Some of the greatest connections I’ve made come from getting to know the mothers of my sons’ friends. There’s nothing like a room party for a bunch of sugar-infused third graders just minutes away from a long winter break that can create a strong bond between parents. Throw in some end-of-the-year outdoor game days, a grade-school sock hop or two, and field trips riding a bus with middle schoolers playing “truth or dare,” and you may just find the best new friend you’ve had since your own high school days.
Several years ago I met a mom, also a mother of four. I instantly knew she was dazzlingly smart and over-the-top talented. Traci Osborn can do something I’ve always dreamed of being able to do; she can draw and paint with an emotional depth that has literally made me burst into tears. Her painting of a mother protectively holding her infant spoke to me, instantaneously communicating volumes about the inherent strength of a mother’s protective love for her baby. That painting cemented the connection I felt to Traci and the print she gave me of that work is one of my most treasured possessions.
Traci and I have the relaxed sort of friendship that regardless of the distance between meetings, always picks up where we last stopped. When we do get together, I always learn something, have a clearer focus, and leave feeling energized.
Traci has been a great sounding board for me with my growing publishing business. She’s given sage advice in the form of questions (effective mothers can be tricky that way). I have encouraged her to continue to work and focus on her witty, beautiful children’s books. We’ve had robust discussions about how to get our different projects into the world.
So when Traci suggested that Flint Hills Publishing develop a children’s book imprint with her at the helm, I was thrilled. And what could be cuter than “Prairie Dog Press?” We are having our first official business meeting today. There will be clarity as there always should be between business partners, particularly those who are friends. There will also be excitement that is sure to build momentum. It’s that kind of positive energy that will result, I’m more than sure, in bringing beautiful, meaningful work into the world. Children need good books. I’m thankful to have a partner who is so adept at creating them.