Breaking News!!

Otherwise-Sensible Mother Sleeps with Strangers, Endangers Young Family
Columbus, OH (AP) August 4

If sources are to be believed, Columbus resident Marla Taviano and her family have accomplished a feat that, to our knowledge, has never even been attempted by another human being (for obvious reasons).

From August 1 last to August 1 three days ago, this adventurous five-some visited 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks. (No, this is not a misprint.) Over the course of a year, world-traveler-wanna-be Taviano, her husband and their three young daughters drove from New York to Florida to Texas to California and 27 states in between—a whopping 22,000 miles—to “visit animals that hail from all corners of the globe.”

But folks, that’s not the half of it. Instead of taking the conventional (read: normal, rational, reasonable, safe) hotel route, they stayed in the homes of 31 different families. And here’s the clincher: 17 of those families were complete strangers that Taviano met online.

Why in tarnation this seemingly-normal, law-abiding wife and mother compromised her family’s safety and well-being by entering the homes/eating the food/sleeping in the beds of random persons she met through her “blog,” we may never know.

When asked this very question by the Times’ own Harper Hooper, Taviano tempered her response with what can only be described as a smirk, “I didn’t fear for my family’s lives for a minute. Quite the contrary. We met some of the most incredible people, and I’m totally convinced that God himself orchestrated every last bit of it. I could write a book about the amazing, gorgeous, generous, fabulous people we’ve met in the past year. Were our tactics a bit unconventional? Sure. Would we have had the guts to attempt something like this five years ago? Heavens, no. Call us crazy, but we’re not certifiable.”

Most would beg to differ. When asked if she’s been hiding under a rock, oblivious to recent reports of internet stalkers and pedophiles, Taviano replied (with her customary smirk), “Oh, I’m not discounting all of that horror. Not for a minute. Those stories are sickening and heart-wrenching. The internet gets a bad rap for that very reason, but there’s this huge positive side to the world wide web as well. Communities of people sharing their lives with each other, offering advice and encouragement, living out their faith together, becoming a part of each other’s stories…”

But surely she can’t insist with a clear conscience that there was no risk involved in what she dragged her poor, helpless family into.

“Well, of course there’s risk,” Taviano smirked. “There’s always risk when you step out into the unknown. But what kind of life is a life without risks? And I was confident that I knew the hearts of these families and that their motives were pure, even if we’d only ever met online. I’ve found the internet to be a beautiful place. The friendships I’ve formed through this medium are ones I’ll treasure for a lifetime.”

Despite the absolute absurdity of her claims, Taviano spoke with uncanny conviction. Could there possibly be some inkling of truth to what she’s saying? The Times has its top reporters on the case even now. Is Taviano just an out-of-the-box thinker? Or, as we suspect, another nutcase off her ever-lovin’ rocker?

To be continued…

Marla here. I’m supposed to be blogging today about “something non-fiction.” So I decided to show instead of tell. The newspaper article above is made up. Except it’s not fiction. Because the whole 52 Zoos in 52 Weeks thing is true. So whatever that’s called. Creative non-fiction perhaps? Memoir-with-liberties? Anyway. The rest of the story coming soon to an e-book near you.

The Moral of the Tale? The best way to keep your non-fiction as interesting as fiction = live a story worth writing about.

I’m dying to know: what adventures have you lived that you’re hoping to put into words?

Post Author: Marla Taviano

 Marla Taviano—a lover of words, Scrabble tiles, and giraffes—dreams of traveling the globe with her web-guru husband and their three young daughters. The author of six books, Marla writes and speaks on enticing topics like sex, loving the poor, and how to visit 52 zoos in 52 weeks on a shoestring. Her heart breaks for those in poverty/slavery around the world, and she wants to use her platform to ease their suffering. Marla lives in Columbus, Ohio and met her Wonder Agent, Rachelle Gardner, at a Starbucks by the Denver Zoo in 2009.

38 thoughts on “Breaking News!!

  1. Pingback: Marla Taviano » plan g

  2. What a fun post, Marla! I love how your voice shines through and how you “showed” us what infusing a non-fiction piece with fiction techniques can do for an article. I remember learning that very thing in my journalism classes in college.

    My adventures? One of my biggest was when my hubby and I lived in Germany for four years. And not just any years. The two leading up to the fall of The Wall and the two after, when Eastern Europe threw off the yoke of communism. Talk about watching history in the making!

      • Marla, my Taco Bell addiction began in my teens. Living in Germany where there were no Taco Bells for four and a half years was tough. I suffered serious withdrawal for the first few months. LOL

  3. So. Not. Fair.
    I want the rest of the story.
    I want fun photos of the five-some frolicking at the 52 zoos with animals. (I had some alliteration going there at first, but hey, it’s late … No way I could think of all the animals with names starting with “f” or “ph”.)
    Marla, I used to live and write in the nonfiction side of the writing world before crossing over to the Dark Side, aka fiction. The greatest adventure I wrote about was completely unexpected. Isn’t that always the way it goes? My late-in-life pregnancy at 41–the one where my doctor husband kept saying, “Well, we know you’re not pregnant!” — led to a book contract. As the then-mom of three teens, I hadn’t planned on a “caboose kiddo” and I’d never planned on writing a book. And, yeah, I’ve never let my husband forget his missed call on that diagnosis either. LOL.
    Can’t wait for your e-book!

