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What Could Be More Important Than Being Published?

“…on days when I look at my publishing career and acknowledge that I am still not a NYT Bestseller and that I’m still trying to make it as an author, there are many things that have come from being a published author that are worth more than money and fame.”

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Look What I Found When Looking Through Old Picture Files:

That time when my parents and I had dinner with the publicists (Wynn-Wynn Media) who worked on my very first novel, Ruby Among Us.

From the pictures I found, it might look like our families became friends after I was published, born out of a friendship between an author and a publicist, but the truth is, we connected because of an existing friendship between our dads that my publisher didn’t even know about when they connected us together. In fact, my publicist Jeane and I didn’t know about it either.

Real quick, let me explain something to you about the industry. Most readers don’t know how traditional publishers and outside publicists work together, but it is important to note for this story that publicists and authors don’t get to pick each other. At least not when the publisher is the one hiring the publicist, which was the case with my first novel. What happens is that the publisher assigns who they want and while it is not unheard of for an author to have heard of a publicist on a professional level, this was my first novel, so I barely knew what publicists did, let alone who any of them were.

It turns out that my publicist, Jeane Wynn, and I were always meant to be friends. We just hadn’t had a chance to meet each other before. Little did I know when I nervously waited for my first phone call from Jeane, I would immediately feel like we’d met before. She just reminded me so much of people from back home, which was the last thing I expected from a phone call with a publicist.

Long story short, I liked Jeane from day one, which came as a surprise to no one who knew her. Who could not love Jeane? She’s just that kind of person. What did come as a surprise is learning that our families already had a history together, and that it started before I was even born, decades earlier in a tiny little Oklahoma town.

At first, when Jeane mentioned that she lived in Oklahoma, it made perfect sense. I remember thinking, no wonder we seem to have a lot in common. She has that friendly way about her that people have in my hometown. It made sense that she might seem familiar to me. However, when Jeane mentioned that her family had actually once lived in Colcord, Oklahoma, the small town I grew up in, I was shocked. How in the world could my publicist have even heard of my town, let alone lived there?

Well, there is no way someone could have ever lived in Colcord and gone unnoticed. Everyone knew everyone else, so the first thing I did was call my parents. Our families had to have known each other, and it turns out that they did. In fact, not only did they know each other, but our dads knew each other quite well since before we were either one born.

That’s when my dad told me that Jeane’s dad had been his best friend.

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When I told Jeane, we started comparing stories. We figured out that a long time before Jeane was assigned by my publisher to work on my book’s campaign, her dad was my dad’s beloved Boy Scout leader, as well as his teacher. That’s how my dad, as a young boy, started looking up to Jeane’s dad and considered him his best friend. Isn’t that cute? Further, we learned that our dads have been fishing buddies ever since.

It turns out that even after my dad was grown and Jeane’s dad had already moved away to another small Oklahoma town, they would still run into each other at favorite fishing holes. As my dad shared his stories of Jeane’s dad, it didn’t take me long to realize that I’d been hearing about Jeane’s dad for years. Her dad was THAT guy, my dad’s favorite fishing buddy, and his kindness, faith, and wisdom had an impact on my dad’s life a long time before Jeane and I came along.

Jeane and I are pretty sure we never met before our publisher and publicist put us together, at least that we know of. Since our dads mostly kept in touch over the years through fishing, our families didn’t have joint dinners or hang out together, but now that Jeane and I have met, we share a common bond.

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I guess that to some people, this might not seem like such a big deal, even though I think the chances of an author and publicist being put together and learning, unbeknownst to them, that their dads were already the best of friends, is pretty serendipitous. To me, to Jeane, and certainly to our dads, it is special, kind of like a great big hug from God.

I am grateful for the friendship of our dads and our families, and I am so grateful for my friendship with Jeane. I love that God brought us together in such a special way, and on days when I look at my publishing career and acknowledge that I am still not a NYT Bestseller and that I’m still trying to make it as an author, there are many things that have come from being a published author that are worth more than money and fame. Friendship is one of them.

