One of the fun things for a writer is to hear from readers. Here is an email received recently followed by my response.
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 8:14 PM
Subject: Where Love Once Lived
Sid, I am glad that you left your card with me when you came to visit in January. I asked at the library for your book and found that it was in circulation, so I put it on reserve. I finally got a copy March 6 and enjoyed it very much. It is an excellent novel, and I wonder if this is what earned you first place in the Southwest Writers conference?
Your characters are well developed. I suspect they are not all fictitious! Your training as a Stephen Minister is especially apparent in the dialogues of Brian, Karen, Phil, and his Dad, and even the feisty Cathy and Liz. They are affirming, supportive, and non-judgmental.
I hope to see more of our neighbor and promise to read whatever you write! You might not appreciate my “editing,” but I need to know how Brian resumed ownership of his company in California. Perhaps he delegated that responsibility to Ron while he went honeymooning in Germany!
Best regards, Vivian
Here is my response:
Thank you so much for writing and telling me about reading Where Love Once Lived. As you probably know writing is a lonely business and writers don’t hear as much from readers as they would like to. And when we do get comments, the readers don’t go into much detail. Of course I savor every “enjoyed it” and “great”, but I am especially pleased to get feedback such as yours.
I don’t know if you’ve check on my blog, The Christian Bookmobile, http://christianbookmobile.blogspot.com/, but this is where I talk more about the book. The blog is aimed toward Christian readers and writers. It also has a touch of Austin history in it.
Some of the characteristics of some of the characters in the book were taken from people I know or have known. The idea for writing the book came to me because a bookmobile librarian named Jean Siedo. Liz’s appearance and actions on the bookmobile were copied from the real person. However, Jean had a husband and two daughters. I made Liz’s husband an alcoholic because I was married to one, and placed Liz’s grandson in prison because my son was in prison for DUIs.
George McCullough, Phil’s dad, has the same memories as I do of the time he grew up in the Clarksville area. The only difference was that I grew up on the white side of the imaginary line.
In real life, my mother had Alzheimer’s and my father reacted the way Brian’s father did in the book.
I tried to close up all the loose ends in the book, but I guess I didn’t do a good job on the California company. While writing the sequel, however, I noticed it and had Brian ask his daughter to manage the company. She said no, since she wanted to finish her MBA in Austin. However, she suggested Darrell Johnston, the young man who organized the collection for Liz’s trip to England. I haven’t written that part yet, but I know Brian likes the idea and I think Darrell will accept the offer.
By the way, the honeymoon in Germany doesn’t go as smoothly as you might think. There needs to be a major conflict for the new book. But, this time the conflict is not between Brian and Karen.
Thanks, again for writing, and please recommend the book to your friends.
As I prepared this article, I noticed I hadn't responded to one of Vivian's questions. I sent her this:
I just noticed I forgot to respond to your question in the first paragraph re the Southwest Writers Conference. Yes, Where Love Once Lived won first place in the Inspirational or Spiritual Novel category in the 2007 contest. It also took first place for Romance in the Writers League of Texas contest in 2007. Thanks, again, for writing.