I love, love, love, Love on a half shell.
I mean, I love my book as much as I love my grandchildren, and that’s a lot! When I began writing it, I was roughly ten years older than Rae.
Initially the book was pretty horrible, but over the twenty years since, the book and I have evolved. It’s my life lessons wrapped in a story I wish had been mine, and in lots of ways, was.
Becoming an author, at this late date, has blindsided me. I’d given up on anything of mine being published. Then it was, by a friend – also a writer who became so disgusted by her dealings with two different publishers, she went on to become a publisher for herself.
So, after buying back her own work, and publishing that, she read my book.
And she published it!
And people like it!
(I’m not big on using exclamation points, but nothing else is appropriate.)
One woman, a friend of mine at Jazzercise, after reading it looked at me and said, “I’m going to have to re-think you all over again.”
I knew what she meant; she didn’t even know I wrote, ever, no one in my Jazzercise class did. It was nothing I discussed by then, but suddenly, BAM! There I was, coming out to everyone as an author.
As I’m writing this next part I’m realizing I have always absolutely hated it when some author says, “This is the first book I ever attempted,” when talking about getting published
But it is! (Again with the exclamation points!) I began writing it after getting my master’s degree in social work, an obsession that had preempted the previous ten years of my life.
I’d dallied with writing before attempting college, even joining a group of mostly retired people who enjoyed writing. They were a lovely bunch of folks, and the major reason I went to the group at all. I said I wrote poetry, and even brought in a few that spontaneously blew up inside me, I knew not from where.
I also knew I was no real poet, since wherever those poems came from was a place I could not consciously reach.
I tried a few, very gloomy short stories that died such terrible deaths it is still painful to recall them.
But there I was, shiny new social worker, having obtained my master’s degree in one year, thank you very much, and resuming a life that had been long neglected. And part of that life was writing, so since I had a job with the Department of Youth and Family Services, the idea of Rae was born.
Writing became as much of a challenge as school had been, and Love on the Half Shell the most challenging part. I’d put it down, for years sometimes, and work on other books, or short stories, but always I’d get the bug to return to Half Shell. Let’s have a moment of silence here, for my poor critique group.
It would happen when I innocently scanned the manuscript, when tired, or frustrated with something else I was working on, and a paragraph would stand out. Usually a paragraph I didn’t remember writing, but it would shine, and I’d think, if I can write like this here, why not the entire thing? And I’d be back in Half Shell land, struggling again with the uneven story line, trying to figure out what in the hell I’d been trying to convey. Taking out huge chunks, which is comparable to watching your child suffer some necessary, but painful operation.
And eventually it got published, and people liked it. I mean, I don’t want to go all ‘Sally Field’ on everyone (you like me, you really, really like me!), but it is sort of like that, when people seem excited for me, that I wrote this terrific book. (With a lot of help from my different critique groups, my publisher, my editor.)
I’ve heard more than once, Love on a Half Shell wasn’t what they expected. I guess the cover is misleading (I take full responsibility; I really wanted the porch swing) and the intensity of some of the scenes surprised a lot of my readers. One woman said,” this was no piece of fluff like I thought it was going to be,” but no one has said (at least to me) it was too intense, or difficult to get through.
A cousin of mine, and her daughter, liked Love on a Half Shell so much they are trying to stir up publicity. Other people have done the same. I thank them all, very much. I love, that you loved my story.
The very first book I ever attempted was published. Yes, I can say that.
I Love, Love, Love, Love on a Half Shell
I love, love, love, Love on a half shell.