Happy Birthday to Splendid Academy!

What a year! One year ago today, my first book came out. It was an amazing day. I went with my 92 year-old Grandma to the closest bookstore, where she bought a copy. (I told her I’d give her one, but she refused! It was important, she said, to spend her own money on it. I have the best Grandma ever.)

My husband brought me flowers, and we went out to lunch at the restaurant where I first got the idea for the book. My mom joined us for dinner. It was a delight. Like the birthday of my life’s dreams. Perfect.

I’d like to say that every day of the past year has been just as lovely, but it’s not true. There have been hard days, days where I doubted myself, my writing ability, my hairstyle, my everything! Well, okay. Maybe not my dance moves. But most everything else.

But I never lost sight of the fact that I was living the dream. My dream, the one I’d first had when I was about nine, that I’d almost given up on for most of my life, and that I found again right around the same time the gray hair started coming in. And even on the hard days, I never lost sight of just how lucky/blessed I am.

Some of the most important and lovely things have happened for me in the past year. I had a book signing in Round Rock, my hometown, where my kindergarten teacher Aunt Trudy showed up – right as I was about to start talking about her, and how important she’d been in forming me as a writer! I still remember her leaning over my shoulder when I was four years old, giving me harder and harder books, pushing me, helping me see just how far I could go. She still has the same hairstyle, like white cotton candy.

I also signed a book that day to Herrington Elementary, named for one of my favorite teachers of all time, the late Linda Herrington. She made school fun, let me run off to the library by myself… and at her house, cooked me tomato soup one cold day, with oyster crackers floating on top. Campbell’s tomato soup will forever trigger one of my own Proustian “madeleine” moments, and I will always hear Ms. Herrington’s delighted laughter when I taste it.

I had an amazing book launch party at Bookpeople, where friends and family flew and drove from all over the country to celebrate with me. I was overcome, and thinking about that day still makes me feel oh-so-loved.

But the most memorable day – moment – has to be this one: in Japan, at Yokota Middle School, when a young dyslexic girl came up to me to tell me how much she’d loved my book, that it was the first novel she’d ever read, and that she just had to talk to me about it.

My book. The only book she’d ever read from start to finish.

Ah, yes. THAT was the moment. For that moment alone, I would have gone through all the hard and much harder days that followed the initial “yes” from my editor. For that look on her face, that smile and the sweet conversation we had after, I would go through all the not-so-lovely parts again.

I wrote a book that mattered to at least one child. What more is there to want in this writing life?

Happy birthday to my life’s dream. I hope yours comes true for you, friends. I will bake you a cake when it does!




Posted in Children's Fiction, Family News, People I Love on 08/21/2013 02:04 pm


  1. I bet that was an amazing experience w/that sweet little girl. It gave me chills and it wasn’t even my moment! Loved hearing about your celebrations when your book came out, it gives me hope that one day that’ll be me too. =)


  2. I know this is a bit postdue, but congrats! I love reading things like this and as I’ve just now discovered your book, which I know my kids (and I!) will love, it’s all new to us. Best wishes- cheers!


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