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What is the best activity a father and daughter can enjoy doing together?

Of course, the answer will depend on the interests of both the daughter and the father. But mostly the interests of the daughter.

Teddy Roosevelt is credited with saying that he learned the secret of getting his kids to listen to him. “Find out what your kids want to do and tell them to do that.”

An axiom to that insight might be that if you want to spend quality time with your kids, learn what they like to do and you (dad) learn to like to do that, too.

Love to Do What Your Children Love

My 11-year old daughter absolutely loves books. Me, not so much … at first. But I do now. Love books that is.

11-yo Mia Loves to Read

11-yo Mia Loves to Read

I get asked questions now though I don’t always get asked the questions I want to be asked.

7 questions we’d like to get about writing a book together

  1. Where can I buy the book you and your daughter wrote?
  2. Can I tell all my friends about the book you guys wrote?
  3. Can I buy a few hundred copies of your two’s book to give away as gifts?
  4. Can we use your father/daughter book online in our reading group of 2,000 people, or 200 people or even 20 people who meet in the local coffee shop?
  5. Can I review your book on my YouTube channel to my 2,000,000 subscribers?
  6. Would you like to be on my podcast to 20,000 people who will be listening live and buy the book?
  7. Can you and your daughter be the keynote speaker at our upcoming school district conference?

7 questions I get about writing a book together with my daughter

  1. How did you get your 11-yo daughter to focus on writing this 50,000+ word novel with you?
  2. How did you practically make that happen – the co-authoring process?
  3. How involved was she in the whole writing process?
  4. Do you really have two endings to your novel?
  5. Are the endings significantly different?
  6. Can we tell you which ending we like the most?
  7. Are you two working on anything else?

I can answer both sets of questions, of course. I’d rather answer the first set, but I am delighted to answer the second set as well. The second set is what this post is all about.

Shameless Plugs on a Father/Daughter Joint Book Writing Effort

The answers, to be sure, will best be understood by those who have read the book:

The Giant Forest <= shameless plug.

The Giant Forest can be bought on Amazon. <= another shameless plug by ones, twos, 20s, up to … pick a number. There! I answered some of the first batch.

The answers to the second batch of questions will be the bulk of this post.

If I do not answer all your questions, well, there are a half a dozen ways for you to reach out and ask.  Start by commenting below. We promise, we will do out best to answer them for you.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for asking.

How a Dad & 11-year old Daughter Co-Wr0te a Novel for Kids

You, “I can’t even get my daughter to tell me how her day was, shoot! What she had for lunch and you got your daughter to write a 50,000+ word novel with you?! Really?”

“Yup, really,” me.

For six years, I drove Mia to and from the small private Christian school that she attended. The one-way commute took us about 20-25 minutes to get there, and that long again to get back home.

Find Time to Brainstorm on Writing

In between, there were trips to after-school Chinese school or to the pool for her swim training.

All in all, we spent more than an hour each day in the car, five days each week for 180 days each year for six years. If the school needed a chaperone, I was all over it. Does five days at camp with a bunch of rowdy 5th graders sound like fun? Not to me, either. But I did it. Because my daughter was there. 

Keeping Local Library in Business

Keeping Local Library in Business

Our favorite hang outs were local libraries or Barnes & Noble. We spent hours and hours – me working at the attached cafes, writing or thinking about writing and her relaxing in a corner reading books and books and books.

Of course, we did not talk the whole time. We did not ‘super bond’ or anything like that. I am thrilled to confess that there was NO traumatic experience in our lives that would have resulted in us being inseparable. To be sure, she’d rather hang out with her friends than with me. Whew! She told me multiple times, and I was glad to hear it. 

Dad takes the Lead in Co-writing

But we did get to know each other pretty well. And we enjoyed talking to each other. To be sure, at times, most of the time I probably did more talking than she did. But, we talked. We spent time together – forced as it may have been – but still we spent time together. And I determined to make the absolute most of that time. Gladly so, too, I will joyfully admit.

When Mia did talk; her favorite subject was a book she was reading or wanted to read. I drove to a half dozen counties and library districts to become a member and get a library card so we could reserve more books online.

2 Big Helpers

  • Her mother gets credit, too! She spent a lot of time reading to Mia when she was little.
  • Her private elementary school gets points as well for encouraging reading.

Dad’s a Bit Slow

It wasn’t till we got to around the 5th grade that I realized that Mia was reading a LOT of books for the 2nd, 3rd or more, time. She, we, had exhausted the books that appealed to her at her level and slightly above. She could read at a higher level, but the content was, in my opinion, not appropriate. A 10- or 11-year old doesn’t need to read about romance, first kisses and first other events. Not yet, anyway.

We looked and looked. Remember all those libraries, physical and online I joined? We kept coming up empty for books to read.

The Dawning of an Idea for a Book

“Hey, Mia. Why don’t we write our own book?”

“Okay, dad.”

And that was it – the beginning of the writing process.

Writing a novel together, something neither of us had ever attempted before seemed like the natural thing to do. Really. What do we know? What did I know? What didn’t I know?

Not Knowing is Good, too

Sometimes, often in my experience it is not knowing what you can’t do (double negative I know) that makes doing something possible.

In my mind, I had a very short list of requirements.

  1. I wanted the book to be something that was real-to-life. No winged creatures, or time-travel, or magic or piggybacking on someone else’s story – think fanfiction. I wanted to come up with new characters and keep it real. Mia likes fantasy. I was curious if I could get her interested in true to life story telling, too.
  2.  I wanted Mia to like the book. Among other things she is brutally honest. She would tell me when the story or the twist stunk, didn’t work or just wasn’t interesting. She also recruited a handful of her classmates to read along as we wrote the book. I figured if we could keep their interest, we might be on to something.

We Were On to Something with the Book

“When’s the next chapter coming out?” became an oft asked greeting in place of  a ‘Hello!’ when Mia went to school or I went to pick her up. Encouraging.

Where We Put Fingers to Keys

Dads Can Write a Book

Dads Can Write a Book, Too

Practically speaking, the book was written in Google Docs … and shared via email with all the beta readers. There were literally hundreds of comments, suggestions over the course of writing the book.

About six months later, the first draft was done. 

The second draft added over one-fourth in volume from the first draft;

44,000 => 55,000 words or so.

All the while, Mia and I discussed the changes in the book during our commutes. She got first dibs on reading the rewrites. Then her friends and some parents chimed in. 

Making the Co-written Book Professional

Another month or so and after the critical eye of an editor – best selling adventure writer – and we tidied up a 3rd draft … and called it finished.

Mia went back to school after summer vacation and now it’s come to me to see who else might be interested in reading the book … you know, the 20s, 200s, 2000s or more.

The finished product.

Chapter book for preteens

The Giant Forest



Bill Belew

Daddy and Christian.

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