What’s Your Book Club Reading?

Dunthorpe Book Junkies

 

The absolute greatest indulgence in the world for an author is to have an opportunity to connect with her readers. It is a thrill unlike anything else, and so far, in these last 64 days, I have heard from readers in a variety of ways.

Some people have called me. These readers, of course, are friends and family. As it turns out, this is as thrilling for them as it is for me because,  typically, they aren’t able to finish reading a book, then pick up the phone to call the author with a question. Other readers have been in touch by reviewing the book on Amazon or Goodreads or Barnes and Noble. Some readers have asked me questions on my Goodreads page or started to follow my blog and have left comments there.

That’s where I recently heard from a reader from Portland, Oregon. She had chosen THE MEMORY BOX for her book club and the meeting was going to be in a few days and she was eager to find discussion questions. If you read the book, you’re probably thinking what I was thinking. She hadn’t finished it yet. This actually reminded me of myself. I’m always reading the book club book the weekend before the meeting. Anyway, she was relieved to hear that the suggested questions were listed in the back of the book. (We had a good laugh about this later!) I also told her that her group was the first book club to read THE MEMORY BOX and that I’d love to join their discussion of the book. This flipped her out. They never had an author join them at a book club meeting. Who has? But I can tell you, this was a mutual treat! She decided this was so exciting that she wasn’t going to tell any of the members beforehand. She wanted it to be a surprise for the night they were discussing the book. Since I appeared via Face Time, I wasn’t able to hear her tell everyone before I was “live,” but I can tell you I was as ecstatic as they were.

In retrospect, it makes complete sense to me that people love to hear the back story of the story. How did you come up with the idea? Why did Caroline make certain decisions? What is your writing process? Why didn’t so-and-so tell the police about so-and-so? (Sorry, can’t reveal that specific question, but it was a good one! In fact, I hadn’t ever thought about it before — they really stumped me.) And they asked the question that I seem to be getting a lot these days, will there be a sequel? If you had asked me that question 65 days ago, I would have said no. But now, I just might reconsider. More on that to come.

Apart from meeting some fabulous, intelligent, fun, inquisitive, fun (did I say that already? well, they were really fun!) women, the other really interesting thing for me was that I got to know my characters even more than I did already. They asked me such thought provoking questions that I had to dig deep and really think about these characters I’ve come to know over the years since I started writing the book. I understood on another level their motivations for their actions. I can’t explain how incredible it was to still have these “aha moments” and think to myself, “Oh, that’s why she did that!”

Thank you, Dunthorpe Book Junkies! I am so lucky to have you as readers. By the way, that’s a photo of them above. For everyone else out there in the world, if you choose THE MEMORY BOX for your book club, please let me know. I’ve heard from many of you who have scheduled it for your September, October and November (you peeps are good planners!) meetings. So, thank you! And, absolutely send me a photo of your group with the book and I’d love to post it here. If I’m available to chat with you and your group via Face Time or Skype, if you’d like, I’ll make every effort. But if I can’t, do let me know about your meeting, I’d love to hear from you!

 

THE MEMORY BOX downloaded 27,452 times in 3 days

photo by James Cridland

photo by James Cridland

 

It’s been an incredible week. In the last three days, THE MEMORY BOX Kindle edition has been downloaded 27,452 times. It’s been ranked #1 for three days consecutively in its genre on the free Kindle chart and #10 overall. To say that my expectations have been drastically exceeded, is an understatement.

Believe me, I know who’s responsible for this. You are. If I didn’t have the greatest supporters in the world: friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, who read my book and took the time to write a review and posted it to Amazon, Goodreads or Barnes and Noble, this would not have happened. I told you that reviews matter and this is proof. Some of you said, ‘I don’t know how to write a review’, ‘you don’t need mine you’ve already got 3′, or ‘who’s gonna care what I’ve got to say’. But people DO care what you have to say. In fact, go look at your review now. Even you are getting ranked!

My goal with this 3 day Amazon promotion was to gain visibility. It’s really hard for a self-published author who’s writing and designing and editing, and distributing, and negotiating, and marketing and publicizing, to have a significant impact reaching people on their own. How many people can one person reach? But, I’m not just one person anymore, because I’ve got all of you. And unbeknownst to you, you’ve had incredible success! You’ve been spreading the word in your individual way: by getting excited, sharing your enthusiasm, cheering me on, telling people about my book and writing reviews that people have read and listened to. Guess how many people listened? 27,452!!! Go you!

