Oh my. Here’s another Featured Favorite author you’ll absolutely fall in love with. Allison Pittman and I have shared several levels of relationship for a decade or so now. Mentor/mentee. Friend/friend. Accomplished author/beginning author, Comedienne/adoring fan. And even sharers of the same table at book signing events.
No matter the venue or prop, one thing remains true: I adore this uniquely talented, unabashedly outspoken, unselfishly available author/editor/teacher/mentor. She’s my “person” in the writing world. And the one I continually return to for what she does best–evaluate my creations with just the right amount of tough-love encouragement.
Allison Pittman: in Her Words
Once, years ago, I went out to lunch at Cracker Barrel with a dear friend. When I paid my bill, the cashier looked at the name on my credit card. “Allison Pittman? That’s the name of one of my favorite authors!”
I about collapsed into the Raggedy Ann display. With three books published at the time, and in a moment of which I am not proud, I asked her to name one of my books just to be sure she was talking about me. I told my friend, Jennifer C–, that she’d have to stay my friend forever if only to verify this moment.
Last week, my husband and youngest son and I went to that same Cracker Barrel for breakfast. It was my first time in that restaurant since that miraculous moment (the actual restaurant is two towns over, but I had a gift card…), and I told the story to my son as we meandered through the gift shop on the way to our table.
“Does she still work here?” my son, Charlie, asked.
“I don’t know.” I craned my neck, looking around, as if I’d remember. “It was a long time ago. She’s probably moved on to another job.”
“Yeah,” Charlie said. “Probably moved on to another favorite author, too.”
My, don’t our children have a way of keeping us humble?
I can’t imagine what it must have been like being a writer in the days before social media. How in the world did they know if they were successful or not? I’m trying to imagine Harper Lee checking her Amazon ranking, or Danielle Steel hosting a Facebook live chat with a give-away of Fine Things. (Although that would be fabulous.)
Think of what witty tweets we’d get from Erma Bombeck, the great memes from Mark Twain, the Pinterest board of Julia Child. How many Goodreads reviews would be two-star because The Thornbirds was too long?
How in the world did any author, ever, summon the courage to roll another piece of paper into the typewriter and start another novel without the confidence of knowing they’d reached the friend limit on their personal facebook?
Under what power could they tie up that bundle of pages with twine and mail it off in a manuscript box without posting it on Instagram? #amwriting #THEEND #400pages #blessed.
Try to picture Emily Bronte, hacking into a handkerchief, her ink-stained fingers penning her Tuesday morning blog.
I think we writers lose something by the sheer awareness of our place in the lives of readers. Don’t get me wrong—I love my readers! I love the messages and the emails and the tweets and the #bookstagram posts and the Goodreads reviews and the Amazon stars—all of it. But for every five-star, there’s a one-star, and I can quote lines from both camps. A brand-new author can send her very first manuscript to a publisher only to be met with questions about her social media presence. How many followers? How many subscribers?
My first novel
Ten Thousand Charms (Multnomah) came out in 2006, in the early stages of this social media phenomenon. I had a My Space page. It was terrible. It sold the way all first novels sold: word of mouth and placement in bookstores.
My latest novel
The Seamstress (Tyndale) had a massive blog tour and social media blitz that resulted in a number of tweets and retweets numbering in the tens of thousands. As much as I love that little ten-thousand circle, I still know this: Ten Thousand Charms remains one of my most successful books. And The Seamstress will only find the same success through the same channels. Bookstores are almost gone, but books will always depend on one reader saying to another, “You have to read this …”
The Seamstress is my fourteenth novel, and yet I see over and over in social media that it is the “first” for many readers. I get just as excited seeing the phrase “This is my first Allison Pittman book” as I did when I got notes and post cards from people who loved the first Allison Pittman book. That’s the kind of encouragement that makes me brave enough to face a blank computer screen and start the next work.
One of the most rewarding aspects of being an author is that you are constantly given the opportunity to be something new. So, with every novel, I feel this huge responsibility: to be as good as the last one, and to be an impacting first one. I’m so glad I have a Savior whose mercies are new every morning. Every day. Every midnight-to-2:00 am creative burst.
In my next releases . . .
Even greater opportunites to be “new” again are waiting around the corner.
I’ll have a novella in a collection with a bunch of fabulous authors—my first time to be in a novella collection, and a chance to meet a whole new audience.
I’ll be releasing my first YA novel—Pudge and Prejudice which takes the iconic Jane Austen story and sets it in a small town Texas high school . . . in 1984.
My first devotional book—Keeping Christmas, will take readers through the reclamation of Ebenezer Scrooge throughout the season of Advent.
My first collection, my first YA, my first devotional . . .
I honestly hope I never become so much of a favorite that I don’t cherish the opportunities to be new. Still, when I am an old, old woman, I’ll be sitting in a rocking chair in a porch somewhere. Meanwhile, the poor old person rocking next to me will have to hear one more time about the lunch I had in Cracker Barrel when the cashier knew my name.
In the meantime…come find me!
Facebook: Allison Pittman Author Page
My website (where I blog super infrequently): allisonkpittman.com
~ ~ ~
Lord, we readers thank You for the joy words bring us. Above all, Your Word. We thank You for calling Your writers to create worlds on paper in which You are magnified. And I thank You for the beauty of the ideas and words you give Allison and also for her friendship. Please bless each word she writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake