Monday, January 26, 2009

In Case You Couldn't Tell, They're Writers

I got a Google alert recently that made me laugh. Actually, it was the second one to make me laugh. I got one last fall that informed me I was dead. It was the obituary of some Annette Lyon in New York. Apparently, she’d lived a good life and was a good cook (definitely not me).

This particular alert informed me of a copy of Spires of Stone for sale at an online shop . . . in AFRICA.

How in the world did it get there, you ask? I think I know. See, about a year ago, I drew a winner for one the contests I run on my website. Turns out she lived in South *#$&#*# Africa. Since I hadn’t said on my contest that I wouldn’t ship internationally, I figured I should send her the book.

(I'm wondering if I'm going to lose a fan after posting this. Hi, if you're reading this! I won't mention your name!)

Shipping the book cost me somewhere around six times what it would have cost to mail somewhere here in the U. S. So while I normally wouldn't bat an eye at someone selling off one of my books, this one had me raising an eyebrow. (And it had me laughing, because really, who is South Africa is going to buy an LDS novel off her?)

So I mentioned the alert to my buddies on the LDStorymakers e-mail list, jokingly saying, “Well, she must have really appreciated the trouble I went to since she’s now SELLING it.”

Their response? Well, let me show you.

I won’t reveal who said what (let's protect the innocent and hilarious . . . okay, one of them is Rachel Ann Nunes . . . she was on a total roll. And there was Julie Wright and Josi Kilpack and Tristi Pinkston and Janet Jensen, and Jewel Adams. But I'll let you guess who is who since these were all off-the-cuff, unedited comments).

Here’s what they had to say on the list as the day wore on. I was laughing myself silly.

Writer #1:
Maybe this is one of those moments where she read it, loved it, it was a treasured thing in her home, but now her baby needs medicine and she has no money so she is selling her most prized possession in order to save her child?

Imagine the tears she will cry as she packages up that sacred treasure and knows if she ever comes into money again, she will be buying it back.

Writer #2:
Don’t forget that she’s a widow with a hunched back—the fact that she had Internet access is inconsequential.

Writer #3:
She had to walk twenty miles on blistering roads, barefoot, uphill both ways, into town where she could use the Internet at the library. She sobbed so much all over the keyboard that she now has to shelve books for twelve hours to pay the library for a new keyboard. It would have been ten, but they wanted to get an ergonomic keyboard instead of just a simple flat one.

And the disease that now afflicts her child is the same one that took her husband's life, so she really, really has to get that medicine.

Writer #4:
No, I'll tell you how it went down. She was in her grass hut reading her coveted copy of Spires of Stone when a truckload of armed men came in and demanded that she surrender her valuable possessions.

They looked at your book and thought, "Aha! An American book written by an American woman! Say, this Annette Lyon! I have heard of her! This book will fetch much money. Then we can use the money to help fund our military!"

I'm telling you guys, that's what happened.

Writer #5:
Exactly. And on the way to sell the book, the armed men were accosted by an opposing militant group and in the resulting battle everyone died except one young man whose leg was nearly shot off.

He survived by drinking out of an enemy canteen and reading Annette's book. The words took his mind from the pain. After feeling the Spirit, he decided to turn to never hurt anyone ever again. When he was finally rescued, he paid his saviors with his only possessions, the book and the canteen.

The daughter of the couple who found him also read the book and they stayed up late during his days of recovery to talk about the fantastic plot. They fell in love, and the boy wrote her poems inspired by Spires.

Unfortunately, the lady of the house had to trade the book for the dozens and dozens of eggs she needed to make the wedding cake for her daughter's wedding to the boy (they have at least 200 relatives and they have to invite them all, even if they don't have shoes).

The egg lady read the book and loved it so much that she read it aloud to her forty grandchildren. She planned to treasure it the rest of her life, but one of her grandchildren wanted to attend college, and so she gave the book to him, along with several dozen eggs, to sell for tuition so he could learn to be a doctor and treat all his cousins and other relatives.

Now no more would have to die of common illnesses or get gangrene because someone forgot to wash his hands.

The book was sold online by the college student and was bought by a rich man who is trying to bring solidarity and peace to the entire country. He'd wanted the book as a gift for the woman he loved, but the ideas in it were so intriguing that he . . .

Writer #6:
. . . he would teach the principles he learned in the book to a camp full of refugees. Somehow the story leaked to the media there. A reporter went out with a camera crew and found the camp of 5000 refugees surrounding the rich man, listening intently as he read from what they were now calling "The Book."

Banners with the Spires of Stone cover and a head shot of Annette donning a tiara made from an elephant's tusks were held up by numerous men wearing leather loincloths with multiple piercings in their noses and lips while the crowd softly chanted the words, "The Lyon cometh."

