Friday, January 28, 2011

Unexpected Gifts

This is a REAL picture!

Although I keep having a Magritte moment whenever I look at it (and saying "This is not a pipe" as in The Treachery of Images), I was assured of its authenticity by its photographer, suspense author Shawn Grady. Shawn's faith-based thrillers have been praised by Booklist and his upcoming third novel, Falls Like Lightning (Bethany House, July 2011), showed up on Amazon's Christian Mystery bestseller list this week -- congrats! He's a real-life firefighter and paramedic in Reno, NV and, while I don't know him at all beyond our Facebook connection, he comes across online as a very kind and genuine guy...

Which was why I was (eventually) persuaded to believe him when he told me he'd seen my book on this shelf at a Raley's grocery store in northern Nevada. That, no, he didn't Photoshop the image of my book cover onto someone else's novel. That he didn't even physically prop it up on the shelf (putting it in the same vicinity as Dickens, no less!) before pulling out his camera phone. Thing is, even when I thought Shawn had somehow crafted the picture, I considered it an awesomely cool gesture that a fellow author I'd never met, writing in a genre quite different from mine, would take the time to send it to me.

Gift 1: The surprising and sometimes heartwarming sense of connectedness that can happen between strangers thanks to social networks.

I've been blogging regularly for nearly 4 years, on Facebook for 2 years and struggling to figure out Twitter for a little over 1 year. (Someday, I'll really get it...maybe. ;) Understanding, intellectually, why it's a good idea for an author to have a Web presence is one thing; feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude at making wonderful friends online is altogether another. I've now had the pleasure of meeting in person many of the friends who visit me here, but I haven't forgotten that it was Blogger or FB that first introduced us.

Of course, because you all know me, you also know the truth: I am not a New York Times bestseller. (Not yet, anyway...trust me, if that ever happens, I'll make a point of announcing it, enthusiastically, and with MUCH celebratory chocolate.) Not being on that list right now, though, is a stone-cold fact -- verifiable in black-and-white newsprint -- even if the definition of "Famous Author" is a bit squishier and more of a judgment call. From my point of view, however, I can say with certainty that even our nearest neighbors wouldn't consider me famous for anything other than not being able to keep the hanging plants on our front porch alive for more than a week. But, hey, if some kindly (though misguided) store clerk across the country wants to put me in the "famous" category, who am I to object?!

Gift 2: Knowing that some truths are purely subjective.

My reality is that, no matter what my age, I'll always feel about 16. No matter how mature I (supposedly) am, I'll still squeal like a fangirl if I ever get to go to a U2 or Bon Jovi concert. (Pamela Cayne, you know it's true. ;) I seriously doubt I'll ever stop thinking of pizza and brownies as a perfect -- albeit high-carb -- meal. And, regardless of where my books rank on the sales spectrum, I suspect it would take J.K. Rowling- or Stephenie Meyer-like levels of success before I could ever keep a straight face at being called famous. Which is not to say that I didn't get a little giddy when seeing that bookshelf header this week. Not only because my second novel was placed just beneath it, but because of something far simpler: My book is in Nevada! It's a thousand miles away! It exists even when I can't see or touch it...

Gift 3: Never getting over that sense of amazement that people other than my family members and critique partners are reading my novels.

You'd think after finishing three publishable books that I'd be used to the routine and even a little bored by it these days. Blah, blah, blah, blah, copy edits...blah, blah...page proofs...and then ARCs, ho hum...and final printed copies. But, actually, no. It's still crazy-exciting just knowing my stories are Out There. Knowing someone out grocery shopping -- in another time zone -- might just pick it up, put it in her cart and take it home to read. Priceless.

So, thanks, Shawn, for the picture. And thanks to everyone else for letting me share it. Wishing you all a fabulous weekend! I know we're still a full week away from Super Bowl XLV, but I'm curious -- who are you all cheering for? Packers or Steelers? (I was born and raised in Wisconsin, so I'm trying to find my Cheesehead hat...)


Judy Croome said...

Marlyn this is SUCH a wonderful picture to see. I think you deserve a ton of chocolate and a free ticket to a bon Jovi concert!

Well done - and I love the way you see your life as full of gifts. No wonder you're heading to the NYT bestseller list, and I'm sure it'll happens sooner rather than later!

Judy (South Africa)

Pamela Cayne said...

Curt told me about this picture and I'm so glad you posted it. See, I think your blog got its streams crossed with L.A. Mitchell's and this is now a time-travel post. What we're seeing is a *future* picture, showcasing your *future* author self when she is a New York Times bestseller. (I already think you're famous--famously nice, famously talented, famously graceful, and on and on...)

Happy Friday--may your upcoming weekend be filled with calorie-free choclate and extra Bon Jovi goodness. (And go Packers--love that scrappy little team (even if they did beat the Bears)!)

Monica and Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamala Knight said...

I agree with Pamela--it's a peek at the things to come for a very deserving and talented author. Your post outlines all the reasons I'm so glad to call you friend--the wonderment, the humility, the appreciation and awareness all wrapped up in the unique person that you are.

Thanks for being a gift to the rest of us.

Heather said...

That's a great site to see, Marilyn and whoever put it there knows that is SHOULD be true. It's an amazing book :-)
Football wise: born and raised around DC means I'm a Redskins fan, I tend to root AGAINST the Steelers at all costs just to annoy my brother in law. So, Packers it must be...and I'm also rooting for some amazingly funny Super Bowl commercials!

