My debut novel, The Spirit of Sweetgrass, is being released this week. YES! It's an amazing, almost surreal time for me. At this stage, some authors and reviewers have read the book and have been very kind. It's encouraging to have positive feedback from people in the publishing industry whom I admire so much. But right now--before the book is fully dispersed to those who have pre-ordered or those who might pick up a copy in a local bookstore--right now is a very special time for me for this reason: the people I care most about in life are reading my novel right now.
When we write, we don't just tell a story, we write things that come from deep down in our souls. Writing a novel is an extremely personal experience, and when family members and friends read your work, you allow them into your life, into your heart in a very intimate way. I think it's hard for many of us to open up to loved ones on such level in our everyday lives.
I will always be grateful for the positive reviews and praise from experts for The Spirit of Sweetgrass. Nothing can compare with that. But allowing my loved ones into my head and heart one page at a time, is an amazing aspect of this journey that I did not anticipate, and one I'm thankful for right now.
My prayer is that Essie Mae Laveau Jenkins touches the readers of The Spirit of Sweetgrass in the same way she touched me. If for just one person, all of this hard work will have been worth it.