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Thursday, 20 December 2007
Getting to Know Mary Jo Reed
Topic: Author Interview
Mary Jo Reed The person
1.  Compassionate, spiritual, and optimistic are the three words I would choose to describe myself.
2.   Others might see me as humurous, outgoing, and positive-thinking.
3.  I am most passionate about making others happy.
4.  My pets are extremely important to me. Libby, my cat, is a nine year old grey and white whirlwind.  She does not make up to new people very well, but she is often my shadow.  Being independent as felines are, she comes "visiting" when she feels the time is right. She often sits on my lap as I type at the computer.
Zip, my 10 year old Border Colllie, is the canine "love of my life."  He is always near me. If I get to running about the house too much, he plops down in the hallway, so he can see what I am doing.  I take him to agility classes where he excels, and we must walk and play ball every day.  These things are good for me, too.  You always hear that dogs give unconditional love to humans; he does that--in spades.
5.  Seeing my first grandchild for the first time is my most precious memory. She has brought nothing but joy into my life.
6. When I was in 9th grade, we wore stiff petticoats under our skirts.  As I walked into study hall, mine started to slip.  Yikes!!
I did this kind of duck-walk, so it wouldn't fall completely off, and then went to the restroom as soon as I could.
7.  This is a hard question, for I taught English to 9th and 10th graders for 30 years before retiring in 2000. I always enjoyed writing for myself and my students, but never thought of writing a book. Writing the book has been an unexpected gift.
8.  Mary Jo Teele Reed, age 105 died peacefully with her family around her.  She taught English in the Muscatine School District for 30 years and loved every minute of it.
She enjoyed reading, gardening, traveling, scrapbooking, and being with her family.  She retired in 2000 and began doing volunteer work at the Senior Resources agency in Muscatine.
Among other things, she taught creative writing to senior citizens.
After a series of "coincidences," and help from friends of her mother's, she wrote a biography of her mother and her place in the quiliting community.  She self-published the book and did her own marketing.  When she held the book in her hands for the first time, she said that she felt she had given birth to a 4th child.  She often said she felt like she was  being led on a guided tour, for the necessary things for writing the book often just fell into place. However, it was a struggle, emotionally, but she always smiled and said she would not have missed the opportunity for the world.  She perceived the writing of the book as a gift.  We will miss her optimistic attitude and her joy for life.  She leaves two daughters, Renee and Colette, and one grandchild, Katelyn.  She was preceded in death by her parents and her daughter, Denise.
Mary Jo Reed The writer
These questions don't really apply to me as well as they might to others. Writing to publish will probably be a one-time deal for me.  Even though friends suggest I write another, I doubt that will happen.  I always have kept a journal and written little stories and songs for my granddaughter.  I will, of course, keep doing these things.
When I finally decided I would write the bio about Mother, I had an overwhelming amount of information.  First, I had to decide how I would write the book, and I choose to do it chronologically.  I sorted info by years and put the material for each year in a folder.  Some days, I would work all day.  Other days, I would not work at all. Sometimes, it seemed a nightmare of organization.  I kept finding more pictures of quilts, so I had to add an appendix.  This was great.
I always told my students to write what they knew about and write in a conversational tone.  My mother had a great sense of humor, and luckily she passed that on to me. My writing reflects my sense of humor when appropriate.   I didn't want to come up with some boring, facts only biography, and readers have told me that that did not happen.
A famous lady in quilting said that my book was the type that could only be written by a daughter. I take that as a huge compliment.
In fifty years, I hope people will still see the love, respect, and admiration shining through my words about my mother.  I hope that they see it as the tribute to her as it was meant to be.
Mary Jo Reed The details.
I have not yet set up a website or blog, but I do plan to do that in the future.  Readers could reach me at my email addy.
MATERIAL PLEASURES is my first book.
Anyone, I hope, who reads my book will recognize the talent of my mother, enjoy the pictures of her unique quilts, and get a sense of the life that she led.
In Conclusion
As a retired  English teacher, I really didn't plan to do anything REALLY creative, just continue to enjoy life.  When the opportunity came to write the book about Mother, I was overwhelmed, at first, but since I taught writing, I was not worried about that angle.  I had so much help from friends and family which made it easy to get started.  I look upon the writing of the book as a gift.  I always knew my mother had a passion for quilting, but I learned just how deep that passion really was. Mother and I were very close, but I learned so much more as I wrote the book.  If anyone has an opportuniy such as I did, go for it!!  It has been and continues to be one of the best experiences of my life.

Posted by joyceanthony at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 20 December 2007 10:32 AM EST
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