The Beautiful Simone Elkeles
I would be here all day if I had to list every single reason and every single example as to why Simone Elkeles is such an amazing person. Notice I said PERSON. I chose that word instead of author because sometimes I think we forget that authors are people just like you and me. They have feelings and emotions beyond the quill pen or rapid fingers typing away on the keyboard. I can't believe I'm about to go all Shakespeare on everybody, but Shylock from Merchant of Venice sums up my point completely only I took the liberty of taking the word "Jew" out and replacing it with "author": "I am an [author]. Hath not an [author] eyes? hath not an [author] hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as [you]? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die?"
Simone Elkeles is a NY Times & USA Today best selling author of the Perfect Chemistry series. She has a new book coming out in October called Wild Cards and I have not a doubt in my mind that she will be climbing back up the NY Times best seller chart soon. Her books are just THAT good. But this post is not about her climb to success. I want her to know how much I appreciate HER. Not because of her fame. Not because she writes amazing books. Our friendship goes back a few years ago when she responded to an email I had sent her in regards to 2 teenage students of mine who were struggling in school and in their personal lives. She not only emailed me back, but was so touched by the fact that the boys had read her novel Perfect Chemistry (both were reluctant readers at the time) that she ended up sending them a box of goodies with one stipulation: they had to email her back personally. From that day forward, we all formed a connection with Simone and she flew out to not only meet the boys, but also was kind enough to do a talk at my school. To my astonishment, she even mentioned the boys and I in the acknowledgment page of Chain Reaction, the third and final book in the Perfect Chemistry series. The rest is history.
Simone & Me
Wild Cards is finished and now it's time for promoting. Simone and I hadn't had one of our catch up phone calls in awhile. I wasn't stressing over it because I know how busy she is. We finally got a chance to chat the other day and it felt like we had never stopped. We just picked up where we left off. She told me about all the crazy things going on in her life, new projects she is working on to promote her new novel coming out this fall, and most importantly, new stories of fans she has met. Because that is what it's all about for Simone, the fans. I've never met a person so dedicated to her fans. She interacts with them daily and quite often will go out of her way if you somehow worm yourself into her heart. I sometimes worry about this--- I told her that we need more people like her in this world to make it a better place. But at the same time, because she has such a big heart, I worry that she will get hurt somehow. But having a big heart myself, I know that telling people like us to stop helping others is like telling us not to breath. To sum up what an amazing person she is, click the link below this picture.
During our recent phone conversation I was telling her my frustrations over not getting approved to read a galley version of her new novel Wild Cards on netgalley. She was like, "What?? Why didn't they approve you?? Why didn't you just ask me for an ARC!? I got one right here. I'm sending it to you today!" I laughed but my response was that I didn't want to take advantage of our friendship by just assuming she was going to give me one. I wanted to try to do it the professional way first. But Simone being Simone just said, "We're friends and friends ask, so next time just ask!" Lesson learned :)
I received the ARC copy of Wild Cards in the mail today...
...and my eyes got a little misty. When I opened the cover, this is what I found:
It's not just the note inside that affected me. I was on the phone with her the day she sent it and I know how hectic her day was. I know she was talking to me while she was in the car. I was put on hold while she had to take another call. She had a bazillion things going on and I felt extremely lucky that she was sending me the ARC, no matter when it arrived. But not only did it arrive within days, she still took a moment out of her very hectic day to write that little note to me. She didn't have to do that. But again, this is Simone we are talking about. How she still has the ability to shock me will always be a mystery!
In closing, the point I'm trying to make in this post is sort of what I used to tell my students. You won't know for sure unless you try and sometimes the smallest gesture can make the biggest impact. If I hadn't emailed Simone a few years ago, I wouldn't be able to call her my friend today. If I hadn't gotten to know her, I'd probably still be thinking that authors were these unreachable beings from another planet. Our friendship has taught me to always keep an open mind and never stop accepting people into your heart and life. I know I've already said this, but I'll say it again. The world would be a much better place if their were more people like Simone. And I look forward to many years of friendship with this one-of-a-kind gal!