The first time a reader had said that they were a “fan” of mine after reading my book, it felt…strange. Wonderfully strange. That’s the only way I can describe the feeling. First of all, this entire process is new to me, as I would assume is the case for most debut authors. Prior to releasing my book, I hadn’t even been very open with people about my writing. It was something that I kept to myself, and other than my family and a few close friends, I hadn’t told anyone that I was writing what would become my first full-length novel. Now that it’s out there, people have asked me why I never said anything. Well, I suppose it’s the same reason why any artist—writer, actor, singer, painter, photographer, and the list goes on—might hold back: fear, rejection, doubt, skepticism. I live in a town where every 3 out of 4 people are artists of some sort. A town full of critics. A town in which your art must come with a fairly solid resume in order to justify the use of the “artist” label. So naturally, I kept my mouth shut. Because of the fear. And the rejection. I wasn’t writing for anyone else but myself. I still write for myself, but now that I’ve overcome that fear, I’m not afraid to share that part of me with people.

So of course, when a complete stranger contacts me, telling me that they’re a fan after reading my book, it’s pretty surreal. It’s both humbling and rewarding, and though it isn’t the very reason why I do what I do, it’s an added bonus. On the other hand, I have a difficult time just grasping that word “fan” because to me, people like Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Colleen Hoover have fans (yup, that would be me…huge fan right here). People like me don’t have fans, or at least that’s what I used to tell myself, because I recently realized something: I have always had a fan. I had a fan well before I published my book. I had a fan even before I set off on my writing journey.

And this is why:

She keeps a box of everything I ever wrote in elementary, middle, and high school, including a story I wrote in the third grade that got me a 3rd place win in a school wide contest.

She worked hard to send me to college in New York where my tuition was double what it would have cost had I stayed in California. But I wanted to go, and she let me.

A fan is always loyal, no matter what. Even when a singer writes a crappy song or an author writes a book that wasn't as good as their last, a fan is still supportive. This woman is supportive even when I screw up. Even when she gets angry after I get a tattoo or I do something stupid, and she doesn't talk to me for days, she is still there for me.

She read the first several pages of my very rough manuscript back in 2008, and even when I knew it was a piece of crap, she still thoroughly enjoyed it.

She found an article about self-publishing in a magazine after reading that first draft back in ’08, so she cut it out and gave it to me. I just looked at it, stuck it in a pocket at the back of my planner, and laughed at her. I still have that article to this day.

She read every draft of Never Stop Falling (4 drafts)—front to back—proofread the final copy, and read it again when it was finally published.

And for the past week, she has been a woman on a mission, running around the San Francisco Bay Area with my bookmarks (or as my dad calls it, going “Paul Revere” with those things), handing them out to a list of 90 libraries and independent bookstores that she put together, and encountering a few rejections and disgruntled librarians along the way. But that doesn’t stop her. She simply shrugs her shoulders with her head held high and goes on to the next stop on her list. And she has been doing this all without me asking her to do it. She asked ME if she could. All because she wants to see me succeed.

And so, to this fan, there aren’t enough words in the world to express my gratitude for your support. You believe in me even when I find it hard to believe in myself, and for that I am so unbelievably grateful.

Judy Blume once said that her mother was her greatest fan, so I guess there is really only one thing I have left to say:

Thank you, Mom. I love you with all of my heart.