When I was six I wrote my first book. It was called "The Civil War." It was four pages long, I illustrated it, and I wanted to charge five cents for it. I figured if it was a good price point for Lucy on "Peanuts," it was a good price point for me. I planned to write a monthly historical magazine called "Historical Times."
When I was seven I started reading the "Little House" series and when I found out 1) Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867 and I was born in 1967 and that meant something and 2) Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her books on lined notepads, just like I wrote my "Civil War" well I figured it was in
the stars. I was going to be a writer. Or a poet, since I really liked writing poems, so long as they rhymed. (Hey, I was seven.)
In grade school I read Margaret Mitchell, Edgar Allan Poe, the Brontes, and Judy Blume and I realized that perfectly lovely people could write perfectly awesome stories about the dark side of humanity. (Okay, Poe might NOT have been considered "lovely." That dude was messed up!)
When I was twelve one of my short stories was published in the local...very local...newspaper. I'd entered a writing contest sponsored by the local 4-H communities. I was the only one who wrote a fiction story...something about summer camp, snotty girls, and horses.
In eighth grade I developed a deep love for two newspaper columns: Erma Bombeck and Ann Landers. Erma is, even now, my hero because she took every day things and made them funny. (My blog It Can Only Happen to Sarah! is my way of honoring her memory and the impression she made on my life.) Ann Landers, with her advice column, showed me that people screw up, break hearts, do stupid things to each other and sometimes common sense and tough love is all that will fix it.
When I was thirteen I started writing my first novel. This novel, these characters, would live with me
for the next thirty years and would eventually become "Lies in Chance." But in my high school years, Bryan, Shara, Drew, Molly, they were my very best friends, and Rock Harbor was the place I lived because my real life was...less satisfying. In my adult years, before I finally published the book, Those same people brought me through pregnancy, birth, debt, job changes, and depression. Even now I return to Rock Harbor (ala "A Hero's Spark" most recently) and visit my friends.
When I was twenty-one, inspired by a college course in children's literature, I took a correspondence course in writing children's fiction. I got an A. I wrote a murder mystery set in Upper Michigan that I'm still proud of.
What I'm saying is that books and writing have been a part of my life all of my life. Books can take anyone to places they've never been and may never see. I've never been to France, and certainly not during the Revolutionary period. But I've read (yes, I've read the book) "Les Miserables," so a part of my brain has been there. Iv'e never lived on a plantation in the Deep South in the days before the Civil War. But I've read "Gone with the Wind" probably a dozen times, and I'm rereading it now.
Books can be your best friends because books can show you that there are others out there just like you. Judy Blume's books, escpecially, "Are you there God? It's me, Margaret." got me through one of the biggest life events a girl can go through. And "Blubber," a book I read many times long after grade school, reminded me that bullying was evil. (And gave me hope during the years when I was bullied.)
Cheaper than a plane ticket, more readily available than a time machine, books are never a bad thing to have. My house would probably be six inches taller if it weren't for the shelves and shelves of books. And now, with the explosion of self publishing and e-books, there are so many more stories, stories that would never have been available when I was growing up because the only books anyone read back then were books the publishing houses wanted us to read. This is a golden age for reading. There is, truly, a book for everyone out there.
Right now we are in the frenzy of the gift giving season and I could add my voice to the throng and say, hey, I have six books and a novella out there for your ready pleasure and if you want to check them out...CLICK HERE for Amazon and print...or click HERE for the Nook...or click HERE if you read your book on some other device, like Apple! And look, there I did. But books make a great gift any time. There is never a bad time to give someone a book.
Want to give the gift of romance? Give them a romantic book like
anything by Jane Austen or Adriana Trigiani's "Valentina" books. Of course, you can also check out newer authors like Stacey Joy Netzel or Linda Schmalz or Kelly Moran or..me!
Want a thriller? Stephen King anyone? J.A. Konrath, who is another personal hero,
Need to go to another world where magic and mythical characters rule? J.K. Rowlings, Tolkien, and yes, Stephanie Meyers.
Just want a homey book you can curl up with and never put down? Billie Letts, and Jon Hassler should fit the bill.
So, after all the holiday parties are over, after all the presents are wrapped and unwrapped, after it's all over and we're in the doldrums of winter...pick up a book or a book reading device and give yourself or someone else the gift of magic, beauty, romance, adventure, travel, history, action, mystery, thrills, and new best friends. Give the gift of a book.