By Denise Tompkins On Jul 18 2012, 12:01 am
I was innocently writing away on the first book in a new series, thinking about the things authors think about–character arcs, plot structure, pacing, how to get a caffeine IV and holy crackers, who fed the dog something explosive?–when my email pinged. I ignored it because I was deep in the writing groove and trying valiantly not to pass out from the dog's methane bomb. The characters were flowing and I finished the chapter, got up to stretch and remembered the email. I sat back down and opened it up, realizing it was a notification from a "good readers'" site that said someone had commented on my profile. I rarely visit, simply because it takes several glowing reviews to revive my muse after evisceration. Shoring up my emotional reserves, I logged in and read the MOST amazing email from a fan (a real live FAN!) who said she wanted to know when the third book of the Niteclif series was coming out because she just couldn't stop re-reading the first two novels and move on. After I stopped staring at the screen and, admittedly, wiping a couple of tears away, I set about answering her.
Now, it might seem arrogant to share this, but stick with me because I'm not the point of this blog. You are.
That's right. You, the reader, are my focus here. When you reach out to an author and share your love for the new world she's built or your passion for his characters, you empower the author, feed her muse and encourage her to carry on. Writing is a lopsided adventure wherein the author spends a great deal of time alone, in front of the computer, with only her characters for company. Dialogue becomes internal conversations, characters become the author's imaginary friends and the complexities of keeping notes straight so the story flows becomes our focus. When the editing stage arrives, there are many people involved and I won't discredit their involvement by forgetting to mention them (hi, Editor Amy–it's me again). But up to that point, it can be a little isolating and, to be honest, a little scary. Unwelcome thoughts creep in and make the author wonder whether or not the novel will resonate with readers, whether or not the story will find a fan base and more. (There's a whole barrel of neurotic thoughts I can choose from, but I'll limit it to only a couple in an effort to present a sane front.) As authors, we press forward and provide the very best stories we can with the hopes that all our fears will be laid to rest when readers find their escape in the pages we've written, the worlds we've constructed and the characters with whom we've already fallen in love.
Release days for and author is heady stuff. Reviews come in, readers chat with the author or about the new book on Twitter and Facebook and, on occasion, someone reaches out to tell you they love something about your work. Then the fanfare dies down and the novel sets about finding its feet and determining whether or not it will truly find a readership. Then, months after the book has been out, the reviews have been good and bad and the author is trying to decide whether to continue with the series she started or start a new book, that email pings again and your words of encouragement, your love for our characters and your pleas that the author "hurry up!" flood the fortunate recipient with this amazing sense of gratitude. It's like manna for the author's soul and it encourages her…me…to step it up a notch (or three), to increase my daily word count minimums, to find the end of the impossibly difficult story and to make sure it's enough to hold the reader until the next book is released.
You have the power to do this for your favorite authors and it's an amazing gift you give when you choose to reach out and encourage the person who spends hours alone, writing because she can't help but tell the stories her (often erratic) mind comes up with.
Would you look at that. My email just pinged again. Sorry to run, but I have to reply to the beloved reader who just signed her email "A New Fan." The feeling is mutual, Linda. The feeling is mutual.
(For readers wanting information on the release of Vengeance, book three in The Niteclif Evolutions, please rest assured I'm hard at work on it now and hope for a Spring 2013 release.)