Thank you dear friends and friends of friends. I so appreciate you. For all of you who’ve just downloaded THE MEMORY BOX, thank you; I hope you enjoy it. And don’t forget, your reviews matter too! They’ll help reach the next 27,452 book lovers. They’ve already started showing up. Yesterday, I read a review from someone I don’t know. A person from Ohio. It made me cry. I know that doesn’t surprise many people who know me, since it takes very little to get me teary. But, the review made me choke up. To think that something I created (the very thing that caused frequent bouts of uncertainty) could have this kind of impact on someone was incredible. It really got me right there. What an amazing week. I’m gonna remember it for a long time … cause it’s going in the memory box.

My Secret Hair Fantasy

photo by The Webhamster

photo by The Webhamster

I will let you in on a little secret. I sometimes fantasize that someday all human beings will be born bald. Okay, I know, a sizable percentage of humans are currently born bald. But I mean, stay bald. Like, never grow hair. An entire hairless human race. You might think a comment like that would come from someone living in eternal hair hell. Thankfully, I pretty much have okay hair. I have my fair share of bad hair days, but I also have a decent amount of good hair days to hang my hat on. And when those happen, I feel great.

That’s part of my problem with hair. Why do I need a good hair day to feel good about myself? That’s nuts. Hair? It’s an appendage for god sakes. My feet never make me feel any better or worse about myself. (Unless, of course, Lord and Taylor is having a huge shoe sale and my amply-sized feet won’t fit into any of them.) So why is hair so important? Of course there are all sorts of twists and turns of daily life which diminish or pad our happiness levels. Things we can control and things we can’t. So why let something as frivolous as hair impact our mood, our self-esteem, our confidence?

Apart from spending a fortune on hair – to curl or straighten it, dye it, perm it, style it, shine it, wax it, iron, extend, remove, highlight, process, tweeze, thread or weave it, etcetera, think of the hours spent on our hair. And sadly, most of the time after it’s “done,” we will likely say—we hate it.

Certain assumptions are made about people based on their hair. Don’t shake your head, you know it’s true. Sometimes these assumptions turn out to be not so wrong. But most of the time, it’s just another way we judge people.

Although at first glance this may seem like something of a girl problem, men are just as vulnerable in the hair department. Some guys have too much. Some guys have too little. When I was a teen, I knew a couple of guys whose egos took a beating from thick curly hair. In the 70’s there were few flattering options. Cut it short? Grow it long?

What about people who lose their hair after medical interventions? Do they really need to feel any additional hardships? Now they have to worry about how to deal with something as inconsequential as hair! Navigating the challenges of life is hard enough. I believe it would be much better for everyone to never have hair. Do we really need it? You live in Minnesota? Throw on a hat! You’re a Brooklyn Nets cheerleader? Work on choreography! You’re a hair stylist? Sorry.

Let’s admire people for reasons that matter. If we were all bald, it would be easier to look past the outside and regard people because they’re interesting, humorous, ambitious, inventive, kind, resourceful, dynamic, determined, talented, tenacious, inspiring, nurturing. Not because they have the perfect shiny bob.

Beach Buzz

photo by temporalata

photo by temporalata

A sunny day at the beach is a sugar high. A shot of euphoria.

Warm crests of sand meet the underneaths of your knees. It molds to the small of your back and clings to your toes like sugar to a cruller.

A light breeze carries the frothy laughter of others. It lifts the ends of your hair and swirls around your neck. Your shoulders feel the warm tingling love of the sun. The water is crisp and clean and tickles your toes but not your ankles because you’re a camel not a dolphin. Your family teases you for it, and they splash you from afar.

So you read a thoughtful book that has you contemplating what you’ll be when you grow up. What you could be. Most of all, what you want to be.

At the end of the day the beach crashes you like a sugar high. You curl into yourself and draw your towel up toward your chin and sleep a half sleep. Lazy waves succumb, collapse and inch up the shore. The soft pop of clam holes appear magically along wet sand. Metal pulleys clank listlessly against the mast of a sail boat.

You float in and out of your half sleep and its sweet dream, and lucky for you, as good as this dream may be, it’s not nearly as good as your reality.