I typed "The End" on Heart of Gold (Feb 2012, Women of Faith Fiction) on Saturday. Like most books, getting to the end was intense. For several days in a row, I forgot to eat until about 3:00 in the afternoon. The ideas were firing fast and I was trying to get the pace right and the scenes right and each word right. But it's done and will soon zing its way across cyber-space to my editor's computer. Wow, how different things are today than they were 64 books ago.
I wrote my first two and a half books long hand on yellow pads, then I typed them on an IBM Selectric. Several times. When there were typos, I retyped the entire page. I made onion-skin carbon copies (the cost to photocopy was very prohibitive). I kept stationary boxes handy for shipping off those 350 to 420 page manuscripts to New York City. Since one couldn't count on the postal service for a specific delivery date, I used overnight services. Expensive!
The month my first book was released (February 1984), I bought a computer. The IBM-compatible machine had two 7.25" floppy drives. No hard drive. Black screen with orange type. Slow as molasses by today's standards. I bought a daisy wheel printer that shook the entire house as it printed on the continuous-feed paper. It took many, many hours to print an entire manuscript. The two machines cost me more than $5000. I got a loan on my car to buy them. The Internet was unheard of by the masses, and the few who had heard probably didn't imagine what it would become. And to be honest, it never occurred to me that I would one day interact with readers so easily as I do today. I'd never written a fan letter to any of my favorite authors, so I never expected that any readers would contact me. How wrong I was! And how much I treasure the wonderful people who have touched my life because of my writing career.
For the better share of said career, I maintained a reader mailing list (snail mail). If I wanted it to stay current, I had to mail something to the thousands of names on the list at least every six months and pay for address change notifications and forwarding requests. Again, expensive. Therefore, I was a huge fan of email from the start. I love that, via an e-newsletter, I can let readers know about a contest (like the three Kindles given away last year) or a new release (Belonging will be out in a little over three months).
Fast forward to the '90s and my first web site. I paid for someone to maintain it. The problem was, when I needed to add something or make a change, it could take up to two weeks for it to get done. Even if it was only correcting a typo. So I learned to maintain my own web site. Soon I was redesigning it. I posted an author's note occasionally so it would be worth a revisit by readers every now and again.
Next came blogs. I began keeping an "on-line journal" in 2002. I thought readers might find the process of writing a book, the focus of my posts, interesting. But to be honest, it wasn't all that interesting. So before long, I was blogging about other things, including my walk with the Lord and my pets and my kids and grandkids and favorite books and movies and more. Blogging definitely increased my interaction with readers.
Then along came social networking. I was a bit reluctant to participate at first, but like email and web sites and blogs, I've found Facebook and Twitter great ways of staying in touch. And sometimes a writer needs instant feedback. Facebook and Twitter certainly can do that for you.
I so appreciate all of you who visit my blogs and leave comments. I love that you take the time to send me emails when you've read and enjoyed one of my books. I treasure the letters I receive and the private stories some share with me. I get such a kick out of the things folks say on my Facebook page. And I am blessed by the many prayers that have been prayed on my behalf.
Yes, things are very different today, but I have no interest in returning to the writing long hand days. Thank you very much.
I'd love to have you join in.