Tina

Blended Families · Life · motherhood

Letting Them Go

I’m stepping away from books today to share a past post. So much has changed since I posted this article several years ago. Just look how small my kids were in this photo. They are now busy teenagers and have so many camps and activities related to growing up that the visitation schedule I was always worried about sometimes goes out the window, but I remember when it was really hard to let them go. The way I’ve always gotten through it is to pray for my kids, be extremely flexible, and respect that – in our case – they wanted to go. What helped the most was always knowing that they were coming back, which is why it’s now difficult to believe they will all graduate in a few years and be off to college.  I’ve been practicing letting them go for years, so I should be ready for that part, but I’m not. Of course, they are, or at least they think so. 


 

Tina Ann Forkner and Family - 2009
Tina Ann Forkner and Family – 2009

On Sunday, I sent my little girl off to visit her dad in another state for a few months. My hubby tried to make me feel better by suggesting that editing book two and working hard on promotional efforts for Ruby Among Us would help pass the time.

I suppose he is right, but I would have much preferred to work part-time this summer and spend the rest of it at the pool, the park, and gardening in the backyard with my daughter and her brothers like I did last year.

Last night, after she was gone, my husband took one of our sons to baseball practice while the other helped me finish the garden. The tomato plants were crowding out of their containers and their peat pots were disintegrating, so we needed to get them in as soon as we could. Until last night, we hadn’t really had time to finish the gardening due to book signings and trying to spend extra time with their sister.

We really did have fun digging in the dirt for a while and planting the plants my daughter helped us start from seed, but as we chatted and worked I knew he would have had more fun if his sister had been there and not just me. If she had been with us, her busy and creative personality would have made it seem more like we were playing and not working. Eventually, I let him go off to play with his kickball, wishing he had someone to play with.

This morning, as I tip-toed around and whispered to my husband who was getting ready for work, it occurred to me there was no reason to be so quiet. The boys had already gone to their other home for the week and wouldn’t be home until Friday. My daughter was at her dad’s and would be gone much longer. I could slam doors and talk loudly if I wanted to.

I did want to slam some doors as tears welled up and I realized that this is the price of marriages and lives gone wrong as they dipped into the valley. We do what we can to stay up now that our lives are filled with joy and we have all found each other, but some things will always be there like a ghost whispering of the past.

I know she will be having a blast with her dad. We will write each other letters, she’ll call me every day and we’ll talk so long that I’ll have to make her get off the phone for bedtime. Two months is really not that long. Right? By August, this will have passed and we will be together again, until the next time.

by Tina Ann Forkner

Blog · Faith · Inspiration · Life · publishing · writing

Possibility

cropped-baseball-049.jpgby Tina Ann Forkner

Tina Ann Forkner is a freelance writer, blogger, owner of It Is What It Is and the author of the novels Ruby Among Us and Rose House. Learn more about her at www.tinaannforkner.com

“I dwell in possibility,” wrote Emily Dickinson. I don’t know exactly what she meant by those words, but as a fellow writer and lover of gardens (sometimes I don’t dare call myself a real gardener), I have a few ideas.

For me, the words “I dwell in possibility” encompass a host of dreams, ideas, and that very special place where I used to be poised to write a story. I still go back to that place when I’m ready to write a new story, but now that I’m published, married, and have kids it takes more effort to clear my mind and, to be frank, my schedule in order to go back to dwelling in possibility. I like to tell aspiring writers not to rush ahead in pursuit of publication, lest they lose the magic of dwelling.

Sometimes, the words “I dwell in possibility” define other parts of my life, as well, not just writing or gardening. When I look at my children, I see that they constantly dwell in possibility and it enlivens me to think of the wide open road before them. So much possibility.

Then there are older people who make me see that I’m dwelling in possibility right now. Just when I think my marriage has reached its sweetest point (or sometimes most difficult), I see an older couple holding hands or dressed in twin shirts at Wal-Mart, their history together lined across their faces, and I realize that my marriage dwells in possibility. So much of our story hasn’t even been written yet.

