I enjoy writing books, even though it is hard work and difficult to find time in my busy schedule to carve out the time it takes to do it.
Nurse Judy, my critical alter ego, chastises me because I don’t write serious books.
“You got paid a lot more when you wrote textbook chapters or educational software programs,” she says. “You were a teacher for years and recognized as an expert in certain fields. Why do you write such frivolous light novels now?”
I bridle at this. I don’t like my books called such names.
“I write for enjoyment now,” I say. “When I’m writing a book it’s just like I’m reading a book. I can’t wait to find out how it all turns out. That doesn’t happen with dry educational material.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself,” she says, “but once you write those books, you don’t promote them. How do you hope to make money that way?”
“I don’t write them to make money,” I say, sanctimoniously. “I just want people to enjoy them.”
“They can’t buy them if they don’t know about them,” she sniffs. “I’m not a salesperson,” I say. “I couldn’t sell a refrigerator in the middle of the Sahara Desert.”
“Of course you couldn’t,” she agrees. “There would be no place to plug it in.”
“I’d also like to know why you write the kind of books you do,” she adds.
“Because those were the kind of books I used to love – books by Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr. I couldn’t wait until a new gothic came out. Then they were no longer the rage, so I started writing my own – a bit more modern version.”
“So you decided to write a kind of book that was no longer in vogue?” she asks sarcastically. “That sounds like a sensible business decision. Also, why do some of your characters have to be funny? I don’t think that was part of gothics.”
“Because I also loved Erma Bombeck and Janet Evanovich,” I respond.
“And why is there always a pet involved?”
“Because I also loved books about animals, especially the ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ series.”
“Can you explain why I always find someone from the medical profession somewhere in your books, even if it’s a minor role?”
“Because I’m a nurse, of course.”
“And what about the parts that are a little far-fetched – possible ghosts or time travel?”
“I have a good imagination. People love a little fantasy.”
“I get it. You’ve taken bits and pieces from all the books you’ve liked over the years and mixed them up in a genre that is no longer that popular, and added in a bit of your life experiences. You’ve even won some awards for some of them, but you don’t promote them. Sounds like a winning plan to me,” she sneers.
I get defensive.
“Hey!” I say. “I did a book signing at My Favorite Books in Tallahassee this weekend.”
She perks up.
“Yay!” she says. “Did you sell a lot of books?”
I pause. How can I tell her that there was a tornado warning – that the wind was blowing so hard and the rain was coming down so fast no one was out and about. During most of my time on duty there was no one in the store but the clerks and me. I didn’t want to lie and I didn’t want to tell the truth. Finally, I said, “Of course I sold books. That is what I was there for.”
She didn’t need to know how many I sold. For the first time in a long, long time, she looked at me with approval.
“Good for you,” she says. She’s happy. I’m happy.
Then she continues, “Let’s go spend some of your profits.”
I sure hope she’ll be happy with a new pocket handkerchief.
P.S. You would make my life with Nurse Judy a little easier if you’d stop by The Herald gift shop and buy one of my books. They really are pretty good. (Now that’s a book promotion!)
By Judy Conlin