The Pickled Percussions of Penning
For the past thirty years I have been, more or less, Mrs. Norman Meister. Even though I held a job, actually ran my own department at Stanford University, Norman was the hotshot performer, with a rock and roll band, a jazz duo, and other musical skills that left people always asking me, “what’s it like to be married to Norman? It must be heaven to hear his singing all the time.” Occasionally, I would step down from the perceived cloud, sit in the background, smile, ever charming and demure, ever appreciative of his many talents. And if I could help a little with the load-out after the gig, so much the better. Simply put, being Norman’s wife was pretty much my raison d’être.
It has changed. Now I am a published author. I am a cause célèbre. I use French words. True, I am a very minor cause, but I think you take what you can get in this life. Many people have gathered around, bought Murder is a Family Business and A Wedding to Die For, in either print or ebook form, and proceeded to read them. I was impressed with this outpouring of support. They were impressed with my work. All was good.
But I’ve also noticed there’s a price to be paid for stepping into the spotlight. People feel compelled to tell you every grain of what they don’t like in one of your books, even if it’s only from their own frame of reference. For instance, my upstairs neighbor, a lovely lady of around 80 years old, read both my books, loved them she said, and passed them on to her daughter. Of course, it would have been nice if she encouraged her daughter to buy them, but as I’ve mentioned, you take what you can get in this life.
Where was I? Oh yes, lovely upstairs neighbor. She called to tell me she didn’t think anybody would cut up a bridesmaid dress at a wedding the way the protagonist did in A Wedding to Die For. As it was based on personal experience - I did just that, myself – I thanked her for her insight, threw in some small talk, and hung up.
Recently at a dinner party, someone had some thoughts and feelings to lay on me about my books. Trapped at the table without a drink in sight, I listened to this:
“Okay, Heather, I read your first book and I’m two-thirds of the way through the second, and because it’s a mindless read, I go back and forth from that to my more serious books. As I say, it’s pretty mindless, but I wanted you to know I am enjoying it very much, just like I enjoyed the first book. They’re mindless but very good.”
Now, I don’t know what any of you would have said, but I found myself stymied for a reply to the ‘mindless’ side of the comments. A part of me wanted to say, “Well then, as you have no mind, they are a perfect read for you” or “It took a mind to write them, toots” or “I think the word you’re going for is ‘lightweight,’ not ‘mindless.’” But I merely smiled and said, “Thank you.”
Not done, she blathered on, “Now that all your friends and family have bought them, how do you plan to get anybody else to read them?”
Squelching the desire to tell her to never to consider a field in Diplomacy should she seek employment, I said, “Other people are buying them, but I blog, Twitter, Facebook, promotional stuff like that --”
“What’s a blog?” She interrupted. “And Twitter? What’s that?”
“There’re online sites--”
“Right,” she waved me off. “But you’re not famous and nobody knows you, so how does that make anybody buy your book?”
“You know,” I said rising, “I can see Norman needs a little help with his load-in. Will you excuse me, please?”
Murder is a Family Business, book one
A Wedding To Die For, book two
A groom arrested for murder can put a crimp in anybody’s nuptials, no matter who designed the wedding gown. So when the wedding of Lee’s best friend is threatened by such a problem, thirty-four-year old Lee Alvarez heads to Mexico in search of the real killer.
Heather Haven, writer
San Jose, California 95135
Heather's blog at: http://tinyurl.com/4nensnp