Patry Francis is a writer I stumbled upon one day via her blog.
It used to be titled I'm Not Really a Waitress. The name resonated with me. "Hey, I'm not really a waitress, either!" I thought. "I'm really a writer, no matter how unbelievable that sounds to the customers I wait on." I felt there must be something Patry and I 'got' about each other, both struggling to make it as writers-by-day, waitresses-by-night. I linked my blog to hers immediately.
In the months that followed I learned Patry was definitely more writer than waitress: the hardcover version of her first novel had been signed by a publishing house. The manuscript was delivered, edited, and presumably already in production by the time I found her blog. Six months later the book was published. Sometime during that process, Ms. Francis hung up her apron permanently. I loved it, and was very happy for this fellow writer/stranger: she was living out a life-long dream and posting about it frequently. It's a dream I share, so I looked on.
Patry got quiet after the book came out because she was busy promoting it . She went on a book tour and traveled across the country for readings and signings! Publishers never plan book tours anymore, so I knew this must mean her book was well-received. Patry stayed quiet over the summer, but a few posts indicated that she was busy digging deep into the writing of her second novel! More of the same dream come true. I checked her blog less and less frequently but thought of this writer/stranger fondly. It made me smile to think of the kind comments she left for me, encouraging me not to give up on my book as my initial attempts to get an agent were rebuffed.
This November I stopped by SIMPLY WAIT to see what was up with this quietly inspirational fellow writer I'd "met" through the computer. "Haven't been by in a while," I thought. "Wonder where book 2 is at?"
I was directed immediately to this post and discovered my blog friend had been diagnosed with cancer. And her last four or five posts were about the cancer. The finding out part. The facing it part. The hospital for surgery part. The coming home part. The back to the hospital part. I felt strangely guilty for not checking in on her. And imminently vulnerable that something so serious happened while I wasn't looking. And a little odd because the news made me feel so upset, it made me cry. Is it weird to cry about someone you've never met, who you don't know beyond an Internet window into their world?
I immediately posted a heartfelt comment on Patry's blog.
Yesterday I read in Publisher's Lunch that the paperback edition of Patry's first novel The Liar's Diary pubs today, and that "a large coalition of authors, agents, publishing professionals, journalists and bloggers has formed to publicize the release following Francis's recent diagnosis of an aggressive form of cancer." The list includes people like Khaled Hosseini, Marcus Sakey, Douglas Preston, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Caroline Leavitt, Jacquelyn Mitchard, MJ Rose and Jennifer Weiner.
No one invited me to join, but I decided to play too, in honor of this virtual stranger, the quiet inspiration she's given me, and her very human struggle with a very scary disease. Thanks, Patry, for letting me look on.
Here's the Amazon link to her book. I ordered my copy today.