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....
I had an absolutely lovely time visiting the Berwyn Public Library this past Saturday. Thank you so very much to Becky Spratford, librarian extraordinaire, for facilitating my presentation, and to all the Friends of the Library members who showed up to hear me ramble on about the importance of libraries in our lives. I know I was preaching to the choir... but I hope everyone enjoyed my Snooki snark!
Thank you so very much to the Gail Borden Library in Elgin for hosting me last Thursday night and hugs and kisses to the incredible trio of librarians who facilitated my visit: Denise, Liz and Tish. You made me feel so welcome and comfortable enough to endure The Big Questions from my charming interviewer, Robert K. Elder, writer and editor-in-chief and vice president of Digital Content for the Sun-Times Media Local. Being interviewed in front of an audience must be a bit like having sex in public (not that I've ever done that!): 1) it helps if you're a bit of an exhibitionist and 2) you really feel under pressure to do it right.
And an especially BIG thank you to Rob for asking the questions that made me sound reasonably intelligent!
If happiness is wandering in a library... then this week promises double the joy!
I'll be visiting the gorgeous Niles Public Library on Monday, September 22 to join in on a discussion of The Things We Save and on Thursday I'll be appearing at the beautiful Gail Borden Library in Elgin. There I will be engaging in a conversation with Robert K. Elder, writer, editor-in-chief and vice-president of digital content for Sun-Times Media Local and the host of "The Big Questions" podcast. He's got quite the eclectic list of interviewees, so I am honored and thrilled to be among them. We'll be doing a live recording, so I will definitely have to practice speaking in full sentences before then!
Looks like it's going to be a very curvy week as well!
Thanks so very much to the Dundee Library of the Fox River Valley Library System for hosting me last Wednesday... I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and hope all who attended did so as well!
Crazy hair and an interview...
Thank you to Susan Dibble for a great article! And to photographer Paul Michna for making me look good, even though I had just walked in from the pouring rain!
No, Orion wasn't physically in the studio with me as I chatted with Steve Bertrand on Books, but maybe he was there in spirit. Thanks, Steve, for an amazing experience! Listen to the full interview here.
My daughter, the former speech team member, will chide me severely for all the "up-speak" in the initial few minutes of this interview. I will claim nerves at the onset. Many thanks to Brian O'Keefe of WDCB Radio of the College of DuPage for making me sound like a reasonably intelligent and coherent human being. Which, on certain days, can be quite a feat!
Don't ask me why I haven't posted in a year -- it's a long story and you don't have the time. Just want to say I'm back and will have a detailed entry on my adventures along the way to winning the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project. It was an amazing experience! And it's only the beginning ... cue the band!
To find out more about me, click on the Not Your Average Jo tab.