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!

 

Where in the World is THE MEMORY BOX??

 

tmb beach

Forget about Matt Lauer and Flat Stanley, where in the world is THE MEMORY BOX?

There’s nothing more exciting for an author than to see her book popping up in places outside of her home town (okay, her home…). All authors have a not-so-secret fantasy of seeing someone on a subway or train or plane reading their book. I’m definitely one of them! So in recent weeks, you can imagine my excitement to hear of THE MEMORY BOX being spotted in or taken to the far flung reaches of the globe. You know who you are: Sue Ann in Greece, Katia in Belgium, Jane in Michigan, Sydney in Hawaii, Stacey in Myrtle Beach, Kim in Portugal, Judee in Canada, Aileen in California, Anthe in Greece, Annette in Florida, Hope in Long Island, Renee in New York, Pat in his kitchen. Inspired by your posts, I thought it would be fun to track the book’s location on a virtual map. Help me, please! If you’re reading THE MEMORY BOX or see someone else reading it, tell me where! Leave a comment below telling me the location and better yet, include a photo! Or post them on Facebook and tag me! I love seeing MEMORY BOX selfies!

I was beyond flipped out to see this completely engrossed reader, (photo above) with THE MEMORY BOX on a New Jersey beach recently. Thanks, Elizabeth, for making my day! (Okay, year.)

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.

Bathing Suit Torture Part II: Call the Paramedics

photo by The Pie Shops Collection

photo by The Pie Shops Collection

My objective was to make my bathing suit shopping experience as painless as possible. The environment would be key. I needed a store that was calm with wide open aisles, soft music, helpful salespeople. Crawling under a disheveled clothing rack, searching for the elusive bottom to the perfect top, or wrenching it from the clutches of a woman who believed it was hers, would not work. Been there, done that.

So at 9:05am Monday morning I coaxed myself through the doors of Lord & Taylor.

There wasn’t a soul in the swimwear department. I glided around the circular racks like an adolescent guppy until I was sure I had seen all the offerings. It was so civilized. This kind of bathing suit shopping was a joy. I could do this! I let out a heavy sigh–breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I started to feel lighter, optimistic.

The perfect bottom was important. Not too Betty White, not too Kardashian. I found one pretty easily in a good shade of black. I felt around for the tag to see the size and saw instead the price, $98. I gulped. I rationalized, instantaneously, that although it was more than I wanted to spend it would be worth it if it fit well, looked good, and had me be back in the car with my ego intact. All that for $98?! It was beginning to sound like a bargain.

I glanced over at the matching top, took it off the rack and twirled it around to see the back. As I spun the hanger, a tag flew under my nose that read $198. How could that be? The price tag on the bottoms said… No way! Oh my gosh. I froze. They couldn’t be suggesting… No—

Yes, they wanted $98 for the bottom and $198 for the top. Assuming you’d need both, it would set you back $296. The last time I bought a bathing suit, you got the top with the bottom for one price. Gotta love the 90’s.

Before you could say “are you out of your freakin’ mind?” I was back in the car driving to the nearest Marshall’s, using the energy from my anger and hostility to fuel my focus. I gave myself a mini pep talk in the car. Don’t make this complicated, Eva. Just saddle up to the nearest cluttered, over-stuffed, disorganized rack and start grabbing.

But unlike Lord & Taylor, these bathing suits would be organized (a.k.a. disorganized) by size, not style. So what size was I? I really had no idea. I held up a 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14. They all looked the same. I took all of them. A combination of two-pieces and one-pieces and one that looked like a two piece but was really a one piece. Something strange was happening, somewhere in the middle of this haphazard plucking, I got rather bold. I pulled patterns and colors, bathing suits with zippers and buckles, one that had more than two straps with an appendage that looked like a shawl. I was going for it. And it felt good. It was time to step into 2000, I mean 2014! Geez, where had the time gone?

I’d try size 14 first−start large and work my way smaller, no?

I climbed into the leg holes and proceeded to snake myself into the rest of it. It did not go swimmingly. It was unclear which open spaces were arm-holes and which was the head cavity. I twisted at the waist and looked in the mirror to see what was going on in back. There was nothing back there. The remainder of the bathing suit was connected to one hip. Maybe it was supposed to sweep across my middle and be held up by one shoulder strap? Who knew? These things don’t come with instructions. There were several stretchy synthetic appendages. I yanked at them to find the longest one into which I stuck my arm. However, it only went slightly past my elbow. I curled my shoulders toward each other and hunched over while twisting from my waist toward the left−and yanked again, getting it only slighter higher up my bicep. Something was wrong. The strap dug into my flesh. It was too short and obviously not in the proper place. There were still other pieces of fabric hanging from my hip. What to do with them? I had to move this strap—it was quickly turning the lower half of my arm a concerning shade of red. Pins and needles were creeping up my hand. Still, I was hunched over with braided limbs. Moving this strap down off of my arm would necessitate some form of contortion. I bent my knees, tipped my head toward my stomach and twisted my left shoulder across my chest, while tugging at the strap. Then something terrible happened.

Since I’ve never been in this position before, and more importantly, I’m pretty certain humans were never intended to be—I threw my back out. Snap. I was frozen except for the excruciating pain shooting up my back. It knocked the breath out of me. I was a twisted wire hanger with two unbound protuberances. The strap on my arm still cut deep into my skin, my lower back felt bludgeoned as if by a garden tool, I was for all intents and purposes naked, and now, fearfully immobile. A breathy “help!” was all I could manage. Anything more aggressive would have ruptured an organ. I heard someone walk by. “Hello! Help! You, please!” I cried through the dirty louver door—grey, greasy fingerprints along the edges. I nudged the door lever with my good elbow and the door popped open. The look on the woman’s face was alarming. Sometimes I still see that look and that woman in my nightmares. She turned away and shielded her eyes. She said something in an unfamiliar language. “Please help me get this off, please! I can’t move!” I begged. She made a move toward me and I yelled, “No, don’t touch me, get a scissor−you have to cut it!” Of course, this was all quite mortifying.

A moment later she returned with a group. I was now, officially, a side show. One of them had a scissor. The moment she snipped the strap on my arm, I felt the tears stream down my cheeks. The relief was extraordinary. One lady yelled for someone to grab a robe. Another suggested they call the paramedics. Her friend asked me if I wanted anything.

Yes. I just wanted a bathing suit that fit well, looked good, and had me back in the car with my ego intact.