Friends. It has to be friends. After writing a post about thankfulness yesterday, I woke up this morning with the realization that I had left out friends, and it is they who have earned so much of my gratitude in recent weeks. I refer to physical beings rather than faces and names on social media, although many of those contacts have become special as well.
So I begin anew.
One’s life fills with people in 80 years. Memory plays their faces across the mind, sings the names of many; some sad songs, others cacophonies of dislike, but most warm harmonies that soothe the spirit. I collected those melodies in much the same area over most of my decades, and those are the refrains that make the heart ache with loss for those who have passed, and those I might never see again.
I have traveled, made acquaintances from whom I parted, but still treasure. A woman in Canada I haven’t seen in years was among the first to buy Two Hearts in Time on release day.
When our family moved from western Oklahoma to Northwest Arkansas nine years ago, I thought I’d find no one here who could come close to the dear people left behind. When this one of my unpublished three novels found a home at The Wild Rose Press, I mourned to my critique partners in the Writers’ Guild of Arkansas: “How can I market a book here? I don’t know much of anyone.”
Who among neighbors, or associates in a couple of organizations would care a whit about a novel whose characters harbor opinions far less conservative than they?
My Scrabble friends mostly read sweet romances. Two Hearts in Time isn’t sweet, isn’t strictly a romance nor a fast read. They knew these things. Associates in the Gem & Mineral Society are mostly very religious. Their expressed interest in when the book was due out drew my warnings, “It’ll shock you.”
My critique circle had read almost the whole thing, except the ending. Why would any one of them want a copy?
A couple of weeks before the release, the Scrabble gals made our monthly get-together all about me. The cake featured the beautiful cover Kim Mendoza created for Two Hearts in Time. Only one woman didn’t pre-order and pay for a book that day.
I began to realize what true friends these new ones are. Through tears, I called my husband and told him to come see the cake. He rates among the least socially comfortable people I know, but arrived, mixed with the women and left teary–eyed as well.
Little did I suspect when planning a launch party, the rousing success that ensued. The number wasn’t huge, but included those Scrabble ladies, critique partners (some of whom no longer participate), Gem & Mineral Society readers of Inspirational tomes, (including one member’s 90 year old mother). There were attendees from a couple of pre-release appearances including a former missionary in my book’s setting of Yucatán, and his wife, and yes, writer friends from Oklahoma drove for hours to share my moment. A nursery owner in our critique circle provided beautiful floral arrangements, another member decorated, yet another insisted on providing punch. Two writer friends helped with the signing. Scrabble ladies made cookies, handled sales and circulated among the guests.
Two women to whom I’ve grown close in recent years realize the serious financial situation my husband and I face. They insisted on fronting the money for my first order from The Wild Rose Press. Can you imagine my surprise, and gratitude upon receiving their offer?
They have been repaid in full, the second order covered as well. Books that remain unsold get their opportunity the first week of November when we visit our son’s family in our old home area. Folks out there are very conservative too, but someone of that persuasion read the book and arranged a signing at the library in the town my husband and I called home for 12 years. A woman I don’t follow regularly on Facebook organized a signing in my growing-up town. The owner of the assisted living home invited me to lunch the day of that signing. Old school chums reside there and I can scarcely wait to hug them all.
How can one mention friends and not relatives? Nieces and nephews sent flowers on the release day. Another niece in Texas arranged a signing there. Two friends went along, my grandson drove us down, right through the heart of Dallas–yikes!
Two local appearances to talk about my book and my adventures among the Maya that inspired it, are set for early spring. None of this means the book is a best seller, or rates higher than most first published novels. What it means to me is closer to the heart than money or fame.
Relationships we value in many ways and for many reasons. Some honor friends at our side during the difficult times of illness and loss, and those I’ve known over the years. Some number among same long-time friends mentioned in this piece. Perhaps because of my advanced years, or because of other things going on in my life at present, this most recent outpouring of love touches me more than anything remembered from the past.
I am so thankful for my friends, and for Angela Hayes for allowing me this forum to express that gratitude.
Rescued by tomb looter, Miguel Zamora, Sonrisa Lyons struggles between her contempt for Miguel’s thievery and her need for his help in returning to civilization.
Miguel, haunted by the loss of his wife and son would like to abandon the troublesome trouser-wearing woman from the future, but his cultured upbringing and compassionate heart rule.
Forced companionship on the trail through Yucatán’s steamy jungle blazes into mutual passion, and in spite of herself, Sonrisa is drawn into Miguel’s true mission. At journey’s end, she finds a possible way to return to her time. Will she try to open the portal or choose life with Miguel?
About Raymona Anderson
Raymona Anderson is a retired journalist whose travels among the Maya ruins produced articles for magazines and newspapers. A week-long workshop in Maya Hieroglyphic Decipherment held at the University of Texas inspired TWO HEARTS IN TIME. She’s a wife of almost 63 years, mother of two grown sons, and grandmother to seven grands and greats. The youngest great–granddaughter helped out at the book launch, but has to wait a few years before she’s allowed to read the book.