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I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Glenda Faison-Crawford

Writing what she knows

hudson valley parent glenda faison-crawford

Glenda Faison-Crawford of Newburgh dreamed of being a published author since she was in high school when she wrote romance stories for her friends to read, but a string of early rejections led her to put that dream on the back burner. Then she spoke to a friend of hers whose memoir had just been published.

“My friend asked me how many times I had been rejected,” Faison-Crawford recalled. “I told her about seven or eight times. She looked at me and said ‘Try 43 times. So don’t give up.’”

Encouraged, Faison-Crawford began working on new material. Her first book, The Adventures of Pumpkin Jackson, was published last year by Welstar Publications and is aimed at tween readers.

“People always say ‘Write what you know,’” Faison-Crawford says. “Well, my dad was in the army for 29 years, so I moved around a lot and had a lot of adventures.”

Fact into fiction
Pumpkin Jackson, the 10-year-old female protagonist, is partially based on Faison-Crawford’s 10-year-old daughter, Alex, as well as the many children that Faison-Crawford has met working as a teaching assistant in the Newburgh school district’s elementary schools for 17 years.

“Working at school, and becoming a mother, I see what little kids go through,” she says, “especially little girls. I see how they fuss about things that seem so huge to them. I try to teach them to put a positive spin on things that come up at school. Point out the positives first, because that can help with some of the negatives.”

But for the most part, Pumpkin is based on herself. Like Faison-Crawford, Pumpkin’s dad is in the army and her family moves around a lot so she’s always the new kid in school. On Pumpkin’s first day at Memorial Park Elementary, she falls in with a group of girls who turn out to be a notorious gang of bullies.

“One time, I began following along with some friends who were harassing this one girl and bullying her,” she said. “We got in trouble, and my parents made it very clear that we’re a Christian household and they didn’t raise me that way. That following school year, that same girl we harassed [and] I became very good friends. After that, I became the person who would stick up for other people.”

Pumpkin, on the other hand, turns to her parents for advice right away - a trait that Faison-Crawford tries to instill in her own daughter. She said that one of her biggest challenges as a parent has been convincing Alex that, as crazy as it may seem, she was once a child, too, and she struggled with the exact same issues that Alex and her friends do.

“I try to let her know that Mommy’s been down this path before, and you’re going to be ok,” she says. “Although, I have to laugh, because I remember that my mother had to say the same thing to me, so now I’m getting it back.”

back to school

Summer’s not just for kids
As a mom and a teacher, she’ll never run out of inspiration.

“I see kids today always arguing, fighting, and even hurting one another,” she says. “So the next one’s about how to communicate with someone you don’t get along with or agree with.”

As to how she manages to juggle parenting, teaching, and writing, Faison-Crawford says that she prioritizes.

“I just put in the work whenever I can,” she says. Unlike her husband Vince, an Air Force veteran who prefers quiet when he’s trying to concentrate, she said she’s learned to tolerate whatever distractions she has to deal with in order to write, even if it’s a noisy TV.

But there are other advantages for being a writer who works in education, besides the endless sources of inspiration. With summer in full-swing, her family considers the break a time for calmer activities.

“I’m looking forward to really having time to dive into working on the next book,” she says.

Brian PJ Cronin is a freelance writer whose work appears throughout the Hudson Valley.

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