Meryl Ain wrote her first poem in the third grade and has been writing ever since. She is a blogger for Huffington Post and often writes about families, parenting, children, and education. After she lost both her father and mother within a year-and-a-half, she decided to research how others keep alive the memories of their loved ones. She enlisted her husband, Stewart, and her brother, Arthur Fischman, to join her in researching and writing The Living Memories Project, http://thelivingmemoriesproject.com/. Meryl earned a BA from QueensCollege, a MA from ColumbiaUniversityTeachers College, and an Ed.D. from HofstraUniversity. She began her career in education as a social studies teacher before she became an administrator. She and her husband Stewart live on Long Island and have three sons, three daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.
Their latest book she co-authored with Steward Ain and Arthur M. Fischman is the nonfiction, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last.
Visit their website at www.thelivingmemoriesproject.com.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Meryl. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last is my first published book. After my mother died, I enlisted my husband, Stewart Ain, and my brother Arthur Fischman, to join me in finding out how people carry on the memories of their loved ones. The book includes interviews with 32 individuals – celebrities and others – who tell their stories.
In the end, a publisher of a small press chose us. She empathized with our loss and understood our project since her mother was dying while she read our manuscript. She decided immediately to publish it.
Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?
It took about a year and a half.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It made me feel validated, especially because the publisher said it had resonated with her. Many others, who have experienced losses, have since told us that it is exactly the book they were looking for and couldn’t find. I’m hoping that it will be as cathartic and therapeutic for others to read as it was for us to write.
Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I set up a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LivingMemoriesProject and a Twitter account @LivMemoriesProj, https://twitter.com/livmemoriesproj. Then we began working on a website, http://thelivingmemoriesproject.com/. Since then, I have started writing blogs about topics related to the book. My blog was recently featured on Huffington Post’s TED Weekends page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meryl-ain-edd/anderson-cooper-and-liam-_b_4844783.html.
Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?
I think that I have become more bold and courageous about what I write. I am not worried so much about what others are thinking, but about the message I want to send –that It is possible to have a happy life beyond loss. Although I don’t believe in closure (those we love are with us forever), grief can be transformed into meaningful action and living legacies.
Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?
Publishing is a business, and most publishers are not going to take on your project unless there’s a really good expectation of turning a profit. This means that if you’re not a celebrity or already-published author, the odds are stacked pretty heavily against you. We were told that our book was a great idea, that it was well written, and inspirational, but that we just weren’t famous enough to get a book deal. We tried, without success, for two years with two agents who strongly believed in the book. There seems something inherently unfair about someone’s being able to dismiss the product of several years’ work with a tersely worded form letter. Had we not found, through our own connections, a small publisher who got the idea of the book immediately, we might still be sending out query letters.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
People take you and what you have to say much more seriously. I find that a little amusing, since I am still the same person. But the cache of being a published author really helps. It’s also very rewarding that people are approaching us to do programs and speak about the book. Others tell us that they have read the book and because it has inspired them, they are going to buy a copy for a friend or family member they believe would benefit from reading it.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
I would say the following:
Constantly make lists and outlines of your best ideas.
If you have something that you believe is important to say, don’t be afraid to write it.
Your words are not immortal. Keep writing, rewriting and perfecting your work.
Constructive criticism is good, but don’t listen to people who try to discourage you.
Don’t give up. Most people who become successful have piles of rejection letters!