An Awesome Finale to My Journey…
On November 24th, 2012, after three weeks of deliberation, intense soul searching, sleepless nights, and numerous conversations with my girls, I pushed the PUBLISH button on my Createspace account, and without full knowledge of what I had done, set into motion the craziest journey of my life. A year ago, I was computer illiterate, marketing illiterate, and totally unprepared for the wonders and heartaches ahead of me…the former, far outweighing the latter.
Exactly 364 days later, I experienced the most magical night of my adult life…when I received a GOLD MEDAL in the READERS FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS, presented at the MIAMI INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR in Miami, Florida. It’s been a week since the ceremony, and I think I’m still glowing in the dark.
I left frigid Ohio (29 degrees F) and arrived in balmy Miami, Florida (86 degrees F and rainy) two days before the ceremony. For someone fighting skin cancer for the last 8 years, the weather was perfect for me…but not so great for the venders at the INTERNATIONAL BOOK FAIR. I stayed in the Regency Miami where the ceremony was held. Except for the fact that I couldn’t get a decent cup of AMERICAN COFFEE without taking a road trip, the hotel was lovely, affordable, and very accommodating.
Authors came from all over the world; some as far as India and Australia. We gathered together Thursday evening, in the beautiful lobby of the Regency, totally tricked out in Christmas decorations (balmy and 85 degrees F, outside) for an author “meet and greet.” Any of you recognize this lovely, bestselling author? I was thrilled to meet Charity Parkerson, a wonderful Twitter friend.
Friday was a big day for me! Two of my Twitter friends that live in Florida, drove down to Miami to meet me, and be my family support at the ceremony, since my girls were unable to make the trip because of school. Margie Miklas (@MargieMiklas) Author of MEMOIRS OF A SOLO TRAVELER~MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH ITALY, drove 2 hours on her weekend off from work to help me celebrate.
Robbie Cox (@CoxRobbie) Author of REAPING THE HARVEST, CIRCLE OF JUSTICE, and blogger extraordinaire at THEMESSTHATISME, brought his “editors in residence,” and drove 4 hours to lend their support. Who says you can’t make “real” friendships online? They all made the ceremony complete for me.
Margie and I met at the hotel, then drove to the book fair held in downtown Miami. The city had blocked off 4 streets to accommodate the thousands of visitors expected to attend the world’s largest international book fair. The city of Miami gave the schools the day off, and admission to the book fair was free. Parking was an act of congress…and we all know how well they work! But I digress…
Robbie and the girls arrived later in the afternoon, and met us at the Bay Street Market, a trendy strip mall full of shops and restaurants, nestled along an inlet bay, right in the middle of downtown Miami.
Part of the reward for entering and winning in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards, was having my book featured and displayed in the Readers Favorite tent at the book fair, along with all the other winners and finalists.
This is the first year, Readers Favorite has invited finalists to attend the ceremony, giving so many, recognition for their phenomenal accomplishment. I was so proud and thrilled to be a finalist…even before they informed me of my Gold Medal, I had already booked my hotel room. According to Readers Favorite, this year was the largest contest in the history of the site.
The ceremony was beautiful! I had shopped for hours for a new dress and shoes. My options were between “Yeah-I’m-a-sure-thing, pseudo-prom-wanna-be” little number, allowing way too much of my skin to be exposed, or a frumpy, pup-tent-like “I-wouldn’t-wear-this-in-a-nursing-home,” ensemble. Fifteen minutes before the local mall closed, I found this little black cocktail dress. Not too bad for a chick that works in a shower cap, OR scrubs, compression hose, and orthopedic clogs…IMHO.
Each and every one of us (I believe there were about 200 authors and guests) had our moment in the spot light.
Debra Gaynor, founder and CEO of the Readers Favorite site, and the Readers Favorite International Book Awards, gave each one of us that megawatt smile, and a hug from the depths of her soul.
She isn’t a writer, author, or book publisher; just a lovely, tiny, spitfire of a woman with a mission…to seek out, and showcase the best books for her followers. I strongly suggest you visit the Readers Favorite Website. It offers everything…free/paid reviews, marketing help, all kinds of author services, video trailers, and much, much more. Not to mention, it’s a damn fine place to find the best in not only INDIE books, but books in general. I’m so proud to be a member of the Readers Favorite family.
