I have had a fairly hectic month, since my last post.
I have been working fairly solidly on getting Book 2 - Extraordinary Part 2 - edited and ready for release. However, in the meantime, a few distracting things have happened.
I was contacted the night that I posted my last blog entry, by a lovely lady from the other side of the world. She got in touch with me via Facebook, and noted that I was a writer. I told her that yes, I was. She asked whether I had anything published that she could read. Of course, I pointed her in the direction of Extraordinary Part 1, which she downloaded a couple of days later. Within 5 minutes of telling me she was going to download it, she was already through the Prologue, and telling me she really liked it!
Before I venture any further, I must tell my readers that I have received 99% positive feedback from the few who I know have read and have given me feedback about my books. However, I just go by the assumption that they know me, therefore are being kind. I live in the shadow of the falling-hammer that is... my First Bad Review.
So, as you can imagine, I was worried that this lady I'd never met, from the other side of the world (namely, Texas), would either give me no response or, maybe, be honest and tell me how terrible my work was. So, imagine my surprise when less than ten hours later, I heard from her again. She said:
"I am at the 50% mark. I have a hard time putting the book down! (writers always seem to like it when we say that and mean it! LOL)."
The following day, I had a bad day. I left work in near tears due to frustration (mostly), then on my way to pick up my husband, was nearly hit by two cars who had crashed into each other and spun out, nearly collecting me where I was stopped at an intersection!
When the drama had died down, and I made my way home, I was surprised by what was waiting for me in my Facebook Messages, from my new Texan friend:
"Good Thursday afternoon, my friend!! It is 7:42 PM Weds. here.
Ok. I just now within the last couple of minutes finished your book. I assume you want my honest impression of it. Well, ok.
Evie, I have read thousands (hey I'm 60 and have been reading since I was like 6) of books. I've read books that after I finish them I wonder why I even picked it up to start with ... And I've read books that I couldn't put down. Issac Asimov comes to mind on that. And I have read books that were ok and a decent read but nothing to write home about. The ones that I couldn't put down are the shortest list of all. Issac Asimov, J A Janice, Anne McCaffery (and forgive me when I misspell someones name, please), JRR Tolkien, JD Robb and several others. And now I am pleased to add a new name to my "I can't put their book down" list. Evie Asterwyn.
You took a totally unbelievable subject and made it believable! I was hooked from the very first sentence. Your writing style is very smooth and easy to read. I can not wait to read the next book!! WOW! Keep it up girl!! Oh and Evie? Please know that I truly mean what I say. If I didn't love it so much you would have probably gotten something from me along the lines of..... Nice book! But your writing is truly awesome and up there with the best."
A couple of weeks after that, around the 16th of May, I had noticed on Twitter that an indie publishing group were looking for more authors for their listings. I had seen them post a few messages, and had previously looked up their site. However, on this particular day, after humming and hawing for a couple of hours, I finally decided to take the leap. I emailed them a submission, telling them I fit the genre groups they were looking for, and that I was a series writer, and was self-published. I sent them links to my work (which is what they had requested), and hit send. Then I told my mother-in-law (whose house I was at, at the time) what I had done.
Now Mum #2 (as I call her) had been an avid follower of my writing escapades for a while. I had even purchased a large-print paperback copy of my book for her, for Mother's Day. She seemed very pleased that I had taken that step. We celebrated by my taking us out to get some donuts from the local bakery (our favourite treat) and then watching some music videos of her favourite songs.
A busy week later, on Thursday 23 May, I heard back from them - and they wanted me to send them more! Specifically, they wanted to see the first fifteen-thousand words of each of my completed manuscripts. I had mentioned books 1 - 4 of my series to them (namely Extraordinary Parts 1 and 2, and The Secrets We Keep Parts 1 and 2). So, I frantically started working, to get The Secrets We Keep up to the same standard as Extraordinary's first few chapters were.
"Easy," I told myself. "Extraordinary is ready to go" (so I copied and pasted the required words over into fresh documents to send to the publishers). "I'll get The Secrets... ready in no time." Over that weekend, I got The Secrets Part 1 prepared, then started working on Part 2.
In the meantime, Mum #2 had fallen ill, and had been taken back to hospital with a relapse of Pneumonia. This was a standard sort of thing that happened to my poor Mum-in-law, due to complications and ill health that had been plaguing her for the last few years. She would normally go to hospital, get better and then come home, until the next bout hit. Unfortunately, we had bigger things to worry about this time.
My husband had been visiting his Mum in hospital (as he always did when she went in). He saw her on the Friday (his day off) after I heard from the publishers and had advised her that I had been asked to send more work to them. She was absolutely thrilled for me.
