While reading her email I could feel every ounce of enthusiasm and excitement that enveloped her being. Her words bounced off and danced across the screen. Who was this young woman who so exuberantly expressed her love for "The Baby in the Window," my latest novel? My eyes took in every compliment, every adoring word. “Alretha, I soooo loved this book!!!” “I love Nick & Cass!!!” “You’re a great author!!!” I love reading validating statements such as these just as much as I loathe reading comments like, “An okay read.” “I’ve read better.” Readers are human and they bring their entire life experiences to a novel. What one reader finds brilliant, another may think is boring. This is why it’s imperative that writers approach readers’ comments with balance and perspective. But then there are those times when you get that reader who’s full of elation and cheer, a reader who gets you, your characters, your story, they just get it, they connect. These readers are rare and very inspirational. Alisha is that kind of reader.
Alisha reached out to me on Facebook at the end of October. She was among a group of people who wanted to friend me, a stranger. I studied her profile photo that featured a cute toddler. I wondered if this was her child. I got a good feeling about her and accepted her friendship, while at the same time introducing her to my latest novel, "The Baby in the Window." I didn't expect to get a response, but Alisha apparently checked out my work because she responded with a question. "Is 'Married in the Nick of Nine,' the first book in your series? If it is, I'm going to get both books, because I want to read them in order." Her words were sweet music to my ears, but I didn't get too excited, because many people express their desire to read my work, but their interest invariably fades before they get a chance to make a purchase. But this wasn't the case with Alisha. She bought both books and began reading them and sending me comments along the way.
On more than one occasion since she started reading my books, she has made my day. There have been times when I’ve been a little down about sales and right when I’m about to get comfortable on the pity pot, I’d get an email on Facebook from her letting me know about something she had just read. “Yes, I managed to get some sleep…I forced myself to stop reading because I had to get up at 4:15 am this morning….OMG that Renee is too much. I understand she’s a 13-year-old child but it’s as if poor Cassandra is dealing with Katrina all over again and when she said, ‘Cass killed my mom’ at the party, I wanted to slap her.” I laughed out loud as I read Alisha’s latest comments. It’s evident she’s really into the story and it makes me feel good. She’s doing what every writer wants a reader to do—let go and let the story take you away. Alisha has done that and is having the time of her life. “I’m so excited, there’s nothing like a good book,” she exclaims in another email.
Alisha’s not the only one who’s excited. I am for being blessed with someone like her to read my work, a perfect stranger who decided to give me a try. Alisha inspires me. She reaffirms that my writing is not in vain and that it has the power to touch people’s lives, to enlighten, educate and entertain. Thank you, Alisha for being you. For giving of yourself to my work and for inspiring me!