It’s hard to put into words the sheer joy and peace that seemed to wash over me. I’m a crier…there, I admitted it. I cry at chic flicks, sad books, homeless animal commercials, Hallmark commercials, and anything else that elicits strong emotions. So knowing that about me, one would think that I would be a blubbering mess during the entire trip.
I’m happy to say, I didn’t shed a single tear…during the ceremony! I did sneak outside afterwards, while people hit the buffet and cash bar, to let the overwhelming joy and peace I felt, leak from my eyes.
My online family cheered me on, ate, drank and toasted, and took pictures for me, like it was their day job. Robbie and Charlene Cox, Sarah Mick, Teri Edney, and Margie Miklas gave me the most precious award of all…the gift of their friendship. There are no words in this language to thank you, or express my gratitude for sharing this magical night with me. I am honored to call you all my friends.
I was blessed to meet people I had seen on Twitter, retweeted, and had conversed with, in the way we authors do on a daily basis. It was great to put a face and personality with a Twitter handle.
As I’ve said many times before, I didn’t start out wanting to write my story, nor did I intend to strip myself naked to the world. I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t write my story to help anyone…not myself, and certainly not anyone else.
I was in a rage over the ignorance of a society that had no clue what victims of Child Sexual Abuse truly endure, or the lifelong fallout…damage, if you will, that we never truly recover from.
Rage is a dangerous creature; often, when It takes over, consuming you from the inside out, boundaries and a sense of self preservation are left by the wayside. Such is the case for me. But, I would do it all again; write my truth the same way, but with different intentions. Rage allowed me to share my dirty, little secret. Readers Favorite allowed me to enter, and gave me a category. Now I am free…
I’ve been called brave, courageous, inspirational, and strong, as well as a few not-so-nice things, along this journey. While the compliments touch my heart, and I appreciate the kindness of those who have said these kind words, I fear I am none of these things. I’m just one small voice, the voice of a child that has cried out, hoping to be heard. If someone finds comfort or kinship from my story, then I am blessed beyond measure or expectation.
In closing…If you look into my eyes, hopefully, you can see the little girl from the trailer park; used, abused, unprotected, and all but forgotten. She has had her say…she has found her voice after 40+ years of secrecy and silence. If you look closely, you will see she is smiling from ear to ear. She has finally found peace…and so have I!
Now…My Thank You Giveaway!
I am giving away a 7″ 16GB HD KINDLE FIRE, a $100 Amazon gift card, a $50 Amazon gift card and $25 Amazon gift card, as a way of saying “Thank You” for all the support you’ve given me on this journey…Ha! Just in time for Christmas!
So, what’s the catch?
Nothing…well, not much anyway!
All you have to do is read (or just skim) this blog post, then post a comment letting me know you were here. You can just say “hello,” comment on the post, or say nothing at all…just leave two hash tags (##) so I know you are a follower/subscriber to my blog. Non-followers can just say hello, or leave a comment. This is NOT a ploy for followers or subscribers. As a matter of fact, I am so technically challenged, I don’t know how to access my followers or their emails. I can’t believe I just admitted that…
From the comments on THIS ANNIVERSARY POST, my daughters will place the names of visitors and followers in a hat, then draw the names of 4 winners. Followers get their name put in the hat twice.
So what’s the incentive for non-followers? If you tweet or share this anniversary/award post on Facebook, Twitter, or any social networks, your name goes in the hat twice, as well. Just put and Astrix (*) at the end of your comment to let me know you shared this post. That’s it! Easy-Peasy!
**Note~ All comments go for moderation before posting. If you feel something didn’t work correctly, or you aren’t sure your post went through, use the “contact” icon on the tool bar at the top of this post. Let me know you commented, shared, or you are a follower/subscriber. This will guarantee your entry in the giveaway.**
I will run this post for a week (sorry I’m late with it…I had to work overtime when I got back from Miami, and to be honest, I was spent). My daughters and I will immediately commence with collecting names and email addresses to put in the drawing. I will post the winners as soon as we finish the drawing (hopefully, before Christmas) as well as email you personally.
Ha! Most of the time, people celebrating an anniversary are the ones receiving a gift, not giving them. Well…2013 has been a year of blessings and boundless gifts from all of you; wonderful people who’ve come along with me on this journey. Jeez…I can’t believe it’s been a year already! I want to give something back…
Thank you seems so insufficient to express what your love and support has meant to me. But alas, Thank You is all I have. Each of you has blessed my life in some way or another…and I am richer for knowing you.