A writer has a singular responsibility . . . to elicit an emotional response from a reader with words only . . . and not at the writing, but because of what the writer is saying. That emotional response can be anything from laughter to sorrow, happiness to anger, or anything in between or combined. A writer knows he or she has reached a milestone in their career when they have done so.
Two ladies stopped by my author table and talked to me about the two books I was hawking. We discussed Howlers, and one of them was interested in that. The other one was interested in Transplanted Yankee. When I started describing the navy stories in it, they both interrupted me and thanked me for my service. Sensing a potential sale, I asked if one of them would be willing to read aloud one of its passages. Howlers-Lady volunteered. She had a strong, yet gentle reading voice, and it made the selected passage “I am a Veteran” sound like a bible verse. When she got to about the half-way mark, she stopped. I looked up at her and saw tears in both of their eyes. Not watery eyes, but tears running down their cheeks, smearing mascara.
Now, as a country boy/southern gentleman, I don’t like to see women cry. The thought ran through my head, “Oh, Crap! I’ve upset them! They think I threw their thanks back in their faces!” Then I realized those were tears of thanks and happiness, not sorrow.
Howlers-Lady said, “I can’t read any more of this, or I’ll be bawling my eyes out.”
Her friend handed over her credit card and bought the book right then.
I wasn’t quite sure how to react to this at first until I realized what had happened. Then I was overjoyed. Other than the occasional laugh I’ve managed to pull from some readers, I’ve never had much luck with generating emotions of that magnitude.
On April 24, 2016 at the DFW Writers’ Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, I think I finally became an author.