Welcome, Insecure Writer's Support Group! Clicky clicky here to sign up for this amazing, supportive group.
This month I'm not insecure. I'm inspired.
Have you ever connected with a best-selling author? Until recently, I never had. I'd never sent an email or commented on their Facebook page.
My 17-year-old son and his required reading for AP U.S. History changed all that.
He was assigned to read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. My son's plan was to skim through the book and write his essay. I was disappointed and told him how much I'd loved that story, and how he should give the book a chance.
Let me back up. Teens these days are required to read some of the most boring books EVER. No offense to long-dead writers, but their stories are not what interest today's teens. My son has morphed from a book lover to a book dreader, all within a span of three years of high school. Needless to say, he had no plans to enjoy this book. I urged him to at least read the first few chapters and see what he thought. Then I went to bed and left him to his homework.
He stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and finished the book. No joke. He loved this book even more than Hunger Games. After my sleep-deprived son left for school I logged on to Jamie Ford's web site and sent him a message about my son's experience and how much he loved the book.
My son had already tweeted about his love of the book. Jamie Ford retweeted. And he responded to my email within an hour. Since then we've had a nice email exchange about teens, books, and writing. He mailed us each a signed copy of his latest release, Songs of Willow Frost. He even agreed to a blog interview (more about that later). My son noticed that Jamie Ford was doing a library event close to home. Of course we had to go.
What's my take-away from all this? My son got a valuable lesson in giving books a chance. I got a valuable lesson in reaching out to authors, even those who top the best-seller list. They may respond and they may not. I also learned that all authors, whether new or multi-published, like to know when someone enjoys their book.
Jamie Ford inspired me. He took time to reach out to a teen reader. He took time to connect with another writer and answer questions. He's won two lifelong fans.
If you haven't yet read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I highly recommend you add it to your list. It's an amazing book that still lingers in my heart. And if you love a book, I recommend reaching out to the author and letting them know. Writers--even those at the top of their game--deserve to hear how much their work is appreciated.
Have you ever reached out to a best selling author? Did they respond or ignore you? How did that encourage or discourage you from reaching out again? Do you have teens who dread their required reading?
(my son's tweet)
(me, Jamie Ford, and my son)
Wonderful story, and I just added a book to my reading list.ReplyDelete
Liza, I truly hope you like HOTEL. It's historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. But it's about a Chinese boy and Japanese girl who fall in love after Pearl Harbor, when Japanese people were rounded up and placed in "camps." I loved it.Delete
What a nice learning experience for both you and your son.ReplyDelete
Marilyn, this experienced opened my son's eyes to a whole different level of books. What a gift.Delete
That's really cool! And especially cool for your son to be a part of at such a young age. I have had that experience with a few NYT bestsellers. Most previous was Andrew Smith. He replied to me and retweeted.ReplyDelete
Sheri at Writer's Alley
Home of Rebel Writer CREED 2014
Mighty Minion Bureau Team #atozchallenge
Sheri, that's amazing! I suppose it's just another reminder that they're human (like us!)Delete
That sounds awesome. I've never tried to contact a best-selling author. Never occurred to me that they would like to respond to readers like that. Thanks for the post.ReplyDelete
Ken, I'd never EVER thought to connect with an author! I'm not sure how often I'll do it, but it's nice to know there are gracious best-selling authors out there :)Delete
That is really incredible! Glad your son took the time to read the book.ReplyDelete
Several of my blogging buddies are best-selling authors, so I'd have to say yes.
Hey, you're right! That list includes YOU, so I guess I have connected with best-selling authors :)Delete
What a great story, Julie. I love that your son learned he can still love books. And I love that a well-known and successful author took the time to respond to fans in such a personal and wonderful way.ReplyDelete
Karen, during the author event at the library, I learned that this author definitely connects with his readers--and a lot of teens!Delete
It used to be that authors, especially the bestsellers, seemed completely unapproachable. Social media has changed everything. Too, because we are authors, we know that so much of the "feels unapproachable" is really just a false belief readers have. We ourselves are totally open and love contact with readers, and so are all the authors we know. :)ReplyDelete
Media can make things seem one way, when it's really something else entirely. :) So glad you were able to connect with him!
