FFor more than 20 years, the author, writer and editor of Bend Kim Cooper Findling has devoted herself to a literary journey. From humble beginnings as a freelance writer and blogger, Findling has to date accomplished writing memoir (“Chance of Sun”) and travel guidebook (“Bend, Oregon Daycations”), as editor-in-chief of Bend Magazine for the past three and a half years and by purchasing the small publishing house Dancing Moon Press two and a half years ago.
Now, with the imminent publication of “The Magic Egg” for Mother’s Day, a children’s book from Dancing Moon Press, Findling, 50, will have accomplished another feat: uploading the second of two books featuring the work of one of his daughters.
First, Findling and her eldest daughter Libby, 16, co-wrote the thriller “The Sixth Storm,” published by Dancing Moon Press two years ago. On Sunday, Dancing Moon will release “Magic Egg,” written by Shauna Nicholson-Kelly and illustrated by Findling’s youngest daughter, Maris, 14.
In the book, Nicholas-Kelly shares the story of his difficult journey to start a family, which ultimately came with the help of an egg donor and a surrogate mother. When the time came to illustrate her book The Road to Parenthood, Nicholas-Kelly chose Maris as her illustrator. This may not come as surprising – after all, the publisher is Maris’ mother. But Findling took a less interventionist approach to matching author and illustrator.
“I gave him a portfolio of Maris’s work without saying who it was,” Findling said. “Because I didn’t want her to feel pressured. We had been struggling to find an illustrator, and my husband said, “You know, we live with a pretty amazing illustrator. I was like, ‘Oh damn, but how can I handle this?’ “
She took care of it by letting the author assess the work for herself.
“She loved it,” Findling said. “When she found out it was my daughter, she was actually even more excited because the whole book is kind of a mother-daughter situation. She created it for her own daughter, to explain how she came to be in their family thanks to a surrogate mother and a donor.
Maris grew up painting with his artistic grandmother and told GO! that his participation in the project “was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about graphic design and teamwork, and it helped me feel connected, not only with my family, but with the world of art and writing.
Mother Findling remained busy during those long months of quarantine, revising the 12th edition of Myrna Oakley’s popular “Oregon Off the Beaten Path” guide, due June 1 in the Globe Pequot books.
But this time is special for Findling because of another soon to be published tome that tackles the conundrum of working – or more precisely, writing – from home: “Bad Mommy Bad Writer: Writing from Home while Keeping the Kids Alive ”. June 8 from Dancing Moon Press.
The origins of the book date back to the late 2000s.
“The back story is that I kept a blog during this time,” Findling said. “I was a stay-at-home mom with the girls, but I was really trying to make a career – I was already writing professionally, but I really wanted to publish a book. I started blogging just as a way to lubricate my voice and spread stuff. “
The blog ended up being “a lot of writing about writing,” she said, as well as a lot of parenting and being at home with her daughters. It makes sense that this is where her mind has gone as an emerging writer raising two daughters simultaneously. Staying home with kids while trying to have a full-time career isn’t necessarily an easy match, as a lot of people who didn’t know him learned it quickly this year – but Findling pulled it off.
“People suggested I try to make a book out of it,” Findling said. “I looked at the material a few times and just couldn’t see it. For example, how does it all fit together in a real (book) focused on the plot? Even though this is non-fiction, I certainly believe there has to be a plot arc and all of that, even in non-fiction. So I looked at him and never saw him.
“Probably a year ago, around this time, I just opened this Word document again, and suddenly I could see it,” Findling said. “Partly because we were all home again, I just realized that my entire career and my parenting have always been intimately linked, and I’m not the only one, right? Last year everyone was suddenly living this life.
“I was like, ‘OK, I can see that now. I can see how it could be relatable and even hopefully inspiring too, ”Findling said. “I now know women who take care of young parents and sort of feel that their careers may be dead.”