If I could clap my hands and type at the same time, I would.
I have many reasons to clap, not the least of which is this fabulous guest post written by debut novelist Tina L. Hook.
I bumped into Tina in cyberspace shortly after launching this blog and have enjoyed her blog ever since. I have followed her on vacation, kept up with: her decorating genius, her movie reviews, her culinary experiences and her fun, spunky nature. At the end of 2011, I was interviewed on her blog here in her series about women truth-tellers. If you like to wrap yourself in chick culture, women’s stories and joyful living, you need to check out Girl With A New Life.
I am also clapping for Tina who has just released her first novel, Enchanted by Starlight, into the great World Library and guess what else is making me slap my hands together in silly style? Her ebook is FREE TODAY (TODAY!!!!) on kindle. Yes, I will wait for you to download it now, but you’ll be sorry if you miss Tina’s words here so do come back and keep reading 😉
Without further ado, here’s Tina’s captivating post about her journey in writing. She has also kindly provided the first page of her book (which you have already downloaded or are about to download) that follows.
If you had asked me about my dreams at age 11 I could have told you without hesitating. Back then I spent hours curled up on my un-made bed scribbling stories into a notebook. Before I understood about bills and adult responsibilities, and long before I was old enough to register the smirk of disbelief on the face of someone staring back at me, I dreamed of being a writer.
When my college professors showed me the entry level salary for a magazine job, I backed off of my dream for another decade. The salary would have had me living at home for another few years, which was enough to induce a hysteria driven streak across my college lawn, but that wasn’t the only deterrent. Whether I admitted it or not, I simply wasn’t ready.
After reading the powerful words of Zora Neale Hurston and other glorious authors, I knew implicitly that being a writer meant baring my soul, becoming more vulnerable. At age 21, I wasn’t sure who I was yet. More than that, I was ashamed of how small I felt. I hadn’t found my voice, not yet.
Something about my thirtieth birthday changed everything. Maybe it’s because I was 30 and finally ready to kick the world’s ass. Or maybe I finally understood how precious time was, how quickly it falls away from you when you’re not paying attention. On the advice of an article I started writing a blog. (Six months would go by before I could even look anyone in the eye and call myself a blogger.) A year later I began writing my novel and exposing my first wobbly pieces of fiction with the blogosphere. And on and on I went, one foot in front of the other, until my editor wrote “brava” on my last round of revisions three years later. And I danced, a little happy dance, in a circle around my office.
What is funny about this journey is that the fireworks never really go off. After spending years of my life writing, no one charges into my house one day and stamps “Author” onto all of my business cards. Nor is there a secret society of super fascinating writers all waiting to make my acquaintance, at least none that I’ve been invited to. That general air of disbelief that us adults sometimes have a way of perpetuating never really goes away either. If I am lucky my doubtful ranks will only grow alongside of my fan base, as more and more readers get the chance to decide whether they enjoy my work or not, and not everyone will.
The real journey is in my joy for the writing. I could never have fully imagined the satisfying tingle, the one from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, when my first reader stepped forward to tell me how connected she felt with my novel. That was amazing. That she could see herself inside my characters. That I had moved her. Those are the days I don’t bother to make my bed. Those are the days I dive back in with a notebook.
It is life affirming, doing this work that swells my heart.
Sample page from Enchanted by Starlight.
My name is Grace. Tomorrow is my wedding day.
Staring across the dark waters of the Gulf, I am uncertain. I am exhausted and hopeful. I am both completely in love and irreparably heartbroken.
After these long months attending to the minutia, the black and white stationery, the elegant table settings, the tropical flowers, the chocolate dessert course—I suddenly find myself detached from it completely and, now, with the night sky rising up around me, I have surrendered myself to the deeper implications. I am standing in the moment that has defined my life. I am finally here and yet so much has been lost.
It was a delicious ache that lured me from my bed tonight, drawing me out beneath the cobweb of stars. Liam’s memory teases me, calling from the water’s edge as if he might materialize there, simply by my wanting him to. I thought for sure I had pushed him so far back into my mind that I had forced him away for good. Still, as much as he has denied me, as much as I have refused my heart, it seems he is determined to make an impression on this day. Agonizing really, how enduring love can be. Even after you have packed it up and put it away, it is still there—always there, yellowing around the edges and begging you to turn its pages again.
Thank you, Tina, for baring your soul and for inspiring others to do the same. May you have years ahead of unmade beds and dreaming in notebooks!