(I think I posted twice, I deleted one b/c the text was messed up!)

LJCohen said...

First of all, congrats to you--what a wonderful gift to unwrap and enjoy! But also, kudos to you for the way in which you work at being a professional author. Wishing you continued success and all the best.

Edie Ramer said...

How exciting to see your book up there! I think it should be true and WILL be true. Sometime not too far in the future.

And now you've given me a good excuse for cruising the social networks instead of cleaning toilets or another fun activity.

Packers, of course! I might even watch this game. Go, Pack, go!

Anonymous said...

WOOOOT, sistah! How fun and cool and awesome! I vote for some chocolate to celebrate! Within weekly values, of course... ;) spj

Marilyn Brant said...

Judy, thank you! If I *ate* at ton of chocolate I'd be in big trouble. (Of course, I could try to work it off by jumping around at the concert. ;) So glad we met online...and I can't wait until our paths cross in person someday!!

Pamela, LOL! I love it! L.A. would be so pleased to see time travel in action ;). Okay...I'm already envisioning the future blog post where I'm referring back to this one and getting to thank you for sharing your theory. xo Hugs to you and Curt for a great weekend!

Aww, Pamala...thank you, my friend. Now you just made me teary. Love you, too.

Heather, thank you so much!! {hug} As for the Super Bowl, my brother would say that it doesn't matter WHAT the reason is behind it, as long as you're cheering for the Packers in the end, all is well!! :)

Lisa, it's wonderful to see you here -- thank you!! I've thought of you so often this month... You're an inspiration to me. Wishing fabulous things for you!

LOL, Edie!! I'll use far lesser excuses to get out of cleaning ;). Hugs and thanks to you for being so, so supportive. Go, Pack!!! (says the person who can barely figure out what's happening on the field through most of any football game...)

SPJ, you know I LOVE you!!!! xoxo Can't wait to see you :).

Nancy J. Parra said...

Marilyn what a cool picture. You should keep a copy next to your books. It's a great visual aid for helping you imagine your way to the top.
Thanks for sharing~ I agree. Social media is fabulous for making the best friends. Cheers~

Shawn Grady said...

I thought it quite serendipitous that I saw your book there after just having accepted your friend request on fb that morning.

I showed the photo to my wife and when she read the book title she said, "Oh, that's when I volunteer in our son's class" :D

All the best in your endeavors!

Brett said...

Marilyn, that's such a great photo! In honor of your success and fame, I'll go have some pizza, chocolate, AND ice cream!! ;)

Marilyn Brant said...

Nancy, I'm definitely tempted to print it out (for visualization purposes ;). And I know you've always praised FB and Twitter as wonderful ways to meet people and connect with other writers -- you do a fabulous job with it!

Shawn, LOL! I *wish* my son would let me still volunteer in his classes -- at any time during the week ;). Thanks, again, for snapping the photo, and best wishes to you, too, on all things!!

Brettski, you have my wholehearted blessing to use ANY excuse at all to enjoy pizza, chocolate and ice cream (orange custard chocolate chip, perhaps?!) this weekend... Hope you have some for me ;).

erika said...

That is a great picture and as others have said I'm sure it is a dream that will soon be fulfilled ! I enjoyed your post very much. To me it shows how you aren't taking things for granted and hopefully enjoying every step of the way.

Packers is who we will be screaming very loudly for - it will be a whole family affair.

You now watch football ? or are you making an exceptionbecause of the game and team?

It was great to talk
Big Hug

Marilyn Brant said...

Ha! Erika, I can't fool you...you sat next to me at too many high-school football games to *ever* believe that I'd be able to follow what's happening on that field ;).

No, I'm not a regular spectator, but it *is* the Packers after all...at the Super Bowl...so, for my dad and brother, I'm going to make an effort. My husband and son on the other hand (BIG Bears fans) are still pouting about last weekend, LOL.

LOVED talking with you, too! Can't wait to see you again in person. xo

Sara Daniel said...

Marilyn, I love the picture. That is so awesome (along with definitive proof that I know a famous author!). The Ghirardelli's picture left me drooling. Clearly, I'm going to have to make a chocolate run tomorrow morning! And I love your "gifts"--such a great reminder of all we have to be thankful for.

Marilyn Brant said...

Aw, Sara, thank you!! SO glad to have another Ghirardelli lover in here with me. (You know we'll need to have chocolate -- and wine! --when we get together next. ;-) Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!!

Tonya Kappes said...

Super exciting to see! I'm so beyond thrilled for you and your success!

Caryn said...

Oh, my gosh, how great is it that he took a picture and shared that with you?!?

As for meeting people through blogs and other social networking, well, I can't picture my life without any of the people I first met online (including my husband - and you!).

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, Tonya, thank you!! It was an exciting picture, from my POV, to get to see ;).

Caryn, I'm so glad we met, too -- online and off! And WOW on having met your husband via the Internet. There is a romance novel in that story for sure!!

Robin said...

Sorry I'm chiming in so late! What a very cool picture and what a very cool writer you are! Thanks for sharing all the great things going on with you via this crazy social media world.

Maureen McGowan said...

What a fabulous post (and picture). :)

Marilyn Brant said...

Robin, thank you!! Hugs to you, my friend xo.

Maureen, thanks!! And GREAT interview with Anna today on your Get Lost in a Story blog -- I really enjoyed it ;).