    • Oh my, Beth. You’re scaring me. In 6 years, I’ll be 41, and my girls will be 16, 15, and 11. Eek! What a cool story though!

      I forgot to link to our 52 Zoos site in the post (I’ll go back and edit that), so here are some frolicking fivesome fotos for you.

      • Thank you for the photos … and, oh, yeah, pointing out that you are younger than me. Slipped that in so slyly. But I noticed. Yep, I did. ;o)

  4. How about future adventures…

    1) starting a non-profit ministry (in the works) and eventually leaving my present job to work for ‘myself’ – and…you know, God! 🙂

    2) a trip to Ireland with my husband. I’ve already started a book about that but can’t write the rest of it until we go – just a few months away!

      • Thank you, Marla. I’m going to need all the blessing God can and will give me. It’s a scary but very exciting prospect!

        Great picture of your family, by the way. Do any of your kids want to be vets now? 🙂 I know you all had a great time.

  5. Live a story worth telling about…..I love that.

    Even with fiction – we have to step away from our computers and experience life if we want to write stories with any depth of emotion.

    Love your voice, Marla!

    • Great point about fiction, Katie. Someday I might attempt to write some. But for now, I have y’all put up on this super-high pedestal of amazingness. Can’t wait to read your first book!!

  6. What a fun post! Like Beth, I want to hear the rest of the story. I’ll be looking for that ebook.

    My biggest adventure was falling in love with a handsome Marine who was home on leave. He stole my heart as we wrote to each other over a two-month period. Eighteen months later, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina three weeks after Hurricane Hugo hit and eloped. We’ve been married 22 years. 🙂

  7. Some day I hope I can write about when I ran off to the United Kingdom for 6 months (I’m from NJ) to basically be my friend’s au pair in England and visit with my Irish cousins.

    That’s so cool that you visited 52 different zoos–and what a tale for your daughters to tell their friends!

  8. A great lesson! Thank you, Marla. I love the idea of your adventure and eagerly anticipate reading about 52 Zoos in 52 weeks. 🙂

  9. Great way of showing that reading non-fiction should be fun and interesting. Strong work!!

  10. Marla – wow! I am interested in the rest of the story, but I am also interested in your choice to make this an e-book and not a traditional page-turner paper book. Do you have a specific reason for your decision?
    My true life experience has to do with building a new home with my husband, but having to live in it for a year ( husband, me and two young children out of diapers – whew!) without running water.

    Looking forward to your book!

    • No running water?? Oh my!! Is this year in the past, or are you living it now??

      And yes, there’s a specific reason for my decision to do an e-book. I need to be more famous and sell more of my other books before a publisher is willing to take a risk on me in a new genre (my other books are marriage/parenting self-help). So I decided to do an e-book while I wait to become famous. 🙂

      • The year without running water was 33 years ago. It bore fruit, though. I was asked in an interview for acceptance into a radiologic technology program, “What hardships have you faced in your life?” I didn’t have to think long to come up with the answer. I was accepted into the school. Have been an x-ray tech for 30 years : )
        May your e-book bear fruit, also! God bless you!

  11. Marla, what a fun post. It was filled with a great teaching for those of us who write non-fiction. I love your voice and humor. I too think the upside of the Internet often gets overlooked. I have made such great friends via social media sites. I’m excited to read about your zoo and travel adventures.
    Smirking here, Lucille

  12. I love your voice, Marla, and I already know I’m going to love reading your book. Did you really stay in people’s homes who you met over the internet? That is too cool. I followed a young man over the internet sometime this past year, who just left his house in the eastern part of the U.S. and walked across the U.S., ending up (I think) in Oregon. He camped all over the place in people’s back yards and front yards and had NO bad tales to tell over the months he travelled. It was a testimonial to the goodness that exists in the world today. I loved every minute of his weekly posts and pictures.

    • I respect your opinion, and I understand where you’re coming from. Some zoos are a sad, sad place for animals to live. On the other hand, so many zoos have beautiful, wide-open, cage-less habitats and are doing so much to save animals. They rehabilitate injured/sick animals that would’ve died in the wild, and they’ve saved animals whose habitats are being wrecked by deforestation, etc. These zoos aren’t just going to Africa and “stealing” animals away from their homes.

      And very few people are going to get on board for conservation without a personal experience with an orangutan or elephant. When a person falls in love with an animal in a zoo, they’re more likely to do their part to save animals in the wild.

  13. What a fun adventure and a great book idea. I loved the way you presented it, as a news article. Your post embodied what I consider good non-fiction — it breathed with life and realism.

  14. I just returned from a mission trip in Quito, Ecuador with over three hundred teenagers. What a trip. So many people saved (over a thousand) people healed and teens changed and will never be the same. I write fiction suspense so I’m not sure How I can implement what I have seen into my stories but I know I will find a way. Adventure is an awesome thing. Take a risk!! I’m a 65 year old grandmother who had never been out of the country. It was awesome!

  15. I’m addicted to fiction and it takes a lot for me to even pick up a non-fiction book. But I’m hooked on the zoo trip already! Love your challenge: to live a life worth writing about. I’ll take it to heart and the theme song can be “The Great Adventure” by Stephen Curtis Chapman.

    • Thanks, Jennifer. I love fiction too, but lately, I’ve reeeally been enjoying memoir. There’s just something about a really good true story that resonates with me.

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