has stayed with me all day. The piece digs into a portion of Romney's video-taped statement which immediately bothered me most, but has gotten less mainstream press than other bits.

“The worst of Romney’s now-infamous comments about “the 47 percent” came in this couplet: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

I've read plenty of other great responses to Romney's 47% remarks but this bit resonated with me something fierce:

“The poor use up an enormous amount of their mental energy just getting by. They’re not dumber or lazier or more interested in being dependent on the government. They’re just cognitively exhausted.”

Today was one of those Big Picture days where I unintentionally got a glimpse of my family's future, and felt sick with dread. Enduring insecurity is paralyzing and I do my damnedest not to focus on it but after three and a half years, the toll it has taken on us is indescribable. On days like this one, I am quite honestly mystified as to how we've even made it this far without giving up altogether.

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I am totally over the moon for My Family!™ a company founded in 2010 by Monica and Cheril Bey-Clarke to address the needs of children in the LGBT community. In an effort to spread the word about their books, I asked Cheril to whip a little something up for me to share with you and she consented, resulting in the following interview with My Family!™ author Claudia Eicker-Harris. (Make sure you check out the endnote for this post to get the discount code for My Family!™ products offered especially for Laurustina.com readers.)

1.       Your new book Freddy and Frieda’s Traveling Tales targets babies to pre-school aged children. What is it that attracted you to writing for this group? They are so open and accepting when they’re little and when they start asking questions they want honest, straightforward answers. As long as you tell them the truth, they’re happy with your answers. I think it’s this simple honesty that I love and that I have tried to reflect in the book.

2.       What do you think motivates children to read? I think children (and all humans actually) have an inherent thirst for knowledge and want to be independent thinkers. Reading gives them the freedom to choose, the freedom to learn and to think for themselves.

3.       Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication with My Family? I initially self-published ‘Meet the Families’ on Kindle as ‘I know Children’ under a pseudonym. I then sent the link to a few LGBT sites to get some publicity and to see what the reception was like. My Family picked it up and contacted me to see if I could get them in touch with the author, which was actually me! We bonded immediately and we haven’t looked back since! It’s been really amazing to work with such like-minded people who are so enthusiastic about my work as well as theirs.

4.       What is Freddy and Frieda’s Traveling Tales about? The series about two field mice who travel the world in the author’s (my) luggage and meet all sorts of children and families. They are totally non-judgmental and merely state facts and tell us who they have met. In this way they introduce children and adults to a variety of families in a simple and non-biased way.

5.       Do you anticipate writing for older age groups? Yes, but probably not for adults.

6.       How do you think books that showcase children with a trans parent help children understand? I think books like this will give parents an opportunity to open the doors to discussion. Very young children may not necessarily walk away with a full understanding, but will certainly have a foundation of knowledge and insight on which to build their future understanding. Even if they don’t understand, children will begin the all-important journey to acceptance.  

7.       Do transgender people still struggle more than others in the South African LGBT community? There are very few publicly transgender people. Generally they keep to their own communities. I think it is very difficult for them to integrate into broader society.

8.       When did you first realize you wanted to write LGBT-inclusive books for children? It’s not very unique, I’m afraid. I’ve always been a writer, but until my wife gave birth to our baby girl, Eva, I hadn’t ever written for children, only for corporate companies and for theatre. I started telling Eva stories at night and I realised that they had an effect on her; when her friends started listening to the stories and enjoying them too, I decided to start writing them down.

9.       Do you have a job outside of writing children’s books or is this the only work you do? This is all I do now, although I do write, edit and proofread educational text books, which I still see as children’s literature. I love doing both! I am still a partner in Creative Directions – the event company that my wife and I started 11 years ago, but am not actively involved in the day to day running of the business.

10.    Where can our readers find out more about you? www.claudiaeicker-harris.com

My Family's array of multi-cultural products give children of same-sex parents a sense of normalcy, while promoting the celebration of our differences and the importance of family values. For a limited time (through July 31st) Laurustina.com readers can receive a 20% discount on My Family!™ products (including free shipping within the continental US) by entering the promo code "trans". I especially love their coloring books . I encourage you to check out their site, share it with other LGBT families and support their vision by adding some of their books to your shelves.

MOE On Ice

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I'm back on ice packs and ibuprofen in an attempt to manage the pain in my wrist and elbow. Technically it's considered Tennis Elbow, though I prefer to think of it as MOE (Mouse Overuse Elbow). It comes and goes with some regularity ever since the great Mafia Wars injury in the Summer of 2009 when my hand swelled up like a balloon after I discovered that mindless button-smashing games are a great distraction from grief. This time though, it's simply the scroll-pad on my laptop that caused the flare up. Too much perusing of the internet(s) instead of simply writing, which bothers my wrist less.

I'll be mostly off-line for the rest of the week, but checking in here and there because I can't stand not to. Hopefully though I'll get some work done as deadlines approach (self-imposed and otherwise). In the meantime, there's all kinds of stuff going on over at Sweet Banana Ink, including a Friday Night Flash Fiction challenge that anyone and everyone can get in on.  

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"In the fourth grade, I wrote an essay about how my favorite place on earth was my grandfather's horse ranch with its sprawling groves of trees and winding streams. I remember feeling particularly brilliant as I wrote that essay, inventing this entirely fictional haven on wide-lined sheets of soft brown paper. My mother remembers being particularly horrified when the essay came home with a big fat A on it, as she was unaware that I had become such a boldfaced liar…"

Come on over to Sweet Banana Ink to read the rest of this piece and check out the new Community Writing Project digs. 

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I am all a flutter with the news that Sweet Banana Ink goes live today. The brainchild of my sister Bullish, it is intended to be a place to celebrate writers and the written word. "A place where writers can share their thoughts on the craft, and be part of a writing community regardless of genre, discipline or accumulated word count." I am excited to join Bullish and our beloved Bliss in fostering this space and making it a place where writers of all kinds can come together and engage in the creative process. Sweet Banana Ink will have fresh content three days a week and a variety of ways to get involved if the mood strikes. I'll be hosting the conversation each Wednesday so if you can't find me here, you're welcome to pop on over there. We'll be looking for contributors and guest writers, so be sure to check out the "Participate" page if you're the writerly type. If not, feel free to lurk with impunity.