Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Friends, Books, Words and Announcements: A Week of Unexpected Surprises

"It's Lisa's fault that I'm here."

Andra Watkins said this several times at presentations during her whirlwind tour of Massachusetts this week.

Let's back up a few months. Last May, I ventured to my friend Jannatha's house for the first meeting of a newly formed Book Club! (that's what it's called at the moment) made up of women I was meeting for the first time. We had a delightful meeting discussing The Museum of Extraordinary Things. As the evening progressed, we planned how we might choose the next books and people began throwing out titles. Somehow, because this is a group of bright, organized, enthusiastic women, we managed to pick titles for the following three book group meetings. The title I suggested was Andra Watkin's To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis because I loved the book and want to support new authors in whatever way I can.

"I might be able to get the author to Skype with us, if you think that would be interesting," I said.

They thought that would be fun.

That night I went home and emailed Andra to tell her I had convinced my book group to read her book.

"Can I come?" She wrote back.

"Um . . . sure, I guess. But the group is really small." [I really couldn't comprehend that she would want to come all this way for a group of about 6 women).

Months pass. The Book Club! meets without me because I am in Iowa, so I don't get much chance to get to know these women. They postpone one of the meetings because life got to busy, so we will meet next month to discuss that book. And suddenly September is approaching and I figure I better check what Andra's plans are.

"I've booked some other appearances and I will be coming in on Saturday, Sept. 6th."

This was really happening.

But let's just clarify here . . . when Andra says she's booked some other things what she really means is she has booked nine appearances in four days, all over the state of Massachusetts. My little book group (and on that day only 4 members attended not including me) was just a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the rest of her adventure.

Book Club with Andra

Because I have an amazing husband who was willing to pick up the slack, and only teach three days a week, I had the honor and the privilege of watching this amazing woman as she made presentation after presentation whenever possible. She is such an inspiration on so many levels. Nathan encouraged me to go with her when I could because, if all goes well, this could be me in the future as I (hopefully) begin to tour with my own published book. But more on that later.

First I'd like to point out some of the wonderful and amazing things that I learned as I wandered into this new world of presentations, books, and Rotary Club meetings (as many of her presentations were to Rotary groups across the state).
  • It's not enough to write good books. You have to be a good presenter as well. Not all authors can present well, but Andra is amazing at what she does and has been invited back based on that talent alone.
  • Do not discount the retirement community. One of the best moments was meeting a group of women in a retirement community near Cape Cod. They were amazing people who lived incredible lives. As I talked to them, I realized that they are also part of my target audience for P.O.W.ER, a book which doesn't fit neatly into a genre. I hope to keep those connections alive, just because they were amazing people.
  • Anyone who wants to pursue this crazy dream in a world where it is simultaneously easier and more difficult to publish, must have the heart of a lioness, the energy of a hummingbird, and the focus of an owl. Andra has all this and more. It is both inspirational and intimidating to watch her.
Through all this, I felt like Andra and I strengthened a friendship that began through the words of our blogs, developed after I decided to join her for a few days on the Natchez Trace, and has solidified over the past week. We also had the opportunity to meet with another blogging friend, Maria aka Brickhousechick. Maria only lives about an hour from me, and we have planned to meet for a while, but as is typical it's easier to meet with people from far away than nearby because life always gets in the way. But, Maria invited Andra to come stay with her for an evening, and I invited myself along, and a new bond has been made. Maria invited a group of wonderful women over for dessert and Andra's presentation. Watching this group of people having fun, asking questions, and sharing friendship made me realize how important friendship is to me, and how much I yearn for those kinds of connections in my life.

Of course, her friends were convinced that, since Maria met us through blogging and didn't know us at all we were going to murder her in her sleep. I don't have the picture, but we did take one with knives and big, laughing smiles. Maria survived the night.

[caption id="attachment_8123" align="aligncenter" width="114"]We took this the next morning (the sun is shining) so that she could be in my phone) We took this the next morning (the sun is shining) so that she could be in my phone)[/caption]

Maria herself is another inspiration . . . a woman who has not let illness stop her from sharing her life joyously and living it to the fullest. I look forward to letting that friendship grow as well.

Before we met with Maria, her husband, David, took us on a walking tour of Amherst, MA. This included a walk by the family home of Emily Dickinson as well as a visit to her grave. Looking at all the gifts left on her grave made me think of the power of words to connect even the loneliest people. That is a legacy I wouldn't mind leaving behind.

Gifts to Emily

But I can't leave that legacy behind if I don't absorb the lessons I learned from both Andra and Maria. I need to have courage, believe in myself, and take chance. I need to plan and organize and commit. So, to that end, I am making an official

Big Announcement!!!!!!!

 Available Dec. 1, 2014 through Word Hermit Press

Available Dec. 1, 2014  Word Hermit Press