Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mad Max Makes Her Debut

Last night, April 16, Mad Max made her official international debut at the Westlake Library where I live at Smith Mountain Lake. Her story is told in Mad Max Unintended Consequences. Our local library is a community center for local writers. Our head librarian, Joesephine Clark, and the Friends of the Library hospitality committee, John and Shirley Yates, made more than 35 people welcome. Thanks to everyone who came out. I'm humbled by your support.

As Mad Max's interpreter, I planned to talk a bit about how she came into being, read a few sections, and answer questions. I knew most of the people in the audience, the benefit of being in two local writers groups and the state-wide writers club, as well as being director of communications for the local arts council. Never hurts to have a platform when you're ready to launch a book.

It helped to have props. This funny little stuffed animal, Puss in Boots, was a gift from my grandmother on my first birthday. Yes, I kept it. So does Max...

I did my reading and threw the floor open to the audience. One of the first questions was about how Max came to be Max. Honest, I didn't plant it. Really I didn't.

Max was never supposed to be the main character. She was supposed to be a secondary character, part of a Greek chorus, if you will. One night in the eighth or ninth draft I woke up about four in the morning. I felt hands around my throat. A voice in my head shouted, "It's my story, damn it. Tell it my way." Okay, then. Can't argue with a pissed off voice in the head.

I recast the novel to be from Max's perspective. I gave her both meanings of the word mad. She is angry when her daughter stops being a mother to her children. She is madcap when her grandchildren need to laugh and be kids. And she is conflicted about the new role she is being asked to play in the family.

Even though her son-in-law is in the picture as a father, he's never been a hands-on father. He's always traveled for his work. Max has to decide if she's going to step back into a role of child rearing or not.

We talked about the major themes in the book: 
  • What happens in a family when one parent suffers a brain injury and her personality changes?
  • What would you do if you found yourself faced with raising children after you thought you were done?
  • What steps would you take to protect your grandchildren from evil?
  • How far would you go to seek justice in what seems like an unjust legal system?

We had many more questions, but those were the tops. Of course, writers wanted to know how many words I write/edit/polish each day (about 1000 polished, from 2500 to 5000 when writing very crappy first draft), if a sequel is in the works (the second manuscript is due to my agent, Dawn Dowdle, at Blue Ridge Literary Agency in June), and who would I see playing Mad Max in a movie or on television (Jamie Lee Curtis).

Afterwards, I signed books while my dear husband and business manager, Terry Naylor, handled the money.

At last we had cake. A word about the cake. Friends from the west coast donated it, since they couldn't come. Look closely. The first word is "imlroducing" instead of "introducing." Not as bad as the flub on my friend Alan Orloff's launch cake. His read "Deadly Camping" instead of "Deadly Campaign." Oh well, at least the decorator used cursive...


  1. Wonderful for your launch party! You are so fortunate to have a library that gives great support to local authors!!! Love your photos!

    Mary Montague Sikes

  2. Congratulations! All those hours at the computer finally paid off. Looks like a wonderful night.

  3. Sounds like you had an amazing celebratory night! Congratulations!

    And that is one feisty lead character. :)

  4. Congratulations on the launch! I'm looking forward to that book. :)

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  5. Well done Betsy. You've inspired me to talk to my local library about stocking our latest book after our local (chain) bookshop was sniffy about stocking books that are indie published.
    Alison LN

  6. Wonderful for your launch party! You are so fortunate to have a library that gives great support to local authors!!! Love your photos!

  7. Sorry I couldn't make the launch, but I have Mad Max downloaded on my Kindle to enjoy during our cruise.

  8. Congratulations on the launch! I'm not sure when illiteracy became so cute, but that cake is sad sign o' the times.

  9. I loved Mad Max and can't wait to read the next one! Sounds like you had a fabulous launch party!

    And the cake looks like it is saying "Introducing." The cursive N's are the same from the first to the last one. It just looks like the T isn't completely crossed.

  10. What a nice launch party. You are lucky to have such great support.

  11. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments and support. Special thanks to the nice person who sent a private message about the typo in the first line. I knew Tuesday was in April. My fingers typed August. Changed now, but the red-faced damage is done.

  12. Betsy,
    So happy for you and look forward to reading Mad Max.

  13. As noted before, I'm sad that we couldn't be there with you to celebrate Max's debut. Nevertheless, I LOVED the book and I think Jamie Lee Curtis would make a great Max, although it's too bad Judi Dench and Shirley MacLaine are a little beyond the credible age for the character. Still, Imelda Staunton or Celia Imrie would do (sorry, I love English actresses).

  14. Congratulations!I will read your book as soon as possible. essay writer online offers high quality essay and book writing at affordable price. Thanks