Last Sunday, our family had to say goodby to my wife's mother (my mother in law). She passed away suddenly and without any warning. Ellen had a severe heart attack and a stroke some years ago, was in the hospital for months first in a coma and then trying to recover from the effects. She seemed to be doing well lately and we were totally floored to get the news.
Like many son in law / mother in law relations, ours wasn't always great. I freely admit it was as much my fault as hers but over the years the relationship had improved and I can genuinely say that she will be missed by many. I was extremely touched to find that all the copies of my books we found at her house were all well read, marked by creases and other signs of use that a book which has been read and reread should contain.
However, this post isn't as much about our loss as it is about my discovery.
In my wife's process of going through the many papers and mementos left behind we quickly discovered that even though we may know someone well, we often forget little things about them that make them such a well rounded person. Ellen was a meticulous "keeper" of old newspaper articles, letters, photos, and other things which show what a unique character she was.
It's the little things that make a person so memorable, both in our lives and in our books.
I got a call from my Mom the other day. She lives in Natchitoches, La. where I had that great book signing at the Natchitoches – NSU Folk Festival back in July.
She was shopping at the local grocery store there and was approached by a woman who recognized her from the festival and told her that not only had she bought my book The Bottle Tree there but that she loves it and has now read and reread it three times!
To an author that is probably the highest compliment that you can receive, that someone likes your work enough to take the time out of their busy lives to read the book more than once.
I am a notorious re-reader. As a matter of fact I have purchased several books for my Kindle that I have read over and over and still have in printed form. Books like James Clavell's Shogun, James Michener's Hawaii (not on Kindle yet, but anxiously waiting for it) and Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer are an annual read for me, along with a number of others.
Most of us authors are at least a little lacking in self confidence. The bad reviews are daggers to the heart while the good reviews are read with anxiety, knowing that buried in there somewhere will be the negatives. However, it really, really warms the heart to know that someone enjoys what you write enough to go back and read it more than once.
To all my readers, thank you. It is impossible to tell you how much I appreciate your support.