I’m thankful. I’m thankful because a year ago, I could barely sleep at night wondering if any copies of Solomon’s Puzzle would sell. There were more than a thousand books in my house, piled in my sewing room, in the guest room, and along the hallway wall. That’s a lot of books.
1. Even though I was reluctant to tell people about the book, nearly every time I did doors opened. It began with a quilting class I took at Cottonseed Glory. When asked why I had stopped teaching, I revealed that I had written a book, and that book had a quilt store in it patterned after Cottonseed Glory. Pat offered to sell the book there. Her excitement and generosity was the encouragement I needed. One thing led to another and now I work there part time and LOVE it.
Around that time, a friend suggested that I submit part of the book to the Maryland Writers’ Association’s yearly contest. I did so and to my surprise, Solomon’s Puzzle won a prize!
2. Diane Rey wrote a wonderful article about my writing and publishing journey. Diane is a friend who writes for several publications including the Capital. She is genuinely interested in what people are doing. A few years ago, she wrote about my daughter Valerie’s music and an honor she’d won. I was honored to be interviewed by her and loved the resulting article. To me, if it is written, if it is in print, it seems more special, more definite. What a thrill to see my very own novel described in my own town’s paper! As if that wasn’t great enough, she wrote a follow-up article just a few weeks ago. Thanks, Diane!
3. People bought the book from Vivo, the MidStore, from the website’s shop page and at craft fairs. The county library bought a copy! Dedicated and faithful friends bought copies and gave them to their friends and family. My family members bought copies and gave them to others. Friends hosted readings for me, recommended the book to others and cheered me on. Former students and their parents read the book. … Then all those readers shared the book with friends and family. They began to leave comments. It seemed that people were enjoying the book! They said that they couldn’t put it down, that they loved the characters and looked for them when they went to Annapolis or could picture the places. Some people stayed up all night to finish. I was delighted, somewhat surprised and thankful.
My friend Janet Garman suggested that I sell the book at her charming shop (now called the . If that wasn’t wonderful enough, people there read it and recommended it to a book club. The Cottage Hookers, a knitting group that also reads, was the first book club to invite me to their discussion. I can’t even count the number of book clubs I’ve visited since then and my calendar is dotted with dates for more such visits. I met lovely people and made many new friends by visiting the book clubs. More details and pictures about this in a few days.
4. Some readers were deeply touched by the story. One wrote to tell me that Ben’s story was her own story. I remembered the years of writing, of being compelled by the story itself, by what I understood, somehow, of Ben’s nature. I remembered wondering if anyone would read the book and what that person would think and I felt grateful for the journey, for being able to write it, for its publication and for readers taking time to tell me.
5. My community supported me. A friend who worked at Talbots at the Annapolis Towne Center invited me to do an event there. Friends from Cottonseed Glory recommended the book to book clubs. AACS Lower School offered the book to parents just because they wanted to support me. The AACS Middle School allowed me to offer the books at their Christmas Concert and even helped me staff the sales table. The during the last production of the AACS Variety Show, I was invited to set up a table and offer the books there. Readers love Annapolis and love to read about it. I was able to do book signings and events all over the area and people were genuinely interested in my journey and my book. I began to speak at places about the writing journey. My friend Julie asked if I could speak at the Maryland Writers’ Association meeting; it was a meaningful evening. My family and friends helped me with many tasks, drove with me, staffed sales tables with me. I’m grateful to have been able to continue to spend time my family despite the demanding editing, publishing, marketing schedule. A book about family and community and home was supported by family, community and home. This thrilled my irony-loving heart.
6. Readers were interested in the recipes and sewing ideas described in the book. I began to write a column about the importance of thought and beauty in our homes called The Examined Home, for The Annapolis Sound. Visitors to Meadowgardens Bed and Breakfast saw the books offered there, bought them and drove over to Cottonseed Glory for me to sign them! In only 8 months we sold out our first printing of Solomon’s Puzzle, had a chance to correct a few things and reprinted! Amazon was selling the book both in paper and digital format. What fun!
