By Dan Blankenship

Like a lot of people, I had a great idea for a novel, but was unsure about how to get it published once I finished writing it. I searched out a lot of different options, and I even signed up with a business that would pitch my novel to any and all publishing companies. A few hundred dollars and a year later, I was right back to square one. My dream of one day seeing someone I didn’t know reading a novel written by yours truly seemed to be fading away. Or was it?

Early in 2001, I discovered a great self-publishing company owned at the time by Athena Dean Holtz. They would provide me with everything I needed to see my dream become a reality. My book The Running Girl was finally published and being sold on almost every online bookstore by 2003. The product looked great and sales were good for a first novel by an unknown author. Athena, who now owns Redemption Press (my current publisher), had convinced me that self-publishing would be a great choice. But it was nearly four years later before that dream of mine came true.

I live in Northwest Indiana and have relatives who live in Northern Alabama. The quickest and usual route for me to make this trip is Interstate 65. And it was on one of trips down to Alabama that I came across a woman reading my book. My wife and I had stopped at a rest area in Tennessee, and on our way back to the car I saw a woman sitting at one of those concrete picnic tables. She was reading my novel. I immediately stopped my wife and told her to look in the direction of the woman. At first, my wife did not clearly see the cover the book in the woman’s hands. Once she saw what I saw she was as surprised as I had been. I told my wife I was going to approach the lady and speak with her.

“Are you enjoying the book?” I asked.

“Oh, I love it,” she replied.

That caused me to smile. “That’s awesome. I’m the author.”

My comments caused the woman to pause, mark her page with her bookmark and set the book down. “Really?” she replied with an extremely doubtful expression on her face.

I really couldn’t blame her for being a bit suspicious of my claim. I mean what are the odds that a self-published, unfamiliar author would walk up to a reader at a highway rest area and introduce himself?

“You’re Dan Blankenship?” she asked, glancing around me as if to see if someone had dared me to make the claim as a prank.

It was at this point I decided to pull out my driver’s license to prove my declaration and put her at ease. I pulled my wallet from my back pocket, removed my license and handed it to the woman. “Here. See?”

“Oh wow!” she replied, “You have the same name as the author.”

I smiled and laughed out loud. “Yes, you could say that. But mostly that’s because I am the author.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Yes, and the coolest thing is that it has always been a dream of mine to run across a stranger reading my book.”

She went on to tell me that she reads a lot of Christian Fiction Novels and saw my book on Amazon.com. She purchased it based on the synopsis and had finished the first half of the book in a few days. We spoke a few minutes more and then I made my way back to my wife and our vehicle. I think I was smiling the rest of the way to Alabama.

Dreams really do come true.

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