I talked a bit below about how when I sent out "Stay Awhile" ARCs some readers I'd never met wrote me for one, which I loved.
A number of readers I met through the "Stay Awhile" ARCs became dear to me, which made me very glad (as I'm glad for knowing so many of you, however and whenever we met, and our friendships, and our lively conversations, which should return to normal in a couple of weeks, promise).
When I asked one reader I met through the "Stay Awhile" ARC giveaway if she wanted to write a quick post encouraging new readers to reach out to me about getting a copy of "Fairwil," she said yes, and proceeded to write a very kind and touching missive that delved more into her experience with the books.
It's so nice and it has given me a peek inside one reader's time with Wilfair.
How I Met Wilfair and Its Author
Like Fair Finley, I'm an incher by nature, not a jumper.
So my reading "Wilfair," and my friendship with Alysia, almost didn't happen -- multiple times.
I wasn't a regular reader of Forever Young Adult, but I just so happened to be reading that site on the day that the review of "Redwoodian" posted. (File that incident under "Strokes of Luck and/or Fate," if you will.) I was charmed and intrigued, and I promptly sought out their review of "Wilfair" as well, which only reinforced my first impressions. I was hooked.
Then I basically sat on my hands for a week. Told you I was an incher.
Finally, after re-reading the FYA reviews four, five, six times, I took the plunge and bought "Wilfair."
I spent the next two days reading every chance I got. In bed. On the bus. Yes, even in the bathroom. I finished "Wilfair" and immediately started "Redwoodian." Upon finishing that book, I turned to the internet to read more about the series. Surely a story and characters as good and engaging as this would have an extensive online following, right?
Well, no. There was the official Wilfair blog and that was about it. I read a number of past entries here, noted with pleasure the anticipated release of "Stay Awhile" later that year, and noticed -- but didn't do anything about -- the very friendly "Write me!" with Alysia's email address.
I closed my browser with a sigh, re-read "Redwoodian," and then let Wilfair mostly fade into the background of my life for the next eight months.
I kept checking in on the blog occasionally, though. Eventually I saw that Alysia was advertising that ARCs of "Stay Awhile" would be available soon, and to send her an email for one. I almost did... and then shyness seized me and I didn't. "I can wait until the regular release," I thought. "I don't want to seem greedy, when I haven't done anything to deserve getting the book early."
One day FYA posted the first chapter of "Stay Awhile," which I read excitedly, three times in quick succession. Then I re-read "Wilfair" and "Redwoodian." Then I re-read the opening chapter of "Stay Awhile" a time or two more.
"Screw it," I thought. "I need this book as soon as possible. NEED. IT."
Nervously, I composed an email to Alysia in which I asked, as politely as I knew how, for an ARC of the new book when it became available, which at this point was only a week away. I spent twenty minutes reading and fretting over this relatively brief email, debating whether including a shout-out to Gomery's banjo was being too familiar with someone I didn't exactly know.
Finally, I shut my eyes, held my breath, and clicked "Send."
Less than an hour later, Alysia responded. With a pounding heart and shaking hands, I opened her message. "Of course you can have an ARC! Holy cow, yes," it read, along with a number of other kind and welcoming things. I heaved a sigh of relief and thanked her profusely.
When I received the ARC, I vowed to save it for two days, to read on my plane ride home for Christmas. That vow lasted all of two hours, and I ended up reading "Stay Awhile" in its entirety that same day, staying up after midnight to finish it. (Then I read it again two days later during my travels.)
I wrote Alysia with my reactions to the book, she wrote back, and we've kept up email correspondence ever since, eventually branching out from book-related topics to many other areas of our lives.
Next month I will be at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax with Alysia, almost exactly two years to the date since I received that ARC of "Stay Awhile." I couldn't have anticipated how overcoming my inching tendency to make that jump would grant me not only a book that I love, but also a rewarding friendship.
I know that requesting an ARC -- in fact, contacting someone you don't know for any reason -- is a jump. But let me assure you, the landing of this one is extremely soft and highly enjoyable.