If you’re a writer, how do you measure your success?
Do you base it on how many books you’ve sold? Is it making piles of money or maybe your Amazon ranking?
Since the first time I held my debut novel in my hands, I’ve tried to measure my success in shot glasses. That warm jolt and the “Ahhh…” of tossing it back and then that little buzz that comes after, keeps me thirsty for more. The night I held “Fireflies” in my hands for the first time may have symbolized this analogy as my husband and I did in fact do a shot to celebrate. We’re not exactly part of the champagne set. However, no, we do not do a shot every time something awesome happens but today, I feel like I’ve had a whole fifth of Captain Morgan. The past twenty-four hours has been like being on some drunken binge of writer joy. Although my inability to sleep last night did add to my foggy state of consciousness quite a bit today too.
Just after midnight I found out about being a finalist in two categories for the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and then this afternoon, I received an e-mail from the beautiful and gifted M.C. Simon, containing her review of “Hope From the Ocean.”
To answer my own question, I measure my success on how my writing touches people and how their reactions touch me.
I was eating lunch at my desk at work as usual and I received her e-mail. The minutes that followed were surreal. Her review left me with tears in my Weight Watchers and steamed vegetables. Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those loud sobby cries (I wasn’t alone in the office) but rather tears of pure joy that simply escaped my heart and trickled from the outside corners of eyes just slow enough that I could catch most of them with a napkin and blot them away.
M.C. replied several weeks ago to my invitation to review my books.
Thank God she did.
M.C. or Mirela (her real name) lives in Bucharest, Romania. English is not her first language but she certainly put into words one of, if not the best review I’ve ever read. She explains that I have touched her heart. Little does she know, she not only touched my heart but she read my soul.
Here is an excerpt from her review and the link to her web site. Please take a look around. She is a woman of substance and depth, with a generous sprinkling of stardust and sunlight.
“Writer, artist, Wife, Mom, MomMom, 9-5er in her free time, P.S. Bartlett’s question made me dig deeper inside her world. “I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”
I decided to take the voyage inside her new book, “Hope from the Ocean”, published in March, 2014 and which according with the author’s affirmations, is a prequel to her already published first novel “Fireflies”.
Having to write a review, it is necessary to comment on the novel from a critical perspective, offering suggestions for improving the writing elements. From this point of view I am somehow confused because there are not too many suggestions to make. So, according with my own experience during this book’s reading, I will start…
“Hope from the Ocean” brings to the reader’s attention portions from the lives of two orphans, who after their parents’ death are taken to be cared for by their relatives. Describing the rural activities of this poor family, P.S. Bartlett succeeds to bring to life some very interesting characters which completely kept my attention.
The fact that the author describes these relatives as good people impressed me very much. I really believe that is necessary to point to people’s kindness rather than their cruelty; especially when it is about orphans as in this book.
I see this novel like a fragment from a family saga. After ending the book I remained with a deep longing to know more about Brianne, Dan, Loch, Dillon and Patrick’s cruel grandmother who “claimed the only book which they had in their room, in the morning when she came to claim their mother’s body”. The short description of the scene in which the grandma appears made me feel the need for a pause from reading while I was thinking and wondering a lot about this character. Evidently she’s the “bad guy” type but I would like so much to know more about her life and about the reason which made her act like this.
The book contains many scenes which made me feel very emotional. I will only superficially touch them here and I will let the reader find the pleasure from discovering these feelings while reading the novel; a very good novel. I make this statement not based on the revealed writing techniques or on a very organized plot, but based on the gift which the author revealed in writing this book; I am talking here about a gift which I appreciate very much… the gift of touching the reader’s heart.
Not being a native English speaker and for sure having no knowledge about the Irish language, the beginning of the novel found me totally unprepared to read it. I was first somehow shocked to find that I am dealing with a language with lots of Irish influences. For sure I thought I would not be able to handle reading the book so well. But… after the first pages I had one of the biggest surprises of my life… yes, sounds too much to call it like this, but… let me finish the statement. The gift which P.S. Bartlett has is that kind which succeeds to immerse me inside the story, to make me be one with the multiple characters; after only a few pages into it I found myself totally understanding the language about which I knew nothing before. So, yes, from my point of view, this was a really great surprise, to understand a new language without even trying to learn it… but only due to the author’s talent to include the reader into the plot.”
This excerpt is part of her long variant but if you’re short on time and attention, she wrote a second short variant as well.
If I were to measure my success based on just today, I’d be somewhere on the other side of the moon and still going.
Thank you M.C. for not only sharing your time but more importantly, your spirit.
I’m off to line up the shot glasses and napkins again. She’s reading “Fireflies.”