I love to write, and my favorite part of writing is revising because it’s my chance to make sure I tap into the heart of the story.
My favorite part of being published is tapping into the hearts of readers. I keep the readers in mind as I write, and try to create a story that will touch them and mean something to them. I am never sure whether I succeed at that until I hear from readers.
Last week, I received an email from Anna, a sixth-grader who told me that EMPTY PLACES is her favorite book because it taught her “not to take things for granted.” She went on to ask questions about the characters as though they are real people. If you read my last month’s blog post, you see that to me they ARE real people, even though I created them. It is gratifying to see that they came across that way to Anna.
A few months ago, I heard from a teacher who said she “quickly devoured” EMPTY PLACES and called it a “heartbreakingly lovely tale.” That told me the book is working the way I intended it to.
In October, I heard from Kassidy, who had received LIKE A RIVER for her fifteenth birthday and said, “The characters came to life through vivid description, and I was transported to a time 151 years ago.” She went on to ask if I planned a sequel, and I had to say I hadn’t. Her letter, however, led to a conversation with my daughter that made me think about a sequel possibility. And now, thanks to Kassidy’s (and others’) prodding, there might just be a sequel one day.
And ideas for one abound. Mr. M’s sixth-grade Language Arts class in Connecticut sent me suggestions for what they would like to see in a sequel. Their suggestions varied widely, and it was interesting and fun to see the direction they would like to see the story take.
I have visited Ms. L’s local seventh-grade class two years in a row to discuss LIKE A RIVER, which they read in class before I visit. Hearing the questions they ask about the book is encouraging for me. The characters mean something to them, and that tells me the story touched them in some way.
And there was a phone call after Christmas in 2015 from an 86-year-old man, who had received LIKE A RIVER from his daughter for Christmas. He told me he couldn’t put it down.
If I can write books that touch a reader, young or old, I have achieved my greatest goal. After all, it’s always about the readers. I hope my future books will be able to reach readers as well.
A big thank you to the teachers who invited me into their schools, and to Anna, Kassidy, Frank, and all readers who wrote to tell me what my books meant to them. I am sincerely grateful.