Linda Anderson: RIPPLES AND REWARDS Having your work published seemed the ultimate reward, but I had surprises in store for me. The publication of a book is like tossing a stone into still water and watching the ripples spread until they tickle your toes on the shore. My first novel, "Over The Moon", brought the renewal of old friendships, reunions with high school and college buddies I hadn't seen or heard from in years, and the making of grand new friends. On a book signing tour I stopped in...See more
Linda Anderson: RIPPLES AND REWARDS Having your work published seemed the ultimate reward, but I had surprises in store for me. The publication of a book is like tossing a stone into still water and watching the ripples spread until they tickle your toes on the shore. My first novel, "Over The Moon", brought the renewal of old friendships, reunions with high school and college buddies I hadn't seen or heard from in years, and the making of grand new friends. On a book signing tour I stopped in my childhood home, Fairmont, West Virginia. The signing was at Waldenbooks on a deadly dull Mother's Day Sunday, and the mall was as empty as an elementary school on Saturdays. Though my cousin had placed an announcement in the newspaper, sales were slow, and I had little to do but make conversation with my husband, my cousins, and the sales staff. Unless you're Nora Roberts, Pat Conroy, or John Grisham, book signings are notoriously painful. (Did Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald have to subject themselves to this hideous form of water torture?) Thirty minutes into this boring episode, I noticed an elderly white-haired woman making her way across the mall in my direction. Inexplicably, my heart caught and I fought tears. Though this beautiful woman looked familiar, I had no idea who she was. I only knew instinctively that she was important to me. I got to my feet and met her in the center of the mall. We hugged and I drew back to look at her. "Do you know me, Linda?" she asked. "I think so." "I'm Mary Olive Jones," she said, and the tears I'd been fighting burst forth. The giver of cookies and soother of scraped knees, the neighborhood piano teacher, the kindergarten teacher of my brother, the lady with long, lustrous black hair and a delightful laugh that we heard clear across the street on Benoni Avenue on open-windowed summer days had grown eighty-five years old. I hadn't seen her in forty-five years. Mary Olive Jones had just spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from hip replacement surgery. She'd driven herself to the mall in her ancient, lumbering Buick, and brought with her pictures from my childhood that I'd never seen before. I seated her next to me and the rest of the afternoon passed in a happy blur. Animated conversation and poignant memories were interspersed with brisk book sales as business picked up, and she stayed with me the whole day. There is, of course, more to the story, but not enough space to tell it as I have another tale to tell you. On a tour for "The Secrets of Sadie Maynard, " I had a signing in Highlands, North Carolina at Cyrano's, my favorite bookstore in the whole world. When I arrived at the store that day, a petite elderly lady was sitting next to the table where I was to sign books. "Hi. I'm Sadie Maynard," she announced, "and I have a drivers license to prove it." To say that I was taken aback would be an understatement. Was this woman here to accuse me of using her name unlawfully, or was she here to have a book signed? There was a twinkle in her eye, however, and I knew she had come in fun. Like Mary Olive Jones, Sadie Maynard stayed with me for the rest of the afternoon and we formed a mutual admiration society. I've saved the book she signed for me. Sadie delighted in telling the customers that she was the real Sadie Maynard, and though the steamy sex scenes were a bit embarrassing, she wouldn't mind having an adventure like the fictional Sadie. The newspaper heard of the excitement at the bookstore and sent over a reporter and photographer. The next day Sadie and me were on the front page of "The Highlander." Sadie is a summer resident of Highlands, and the 4th of July weekend was coming up. She bought ten books for... See less
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