"Hands down, the biggest thrill is to get a letter from a kid saying, I loved your book. Will you write me another one?" (Kate DiCamillo)
Have you ever written an author a fan letter? When I first started writing back before the internet made communication instant and easy, I would get a few letters from readers sent to the publisher and then forwarded on to me. I got the most letters while I was writing my young adult fiction. A few times, a teacher would read one of my books to her class and then every child in her class wrote me a letter telling what he or she liked about the book. Such fun to read those letters and imagine the children listening to my stories and being introduced to the fun of reading.
Now that I'm writing inspirational fiction for adults, I still get the occasional old fashioned letter from a reader, but more often I get e-mails from readers who contact me from my website. And I enjoy every one of those e-mails. Well, almost every one of them. Sometimes a reader takes me to task for some part of my book they didn't like or a mistake or mess-up I made. It's good to have readers to keep me straight. So even those e-mails can make me smile.
But my smile is a little broader when the readers are telling me they "couldn't put my book down." Or one man said I'd helped him discover the fun of reading again. Another reader told me that she did put my book down in order to go look up a Bible story my character mentioned. Fun fan letters or e-mails to get.
Back when I was writing the young adult fiction, I once had a young reading friend who wrote me like a pen pal. I wonder about her sometimes now that she's grown up. One thing I certainly never expected with the books I'm currently writing was to get a fan letter from a ten-year-old boy, but I did. Not a letter through the mail or an e-mail either. This kid was at one of the churches where my husband's group was singing a few weeks ago. I didn't get to be there because I have to sit with Mom on most Sundays now. But Chandler told my husband that he'd read every one of my Shaker books and then he found some paper to write me a note that Darrell forgot to give me. I stumbled across the note last week and of course, it made me smile and wish I'd been there to meet my young fan.
Words can encourage or they can wound. Letters or e-mails from readers are usually encouraging to me. Chandler's note certainly was. I'm encouraged any time someone writes me and tells me he or she has read my books and are praying for me. One reader said she prayed for every author when she opened up his or her book. What a powerful gift to give someone she'd never actually met in person!
So thank all of you for your encouragement and for reading my words. And if you've ever sent me an e-mail or made a comment here, I promise to do my best to answer you. One thing you can know for sure. If you've ever written an author to tell that writer you liked his or her book, you made someone smile. No doubt about it.