reading, writing, and social field hockey

I learned something about myself when I started my sophomore year of college at Millersville University.  I enjoyed being athletic and fit, and I enjoyed spending time with my friends, but I did not love field hockey.  **gasp** This was a big surprise, because I really thought I did.

I learned this as the fall progressed without me, for the first time in eight years, picking up a hockey stick.  I had so many good memories, but what I learned that season was that it wasn't the sport itself I enjoyed.  I loved being with my friends, working towards a common goal, fighting together, laughing (and sometimes suffering sunburn) as a team.  Oh, and winning. We were pretty awesome, you know...

Don't get me wrong, I LOVED watching the US Field Hockey team play their last game before the Rio Olympics.  It's a great sport.  But the game would have been weird to watch alone. I was there with my dad and my sisters, rehashing wonderful memories!  We could've been cheering for baseball (GO YANKS) or for a group of synchronized mamboing penguins.  My point is, what I thought I loved was not what I loved.

What I have learned now that I'm this wildly mature adult version of myself is that I love the social aspects of all things I do. Board games, sports, eating... I love the talking and the story-swapping and the laughing and the "you think that's bad wait until you hear what happened to me" one-up-man-ship of talking with interesting people.

Reading (and writing, I've learned) for me is also very social.  Like Stephen King taught me in On Writing, I write better dialogue because I'm an extrovert.  I want to talk about my book. I want to Book Club with other people and dialogue about the characters I created. (Yes, I used Book Club as a verb.)  I want to hear them laugh and watch them read the sad parts. 

Nothing has made me happier than hearing people's comments as they read The Senator's Youngest Daughter. I recently had the privilege of sharing a Facebook messenger dialogue with a friend as she read my novel.  She opened the book over a period of days, letting me know what she was thinking and experiencing as she read it.  What a glorious, encouraging, treasured experience for me.  

I love making people laugh, making people feel something, so to experience her trip through Brenna's story was fabulous.  Some of the comments would be enormous spoilers, so I can't relate them all here, but here's a sample of how she made my day:

  • I may or may not have neglected every chore I had today in exchange for more time with Brenna.
  • I can't stop.

  • Poor [husband] has only seen my forehead sticking out the top for two days lol

  • I just got goosebumps.

  • I'm sad it's over. Please write more books.

So no more field hockey for adult me, but hopefully more writing in the future.  And I want to talk to you about it: about what you're reading, about what I'm reading, and hopefully, about what you thought while reading what I'm writing.  


starred reviews, one two three four five

The only "reviews" The Senator's Youngest Daughter has had so far come from my pre-readers (all family and friends), so I'm sure the emailed notes and scrawls in manuscript margins have been tempered with love.  

I looked back just now at my Amazon reviews of the fiction I've recently read.  Chances are, the authors aren't reading my review, but honestly... they wrote what they wanted.  It's their own book.  So why does my opinion as a reader matter?

(Han shot first!)  

I bet each author's personal review would be five-star:

I wrote exactly what I wanted.  I had some great ideas, and I got some helpful feedback from others to make them even better.  I'm offering you, reader, exactly the best I can do.  Five stars, self.

It would be silly to think that anyone wouldn't love their own creative work.  Maybe you don't love everything you write for work or school, but those are things others asked or required you to do.   When you do it for yourself, the final product should be precisely what you want.

So, my review for myself on The Senator's Youngest Daughter is:

Good job accomplishing something you've talked about forever.  You made me laugh so hard!  We have the same sense of humor.  All your characters remind me of people I know and dearly love.   


While not technically "reviews," my wonderful and loving pre-readers gave me invaluable feedback.  Along with about ten thousand "I don't get this" and "What?" and "Reword" notations, here are some of my favorite comments:

  • Good job on the explosion.  It was surprising, and I was sucked in.
  • I've decided [he] is a reverse Scarlet Pimpernel.
  • Ha! Atlas Shrugged!
  • Do guys wear diamond earrings? I am so naive.
  • I really hate [him].  Good job.
  • BOO! I am sobbing like a weirdo.
  • This gives me a Terminator flashback. Linda Hamilton is so buff.
  • And the triumphant music swells!
  • This is "Where is the rebel base? Tell me or I will destroy your planet."
  • Why does everyone call everyone else "stinker" in this book?
  • Could [she] be skeptical, incredulous, doubtful, stupefied, dumbfounded, cynical, etc., etc. without rolling her eyes?  I’m beginning to think she needs to see an ophthalmologist.

If you do me the honor of choosing to read The Senator's Youngest Daughter, I do hope you take the time to leave me a review.  Just remember I'm a person, and I will cry really hard if you are mean.