A Week of Firsts

First Public Reading, First Book Review, First Book Trailer, First Few Days of Being Forty

This past week was pretty momentous for me. As I said in last week’s blog post, I turned forty, and my parents surprised me with a visit. I had just gotten my author copies of The Holiday Detour, so I was able to give them one. My dad started reading it in their hotel that night, and for the next few days he texted me updates as he tried to connect details from the book with my life. “The Ziegler twins,” he said, “they’re the Morrises from sixth grade, aren’t they? And you’re Dana?”

The Holiday Detour draws heavily on events in my life, like the opening event of Dana’s car breaking down on the way to Chicago. (That actually happened to me, though the Dana’s Nissan Sentra was actually the car I got as a result of the breakdown, not the other way around.) But it is fictional, of course. I was not rescued that day by a Charlie, and my parents, unlike Dana’s, are very much alive. I find that even when my stories and characters drift far from my life and experiences, real anecdotes always find their way in. My next book, The Queen Has a Cold (coming in April), is a royal romance between the heir apparent of a fictional country and a PhD student in Boston. I am not royal, and I’ve never been involved with anyone who was. But there’s a scene at the beginning of the book where the enthusiastic graduate student, Sam, takes a photo on the first day of school to send to her mom. That part comes from my own life: after I moved away from home for college and she couldn’t take the photos herself, I continued to take first day of school pictures and send them to my mom.

Back to this week, though. I turned forty and feel a greater sense of peace with my life, what I haven’t yet accomplished but had hoped to, and what’s on the horizon. On Saturday, I gave my first ever public reading on a panel with Radclyffe (!!), Barbara Ann Wright, and Angie Williams. (Still flattered and confused to have been on a panel with such giants.) If you weren’t able to attend the reading live, you can catch a recording on Bold Strokes’ Facebook page. I was really nervous, but I’d like to believe I did a reasonable job.

Shortly after giving that first reading, the first review of The Holiday Detour came in when Dad finished reading. Obviously, a review from my father is highly objective, totally unbiased, so I take pride in sharing it with you:

I know I’m lucky to have parents who support me, especially as an LGBTQ person. We’ve had our struggles, especially when I first came out and then when I first wanted to introduce them to a girlfriend, and there have been a few things I’ve wanted to do that they thought were terrible plans. But they usually come around, and in the case of this book, they’ve been supportive enough to read it in the space of a few days and give my first review.

I also launched my first book trailer. Book trailers are tough stuff – trying to turn the written word into something visual. I can always “see” my books (and picture them as movies), but you don’t want a trailer to ruin a reader’s visual imagination of the characters. At the same time, you have to give enough to make a book seem enticing. How do you think I did? You can check out the trailer for The Holiday Detour on my YouTube channel.

It’s been a pretty stellar week of firsts. Here’s hoping there are more to come!

P.S. There will be a “first unboxing” video of me opening the package of my author copies, I bet. 🙂

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