When I was a little girl, I used to spend Saturday afternoons at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Cherry Creek. My mother loved books as did I. She would go one way and I the other. Back then, a child unattended was just that–unattended. No social service calls, no questions of why. I would hunker down in the stacks, sitting cross-legged on the floor, reading to my heart’s content.
My love of reading spurred an interest in writing. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I used to pick up Writer’s Digest magazine and dream about being published. I entered poetry contests and wrote saucy tales to share with my girlfriends. Unduly influenced by Judy Blume, S.E. Hinton and others, my stories would involve love unrequited, love found, lost, and found again. Plus lots of smooching.
I remember walking down to the children’s section and pausing to look at the black-and-white photos of the authors adorning the walls of the staircase. I remember thinking, someday, that will be ME. My book would be carried here. I would be published too.
As I grew older, I spent my afternoons and evenings at the Tattered Cover, this time studying for college courses while sipping coffee in the cafe. I would still walk the stacks and instead of going downstairs to the children’s department, I would go upstairs to the feminist studies section. When they put in the Fourth Story bar, I would take my books with me and have a glass of wine and read.
While the fanciest ladies room was up by the bar, I felt that the best ladies room was downstairs in the children’s section. It was larger to accommodate strollers and even had a shower in the back. Walking down to the children’s department brought back a flood of memories for me. I would hold onto the walnut railing, wistfully looking at the author pictures and thinking in my head, someday…maybe after I graduate.
During my undergrad, I wrote for a small newspaper and for other journals. Regrettably, a few turn of events silenced my writing for a decade. I was shamed over my writing by my then boyfriend, who would tear my journals up in front of me, casting the pieces all over my kitchen and threatening to break my fingers if I wrote another word. Tattered Cover expanded and closed the Cherry Creek store. I visited the new downtown location but felt lost. My then boyfriend hated bookstores and mocked me. I finally gave up, leaving my childhood dream behind.
I got rid of that boyfriend and hooked up with another book addict. I was a mom and spent my time caring for my son, but I felt empty inside. Then one day last year, after participating in the Artist’s Way, I sat down and I wrote a story. It was the first time in a decade, so I shared it with a friend. He liked it and asked for another. I shared my writing with some girlfriends. They loved it and wanted more. Soon it became an obsession and a novel poured out. My stories of love unrequited, found, lost and found again had much different smooching this time. The darkness of my past, my quests, and my dreams came spilling forth as I created my character, Alexis Downing–a darker, smarter, sexier version of myself. She was everything I wanted to be. Twisty, bold, determined and her sex life was way better than mine. After a year of beta readers, editing and re-writes, Libertine Awakenings was finally finished. It was born on Thanksgiving day, 2014.
I wept when it went live. I danced. I barfed. It was the most amazing moment, rivaling the birth of my son or graduating college. Reviews began to trickle in and people loved it.
After some procrastinating, I decided to bravely drop off a copy at my beloved Tattered Cover.I looked up the Rocky Mountain Authors consignment program and wrote my cover letter and included my sell sheet. My heart pounded as I entered the parking garage and I almost puked in the trash can by the stairwell.
The Colfax location was where the Cherry Creek store ended up. I entered the store and the smell of roasted coffee hit me. I felt as if I was finally home. I went to the Reserve desk and handed my package to a college student who promptly delivered it to the contact person. The deed was done.
I stopped and looked at the Rocky Mountain Author display and smiled. This could be me!
Then, on a whim, I walked down the stairs to the children’s department. To my delight, the author pictures were on the wall. Familiar faces greeted me and I held the rail to see what was new in YA for my son. I felt as if I was being welcomed home. It was an energetic shift in a way. I can’t explain it. It felt different, almost like foreshadowing.
Painful weeks passed and I opened my email to find that not only did they love my book, I was not being consigned, but being carried as a regular, published author. The Tattered Cover bought my book to sell on their shelves. I passed muster. I was now one of the authors on the wall.
And I danced, cried, and jumped on my bed waking up my napping partner. I gave myself a cramp. I felt delirious. My childhood ambition was now realized.
I picked up my son from school and we got shamrock shakes. I always thought I would be drinking champagne once I was official, but this was better. My son was proud of me. I told him that I was finally satisfied with my life. My book is at a brick-and-mortar, not just any old bookstore, but MY bookstore. The Tattered Cover where I grew up, reading books of romance and love, action and adventure, feminist politics and gay studies, and finally parenting and childbirth. My dream came true.
I came full circle.