18 December 2015

My 2015 Top Ten List (of moments to remember every time my book doesn't make a top ten list)

'Tis the season for "top ten" and "best of" lists of books for 2015, and I'm sincerely happy for all of my debut YA author friends whose books are getting a well-deserved shout-out. The ones appearing on ALL the lists? The ARE all that. It's true. I've read them and loved them. But there are also some books I've hugged to my chest and ached over, or laughed out loud at and shared with every teen reader I know, or otherwise fangirled over... that are NOT on the lists.  

And my book, too... it has not made it onto the radar screen of the top ten list-makers, either. 

Every time a list comes out, the part of my brain that's eternally optimistic (and completely delusional) says, "OH, goodie! A list! Let's see if Between the Notes is on it!" And I hopefully scan the beautiful books, oohing and ahhing over ones I haven't read yet that look sooo good. But, nope. My book isn't there.

And that's OKAY. Seriously. Because have you noticed how many amazing books came out in 2015? It's a huge honor to even be sitting in the same room. I've been part of the most incredible class of debut authors imaginable, and no one will never convince me that there has ever been or will ever again be a more impressive year. (I may be biased, but I don't think so. It was an awesome freaking year for YA.)

That said, it is still just a *teensy* bit hard to read list after list that doesn't include my book without feeling just a tad dejected. So, I made my book's very own top ten list. Here it is:


1) A few weeks before my publication date, a box arrived from Harper Collins—full of MY BOOK! Real books! That I wrote! Published! There they were. In a box! My son and I stacked them into towers and pyramids. I took photos. I clapped and squealed. (My teenage son is way cooler than I am, so he did not squeal. But I could tell he was pretty happy and proud of his mom.) 

2) A reader/book blogger from the Philippines tweeted me that she had read and loved Between the Notes. My portrayal of Ivy's disabled little brother, Brady, reminded her of her own disabled brother and their relationship. We exchanged private messages. She wrote at first that she couldn't put it into words. "Just thank you." To hear from a reader who identified so strongly with the disability experience I had written meant so much to me. I wrote to her, "You're making me cry!" And she responded, "You made me cry first!" As we exchanged messages, she revealed how Brady was similar to her brother. "Being a creature of habit, having his own logic, the repetitive gestures, therapy..." She also related to Ivy's sometimes less-than-stellar behavior. "I knew how she felt. The constant worrying and doing everything not to upset him and the what-ifs and all that." What a special feeling to connect with a reader so far away, about this very special character.

Launch party at Hockessin Book Shelf
3) My local indie bookstore, Hockessin Book Shelf, threw a kickass launch party for me. I signed books for two hours straight. There was wine and cheese and cupcakes. Friends and family and people I hadn't seen in years came. The store sold out of their copies of Between the Notes and we had to crack open my personal supply of books. A woman who'd read about it in the paper was excited that I'd written about the teenage experience. She had no idea YA even existed, and my book was her introduction! It was all very exciting. I may have levitated.

Look, Mom! Your book!
4) My kids and I made a special trip to Barnes & Noble the week after my book came out, to see it on the shelf. I was so nervous it wouldn't be there. But it was! Two stacks facing out! I nervously went to the info desk and asked if they wanted me to sign them. THEY DID! 

5) A friend texted me from a restaurant in Pennsylvania. "A young girl is reading your book at the table next to us." A few minutes later a photo came through. It was the first moment I had concrete proof that complete strangers were reading my book. I love that girl. I love all girls who bring books with them to restaurants. 

Representing Delaware at the National Book Festival!
6) The Delaware Division of Libraries/Center for the Book chose Between the Notes to represent Delaware in the States Pavillion at the National Book Festival. I wasn't a featured speaker or anything, but I did get to listen to Libba Bray and Jenny Han speak, and briefly meet up with fellow Fifteener Sabaa Tahir. I got to bask in the awesome of a massive convention center filled with book lovers. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. My book was sold in the store there, and was featured on a map activity for kids, and I got to appear at the Delaware booth and sign bookmarks. I brought 500 bookmarks with me and ran out a few hours before the day ended. Kids who came to the booth to get their map stamped were excited to meet an author... me! They got these great, excited looks of surprise and delight on their face when they found out I was "the author." 
Jon Sciezcka is holding my book!

7) Oh, and at the National Book Festival, I also ran into Jon Sciezcka (the first ever Ambassador of Young People's Literature and author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Squids will be Squids and so many other books my kids and I have adored). When I say I "ran into" Jon Sciezcka, I really mean that I recognized him walking through the pavilion and catapulted myself across the aisle to introduce myself and thank him for his awesome books and remind him that we'd met in Delaware when he appeared there a few years ago and tell him I was now published. Instead of treating me like a weird stalker or crazy fangirl, he said, "Let me see your book!" and "Welcome to the club!" We took a photo together. HE HELD MY BOOK. And then he followed me on Twitter. I died. 

8) OMG, fan Letters! A 12-year-old from Indiana wrote, "I know I am but a young girl who knows nothing compared to the world, but I do know I want to experience a love like that someday; beautiful, confusing, frustrating, dizzying, refreshing, amazing, exhilarating." A 14-year-old girl from Canada sent me a photo of herself hugging a library copy of my book. She listed all her favorite moments in the story, and I gobbled it up. Fans are lovely.

9) A friend who lives down the road, who generally does not read YA, stopped by with her teenage daughter to tell me how much they'd both loved my book. They were downright giddy. The daughter had finished reading at 5 a.m. that morning, and had wanted to call me in the wee hours of the morning to squee over it. I was particularly pleased that she liked it, because this girl also happened to be in my driveway the day I got the first proof of my book cover art. I hadn't shown it to anyone yet, and was excited and worried and ALL THE FEELS. She said, "You should show it to some teens and see what they think." I dragged her out of the car and showed it to her. And she liked it. I'm so glad she liked what was inside, too!

10) I was Facebooking with author Stacey Lee (Under a Painted Sky) the other day, and she wrote, "BTW Sharon, my neighbor's daughter LOVED Between the Notes. I gave it to her for her birthday. She said it was her favorite book of the year. :-) You should feel very proud." And I was. Because Stacey Lee, who wrote one of my favorite books of 2015, gave MY book to a reader on the other side of the country, and she loved it. In that moment, I felt like I'd just made the most important "Top Ten" list of the year. I made Stacey Lee's neighbor's daughter's top ten list. Then Stacey added, "She can't wait for your next one."

And that's when I decided to make my own top ten list, because the year has been full of special moments like these. I wouldn't trade them for an appearance on any "best of" list in the world.

THANK YOU ALL for a wonderful year!


  1. This made me SOB. Glad you had such an amazing year - you (and Ivy!) deserved it!!

    1. Now I'm going to sob! Thank you for being a special part of it!

  2. Oh gosh, Sharon, this is the best Top 10 list!