Yesterday was pretty special for me. I attended my first convention in Morristown, my hometown. The show was small, mostly a comic book and collectible vendor show, and the crowd was modest, but it was still special because I got to reconnect with some old friends and meet a few readers I’d never gotten to know before. One of the friends I got to catch up with was John Stone, owner of Mountain Empire Comics in Johnson City. John was one of the first people who truly reached out to help me when book one first came out. He invited me to his shop for numerous events, promoted me, and treated me like I was somebody, all because John is one of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever known.
Another good friend in attendance was Charlie Aiken, who owns a collectibles shop at the 407 Flea Market. Charlie and I met through John, and Charlie was just as gracious to me. Many times, he let me set up at his booth and sell books, and he was instrumental in getting me into many shows in the early days. Like John, Charlie is a generous guy, and I’m grateful to him for all that he did for me before my books had any measure of credibility.
Several people, at least a dozen, stopped by my booth and told me how much they had enjoyed book one, people who had bought copies from John, Charlie, and Farmhouse Antiques. One gentleman made my day by telling me it was one of his all-time favorite books. I’ve written on here a few times about the long journey of the last decade, of the doubts and difficulties, the ups and downs. Meeting these people yesterday healed a lot of old wounds and reconfirmed the validity of my decision to self-publish to launch my career. It reminded me that while there were many naysayers and critics, there were also many, many supporters and readers who enjoyed my work. Yesterday, I felt all of the hard work and grassroots efforts were worth much more than I had ever known.
Because of my divorce and the difficulties that created, I’ve spent much of the last four and a half years disconnected from my local audience. It’s hard to explain, but revisiting those little shops and small local shows reminded me too much of the disintegration of my marriage and loss of my children. I purposefully avoided retracing my footsteps to avoid remembering those last two years of pain. Today, I’m a little ashamed of myself for disconnecting like that. Maybe it was necessary for my own healing, but I turned my back on people who love and support me, and that isn’t right. Yesterday, I vowed to myself to do a better job of getting back out in my community and beating the drum locally for the series and to give more back to the people who were with me in the early days.
Book four is coming along nicely, and last night, I wrote with renewed enthusiasm. I feel an energy and intensity to this one that’s beyond anything I’ve produced before. Part of it has to do with how the sub-plots are coming together and reaching their boiling points, and part of it has to do with where I am as a writer. Only time will tell if I’m right, but this book, though still early in the rough draft stage, feels special, and I’m working feverishly to keep the momentum rolling. I’m enjoying writing this one more than anything I’ve worked on before, and I hope that enthusiasm translates into the quality of the prose.
That’s all for now. Hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday.