Sunday, December 31, 2006

Should Auld Acquaintance

Few people know this, but my mom is a pretty awesome writer. She's been published by Crossings as well as innumerable magazines and newspapers. These days she writes mostly to compete in contests, which she frequently wins. Two of her inspirational essays won her gift certificates that paid for her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners this year. You'll never read about writers like her in Publisher's Lunch, but when you're seventy years old and on a fixed income, every little contest win means a hell of a lot.

Mom also keeps in touch with her favorite authors. She's not a pest, but she does write to them about their books, and sends Christmas cards to them. I never see the letters or cards, but I'm sure she mentions my books (I try not to think about this part too much.) Nearly all of them send personal, very kind responses every time. I can't tell you how much that means to her, or to me.

I'm not as decent or regular a correspondent as my mom. I've actually lost touch with 99.9% of the authors I met when I first started in the business. Leaving all the writer orgs and groups and the con circuit eliminated the only opportunities I had to see or talk with these folks, and moving my household several times after that didn't help. Then there was always my desire not to intrude on other writers' lives. I'm not sorry I got away from the hoopla, because I wasn't any good at it, but I do miss the writers who were especially kind or friendly to me during my season in hell.

I didn't know it, but my mom has been writing for years to one of those authors I lost touch with. Last year Mom finally showed me a Christmas card she'd received in response. In it, the writer asked how I was and if I was still writing (I'd just hit the USA Today BSL a month earlier; so much for my little blip of fame.) This year the same author wrote back again to Mom, asked if I would get in touch, and sent a private e-mail address.

That's not the kind of message someone sends when they're only being polite to a sweet old lady.

So here is my chance to mend one bridge and maybe become reacquainted with an old acquaintance. I don't know what the other author expects to hear, but I'm guessing it's not what I've got to tell. It's not as if I can condense what's happened to me over the last couple of years into some cheerful anecdotes. I really dread stuff like this. But, if for no other reason than to return some of the kindness shown to my mom, I will write back. That much I owe to the author.

If you're going out tonight, please be safe and make sure you've got a designated driver for the evening. No party or celebration is worth your life.

Happy New Year, everyone.


  1. Anonymous2:05 AM

    I don't think that they're expecting anything amazing, no cheerful anecdotes. They sound like they were thinking, 'Gee, I write to this person every year. I used to know her daughter. I wonder how she's been doing?" They sound like they just want to catch up.

    On the New Year's front, you don't have to worry about me. I don't drink. I am going to go to a friend of mine's. They're throwing an all-night movie watching-a-thon thingy, and I'm going to bring a movie or two.

    I hope you have fun this New Year, too.

    Happy New Year

  2. Anonymous2:18 AM

    Happy New Year, PBW.
    Thank you for the generosity, kindness, and terrific stories you've given this fan over the last year. Your stories helped me through a tough time and brought a little bit of light back when I needed it.

  3. I HATE overthetop adjectives like "awesome".
    But your mother is.
    And so are you.
    For your "cup o'kindness."
    God keep.

  4. Thank you for sharing your time and your experience.

    Have a wonderful new year.

  5. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Happy New Year - here's hoping 2007 all good things. People unfortunately do lose touch and when presented with a chance to reconnect jump at it. Sometimes you mean more to someone than you realize.

    Thanks for all you do!

  6. Last year I renewed a friendship that I had allowed to lapse nearly twenty-five years ago. Renewing is very different from creating new friendships. In some ways, it is a very difficult thing to do.

    But it's worth it. Certainly in my case it was, and is. Someone who was once a dear and trusted friend is so again.

  7. Have a safe, happy, healthy and productive new year-- and I hope you catch up with one old writing friend.

  8. Good for your mom! As for renewing auld acquaintance, that can be awkward at first. Do you want to renew the relationship? If no, a simple, response acknowledging your appreciation for the continued correspondence with your mom would be a place to start. You could leave it at that. If you want to renew the relationship, you to expand your initial note with an executive summary of what's been happening since you were last in contact and invite continued correspondence.

    Good luck.

