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Jo 17There are some great perks in selling my books at a school Mothers’ Day market each year. One definitely is watching the children try to decide what to buy their mothers and grandmothers. The youngest students tend to have only five dollars at the most to spend—although this year, I saw one girl waving a fifty dollar note around! Yet, whatever amount they have, each one comes hoping to find something they are sure their mother or grandmother will love—and it is all quite heart-warming to watch.

I couldn’t help but smile as I saw one class sitting together, waiting for the stragglers to finish making their choices. Almost all of them were pulling their prized purchases out of their bags and proudly displaying them to their friends. Some had bought special cards to write in. Others had found sweet smelling candles or soaps. Still others had decided on some jewellery or clothing item. One little girl held up what looked like a rather large, garish, bright red satin cross on a ribbon, complete with white crocheted edging. Hmm! Her face was pink with excitement, as she lovingly stroked her precious gift. In my heart, I hoped and prayed her mother would be delighted when she received it—or at least pretend to be! I could not imagine any mum wanting to wear it, but I hoped this little girl’s mum would think of some special use for it.

Now I go to these markets with other hopes as well. Yes, I hope I will sell a good number of my books. But beyond that, I hope that the books I do sell will be read and enjoyed by the mothers or grandmothers who receive them and that they will draw them closer to God in some way. Can you imagine how lovely it was then when a young girl came bounding up to my table early on with a beaming face and pointed to my latest novel, The Inheritance.

‘Oh, I bought that book last year for my grandmother and she really, really loved it! So she wants another one of your novels!’ she told me, almost breathless with excitement.

Not long after, a staff member came by and pointed to my first non-fiction book, Soul Friend.

‘I bought that as a gift for a friend in Canada last year—and she thought it was wonderful! She’s now in the middle of lending it around to all her friends there.’

How encouraging both these conversations were for me—as I know they would be for any author. We write in the hope that our books will strike a chord with people, but we never know if that will happen. After all, our readers have different tastes and needs—and that’s okay. So I have learnt to be grateful when I receive such positive feedback, but not to set my hopes on such things. Instead, I know I need to keep my eyes focussed firmly on God, the best encourager of all, and trust the One Who gives me deep and lasting hope—hope that will never disappoint.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

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Anyone out there of an inventive frame of mind?  I would love to get hold of an inexpensive tracking device to attach to my three published novels, so I can see where they end up!  Of course, it could be a little demoralising if they were tracked to a rubbish bin somewhere or face down half-read and covered in dust under a bed or – worse still – unopened and long forgotten in some dark corner of a bookshelf.  But I have heard some interesting stories about where my books have got to and can only hope and pray there are more I know nothing about.

For instance, recently a friend told me he bought my second novel ‘All the Days of My Life’ at a conference around two years ago.  He was reading it on the plane home to Tasmania when he got into conversation with the passenger next to him.  Now this passenger had a very interesting ‘fellow passenger’ on his far side – a cello!  Apparently this gentleman had booked a seat especially for it – he was a member of an orchestra and wanted to keep his cello in sight.  On discovering this man had nothing to read, my friend promptly gave him my book, since a cello features quite prominently in it!   An interesting story – but it has left me wondering.  Did this man like it – or did it end up in an airport bin somewhere?

I know for sure the very first copy of my second novel found its way by plane to Iraq.  A friend was returning to her community work with Kurdish widows and wanted something to read on the way.  After she finished with it, it was lent around to fellow workers and eventually given to an American girl who loved it.  Again I wonder though – did it end up being taken back to America with her?  Or is it destined to wander around in Iraq forever?

Another friend also recently told me a story involving a plane trip.  She had grabbed up my first novel ‘Heléna’ in a hurry as she left home to attend a funeral in Coffs Harbour.  On the return flight, she noticed the young girl next to her looking curiously at the book.  Eventually this girl commented that her name was actually Heléna and wanted to know where she could get a copy.  My friend had a wonderful conversation with her, told her all about the book and gave her the details of where to buy it.  Another lovely story – but again I am left wondering.  Did this girl eventually get hold of her own copy?  Who knows?

I am aware of others who have bought my novels to read on planes and then left them in various countries with the family or friends they were visiting.  I currently know of copies in England, the US, Canada, Turkey, South Africa and the Netherlands.  But I also heard recently that one of my novels was seen in a second-hand bookshop here in Australia, while another was for sale on ebay, labelled ‘first edition – signed by author’!

I am just curious.  I don’t really need to know where my books have gone.  After all, God sees them and I pray will bless those who read them, whoever and wherever they are.  My role is to put my heart and soul into the writing of them and try my best to get them out there – then leave the results in God’s hands.

But a tracking device would still be neat – don’t you agree?

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