Fan Mail Friday

September 26th, 2014

I recently returned from a writing retreat (more on that another time) to find a mountain of mail waiting for me. Snail mail! Email! Packages and parcels! Whee!

I love hearing from all of you, and I promise you will hear back from me, but it will have to wait until I finish the first draft of MDBC #7….

There is one bit of mail I need to respond to right away, though, and publicly. It’s from Cassie in Canada. Cassie is an aspiring writer, and an extremely talented one. I got a sneak peek at her future greatness thanks to an incredible piece of fan fiction that she sent to me.  Here it is:

HVF with Cassie's book

If you click on the picture, it should enlarge enough so you can read the title:  “Gatsbing at Surprises”

Can you guess what she’s chosen for the mother-daughter book club to read in her story?  Yep. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. An excellent choice, and one of my favorite classic novels!

As I opened this beautifully bound volume, I discovered the first surprise–she dedicated it to me!  I got tears in my eyes as I read the inscription:

For Heather Vogel Frederick, who is my inspiration and whose delightful series
was the inspiration behind this book.

But wait! There’s more! She also included a note:

“Dear Heather,

The only thing better than writing this book would be seeing your face when you opened it!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy your own series! Happy Reading.  🙂 

Love, Cassie”

WOW!

Here I am, tears in my eyes and all:

HVF with Cassie's inscription
On the right-hand page, you can also see the first quote she chose from The Great Gatsby:

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

Is that perfect or what? Don’t you just want to dive in?  I sure did.

Cassie, you are a WONDER!  You absolutely made my day, my week, my month, and more. I can’t thank you enough for this dear, heartfelt, amazing gift. Reading your story has been my treat to myself these past few evenings, after I finish my writing for the day. It’s ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, DARLING! (as Wolfgang would say). Oh, And I love love LOVE the “Author’s Note.”

She ends it with:  “Since this is the author’s note, I guess it means my book is finished. It’s not great, it’s not even that good but in the words of Francis Scott Fitzgerald, ‘tomorrow I will run faster, stretch out my arms farther…’ Practice makes perfect and who knows, maybe books by Cassandra [last name deleted for privacy] will start appearing on your library shelves someday!”

I have absolutely no doubt they will.  Here’s why:  Those three words, “practice makes perfect.”

This is the heart and soul of writing–of any art, and any endeavor in life. Cassie obviously gets that. We have to work at the things we love, to become good at them, and then great.

Here’s what one of my literary heroes, Ann Patchett, has to say on the subject:

“Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story, learn from it, put it away, write another story.”  This is from her superb essay “The Getaway Car,” which as far as I am concerned is required reading for every single aspiring writer on the planet. It can be found in her book of collected essays, “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” and also purchased as a single essay here and here and here.

Practice makes perfect.

When I was Cassie’s age, I aspired not only to be a writer, but also a flutist. My hero was Jean-Pierre Rampal. I listened to his recordings endlessly, by turn inspired (because he was so phenomenal) and discouraged (because he was so phenomenal). I heard him twice in person, and swooned at his skill. I tried to echo his phrasing when I played the pieces he played, tried to mimic his tone and his passion for music. While I always fell short of his perfection (seriously, the man was superhuman), my technique greatly improved under this regimen. He gave me something to aspire to, and although I never became a professional flutist (my love of writing eclipsed my love of music at some point in college), I was a better musician for it.

It’s the same with fan fiction, and with the practice novels and practice stories we produce, and all the writing we do in fits and starts when we’re first beginning. Keep working at it, keep aspiring, keep practicing.

Practice makes perfect.

 

 

17 Responses to “Fan Mail Friday”

  1. Cailey says:

    Im rereading MDBC series to be ready for the new book,I cant wait!!

    • Naomi says:

      I’m going to once the book is released because I read so fast that I would just be wait for so long. Does anyone else have that problem or is it just me?

  2. Varsha says:

    Great job Cassie! I’m so impressed with you! You will be an amazing writer when you grow up, no doubt about that!

    And Heather, I can’t wait to read the last MDBC book! I know it will be wonderful!!

    A sincere fan…

    • heathervogelfrederick says:

      Ooo, thanks for sharing this, Varsha! What fun! I love thinking that my characters are living on in the imaginations of my readers… 😀

  3. Tatum says:

    That is so cool that you did that Cassie! I bet it is really good! I really like hearing about other writers around our age! One of my friends recently finished a book that she is getting self published, and I just got an idea and started on one that i want to self publish by senior year! I already have a pretty good start on it, so i am excited! Cassie, I hope all of your future writing goes great too! Just keep following your dreams!

  4. [C+T](J+D){E+S}~M+S~$B+T$ says:

    that’s so cool, both ways, 1) cause I’m teaching myself the flute, and that you played yourself 2) the story I can only imagine was incredible.
    I love your books so much and can’t wait to get into book 7 of the mother daughter book club

  5. Daisy Blogger says:

    hey heather! I was wondering what was your favorite part to write in the whole MDBC series? Like, from who’s POV?

    • heathervogelfrederick says:

      Oh wow, that’s a tough question. Emma is probably most like me. Well, with some Jess, too, especially shy Jess, because I used to be super shy. I LOVE writing from Cassidy’s point of view, though, because I can totally cut loose and be HER (so very different from me). They’re all fun to write, actually.

  6. Olivia says:

    That’s awesome!! 😀

  7. Grace says:

    Wow that is so cool!

  8. Cassie says:

    Hey Guys!!! I just wanted to thank you all for your positive comments you have left me! Writing that book was so rewarding, I wasn’t expecting publicity at all but this is so exciting!!! Heather- Thank you AGAIN!!! <3

  9. [C+T](J+D){E+S}~M+S~$B+T$ says:

    Great job Cassie, I don’t think I will be doing anything quite as amazing anytime soon, just out of curiosity, how long did it take you?

  10. Jenna C. Stone says:

    Oh how sweet Cassie!!!!! The story sounds wonderful and I LOVE your authors note!!!!

    Jenna

  11. Cassie says:

    About a month and a bit- formatting/printing included 😀

  12. Jess+Darcy=4ever! says:

    Yay! I can’t wait for the 7th book! You should TOTALLY make the books go on until the girls habe families. That’d be SO GOOD! I love the MDBC series SOOOOOOOO(a million more times) much!!! Great job, Heather!

  13. Jess+Darcy=4ever! says:

    Yes!!!!!!!I can’t wait!!!!!

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