"How Much More Longer?"

I did another local author event for Barnes & Noble Friday evening. This time it was at the Cool Springs location. Instead of being seated behind tables in a long row (like we were in Murfreesboro), this event was a reception. Each author's book was displayed and we just stood around and talked -- to customers, to each other. It seemed to me that the Murfreesboro event drew more people. Maybe it was the time. The one in Cool Springs was from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on a Friday evening. The previous one was from noon to 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon.

I met another Murfreesboro author, Steve Elder, at the first book signing. But because we weren't seated next to each other, we did not get to talk much. In Cool Springs, however, we got to visit a little bit and exchanged books. The first I knew anything of Steve was just before the Murfreesboro book signing when a friend of mine remarked, "I can't believe I have TWO friends who have just published a book!" I found out Friday night that Steve also knows another one of my friends. They go to church together. Murfreesboro has grown pretty large, but it still has a small town feel (which I love). The recent growth combined with a strong sense of community makes Murfreesboro an ideal place to live. It's the first community I have ever really felt such a part of. I feel like I belong here. And that's kind of amazing considering how many people were born and raised here and I have only lived here since August of 2003. But I can't imagine living anywhere else. And because Steve was also a Murfreesboro author, I wanted to read his book.

I had a busy week, but I didn't have to do anything yesterday other than making a quick trip to the cleaners and Kroger. So I thought I would start reading Steve's book. I have been trying to finish the last 100 pages of a 600 page biography of Lincoln for months. But part of the reason it's taking me so long to finish it is that I seldom read just one book at a time and I keep "cheating" on Lincoln with easier reads. I love biographies, but I tend to get bogged down in historical data. What I love most is the personal side of the story. I don't necessarily want to know Civil War strategy. I want to know Lincoln. So I plod along through the stuff I know I won't retain and soak up everything I can learn about the man.

I really want to finish that biography. But rather than reading about Abraham Lincoln yesterday, I decided to read about Steve. And I'm glad I did.

I didn't set out to read the book in one sitting, but I just never wanted to put it down. So I wound up finishing it by noon. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote an Amazon review last night. This is something I have never done. But now that I'm an author, I know how much it means to have someone take the time to review your book! I have gotten a tremendous amount of feedback on my book, but 99% of it has been private. I understand why that is the case (subject matter and personal ties). And don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for every person who has taken the time to write to me about the book privately. Those letters, emails and conversations have been the most rewarding aspect of sharing my journey. They have made me know that my desire to help others has been realized many times over. But as an author, it's very special to me every time someone posts a review openly because if the book is ever going to be more widely read, it needs recommendations. I am an unknown author. The book will only be read through word of mouth, since I have done virtually nothing to promote it. (I don't have a clue how to promote a book even if I wanted to.)

But back to Steve's book...

"How Much More Longer?" turned out to be a book I am eager to recommend. It was inspiring and so enjoyable to read. As I wrote in my Amazon review, Steve and I come from totally different places and backgrounds. But there was so much in his book that I related to. One thing he emphasized in various ways throughout the book was the value of being "real" in our relationships; being transparent and being known. I have always been such an open person who makes no secret of my desire to be known. I don't hold back. I'm comfortable with vulnerability and transparency. But many people are not.

I have found out the hard way that there are people whom I have wanted to really know me who just simply have not wanted to -- and still don't. It's taken me a lifetime to get to the place I am today (mentally and emotionally) where that is okay with me. I now make a very conscious choice to invest myself in relationships with those people who not only want to know me, but want me to really know them -- warts and all. Early in the book, Steve made this statement:

"If people close to you really love you, they'll want to know you. They'll want to get real with you and you with them."

Someone significant in my life once said to me "I have always loved you. And I want you to know that you don't have to be anyone other than who you are." I know that when this person spoke those words to me, they were heartfelt and sincere. The words meant a lot to me. And they still do mean something to me. I will always remember how I felt to hear those words.

But later on, "being me" wasn't okay with this person after all. I have wrestled with feelings of regret, as if my being too "real" was somehow the problem. However, as I read Steve's book, I realized that I have made the right choice -- to be real -- regardless of the response.

"How Much More Longer?" made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think deeply about my own choices in life and the relationships I cherish. I also had the opportunity to get to know Steve.

Thanks, Steve!