Local Author Publishes on First Try
Manassas book group acknowledged
“She really shocked us!” said Manassas book group member Susan Demeria.
At the conclusion of their meeting, the group began to discuss which book to read next. Nancy Kyme “reached into a big, old shopping bag and pulled out six spiral-bound copies of a manuscript she had written,” Demeria said.
“We had no idea she was a writer! Or that she’d been working on a manuscript the entire three years we had been discussing books together,” she added. As far as the group knew, Kyme was busy enough working as a full-time accountant, wife and mother of two.
“I was in awe before reading the first word,” said Demeria.
She and the six other book group members had unwittingly served as Kyme’s target audience over the years. “Through our book discussions, I learned what sparked their interest and tried to incorporate those qualities in my writing,” Kyme said.
The group read her manuscript as one of their book selections in the summer of 2008. Kyme incorporated their feedback over the next year of editing. Her final manuscript was accepted by the first publisher she approached.
Kyme’s book, Memory Lake: The Forever Friendships of Summer, hit bookstores nationwide last month. At the Manassas Barnes & Noble this Saturday, August 27, Kyme will hold a book signing and talk from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The book is a deceptively moving memoir of Kyme’s experiences during five summers at camp on the shores of Lake Michigan during the “James Taylor/Carole King era,” as described by publisher Vantage Point Books.
Told in flashbacks as Nancy drives to a camp reunion with her own daughter, dormant memories resurface, capturing the innocent adventurism of a bygone era. The bonds of friendship are explored and easily recognizable to teens today and their parents.
Friendship was one of the driving forces in Nancy’s desire to write the book. At the reunion in 2003, Nancy realized her campmates either couldn’t remember their adventures or were afraid of forgetting them.
Manassas resident Misty Watkins was another catalyst. Kyme wanted her longtime friend “to know about this pivotal time in my life.” She is one of three people to whom Kyme dedicates the book.
In 2005, Watkins invited Kyme to join the Manassas book group. Watkins was the only member who knew her friend was writing a memoir. She was the first person to read the entire manuscript, well before the book group did.
“My focus in the beginning was to edit it, “ Watkins said, “before the end, I knew it would have an audience. It takes us all back to those feelings from our childhood.”
As the mother of two teenagers at the time, Demeria immediately connected with the book. “Nancy pulled me in right at the opening scene in the car with her 16-year-old daughter,” Demeria said. “I could feel that pain, that embarrassment of her daughter’s cutting remarks. Like most Moms, I could relate to that typical teenage phase.”
Other members of the book group, self-named The Beautiful Minds, include Susie Parker, Micki Turner, Melanie Wagner and Katharine Taylor. Their comments helped Kyme polish her manuscript and they are mentioned in the acknowledgements.
“Nancy’s manuscript was heartfelt, clear, personal and well written,” said David Lamb, President of Vantage Point. Lamb had just purchased the publishing house when the Memory Lake manuscript was submitted. It was the first book he championed.
“Her story was not a rough draft; clearly she had consciously worked on her writing,” Lamb said. “It must have taken her a lot of courage to ask her book group to read it. After all, they were consumers of finished books, not midwives of books in process.”
According to Joseph Pittman, Vantage Point Editorial Director, Memory Lake is selling well, with 20% of the printing sold in the first month.
Word of mouth is spreading among readers, especially members of The Beautiful Minds who, Demeria said, feel “a sense of parental pride in Nancy’s accomplishment. We’re already awaiting her next book.”
Book Signing and Talk: Saturday Aug. 27, 1-3 p.m., Manassas Barnes & Noble in Westridge Shopping Center on Sudley Road.