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20171113_072611I read the email and blinked.

“Congratulations!!! Colette Bancroft, the book editor of the Tampa Bay Times, and the Author Selection Committee have recommended your award-winning release, The Anchor Clankers for presentation at the 25th annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.  

The Tampa Bay area celebrates outstanding authors and the love of reading at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading. Held on the Bayfront campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, the festival attracts more than 6,000 book lovers and brings together people of all ages and socioeconomic groups to celebrate the joy of reading.” 

Jumping up from the computer, I did a little happy dance. Then, I cried.

I cried for the six years I spent writing the book. I cried for my parents, who didn’t live long enough to read it. I cried, mostly, out of sheer gratitude that a selection committee chose to honor my work.

Last November, I slid into a chair and watched other authors’ presentations at the 2016 Festival of Reading. One year later, I was invited to give my own.

That’s why I now encourage anyone who has a book lurking inside them, to write it down. Write a lousy first draft and then, a better second draft. You’ll probably publish your third draft.

And next year (when you’re standing at a podium discussing your work,) I’ll come and listen to YOU!