This is some mind-bendy, Matrix level stuff.
Out of the Picture was released last week. Today, it was spotted in the wild at a Hallmark store, flanked beautifully by other recently released Hallmark books.
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this.
For years -- since I was a kid, really, but in earnest the last couple decades -- I've dreamed of having a book I wrote on shelves in stores. Sometime in the last handful of years, the dream went from being a silly idea, to an all-consuming endeavor, to a crushing failure, to a filed-away, unfulfilled wish in the index of my life.
For so long, I refused to let myself consider any possibility other than the dream happening. But we all have a breaking point. When I hit mine, I did my absolute best to put the dream away. I stowed it in a sturdy, tightly sealed box, and refocused my energy on other things.
I did okay. I kept the box in the furthest corner of my mind, but I could not forget what was in it. But I left it sealed, for my own mental health.
When my agent (see multiple other blog posts regarding Superhero Agent) pushed me to pitch Hallmark with this little idea of three mystery solving sisters in a lakeside town, I did it without expectations.
I still have the voicemail saved in my phone from when Fran called to tell me she had news from Hallmark.
When I signed the book contract, I remember thinking, 'Wow, this is pretty damn cool.'
When I finished content edits (which I thoroughly enjoyed; Hallmark editor Stacey Donovan and Out of the Picture editor Rhonda Merwarth are brilliant, amazing women who seriously know their stuff), then line edits, I still had reservations: What if it wasn't good? What if Hallmark changed their mind? What if advance readers hated it?
Reviews came in, and they were overwhelmingly good.
Now, the book is on a shelf in a store. Many, many stores, if you can believe that. I'm still having trouble with that one. Imposter syndrome is real, guys.
I'm going to Barnes & Noble tonight to see for myself.
I think this is real life, but it's crazy. Like, absolutely crazy, and so far beyond what I ever let myself believe could happen.
If anyone sees me, please don't pinch me. If this isn't real life, I don't care, I'm staying.
I am the perfect example of why we should read to our kids. Yesterday, on the way to the book store, something hit me that I’ve known now for years. Decades even. I really love books. I look forward to a trip to the book store the same way I look forward to sitting down with a much loved, much missed old friend. (See? I promised I’d return to usual form soon!)
As a kid, one of the best things my mom or dad could tell me was: “Let’s go to the library today.” That meant an hour or two spent amidst the stacks, breathing in the scents of thoughts and dreams committed to paper, choosing a few or ten to stumble to the checkout desk with, anticipation mingled with impatience to begin.
As a new mom, I could be found Tuesday and Thursday mornings at story-time, sitting on the carpet with the other parents, snuggly baby on my lap, watching with rapt attention as the librarian narrated The Pokey Little Puppy with zest and props. Both my kids learned, starting at six months or so and continuing on up to double digits, about the fantastic worlds that live inside of books.
As a parent of teens, I’ve returned to discovering new worlds of my own while helping my kids find that perfect book, that great adventure or the best pick from a suggested reading list. Yesterday at the book store, my daughter vacillated between One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and A Separate Peace. I pushed for The Picture of Dorian Gray or Anna Karenina, but my daughter knows what she likes. In this case, she chose the excitement and drama of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
The title doesn't matter. Our tastes and preferences in genre and writing style aren't what counts. The love of reading is the greatest gift my parents gave me. Sitting on that library carpet with my squirmy son, gratified and relieved when a facet of the story would catch his attention or his sister would don a raccoon puppet to illustrate for him A Kissing Hand for Chester Raccoon, my motive was pretty basic. I wasn't thinking of higher literature, or AP English courses, or even of whether my kids would grow up to love reading. I was carrying on a tradition from my own childhood, something I loved, both as a child and as a parent. Who doesn't love a good story?
That phrase, “on the way to the bookstore,” what feelings that evokes in me. I like to think it’s the same for others. On a day to day basis, there are a handful of things that make us smile, things that we look forward to with anticipation and happiness, knowing once we’re immersed, we’ll sink into the experience contentedly, at home. The best parallel I can draw is to that feeling I get when I know I've got a lunch date, or better yet, maybe a concert date, with a close friend. Much needed, much awaited, nourishment for my soul. Also found between the pages of a good book.