By Deborah Sharp
When I sat down the other night to check my email, I found three gems buried under Viagra pitches and pleas for emergency money from ''friends'' supposedly stranded overseas. (Really? Does anyone actually rush to the bank to wire money after reading one of those emails?)
Anyway, the happy surprises were invites from organizers asking me to speak at writing conferences or other events. I haven't been writing fiction all that long. My first Mace Bauer Mystery came out in 2008. I remember all too well when no one invited me to go anywhere; when I had to kick down the door for a chance to talk about my books.
Now, three invitations float across the e-transom in one day. Granted, that was a very good day, not to mention an unusual one. But, wow! What a difference a few years -- and four published books -- make.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like I'm fielding speaking requests like Mike Trout snagging balls in the outfield.
On the other hand, it's been a good while since I've had to beg somebody: ''Please, PLEASE, won't you ask me to come appear at your conference?''
Funny thing is, at least one of the recent requests came from a conference I'd contacted three or four years ago. I pleaded. I plotted. I groveled for an invite. Back then, I got a rather snippy letter in return, telling me I could pay to put up a card table in the vendor area and peddle my own books. I imagined being sandwiched between the hot dog cart and a vendor with a display of kitty-cat bookends. I didn't take the organizers up on their offer.
Now, it's two free nights in a hotel and a cocktail reception for featured authors. Clearly, they don't remember blowing me off back in 2009. By 2012, I'd earned a polite invite with this nicely worded promise: I am at your service, so please do not hesitate to contact me for anything you may need.
I wonder how they'd take it if I told hotel room service that I needed Champagne?
Not that I'd do that. And, really, I'm not gloating. Well, maybe a little. Most authors work incredibly hard for not a lot of money. Getting invited into the spotlight to talk about your work feels like one way to measure success.
How about you? What makes you feel like a success? What makes your self-worth soar?