Have you ever reached the end of a romance novel, when all your hopes and dreams for the protagonists have finally been fulfilled, and you uttered a sigh and a drawn out, “Aww”? As a writer, I strive for that reaction because, as a reader, I love Aww moments.
My daughter was a teenager when I completed the first draft of my sweet, Young Adult romance, SPELL CHECK. Brilliant and edgy, she had scored off the charts in reading and comprehension since early childhood. Her taste ran towards literary authors F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Sylvia Plath.
Not, I thought, the best candidate for a romance Beta Reader. But her opinion mattered to me. A lot. So I decided to take a chance and ask her to read the manuscript. I shadowed her, waiting for her to be bored, in a good mood, and out of new books to read. Yes, this was before the rise of ebook readers. Though to this day, she prefers paperbacks and hardcover books.
Finally, the planets and stars aligned and I caught her in the family room, plopped sideways in our favorite oversized, gold, multi-patterned armchair.
“Would you mind reading my manuscript?” I asked. I warded off a negative response by adding, “At least, just the first couple of chapters? I’d really appreciate your feedback.”
She shrugged. “Okay. Sure.”
“Great!” Before she could change her mind, I retrieved the printed manuscript and handed it to her.
When she read past the opening chapters of SPELL CHECK and showed no sign of quitting, an ember of hope flickered to life inside me. As the sun seeped through the picture window, fading the floral pattern on the back of the oversized armchair, I invented reasons to pass through the family room. Covertly, I checked her progress. Later, I may or may not have been lurking in the hall, spying, when she flipped to the last page.
Brilliant Edgy Daughter read the final paragraphs. Then still staring at the text, she did something totally uncharacteristic and unexpected. She uttered a sweet, satisfied, “Aww.” In that moment, my belief in my writing took wing.
SPELL CHECK became Book One in the Teen Wytche Saga. Book Four, SPELL FOR SOPHIA, released in May 2018. Brilliant Edgy Daughter is now an electrical engineer. But sometimes, in the midst of her hectic schedule, if I catch her at the optimal second, she’ll agree to read a new manuscript. I gave her the beloved oversized armchair. Now, no matter where her career takes her, I can picture her sitting sideways, her legs draped over the upholstered rolled arms, reading her way to the next Aww-inspiring moment.