I hear you!
The notes you send have a huge impact on me. The most obvious instance occurred in June, soon after Sweet Salt Air came out. One reader said she thought the book started too slowly. I promptly turned to my work-in-progress, reread the opening with a critical eye, then switched Chapters 1 and 2 so that the reader learns the opening plot twist sooner. It wouldn’t have worked for Sweet Salt Air. But it did work here.
I’ve always loved communicating with readers. Way back, it was mostly by snail mail. Now it’s through Facebook and my website, and if I don’t answer, it’s usually because there was no question asked! Just the fact of your taking the time to write to me makes me feel good. The overwhelming response to my SPEEDY BD SURVEY of 8/6 was the best birthday gift I could have ever received! I thank you all for that.
There’s always more mail when a new book comes out, but some of the comments coming lately have been so cool that I want to share a few. To set the scene, take a look at the new cover photo on my Facebook page. Those Adirondack chairs? That crystal-clean lake and blue sky? Pines, day lilies, astilbes? Put these things together, and you have GETAWAY, which is what my books represent, which is why they come out in the summer.
You all get that. You mention where you sat while you were reading Sweet Salt Air. Front porch? Back porch? Bath tub filled with bubbles? Poolside? Beach? Generalizing here, what are some of the interesting places you’ve been while reading a book?
Some of you talk about seeing a particular spot and having the details of a book you were reading there rush back. Has that ever happened to you? It happens to me as a writer. When we’re driving through the New Hampshire lakes region and pass the road to the Rockywold-Deep Haven camp on Squam Lake, I’m back on its shore hearing my very first loon and feeling the conception of Lake News.
One of you sent a photo of your cat reading Sweet Salt Air when you set it down for a minute. Another sent a photo of a dragonfly taking a rest on the book, another of Sweet Salt Air nestled in seashells. Clearly, this particular book works with the great outdoors. Are you able, say, to read a book at a noisy pool or a sandy beach? Do certain books lend themselves to particular reading situations? Would you want to read this book in front of a fireplace?
Many book groups have read Sweet Salt Air but you don’t have to be in a book group to discuss it with others. Do you ever do this? Or do you like to hold your thoughts on a book close until you’ve properly digested them?
As I look back on your comments, though, the one that gets me really thinking is “beach read.” I asked about this in another recent SBDS, but would love to talk about it here. What is a beach read? Obviously we don’t have to be at the beach to read a beach read, but it’s a term that crops up every summer to describe books that take us out of our lives for a brief time. A beach read isn’t so dense that you don’t know what half the words mean. It isn’t so heavy that it casts a pall on your life for days. Rather, it leaves you with a sense of renewal.
At least, that’s how I define it. Do you agree, disagree, want to think about it more?