When Carson City native Megan Bottom started taking on writing a book, her children at first thought it was just a crazy project Mom decided to do as a hobby. Then her friends gradually found out.
“They were like, whatever,” she said. “Now they’re seeing it and that it means something and people are benefiting from it, and they’re actually shocked and surprised.”
Bottom, who recently released a new fictional book, “Nana’s Pearls: Finding Hope in Your Blended Marriage,” is directing her publication primarily to spouses who come with children from prior marriages or are experiencing struggles in their marriage but also has it in mind for counselors to engage blended families or ministries that do the same.
The couple of the book, Owen and Teá, are nearly ready to give up on their own second marriage when Teá’s grandmother, Nana, assists and provides pearls of wisdom, turning out to be the hope and guidance for a stronger family dynamic most families – and marriages – need.
It’s also the type of process and advice Bottom said is short for real-life, second-marriage couples. Most crave the kind of comfort she tries to give through her book when pondering re-entering such a relationship via the symbolism of Nana’s pearls, she said.
Bottom is now a motivational speaker. She graduated from Carson High School in 1999 before moving to Ely, but also previously lived in Nebraska. In Nevada now, however, with her second husband Dwayne now, they both offer support for couples online through their Facebook page, “Megan & Dwayne Bottom – Blended Family Marriage Coaches,” linking to their YouTube channel.
“He is super supportive,” Bottom said of Dwayne. “He is my sidekick on our YouTube channel. He is really proud more than anything.”
Their channel offers videos on topics ranging from handling finances, marital intimacy and advice guiding couples who are coming together from previous marriages, Bottom said. Currently, they have about 100 subscribers.
The Bottoms married in 2010, both divorced and unable to find what they were looking for to figure out how to help their own families adapt at the time, Bottom said. They brought together six children, three of whom are hers and three are his from their previous marriages, now ranging from 14 to 22 in age.
“We were amazed at the lack of resources to navigate the waters of blending our family,” she said. “So I started doing some research, I went back to school and I got a degree in pastoral counseling with a focus on traditional marriage. That was the idea that inspired the book. It took about six years.”
The book, while fictional, was meant to help families see it can take time for everyone to work through uncomfortable issues for the parents and children. Many spouses who do end up remarrying often experience bitterness and have to go through a “trial and error” period of emotions and shouldn’t be afraid to have some conversations of honesty to help them work through their past. This allows them to move on and create goals in their fresh relationship, she said.
“There are so many unique situations that only happen in blended families, and that’s what I wanted to capture,” she said. “But I didn’t want to make it an autobiography because my situation’s not that unique.”
The pearls in the book refer to specific tenets Bottom wanted to address, including forgiveness, setting boundaries, regarding marriage as the most important relationship for the couple, picking battles and remembering that everything one does matters. She said she chose pearls, based on a string of pearls her maternal grandmother once gave her, because she has always been drawn to them herself, sharing her grandparents were married for 65 years. Together, they had nine granddaughters, 18 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren with two more on the way, Bottom said.
Writing the book was therapeutic and served as a reminder to set her own marriage as a priority among other boundaries, Bottom said.
“As I was writing, I remembered all the times I needed to work through the forgiveness, and I needed to pick my battles and remember what’s worth fighting for and what’s worth fighting against,” she said.
“The writing itself was not therapeutic, it was putting my whole story down,” she said. “There’s a whole lot of fear of what people will think. Am I writing for no purpose and really evaluating and doing my research, and what were the steps … that was the hard process.”
The book itself was published on Nov. 12, Bottom’s birthday, through Author Academy Elite. It’s available on Amazon and on Kindle for $9.99, in hardback for $19.99 and in paperback for $14.99.