Hi internet. How are you? Staying warm? Still flossing? Having some fun this weekend, I hope? Good, good.
Well, I am not dead. I am insane, but not dead, which may not be much of an improvement, but there ya go, you takes what you can gets. It’s called the “finishing book 2” syndrome, or the “I am almost there, but not quite” mantra with which we drive our loved ones and editors crazy; they may have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.
You see, Fear is standing over there, mocking me. Of course, Fear usually tries to mock me, but when I first start out writing a draft, I’m all cocky and confident, I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m going, thank you very much, and I pretend Fear is an arthritic old sucker I can outrace at any time, so why pay him any attention? Then you get into the heart of the story and you’re juggling multiple characters and subplots and an explosion (or two) (hopefully on the page but sometimes in real life) and you realize Fear doesn’t have to outrun you; it just has to wait, because you’re going to start wondering if what you’ve done is as good as the first, or, please God, better, and while you’re doing that, you haven’t noticed that you’ve stumbled and bogged down in quicksand (otherwise known as “just before the act 3 turning point”). That’s when Fear saunters over, looks over you, you who are waist-deep in metaphors, smiles around the toothpick in its mouth and says, “Yeah, who’s cocky now?”
Along about that time, you usually start wondering what in the hell made you think you could do this? And get paid for it? Because even though there is a book sale out there, even though they have already paid for this second book… you know, actually wrote a check that was real and it cashed and everything… you can have this moment where you wonder just what in the hell made you ever think people would want to pay actual money to read something you made up? I mean, I sit in my house (it is 5:38 a.m. as I write this, I write at night) and I have my feet propped up on my footstool as I am stretched out in my chair, laptop in my lap, diet Coke at my side (and occasionally, some sort of snack) and I make up stories. For a living. I remember the euphoria of the sale, I remember the mind-blowing phone call that it was done and I kept worrying (because they bought it on a pre-empt and I hadn’t even finished it yet and I wondered if they had completely lost their minds)… I think I felt like the biggest scam artist in the country. Well, you know, besides politicians. And I couldn’t help but sit there agog for a few weeks, writing furiously, amazed that someone was paying me to do this.
The thing is, by book 2? You realize how much you love it and you want to keep doing it. Book 1, BOBBIE FAYE’S VERY (very, very, very) BAD DAY, (hey, like the smooth way I worked that title in there? I am the Supreme Commander of Smooth)… comes out May 1st, and fingers crossed and all of that. You don’t know how it’s going to go, anything could happen, (and I keep saying to my husband, “but I don’t know enough people I can get to go buy it! I don’t have that many relatives!). That’s when you are hyper aware that people who aren’t your family have to actually walk into a bookstore and pick it up and carry it all the way to the cash register and pull money out of their wallet or specifically go order your book online. Is that crazy or what? I mean, I don’t have blackmail pictures on this many people, y’all. I am completely at the mercy of people liking it.
Then you attend something like Left Coast Crime where there are a bunch of readers mingling and their enthusiasm for story and books makes you remember… people really want to delve into other worlds. They want that connection, that fun, that joy, that fear (if it’s a scary story) that’s controlled by when they open and shut the pages.
At LCC, there were two ladies who stepped out out of a door just in front of me on the hotel’s second floor and they smiled and I smiled. They were headed for the escalator down to the lobby area and I happened to be as well, so I followed them. They were talking and they looked furtively at me a couple of times and I wondered if I had something on my face, and I was discreetly checking that, kinda patting my hair to see if the wind had turned it into a rat’s nest, even checking my shirt, to make sure the buttons hadn’t popped open because they kept looking back at me. This was the second day of the conference and anything was possible. As they stepped off the escalator, they moved off a couple of feet and then I arrived at the bottom and stepped off, and one of the ladies said, “Mrs. Causey?”
(first, I had to remember my mother-in-law wasn’t there)
“Um, yes?” (I am worried to death now that I was introduced to them earlier at some point and am drawing a blank.)
“We just wanted you to know that we really enjoyed you on your panel and we’re really looking forward to Bobbie Faye!”
I was dumbstruck.
“Would you mind signing our programme?”
I looked around, knowing surely Brett, Rob, Bill and Sean have paid these sweet ladies to pull this joke, but they were nowhere in sight. My second thought was, I wonder how much they would charge to do this again when my friends are around to see?
“Um, sure,” I said, and I took the pen and signed my first official Bobbie Faye related autograph.
Now, I realize they were getting many of the authors there to sign, but I didn’t care. I freaking floated the entire rest of the day. Because these ladies remembered my name! and the name of the book! and said they were looking forward to it! And they had laughed at some story or other I’d told at the panel!
I refrained from hugging them fiercely and offering to adopt them; I have heard strangers get a little weirded out by something quite that effusive. But I felt it, I swear. I wanted to run and find everyone and shout because wow, someone who didn’t even know me before the conference wanted to read something I’d written.
Man, that’s why you do it. You want to connect with people, you have stories, you have this way of interacting with the world… you’re having a conversation with the world via your book and you want them to be a part of that conversation, to laugh in the right places, to cry in the right places. It’s the greatest feeling in the world, to feel that connection.
So I remember those ladies when I think about Fear mocking me, and I think, “Go ahead, Fear. Because you’re going to make me work harder to do better.” I think I owe those ladies that, because whether they’ll ever know it, they were a gift to me.
And now I’m wondering, what’s the first book you ever read that made you want to keep reading? That made you realize that yes, this is a way of interacting with the world, of learning about it or finding someone similar, and you became a reader for life? I think, for me, it was Nancy Drew because it was the first time I had a concept of a girl being able to be the smart one, the heroine, figuring out things and saving the day. Kinda like Bobbie Faye, but with a lot less explosions. And curse words.
How about you?
the amazon link to the book (with the wrong cover!)
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