Sold a copy of AFTER JEWEL

On Sunday, because my house was without internet, my son and I drove to our local Atlanta Bread Company only to find it closed. So we continued on to Panera Bread, settled on a table with an electrical plug along the wall. While my son got his computer running, I strolled to the front to buy a cup of coffee and get a glass of water. While getting the water at the drink station, a woman approached me. Frankly I don’t remember what she said first only that her words had something to do with finding a “peaceful” location to — here I became confused — sit and have coffee or perhaps find a place to stay that would also be “peaceful.” I was bewildered. Then she said, “You are obviously spiritual…” and she added something beyond this but I was standing with hot coffee in one hand, a glass of water in the other and my wallet tucked under my arm against my side. She continued, and I suggested a bed and breakfast near the middle school my daughter attended years ago. At some point, the woman repeated “you are obviously spiritual” and that the numbers of the highways “were meaningful” to her — one highway number was her birthday, another her birth year and so on. She indicated that God had brought her here. While she spoke, I decided to direct her to a nearby abbey where the monks take a vow of silence.

“A great place for a spiritual retreat,” I told her.

She smiled, her eyes gleaming — literally.

Finally I gestured that I needed to take the water to my son and get the hot coffee out of my hand. She followed me to a table next to my son. We sat down and chatted about the abbey and the monks as well as about her views on the church.

The church — the conclusion of our talk was a realization that the church — not the body of Christ but the man-made institution — is a lonely place because God is missing from it.

“He’s left, hasn’t He?” I asked her, almost making a statement.

At any rate, over the next ten minutes, we discuss my novels. She wants to support me, she says. And so, I tell her that most of my novels are in the back of my car in a box if she’s really interested. Turns out she really is. So, I bring her METAL MAN WALKING and also show her AFTER JEWEL which is the one she settles on.

Hmm — does God work in mysterious ways? He certainly did Sunday morning.

A Most Serendipitous Time

In a whirlwind trip, I meet some extraordinary women both in Mississippi and in Atlanta. Out to dinner with 7 lovely southern ladies – honestly there’s no other way to describe these women! – one of them – oh, her name fills the air – Camille – leans in to ask me if there’s anything else interesting about my life – other than medical speech pathology – and because we are in a social rather than business setting – I tell them I’m a novelist. And the curiosity is sparked – several women want to know what I write. Odd to me that the word novelist does not conjure thoughts of fiction in people’s minds – not just these southern lady minds, but minds everywhere. I hear the same question, “Do you make your books up?” In my head, I hear, “Yes, they’re fiction.” Of course, I’m more polite and say, “Yes, I make up stories. I love to write.”

Camille and one particular lady promise to look up my books. Most times, these are idle promises but it’s still nice to imagine. And one never knows.

In Atlanta, I have a long unexpected layover. On the B concourse is BUCKHEAD BOOKS which includes the Intermezzo Cafe – very nice. I manage to procure a seat at a marble wraparound shelf with comfortable tall chairs with the waitstaff’s permission. Just as I am waiting for my menu, a woman approaches, puts her things down near me and promptly asks me if I need a menu. I nod; she walks to the cash register cubby. When she comes back, I ask, “Do you work here?” She says, “I’m the owner.”

Immediately – less than the time it takes for you to read this – I say, “I’m going to take a chance.” I reach into my handbag – which I only carry on trips – pull out both my Facebook card (courtesy of Moo.com) and my DooRFrame Books card (via Vistaprint). I tell her I’m a novelist, look around at her shelves full of new books and say, “But of course I’m self-published.” She says sometimes she carries self-published works. So, I hand her my cards. She also promises to “take a look at your books.”

Next, once Deb – the owner of BUCKHEAD BOOKS – leaves, I meet Charlie a woman from my hometown. We are both on the long layover. She also loves to write and promises to look up my books. She also gives me a story to tell but I give it back to her. I tell Charlie her story is one she needs to write.