What Happened When My Daughter Read My Novel

My final edits for The Glass Wives were accepted – which means the manuscript goes into queue for copyediting, and for all intents and purposes, big changes have been completed.  Cue ominous music. Then, when my editor sent me the finished, digital document, I had an instantaneous flash of an idea – the kind that comes from nowhere and then seems obvious – almost like I’d been daft not to think of it before.

“Do you want to read the book?” I asked my 16-year-old daughter.

Her eyes widened – and if you know Chloe, this is quite a sight.  Eyes big and round and bright blue, accented by immaculately plucked eyebrows, lined most days into a modified Cleopatra, with sometimes delicate, yet always deliberate, swipes of not-tested-on-animals mascara. Or false lashes, depending on the occasion.

She nodded and smiled wide.

As I emailed the word doc to her hand-me-down Kindle, I had two thoughts. First, coupled with her mama-love bias would be her AP English analytical skills. Second, with the springboard for the novel being an event in our real lives, I wanted to know if she had any misgivings about the plot or characters.

“Let me know if anything bothers you,” I said. “I’m not changing it, but I still want to know.”

She just rolled her eyes and chuckled, as if none of that surprised her.  Humor and robust candor are the cornerstones of our relationship. I reminded her it’s not her usual reading fare, and she understood.  When she’s not entrenched in her normal school year, she reads a book or more per week, but she’s not reading book club books, or up-market women’s fiction. She’s reading epic YA, sweet romances and classics.  But she was game.  Then I told her the most important part.

“There’s no sex in it.”

Her shoulders relaxed.  She was visibly relieved. My friends are usually visibly disappointed.

Chloe decided to read The Glass Wives on her daily trek to the gym.  Now I don’t want to include any spoilers, but she texted me in dismay and delight over the story every day for over a week as she read.  And I caught her reading at home as well.  She told me what she liked, where and she was annoyed with the characters, when the happenings and twists made her sad, glad, happy, heart-warmed and relieved.   Her favorite parts are my favorite parts.  They’re my editor’s favorite parts.  They are some of my critique partners’ favorite parts.  Chloe said it was believable – and best of all she laughed when I asked if saw how it was fiction.

“Well it’s obvious where you got the idea,” she said, almost gloating, like she was part of a big secret that isn’t one.  It’s not a secret that my kids’ dad died in 2004.  It’s not a secret that The Glass Wives is about a woman whose ex-husband dies suddenly. “But other than that,” Chloe said.  And again, more eye-rolling.

She did call me on something she did once that I attributed to my main character’s ten-year-old daughter, but it was more like Chloe was honored to be sprinkled into fiction than anything else. She laughed with me about all the people who will be sorely disappointed not to find themselves within the pages, what the characters look like to her, what the house looks like, what she thinks happened after The End.

Speaking of The End – she was satisfied. It’s not tied neatly with a bow and she appreciated that the reader is left to discern what’s next.  Chloe liked that there was ample resolution, and that throughout the book things weren’t always what they seemed, but by the end, all fit together and made perfect sense.

And as she well knows, that only happens in fiction.

Amy xo

And yes, I have two kids.  My son, Zachary, is 20 and not a reader of fiction, he’s a reader of sports. He’s a writer too, about sports.  He was pleased Chloe read it, and more pleased I didn’t expect him to do the same. 

If you want to see a compilation of photos I attribute to The Glass Wives, check out my Pinterest board by clicking here

24 thoughts on “What Happened When My Daughter Read My Novel

  1. Can’t wait to read your book. I really like your idea of a Pinterest board for images you associate with your characters and book! I have some images for my boook that I’ve saved to my computer, but I never thought about adding them to Pinterest.

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    • Seems to be the new vision board! Or the new scrapbooking! I can see how accumulating images will help with my WIP too…because if you look at a photo it’s easier sometimes to write details, even though you’re changing things up! Good luck with it all, Laurie!

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  2. How lovely of your daughter to feed you with her honest opinions. My two daughters and daughter – in – law are reading mine at the moment. I watch the email inbox for their opinions but all is quiet. I am not sure I like quiet. 🙂

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  3. My daughter may be afraid to read mine — because, what if she doesn’t like it? She’s NY hip, I’m southern casual. I’m hoping that, in spite of the differing worldviews, she and her girlfriends will be surprised into liking Becalmed and its sisters.

    Thanks for a peek into your daughter’s reaction, Amy — and into your relationship with her.She sounds like a delightful young woman.

    I love the idea of that Pinterest board for each of our stories. I’d never thought of doing that (but then I wrote the work before I’d even heard of Pinterest). Visuals are such fun.

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    • Because Chloe’s 16, I had no idea if she’d like it — and that wasn’t really my objective — so it was a bonus. I wanted her to be 100% convinced it was fiction, not that she ever seemed to doubt it. If you’re looking for the “like” validation, I’d say that getting that from the reading public — perfect strangers — is what you want. Your family might not like your book, but they’re going to buy it anyway. It’s the people not vested in your career (you know, like your ability to put food on the table) you need to capture!

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  4. So…your favorite aunt,,I am right???? Is leaving for isreal on a. Long long long plane ride with an iPad to read books….hmmmm. Any chance????

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  5. I love this post, Amy! I’m so glad Chloe loved and appreciated the book. I’m so excited to read it, too. I LOVE those open-ended endings that allow the reader to imagine her own possibilities.

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  6. this made me smile —and I followed you on Pinterest.

    To have the thumbs up from a our kids is a huge thing – for they can be endlessly and wonderfully honest.

    I can’t wait to read your book, dear Amy —

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  7. Amy, I can’t wait to read The Glass Wives, simply because you wrote it! And I applaud you for asking the opinion of your 16 year old. Admittedly, I would be too nervous to ask my 14 year old to voice her opinion!

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  8. Very cool. Don’t think I could even get my 17 year old daughter to look at my manuscript. Mine does have a couple of mild, fade-to-black sex scenes. But, don’t think she could handle it. “Eeewww, Mom. Seriously?” Hers was an immaculate conception, don’t ya know.:-)

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  9. Great post! That sounds like a really cool experience. When I was younger, I used to sneak looks at my mom’s writing (she never shared and I never wanted to share mine with her). It’s really great that you shared with her, and that she had such a warm reception!

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  10. My son has no interest in reading my stuff, though possibly, if when it is published as a REAL book…. Then again, maybe not, because mine stuff does have sex in it, and it may be TMI for both of us.

    Glad your daughter’s experience was so positive, sounds like you on on EXACTLY the right track.

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  11. Can’t wait to read your book next year and good on you for getting in line with the copyediting. I gave my book to my nineteen-year-old son and he enjoyed it! There is sex and kinkiness and he picked out the funniest parts, loved the language and read it all over again! This is a kid who reads loads of contemporary history and composes dubstep music, and is slightly wild – so I was amazed and pleased.

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