Am I Famous Yet?
Okay, so not long after I won last year, I was advised by a writer from New York, a person who is actually here with us this morning, (and you know who you are), that, as part of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for future publishing efforts, I should auction off the naming rights to a character in said future book. Now I have to admit that when I heard this, I just burst out laughing, because, as the people who actually have to live with me know, with all apologies to Janet Jackson, MY middle name is CONTROL, and my confirmation name is FREAK, so there’s just no possibility of God’s green Earth that letting someone else name even the minorest of characters is ever gonna happen. I can’t go for that, no can do.
Well, here we are, one year later. And my hair is finally under control. (Temporarily).
At the recent announcement ceremony for the 2015 Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project, I was asked to speak about how winning the first STBF contest increased the sales of my novel, The Things We Save. Well, it did. Yes, sales of my book, both in print and e-book, increased, both through sales to libraries and the public. But I’d really rather talk about the year itself. Because I have been so nice and sweet all year, which isn’t really me. So I think it’s time to unleash my inner Arya Stark and stick ‘em with the pointy end. (At the ceremony all the committee members started exchanging sidelong glances and mouthing “did you vet her speech?”) No worries, no disrespect shall pass these lips or be penned by these fingers...
I traveled to 7 counties promoting my book. In fact, back in January, between home, work and library visits, I was in 6 counties in the span of 24 hours. Lots of mileage on my old Honda.
This year, besides flashing by so quickly, has been a collection of moments; and since music plays an important role in my life, some of those moments remind me of songs: so I think I’ll do a little David Letterman riff and give you sort of a top five countdown.
The Darryl Hall and John Oates “I Can’t Go For That, No Can Do” Moment:
Okay, so not long after I won last year, I was advised by a writer from New York, (and you know who you are), that, as part of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for future publishing efforts, I should auction off the naming rights to a character in said future book. Now I have to admit that when I heard this, I just burst out laughing, because, as the people who actually have to live with me know, with all apologies to Janet Jackson, MY middle name is CONTROL, and my confirmation name is FREAK, so there’s just no possibility of God’s green Earth that letting someone else name even the minorest of characters is ever gonna happen. I can’t go for that, no can do.
The Lady Gaga "Papa-paparazzi" Moment
Yes, I have actually been recognized in a variety of public places: my local library, Mariano’s Fresh Mart, the UPS Store. Now, of course, that initially can be very a little exciting. Maybe I’ll have to stop ranting about “celebrity authors.”
But while this type of recognition is a little heady, it’s also definitely walks the razor’s edge of weird. Because when people recognize you, you also start to think that they are not just looking at you, they’re LOOKING at you. Like, with judgment in their hearts. Making a note of the fact that you are binge-listening to all the Game of Throne audiobooks. Eyeballing the contents of your grocery cart. You can read their faces like a talking book. Hmmm, red wine AND the extra large bag of Lindor Assorted Truffles. Must be that time of the month.
And, yes, sometimes they want to snap a selfie with you. Of course, the running joke of this whole year is that my hair is never quite ready for the camera. Because even though my middle name is Control, that’s just something that’s always been and always will be, beyond my control. Except for today. So there’s at least a couple of Facebook posts out there that could qualify as hair-shaming.
The Taylor Swift “Shake it off” Moment:
Got my first 1 star review the other day. Have you all gotten one yet? On Amazon. Under the heading “Waste of My Time:” “This author uses some really wonderful descriptive words. But that is the best thing I can say about this book. The story is just stupid. I just don't care about the main character Claire. There is nothing about her to like. If you don't get me interested in the main character, or even a secondary character, then it's all just a bunch of pretty words.”
Well, there is the consolation that this person also gave Wild by Cheryl Strayed a one-star review. So I have come to the conclusion that she just doesn't like strong but flawed female protagonists who tell it like it is!
And, just like Taylor, I could break into song: “The haters gonna hate, hate, hate and I’m just gonna shake, shake shake it off” .... So, I’ve learned that just like when you go to the beach, the more exposure you have, the more likely you are to get burned. Oooooh, pass me the ointment.
The Most Wondrous Moment of All...
Then there was this moment... it happened in the fall at the Chicago Ridge Public Library. Not a lot of people had showed up... four or five. I went through my presentation and was doing my question and answer session... and a woman spoke up... and she said that she had loved my book... that it had made her laugh and cry... and she mentioned that a certain passage I had written had reminded her of her grandmother's house... of the bathroom in her grandmother's house ... of the black and white tile on the bathroom floor of her grandmother's house... and she started to cry. And I can't tell you what that meant to me... how incredibly moving that was for me... as a writer. To know that what I had written, the words that I had written... had made such a powerful connection with this reader. Because that's what writing is all about... making connections with another human being...
And I think that was fame enough for me....
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