Why did You Share Family Secrets in a Book?

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After six years of working on my book, Pictures in Glass Frames, I was excited the release date had finally come, and believe me, it was a long time coming.  It was supposed to be released October 2011.  Then the release date changed to November 2011.  In November there was yet another delay.  Pictures in Glass Frames was finally released on my husband’s birthday, December 2, 2011.  I figured it was fate.  After all, the book is dedicated to my husband.  It all made perfect sense to me.  Everything went quite smoothly for awhile.  I sold a lot of books from my personal collection and had a number of speaking engagements lined up.  Barnes and Noble even picked up my book.  What could possibly go wrong?

 

Well, have you ever heard of a bookless book signing?  Well, of course not.  For one, “bookless” is not even a word, and two, how could someone ever have a book signing without any books?!  Well, that is exactly what happened to me at my first Barnes and Noble book signing.  Below is a photo of my husband and son at my first Barnes and Noble event, trying to relax me after we discovered there were not only no more books left in the store, they had also sold out at the distribution center!  At the time it was a little alarming, but customers were eventually able to buy my devotional.  Luckily, many of the customers had already purchased their books on-line, so I was still able to sign some books.  Did I ever worry?  Did I ever sweat?  Well, maybe for a few seconds, but I knew God had it all figured out.

 

While God was working it all out, I kept smiling and greeting people I had not seen in years.  We had a wonderful reunion at the front of that Barnes and Noble store!  Some of my friends were extremely disappointed and upset for me.  I spent a lot of time convincing them that I was okay.  I was so touched and so humbled that so many people came out to support me.  How could I be upset when I was surrounded by so much love : )  Oh, and of course God worked it out.  Because of the inconvenience, I got to do another signing at B&N.  It was a blessing because at my second signing I held a discussion and Q&A session, which made for a very moving and productive afternoon.  Forty people came to the first signing and fifty people came to the second. Consequently, many were blessed with a copy of Pictures in Glass Frames.

 

Barnes and Noble 3/10/2012

 

Let’s rewind.  Forget about the B&N adventure because that happened 3 months after Pictures in Glass Frames was released.  I had a great publisher, and the book was out, so I figured things could only get easier from that point.  Well, my publishers, Ambassador International, gave me a publicist and sent me a marketing plan.  I read it over and the plan stated that I would try to do 50 speaking engagements a year.  I thought maybe it was a typo or something!  Then I started getting daily e-mails about query letters I should send to this person and that person.  I was like, well, it was a lot easier writing the book!  Then once I spoke at one affair, the phone calls and e-mails kept coming.  Oh, and the very first time I had to speak in front of an audience, I was nervous.  It wasn’t that I was not used to an audience because  I had danced all my life. But speaking and dancing are two different things, so I prayed and asked God to give me confidence.  I know this still may seem odd to some because I have done several poetry readings, but I was not as nervous reading  poetry because poets are cool.  You know, sort of relaxed.  Pictures in Glass Frames is a Christian book, and I certainly did not want to misrepresent God in any way.

My son and I

Thankfully, God made it clear that I would do just fine as long as I continued  to be myself.  I realized that as long as I didn’t put on airs, folks would be comfortable with me. Me, put on airs?  lol.  Anyone who knows me well, also knows I am too clumsy to pretend to be sophisticated. The straighter I try to walk, the more I trip, and the more eloquently I try to speak, the more I stammer.   Thank God, I can now say I am completely comfortable speaking no matter how large or small the audience.   I have totally accepted the fact that I  bounce when I walk, and when I speak I am more animated than sophisticated.  Now I am just as comfortable speaking in front of  a crowd as I am dancing in front of  crowd.  That’s God  : )

Barnes and Noble 4/14/2012

Animation works

Back to the release of Pictures in Glass Frames. Since its release, my fellow writers and friends have asked me tons of questions through facebook and e-mail.  Today I have decided to briefly answer some of those questions:

 

Where did you get the idea to write a devotional? I was a member of the writing ministry at my former church.  The leader of that ministry gave us an assignment to write a devotion a day and share it with everyone in the group.  I fulfilled the assignment and ended up with over 100 devotions.  I shared the devotions with members of our writing ministry and anyone else I talked to who was having a difficult time.  Their responses  encouraged me to move forward, and the more I wrote, the more I became comfortable sharing intimate details of my life.  Telling my  family’s secrets and sharing my private thoughts was a sacrifice I had to make to help others.  At this point, you are probably thinking, well what about her family?!!!  Well, that is probably the most popular question I have been asked.

 

Why did you share family secrets in a book?  My mother is also a public speaker/health educator, and the past couple decades, she has shared her life story.  Over the years, I have seen her transparency change lives.  And of course she has always been open with me, and she is completely comfortable with everything I have shared in Pictures in Glass Frames.  My husband and children, on the other hand, are much  more private than my mother, so before I sent my book to publishers, I had the three of them read it.  As for my deceased relatives, like my father, I did not share anything that I do not believe my father would be uncomfortable with.  He and I were supposed to write a book called, “Moving Fast Backwards” about his on-going struggle with a heroin addiction.  He wanted to tell his story, so he could help others. He also mentioned that it would make a great movie. lol

 

Barnes and Noble 3/10/2012

 

Have you ever considered writing under a different name?  Someone asked me that question at Barnes and Noble last Saturday.  I have never consdiered writing under a different name, and I don’t intend on ever using a  name other than my own.  Even though much of the material in the book covers sensitive family issues, I don’t have any shame about anything my family (including me)  has done in the past, and I don’t hold any malice towards anyone in my family, living or deceased, which leads to the next question.

 

Were you upset with your mother or grandmother when your mother  first told you about the abortion attempt.  My mother and I are very close, and we have been close all my life, so I have never gotten upset about it.  My mother did what she was instructed to do, and arguing with her mother was never even a consideration.  I don’t have any negative feelings toward my now deceased grandmother either. I have no idea what I would have done in 1968 if my college bound daughter came to me and told me she was pregnant.  I didn’t live my grandmother’s life, so I don’t know what experiences in her past made her do some of the things I would not agree with today.

 

How did you feel while you were writing the book?  I was shocked at my reaction to my own words.  I had to do some research, concerning my grandmother’s murder.  Now, my grandmother was murdered when I was three, so I never cried about it because I remember very little from my life during that time.  However, after talking to my mother, my uncle, and the lady who witnessed the murder, I cried like my grandmother was recently murdered.  It really surprised me.  It was one of many emotional surprises I would encounter while writing Pictures in Glass Frames.  After awhile, I realized that I was being healed and restored as I wrote.  God is so amazing!

 

Why didn’t you self-publish?

I didn’t self-publish because I wanted to reach a wider audience.  Ambassador is an international publisher.  It would have been difficult to get my book overseas had I self-published.

 

Are you writing another book, and is it a devotional?

I am writing another book, and it is a devotional.  I am also working on a poetry book.

 

Is your next devotional going to be as personal as the first one?

Thus far, my next devotional is more personal than the first one.  I am still working on the first draft, and at this point I do not know what I will add in and take out.  I will be praying about it.

 

 

I really would love to tell you so much more, but if I do, this post will become a book, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment : )  You can ask anything you want.  I am open to answer questions about both the business and private side of writing.

 

Click this link to see a few photos from my second book signing/discussion at Barnes and Noble in Cherry Hill.  About 50 people attended:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.313755342024392.70896.220861371313790&type=1

 

Here are photos from the first signing at B&N: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.293467594053167.66312.220861371313790&type=3

 

 

 

5 Responses

  1. Tanya Cain says:

    Thank you Shawn for your honesty! Family secrets are the worst & destroy many families. Your courage is inspiring & gives hope to those who continue to struggle with the demons of secrecy. Your words are a blessing to your readers. Thanks again!

    • shawnrjones says:

      Many from the older generation were especially good at keeping secrets. Thank you! I am looking forward to reading your next blog : )

  2. Sherri Adams-Hicks says:

    I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face at your words. Your story is touching and your description of yourself is funny. I never knew there was someone who shared the same nervous feelings and behavior when it comes to speaking. And we are both dancers lol!

    • shawnrjones says:

      LOL!!! Thank you so much for your comment, Sherri! Dancing is just so liberating! Nothin’ like it : ) It took me awhile to realize why I was so animated when I spoke. Well, you probably already know the answer. We are used to moving on stage–not standing stiffly behind a podium. How boring is that?! lol Also, you have to be animated when you are teaching children. You just get used to it. It is also probably why I bounce around so much. I am used to kids bouncing across the dance floor. lol Maybe we can see each others dance recitals. Hit me up on fb soon with the dates : )

  3. Rhonda C. Fitzgerald says:

    Shawn’s devotional has touched many people in the few months since it has been published. They are moved by her ability to share her life and family history, her portrayal of lessons learned, and her constant faith in God that puts all of this in a proper perspective. Readers of Pictures in Glass Frames can relate to a devotional that openly expresses experiences, that are blended with joy and sorrow. These devotions are a part of many lives and by them many can relive, refocus, regenerate, reexamine , and hopefully become more self-assured in their own lives.

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