Michael Connelly was in town for an author tour for his newest book and, somehow or another, by the time Michael arrived at the restaurant, the only chair left to sit in was across from me.
To my immediate left was Jedwin Smith, an internationally known author and prize-winning war correspondent I had only just met the previous year, but had become fast friends with. Two seats to his left was Linda Sands. By all measurable accounts, the luncheon was a success for Decatur, Georgia’s Eagle Eye Book Store owner, Doug Robinson, attendees, and Michael.
Jedwin introduced me to Linda, and she and I exchanged emails with “keep in touch” flung to the other. That was in 2010 — and we have stayed in touch. In fact, while we don’t get to see each other very often (schedules are always an issue), we have helped each other through several projects.
She hired me (in my photographer mode) to go with her to the Mid-America Truck Show in 2011, where she was gathering material for a book she was pitching. That was a great trip to “LOOOahvull”, Kentucky. In fact, here are some pictures of that trip:
So, you can well imagine that every time we get together, the chatter’s always about damn plot lines (or holes), damn character development (or lack of), damn literary agents (and publishers), damn this staying motivated to get a project done and, damn it even worse, how in the heck can we market our own stuff and make some damn money.
Linda and I are as much alike as we are different in other ways. She flings her body and I fling my mind around from continent to continent. We both have multiple books going at the same time. And we work as many angles as we can to promote, promote, promote.
So, you can say I was quite pleased when Linda came out with her novel “3 Women Walk Into A Bar.” I breathed a sigh of relief for her, logged on to Amazon, and bought a print copy. It was delivered within a few days, and I got busy reading.
I loved it.
Now, you’ve got to understand that “I loved it” is very high praise from me.
Indeed, I am a very picky reader. In fact, there are two internationally famous authors whose early books I adored (no, I shall not name names), but whose writing and editing has gotten so sloppy that even with one eye closed and muttering the editor’s version of the ooooohmmm mantra — that is, “Please, God, not another typo and mispunctuation on this page, too!” — I couldn’t even force myself through the first chapters.
Heck, I even flipped to the back chapters to see if it at least ended well. Couldn’t read those, either. One of those authors had the gall to complain to a small group who came out to see him that “he wasn’t selling enough on this trip to even pay for his jet fuel.” I was in the audience, so this is first hand, y’all.
You would be shocked if you only knew how many first-time novelists and memoirists I’ve edited who, upon being given back the first few chapters’ edits, proceeded to curse the very ground upon which I walk and call me “too picky” and accused me of “killing their dream.” But that’s another story for another time.
So it was with baited breath I prayed that I would be able to look my friend in the eye and be able to say without lying, “Oh, my gosh. I loved it.”
So, Linda, here I am. Publicly saying I loved your book. Yes, plot, dialogue, characters, flow, and ending: I was hooked and satisfied, too.
But most of all, thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to write a clean book, editorially speaking that is. Not once did I have to shut an eye and whisper, “Please, God, don’t let there be a typo on this page, too.”
It’s been a long, long time since I was able to relax and simply enjoy a story well told.