On Tuesday 28 May, I attended work as usual. I went into the office in the morning, as Mum was still in the hospital, and I didn't want to be at their house alone in the morning (usually we talked while I worked on my editing, then I'd go to the office for the afternoon to actually do work). That afternoon I did my work as usual.
At 4.20pm, I picked up a phone call to the office. I didn't understand what the person at the other end was telling me, at first. Something about someone going to the hospital and needing picking up, was what I got from it, as I misunderstood the name they gave me. I asked who was calling, and when they mentioned the name of my husband's workplace, it suddenly snapped into place:
"(My husband) has been called into the hospital. It's an emergency. He's taken (workmate's) car. He needs you to go down there, now!"
"He's taken whose car?" I was still confused.
"He's taken (workmate's) car. (Workmate) isn't worried, just you need to get down there. (Husband) was shaking so hard, he couldn't find your number, that's why I'm ringing. You need to go!"
"Oh! Right!" My brain was going a million miles an hour at that point.
After talking for two more minutes about what to do with his workmate's car, I hung up, then bolted to the other end of the office to speak to my boss.
Then I raced to the hospital.
My husband told me he was at the hospital door when he saw me arrive. I parked, and raced inside, not knowing he was just two minutes ahead of me.
After speaking to reception, to find out which ward Mum was in, I shot upstairs in the faulty lift (which took me up a floor, before returning to ground level, then taking me up to level 3 - it's funny thing things you remember!). I headed into the ward and a nurse approached, seeing me probably looking very confused.
"I'm looking for (Husband's mother)"
"And you are?" she asked, looking very solemn.
"I'm (Husbands) wife, her son's wife... I don't know what's going on, I was just told to get here in a hurry."
The look on her face went from solemn, to something resembling emotionless.
"You don't know what's happened?"
"No. I was just told it was an emergency."
She then told me that Mum had been recovering from pneumonia, but had suddenly gone into cardiac arrest. That the doctors had done everything they could for her.
"So, is she okay? Or is she..." I couldn't say it.
The nurse looked me dead in the eye, then said, "I shouldn't be talking about this here..."
We were in a public hallway, but I insisted that she tell me.
"I'm sorry, (Mum) has passed away."
They say that the whole world screeches to a halt, when you receive news like that.
I believe them now.
I swear, I could hear the brakes being applied, for a fraction of a moment which seemed to take forever to pass. The screeching, heartrending sound of the world halting, while your brain struggles to comprehend what you've just been told.
What does this mean? How can she be gone? She was doing better, she was getting better, that's what they told me, right? How can she be gone? There has to be a mistake... but no, they wouldn't say it, unless it was true. Oh, god, (husband)! Where is he? Is he okay?
Then, everything started up again, and the nurse led me down to where my husband and his step-father were, in the room where Mum was, but no longer was.
The few days dissolved in a mad rush of funeral planning. Many tears were shed as we recalled the wonderful memories Mum had left us with.
They say that angels don't walk among men. That may be true, but if they did, Mum would be among their number. She taught us all so much about living life to the full, about loving with all of our hearts, and about being brave when everything was falling apart around us. She welcomed me into her family with open arms, and treated me like her daughter-in-law, no, like her daughter, before I'd even married her son, and all through the nearly ten years we have been married.
And now we are coping with the horrendous, hollow emptiness that follows losing someone so wonderful.
Mum's funeral service was beautiful - befitting a lady of her warmth, love and heart. Her children, my brothers-in-law, sister-in-law and husband all spoke of the incredible love, respect and friendship they shared with their mother. I believe she would have been so proud of them all.
It's been a week and half since Mum passed away. But, determined to make her proud, I persevered, and completed editing the first few chapters of The Secrets We Keep Part 2. And exactly two weeks after hearing back from the publishers, I emailed the manuscript excerpts to them - from Mum's living room, where the whole process began.
I have decided, in Mum's memory, to dedicate The Secrets We Keep Part 1 to her.
This weekend, I have decided to run another freebie promotion of Extraordinary Part 1. So, if you would like to read it (and hopefully leave me a brief review or some feedback) you can purchase it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/251914
Use the Discount Code* LS33U at the checkout, and it's price will drop from $2.99 to $0.00.
This promotion runs from 8 June 2013 to 17 June 2013.
Please, download Extraordinary Part 1. Read it, and let me know what you think. Better yet, leave a review, or a comment, on my Smashwords sale page, or here on my Amazon sale page (they're the same book, just different outlets, so it doesn't matter where the review is left). I would be very grateful for your time in doing so.
(*Please note that the discount code ONLY works on the Smashwords site - I cannot discount the Amazon page!)