Friday, January 28, 2011
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...)