1. How did you come up with the title?
Wow. The title, To Sing Frogs was more important than the title of anything else I had ever worked on. The book was written while using several titles that just weren’t right. It wasn’t until I went to write a part about a reunion we were planning for our daughter and her friends when the title blasted off my computer screen. Once I saw that title, there was no going back. Sometimes you find a title in the last place you don’t look for it.
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Very much so. Things don’t need to make sense for them to be beautiful, or to be appreciated. In matters of the heart, some things don’t make sense. Maybe they aren’t supposed to.
3. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I have to say that To Sing Frogs is the best I can do, today. I’m sure that as time goes on and I continue to learn and to experience life, as well as the rest of this incredible true story, I’ll look back and wish I could make some changes. But right now, as we prepare to release this book, it’s the best that I can offer.
4. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For my full-time job, I’m the CEO of an engineering and manufacturing company. I have nine children, three of which are special needs and I have ailing parents who live with us. Trying to find dedicated time to “check out” and write for extended periods of time was really tough.
5. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
From day-one I had decided that all profits from this book would go to help orphans who age out of orphanages. We even decided to self-publish to maximize profits that could go to assist children without parents. Sometimes I wondered if trying to write amid all of life’s challenges was worth it. By the time I finished the last several chapters of To Sing Frogs, as I forced myself to remember those abandoned children—those ones who made me their friend—I learned that children without parents are always worth it, no matter what “it” is.
6. Tell us your latest news.
We have established a 501(C)3 public charity called Ele Lembra (It means “He Remembers” in Portuguese, but I’m afraid you’ll need to read the book for that to make sense). The initial program is working in Tblisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia. The program is designed to help orphans who are aging out of orphanages. During the end of their high school education, we work with high-achieving orphans in an after-school program where they are taught Math, Georgian Language and Literature, Career Planning/Job Seeking Skills, and English. They are also given access to a psychologist to help them with abandonment and self-esteem issues. Then, as these young adults will be eligible for government offered scholarships, we will provide a small stipend to help with living expenses during four years of continuing education.
7. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope To Sing Frogs makes you laugh and I hope it makes you cry. I hope that it makes you think—or better-yet, ponder. Most of all, I hope that To Sing Frogs makes you consider the plight of teens who will age out of orphanage systems and that it compels you to do everything you can to help them.
About the Book
Venture deep into the heart-warming--and heart-wrenching--world of international adoption as John Simmons’ poignant memoir chronicles his family’s personal quest to rescue five children from an impoverished rural Russian orphanage. To Sing Frogs recounts the Simmons family’s journey to discover the true meaning of family, while nurturing Sarah, adopted at age five, through the inner turmoil of survivor’s guilt, having left so many of her closest friends behind at the orphanage.
In his uplifting, yet brutally honest tale, this practical husband and father reveals a deeply moving perspective on the disturbing conditions at the orphanage, his angst over wanting to do more for the children left behind and the awe-inspiring, unshakeable faith and dedication of his wife, Amy. Meanwhile, Sarah’s journey of assimilation to life in America offers readers a unique perspective on the everyday experiences many take for granted, capped off by an unexpected reunion with two best friends from the orphanage she thought she would never see again.
To Sing Frogs offers an intimate glimpse at the transformation within a father’s heart as Simmons struggles to reconcile his practical science and engineering background, where all things are explainable and quantifiable, against the realization that, in matters of the heart, some things simply can’t be explained.
Prices/Formats: $15.99 paperback (with proceeds to benefit charity)
Publisher: White Knight Printing and Publishing
Release Date: June 15, 2013
About the Author
John M. Simmons is the author of The Marvelous Journey Home, 2008 winner of the Utah Best of State Awards- Fiction category. Based on actual events, the novel tells the remarkable story of parents and children coming together. With scenes situated from orphanages in small, remote Russian villages, to Moscow, and finally on to America, readers are taken on a journey around the world. Home is found in distant places, peace is found in unlikely circumstances, and family is always what matters most.
Look for his up coming non-fiction, To Sing Frog, chronicling his Russian adoption experiences in Summer 2013.
John and his wife have adopted both domestically and internationally, with five adopted children from Russia. He has a personal understanding of how the politics of Russian adoption affect those in the process of adopting children, and the impact to the children themselves.
He is the President and CEO of White Knight Fluid Handling, Inc., an engineering company that manufactures pumps for the semiconductor and industrial chemical industries. He is co-owner of fourteen U.S. patents and recipient of several industry awards, including the DuPont Plunkett award, 2011 Utah Manufacturer of the Year Award and the 2012 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.
He lives with his wife, Amy and their children in Kamas, Utah, a small mountain valley east of Park City.
Links to Connect with John:
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