On the eve of my return home from vacation, I wanted to mention a recently published book out there (COMING HOME by April Plummer) that really took me by surprise.
Let me start at the beginning. I met April Plummer through an online class I took in January/February. She was one of over 100 participants in this class but she became known quickly because from day one she put herself out there, revealing her warmth through tweets and Facebook posts and blog posts and responses to others’ questions and comments. Within a week or two, she had become the heart of our group because of the kind way she approached everything and everyone in our community. I was really looking forward to getting to know her better.
Then, she announced that in a few days, her self-published book, COMING HOME, was going to be available as an e-book through Amazon.
My first reaction, I will admit, was “Uh-oh.”
My cynical brain questioned whether she’d been so sweet because she knew that a very successful way to get people to buy your book is to get people to like you, to root for you, to want to know you better. But then I thought, does it matter if this is what she did? All of us in this class either have written or are writing books and we took this class to learn more about how to build an audience through social media. She just happened to be the first to announce publication of her book. Still, I don’t like to be mislead, especially regarding a person’s temperament; I usually trust my instincts about people but meeting someone virtually is very different from meeting someone in person. What if she wasn’t anything like what her written (140 character) interactions suggested she was?
And there was still one more not so friendly reaction on my part. She self-published. Now, I know a lot of people are self-publishing and many of the self-published books out there are really well written and are great stories, BUT self-publishing also attracts writers whose books really aren’t ready for public consumption. What if she was one of the latter? I don’t have time to waste on reading fiction that is in draft form unless I’m editing someone else’s or my own work. A published book, in my mind, should be polished. There can be imperfections but it needs to be something I can read without constantly wanting to edit it.
I went on Amazon and read the book’s description (you can read the full description here). It basically said it was about a young woman who leaves her home after her mother’s man-of-the-night rapes her at gunpoint. She lands in a town far from home and begins to rebuild her life when two people claiming to be her grandparents arrive and upset things all over again. Could be interesting. Or not. Could be over the top. Could be so many things. It’s so hard to judge a book by its cover or its author-written description.
So, I had to make a choice: ignore her appeals to buy her book or bite the bullet, buy it, and give it a chance.
I’m so glad I gave it the chance. April Plummer’s COMING HOME is a coming-of-age story told mostly from the point of view of an intelligent, thoughtful young woman who has faced a great deal of disappointment and devastation in her life but doesn’t allow it to hold her back from becoming the person she is meant to be. I found it very easy to connect with the main character even though my life experience is very different from hers. She has a huge heart, some common sense, and a deep need to survive. Her story, as it unfolds, is disturbing yet uplifting, full of solitude and community, and comes full circle in a surprising yet satisfying way. It isn’t perfect. There are places where I wished a character had been given a little more complexity or a story line had not worked out so cleanly, but the writing was lovely, the characters were believable, and the plot was truly interesting.
My mind has been opened . . . a little bit. I will consider more self-published books in the future. And, I may trust my instincts a little bit more regarding people I get to know online. I won’t always be right but I have to say, April is a pretty awesome person. Check out her blog and dish out the $3.99 to buy her book on Kindle. I enjoyed it. I hope you will too.
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