My novel, Secret Shopper, debuted last week. And, I’m doing my best to see the positive. I am reaching out to media sources trying to get a spotlight on my work. I’m sending a copy to a Chamorro professor in Hawaii in hopes that he will use it in his course. I’m offering free copies to the Guam Public Library and University of Guam Library in hopes that they will offer it for lending. In one week, my novel has sold a stunning 2 paperbacks (one I ordered for myself since I couldn’t wait for my bulk order) and 8 Kindle eBooks (one of which was refunded, making it really 7). I’m happy that the novel was borrowed 3 times via the Kindle eBook lending library for Prime members. I’m thankful that one Goodreads member listed the novel as “to read” and happier that she isn’t my cousin or auntie or former colleague. Although, I know my stellar sales this first week were indeed from my wonderful relatives and former colleagues and students.
Small steps and tempered expectations are needed in my line of work. I could easily find other more lucrative ways to use my writing skills, but I’ve been there and done that. Tutoring, editing, teaching, evaluations. I’m glad my husband supports us just fine and I can flex my writing muscle.
I was reading author Alice Sebold’s Introduction to the 2009 Best American Short Stories book of which she was the editor. She made many good points about the writing world, culture and the death of literature. I feel connected to Alice’s words, most especially the idea of writing for rewards.
“I have long distrusted anything that smacked of a prize, and I still distrust them. Of course, in the end, prizes, awards, scholarships, contests, elections, appointments, best ofs and worst ofs, most hideous sex scene, most overvalued stock, best American city, highest-ranking university, most valued player, best ass, best rack, best book, are subjective measures of one person’s or a group’s taste against that of another’s. Enough of this can breed a culture, and culture, by definition, is inevitably corrupt.”
So, my pursuit of winning contests is a combination of things. First, I get to flex my writing muscle. Next, I can add another notch to my belt, showing that I’m not only saying I’m a writer, but I’m doing. And, the cash prizes always help pay the bills. I foresee my future as a writer 4-eva…but, I don’t know if I’ll make millions at this. I can only hope to produce quality work. Have my ideas and messages come across. Paint pictures in my readers’ heads. I can only hope to continue to need a literary outlet.
Sebold goes on to support writing for rewards (in a sense) by saying,
“But I think highlighting good fiction is more important now than it ever has been. Because of this, I’ve also come to feel that now, more than ever, awards are a necessary crapshoot from which, on balance, all of us benefit.” (Alice Sebold’s Introduction from The Best American Short Stories 2009, Mariner Books).
At times, and when my husband asks when will you make our first million with your books, I wish I could be that mother author who spurns books that in turn spurn movies. Then I could tour with the hot young actors starring in my books turned nice and flaky movies, but then again I think, no. I want to be respected. Ask me next week, and I can change my mind. There is a place in this world for all sorts of writing. I read everything from the deep, moving novels to the nice and flaky ones. It’s a matter of taste and a matter of what I want to be associated with.
Secret Shopper doesn’t have the stunning covers of most contemporary romance novels, and I’m okay with that. The orchid featured on the cover was a housewarming gift from my Auntie Lou. The sunglasses I bought at a swap meet in San Diego, but rarely use because I like wearing my glasses and hate contacts. The shell lei is from Guam and the woven basket the trio of islander items sits on was from my wedding. I took the photo in my bathroom, which has the best natural light. Am I doing myself a disservice by removing the smoke and mirrors of my book? No. I’m just describing the cover. I do hope that as my story spreads, my little baby starts walking, and Phoenix and Thomas’s love story takes flight, that readers will give me feedback, give it reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, tell a friend and all that great stuff. I know I do that when I’m passionate about someone’s work. I call it Synergy.
Yes, Jem had Synergy too.
Me and "Jem" Comic Con 2012 San Diego
Okay, back to my short story. If I win, I’ll share (the story, not the prize money-I’ve got bills to pay).