Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stand Up And Be Noticed

You might think that the hardest part of writing a novel is the writing itself. It's true that writing a book is difficult, not to mention time consuming. When someone tells me they want to write a book, these thoughts cross my mind: "Don't start. Writing is like an addiction. You won't be able to stop. You won't have any free time. It's much easier and more fun to spend your time reading." But, as hard as writing the book is, for me writing is not the hardest part of being an author.

When my first mystery was about to come out several years ago, I wished I could hire someone to stand in for me. That person's picture would appear on the book cover. That person would go out to book signings, attend conferences, and make other public appearances. That person for all intents and purposes would be the author Kay Finch. She would sell tons of books. My sister-in-law, Valerie, is a professional model and actress. She could play the role perfectly. I'll never forget the day Valerie and I walked into my usual neighborhood grocery store when she was visiting us in Texas. When I shop in this store alone, I am virtually invisible (and I prefer it that way). When Valerie was there, suddenly everyone was smiling and saying hello to us. If Valerie had appeared in my place at the local Book & Author dinner I attended earlier this month, everyone would have noticed her. They would remember her today and for time to come.

I always say that a person who enjoys sitting alone in a room and writing a book is not the same person who enjoys the marketing aspect of writing. I'm a person who naturally chooses to do things that keep me from being noticed. My natural instinct to remain anonymous began when I was a little girl. I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania where there wasn't a lot to do except work. In the privacy of my bedroom, I wrote short mystery stories. No one knew about them except me. Out of fear (or maybe embarrassment) that someone might see the stories one day and read them, I decided to burn them. It's more embarrassing now to tell you this than it could have possibly been for someone to read those stories.

You may be picturing me as a recluse after reading this, but that's not the case. I work full-time as a family law paralegal and deal with many people who have more quirks than I do. I enjoy meeting people at book signings and other events once I get there. I'm on Facebook, but that's a tough place for people who prefer keeping details about themselves private. You won't find me announcing, as some people do, what I've watched on TV, what I'm having for dinner tonight or, heaven forbid, my religious or political preferences. I'm sure some of my inner thoughts and attitudes slip out through the protagonists in my books. I'll admit I'm a lot more like Poppy Cartwright, the professional organizer in my first Avalon mystery, Relative Chaos, than I am like Corie McKenna, the private eye who's smarter, taller, richer, and much braver than I could ever be. They both lead more exciting lives than I do. Maybe I should sign them up on Facebook in place of myself.

For more information about my mysteries, visit


Sandy Cody said...

Kaye, I didn't realize we had so much in common. I too am a person who prefers to remain in the background. I used to work for a family law firm; I worked for the attorney who did mostly taxes and estates. Now I live in PA. Where did you live in PA? After getting to know these few things about you, I can't wait to read your book. Besides, maybe I'll pick up a few hints on organization. In this area, we are not alike. Unfortunately.

Kay Finch said...

Sandy - I was born in the Allentown Hospital, our farm was in Germansville, and my first house was in Emmaus. I think most of my traits go with the Pennsylvania Dutch genes.

Beate Boeker said...

Kay, what a fun idea to make your characters sing up on Facebook. I work in marketing and do presentations very often, so I don't mind speaking to people, but people don't look up when I enter a room, either :-).

Kay Finch said...

Beate -
I've been giving more thought to putting my characters on Facebook. They could say things I would never say - similar to the Killer Characters blog site where authors post blogs written in their characters' voices. Sounds like fun.

Zelda Benjamin said...

I too was a closet writer when I wrote my first book, Brooklyn Ballerina. After it was published my co-workers ( I'm a PER nurse) were very surprised. All that has changed now that everyone knows I write.