I cannot stop thinking about a recent, and rather interesting conversation with someone relative to my books. The woman, an attorney, had been referred to me and had requested a reading.
Initially describing herself as a skeptic, she also stated that she is extremely critical. No surprise there, as the latter would be considered a common personality trait given her profession.
After rendering her disclaimer, I was a bit curious to see what would come of our time together. Ultimately, the result came as a surprise, and to-date, happens to be one of my biggest ‘light switch’ moments.
During our chat, the woman told me how quickly she read my first book, 207. She used the word ‘riveting’ and said that she couldn’t go to sleep. Apparently, she stayed up all night to finish it.
She then asked me several questions, one of which was why I had self-published both books. She believed them to be worthy of publishing via a major company, and even stated her hopes to see them made into a movie.
As per my usual answer, I explained that it could have taken years, or never at all, before the books were published had I gone the traditional route. I conveyed that I had the desire to put the books ‘out there’ as a means of sharing my experiences and research in a more expeditious fashion. My explanation seemed to make sense to her.
I also added that it was a catharsis, and I had no intentions of either book being the next Amityville Horror, or 50 Shades of Grey. Elaborating, I mentioned how I approached both books like a humungous blog post effort. It was truly, that simple.
She responded to my explanation in typical attorney fashion; she laid it all out on the table, noting some errors in both 207, as well as Saints. Much to my surprise, she felt they were nothing terrible, stating that an editor would have cleaned up the books without much trouble at all.
Whew. I was expecting a less favorable evaluation, more so, due to the fact she has written and published her own books the traditional way, via publisher.
Although I had been holding my breath during her critique, she actually mentioned that all things considered, I did a good job without using an editor. She also stated (having read some of the more critical reviews) that they seemed a bit off-base and ‘colored towards a more personal issue’ be it with me, or the subject matter. She came to this conclusion after reading both of the books.
In her opinion, subject matter can clash with personal sentiments, quite often when the content involves controversial matters such as the paranormal, and spirituality. She added that reviews can also be used as a way to get under someone’s skin. Drawing attention to the fact people can hide under false names, it makes it easier to bully an individual.
Hang on a second! That was when I chimed-in, and interrupted her.
I advised the lawyer that I have never felt bullied by bad reviews. Although I agree that some reviews may have been written in efforts to downplay my books for a number of reasons (bad publicity for the city, competition with a plethora of paranormal books, etc.), I did not once consider myself any less worthy of a writer, due to those reviews.
She was happily surprised to hear that I did not feel bullied, and told me to make sure I always stay thick-skinned. She then continued her verbal analysis of the books. I was anxious to hear her take on the paranormal aspect of the books, given her skepticism.
She asked poignant questions relative to how domestic abuse and drug use come to into play with negative energy impacting an individual. She withheld comment and listened intently as I explained how they, as well as other elements, factor into the equation. I told her the many ways a negative energy or force has a better chance of survival once it latches onto a host that drinks, abuses drugs, or is even sleep deprived.
I also added that I had to lay it all out in the open in order for people to understand what exactly can happen in such a scenario. It wasn’t a sexy story, but it was very real, incredibly raw, and terrifyingly tragic.
Looking at this woman, I could see the wheels turning inside of her head. She listened, frozen still in her chair. I felt as though I was in the courtroom of her mind. She was not outwardly judging me – yet.
I maintained that I was not trying to persuade her; I was merely trying to inform her as to what can happen. She appreciated my remark.
Finally, and after several more questions, she told me that 207 scared the daylights out of her. Again, admitting that she had preconceived notions about the book being more like Amityville Horror, she finished it; relieved to find it was not.
She stated, “207 educated me in ways that I did not think were possible, especially relative to spirituality.” She added that the emotion I conveyed in 207 was palpable, and my story felt real, editor involvement, or not.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I considered that a big compliment.
I then reiterated what I had said earlier in our conversation: I had no intentions of even sending either book to a publisher. I felt that I had better chances of reaching more people the way I proceeded, rather than possibly never at all. Again; I approached it like a massive blog post effort.
Perhaps one of the most flattering remarks came when she spoke of Saints Sinners & Sacred Ground. She said she was utterly blown-away with my research and told me that she would hire me as an investigator in a heartbeat, had I ever wanted to pursue such a career. Having been raised downstate (NYC area), she conveyed having learned a broad understanding of the region’s history, but the details and organization provided in Saints, surpassed any book she had read relative to Upstate’s past.
She also added that I should be proud of what I did, and gave me kudos for having the “balls” to put my work out there, without an editor. More wow.
Some great conversation, but I still had to give her a reading. I could only hope she was as happy with the consultation, as with the books.
Two hours later, and after tearing-up several times during the reading, she sat quietly for close to 5 minutes. Silence gripped the room as she glanced between the tattered tissue in her hand, and my face.
Without saying a word, she stood up and fetched her coat. In a very matter-of-fact tone she stated, “You have something I have never witnessed before. This entire meeting was more meaningful than most things I have done in years . . .”
She briefly shared a few sentiments about her reading, and shook my hand. Just before walking to the door, she asked if she could give me a hug, and added, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your work does not matter, or is not real. Do not let anyone hate on you because you voiced your experiences and shared them the way you have. Thank you for changing my outlook on life, and for your time . . .”
I was overwhelmed by her words of encouragement. An intelligent, self-professed, critical thinking skeptic had just pulled the metaphorical string of the light switch in my mind . . .
As I have stated so many times: I am proud of my work, and research. The number of people 207 has helped is priceless, and for that, I am incredibly blessed. An equal number of people have also been enlightened by the research I have done pertaining to Saints; many calling Upstate New York their homes and not even having a clue (myself included) as to the rich history that unfolded in our backyards.
My random, nontraditional means of organizing memories, thoughts and historical account in a more blog-esque style, in effort to simply reach people, worked. It is surreal, and I am so gracious to those that embrace my work, and support it.
Sure, I would have loved to have taken the time to pursue more traditional venues, but the fact of the matter is the books have inspired thousands of people. Pish-posh on those who state that they are not worthy to be called books, or that I am nothing unless my books carry a fancy publisher’s name.
Be it blog posts, musings on Facebook, or my magazine articles, I want to connect with people and give them food for thought. I want to empower, inspire, enlighten and share my experiences with people. Yes, good reviews are uplifting, and bad reviews are, well, biting at times, but that does not lessen my achievements. It’s all par for the course; bad reviews are expected. Despite this fact, I have accomplished what some traditionally published authors have not, and that is worth its weight in gold.
My work does not end with Saints. I will continue to provide my readers (thank you Cheryl and Chad at Paranormal Underground Magazine) with continued research into the events that have transpired in Watervliet via my contribution of the Wendigo series, as well as other paranormal and spiritual pieces.
I am also in the process of finishing a third book, with more ideas whirling about. Adding my events and full time, weekday job into the mix; it all takes time. Your patience is greatly appreciated.
In close, the books have far surpassed my expectations as to who they have helped. Negative criticism of the books cannot deny me of that, and for this very reason alone, I state: I have no regrets.