Writer #7:
. . at least they weren't singing “The Lyon Sleeps Tonight.”

Is it any wonder I love hanging out virtually with my writer friends?


NorahS said...

I was doing ok until I got to #7. That made me snort right out loud!

Talented writers all.

Michelle Glauser said...

Ouch to those stereotypes of Africa. Good imaginations.

Wonder Woman said...

hilarious!! Funny ladies, everyone.

Lara Neves said...

So fun! I can see why you like hanging out with them for sure. I'm sure that one of those stories has got to be the truth...

Josi said...

I'll tell on myself--I was the shortest one on there--everyone else deserves the credit for really growing the story, but I'm glad to have been a part of it all the same. That was a fun day.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh I needed that laugh so badly today! Thanks for sharing that, what a hoot!

Jenna said...

Yep, you do indeed have world-class friends. That is a great story!

Kristina P. said...

You are all hilarious!

And what is this Google Alert you speak of?

Rebecca Blevins said...

That was simply awesome!

No wonder they're all writers with imaginations like those.

Anonymous said...

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. That's what I sound like right now.
Ohhhhhh. Now I've got to get to the bathroom!

hi, it's me! melissa c said...

I love a good marathon! That was very fun and very inventive. I'm sure that that is exactly how the story went down. It's very uplifting if you think about it!

Erin said...

That is really funny! Hopefully your book will land in the right hands.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Okay, I'll confess. The only reason I want to publish an LDS novel is so that I can hang out on the LDS Storymakers listserv. You guys are nuts.

Jami said...

Well, life gave you lemons and your friends made lemon bars, a lemon meringue pie and some lemon-garlic chicken! Friends are so cool. And writer friends are witty and cool.

Jennie said...

You laugh, Annette, but South Africa is a pretty modern country for the most part and the Church has a presence there. There's even an MTC there. The daughter of one of my friends and her husband live in South Africa and with the sharp increase in foreign postal rates, I'm sure she and many others like her would be thrilled to find a used LDS fiction book in a local shop. I do have to agree with you that those google alerts bring some fun and sometimes funny information. There's a Jennie Hansen out there who plays in a major symphony and only those who know how tone deaf I am can appreciate how much that tid bit of info amuses me.

Annette Lyon said...

Michemily and Jennie, You're right of course that South Africa is very modern. I know several people from there, and none of their lives resemble the silly story everyone came up with. But it was still fun, I think. :)

Heidi said...

Wow! They're good! I suppose I should consider reading some of their books, huh? (Nothing against them or LDS fiction--I just haven't been into it in the past. I have a feeling I'm going to be into it in the future, though.) :)

somecookIsew said...

That is entirely too funny! I'm always surprised when people start selling off LDS lit although I'm appreciative when I get the chance to buy it! Personally, mine gets borrowed. There are certain works that make their way around the ward due to their popularity!

To Heidi and anyone else who hasn't indulged in LDS lit, I highly recommend it. If there is one writer you don't care for, try another. I compare it to moving to Utah in high school after growing up on the east coast of the U.S. Everything may not be perfect, and there may be better authors elsewhere, but it is like being able to breathe deeply after being choked in the suffocating air of non-like views and standards. Being able to rejoice in the good without constantly evaluating the setting.

Brittany Marie said...

Hahaha- that's awesome!

Amanda D said...

So funny! Thanks for sharing.

Julie Wright said...

That was as much fun reading as it was when we were writing it. I confess I wasn't the really funny ones. I'm just not as funny as the rest of them.

Heather Moore said...

If the recipient of your book is anything like me--there's simply not enough room to hold all the books I've read. I frequently donate to a library or sell them on-line (even though I'm sad to do it). I've had books I've given away turn up for sale on-line. One said "small flaw--inscription by the author." (I'd think it would RAISE the value. LOL) But hey, if it broadens your audience, that's great. Especially an international one.

Annette Lyon said...

Heather, I couldn't agree more. Normally, if I see my books for sale like this, I figure it's just spreading the word and maybe finding a new reader--it's all good.

This particular instance was just a little different because of the effort I made to send it--and the odds of it ever reaching someone who might turn out to be a fan.

And I thought the story everyone created was darned funny.

wenderful said...

Thanks you so much for the encouragement! I'll be back to read more when my nerves are back to normal. After this evening.

LisAway said...

Okay, that is hilarious. But how long ago was this giveaway? A LOT of things seem to have happened since she received that book. . .

And I can think of four people I know off the top of my head who are LDS from South Africa. Just you wait, soon they will be requesting your other books in libraries across that country.

That Girl said...

Well, you know, I'd OFFER to sell one for you here, so you could claim at least three continents, but since you OBVIOUSLY won't ship internationally - your tough luck.

(Pssst! Love you!)


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