Mother knows best

I never meant to be a children’s author.

Before Sarah & Katy and the Imagination Blankets, I had not written children’s fiction since I was … well, since I was a child.

As soon as I reached junior high, I began writing YA fiction. In high school, I began writing literary fiction. In college, I branched into mainstream and women’s fiction, with a twist of magical realism. My tendency was to write toward my own age group.

The manuscripts piled up. A middle grade tale of a princess embarking on a quest. A YA novel about a junior high girls basketball team. A women’s fiction novel about a woman mourning the death of her husband and believing the dog that turned up on her doorstep is him.

None of those books were published, though. They still line figurative shelves on my laptop’s hard drive, collecting figurative dust.

Mom lamented the shift in my writing for years. She was my biggest fan, with drawers stuffed full of old wide-ruled notebook paper with misspelled words in crayon. She never hesitated to tell me she missed the days of my children’s stories that were full of talking cats and wizards and dragons and children transformed into animals.

Oh, and then there was that story I wrote in grade school called “The Witch Sister,” in which I cast my older sister as a witch. Mom still loves to laugh about that one.

But as a preteen, teenager, and adult, I thought I had outgrown that stage of fiction.

Mom tried her best to change my mind, but I continued to work — sometimes half-heartedly — on my adult fiction.

Then Sarah and Katy entered the picture.

(Do those names sound familiar?)

Sarah and Katy, my oldest sister’s daughters (currently the only kids in the family), are 8 and 7 years old. Both can read, and both love books (almost) as much as I do. Both are imaginative, and intelligent, and sincere.

Their love of reading made me want to write a book they would want to read.

(I cheated a little by starring them as the main characters. Just to guarantee they’d be interested.)

SKIB includes all of the elements back from my childhood days of writing children’s fiction. There are magic carpets, pirate ships, ghosts, dragons, talking cats, and magical “imagination” blankets.

Mom’s wish came true. As it turns out, the first book I was able to finish and launch is a children’s book.

Mom was right. As usual.

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