Wednesday, August 5, 2020

August 2020 Book Club "Meeting": The Story of a Late-Blooming Author

Remember when I used to have those "book club" meetings on Tuesdays (because "Tuesday's child is full of Grace") over at String of Pearls?  (Remember when I used to blog regularly?  Ha ha!  Those were the days!)

It's Wednesday, so I'm a day late and a dollar short; but I thought it might be fun to do this again.  I'm going to begin by telling you a little story.

August, 2007 is where this story begins.

Once upon a time, there was an older gal who decided to fulfill a childhood dream and write a novel.  It didn't have to be the "great American novel," but she hoped that some reader--even one reader, just one--somewhere would be moved or inspired by it, like she had been by so many of the works of fiction that she'd devoured over the course of her lifetime.

This mom of five boys, who were now college- and high school-aged, began working on the one-and-only novel she ever planned to write (after all, penning only one had been good enough for Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell) at the late-blooming age of 49, mostly for herself, her children, and her future grandchildren, never believing it would actually become an honest-to-goodness book.  But that did indeed happen: against all odds, it became a book!  And at 54, she found herself the published author of a work of fiction that she hoped told a fun story about some engaging characters while at the same time illustrating the beauty and Truth of the Catholic Faith.  This novel, this baby of hers, earned the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval and was a finalist for the Guild's CALA (Catholic Arts and Letters Award) in the category of YA Fiction.  This novel was Finding Grace.

The author discovered this blurb during a random Google search. 
She loves this description of her novel.

The author's middle son, who's always been a great cheerleader--
and a"mama's boy," but in the best, most healthy way.

By the time Finding Grace was published, the author's oldest son had gotten married and she now had two grandchildren, identical twin girls.

Fast forward two years, to the summer of 2014.  Two more sons had married and another grandchild had been born...and she was offered the opportunity to write a second novel, by the same small Catholic publishing house that had published Finding Grace (Bezalel Books). She almost turned down this incredible offer out of fear of failure (after all, she had another grandchild on the way, another son getting married in a few months, and she seemed to spend all her time on the road, traveling to visit her far-flung grown children--when would she have time to write?!), she accepted.  Six months later, that manuscript (much shorter than her first book and appropriate for even younger readers) was published.  An historical fiction novel about some plucky 19th-century Irish immigrants, mill workers who were instrumental in having a Catholic church built in their largely Protestant NH town (a church that became the home of the oldest continuously operating parish in the state!), this second novel was called Erin's Ring and it went on to win two Book Awards from the Catholic Press Association.

This little girl (the daughter of my middle son) is now 4; I hope when she's
a little older she'll actually read Grammy's book!

By the time Erin's Ring was published, the author had four married sons and four grandchildren...with many, many more to join the string of Pearls in the coming years!

It has now been 13 years since the author began her late-in-life "career" of writing novels, and 8 years since her first book went into print.  Here's how the story ends: her books have not sold well; they have not made her a household name or made her bank account any fatter.  In fact, her publisher has sadly had to remove them from distribution because they have not been financially successful enough to justify carrying them.

She sometimes thinks about writing another book, just for the joy of the process; but she doesn't seem to have the time or the desire for that kind of commitment these days.  All five sons have married lovely girls who share their Faith, and her brood of grandchildren has grown to 16-going-on-17.  She and her husband have made a big move, far from the town where she raised her family (the town that gave Erin's Ring its setting), to be close to where all these precious little people live, so that she can be a hands-on Grammy.  She is inordinately blessed in every way that matters to her.  She had never really wanted to be anything but a wife and mother; being an author--well, that was just the gravy on top, the crazy pipe dream that probably wasn't ever going to happen.

Remember what I said at the beginning of this story?  Remember when I said that this author wanted to touch just one reader, she wanted to inspire just one needy soul?  Well, I believe God has given her the greatest gift of all by letting her know that the years spent writing were not all in vain...because here is the proof, which came to her recently via a text from one of her husband's sisters, whose daughter was valedictorian of her high school class and is now a freshman at Notre Dame.

Wow, the author-turned-Grammy knew that this niece had read Finding Grace in 8th grade and had done a report on it; but she surely didn't know this!

The moral of the story is that no effort that you make--if it is done for the greater glory of God and for the good of souls, especially your own--is ever in vain.  And sometimes, dreams really do come true...but success often looks a lot different than the world will tell you it's supposed to look.

The End

Did you ever dream of writing a book?  Do you think you're too old/too busy/too inexperienced to make it happen?  I am here to tell you that it's amazing how possible it is, if you put it all in God's hands.  If it's meant to be, it will happen.

Okay, meeting adjourned!
P.S. "The author" would love to answer any questions you have!  Leave me a comment--I love to hear from you!

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