How it came about…
To set the scene you need a wee bit of back story. I have an amazing friend, I’ll call Spinnaker here. She’s the kind of friend who gets the nurse to fix your morphine drip when you come out of surgery (true story), gives you a pedometer when you’re not sure you’re going to live (true story) and who’s always there for you. She’s warrior strong, yet sensitive, and sees through all the bullshit in life. We’ve known each other for sixteen years.
Rain or shine, we go on weekly walks along the harborfront to ‘catch up’. Talk mostly about crazy husband behavior, our children who never fail to amaze us, and the trivial details of our daily lives, which reminds me, I forgot to ask her about sink drains. You get the picture.
A few weeks back, she asked me to join her Book Club and talk about my writing. I gulped. Me, talk about my writing to strangers? I’m not published… The last writer they hosted, Chevy Stevens, made the New York Times Best Seller list twice. I got that empty feeling in my stomach. Spinnaker assured me the ladies would be interested in hearing about my process.
If anyone else had asked me, I would have said no. But it was Spinnaker doing the asking.
Wearing my favorite purple blouse and my heart lodged in my throat, I entered Spinnaker’s living room. I’ve faced down an irate New York agent who didn’t like me or my pitch, I can handle a group of women. Maybe.
The room filled with six smiling ladies who didn’t look like they’d bite. But they haven’t listened to me yet. The group discussed their book selection for the month, Will Ferguson’s, 419. I noted they were well-read, had a good understanding of plot and character and knew how to discuss books. That could be good or bad…
My turn came. I shared a graph comparing the sales of Romance books to other genres (Romance taking a good chunk of the market share). I told them I like to cross genres and write Romantic Suspense and gave them each a signed pitch card for my third book, Black Cat Blues.
I read the first chapter of my second book, The Lost Vermeer, which opens in Delft and involves the search for a cursed masterpiece. They listened intently. You could have heard a pin drop on the carpet, and I swear my author heart sighed. This was the first time I shared this chapter outside my writing community, and the sky didn’t fall. In fact, they seemed to like it. Heat radiated through my chest.
Avid readers, the ladies were an amazing audience. They genuinely seemed to love hearing my stories about entering contests, going to conferences, and pitching to agents and editors. I felt like they were cheering me on. I told them about stories I wrote on the Haida Gwaii and about my daughter, J.C. McKenzie, who will be publishing her book this spring, and how we are critique partners.
Being with them had a surreal dream-like quality. It was like I’d entered a special room in Writer’s heaven, a healing room, where all the “owies” of rejections smooth over and my writing stands out.
They asked me questions– good ones– about writing and my process. They made me feel validated. They even expressed disappointment that they couldn’t read any of my books yet.
I hope to return to that book club with a published book. Writers need readers, and this group truly rocks.
Thank you ladies.