Fan mail Friday

I am w-a-y overdue with a fan mail update (and w-a-y behind on answering my fan mail, for all of you waiting so patiently to hear back from me), and a recent flurry of absolutely truly FABULOUS photos some of you sent in has given me just the nudge I needed.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, the pictures I’m going to share with you today are worth more than that — they’re worth their weight in gold! It’s hard to put in words how much it means to me to receive your letters and beautiful drawings and lovely photos. To say that it touches my heart is the understatement of the 21st century! But that’s exactly what it does, and I treasure each and every one of my readers who so generously take the time to thank me in this way.

The connection between reader and writer is a special one, isn’t it? I ponder it often. In a way, reading a book is a long conversation between the writer and the reader — at least I like to think of it that way. It’s a conversation that transcends time and place, that can reach across the centuries. Just think of it, Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice for me! Someone she would never know; someone living in a world she couldn’t possibly have imagined at the time she was writing. And E.B. White — could he have dreamed of the impact that Charlotte’s Web would have on me?

Me, happily connecting with E.B. White

And now, my books are going out into the world, and connecting with many of you — and in turn you reach out to connect with me, whether it’s through the pure and wondrous experience of reading itself, or whether it’s through your letters, your emails, your comments on this blog, your artwork, or your photographs.

Thank you, each and every one of you, from the bottom of my heart!

And now, this Friday’s fan mail:

Do you love this sweet smile or what?!  Wow!

And how about this one? Heart-melter, right?

And look at this amazing mother-daughter book club! Don’t they look like they’d be fun to read with? 

Come back and visit again on future Fridays, as I have more fun fan art and photos to share. And meanwhile, it’s JULY! National ice cream MONTH! What are you doing sitting here reading this blog? You should be out there rustling up some ice cream. Go! Now! Do it!

 

 

Fan Mail Friday

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Summer sped by in a blur, and here it is September, and the beginning of my favorite time of year. I love fall. I love the way the air feels, when there’s that tiny bit of a chill at night letting you know autumn is on the way. I love the sound of crickets, and the first yellow school bus sighting, and the sidewalks and stores crowded with excited kids carrying new backpacks bristling with new school supplies. I love knowing it’s almost time to go apple picking, and drink cocoa, and go hiking in hills and forests dressed in their bright autumn finery, and pull out sweaters and boots that have been languishing in the back of my closet, waiting for cooler days.

Speaking of cooler days, one of you sent me the most AMAZING present that will not only come in handy this winter, and will also have a special place in my heart forever.

mdbc-scarf

It’s a mother-daughter book club scarf!

Emma, it’s absolutely GORGEOUS and I absolutely ADORE it! I hope you all can see how awesome this is — try clicking on the picture and see if it expands. Emma carefully chose yarn colors to match each of the first six books — there are shades of pink for The Mother-Daughter Book Club, blues and greens for Much Ado About Anne, lavenders and blues and yellows for Dear Pen Pal, peachy pinks for Pies & Prejudice, red white and green (of course) for Home for the Holidays, and blue and white and red for Wish You Were Eyre.

It’s perfect.

Emma is from Canada, and she’s off to university this fall. She wrote me a letter to go along with the scarf, a letter that made me cry (happy tears), telling me about how she discovered the series when she was 11, and grew up with my fictional book club girls. “Thank you for giving me friends for a lifetime,” she said in part.

Thank you, Emma, for being such an amazing friend, and for your incredibly thoughtful gift. I will treasure it!

(P.S.  I hope you have a BLAST at university!)

 

 

Fan Mail Friday

So how many other writers have been immortalized in CAKE?! Am I the most fortunate author in the world or what?!

Stephanie's Wish You Were Eyre Cake

This is lovely Stephanie’s WISH YOU WERE EYRE cake that she dreamed up for her middle school’s “Bake A Book” activity.

Cool, huh?

I absolutely adore everything about this confection — the Eiffel Tower, the dresses, the pastel-colored macarons dancing around the edge – it’s pure genius!

THANK YOU for sending me these pictures, Stephanie!

I love your creativity and am honored you chose my book to “bake”!  🙂

Fan mail Friday

Can you believe it’s October? I think this is my favorite month of the year (of course, I say that every month) — piercingly blue skies, apple crisp kind of days, leaves putting on their colorful fall coats and crunching underfoot, and the smell of woodsmoke in the air. I can’t get enough of October!

I have two great pieces of fan art to share with you this week. Coincidentally, they’re both collages.

The first one was sent to me by Shivi:

Shivi's Collage

Isn’t this clever and fun?  I absolutely love it! Thank you, Shivi!

And here’s the one that Rebecca sent:

Rebecca's collageI just love that line she used: “Some stories stay with us forever.” SO TRUE. And I’m honored that she feels mine are worthy of those words.  Thank you, Rebecca!

 ::happy sigh::

I have the best fans in the world!

Fan mail Friday

Wow, am I behind on answering mail again! Sorry, folks–that’s what happens when you’re a writer on deadline, and I’m juggling TWO of them…

I have some great fan art to share with you this week, though. First up is a wonderful group portrait of the book club girls by Claire.

Claire's art

(As always, if you click on any picture here on my blog, it should enlarge for you.)

Claire, I love your attention to detail — Cassidy with her hockey stick (and Chloe!), Becca on her cell phone, Megan shopping (!), Jess with one of her goats and a book bag, and Emma reading (of course!), with Pip peeking out from behind her. Brilliant! Thank you so much for sending this to me!

