Thursday, September 4, 2014
A Well-Told Tale
Okay, I admit it. I judge books by their covers. And sometimes by their subjects. And sometimes by the subject and the author's appearance.
Of course, when I do that, I sometimes miss out on reading a real gem...
I first met Verna Simms at a book signing. A story of hers and a story of mine--along with over a dozen other St. Louis writers--was in the same anthology. Verna was being pushed in a wheelchair by Kim, another writing friend.
Verna was in her nineties. And she had written a novel. She even had a copy of it, and was eager for someone to offer to look at it.
Because Verna knew what every writer knows. If you can get someone to hold your book in their hands, they're more likely to buy it.
I did look at the back blurb. And I was turned off. There was a religious component to the novel, making me think it was one long sermon. Even though Kim said simply, "It's a good book," and I trusted Kim's opinion, I also knew they were friends. What else would someone say with their friend-author inches away? So I read the blurb, and handed the book back to Verna.
A book easy to resist, I figured. A preachy novel penned by a little old lady. A snoozefest, I figured.
However, I was drawn to Verna's story as an author. I barely have enough drive as a writer to submit occasional pieces, and I'm four decades younger than Verna. What kind of woman has the kind of determination to write a novel and get it published? I was curious, so I set up an afternoon to interview her.
And as I drove the hour or so to Verna's house, I was still smug in my resistance to not buy her book.
Soon, however, my resolve dissolved. Verna was so full of spunk and confidence, I eagerly dug into my purse and pulled out cash to buy her novel. Still, I was sure it was going to be a dud.
Little did I know that Water Under the Bridge would make me want to stay up late at night. I read it during commercials as I watched television in the evenings. I read it every night before--too soon--I got too tired to keep my eyes open. I even took it into the bathroom with me. (Like George Constanza, I now had a book that was red-flagged.)
On Tuesday I finished Verna Simms' novel. When I got to the last page, there was a character I had truly learned to hate (I really wished this character had gotten killed during the story) but I had learned something else way before I read the final words.
And that is this: Verna Simms is a true story teller.
At the end of September I will be giving away a copy of Verna's book. It's a tale of survival and determination. It's the story of a spunky feminist in a little girl's body. It's a real pageturner and it's spectacular.
Leave a comment, and you'll be entered into the drawing. On September 29 I'll root into the (literal) hat and pick a name.