No, I didn’t suddenly decide to write a book.

A couple days ago, someone commented that it was so cool that I had suddenly decided to write a book. It made me smile, because The Phone Call has nothing sudden (other than the publishing contract) about it.

When our middle son was born in 1993, I stayed home for his first two years. That son didn’t ever take naps, but he would sit for about an hour once a day in his crib and look at books and listen to music. So when he would take his break, I would sit down at the computer and write. Over his first two years, I started writing the story of Alex and Kat, knowing them so well in my mind, and wanting to bring them to life on paper.

There were moments of great progress in my writing then, and moments of despair, such as when we finally got a new computer, and our oldest decided to check it out when we were out on a very rare date. She checked out the computer, and in the process, deleted more than 100 pages of the novel. Countless tearful hours later, I had to admit that the part deleted was trash, so she had probably done the world a favor by deleting it.

Over the years, I kept coming back to the story, picking away at it. That middle son, it was a fascination for him. Every time I’d work on it, he’d comment that one day when it sold, not if, we were going to out dinner, and he and his siblings could order anything they wanted — when you are one of four kids in a financially strapped household, choice in ordering is a big deal. As he grew, when I walked away from writing, he’d nudge me back to it, always with the smile and the “one day, Mom, one day.” His belief in that novel, and in me, was a joy to behold.

Years went by, I finished it, and kept working on other novels too. Then, when that son passed away, there was a long time when I didn’t even think of writing fiction at all. One day, I finally realized how much I missed it, and how much I needed to honor his belief that it would someday be published. I pulled the thumb drive out, printed it out, and sat down with my favorite purple gel pen and started to edit. Months later, it was done, and it was sent out to a group of literary agents and a couple publishing houses that don’t require that you have an agent.

And when that contract arrived, I did the last thing that I would have expected, I burst into tears. So many years had passed since the day I first sat down at the computer, and it was finally a reality. So yes, when it is finally published, we will go out to dinner, and my children can order anything they want. And my middle son’s spirit will be right there, celebrating with us.

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