Smarties, I’m excited to introduce you to a super Smarty Dad, Charles “Scott” Cornwell, author of a wonderful, new holiday book, The Bell. The timing couldn’t be better this week before Christmas! Scott and his family started out in Charlotte but moved in 2004 to Minneapolis, MN to follow his career. Scott’s wife, Kari, was one of my very first “mommy” friends and I was sad to see them go. Scott followed his passion of writing and I was thrilled when he sent me a copy of his wonderful new book. My kids LOVE it, and so do I!! So naturally, I had to share with the rest of my Smarty friends! Here’s Scott:
I’m Scott Cornwell (first name Charles – you’ll see why that’s important later but it’s the pen name I use). I think my Facebook bio is a good starting point for an intro. “Husband to the best woman in the world – Kari. Father of 2 beautiful girls – Madison (9) and Amelia (6). I love to cook, drink great wine, and burn it off in the gym. I golf, ski, do triathlons and work to fund the above.”
Moving on to our Smarty interview so you can get to know Scott:
Tell us what inspired you to write The Bell?
Rarely do I find anyone who sees a red kettle and hears a hand bell where they can not tell you what it is and who it supports. During the holiday season we might pass a kettle and a person ringing the bell 20 times or more. I think we all have a different perspective on it. If you are like some, you think, no eye contact and just walk on by. You might do the reach into the pocket like you are looking for change and then the shrug motion like you tried. Or maybe you give the “I’ll catch you on the way out” phrase, hoping a new volunteer might be there as you come out of the store, failing to recognize your promise.
A few years ago, I found myself standing outside the Mall of America ringing a bell for The Salvation Army. Somewhere in the course of my 1 hour bell ringing assignment I believe I was able to grasp a powerful truth.
For me, the greatest lessons in my life have always come in tiny teachable moments. This was no different as I was ringing my bell and noticed that it had a very unique and crisp sound. I turned the bell over and found that the bell in fact had been repaired in a very odd and interesting way. The stem had been replaced with a small piece of wire and a washer now hung from the end of it. Simple things that one could find in a local hardware store, had restored this once beautiful and new bell, not quite the way it used to be, but indeed ringing and sounding brighter than it ever had before.
Holding the bell in my hands I created a story from this bell. The bell came to life for me as a fictionalized character as Bella. Mr. Peterson became the character that would repair her. It has taken 4 years to craft the story to its current form today.
How can we get a copy?
The books are available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. Otherwise you can go to my website at www.charlesscottcornwell.com and there is a link where you can purchase the book.
How important was the give-back component of the book with the Salvation Army?
I’ve been sitting on this story for 2 years wondering if it was good enough to publish. I sent query letters to publishers with no avail. With a LOT of prodding from my beautiful wife Kari, I finally realized it was really about helping people with the story and if I could create a way to help The Salvation Army in the process, then why would I be trying so hard to have it formally published when I could self publish and control the outcomes of the book. I can’t see a role for this book without a give back component to The Salvation Army.
What do you hope children will take from it?
I wrote this story as a family story. Children that are ages 9 – 12 or so tend to see some of the meaning behind the story better than the younger ones. I have had many parents tell me their kids have been walking up to the ringers and telling them they are ringing Bella. I’m sure the ringers have no idea what they are talking about.
Most kids are naturally caring. They understand that it’s ok to help someone. They don’t judge. Because they don’t have a lens of life experience to look through, they don’t understand that people can be broken and what it might take to put your life together once it falls apart. For my children, I want them to know that there is something bigger than them that will always provide the Grace and Love that will always see more in them than they see in themselves. It might be years before they ever understand this.
OK, let’s talk Charlotte. You’ve been away from Charlotte for some time, what do you miss most about it?
I miss southern accents, people who don’t look at you funny when you hold the door, above 20 degree weather in December, and most of all our family and friends that we left in Charlotte when we moved.
What is your favorite family activity?
Our family was much younger when we moved, so it’s hard to compare to what we do now. I miss Sunday afternoon dinners with family after church. But most of all, we take a family walk in the warmer months after dinner. I’m not sure the kids love it as much but I sure do.
What is the funniest thing your children have ever said or done?
Recently, my youngest was listening to me talk about something that had gone on that day and she looked at me and said, “Dad, build a bridge, and get over it.” Thank you 6 year old. Where do they get this?