    I'll be staying at home tonight, probably goofing around on line, most definitely on the phone with hubby at some point, and we'll probably share a bottle of our favorite champagne virtually. I have one more book I want to finish reading before the end of the day. And I'll continue with my one-pass revision of "30 Days to Regularity." That's more than enough for one night, so I'll continue most of it for the next two days, adding a trip to order my cap for my new truck on Tuesday.

  9. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Happy New Year!

    Thank you for friendship, insight, and wisdom. Thank you so much for writing the books I love reading -- and I just ordered the new S.L. Viehl novel, Plague of Memory, and can't wait for it to arrive.

    Both Raul and I hope you and yours have a wonderful, wonderful 2007.

  10. Staying home for New Year's as usual. We're all planning on staying up and shooting off poppers at midnight. Kids are fun.

    I can relate to not keeping up with people. It's nice you have the chance to renew a friendship or at least connect with someone you used to know. It's a gift.

    Hope 2007 goes well.


  11. Anonymous2:19 PM

    Your Mom sounds like a truly amazing person. Thank you for sharing about her - it reminded me of how I want to take more time to connect with people this year - both family and friends. There are a few people in my past I wish I had never lost contact with. It really would be a gift if I was given a new opportunity.

    Happy 2007 PBW! Thanks for all the time you take to share so much with us through your blog and thanks for the stories you write, which bring so much brightness to my life.


  12. I have never had anyone knock on my door and say, “Will you be my friend?”
    Good friends take work.

    Have a safe and happy new year.

  13. Anonymous3:34 PM

    I bought "Plague of Memory" at my local Barnes & Noble yesterday, but had to wait while they unpacked it, as it had just arrived the night before.

    Thank you for the many enjoyable hours I've had this year, reading (and sometimes) re-reading your books.

    A very happy 2007 to you.

  14. Happy New Year :). May it bring kittens, or the equivalent.

    (my husband claims I have kittens on the brain)

  15. Having a quiet evening at home with DH.
    Happy New Year PBW!

  16. Anonymous5:39 PM

    I agree with Jason that this writer is probably just curious about you and isn't expecting anything amazing. But I can understand where you're coming from on catching up with old acquaintances in the business. One of my favourite authors has even admitted that since she started writing, a lot of the authors she used to read seem stale and boring now and she makes sure the authors she does have time to read are worth her while. Although, experimenting is always worth a try. =)

    I'd love to introduce you to my favourite author Suzanne Brockmann and vice versa somehow. She writes romance about Navy SEALS, but she's the biggest Star Wars/Star Trek/Buffy geek and I'd love to see her do some science fiction romance. She's even got a gay romance novel in the works featuring one of her most popular recurring characters. ^_~

    Oh, and just to tell you: I got Plague of Memory on Friday when I was in Ottawa and I'm so excited to read it! :D I have to admit that I flipped through to the part about Hawk and and and...I love you! I love that you're giving him a romantic subplot. :D I also bought Talyn at the mall today, but if I happen to win both in your contest later, I won't complain! ^_~

  17. Anonymous6:40 PM

    Blogeois said...

    Have a safe and happy New Year, PBW! Thanks for a year of great writing advice, contests, and links!

  18. Have just finished reading Plague of Memory (stayed up all night last night!) I think it just earned a special place in my heart.

    While I miss Cherijo's sarcastic wit and humor, I sympathize with Jarn's struggle to be accepted as herself and not as Cherijo who althoug is alive in body has died in spirit.

    Have a Happy New Year and keep writing a "ME AGAINST THE WORLD" position. I adopted that stance when I was fourteen and am very happy with it.

  19. And a happy new year to you, Lynn. The bookmark you sent me is above my desk, and your note helps me to focus.

  20. Anonymous9:27 PM

    Happy New Year, Lynn. :-)

  21. Happy New Year! I hope 2007 is a great one for you!

    I just lurk around here, but that was an interesting post. When I got my first reader mail, I was SO tickled and amazed. Actually, I still am. It really makes my day.

    But I hear other authors complain, and I'm never quite sure whether I should send those well-wishes or not. I don't expect a response, but I just want to say thank you.


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