7. Because part of the book is set in a quilt shop and that shop is the representation of community and generosity, I named each chapter after a traditional quilt block. The book title is an ironic use of another traditional quilt block. A few friends suggested I make a quilt based on the book. The quilters at Cottonseed Glory helped me to choose fabrics and gave me advice about making the sampler quilt based on the novel. Making the quilt helped me remember my writing process. I enjoyed writing the pattern where I included a brief paragraph explaining some of the novel’s symbolism and how these images and ideas are shown in the quilt. After I made the quilt, people liked it and then I wrote the pattern for it. Then Pat, of Cottonseed Glory fame, suggested that we host a Book Lover’s Block of the Month Club. We’re going to talk about books, learn the particulars of the Solomon’s Puzzle Quilt blocks, and learn a new skill — such as how to make and use yo-yos. Lots of quilters and readers are interested in this wonderful idea, so we begin in January!
Meanwhile, a reader I met while working at Cottonseed Glory, invited me to tea at a shop in Phoenix, MD where she sold her quilted goods. I was excited and left the house way early. With an hour to spare, I stopped at Bears Paw Fabrics in Towson. I had always wanted to go. There I met Judy, Spanky, Cheryl, Gerry and Pat. When I told them that I was from Annapolis, that I’d written a novel and made a quilt based upon it…and a reader had invited me up to their area for tea, the wanted to hear all about it. In a generosity and enthusiasm that is typical to them, they decided they wanted to offer the book for sale and the quilt pattern as a six-month Block of the Month Class.
Around that same time, a friend from the Annapolis Quilt Guild who lives in Calvert County, told Michelle of Michelle’s Quilts that she had read and loved my book. Michelle wrote to me and invited me there to do a book signing. I love visiting her friendly shop and meeting the quilters there. All of this led, step by step and friendly person after friendly person, to an invitation to speak at the Calvert County Quilt Guild, the Southern Comforter’s Guild and other exciting events.
8. The Annapolis Quilt Guild, of which I am a member, invited me to have a book signing at their quilt show in June. My friend Sue Luddy asked me if I’d like to do the same at the Eternal Quilters and Friendship Quilters’ Guild, of which she is a member. Only six months after the book had been released reader after reader stopped by the booth to say how much they’d loved the book, how much it meant to them and then those within earshot decided they’d pick up a copy for themselves or a loved one. I was touched and grateful.
9. The book club in my hometown, Allendale, NJ, which is also part of Solomon Puzzle’s setting, decided to read it and they invited me to attend the discussion. I was thrilled! As I’ve written before, Allendale hold the happiest childhood memories for me. My sisters both attended the book discussion which was held in a historic house in town– a house we’d always wanted to explore! Now we were given a tour and made many new friends in our old town. During that trip, I visited a quilt store nearby and met someone who had lived in Allendale and knew Annapolis. Sue recommended me to quilters and quilt guilds in the area and I recently visited to speak about my writing and creative journey. I loved the Warwick Valley Quilt Guild members.
10. I’m grateful to God for what I am convinced was His real help in the journey of writing and publishing Solomon’s Puzzle. It is hard to explain, but I’m grateful. It has been a journey of faith and trust for me. My friend Cindy urged me to “print some copies and see what happens;” I’m grateful for being able to do so and for the inspiration “to begin from where you are,” which was the only thought I had about marketing. I have loved the personal, friendly way that the book has been marketed. I love to hear that people are loaning the book to others, that they are re-reading and that they loved it.
One voracious reader told me that my book was one of her all-time favorites. That meant a lot to me, as do all my readers’ comments. Often readers say that they didn’t want to leave the world of Solomon’s Puzzle, that they slowed down their intent reading toward the end just so that they could linger. I love hearing this. According to Hemingway, that means I’m a writer. He is quoted below:
All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.
If you have read Solomon’s Puzzle and wish to buy a copy for a gift for the holiday season, we are offering free shipping until December 24. This week, ’til December 2, we’re including a darling gingerbread ornament with a recipe from the book.