If I had to choose the very best part about being a published author, it would be interacting with readers. No contest. After all, readers are the people I write for. Penning a novel and then letting it sit in your files or under your bed may be cathartic—and I’m sure some of my earlier efforts belong under the bed—but until someone else reads what you’ve written, the process is incomplete.
I’ve kept every bit of mail I’ve ever received from my readers. If you’ve written to me, your email is still in my files. When asked to write this guest blog about my favorite reader memories, I went back and reread some of those early letters. It was amazing to realize that many of those people are now Facebook friends and friends that I actually see and interact with on a regular basis.
My favorite letter of all time, however, is this one that I received in regard to my first book, Slave.
I do not usually read romance novels---EVER!!. My 78 year old mother is the same. But we grabbed this book up for her, thinking it was just a small book for her to read. WOW we're we wrong!! She called me and said, You got me a nasty book. I said what do you mean "nasty"? She said she's talking about penis'. Well then I cracked up. We did not know it was a romance book. She told me to come get it because she was finished and I just HAD to read it. She said that it was nothing like what she's ever read and wants the next in the series. I would have to agree on that one also. I am in the middle right now and can't put it down.I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve quoted from that letter and it still makes me smile anytime I read it.
Just wanted to say very nicely done Cheryl.
I'm a Laurell K. Hamilton fan and never thought that I would like romance books. Thanks a million, we can't wait for the next book.
I also received a letter from another Indiana author, Judie Aitken, after she read Slave when it was in the goody bag at the RWA national conference in San Francisco. Judie told me how much she enjoyed the book and invited me to join the Indiana chapter of RWA. She has since become a good friend and I have learned so much from her and the other members of the chapter.
Some of my experiences have turned out to be very sad. Gina Scalera was the “romance person” at the Joseph-Beth Booksellers store in Lexington, Kentucky when Slave was first published. She wrote and told me about how much she enjoyed the book and was sharing it with her book club. She even made up a cookie recipe for the occasion. She asked me if I had any advance copies, and I arranged for our Sourcebooks publicist to send them to her as the subsequent books came out. I actually went to her store once when I was visiting my sister in Lexington, but she’d already gone home for the day. I heard from her several times after that, and she told me how thrilled she was to receive an ARC of Rogue and that she enjoyed it very much. The last email I have from her was in December of 2008. I figured I’d hear from her again when Outcast was released, but never did. I thought she might even have lost her job due to the economic downturn we were experiencing at the time.
Then last summer, while attending the Lori Foster Author/Reader Get Together, I met a girl from Kentucky who had a whole handful of advance copies she wanted me to sign. I spoke with her and the group she was with several times, and I wondered how she’d wound up with so many ARCs, but never asked (I was sick as a horse that weekend and my brain wasn’t exactly clicking).
Later, at the book signing another lady asked me if I remembered corresponding with Gina. I told her that, yes, I did, but that I hadn’t heard from her in some time. She then told me that Gina had died.
Needless to say, I was very saddened to hear this, but it wasn’t until the next day at breakfast that I realized that all of these ladies were members of Gina’s book club, and that the new romance department manager at the store had given them the ARCs that had been intended for Gina. They had even put together a memorial gift basket in her honor for the charity raffle. Gina had clearly touched the lives of these ladies and many other readers, and I was deeply honored to have been a part of that.
But along with the sadness, there is the crazy, silly, fun stuff. I actually have a hunky stripper in Wisconsin who wants me to autograph his buns. There are several dear friends whom I have never actually met who visit my blog every day and have become friends with each other in the process. I’ve had couples write and tell me how much they enjoy reading my books together.
Then there are what I like to call my “rock star moments.” When I attended the RWA conference in Orlando, the lady at the registration desk said “Ooh, Cheryl Brooks!” when I picked up my goody bag and touched my hand like I was someone really special. Then she did it again!
At the RT Booklover’s Convention in Columbus, I was talking with another writer who is much better known than I am, and a young woman got all excited when she realized who I was. She’d read all of my books and even asked me a few questions about them.
I have yet to be recognized on the street, and I probably never will be, but that’s okay. These are the moments I cherish. Hopefully the release of the latest book, Stud, I’ll have a few more reader memories to add to the list.
Even for a Zetithian, Tarq Zulveidinoe's sexual prowess is legendary. Believing it's all he's good for, Tarq sets out to perpetuate his threatened species by offering his services to women across the galaxy...
But one force can bring them together…
Lucinda Force is the sensitive dark horse in a self-absorbed family, repeatedly told that no man will ever want such a plain woman. Lucy longs for romance, but is resigned to her loveless lot in life—until Tarq walks through the door of her father's restaurant on Talus Five...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cheryl Brooks is a critical care nurse by night and a romance writer by day. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America. She is the author of The Cat Star Chronicles series and lives with her husband, two sons, five cats, five horses and one dog in Indiana. For more information, please visit http://cherylbrooksonline.com/ or follower her on Twitter: @CherylCatMaster.
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