Sunday, November 02, 2008

Learning to Recognize a Gift When I See One

Every time I try something new that involves interacting with other people, be it a job, a book signing, a reading, or even attending a party where I only know the host, I feel a niggling in the pit of my stomach. It's like a silent warning that something might not work out, that I might bomb miserably and be fired, or horribly embarrassed and humiliated by someone who couldn't care less whether I lived or died. It's a common feeling, I think. One most of us feel from time to time, regardless of how much we look forward to an event or how well prepared we are. Hearing war stories from writers who've had book signings with no one showing up doesn't help matters. So, I've learned to attend these things with a view of having fun no matter what. So far, it's always works.

Tuesday night's "Mystery Author Visit" at my local library didn't have a huge turnout despite the library's great publicity efforts, but because I'm an unknown writer, I didn't expect a large number of people. There were about nine attendees in all -- one with an infant who started wailing while I was reading. But the small turnout didn't worry me. I spoke a little about white-collar crime and how my books came to be. I then read the first two chapters of Fatal Encryption which take place on Halloween night. The head librarian asked questions about my work, which prompted more questions from the audience. Afterward, we were served a lovely platter of chocolates from the new shop down the road, plus refreshments.

A short while later, the woman with the baby came up to me and apologized for the interruption, but I told her the truth. I have children and know exactly what it's like. When my kids were babies, I read my work aloud as part of the editing process when they were nearby, and tears and fussing often erupted.

A gentleman and his wife who were seated before I even arrived stayed for the reading. Because of the open area, I thought they might be just resting, but it turned out they came to see me. The gentleman had already read Fatal Encryption in the library and liked it enough to buy a copy plus a copy of Taxed to Death. Another woman approached and said that her daughter wanted to be a writer and asked me how she could help her, so I provided a few tips.

I don't know why the niggling keeps coming back when good things happen so often. Maybe it's just a sign that I should stay on my toes and never ever take any promotion opportunity for granted. Maybe I need to appreciate these moments as the gifts they are. And maybe I should learn not to complain about all the time promotion and marketing takes.

To read excerpts from Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death, visit

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