Sunday, November 30, 2014

An Author’s Thanks Giving

This, the weekend of Thanksgiving 2014, brings me to a state of gratitude that is close to overwhelming.
I used to think that creating a book was totally a solo act. Much of it is, in terms of the hours and days, the months and years a writer spends alone heeding the impulse to create. But with the publication of my novel, Dream Singer, in October, I’ve come to see this very differently, coming to a deeper appreciation that it is also about creating a community.
This Black Friday weekend, I went into Longfellow Books in Portland to buy a friend’s novel. Longfellow Books, one of the leading independent bookstores in Maine, hosted the official launch of Dream Singer, earlier in the month. Bill Lundgren, a staffer, greeted me when I entered, and asked, “What do you think?” And I said, “about what?”
And he pointed to the wall where Longfellow Books displays the store’s current best sellers. There on the wall was Dream Singer.
I was stunned. I turned back to him, stammering a “thank you.”
“For what?” he said. “We didn’t do anything. You wrote a beautiful, beautiful book.”
What’s beautiful is hearing someone whom you respect in matters literary tell you that you’ve written a beautiful book. Writing such a book was certainly the hope. But Bill was being modest about Longfellow’s commitment to and belief in my novel. Longfellow Books sits high on a long list of those who have become a vital part of the community supporting Dream Singer.
Big thanks go to members of this community, including, among others:
>  Chris Bowe and Co. at Longfellow Books
>  Craig Tribuno, Jamie Morin, Jim Braley, and Leigh St. Pierre who stepped forward to create Artisan Island Press to publish Dream Singer – and works by others yet to come.
>  Novelists Pat Conroy and Terry Kay for contributing comments for the back cover of the book.
>  My friend Dana Sewall who drove me to catch a freight train in Portland, Oregon, many years ago so I could do the magazine story that bore the seed that became Dream Singer.
>  Friends and family who mentioned Dream Singer on their Facebook pages, including award-winning novelist Cathie Pelletier
>  27 readers, to date, who have reviewed Dream Singer on Amazon – giving it a solid gold bar of 27 five-star reviews.
>  Robin Elliott at Nonesuch Books in South Portland, for “hand selling” Dream Singer when customers ask for a book recommendation.
>  Sherman’s Books in Freeport and Portland for hosting book signings during the Christmas season.
>  John Howard in Maine and Dennis Milburn in Montana who bought numerous copies to give to others.
>  Jen Xu who bought 10 copies to start a “lending library” so her friends in the Bay Area could read it.
>  Teddy Mastroianni in Washington, D.C., who bought a copy to donate to his neighborhood “Little Library” stand.
>  Currently, eight community libraries that have scheduled readings over the next few months.
>  Bud Laurent, who is responsible for at least a score of book sales via his Facebook postings, and who donated a copy to the Benton County (Oregon) Democrats to be auctioned at a fundraiser.
>  Honeck & O’Toole, my long-time accountants, who featured the publication of Dream Singer in their November newsletter.
>  All the readers in France, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California who bought copies of Dream Singer.
>  And to “Lonesome Walt,” the Modoc tramp I met riding freight trains thirty years ago in the Pacific Northwest, who was the inspiration for Elijah McCloud, whose story is the heart of the novel.

Yes, I’m proud to have written a novel that people think is “beautiful.” But I am also humbled by the generous, big-hearted community that has coalesced to support and promote Dream Singer. This was completely unanticipated. But it is something for which I am deeply grateful.