Saturday, February 18, 2023

Happy 10th Anniversary, WHIMSEY - Some Thoughts (good ones and mean ones) 😜

Photo taken by Lesa Holstine in WHSmith Books, Paris, France

Ten years ago this month I published my novel, WHIMSEY

I recently picked it up and re-read it.  

And I liked it.   I still like it.

And I'm still proud of it.

And it made me think of Earl Staggs, who virtually held my hand almost every day across the 1,044 miles from Dallas-Fort Worth to Meat Camp for the two plus years it took me to write it.  

He pushed me, he cajoled me, he taught me.

The day he finally said, "Okay, darlin', time to let it go."  I typed THE END and had a good cry.

If you read Amazon reviews you know they run the gamut.  From flattering and gratifying to truly cringeworthy.

Today WHIMSEY has 85 ratings with a 3.9% ranking.  It's been compared to Nora Roberts, Sarah Addison Allen, and Ellery Adams.  (Yes. It has - i did not make that up!)

And no, not all good reviews were written by friends and people i know.

It had been referred to as "optimistic" and "inspirational."

"Equal parts spunk and elegance, cigar smoke and iced coffee, the book delivers on the name.  "Whimsey is just that: whimsical."

But wait.  Oh, there's more.

It's also been called "cheesy"  (well, maybe it is - a little).

It has also been called "trashy"  (wow.  Really??).

Someone spent the time to write seven paragraphs telling us in great detail what he hated.  Bless his heart.  

Why would anyone exert this much time and energy reading and reviewing a book they hate that much?  I'm lazy and take the easy way out.

I just put the book down, quit reading it, and move along to the next book it my TBR stack.

There's more. . .

It was called boring, predictable, 

and poorly written.

It was also called well written, 

but unbelievable because all the characters were too beautiful.  And too kind.  And too supportive of one another.  This reader really  really hated all those nice people.

Another reader was offended that the writer (that would be me) expected her to believe in fairies and pixies.

Anyway - the reviews were a mixed bag.

Did those remarks hurt?

Some of them.

Some of them made me laugh, some puzzled me.

But keep reading if you want to know what truly did, and still does, hurt.

Several months after WHIMSEY was published,  I received a note in my email box via my webpage from a person whose name I did not recognize, but came to realize was a woman I had known, although not well, from many, many years ago.  Like me, she now has a different last name.

This note from a woman I thought I remembered only from Georgia Tech football games and parties where we were both drinking way too much.  Hearing from her made me happy on several levels.

It's a funny ol' world.

Most of you know I was married before Donald.  


Practice husbands.

And was then a very happy single girl for ten years before meeting Donald.

Because I, apparently, wasn't very good at the marriage thing, I was content with my singlehood, and no interest in getting married a third time.  I had a "family" of close friends and life was good. 

 Obviously, I changed my mind.   After 38+ years with Don Barley, i feel it's safe to say, with the ups and with the downs, it's working out. 

But, getting back on track . . .

The note I received was from a woman who had been married to a fraternity brother of Practice Husband #2 and it was fun catching up with her.  And we have stayed in touch.

Because we were both in occasional touch with acquaintances from back then familiar names did, and still do, come up in the way of  "Hey, remember so & so?  Well, guess what I heard?"

While playing catch up with Carole Ann, I was able to find out about people I had sometimes wondered about.

It's been a mixed bag of life events for this particular circle of old friends and acquaintances.

There have been successes, failures, and far more deaths than I would have expected.  And a couple of real surprises.

When she heard about WHIMSEY, she wanted to tell me she was proud of me for the accomplishment of starting and actually completing the task of writing a novel.  Because she writes, she said that was a struggle she understands.


That note was - and is today - gold.

If you have a friend who has accomplished something in their life that they're proud of, please take a minute to let them know you applaud it, or at the very least, acknowledge it.

Whether they've written a book, finally lost some weight they've been struggling with, just started training to run their first road race, learning to knit, taking piano lessons, whatever.

IF you are truly a friend, you'll, at best, tell them you're proud of them.  At the very least, let them know you're aware.

Believe me.  

Whether you acknowledge someone's efforts and accomplishments, or not.  They're going to remember.

I promise.

They are going to remember.

I remember every single person - friend, family, coworker - who took the minute to say something like, "Wow.  You wrote a book.  Good job!"

I also remember every single person - friend, family, coworker - who just could not be bothered.  

You better believe I remember.  

Those snubs hurt a whole lot more than some lousy one star review at Amazon from a stranger.  

Whether someone I care about likes the book or not is way less important to me than the fact that they acknowledge the effort.


I do understand that not all books are meant for all readers.

Thank you, again, Carole Ann.  You know you made a difference in how I felt, and put a smile on my face.  It was very much appreciated then, and is still appreciated now, ten years later.  You're an angel.  And Earl Staggs would have loved you to bits.

Life is good.

And Karma will handle the bitches who piss you off by pissing on your parade.

Happy 10th  Birthday, WHIMSEY!


I love you to the moon and back!

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