Ek’abo Ebi! (Welcome Family!)
I have a story to share!
Once there was a young woman named Olivia. For years Olivia fought to be heard, to finally have her book published. The book was the best it could be.  Edited with a fine tooth comb and polished to perfection. To promote it, she created a blog, a Facebook page and she even went so far as to publish it on one of the more popular self-publishing websites.  Receiving a few bites, Olivia acquired a small fan base for her work.  She thought that her blog and FB page would be a big help in getting her the “right” kind of attention.  But after a while, she felt like she was losing momentum.  Four years passed with no real acknowledgment from an publisher or literary agent.
Queries were either ignored or denied.  Olivia heard things like, “Your story does not fall within the market we are currently pursuing.” or “Though your idea was a good one, your story did not hold our interest.” She tried to keep her head up.  Friends and family continued to support her. Keeping her enthusiasm going and skills sharp, Olivia published short stories and articles for small independent magazines. 
She started thinking, ‘Maybe I should re-write my story…’ As quickly as that idea crept up, it was immediately pushed down.  The characters Olivia created were like family.  Changing them would be like erasing their existence.  Too much work had gone into it and she refused to take that step.  Members of her writing group also continued to support her.  Her mentor, an English professor from a local university, asked her, “Where are you sending your queries? Have you thought about going outside the East Coast?”  ‘If only you knew,’ Olivia said to herself, ‘I’ve queried the West Coast, the UK and everywhere in between.’
***
The New Year was just days away and still she had no luck.  If Olivia was foolish enough to make writing her sole means of income, she would have been living on the street.  Everyday colorful envelopes would appear in her mailbox. Olivia was invited to a number of parties but she wasn’t in the mood for any of them. 
It was 10:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, when she heard a loud knocking sound coming from her door. “Olivia! I know you are in there. Open up!” Dragging herself from the couch, Olivia opened the door to her loud and rambunctious cousin Lorraine.  “Seriously, Liv do you really plan on bringing in the New Year like this? Depressed and alone, wrapped up in some old, dusty-ass blanket like some spinster with Dick Clark as your only company?” She asked as she sashayed in.
“I receive another rejection letter today.” Olivia mumbled and flopped down onto the couch once more.  Sighing, Lorraine rolled her eyes and gingerly sat down next to Olivia.  Looking down, she swiftly brushed her hands over her svelte, hips and thighs. Lorraine was wearing a sexy, black velvet mini dress.  The last thing she needed was a bunch of lint spotting her dress like polka dots. 
“Liv,” she said wearily.  “I’ve wanted to ask you this for some time but I wasn’t sure how you would react.” “What?” queried Olivia. “WHY DO YOU WRITE?! I mean seriously, why do you bother?  It has been almost five years and still you’ve heard NOTHING.  I mean what drives you? Because if this was me,” she looked her up and down with pity, “I would have given up a LONGGGG time ago!” She exclaimed.
“It’s hard to explain Lorraine.” Olivia responded in a long-suffering voice. “And to tell you the truth, only a writer would really understand.” Lorraine sucked her teeth as she attempted to get up.  Olivia quickly grabbed her wrist.  “Listen, Lo I did not mean to insult you, but it is what it is.  Only another author would understand what I’ve been through.” Pointing to a bookshelf full of novels, she continued. “Do you think those authors were discovered overnight?!” She yelled. “My story deserves to be heard and this is the best venue to do it in. I know my moodiness can be trying at times.” Olivia elbowed Lorraine when she rolled her eyes. “But I so want the world to share in my characters experiences.  I just need one person to hear me out.  Just one.” She whispered sadly.
“Well your dream is not going to come true, while you are here moping around! Come on. You have a half an hour to get dressed.  I’ve been invite to an awesome party and you are coming with!”
***
The last thing Olivia wanted to do was go to a party.  She wished to shake off and forget the old year and begin thinking of ideas for the new.  But she felt guilty for insulting Lorraine and she wanted to keep the peace. 
Jumping into a yellow cab, they stopped in front of a skyscraper at the corner of a major intersection in the city.  There was a lot of excitement as people rushed to get to their destinations before midnight.  After paying the cabbie, Lorraine dragged Olivia out of the car and into a beautiful, brightly lit lobby.  “You better hurry ladies!” said the door man as they hustled by. “You only have 15 minutes left!” As they ran into the elevator and the doors shut before them, Olivia turned to Lorraine. “Who’s throwing this soiree anyway?” She asked suspiciously.  “You’ll see…” Lorraine responded with a secret smile. 
They were on the fiftieth floor when the doors opened. Olivia was in shock when she saw a banner stretched across the top of a set of ballroom doors.
THE ASSOCIATION OF AFROFUTURISM AUTHORS
WELCOMES YOU TO OUR ANNUAL NEW YEAR’S EVE GALA!
Olivia had to fight not to yell out.  She desperately wanted to attend this function but tickets were usually sold out months in advance.  Olivia squeaked when she saw one of her favorite authors stroll by.  “I don’t know what to say!” She exclaimed. “This is so unlike you.” Olivia remarked with a smirk on her face.
Rolling her eyes, Lorraine responded. “I’ve watched you struggle through the years.  Fighting to be noticed; publishing your pieces in magazines. But I also started to see a change in you.  You were starting to lose the light of determination that I’ve always seen in you. For a moment there, I thought you were giving up on your dreams.  That’s why I asked you that question earlier.  It did my heart good to know that you haven’t given up!” Spreading her arms out before her she carried on.  “There are publishers, agents and authors all over. I bet before the night is over, you’ll be one step closer to your dream!”  Giving her cousin a big hug, Lorraine pulled Olivia into the crowd just as the old year ended and the New Year began. “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!”
***
Are you like Olivia, sitting on what feels like a never ending train ride to Publishing Central? Or are you Lorraine, a loving family member or friend who continues to give support to the author or writer in your life.  Whoever you are keep doing what you are doing.  Whenever that book comes out, we’ll all be better for it. Good Luck and Keep Pushing Forward!
Mari e laipe!
See you soon!
S-