What is your favorite thing about being “daddy”?
I love prayers at night with my little girls and “daddy dates”. I’ve been taking Madison to McDonalds on Saturdays frequently on dates since she was in a high chair. Amelia loves Caribou coffee hot chocolate. I love questions I can’t answer and knowing that it won’t be long before their hand won’t feel so small in mine when I hold it.
What surprised you most about becoming a father?
I never knew how much I would begin to understand my Father until I had a chance to walk in his footsteps raising kids myself.
As the father of two girls, what is your best tip of advice for other Smarty Dads out there?
I want to represent the type of man who they should consider marrying one day. They need to see me vulnerable, taking risks, failing, succeeding, and loving. In short, I want to be within their grasp at all times emotionally. My Dad was never afraid to cry in front of me. I now know why.
What moment are you most proud of with your children?
We have been going to a local charity called Feed my Starving Children where we package food as a family for shipments to countries around the world. It is an awesome organization and the kids really have begun to understand the importance of giving and the fact that kids live very differently around the world than they do. I relish that we can do this together as a family.
What is the Smartiest way you save $?
My wife is the Queen of thrifty so I can’t take the credit here; however, I will say we have a funny saying around the house. Whenever a light is left on, or something is wasted we refer to it as “Ice Cream Money” or money that we could have used to buy ice cream. For some reason that has caught on around the house.
Your wife is an avid CSP reader from afar, what is her/your favorite CSP article so far?
Without CSP, I’m sure my wife would have gone insane up here without a touch point to the South. I enjoyed the article on Cam Dodson, one of my best friends, and how he interacts with his children. The whole community of CSP is a special group of people.
I could not live without my…
No doubt, without question, my best friend and beautiful bride, Kari Cornwell.
Thanks, Scott and best of luck to you with your new endeavors! Do you have a Smarty Dad or Mom you’d like to nominate? We’d love to hear from you – email us!
P.S. THE SMARTY ELVES HAVE BEEN HARD AT WORK BRINGING YOU FABULOUS GIVEAWAYS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!! TOMORROW IS THE LAST DAY TO REGISTER!!
The 2nd annual Santa’s Smarty Swag Bag Giveaway has arrived and you won’t want to miss out on this incredible opportunity to win BIG! CSP is featuring $2,000 worth of giveaway products to ONE lucky CSP reader!CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN THE SANTA’S SMARTY SWAG BAG GIVEAWAY, but first be sure you are a newsletter subscriber. (This is required for you to be eligible as a winner.) Our winner will be chosen at 11p on Sunday, December 13th by a random number search. We will contact you that day to let you know that you are our winner, and we’ll feature you as our Giveaway winner on CSP. Pass this blog along to your friends so that you can also be entered to win a free iPod! The more friends who register, the better your chances of winning!
Good luck and Happy Smartydays!
Enjoyed reading this today! Scott – your book has intrigued me! I'm thinking it would be a great gift for a dear friend. (Of course I'll need one for myself, too.) And I loved the "Build a bridge and get over it" story. Thanks for the heart-warming post this morning!
This makes me miss ya'll even more than I do everyday. My kids bring their wallets in the car and put their own money in the red bucket everytime we are out. They can relate because of The Bell. You are an incredible dad, husband, friend, author, athlete, etc. You continue to inspire us all. Thanks CSP for sharing Scott's thoughts and talents.
Scott and Kari,Elaine forwarded this to me yesterday. I called her Friday and we talked for a short time. It was so good to hear her voice. She gave me the highlights of the last year. She sent me this link. As I was reading over your bio and your comments about Kari, your girls, and your book, my heart was overwhelmed with joy. Your Dad would be so proud. Terrell really misses him! I will definitely purchase this book and share it with my family and friends. God Bless You Scott, Kari , your precious daughters. When you are all in town give us a call. Your mom has our numbers.
HI, I'm Scott's mom & just got back from spending a month. with Scott,Kari & my most beautiful Madison & Amelia. I was honored to be there when the books came in from the publisher & share in the pride & excitement of seeing "The Bell" get launched. I am so very proud of Scott & his family. They are an awesome team.Sometimes in writing we surprise ourselves with what we have hidden inside of us. Scott has a wealth of wisdom & a family to support him & keep him balanced & humble! His faith is his rock & I KNOW his dad is glowing in heaven a little brighter.