Forty Times Platinum was tight and polished and had come in at a cool 85,000 words. I was ready (again) to move forward.
I then gave it to several relatives and friends to read. A few friends had even suffered through the sad 135,000 word version— I paid them off in gift cards. After every reading, I received valuable feedback and made edits accordingly. When I had the shorter, better version my uncle (Uncle Jack) read it. He had had a hernia operation and I was the lucky closest relative who got to take him to the hospital and then care for him while he was recovering.
He stayed the weekend and I forced him to read nearly the entire book. It started with me handing him the first chapter and I asked in general- “What do you think?” The man who reads nothing but World War II novels was surprisingly interested and kept asking me to print more chapters.
Uncle Jack was the first person I had told about the book and he’s been my biggest supporter ever since. He was always emailing me: What’s going on with the book? How’s the book? And this was before I knew what I was going to do with it.
As a woman who has no children, it’s hard for someone to understand how much I feel left out of the general conversation going on around me whenever I am with other adults. For thirteen years (the amount of time, I’ve been with my husband) I have sat through announcement after announcement- We’re having a baby! We’re having another baby! Come to the Christening, the communion, the birthday party, the moving up ceremony. My son is selling popcorn. My daughter is selling cookies. Come to the recital!
All the while, I’ve had no announcements and nothing to celebrate. For thirteen years, I’ve basically had nothing to talk about because there was nothing to say. So all those texts and emails from Uncle Jack have meant more to me than anyone could imagine.
Next I gave Forty Times Platinum to my mother to read.
When I was growing up all my mom had cared about was that I got some kind of college degree, so I could get some kind of job and support myself. The idea of anything creative and risk taking was completely OUT OF THE QUESTION.
Fast forward 30 years, I am married, doing well financially and so with that worry out of her head, she was able to embrace this endeavor and she read my novel. She’s an avid reader with vast interests, so this wasn’t too much of a stretch for her.
Like others, she had made comments, such as “I don’t get this.” or “Why are they doing that?” But then I started getting texts telling me what page she was on and that she was really getting into it. Another comment prompted me to remove a scene and re-write it to be one of my favorite scenes in the whole book. So I thank her for that. She even had a bookmark with Forty Times Platinum engraved on it. That’s when I knew she was seriously on board with this whole thing. It was an overwhelming gift.
I will also say that my mother has never hid how she proud she’s been of everything I’ve accomplished. I know she talks me up to everyone. For someone who didn’t graduate with an advanced or professional degree, I did pretty well for myself. But like most women, my mother is my biggest critic. So it was really no surprise when she said that although she really liked the book and she LOVED Michael (everyone loves Michael) she confessed that she didn’t like Jen very much.
Most writers put a lot of themselves in their characters. Jamie and Michael were both based on real people. Gigi too. Cam was loosely based on someone real but more from when he was an actor and not a ball player. Jen’s success and her talent could mostly be based on someone like Cheryl Crow. If you had to think about the type of musician Jen was as far as talent and success, Cheryl is the best example.
But everything about Jen came out of my head. I wrote her in most scenes and acted her out as I would have reacted. Jen really is me.
So for my mother to say, she didn’t like Jen, left me wondering — maybe my mother doesn’t really like me 🙂
To be continued