I’m not going to lie–when my daughter (soon to be 10) said she wanted to take my middle-grade historical fiction novel, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, to read for her independent reading selection at school, I was, well, terrified. You know how writers joke that our parents are always telling us how wonderful our writing is and how we shouldn’t use them as a judge for how our writing will be perceived by the rest of the world? The opposite is true for our children. They can be very harsh critics. When my daughter doesn’t like something, she’s not quiet about it.
So the first message I received from her (through a shared Google doc we use to communicate while she’s at virtual school) was (spoiler alert) “Why did you make Ma die? I am so mad at you!”
And I thought, Hey, she really is reading this book of mine, and she is at least invested enought that she cares about the characters.
I told her (and all my Facebook friends) that Ma had to die for the story to work, but my daughter still wasn’t buying it.
Then she was quiet about the book for a couple weeks, and I thought, Well, she lost interest. It happens. She’s used to the excitement of Harry Potter and Dork Diaries.
Then yesterday, she started messaging me again: “Does Albert like Anna? Is there a book two? You better get busy writing book two next! I’ll proofread.”
All right, all right, I will confess to you, my writing friends, that these messages from my daughter did make me tear up. I mean, I think my writing life is now complete–even if I have no more success.
My daughter likes my book!
My daughter said that she would like to dress up as Anna (my main character) for Halloween and also Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. She can be both. (Is there even trick or treating during a pandemic?)
Take that, J.K Rowling.
My daughter then went on to tell me that no one has made a YouTube video about my book–she was sorry to say. Oh, trust me, I was laughing–it’s so funny that she would even think to go on YouTube and look for Finding My Place, thinking that surely someone would have made a YouTube video about it. She knows there are a lot of fan fic videos about the Harry Potter series, so why not Finding My Place? When I told her I had 25 reviews on Amazon and 4.5 stars, she was amazed.
This week, I suppose, my daughter discovered that I really am a writer, and other people (although not a ton) really do read my books. And wow, other kids might like them.
(I told her to tell all her friends.)
And I’m now getting started on a third book in the series (Anna and the Baking Championship is a prequel that I put out this summer) which my daughter has already decided there should be a dance in the middle of the book, even if they are still at war, because then Albert can ask Anna to dance.
I hope that if you have children, you get to experience this feeling some day. I swear that 2020 has been a year full of a lot of bad stuff, but this–this week was amazing.
Margo L. Dill is a writer and editor, living in St. Louis, MO, with her 10-year-old daughter and 1.5-year-old dog. She also teaches classes for WOW! Women On Writing, including a monthly novel writing course which offers critique. Check it out here. You can find out more about Margo and her books on her website.
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