Someone Like Me

Question:
I am 27 years old. I feel like a big geek for sending this e-mail, but I just would like to tell you how much I adore your Alice series. I started reading the books when I was 11 or so, so I basically grew up with Alice. I can’t tell you how nice it was to have “someone like me” and someone who dealt with the same things I did as I got older. I remember every year around March or April, I would start getting super excited that it was almost time for another Alice book. One day, if I’m ever blessed with a daughter, I will read them with her.

I’ve actually been reading your works for much longer than that…I read the Shiloh books as well, and those were a favorite of mine in elementary school. They taught me that, yes, there are mean people in the world, but they don’t always win.

I’ve always wanted to send mail to my favorite authors, but I’ve never thought they would appreciate being bugged. However, for some reason I was looking something up about your series earlier, and I found out I could e-mail you! I don’t know how I missed it before, but I really appreciate that you’ve made it where your readers can contact you! So thanks!

I’m sure you get this question often, but I am an aspiring-to-be-published writer, and I wondered if there is any advice you’d be willing to share about writing and seeking publication in general.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you again (so much!!) for sharing your works with the world. I can’t imagine my childhood without those books.

Phyllis replied:

No need to feel geekish at all.  No author should be offended by fan mail. We may wish sometimes that big batches didn’t all come at once, or that fans didn’t ask for impossible things–for us to read their manuscripts and critique them, for example.  But I very much appreciated your lovely letter.

I don’t have any “get published quick” tidbits to send, unfortunately.  Most of us got our start by starting out very small and taking years to perfect our craft.  Probably most of us wrote and wrote and wrote long before we even dreamed of publication.  We wrote because we loved what we could do with words–describing a character, for example, or taking a situation and running with it, just to see where it would lead.

Enter every contest you possibly can.  Write for the joy of writing, of reading your work aloud, just to yourself, to hear how it sounds.  Form a small critique group of others who like to write, or join a larger group like the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attend their meetings.

I wish you the best of luck, and thanks again for your letter.

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