Tomorrow I will be, for better or worse, a published author. I have had a swirl of mixed feelings about this, constantly looking here and there, trying to figure out (paraphrasing Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz): “Are you a good book, or a bad book?” There has been evidence both sides. Today alone I received both a glowing five-star review and a two-star DNF (did not finish). Hmm. No one said this was going to be easy. My book made one reviewer so angry his heart rate went up. It also caused a stranger say: “I completely loved this book.”
Is it a good book, or a bad book? Either way, it is mine. It is the story I felt I had to tell. The one that kept me up night after night, month after month. That one. My 10-year-old son found out the other day that I had stayed up until 2 a.m. on a Saturday to work on a new book. “That’s dedication,” he said. So maybe he now knows a little bit more about what goes into the books he so adores.
Today, the Toronto Public Library Tweeted out this week’s new books for teens–including my name along with some esteemed YA writers. It was just a coincidence that I am from Toronto. The first library I ever went to was in Toronto, well, in Don Mills, now part of the big city. I still remember the paper library card, soft yellow. My mother, who died more than 10 years ago, said I was so proud to get my own library card at age four that I turned around and called to the librarian, “Thank you much, lady!” Now I will have my own book for young people in these same libraries.
Also today, a clerk at an office shop snarled at me, asking “Do you have permission to copy that book in your hand?” I was making photocopies of the cover and the title to file for public lending rights, as per my writer husband’s suggestion.
“Yes,” I stammered. “It is my book.”
And today, a lovely writer I met this year as part of the Sweet Sixteens group of debut authors sent me a message about my book: “It’s very special and I’m just so proud to know you.”
Thank you to this wonderful author and to all the Sweet Sixteen writers. Thank you to the librarian who gave me that first card and to everyone who works every day to help kids connect with books, including my agent and editor. I am so glad my children are growing up in an era with a mad abundance of great literature for young people. Thank you much, everybody.