I have been a bad blogger.
My goal to post every week or so has missed the mark a little. Okay, a lot. It's missed the mark by about two months. My new goal is to be a better blogger.
It’s been a tough autumn, though. My dear sister, Becky, passed away very suddenly on Aug. 28, 2016, just 13 months after the death of my husband, John. Two major loses in a short span of time pretty much derailed this gal. September was a blurry whirlwind as I presented at SIBA, prepared for a family wedding, and attended some other pre-planned events. Commitments proved to be distractions, but then October hit with my sister’s birthday right smack in the middle of it. Delayed grief was no longer delayed. And some of the shock had worn off.
My book Watching the Water is dedicated to my big sister, Becky. The fact that she isn’t here to see it in print feels especially cruel. Praise God, she knew the book was dedicated to her. I toyed with not telling her, imagining how fun it would be to make it a surprise. Little sis was too excited to wait, though, and I gave her the news back in May. For once, I am SO very thankful that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
As October hurried by, I was very aware that my book’s November 22nd release date was fast approaching. Without John and Becky. Two of the most important people in my life wouldn’t be here for one of the most important seasons of my life. It just wasn’t supposed be that way.
Ah, but life doesn’t always follow the path of our dreams, does it? At some point, I just lost my momentum with planning for the book’s launch. Note to self: my lack of planning does not stop the calendar from flipping over to another month. I soon realized that November had arrived.
More importantly, I realized that I’m richly blessed to have family and friends who ARE here. And not just here, but completely present – excited about my book, ready to support and celebrate any way they could.
And that’s when it hit me: by golly, we need a party.
My dear friends Dodi, Stacey, and Susan were on it, and in two weeks time, we pulled together a fully themed launch party that reflected the book and its 1930s setting. Drawing from the era’s “Fireside Chat” radio program hosted by President FDR, we thought ... hey, books and warm fires go together, right? So why not? We went with it.
The party was held last Thursday, November 17th, and I'm humbly thrilled to say that it was a great success! Flames crackled in the fireplaces, Benny Goodman piped through my friend Stacey's lovely home in the background, there was plenty of food … and because Watching the Water opens six months after Prohibition ended, there was wine, too. (Truthfully, there would have been anyway.) We played 1930s trivia and awarded prizes, had a book reading and a Q & A session, all in front of the fireplace, what with that whole fireside chat theme and all. Seriously, determined women can do anything in any amount of time, especially when there's a theme and wine involved. I believe that because I've seen it.
I even dressed from the era, which confirmed that God knew which decade I didn’t belong in. The floral pattern, up-up-and-away-fly-to-somewhere sleeves, and the add-20-pounds-blousy-flowy thing going on? Not my most flattering look, but it was theme-worthy, so I resisted changing clothes even though the shirt came with so many ties that it literally took me 15 minutes to figure out how to wear it. True story. I did love the eBay-acquired vintage hat, though.
Not only was it a lovely evening of wonderful support, but it also led to good sales and the invitation to host a book signing in early 2017 at Book Exchange in Marietta, Georgia, an independent bookstore that attracts strong community support. Thanks again to Dodi, Stacey, and Susan for saying “we’re doing this” and pulling me back onto my feet. I’m reminded of the saying about strong women. You can always tell who they are because they're the ones building other women up instead of tearing them down.
And today is the day – Watching the Water is officially released! I’ve been getting message after message in recent days, though, from people telling me they had already received their pre-ordered hard copy or digital download. This past Saturday night, I learned that Amazon had almost sold out and more copies were on the way. Well now, that was pretty dang exciting. I don’t know what their initial inventory was – maybe only 50 – but at least they were leaving the shelf, right? I also learned that the give-away my publisher (BQB) hosted on Goodreads.com generated almost 850 people requesting copies. I've been invited to participate in an Author Showcase December 13th at Book Exchange and will be going to a book release celebration hosted by my friend Beverly in our Tennessee hometown of Bristol on December 15th.
So I begin this journey encouraged, but fully aware that the work is ongoing. Marketing is a big job in itself but I'm rolling up those fly-away sleeves. This is my window, this is my shot.
John and Becky would expect no less.
I hope you'll join me! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!