Angela, you're so right about social media. I've talked about amazing authors with friends, but never have I had the guts to reach out. Social media gives me that extra burst of courage.Delete
That is one super story! Every writer loves to hear from fans.ReplyDelete
Exactly! Before, I just thought authors--especially famous ones--wouldn't care to hear from readers. How silly of me! I can only imagine how much you love to hear from your young readers.Delete
What a wonderful experience for you and your son!! I LOVE it when things turn out better than we expected them to, and yay,lifelong fans make an author's day!!ReplyDelete
Traci, my son now thinks of this author as a rock star. I mean, seriously, he's the one who texted me and said "Guess who will be at our library?"Delete
After reading Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, two of the best historical novels I've ever come across, I had a nice email chat with the author Elizabeth Wein. Authors love hearing from their fans, by the way. It makes their day.ReplyDelete
Laurisa, that's so cool! I love the cover for Verity but I haven't read the book...yet!!Delete
I don't recall reaching a best selling author, but I've had a couple of great exchanges with mid-listers and a couple of editor/agent types who have responded. Also, I contacted two sources for my own book for permission to use their content/music and both said yes right away.ReplyDelete
We forget, they are "people" too and enjoy a kind word, a conversation where both parties understand the lingo and knowing their words/art is recognized and worthy of compliment.
Simply ask, without pretext. It's amazing what, or who, you might discover!
Dean, that's good to know that sources for content and music gave you permission. I've heard that's an expensive nightmare! How exciting for them to have their work featured in a book. Win/win.Delete
That is super cool. It's sometimes hard to remember that best sellers are real people too, eh? I think that's the lesson I learned most while living in NYC--the place you could casually run into a celebrity on the street without any fanfare.ReplyDelete
Crystal...excellent point. I live in LA county, so I guess the same could be said for locals around here, especially at the beaches.Delete
I can totally see that happening in the LA area too. We see a few people coming through for Disney, but otherwise things are pretty quiet here.Delete
Hi Julie! Excellent post. Wow, what an experience for your son. I've never had the pleasure of meeting any best selling authors in person, but I blog with some of the best fairly regularly. :) Have a wonderful evening! Lily-Eva April IWSG Co-hostReplyDelete
Lily, it truly was a wonderful experience, especially for a teen non-book lover (whew, that's a mouthful!)Delete
I LOVE this story. Talk about your lessons learned! Thank you Devin.ReplyDelete
Pretty darn awesome when a 17 year old guy and his girlfriend want to go to the library with mom on a Friday night. Who knows, maybe he'll learn to love books again :)Delete
So exciting for your son (and you). I totally agree that people not leisure reading anymore is ,in part, due to the schools.ReplyDelete
Donna, it's the saddest thing. My son used to LOVE to read. Now he dreads it. Hopefully this connection with Jamie Ford will inspire him to read more.Delete
I once reached out to Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse novels) and asked her a question. She emailed me back and offered her helpful advice. I'll forever be thankful. :)ReplyDelete
Wow, wow, wow! That is SO cool!Delete
I haven't reached out, but now I want to. And I want to read that book too!ReplyDelete
Lynda, I adored HOTEL. If you read it, I hope you like it too!Delete
That is so kewl! What an awesome thing for your son. Something he'll never forget. I wish I'd written a letter to Margaret Lawrence before her death. She was my mentor and first important author. Thank goodness she was required reading in my English class.ReplyDelete
"If you don't like to read, you haven't found the right book," said J.K. Rowling. I'm so glad to hear that your son found the right book.ReplyDelete
Once I responded to a tweet from one of my favorite authors, and she favorited my tweet. It really made my day.
That's such a sweet story,Julie. Thank you for sharing that. I don't know this author. I think I'll have to check him out!ReplyDelete
I LOVED Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet! Such a GREAT book… agreed. So neat with the exchange--that gives me a lot more respect for Mr. Ford. Really neat. And I love the picture.ReplyDelete
I loathed reading as a teen. I had no idea how magical it could be. I wish I had known better. :)
What a great story and great experience. It's nice to hear he was so down to earth. Along with your recommendation, it makes me want to bump his book up on my TBR list ;)ReplyDelete
That is amazing!! Those are some of my favorite stories, when you hear about great writers who are also wonderful people.ReplyDelete
(From Sarah, With Joy)