The weirdest part of being published is being read by people who know me.
That may sound funky to say because the people who know me and love me are going to find my voice and picture me in the whole mix and somehow that's going to ensure that they love my story. Right?
Early on in the "shopping" process where we were given an offer from the publisher we decided to go with eventually a lady from church asked to be able to read the manuscript and edit it because she just loves to edit. I sent it to her over email. Granted, this was just a gesture because our book had already gone through the edited-to-death phase.
This lady, a few weeks later came to me in the church bathroom, of course. "Hey. I've gotten a start on your book. I told you I'd be honest. There are a lot of words. So many I finally have decided the whole plot was about one woman wanting to get flowers out of a dumpster. Is the whole book going to be like that? Because I just don't think it's my cup of tea. I read hard books, I've read Frank Peretti so I'm pretty sure it's not me, it's your book." This comment is paraphrased.
Fortunately, my co-author is an extremely good editor and multi-published herself. And the critique group I worked with is no-nonsense, get-rid-of-that-paragraph, red-pen-slashing tell-it-like-it-is sucker punchers. So my skin had developed a tough enough exterior that I was able to tell her to please stop reading it and thank her for her time.
Honestly, there are people who aren't going to love this story. I'm okay with that. Because likely, they are folks who don't really "get" me any way. I get looks on occasion. I know when I'm just being tolerated and when I'm being dismissed and when someone truly enjoys my company.
I've also had bloggers who didn't know me from Adam tell me that my interview process caused them to instant click and order Out of the Frying Pan or suggest it for their next book club meeting. And so far they haven't been disappointed. One friend purchased two copies hoping to eventually get one back from her sister who loved it. The other copy went to a friend who's husband is going to be reading it out loud to her during her chemo treatments. This comment alone has made all the struggles worth it. To think that something we wrote could bring escape during a really rough period of time makes me feel so blessed.
Several people have told me it's been a long time since they read a book that made them laugh out loud. People are loaning their copy to friends. Right now a copy is going around my office. The girls, one by one, are reading it over nights and weekends and during lunch. One plans to take it to Portland next week, another is taking it to Texas in November. We are still in a top 100 on Amazon, in the 60's. We are there with books in the Amish genre and with books written by big name authors. Our 17th review was just posted on Amazon. Three reviews from strangers have been three star reviews, seven gave us four stars, the rest are five star reviews. The most critical three star review made a few comments about errors she'd spotted, one being the airport being mentioned as five minutes away then it morphed into two hours of fast driving...the five minutes down the road referred to the nursing home not the airport so I'm not sure how she misunderstood that. She also questioned "white noise whooshed in his ears" and said "what is white noise?" So I'm thinking she was VERY generous giving us three stars because she did not get us at all. Romantic Times gave us four stars. They rarely, rarely give out five.
The fact that I review novels has made the reviews very interesting. I won't write a review of a book that would be less than a three star read. Three stars means theres several reasons I liked it but others might like it a whole lot more so I keep those readers in mind. I only give five stars if I feel like the author nailed characters, plot, timing, dialogue and setting/scene. I don't often give five stars. So four is very good.
I now have an author signing at my local library in November. Where I am likely to run into patients and who knows who else. This is a small town. So I'm using all of the above swirling feelings to help me get through that day. The one where I'm likely going to feel like I've forgotten to get dressed and am walking through crowds in my mismatched underwear!
Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.