Sunday, April 3, 2011
Robin and I were once suckered into a trip sponsored by a timeshare seller. It was one of those things where you have a fun paid weekend, but you have to sit and listen to the pitch of a salesman who tries to get you to buy a yearly week in a vacation home. The salesman’s pitch was statistics that revealed the average couple only spent 8 minutes a day together. That with all the demands of careers, kids and housework, husbands and wives were ships passing in the night. Robin and I exchanged looks that said, “which one of us is going to start laughing first?”
After we left Vermont, (where Robin had gone from grunt programmer to president of the company,) she sold the company and we resettled in Raleigh, North Carolina. With the kids older, we both got jobs at the same software company--her as a product manager and I as the one-man advertising division. A year later I started my own advertising agency and we continued to work together when I asked Robin to be the president. We got up each morning, had breakfast together, rode to work together, worked together, had lunch together, rode home together, made dinner together, tucked the kids in together and then watched television together until we went to bed together. And this guy was trying to tell us that we needed to buy a timeshare in order to see more of each other?
This wasn’t the first time we worked side-by-side. Robin worked with me when we first started out and she was still going to college. The reality is, we’ve always spent most of our time together. We’ve never gotten tired of each other’s company, but we do tend to become very miserable when separated, much the same way I suppose most people have no trouble having their right arm with them, but it’s pretty traumatic having it torn away. The two of us fit together much like puzzle pieces. Where she is weak, I’m strong, and where I can’t multiply six and eight, she does trigonometry faster than a calculator.
So just as when we owned the agency, I did the creative work and she handled the business end. She did formulas, research, technical writing, and all the publicity. I just tried not to insult the customers and frequently failed, but somehow we made it work. Over the years we’ve come to realize that when we work together nothing is impossible.
So when I decided to seriously try and get published, I knew I could never do it on my own, but if I could gain her help we had a good shot. Being the crafty fellow that I am, I wrote an awful query letter to an agent and asked her opinion. There is little that Robin hates more than incompetence in an area where she is gifted. Soon I was shoved aside as she took over the process of getting an agent.
When my first publisher failed to continue putting out the series, we joined forces again to produce the second book. We got it done in less than a month with Robin handling the research and business end, while I did the book designs, and covers.
She built a publishing company picking up other authors left adrift by their troubled publishers. She wasn’t looking to make money, just to help others like me. Which is why Ridan’s business model is the opposite of most publishers, and why she gives free lectures each month to packed rooms of would-be authors and maintains a blog to assist new writers. And all this while still working her day job and suffering from the pain of a shattered kneecap and two only partially successful surgeries on her back that literally cause her to scream out loud on occasion.
In addition she works tirelessly to promote my books. This was a life saver as while I’m not shy, (at least not anymore,) I’m just not comfortable self-promoting. Robin on the other hand has never had any trouble telling others what she feels about me. And just as I was taken in by her that night over ding dongs and milk, so too were members of Goodreads and other sites where she mentioned her book writing husband. Somehow I always look better in her eyes than I really am, which is why I always look best when people are introduced to me through her. To Robin I’m a genius, and to me she is the fulfillment of the prophecy--my other half--without which I can never be whole. When she is with me, I am never homesick no matter where I am. And if some of this story sounds a little familiar with parts you might have read in my series, there’s probably a reason for that.
Years ago, before we were married, Robin was listening to Elton John’s Your Song and said how she wished someone would have written her a song. It was an offhand comment, but she made it more than once. Perhaps it was one of those dreams teenage girls have, but I never forgot it. And you might have noticed that the dedication to each book is to many people, but always to Robin first.
The last book--Percepliquis--you will discover is unusual in that it has only one dedication. And I will end this series of blogs with an exclusive preview of book six--the dedication. It will read:
This book is entirely dedicated to my wife Robin Sullivan.
Some have asked how it is I write such strong women without resorting to putting swords in their hands. It is because of her.
She is Arista
She is Thrace
She is Modina
She is Amilia
And she is my Gwen.
This series has been a tribute to her.
This is your book Robin.
It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done,
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.
-- Elton John