It’s interesting, this week as I started in on my pile of mail again after neglecting it sadly for a bit, I found that I’d received letters from a wide range of locations. Claire is from the United States (Tennessee, to be exact), while this next piece of artwork is from Zoie, a reader in Canada (Ontario, to be exact):

Zoie's art (1)

Thanks, Zoie! I love this card!! And I love what you added inside, too:

Zoie's art (2)

Because who doesn’t love PIE on their birthday? Or any day? Funny thing is, we often have pie instead of cake for family birthdays, because we are all serious pie fanatics. When my oldest son was just a toddler, he requested pumpkin pie for his birthday, with Teddy Grahams marching around on it. We were happy to oblige!

Continuing with our world tour, let’s hop from Canada on to my final treat for you today, which comes from two sisters living in MALTA!!!  (Click on the link to learn more, or look it up on a map.) How cool is that? I have readers in Malta!

This picture is by Amy, who also told me that she has nine tortoises for pets. How exotic! I would dearly love to meet them.

Amy's artDon’t you just love this drawing? I do!  You’re a wonderful artist, Amy. I love Jess and her braid, Megan with her stylish outfit, and Cassidy with her Red Sox T-shirt (by the way, GO RED SOX!). Well done!

I’m giving Amy’s sister Megan the final word today. This made me laugh out loud. I absolutely love it — wouldn’t it be great on a T-shirt? Thank you, Megan!

Megan's art

 

 

Fan mail Friday

You know I don’t play favorites, right? I love all of my readers, and I love all of the mail you send me. Nothing brightens my day more than reading a letter or an email or a comment from one of you.

But this drawing is pretty special. Take a close look, and I think you’ll agree. It’s from oh-so-clever Madelyn, an eighth grader who is clearly a fan of our Saturday Story Starters.  (Click on her drawing to enlarge it.)

 

Maddy 8th

 

Am I right or am I right?

Thank you, Madelyn! I LOVE all the thought and effort that went into this beautiful drawing! So fun.

And speaking of Saturday Story Starter — stay tuned. I have a fun one coming tomorrow for you…

Fan mail Friday

More goodies to share with you all this week!  My mailbox overfloweth!

Here’s a fun drawing by Muriel, who’s 11:

Muriel's drawing 2

It’s her favorite scene from DEAR PEN PAL, when my mother-daughter book club girls go to visit their friends on the ranch in Gopher Hole, Wyoming. I love that part of the story, too.  Wonderful job, Muriel — and such vivid color!

Here’s another drawing, this one from Maggie, who also happens to be 11:

Maggie's drawing 2(I hope you know you can click on these drawings to enlarge them and see them up close.)

Another wonderful job — I love all the fun details that let us know who each girl is. My favorite part is the frisky little tail on Jess’s baby goat.

Thank you, Maggie, and thank you, Muriel. You are both fabulous artists!

I love my fans!

Candy Hearts

 

 

 

Fan mail Friday

First of all, a very Happy New Year to you all!

Happy New Year birds

Can you believe it’s 2015?

It’s now officially the year that Marty McFly traveled to in the movie Back to the Future II.

Marty McFly 2015

What? You haven’t seen Back to the Future II?!  What are you doing reading this blog? Go right now and watch it.  Now!  Go!  Shoo!

I’m still waiting for my hoverboard to show up…

hoverboard

Meanwhile, what HAS shown up is wonderful, fabulous mail in my mailbox! And I want to share some of it with you. (By the way, I have just one New Year’s resolution this year:  Catching up on all my mail. If you’ve been waiting patiently to hear back from me, please be patient just a wee bit longer…)

How would you like to find an envelope addressed like THIS in your mailbox?

Hand-lettered envelope

This is from Lydia and Hannah, and the envelope was HAND-LETTERED and decorated by Lydia (I couldn’t put all of it on here, because I want to keep their return address private). Absolutely knocked my socks off. Someone has a promising future as a graphic designer and artist, don’t you think?

Inside was a letter, also BEAUTIFULLY decorated …

Lydia and Hannah letter

… and so very enthusiastic and kind it just made my heart sing! I am so humbled and grateful to have readers like all of you.

In addition to this fabulous letter (not gonna show you the other side, because of personal information), there was this very clever and accomplished drawing:

MDBC hair

If you click on it, it should enlarge for you. It’s by Hannah, and isn’t it wonderful? I LOVE the idea of showing the characters’ hairstyles — from the back!  So unique! Your artistic career is inevitable too, Hannah, from what I see!

Thanks, girls, for starting my new year off with a bang! And look for a reply from me in your mailbox soon…

 

 

 

Fan mail Friday

Reaching into my mail bag today for a fun book club do-it-yourself project!

First of all, check out the centerpiece that this fifth grade book club put together when they discussed THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB:

Centerpiece

I love it!  Skates to represent Cassidy, a notebook and pen for Emma, sewing basket for Megan, and what looks like a stuffed dog for animal-lover Jess. Oh, and a copy of LITTLE WOMEN, of course.

But wait! There’s more! Check out the mood pillows that they made:

Mood Pillow 2

Mood Pillow 1

 

Cuuuuuute!  Wondering what a mood pillow is?  Click here to find out (hint: if you read LITTLE WOMEN, you’ll know).

Ann, who leads this particular book club, generously offered to share directions with all of my blog readers for making a no-sew mood pillow. Ready? Here you go!

You will need — cylindrical pillow insert, sweatpants or pajama leg (or sewn cylinder), sturdy rubber bands (2 each), ribbon (about 1 yd. each).

Pillow insert
This is what a pillow insert looks like

Take a pajama leg or a sweatpants leg and cut it the length of the pillow plus from six to ten inches on each side. Stuff the insert into the pants leg so that it is in the center. Gather up the excess fabric on either side, and make a ‘pigtail’ with it, securing it with sturdy rubber bands.

Finally, cut the yard of ribbon in half, and tie a bow over each rubber band!

Mood Pillow 3

Thanks, Ann, and thanks to your book club girls and moms, too!

 

Fan Mail Friday

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.