Ellen Wiseman is the author of The Plum Tree, published in 2012 by Kensington Publishing. She and I worked together on early drafts of her story. Ellen was the first writer I mentored, and I’m delighted–but not surprised–by the success of her novel.
Why Being a Published Author Makes Me Feel like Sally Field.
During Sally Field’s 1984 Oscar acceptance speech for her role in the movie, PLACES IN THE HEART, she said, “You like me! You really like me!” At the time, her gushing words were both admired as earnest and parodied as excessive. But I understand just how Sally Field felt because that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling over the past ten weeks, ever since Kensington Publishing released my debut novel, THE PLUM TREE, a story that follows a young German woman though the chaos of WWII as she struggles to save the love of her life, a Jewish man.
After my book came out, I thought I was dreaming when I read the wonderful reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, RT Magazine, Jewish Book World, NY Journal of Books and a plethora of wonderful book bloggers and other reviewers. My eyes grew moist when I read the generous blurbs on my cover, written by authors I admire. At my first book presentation at the local library, my heart swelled and my eyes filled when half the town showed up. At every presentation and signing since, I’ve felt nothing but love, encouragement and excitement from the people who came to see me. Now, I still shake my head in disbelief every time I read a piece of fan mail, or a 5-star review on Amazon and Goodreads. And I’m pretty sure I have a foolish grin on my face at book clubs, when readers talk about my characters as if they are flesh and blood, or tell me how much they learned about WWII, especially regarding the average German civilians’ experiences.
In January, THE PLUM TREE was a featured title on KZ Rock radio, and it was recently chosen by Books-A-Million as their Literary Book Club Pick. My publisher sold rights in Italy and Spain, and has gone back to press for a second printing!!
All I can say is, “You like me! You really like me!”
But that’s not the only reason being a published author makes me feel like Sally Field. My second reason will make sense if you remember the 1976 movie, SYBIL, where Sally played a woman afflicted with multiple personality disorder. As a writer, I’m often playing multiple characters and living in several different worlds at once, and not just in my stories. Besides being a writer, an author’s job list includes: researcher, secretary, social media expert, accountant, event planner, public speaker, computer wizard, and book reviewer, to name a few. My personal list includes, wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, cook, gardener, house cleaner, laundress, dog walker, and babysitter. And those are only the jobs I can think of off the top of my head. Some authors also have real world, nine-to-five jobs. I’m in awe of anyone who can pull that off.
And then there’s the fact that I’m on the fast track towards book two, with my agent asking for a first draft by April 1st and my editor expecting the final, polished version by June 1st. While I’m still answering readers’ questions about WWII, the Holocaust, German civilians and SS officers, I’m researching and writing about asylums, the roaring twenties, and the great depression.
To add to that bizarre feeling of living multiple lives, one minute I’m talking to an author friend about her book being made into a movie starring Oscar-winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence, the next minute I’m scrubbing the toilet.
It’s enough to make me feel like Sally Field.