I celebrated my new book, The Believer, with friends at my local library Saturday. A new book is a good reason for a writer to celebrate because for most of us it doesn't happen all that often. Some writers put out two or three books a year, but many of us writers feel fortunate to see one new book hit the bookstore shelves in a year's time. Generally speaking, publishing a book is not a fast process. If the topic is particularly timely, a book might be rushed through the process to get it on the market to catch the height of the public's interest. But most fiction books take a year and sometimes longer to reach the market. That's a long time to a writer who is so anxious for the story to be out there for people to read.
I've said this before but a book is not really complete until a reader picks it up and starts reading the writer's words so the story can spring to life in his or her imagination. Readers are always asking me what happened to this or that character. Were they happy? Did life treat them well after the story ended? Won't I write more about them so they'll be able to read what happened after the final scene in whatever book they read?
I'm always pleased to hear that my characters came to life for them and that they worry about them and want them to be happy even after they lay the book down. I feel the same way. About characters in other writers' books as well as those who people my own stories. I get very attached to my characters. I missed Jocie and her family and friends for months after I wrote Summer of Joy and knew the publishers weren't interested in more Hollyhill books. I would try to think about my new characters and Jocie and Wes would pop up in my thoughts chatting away, laughing over some new Jupiter story. I had to keep pushing them back until I finally got to know my new people well enough that they were coming to life in my head.
And so when you finally have brought those characters to life in your head and you've got their story down in words and some editor somewhere has said yes and you've gone through all the hoops of getting a manuscript turned into a real book with a title and cover and back cover blurb and chapter headings, etc. and it starts showing up on bookstore shelves, then it for sure is time to celebrate. That's what I did yesterday with my reading friends and family in my hometown as I shared with them how I came to write this new Shaker book. We talked about using history in fiction and I shared with them some of my New Year's journal entries across the years that revealed some of the ups and downs in my writing career.
Last New Year's I put those same journal entries here on my blog in hopes that some of my blogging friends might be encouraged as they chased after their goals and dreams when they read how often I've faced discouragement while chasing after my dream of writing books that find their way into readers' hands. I've published nineteen books, but there would be many more out there if everything I'd written was on a bookshelf somewhere. But perseverance trumps discouragement. And once that perseverance has helped you accomplish your goals, then it's celebration time.
Thanks to everyone who came and those of you who had already read my books or have plans to. I dedicated this book to my sisters and my sisters-in-law and four of them were there to celebrate with me. That meant a lot to me. Next summer I hope to have another celebration when The Seeker is published. Meanwhile I'll keep celebrating readers bringing my characters' story in The Believer to life as they read my words.
Oh, yes, one more thing. I'm doing a new book giveaway. Another copy of my new book, The Believer along with a choice of one of my other books. Since this is so soon after the other giveaway, those of you who won in July and August won't be eligible to win this time. So if you aren't already a winner this summer, send me an e-mail or comment here on my blog and I'll put you in the drawing that I'll do on my birthday in September. Might as well have some fun while I'm getting older.
Thanks for being a reading friend. And a special thanks to my blog followers. I appreciate you all.