I just got news that I have to share: An Unexpected Father, my April release, was chosen as one of Romantic Times Book Reviews ‘Top Picks’. They gave it four and a half stars, too! I am stunned and honored.
For me, writing a book and sending it out for publication feels a little like sending my children off to school. How are they going to do? Will the other kids like them? Will they behave? Will anyone understand the effort I put in to raising them right? I know that you have to just send it off and hope for the best, but it’s difficult mothering such an unruly child. When a review and kudos like this come along, they bring grateful tears to my eyes.
When I was a teenager, my dad came home one night from work and hugged me. Just out of the blue. Now, my dad’s not really a demonstrative guy. I’d never had any doubt that he loved me, but hugs were for special occasions: birthdays, injuries, good report cards. If you’d been away on a trip—not just a weekend sleepover—yeah, a hug was due. He was glad to see me and I was glad to see him. But his return home from just another day at the office was not a ‘huggable’ event. A kiss from my mom was enough of a greeting for him.
On this particular evening, as far as I knew, I hadn’t done anything spectacular. I was a teenager; no one expected spectacular from me. Getting through those teen years was sometimes all anyone hoped for really, me included. Mostly, I think I was a relatively easy kid to raise—especially after my older brother. My parents didn’t pull their hair out too much over my moodiness, I paid attention in school, I was popular enough. You know, normal. So, I had no idea why my dad hugged me. When I asked, I was embarrassed by his answer. In a good way, though.
I had just spent the weekend with a close friend and gone out on a hike with her family. I didn’t know it, but my dad, a forester, was managing a timber sale with my friend’s father. At work that day, this father asked my dad if I was his daughter. After my dad admitted it was so, the guy shook my dad’s hand and congratulated him on having a good kid. He was impressed because I had picked up some trash on our hike and carried it back out of the woods.
This wasn’t a special thing to me; it was the way I had been raised. But it sure was to my dad. He got to find out—from a complete stranger—that all the hard work of being a parent had paid off. I feel that way about my book. The characters I loved writing went out into the world and did something good. It’s a small thing, like picking up a piece of trash, but they made me proud.
Of course, after I read the review, I hugged them, too.