As I round the corner and make my final sprint in this long road to publication, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of reflecting, and a lot of self-promoting. When you’re an independent author, you’re not just an author. You’re also an editor (though I’ve had a lot of help with editing), a publisher, a businessperson, a publicist… you name it. The publicity and marketing is one of the most essential parts of being an independent author because, let’s face it, you’re not going to sell any books if no one knows that the book exists. You’ve got to get yourself out there. How do you get yourself out there if you’re an independent author?
I’ll be the first to admit it can be a lot of fun to talk about yourself. I love telling stories and sharing experiences. There comes a time, however, when all the me-me-me stuff begins to wear a bit thin. Ever since I announced the release of my book, I’ve been spreading the word of Jackie and Cemetery Tours quite a bit. This afternoon, I wrote a blurb about the book and myself for my University’s magazine. I hand out postcards with the book’s image and information everywhere I go. I’ve been posting non-stop on every social media site that I know. I still love my book and I still love what I do, but I’m getting a little tired of talking about myself.
So tonight, I thought I’d write about the boy who changed my life, who has helped me throughout some of the hardest times in my life, and who has taken me on the kind of adventures I’d never have imagined in a thousand years.
I was in elementary school, probably fifth grade or so, when the first books became popular in America. I distinctly remember everyone in my class reading The Sorcerer’s Stone. I’ve always been a little behind on everything cool, so I really had no idea what the book was about. I remember getting curious, however, after the first three books started popping in up the Scholastic book-order forms (always my favorite part about elementary school). I was particularly intrigued by the strange creature on the cover of The Prisoner of Azkaban. When I expressed my interest in The Boy Who Lived to my mother, she was iffy. She’d heard rumors that the books were weird and not suited for kids, but I decided to read them anyway. I was just sort of a rebel like that.
I won’t even begin to tell you how quickly I read the books, or how deeply I fell in love with the characters. The movies only intensified my bond with the characters and the story (however, I would be lying if I said I thought the best of the movies was better than the worst of the books… the books are always better! Though The Hunger Games movie was pretty damn awesome…). Beginning with the release of The Order of the Phoenix (the book), I attended every midnight release of every book and every movie (except the sixth movie… I was working at camp, but I saw it that weekend!). I remember the night that The Order of the Phoenix was released, I stayed awake all night reading. I was so exhausted the next morning that I actually fainted, so my mom ordered me to stop reading and take a nap. Apparently, she’s been trying to come between Harry and me for years (don’t worry, she loves him now). I still finished the book later that day however, totally bawling my eyes out because of what happened to Sirius. I loved him so much. Why couldn’t he catch a break?! Couldn’t he have used Polyjuice Potion to go outside? I mean, really! Sure, JK Rowling, you can give him a reason to drink, but don’t torture him!
Sirius had been one of my absolute favorite characters ever since the first time I read The Prisoner of Azkaban. Confession: After I finished the second book, I couldn’t find the third one anywhere. Desperate for more Potter, I decided to skip the third one and go ahead to The Goblet of Fire. That was a bit of a mistake since I found out that “notorious mass murderer” Sirius Black wasn’t actually a mass murderer at all, but Harry’s fiercely loyal, protective, and reckless godfather. Basically, one of the biggest plot twists in English literature. Still, it didn’t ruin Prisoner for me in the slightest. I’ve read it so many times, I could probably recite it word for word. I still tear up every time the Sirius falls to his knees in the Shrieking Shack and begs, “Believe me. Believe me, Harry. I never betrayed James and Lily. I would have died before I betrayed them.” Even though she died before the book began, Lily has always been another of my favorites. In my mind, she was the very heart and soul of the books.
Being a member of the so-called Harry Potter generation was a gift. We grew up alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We learned to believe in forces even more powerful than magic; love, loyalty, friendship, bravery, sacrifice. Reading the books got me through some of the hardest months of my life. From the time I was in seventh grade up until halfway through high school, my family suffered the loss of my father’s job, my mother taking two jobs to support the household, and bankruptcy. During the summers when both of my parents worked and before I could drive, my sister and I stayed home alone inside our house all day. It was a rotten way to spend summer. However, it was also during that time with Harry that I began writing again. I had always enjoyed writing when I was a kid, but it was through my love of Harry Potter and my desire for more adventures at Hogwarts and I began writing seriously. Okay, I’m talking about myself again. I’m sorry.
Before I sign off for the night, just a few more things.
1. Richard Harris will always be Dumbledore to me.
2. Fred Weasley was my first fictional crush. The day that the seventh book came out, I spent the entire day reading and had plans to attend a sock-hop dance at my University after I finished. I almost ended up not going because I was so devastated by Fred’s death. It was like losing a friend. I didn’t tell anyone because I was the only who’d read the book, but I was trying not to cry the entire time I was at the dance. Also, they probably would have thought I was crazy.
3. I like Ron, but personally, I think Hermione could have done better. She’s happy with him though, and that’s all that matters.
4. Professor McGonagall is one of my heroes and my favorite Hogwarts professor after Lupin.
5. There are very few things I wouldn’t do if it meant that JK Rowling would write more Harry Potter books, especially about the Marauders.
6. I am a proud Ravenclaw.
7. I want a pet dragon. And a phoenix. And a pygmypuff. And an owl.
8. One of my favorite movie characters is Lucius Malfoy. I thought he was perfect.
9. One of my absolute favorite scenes from the books is the Quidditch World Cup and I was exceedingly disappointed that I didn’t get to see it in the movie.
10. I think I loved the side characters and backstories (Fred and George, Sirius, Remus, Neville, Luna) more than Harry, Ron, and Hermione. And I love them a lot.
*** UPDATE ***
Apparently, I don’t have to do anything for JK to write more Harry!!!! LOOK!!!