Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#FreeWriteChallenge Day 21 - Someone Who Makes My Life Interesting

Glykós Filos

I’m fortunate … I interact with many people every day, and a whole lot of them are interesting. I’m thankful for that. My life is many things. Boring is not one of them.

While I’m in contact with a large group, my close circle of friends is very small. A couple of these people I’ve known for a very long time, another few are newer friends, but still, they are incredibly special and important to me. After a little bit of contemplation, I decided there was one particular someone I really needed to write about.

Everyone else calls her Samantha Soccorso. I call her Sammy. I’ve been told I’m the only one allowed to use that name so if you slip up, just remember, you were warned. I’ve never gotten to meet this fireball in person. She lives in Mastic Beach, New York, which is, according to Google maps, 1,868 miles from where I’m at in Colorado. It’s amazing how much she’s done for me considering just how far away we are from one another.

Oh, how I love this girl.

I don’t remember the exact day I met Sam. I know that I was busily working on finishing up A Skye Full of Stars, the second book in the Gannon Family series. She’d hosted a lot of release parties that I’d attended, and we’d gotten friendly. If you know Samantha, you know that’s not a difficult thing to do. We got to talking a little bit and I told her about my upcoming novel. She asked me if she could do an interview with me and I, of course, said yes. It wasn’t too long after the interview came out that she had a two-day release party for A Skye Full of Stars, chock full of enthusiastic authors and attendees, all in place. At this point, I hadn’t even finished writing the book yet.

This girl leaves an impression that’s nearly impossible to shake.

A Skye Full of Stars took longer to write than I’d hoped. It wasn’t because the story wasn’t there. When I’d written the previous novel, Alabama Skye, I had no intention of writing a sequel. When I was urged by readers to continue the story, I had no trouble falling back into it. I realized the characters had a lot more to share, and I had a great desire to write it once I started. The reason it took so much longer was that I was dealing with a serious wrist injury. Most of the people I was in contact with at the time knew something was going on, that I had some physical issue I was trying to overcome, but Samantha cared about the details.

I told her the whole story—got emotional about it more than once—and she listened. She urged me over the finish line, then became a beta reader when the book was finally written. I made the deadline Sam and I set. Having that party planned, seeing how many authors she’d lined up and feeling the energy and excitement she put behind the whole thing was a huge boost for me. I didn’t want to let either one of us down.

I don’t know many people who possess Samantha’s level of enthusiasm. Quite honestly, the girl makes me tired just watching her. She’s a problem solver, a go-getter. She is a formidable force of positive energy. She’s like that all the time, so maybe you can imagine the way she puts a party together. I didn’t do much more than sit at my computer for two days, interacting with the hundreds of people she’d gathered to celebrate the release of A Skye Full of Stars, but I was exhausted when Sunday night rolled around and the party came to an end. I’d never experienced anything like it. And Samantha? New York is two hours ahead of Colorado. It was late for me, even later for her. She’d done a ton of work to organize and keep things on track and yet she was still going. She’s like the Energizer Bunny. She never stops.

Samantha definitely pushed me over the finish line when it came to that novel. She publicized the hell out of both books in the Gannon Family series, and started signing me up for a bunch of takeovers in author events. She worked hard to make sure readers heard about these stories, and helped me introduce this cast of characters all over Facebook land.

A few months later, my wrist got worse. Much worse. I went through a series of cortisone shots and casts. I was working one handed (my dominant being the one that was injured) and with a lot of pain. I became very emotional. I felt sad and defeated. This is not my normal. Far from it. I’m usually irritatingly optimistic, but this was so difficult for me. I was trying to write Under a Southern Skye, the third book in the Gannon Family series, but I grew increasingly frustrated while trying to type with my left hand, and my voice recognition software made me want to tear my hair out.

Samantha was there for me. She collected all the teasers I’d made, the games I liked to post for takeovers, my character photos and everything else I had in my publicity arsenal. She continued to sign me up for takeovers, but she did them for me. She made it her goal to not only talk to me every day, but to make me smile and laugh every day. She knew just how difficult my wrist injury was to deal with. She knew how frustrated and unhappy I’d become. She got it, and she was there for me.

When I had my first surgery on November 23rd of last year, it was Samantha who took care of all my writing related things. When I went in for my second surgery a few weeks later, the one in which they replaced my wrist joint and part of the ulna bone, she had things under control again. She knew when I went into surgery, when I came out and how I was doing along the way. She was my filter, sharing what she knew I’d want her to with my readers. She did takeovers for me, she was in contact with those wonderful people who posted on my wall, and she was in constant contact with me. She sent me things to make me laugh, she checked in with me, she encouraged me. She was a constant support, and I will probably never find an accurate way of repaying her—but I’ll continue to try.

It wasn’t until after I’d recovered a bit that she and I decided to give her the official title of PA. It was a long time coming, really, and probably ridiculous that we made any sort of issue out of it at all. She’d been taking care of things for me for months. We had a chat one day and thought it was past time. She deserves a paycheck. Unfortunately, all I’ve been able to give her in return for all her support and hard work is unlimited editing services, signed paperbacks, sneak peeks at all my writing and lots of photos of her crush, Jamie Dornan.

And I gave her Archer. She loves Archer.

It isn’t much, not when you consider the fact that she’s invaluable to me and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

There is no doubt that Sammy makes my life interesting. She set up J.C.’s Wingdom, a street team I didn’t realize I wanted, and co-admins it with me. (Don’t blame her for the goofy name. I did that all on my own.) She signed me up for a takeover not long ago, one she insisted I do myself because it was a collection of my characters that needed to make an appearance. I thought it would be ridiculous—and maybe it was—but in the most enjoyable way. She’s involved me in many charity events and contests, and she’s brought quite a few editing clients to me. She pushes me to do things I didn’t think I could. She keeps me working toward personal writing goals while still making sure I’m taking care of myself. She knows I have bad wrist days. She knows I take on too many projects. She knows the ideas don’t always come when I want them to. She also knows I need a swift kick in the ass every so often, and she’s not afraid to be the one to do the kicking.

I’ve known Sam for less than two years—but it’s been an extraordinary two years. I’ve published two novels with her, and I’m working on several more (yes—at the same time). I’d hoped to release Brides, Beasts & Baklava, the second book in the Goddess of Tornado Alley series, by her birthday in February. I’m not sure I’ll make that deadline, but I hope to have it ready for betas by then. With her encouragement, I’ll most likely succeed in that goal.

Like I stated before, my life is anything but boring. I’m so glad I have the special people in it that I do. And I’m so glad I have my Sammy.