Olivia Newport Wonderful Lonesome Cover

Wonderful Lonesome is due out September 1, 2014.

A few weeks ago I traveled to Illinois to visit my mother, who has been living in an assisted living community for the last year.

Believe me, you can spend all day moving from one scheduled activity to another. Wii bowling. Dog visitors. Musical entertainers. Card games. Happy hour. Check the schedule. There’s always something.

The staff in charge of arranging these activities got wind I was coming for a visit. Several of them knew my mother well enough to know she had a daughter who wrote novels and had seen copies of my books on the shelves of her apartment, and they asked if I would do a Meet the Author event during my visit.

I was happy to.

I talked about books that have already come out and some that are in the pipeline. There were some pretty sharp tacks in attendance with curious questions. I had a good time, and I donated signed books to the onsite library.

Later I ran into the woman who organizes the library. She and the director of fun (yes, her actual title) were strategizing how they could be sure that readers who borrowed the books would bring them back. I don’t think they worry about that too much with most of their small donated collection, but they expected my books would be popular.

The dilemma made me smile. Just in case, I gave them another set.

The best part, though, was giving my mother a brief moment of fame. She has become a bit of a celebrity around the place the last few weeks.

My mother was a voracious reader for most of her life. It’s more difficult for her now. Through all my growing-up years, she had her nose in a book. My dad did, too. They were both examples of a lifelong habit I acquired quite early myself. In my adult years my mother and I exchanged reading recommendations and swapped books back and forth. I think she got the short end of that stick. She always had the best books on her shelf, and I never left her house empty-handed.

It took me a long while to come around to trying to publish novels. But my mother always believed that I could.

If I have any tiny bit of fame as a writer, I’m glad to turn it around and give my mother the pleasure of being proud.

• What lasting legacy did you receive from your parents that gives you pleasure?