My love of books dates back to the 1950s when every Saturday afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota, my sister Cathy, my best friend Gianeen, and I would trudge together down the leaf-covered, snow-covered, rain-covered, or sun-dried sidewalks of Goodrich Avenue, then up Oxford Street, to Grand Avenue. Laden with the stack of ten books we’d borrowed the previous week, we waited for the bus that would take us downtown.
We were heady with independence, giddy with talk about the characters and exploits in our books, dreamy with the possibilities that awaited us—for free!—on the shelves of the stately St. Paul Public Library. Built in 1917 in Italian Renaissance revival architecture, it was practically a castle in our minds. Those trips to the library were unparalleled adventures in our childhood.
During that time, my sister Cathy was an avid writer and illustrator, basing her stories on the types of books she read, tales of long ago with characters named Gwendolyn and other fanciful monikers, who lived in castles and forests and all manner of exotic settings. I admired her ability to create yarns, but alas! I had no stories in me to tell. Then something happened that made an impression on me so deep that it remains today. Our father, himself a writer of science books, typed up my sister’s stories, making them look—in my judgment—almost like real books. That small act on my father’s part gave credibility to my sister’s creations. She was a writer.
Dad imparted this thought: “I’m happy for people who can write because when they have something they want to say, their message can reach a much larger audience.” A tiny spark ignited in me. I had two things working against me at that moment, however. I wasn’t creative like my sister. And I didn’t have anything important to say. Yet.
Then one humdrum summer day a few years later, I was browsing through the tomes in the bookcases that stood sentinel on either side of the fireplace in our home. I just loved the feel of books. I pulled one off the shelf, one my parents had received as a gift from our family friends, the McKiernans. The author was an acquaintance of theirs, and the topic was of something I couldn’t relate to, something written for parents. But what held me captive about that book was that inside was a picture of all the McKiernan kids. I would return to it again and again, just to look at the picture of my friends—in a bona fide book. The realization that a real person wrote this book, someone separated from me by only a degree, caught my fancy and wouldn’t let go. Something changed in me that day.
The spark from years earlier became a flame. That was when I knew I could one day be an author.
And it happened. I finally had something to say.
I wrote my first two books as a team with three dear friends, and the third as a solo writer. I had all the experiences I could have dreamed for: publishers who wanted my books, all-expense paid trips to present around the United States, royalties, writing awards. And a trip to a publishing company, where the driver met us at the airport holding up a sign that read—get this—Paramount Pictures. It was intoxicating. I’ll confide in you—but just you—that all of these were on a small-potatoes scale, but I got just enough to be able to feel like a real writer.
Now I’m ready to launch my newest book, five years in the making, A Chardonnay a Day: Vignettes That Bring Cheer.
But now comes the hard part. I have to sell my book. So along with my excitement, I have knots in my stomach.
Don’t misread me. I love my book. It’s delicious to read, sparkling in tone, light-hearted and deep all at once. Packed full of my heart and soul, it’s pleasure reading at its finest.
I’m proud of it.
A Chardonnay a Day: Vignettes That Bring Cheer is a book of personal narratives, many of which you may have seen on my blog. Others were published as guest commentaries in the Denver Post and in my column, “Strands of Silver,” for the online magazine Business Heroine. Still others have never been seen by the public eye, especially those in the chapter titled “Blush,” which tells on people who were brave enough to share their most embarrassing moments with me. The title of the book comes from my hope that these stories will give you every bit as big a lift as a glass of Chardonnay.
But yes, now comes the hard part: I have to market my book. Selling is not my gift, my passion, nor my desire. And right there is the source of the disquiet within me. I’m loathe to push my book in every Facebook post, email, and personal encounter. I refuse to do that to our friendship.
So here’s what I’ll do.
1) I’ll invite you to visit my website, where you can purchase the book: maggiemccannpike.com/a-chardonnay-a-day.
2) I‘ll encourage you to share this post, or news of my book, on your Facebook page–with wild praise and exuberant encouragement!
3) Also, if you feel moved, you could write a one or two sentence endorsement on Amazon.
4) And you can set A Chardonnay a Day on your coffee table. Perhaps a child will pick it up someday and say, “I, too, can be an author.” I know they can, and I hope they will.
5) If you don’t want to do any of the above, I’ll honor your choice—and I’ll still love you forever.
But back to the McKiernans. One of them, Ethna McKiernan, is now an award-winning poet. In fact, when we were kids, Essie and I co-authored a letter about a fake problem to the local Dear Abby—and it was published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press! We were exhilarated. I look back on the days when I ran with a literary crowd without ever calling ourselves that. We were just kids who liked reading and writing.
So being able to share my own with you brings me great delight. Even if I do have to market it.
copyright2015 Maggie McCann Pike
Maggie McCann Pike
- LET IT BE “MY PLEASURE”
- A NEIGHBORHOOD DRIPPING WITH DRAMA