365 Days, My Upcoming Tour, and Tom
It's been a year since I launched my first novel, My Mother's Friend. It doesn't seem possible. As many of you know, publishing a novel was not one of my life-long dreams. (Turns out I don't have life-long dreams.) This writing journey was so totally unexpected. Even today, I find it hard to believe I'm a published author. Maybe I'll wake up one morning and finally realize it's true. After all, I do have proof. Over the past year I have:
Sold 497 paperbacks and 593 eBooks on Amazon for a total of 1,090 copies (not too bad for a first-timer, or so I've been told); 18 of those copies were sold in the UK, Canada, The Netherlands, and Australia;
Also "sold" 216,123 page reads in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program (it's like Netflix for books; 216,123 pages is the equivalent of 575 eBooks; authors are paid $0.00488 per page read) ;
Participated in five book signings;
Joined seven launch teams;
Received the 2022 Highly Recommended Five-Star Award from The Historical Fiction Company;
Received the 2023 Global Book Awards Gold Medal for their Teen & Young Adult—Literature and Fiction category;
Had at least one book club (in Missouri) read and discuss my book; another (in Virginia) will do likewise in December;
Attended numerous webinars (including one yesterday on Amazon's keywords and categories) and online conferences; I'm still learning;
“Re-enlisted” with selfpublishing.com for another year; they’re helping me launch my next book . . .selfpublishing.com
. . . which I finished in July (title = My Mother's Son, the sequel to My Mother's Friend); I'm almost but not quite ready to announce my launch date;
Attended weekly (usually six hours per week) group coaching calls via Zoom with the sp.com fiction coaches and some of my fellow fiction authors;
Been contacted by a man named Herb in Germany (he found my website) whose father was a POW at Camp Algona; Herb subsequently made a trip to Iowa to visit the Camp Algona POW Museum; I love that;
Discovered the age range of my readers is 12-95; I love that, too.
To celebrate the first anniversary of my first book launch, my sister Nancy and I will fly across the pond (via Iceland) to The Netherlands on Sunday (the 8th). We'll be treated royally by our dear friends Hans and Ieke. It will be my ninth visit to Holland; it will be Nan's first. I predict she will fall in love with all things Dutch, just as Joe and I did in 1981.
Heads up all you wonderful Iowa folks . . .
I'm taking Joe and Bart along for moral support. Hope to see some of you there.
The most impactful event of the past year for our family was the unexpected death of Nancy's husband Tom on July 5th. A few days later, before we drove to Louisville for Tom's memorial service, I posted this on Facebook. Some of you might have seen it, but most of you probably didn't. I'd like to share it with you here.
My brother-in-law, Tom Johnson, died unexpectedly last Wednesday morning. Each day that passes, we are learning what life is like without him, especially my sister Nancy and her boys, Judd and Owen, and Judd’s wife Lara and their just-turned-two-yesterday daughter Arsinoe who must be too young to know. But someday she will.
Tom has been (not was) a part of our family, officially, for almost forty years. I don’t remember the exact date or even the exact year, but it must have been the very early 80s when I first met him. Nancy and Tom were a couple by then, and on a warm September afternoon in 1983, they were married at First Lutheran Church in Ottumwa, Iowa. My husband Joe wrote all the music for the ceremony, and after all was said and done and vowed there, we gathered in the back yard at our parents’ house on Kingsley Drive for a pig roast. The grass underfoot was crunchy, but we didn’t care.
Tom was, among many things, an incredibly talented writer. And that’s what I really want to focus on in this post. He was a writer for most if not all his adult life, sometimes full-time, sometimes part-time, but he was always thinking about and trying out new words, or words in a different order on the page. I don’t think I ever asked Nancy about his reaction when, in 2015, she informed him I planned to write a novel when I retired. I’m quite sure he was shocked and amazed. “Really?!” But after he got used to the idea, he was incredibly supportive of my endeavor. When the family gathered in Milwaukee for my niece’s wedding in the summer of 2016, Tom sat with me for a couple of hours, answering questions and offering sage advice. (I was still in the research phase of my journey—I write historical fiction.) Two years later, we tried again. By then, I was well into the first draft. Somewhere around here, I have the audio files (and the transcripts) of both of those interview sessions. Eventually, I’ll listen to them again.
When I was close to finishing my book, I had a very important decision to make: find an agent and/or traditional publisher (it could take years) or try the self-publishing route (generally much faster). Tom organized a Zoom meeting (he named it “Writers Talking Smack”) with one of his author friends, Liza Jonathan, who is a successful indie author of romance novels. That afternoon, I learned a lot from Liza and from Tom, too. I eventually decided to self-publish on Amazon.
At some point, I think it was after I launched my author web page in 2021, I got an email from Tom: “You really need to be on social media," he wrote. (I was avoiding Facebook like the plague.) I replied, “Uh, thanks, but no, I don’t.” He kept trying. “Yes, you do, you really do.” “No, I’m pretty sure I don’t.” He kept it up. Guess who won that argument.
Last September, I stopped in Louisville on my way home from my high school reunion in Ottumwa. As I usually do when I travel in that direction, I spent a night with Nancy and Tom. The next morning, after Nancy left for work, Tom and I sat in the living room for over an hour. I learned about the book he was hoping to write about the prohibition era. He was very animated, and I was completely comfortable talking to Tom about writing and his research. I managed to ask some intelligent questions, and he answered likewise. It was nice.
The picture of Tom and me was taken the weekend of Judd and Lara’s wedding in West Virginia. I love the wry smile. Tom’s smile. I will really miss that.
God bless you, Tom.
Sally Jameson Bond is retired and lives in southwest Virginia with her husband Joe and their dog Bart. Her debut novel, My Mother’s Friend, is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/author/sjbmymothersfriend. You can find her web site here: www.sallyjamesonbond.com.