It’s been two weeks, and my head is still spinning from my experience at the Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Weekend in Milwaukee, WI. I’ve got pictures and a GIVEAWAY (Amazon Gift Card) to celebrate, so hang with me while I tell you a little story. Telling stories is what I do after all…
Twenty years ago, I was a nightmare of teenager. I was that kid you pray your children don’t become. Smoking, drinking, boys, drugs…you name it, I did it. My poor parents cried, prayed, screamed, agonized—it was a few years from absolute hell. In the fall of 1999, I wound up in rehab.
It took nine months to put my life and my health back together, and even longer to repair my broken relationship with my family. It would be almost two decades before I ever wrote anything worth publishing.
That book was called The Bed She Made, and it was all about those horrible years of destruction. Publishing it was not an option. My church friends would read it. My high school friends would read it. MY MOTHER WOULD READ IT. #^@%!!! NO THANKS.
If you guys read my post about meeting Stephen King, you know I was diagnosed with cancer last year on the same day that an agency expressed interest in The Soul Summoner. Well…I knew that if I was going to publish The Soul Summoner, I needed to have some readers to buy it, so I made a HUGE DECISION and self-published The Bed She Made.
I published that tell-all book while my mother and father all but lived with me during chemo. They literally read this book sitting on my sofa with me drooling on myself in the recliner.
Fast forward to January 2016. I was on a writer’s cruise when I met Barbara Vey. I instantly loved her, and we ended up be-bopping around Disney together the whole week after the cruise. And before she left town, she invited me to be a part of her Reader Appreciation Weekend.
Now, at the time, I had no idea what the weekend would to be like. Boy, was I in for a life-changing experience.
The Barbara Vey Weekend in a nutshell is:
3 FULL DAYS OF AWESOMENESS.
While we were in Milwaukee, I was so busy making new friends, meeting new readers, and fangirling over some of my favorite authors, that I completely missed a HUGE milestone.
That book that I never wanted to publish turned a year old.
In past year, The Bed She Made became an Amazon bestseller and won the 2015 Watty Award for Best New Adult Romance. And I completely missed my publishing anniversary because I was an attending author at one of the BEST AUTHOR EVENTS in the world. And guess who was with me? My mom.
It kind of makes you wonder if it’s true that ALL things really can work together for good,
even the darkest days of our lives.
Had it not been for my evil and reckless years, I couldn’t have written The Bed She Made.
Had it not been for cancer, I never would have self-published it.
Without both of those things, I may never have met Barbara.
We’d never appreciate the sunshine without the storms.
Next year’s Reader Appreciation Weekend is scheduled for the weekend of April 28th, 2017. Go ahead and mark your calendar to attend. The keynote next year is going to be Kristan Higgins! Get all the info about the event in the Facebook group for Barbara Vey’s Reader Appreciation Weekend!
Now, here are some of my pictures from the Barbara Vey Weekend. Sorry, my phone camera is pretty lousy. I wish I had gotten more photos, but I love these so very much. If you want to see the official photos of the weekend, you can check them out at the Acklein Photography Website.