I never intended for anyone to read my book until it was published. I was, what, superstitious? Afraid? Foolish?
All during the process of my writing, as people became aware of my endeavor, they expressed an interest in reading it and wanted to at least know what it was about or even the title. I didn’t want to tell them; I kept all that information closely guarded, and I insisted they would find out once the book was published.
Besides myself, only two others, my mentors, knew the storyline and they were sworn to secrecy. But one day, over brunch before a show with some friends, in response to their further insisting to know something about the book, one of my two mentors gave a rather detailed, yet cryptic summary. Perhaps it was my ability to read into that explanation and the sudden terror of being "exposed" that gave me an unwarranted sense of betrayal. Had I been able to listen to my friend's cryptic description of the story as the other listeners–not fully understanding his somewhat secretive words as he described the plot line–I would have been fine and not worried that he'd 'given it away' prematurely.
Fast forward to April, 2007, a little over two years since the completion of my novel, after all the rejections and suffering through bouts of self doubt, vows of never writing another word and beginning my sequel, I eased up on my own stringent rule. In preparation for my flight to the Midwest to visit my family, I printed two copies, packed them in my carry-on bag and gave one each to my father and my sister–for their eyes only.
I later learned my father sent his copy to my aunt. Again, I hadn’t intended for it to be shared, but it was a particular surprise email I received a while later that gave me a new outlook. While my aunt was visiting here in NJ, my cousin had read the book and was apparently invested enough in it that she even cited 4 instances of typos. With two reviews under my belt, and my sister updating me on her reading progress, going exactly where I intended my audience to go while the story unfolded, as did my cousin, I started feeling better about my personal accomplishment and decided to let others read it. Unknowingly, my father did for me what I thought I would never have the nerve to do--get over my insecurity of having my story seen. So, for that, I am grateful. Thank you, Dad!
I chose my recipients carefully, those who are voracious readers and who would be honest in their reactions; good, bad or indifferent. Their reviews started coming in by phone and by email, and with further mention of some typos aside, I have a growing collection of opinions because I’ve been finding out, those exclusive copies are being shared. My father has since gotten back his copy and it then was sent to someone else--of his choosing. Well, so be it, I’m ready for any and all criticism.
Following, are edited reviews (to not give away any part of the plot, as some outlined) and all names as used are by permission.
"At first it seemed like it was getting off to a slow start, but then suddenly the pace picked up and I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed it." -- Judy (from Illinois)
"I finished reading your book the first week I had it. I LOVED the story and the ideas behind all the characters. I really felt the connection, and was quite surprised at your talent as a first time writer. It [is] a fascinating concept, it really did keep me intrigued and curious until the end." – Maribel M.
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"As a voracious reader, sometimes four in a week, I have never read anything that has so many twists and turns as this book does. It's terrific."...Leona Fein
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"Your writing is so beautifully descriptive that I had to reread certain sentences/paragraphs because they were so perfectly written. I had to read some of the passages out loud so I could appreciate hearing them as well as reading them. You seem to instinctively know which words to use to allow the reader to feel, see, or experience exactly what you want them to. I eagerly await your next book. " -- Janet K.
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"Good morning! I finished your book :) Wow...surprise ending. I didn't see THAT coming. It took me a few minutes to process it all through my brain. You are very creative!! Nice :) Very nice! Thanks for allowing me to read it. Either Melissa (with her schedule calming down) or Angela will read it next." -- Donna O.
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"If all books were like this one, I would do nothing but read. I can't wait for the movie, but more importantly, I want more of those characters." --Ray M.
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"While mom was in Jersey, I started reading your book. I hope you don’t mind. It certainly stirred emotions in me. [plot-telling commentary removed] Wow – I didn’t see that one. That was nice because I can usually figure out what is going on – I have read quite a few books in my day and watched many movies. I like it when I am thrown off! I did enjoy it. Carly could see my reactions as I read the book because I read some during our dinners together. She would ask "what happened" or "why did you just growl?"-- Karen S.
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"I LOVED it. My mom is reading it now."-- Patricia P.
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"I have finished reading the novel-twice-and I found there to be many messages for me. I digested every line in every paragraph and I must say what seemed to be a mild mannered book turned into superman....... " -- Jackie D.
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"Mightier Than the Pen is one of the most intriguing and fastastical reads I've come across in a good many years. Sigley's ear of dialog is spot on throughout a storyline as layered and decorously delicious as a pineapple upsidedown cake. If reinvention of self is the American mode, then Mightier Than the Pen is truly an authentic American novel with characters whose fingers are on the pulse of self empowerment." Purdy, Director of Publicity Oxford University Press NY, NY
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"Over the years whenever I read a novel, it had to be action, mystery or Sci-Fi. I read Mightier Then The Pen and I thought it was slow at the beginning but as I read further, I began to notice the mystery and of course the love interest between the two main characters. The ending was really a surprise twist. I definitely enjoyed reading this novel." -- Karl S.