Talking to Strangers

Guys, I went to Disney World last week, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it was a massive blast.


Imagine spraying whipped cream directly into your brain. THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

I am not a Disney person. Or at least I didn’t think I was. I’m not perky. I’m not a hugger. Usually I find excessive friendliness to be a sign of possible derangement. I wouldn’t seem to be a good match for the Disney ethos, but gosh darn it, I had fun.

Early in 2012, before I’d even finished writing Tabula Rasa, I promised my kids, “We’re going to Disney World next year, come hell or high water!”

A family trip to Disney is sort of in the same category as orthodontic intervention: It’s an expensive thing that you want to provide your kids if you can, but it isn’t truly essential to survival. Still, it would be nice.

Seeing as I’m a writer (i.e., poor), though, I had no idea how my husband and were going to make that happen because all our resources go into, well, little luxuries like food, toilet paper, and heat.

Then I sold my book.

So this Disney trip was a gift to my brood of kinderbeasties for putting up with their writer mama (“Leave me be, you wretched cretins! You’ll get fed when I reach my word goal for the day!”), but also a celebration of the epic achievement that is selling your first novel. And it was epic. (Here. You can read the story of how hard I worked to get there if you haven’t already.)

OK, so if you’ve never been to Disney—and if you haven’t, you’re not alone because my husband had never been and the last time I’d been there, I was five-years-old, so the memory was a bit hazy—they hand out buttons you can wear around the park. A lot of them say, “I’m celebrating my birthday!” or “We’re celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary!” or whatever. So on the last day of our trip, my husband got me this: compressedbutton

I wore it proudly because by my last day at Disney, I had become a whole-hearted convert to the Disney way of life, which included an expectation of daily monorail utilization, constant entertainment, excessive smiling, and eating chocolate-covered ice cream Mickey ears every day at 4 pm (yes, RIGHT BEFORE DINNER).

So there I was, with my button on. See below for proof. That’s me, acting the fool in front of Disney City Hall.



Would you believe that because I was wearing this button around the park all day, people ASKED ME ABOUT MY NOVEL. Weird, huh? Or, at least, I thought it was weird because I’m not used to it. Complete strangers asked me things like:

“What’s your book about?”

“What’s it called?”

“What’s your name?”

And I answered them, to the best of my ability anyway, which included a lot of embarrassed “ums” and “ers” and “heh-heh-heh’s.” And then they said, “That’s great!” or “Congratulations!” Or “I look forward to reading it!”

I realized that, whoa, I’m going to have to do this a lot in the coming year. I’m going to have to TALK ABOUT MY BOOK TO STRANGERS. That’s going to take some getting used to and some practice, but it’s kind of cool, isn’t it? You get so much rejection in this biz, it honestly had never occurred to me that I’d ever be talking to people who actually WANT to read my book.

Another thing that I realized at Disney?

It’s OK to be openly, obviously, ecstatically happy about a dream coming true. Other people might just be happy right along with you.

I may just wear my button around all the time from now on. (Don’t ask me for a hug, however.)

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