When I was writing Finding Grace, I had days when I sat at the keyboard typing away for hours at a time and thought, "Hey, this isn't too bad! I might have something here"; but I also had days when I thought, "What a hack I am! This is nothing but drivel!" For four-and-a-half years, though, my husband had utter faith in me; and on the days when I felt like I was wasting my time on a pipe dream, he would say, "Who cares if it ever gets published? Are you enjoying the process?" I was, I'd assure him. I was having a ball bringing characters to life and spending time with them every day. "Then do it because you love it," he'd say.*
I would sometimes spend hours in my basement office, so lost in the process of deciding what this character would say and that character would do that I'd forget to drink the cup of coffee that grew cold on the desk in front of me. (Gasp! Forgetting to drink coffee: if you know me, you know that's very out of character.) I'd forget to get dressed, and suddenly it would be 2:00 in the afternoon and I'd realize that I was still in my bathrobe. When my husband or one of my sons would peek down and ask how I was doing, I'd say, "I'm just sitting here making money. I'm making money right now. Right now I'm making money." Hang on: do you know who Brian Regan is, and have you ever heard his comedy bit about being a coach passenger passing by the businessmen working away on their computers up in first class? If not, you must watch this.
Well, yesterday I got some much-needed affirmation that my efforts have not been in vain. My sister-in-law who lives in Florida called and told me a story that did my heart so much good, because it made me feel as if I'd accomplished the goal I'd set out to accomplish. Although adult family members and friends, as well as a handful of adult reviewers, have read Finding Grace and told me they enjoyed it during the nine months it's been in print, so far I've had no feedback from teenage readers (the very audience I was targeting when I set out to write the book). My sister-in-law was substituting at the Catholic grade school her children attend, and after class an 8th-grade girl came up to her and shyly asked if she was related to a famous author. She was thrown off-balance and didn't know how to respond; her own daughter had just recently had something published in the church bulletin, and she thought the girl might be alluding to that. Then the young girl said, "Are you related to the author of Finding Grace?" When my sister-in-law excitedly told her she was, the girl said, "It's my favorite book." Mission accomplished! I have touched one young reader! I am on a cloud.
My Florida sister-in-law has a friend who runs a Catholic bookstore, and on her recommendation her friend stocked some copies of my book in her establishment. I can only guess that it was through the bookstore owner that the young reader learned that the substitute teacher at her school was related to me. I have been extraordinarily lucky to have family members, like this sister-in-law and many others, who have supported me and helped to promote my book. Another sister-in-law purchased 20 copies of Finding Grace to donate to various schools. My husband and one of my sons gave the financial backing that made it possible to have it published by a small Catholic publishing house called Bezalel Books. I count my blessings every day--not just because I have people in my life who want to see the book succeed, but because I have people in my life who shower me with an astounding amount of love and encouragement.
Throughout the years I was writing, my husband would say, "You're an author! You auth!" (What About Bob?, anyone? "I'm a sailor! I sail!"...Does every family like to quote movie lines and comedy routine jokes as much as we do?) I still have trouble thinking of myself as an "author"--much less a "famous" one (just saying that word embarrasses me no end). But I've written a book, so I suppose that makes me an author. I've authed. And that endorsement from an 8th-grade girl means more to me than any published review of my book ever could.
*I have the best husband. Just sayin'.