Well, this has been one kick ass year. Just over a year ago this was me: Ha! Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was close. I thought SIDEKICK was dead in the water, and I was working on a cozy mystery, hoping against hope that maybe this manuscript would be the one that finally got me published…but I really was just expecting another year of artistic disappointment. Oh yes, another year where I stumbled over the answer to the dreaded question, “So what do you?” Ex-college professor/ current failing author seemed like more of a conversation ender than starter. Then, all of the sudden, the ebook publishers started calling and I fell in love with Escape. With my book to be published in just a few short months, I decided to send out my cozy mystery to agents, not really expecting much, because let’s face it, querying is almost always a soul-tearing exercise in agony. Then – knock me over with a feather – agents started a calling. And before I could say What’s the matter with these people? Did they actually read the craziness I write? I had an agent! The lovely Natalie Lakosil. (Okay, it wasn’t all the sudden, but it sure felt that way.) Then she did what good agents tend to do and sold my mystery series – three-book deal to St. Martin’s! My reaction to such overwhelming good news looked something like this: But you know what makes me look like this?
Alright, that’s my last .gif. Are people still using .gifs? I’m feeling awkward again.
Readers. Do I read the reviews of my book? Hell yes. When SIDEKICK came out, scouring the internet for reviews became a bit of an obsession and probably not a healthy one. The idea that people were reading my work was crazy. The fact that they were taking time to review was mind-blowing. Here’s the rub. For awhile there, I was focusing more on the negative reviews than the positive. Now, I wasn’t expecting all the reviews to be positive. I had entered SIDEKICK into a number of contests before it was published, and while it finalled (finaled? I’m making up words again) in three, it was blasted by a number of judges. I get it. I write humour. Humour, probably more than anything else, is subjective, but those first couple of nasty reviews still stung a wee bit. Next, on to the miracle part (put the soft filter on and cue the Hallmark Christmas movie style music). As I mentioned, for awhile there, I was letting the bad reviews get to me, and it was impeding my progress on the sequel to SIDEKICK. I really was second guessing a lot of my choices. Originally when I wrote SIDEKICK, I attacked it with a Here’s goes nothing! attitude. While, I was writing the sequel, two unwanted messages kept repeating in my head: Oh Auralee, too far! and You are a weird, weird, weirdo. Then one winter’s day I woke up, and, for whatever reason, I went onto Goodreads and reread the reviews. Something then occurred to me: there were a good number of people out there who liked SIDEKICK, some who really, really liked SIDEKICK, and they took the time to write about it. Well, suddenly I felt like Chevy Chase was yelling, “Auralee, you ignorant slut.” (It’s SNL reference for you youngins.) I have had a truly fabulous year, and I realized that maybe it was time to practice a little gratitude. I just peeked out my back window to make sure Oprah wasn’t popping out from behind a shrub in my backyard. Now, I know there still will be criticism in the future, but I think I’m getting better at appreciating and keeping at least some focus on those readers who have been so very, very supportive. Most importantly, I will give those voices equal (if not slightly preferred) billing. This is not to say I don’t see the value in criticism. I do. I’ve learned from the negative reviews. But, at the end of the day, while I can tweak plot points, work on my style/description, add character depth, I can only be me (I’m channeling Kermit the Frog now), and my sense of humour is what it is! And yes, I will go too far. So a big thank you to everyone who took the time to read my book (whether you liked it or not). It has been an amazing year! And I am truly grateful. (Do I sound like I have been drinking? Because I haven’t…at least, not yet. There is this Christmas party later…never mind, refer to Elijah above) Auralee