I have written for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I sat on my perch high up in our maple tree (much to my mother’s displeasure!) and wrote stories and poems. I pretended I could hear the thoughts of the animals around me, and I would write down what they were thinking. I also loved to read. My favorite stories were about animals, but I also loved witches, too. My father was also a big reader, so once a month we went to the bookstore. We were a middle-class family, but you would never know it at the bookstore. I could buy as many books as I wanted, no questions asked! I loved walking up and down the rows, looking at all the beautiful, glossy covers. Each seemed to beckon, pick me, pick me! If one caught my eye, I’d read the flap copy on the back. If I was intrigued, in my pile it went. I often left with six or seven books, solemnly studying each on the ride home, carefully choosing which one I would read first. As soon as I got home I would dart up into my room and begin, soon swept up in the story and the world the author created with his or her imagination.
My favorite books not only were well-loved, they looked it! I never used bookmarks, always folding down the page. My dad used to say, It’s your book. Underline it, write on the side if you really like a part. When you’re done, go back and look over those parts. I realize my father didn’t just give me the wonderful gift of literature, without meaning to, he was also training the writer in me. I still do this. Being an active reader not only helps me to better understand the nuances of a book, it inspires my writing as well.
Years later, a dream inspired a middle-grade adventure story about vampires that I finished just as Twilight came out. The good news was that vampire stories were hot! The bad news was that middle-grade vampire adventure stories were not. After years of trying to find an agent and publisher, I put it away and started Celtic Treasure, a middle-grade story about a long lost Irish treasure. I received very positive feedback from the agents and editors I sent it to. They loved my writing; they enjoyed the characters and suspenseful plot. BUT – treasure stories weren’t selling. Ugh. I realized then that I would likely never be published. I also realized that I write because I love to, and if I was never published, so what, it would be my hobby. And so I started The Exceptionals. I owe the idea for the novel to my father as well; he always told me we only use ten percent of our brain power. I often wondered, can some people use more? What can they do? Did Einstein use more of his brain than most people – and what about mediums? This became the foundation for The Exceptionals: a school for students who have “special” abilities. Six months later I finished, and sent it to about ten agents and editors. A couple of weeks later I got a call from my agent, and the very next day an editor that I sent the manuscript to called and made an offer. I could hardly believe it! I was actually going to be a published author!
A little more than two years later, I stood in my local bookstore with my son, Danny. And there, in the front, was a shelf with The Exceptionals prominently displayed. As I held the book in my hand, I imagined all of the other tweens and teens picking it up, examining the cover, reading the back, and making the decision to chose it or not, as I had, so many times. It was surreal to think that someone would choose my book. Would that person underline a favorite passage? Jot down feelings or questions in the margin? I wondered which character would be their favorite.
After Danny snapped a picture of the books on his cell phone, he darted down the aisle to grab the latest book by his favorite author. A half an hour later, he found me, his arms filled with books. As I stood at the counter to buy them, I saw a teenage girl at the New Releases display, holding my book in her hands, reading the flap copy.
It was a great day.