Highest Praise…

I know today is Thursday, and I usually post the Thursday 13, but last night another subject came to mind that made me think of changing my schedule.

Now, I’ve always been a very avid reader, from pretty much the time I learned to read.  However, my sister, Amy, could be described as nearly obsessed :)   The woman collects hardback books of her favorite authors and has them organized in floor to ceiling bookshelves that dominate both floors of her house.  And, in fact, she introduced me to several of my current favorite authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Sabrina Jeffries and many others.  I remember visiting her house and coming home with an armload of books she thought I might enjoy – it was like a familial library :)   She was and is the quintessential reader.  And shopping for books with her is an amazing thing to see!

So, when I started writing and getting to meet some of these same authors we both loved, I felt almost as if it were the wrong sister getting to meet them.  Although, I did and still do bring her copies of signed books home, which she unpacks with reverence and awe when they arrive.

However, since she was such an avid reader and very outspoken about what she did and didn’t like in a book, I’ll admit, I was a little nervous about letting her read my first books.  When she read Into a Dangerous Mind, and my Maiden series books and even the smaller ebooks, I remember her being excited that she had a sister who wrote and her telling me how pleasantly surprised she was by my fun characters and stories – the type that both of us enjoyed so much.  I knew from her reaction that they didn’t totally suck, and that she wished me well, but I already knew that I was a beginning writer and they needed work.

After all, as every writer knows, having your family, boyfriend, husband and dog tell you they love your work doesn’t mean much since they are your family.  It’s like that horrid misshapen clay sculpture your kid makes you when he’s five – it’s hideous, but you display it proudly because it’s your kid’s.  Or a scarier example – all those families who told their family members they really could sing so they would go try out for American Idol…lol!

Now, I know my writing has improved by leaps and bounds since 2003 when I first started writing seriously for publication.  I’ve got almost nine books under my belt along with a three book contract deal with a well-respected New York publisher, and a terrific and very sought after agent.  I will always continue to strive for improvement and the day I feel I’ve reached it is the day I need to step away from the keyboard and pack it in, because I will have lost the drive to keep growing.  However, that day is a long way off!

Anyway, last night I was at the local Desert Rose RWA meeting getting ready to give the main program on Goal Setting and how to safeguard your dream, when I got a voicemail from my sister.  Now that she has an extremely energetic nearly three-year-old, her reading time has been cut drastically.  She had finished reading Ceremony of Seduction, and wanted me to call her when I got home.  Okay, fair enough.  I gave the talk at Desert Rose to a very good reaction and headed home.  But as soon as I got home and opened my laptop to check mail, there was my sister on IM.

Amy couldn’t wait to rave about my book, but this was different from that familial loyalty of the past, and she gave me a compliment that really hit home and brought tears to my eyes.

She said she sat down to read Ceremony of Seduction and ended up staying up until 2am to finish it – which is really saying something when you have a toddler who is going to wake you up at 5:30ish.  Then, she said, “I forgot you were my sister, and just totally got sucked inside the story.”  Those words and knowing my sister and her love for books the way I do, were the best compliment any writer could receive from her, and will be the fan quote that means more to me than any other I’ve ever received or probably will in the future.

After that, we chatted some more and she went on to say how much my writing had improved and we chatted about different aspects of the book, and how she couldn’t wait to read Vision of Seduction, which doesn’t come out until August.  So, of course, the family perks kicked back in and I sent her the unedited manuscript to read early (sorry, everyone, she and my critique group, The Butterscotch Martini Girls, are the only ones who get that early peek unless Kensington moves up my release date!)

As I said last night during my talk to Desert Rose, every writer has doubts now and then about their abilities, about their writing and about how they are going to actually make it in this business.  My advice last night was to document the milestones and the great feedback, so in times of doubt, you can look back and remember all you’ve achieved and the joy and fulfillment it brought, which will help carry you through those rough times.  So, when I woke up this morning, still on a high from the deep-felt and honest praise of a true bibliophile and connoisseur within my genre – I knew I had to record this for future reference.

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