Mar 19, 2010
Friendly Friday - Carolyn Frank
I’ve always like to write—ever since third grade when I composed my first puerile poem about clouds. In Jr. High and High School I became involved in the school newspaper staff, culminating the experience with my own column, Carolyn’s Corner, in my senior year. I minored in journalism my freshman year at Utah State.
In my first journalism course, my instructor slashed my writing up one side and down the other on a constant basis. Before the semester was over I had decided I must suck at writing. I decided to drop my minor and stick to my major of biology. When I received an “A” in my journalism class, I confronted the teacher and asked him how this could be. He told me that I was a good writer, but he was just preparing me for the real world. What he had done, however, was to kill my passion to write, burying my desire to write so deep that it would not surface again for thirty years. I ended up getting my degree in horticulture.
I then went on an LDS mission to Alberta, Canada. When I came back I completed a M.S. degree in botany at BYU.
While on my mission I was introduced to the world of puppetry by a companion. I have always loved to sew, and often designed my own clothes, so when the need arose for more puppets for a zone meeting, I stepped up to the task and taught myself how to make puppets on my P-days.
While in one area in rural AB, we used puppets and some scripts I wrote to teach the children on an Indian reservation about the dangers of smoking and drinking. (They had problems with the kids doing these things as early as age 5-6). The puppet shows proved to be very effective.
After my mission I got married and started my family, all the while I continued to make puppets and sold them at boutiques, etc.
The demand for my puppets increased. I had to make a decision: either get out of the hobby, or get into the business. I did the latter. I started Puppet Partners Inc. in 1994. My business grew over the next 15 years, taking me to the orient three times and across the U.S. numerous times. I created over a hundred different puppets and a dozen educational scripts. Most of the products I marketed through my company, but I did build the occasional custom puppet for other customers. These customers ranged from Maxim Magazine to the LDS church.
The work I did for the LDS Church was by far my most rewarding. I created and manufactured all of the puppets they currently use in the Health Fairs, as well as the folding portable puppet stage used in their presentations. The Health Fairs basically do the same thing that I did 30 years ago in Alberta on the reservation. Missionaries use the puppets to teach children (and adults) in third world countries about health matters such as the dangers alcohol and tobacco, cleanliness, eating nutritionally, etc.
About four years ago, as part of a neighborhood book club, I read a novel that left me feeling cheated for investing the time. “I can do better than this,” I told myself, and decided to do just that, write a novel. When I told my husband what I wanted to do, he said, “Where did this come from?” He didn’t even know I liked to write. I had forgotten I loved to write. It had taken 30 years for my passion to resurface.
A year ago I sold Puppet Partners Inc. to a competitor in New Jersey, and passed on my custom puppet making portion of the business to a valued employee. I have retained the puppet stage portion of the business and a small online puppet store and operate that out of my home. This allows me more time to pursue my new passion—writing.(You can check out my websites: http://www.puppetorium.com/ and http://www.prestostage.com/ )
I have yet to be published. But I figure if I can wait 30 years to begin writing again, I can wait however long it takes to get published. Only this time I won’t give up so easily.
Carolyn Twede Frank
Thanks for being my guest today, Carolyn. I've enjoyed getting to know you better and can't wait to meet you in person.
My guest next week will be Joyce DiPastena.