Renowned author Beverly Jenkins opened her Facebook page today to authors with a new book out, affording them the opportunity to promote their work to her audience. It was a very loving and generous opportunity for all authors hoping to gain some attention, myself included. While I was posting a link to my latest romance, Truly Yours, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the moment I first met Ms. Bev.
It was Romance Slam Jam 2012 in Little Rock, Arkansas. That first night they had a wonderful Mix and Mingle with a delightful game that had everyone running around the room asking people questions about themselves. If I remember correctly, I was seated at a table with a bookseller from Books-A-Million, and authors Laura Park Castoro and KD King, when Ms. Bev suddenly appeared at my side and asked me what month I was born in. I could barely get the word February out my mouth when she looked at my paper, answered one of my questions and then said, “My name’s Beverly Jenkins.”
In that moment I was tongue-tied and awestruck and I have no doubts I made a complete and total fool of myself. I don’t even recall if I even responded with something that made an ounce of sense but I do know that I never introduced myself back before she was off to the next table of adoring fans. I still shake my head at the memory but now I can laugh about how I sat there like a large lump on a log, completely star-struck. That weekend, what I discovered most about Ms. Bev, was just how generous of spirit she was, and continues to be. The woman is a sheer delight and I hope that the next time I’m in her presence I’m better able to put one word in front of the other and have it make some sense.
Meeting an author whose work I admire is always a thrill for me. Usually I do a better job of not looking foolish when I do. I was actually able to string together a coherent sentence when I met Walter Mosley. I do, however, admit to coming off like a crazed stalker when I met Bernice McFadden.
In all my years there has only been one author I admired who turned out to be a disappointment. She had no interest in being at the event she was participating in and she could have cared less about the fans who’d come to see her. She was distant and cold and clearly annoyed with signing books. At the time I wondered if there was something devastating going on in her life to explain her bad behavior. Weeks after that event I reached out to say how much I loved her work and how excited I’d been to meet her. I wished her success on her current work and hoped that all was well with her. The reply I got back was curt, rude, and pointed me to her website since I’d apparently defiled her personal email in some way. Giving her the benefit of the doubt I attended one other event with her but her behavior wasn’t much better. I haven’t bought one of her books since.
If there ever comes a day when I can’t at least be courteous to the many fans and book readers who make what I do possible I hope someone gives me a quick, swift kick in my hind parts. I know that the success I've been blessed with could not have been possible if it were not for the support and love that has been shown to me from other people. I am grateful for every person that has purchased or read my books. I hope that every time I meet a fan that everything about my presence and demeanor lets them know that.
And more than that I hope that I can follow her example and be as generous of spirit as Ms. Bev.