I don’t know if I would enjoy the strict solitude that Emily Dickinson chose in her life, but I do think she discovered something that the rest of us take for granted. As we relentlessly pursue goals, make ourselves heard on Facebook, and try to keep up with our peers, we find we are finally where we wanted to be only to find it feels empty.I suppose that winning the prize doesn’t mean much if we (I) forget the passion that first spurred us (me) to pursue it. Whether we are talking about art, writing, career, or even finding our identity, it can be good to dwell in possibility for just a little while, and sometimes, even longer if that’s what it takes.

In so many ways I’m glad God hasn’t shown me my story’s ending. I’m glad for the free will to dwell in possibility. In life and on paper, so much is unknown and I get almost as excited thinking about the story I’m about to write as the one I’m about to live.

Image: Tina Ann Forkner (That’s my dad’s typewriter and Lucy’s tea cup!)

Blended Families · Blog · Life · Motherhood · motherhood

Excuse Me: My Daughter is on the Phone

It’s a throwback day. Since I’ve moved permanently to this blog, I’m adding a few things from the former blog just to give them new life. I hope you enjoy. I’m pleased to say that this post was a featured post over at BlogHer last year. 

by Tina Ann Forkner

When I was a girl, I’d watch my mom thumb through photo albums and rummage through boxes of brightly colored snapshots. My siblings and I always liked to look through them with her, amazed at how our very own memories appeared right before us in a photograph.

And now we have technology. Thank God we have technology as I sit at my laptop scrolling through pictures and videos of my daughter who has spent the last several weeks with her other family halfway across the country. I don’t feel the need to explain summertime visitation to you readers out there. We all know the routine, right? I’m sure many of you are living it right now, either waiting for someone to return, or dreading having to send them back. I’m waiting.

Waiting and thinking that my daughter and I should be sipping lemonade together on the back porch, that we should be going camping with her brothers and stepdad, and that I should be handing her my last dollar so she can go to the movies with her friends (the same friends who adorably pester me all summer long about when she’s coming back). Instead, I’m the one ducking out of lunch or church because my daughter is calling, and it’s a call I don’t dare miss.

I guess this is the part of the blog post where I usually would make some kind of confession about how this is just part of life and how I accept that this is what I get for having gone through a divorce, and blessedly, a remarriage, but that’s not really how I feel today. I’ve been around enough “normal” families to know that plenty of kids aren’t as well-adjusted as my daughter and that some wives in very long marriages aren’t as lucky as I am. I’m tired of defining myself as a divorced or blended mom in order to explain away my daughter’s absence during part of the summer and holidays. The truth simply is, I miss her.
I don’t know if it’s the One Thousand Gifts Bible study I’ve been doing with a few of myfriends or just that I’ve been remarried for so long, but I’ve been thinking lately that I’m over it. I went through that and now I’m living in the beauty that rose up out of the ashes. I’m giving myself permission to miss my child with no shame or explanation to anyone else of how I got to the point where I’m scrolling through digital images of my daughter because she is not with me for most of the summer.

I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures and travels, although thanks to technology, I’ve already heard about many of them. I used to be iffy about technology and how it will affect the lives of my children in the future, but not so much now.

Excuse me, but my daughter’s sweet picture just popped up on my phone and a Taylor Swift ringtone is beckoning me to answer. It’s my daughter calling (for real!).

Excuse Me, Please: My Daughter Is on the Phone

Credit: horaceko.

I am so grateful for technology, and that it allows me to stay close to my daughter when she is away. I hope she will someday cherish these long conversations we have over our cell phones, the way I do today.

“Living with losses, I may choose to still say yes. Choose to say yes to what He freely gives. Could I live that –the choice to open the hands to freely receive whatever God gives? If I don’t, I am still making a choice…the choice not to.” – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts