I confess that the first book I remember was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I don’t just remember it because my Nanny Fugate read it to me ALL the time, or because of the bright-green cover that stood out on my bookshelf. And it most certainly was not the pictures that endeared the book to my mind – they were simple black and white drawings, nothing that would stick for long in a child’s memory. No, I remember this book because it grabbed my heart and never let go. It made me feel something. It made me think of a life other than my own. I remember it because a simple tree taught me that a life of sacrifice on behalf of others could actually be a satisfying life. I still read this book to my middle schoolers – and cry every time.

I could take all kinds of spiritual and deep meaning from The Giving Tree, but that is not really my purpose in this entry. What I really wanted to write about was how books can impact our lives in such powerful ways – I have never been the kind of person who struggled with a desire to read. I have always enjoyed the magical way the written word can jump off a page and create incredible images within my own mind… the crazy connection I can have with fictional characters that become like real people to me. A natural love for reading in my life ultimately led to a natural love of writing. I soon wanted to be the creator, the initiator, for other people’s imaginations to run wild. I started writing full-length novels in fifth grade and scribbled my way through the teenage years. I led a busy, active life both outwardly AND inwardly. Because when I wasn’t onstage or traveling or leading in some way, I was writing and spinning stories about people I wanted to meet and places I wanted to go. I won’t bore you with details of those stories (although my girlfriends could probably tell you a thing or two about them). You never know what I might pick up later and recreate now as an adult…

I think that everyone has an “entry” book into the world of reading. And I believe I have had different “entry” books that have inspired me at different times in my life. I do remember The Babysitter’s Club books

and always enjoyed the characterization of each girl and their unique experiences as they grew up. I faithfully read every Trixie Belden book, as well as Nancy Drew books – largely because they featured strong, lovable female characters who were always trying to impact the world in a positive way. And I do have a thing for mystery… always trying to challenge myself to figure it out before the character!

After I graduated college, I almost forgot how to read for fun and imagination. I certainly didn’t enjoy writing as much anymore, and it wasn’t until I became a teacher that I started picking up books to read for fun again. That was when I read Twilight, which ultimately ended up becoming an “entry” book for me once again into the YA fiction world – as an adult. When I found myself cooing over a 100-year-old teenage vampire, I knew I wanted to start reading again just for the enjoyment. I now only shop in the teenage section of the bookstore and enjoy reading when I find spare time in my life. Love for reading, of course, led me to write my own novel.

Now the really crazy thing is that I feel as if I’ve come full-circle in some ways… I haven’t been on my blog much this summer because I’ve been actively writing the sequel to Phantom Island: Wind, and I’m sorry, with writing being my full-time job in the summer, keeping up with a blog just didn’t appeal. 🙂 So I’ve gotten to take a break from the first part of my book tour and watch Phantom start to spread on its own. One of the people (who heard about Phantom through posts on Facebook) was an old friend from OBU, Lori. She was my “labbie” friend – meaning, we both worked in the computer lab together. Lori and I immediately hit it off in our new job – she had a sweet vivacity for life and I eventually looked forward to spending time with her (even though she was a year or so younger than me.) Lori is a self-proclaimed non-reader and has always confessed that she does not read for enjoyment. But she has now found her “entry” book into the world of YA fiction and… well, I’ll let you read her words exactly. Everyone has an “entry” book and maybe you haven’t found yours yet. But it’s out there… pick up a book and read!!
Read Lori’s blog post about Phantom Island below: