Sometimes You Must Lose Yourself to Find Yourself

Earlier this week, nearly twenty days after my debut historical novel, A Decent Woman was published, I set about creating a to-do list that included, answering emails, writing articles for ezines, replying to author interview questions, and trying to keep up on social media sites I’m part of. The list of what I needed to accomplish post-publication seemed overwhelming, and I didn’t expect to feel new, strange emotions–I was a bit disoriented, and felt flustered and overwhelmed. The book I’d worked on for five years was no longer in my hands–it was in readers’ hands. All I could do was stand on the sidelines and watch my protagonists, Ana and Serafina, take over–it’s their story. At this point, my book, the story, must stand alone. I just happened to write it. But, of course, I got in my own way.

When A Decent Woman first came out, I was overwhelmed with feelings of pride and joy, much like a parent when their firstborn goes off to school. I was grateful to Booktrope Publishing for taking a chance on a historical novel about an Afro-Cuban midwife, who lives and works in Puerto Rico and thankful to my publishing team, who were a dream to work with on this project. I was thrilled and grateful when readers left wonderful comments and reviews. I was humbled and felt dizzy. Much like my experiences when my adult kids left the nest, who are doing wonderful things in the world, by the way, I knew post-publication that it was time to get a life.

I realized I had to write another book, but how? I couldn’t concentrate, and in the first ten days, I obsessively checked Amazon, looking for new reviews so I could thank the kind reader (if I knew them). Checking my rankings on Amazon was a daily ritual, which I didn’t know how to do until my marketing guru, Anne told me where to look. Then, I realized being a best selling author is an hourly thing, and I soon gave that up. I now look weekly and hope that stops. During the first ten days, I found it difficult to have ‘normal’ conversations, and discovered it was extremely difficult not to mention my debut novel to the mailman, the guy at the post office as I mailed out copies of my book, and to the guy behind the deli counter, who loves historical fiction. I went a bit nutty reminding my very kind and tolerant family members and friends not to forget to post an honest review for A Decent Woman on Amazon. Sheesh.

I was sick of me, and this isn’t me. Although I know how important social media is, and how very important reviews are to an author, I lived alone for five years, writing and rewriting a story that loved. In the pre-publication days when I was writing, I wouldn’t speak to a soul for days on end, save for a quick phone call, emails and texts to family and friends to catch up and let them know I was alive. I did talk with my cat and my Chihuahua Sophie, who as it turns out, is an extremely good listener if you don’t mind her licking your face. I knew how to do all that. I just didn’t know how to be humble and a social animal, when all I wanted to do was write more books. Life is all about balance, and I wasn’t feeling particularly balanced right after publication.

So, I wrote an email to my friend and writing mentor to many writers, including myself, the master storyteller, Jack Remick. Sensing that I was experiencing, as he calls it, “Firstitis”, he kindly wrote back with a diagnosis that was spot on. He gave me the definition of this curable illness and the cure–get back to writing. Immediately. He was absolutely right. It was sage and timely advice from an incredibly talented writer and a composed, generous man to a discombobulated, but well-meaning, new author.

Thank you, Jack. The craziness has diminished. I’m getting down to the business at hand-writing on my second book–and I’m at peace. I should have written sooner, but I learned valuable lessons, and I’ve always learned the hard way.

Ana Belén, you are on your own, my love. I’m onto The Island of Goats, my second historical novel set in 1920 Puerto Rico and Spain. I’m getting to know my characters, Alta Gracia and India Meath, and accessing my experiences on the medieval route of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, The Way of St. James, in Spain, which I walked with my then-teenage children.

But, I’ll see Ana and Serafina again when I get to writing the sequel to A Decent Woman called Mistress of Coffee.

Sometimes, you must lose yourself to find yourself again.

About Eleanor

Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, an alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.

A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she currently lives in West Virginia.

A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon 

Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her 25-year career as the only midwife in La Playa.

Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.

Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.


Ellie’s Update On Her Summer Book Launch, Reviews and Kind Critiques

What a week! I say that with a big smile, mind you. I hope you’re having a terrific week and that all is well in your world.

I’m learning a lot more about myself in regard to my Summer book launch of my historical fiction novel, A Decent Woman. Mostly, I’ve learned how I deal with new pressures, new information (mostly technical) and what I must do to control stress and pressure. I’m also growing thicker skin for the book launch.Yesterday, I read two author’s accounts of hateful reviews they received after their book launch and that has stuck in my mind. It happens. I follow Bambi’s mother’s advice – If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. If you don’t like the book you’re reviewing or reading, for goodness sake, put it down and pick up another book!

Now, I’m one tough cookie. My friends will tell you that about me. Like everyone on this planet, I’ve had my share of heartache, tragedy and loss. At one point in my life, my friends called me the female Job as in the Bible Job. What didn’t happen to me during a two year period. Well, I didn’t die which was great and my children were safe and healthy, but it was a very rough time in our lives.  I wouldn’t say that I’m stoic, either. We’ve all had our moments and I’m not immune to a little crying jag every now and then and have leaned on the sturdy shoulders of good friends and family recently. I’m very fortunate to have a great support system!

My intimate support group will rally with me when my book comes out. I know and love them well. And if one (hopefully, only one!) approaches me to say that they couldn’t get through my book, c’est la vie! To each his or her own. All authors need to hear the truth, BUT BE KIND. When you write a book and launch it into the world, you are introducing the world into your small world. Small in that writers are usually pretty solitary folks who spend thousands of hours alone in their head with their books and characters. With my book launch, the doors and windows will be flung wide open for reviews, critiques, and comments-positive and negative. I’m preparing myself and just pray that the positive outweighs the negative! If I do receive a nastygram, I hope it’s constructive criticism and on point. I’m okay with that. This is my debut novel and although I want my book to be perfect, that is impossible. I’ve written the best novel with what I’ve learned thus far and continue to learn to write better prose every day. All writers improve with more experience and practice, right?

So today my emotions have run the gamut from happy to anxious to excited to self-doubt and back to happy. I have a gazillion things to do to prepare for my book launch of A DECENT WOMAN this summer and my list keeps growing. I’m not complaining, mind you. I realize that much of the promotion and marketing of a book falls on the author and Book Manager. And I’m fortunate to have a super Book Manager. Hey, if anyone points me in a new direction for marketing my book, I’m there. This morning, two friends sent me emails about online book clubs and I’m all over that, too. I am grateful for each and every piece information, advice, suggestion and ideas, people! Feel free to contact me 🙂 Any time.

I’m a list maker from way back and cannot function well without one. My author list of things to do is long and many things are new to me. I’ve decided to break down my list by week. I have to. I need bite-size pieces of information, please. I bought a huge calendar that has helped me keep track of author interview dates and future book reviews for my blog. This is my list for this week and the next:

Make corrections and additions to my website which is under construction at this time. That first impression is vital and so is the second!

Have a professional photograph taken for website, blog and media kit.

Find a venue for my Summer book launch party in Northern Virginia. I’m thinking a winery 🙂

Send out invites for the fantastic book launch party.

Order enough books for my guests who attend the book launch party.

Contact friends and family to join my book launch team as readers, reviewers and cheerleaders of the advance reader copy (ARC) of my novel. This is in bold because if you would like to be a part of my  launch team, please contact me!

I will be sending out email invitations and will post it on my Facebook Author Page, as well. I would love to have you! THANK YOU!!

Continue doing my social media bit on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, ReadWave, LinkedIn, Pinterest and groups that I’m a member of.

Learn what WATTPAD can do for me.

Continue checking Part 1 of my novel for typos and mistakes and wait patiently for my editor to send Part 2 of her edits.

Contact authors whose blurbs and reviews I would love to include on the book cover and in the book. I’ve already contacted four awesome authors who I respect and admire very much. Two more emails to write to two more awesome authors. If you are a praying person, please do 🙂 Thanks!

The last item on my list was to create an official Author Page on Facebook. I figured it out last night and that was exciting! This morning, I had 65 beautiful LIKES. My smile was huge! This has helped keep me focused on my readers and my book at this dizzy, wonderful, and exciting time in my life.

I’m taking Saturday and Sunday off from all book stuff to drive to Northern Virginia to spend the weekend with my beautiful children before my son departs for Europe on May 7. We are having a family dinner at a great restaurant in Arlington and I’ve promised not to cry…too.much.

SO, please join me on Facebook –  (If the link doesn’t work, my apologies and please let me know)

Press that nice LIKE button and make me happy!

Join me on Twitter – @eleanorparkerwv

and on Pinterest – elliepinwv

Thanks in advance! I wish you a wonderful Thursday.