Me, too, sister. Me, too.
No, really. My first book had just come out. How long did it take? Three laptops, two desktops, three printers, two kids, five to seven manuscripts, and seventeen years from the time I specifically said, “I want to publish a book.”
Heady. That’s almost nine elephant pregnancies, yo. Honestly, I didn’t even know what to do with myself. Once you’ve held a goal in your mind that long, it’s surreal. Sure, I took some detours. I got married, worked at Borders then Philips. I taught school and had two kids. It took forever to finish some of my manuscripts, but I kept going. Then I entered the MAPW program at Kennesaw State and renewed my membership with Georgia Romance Writers. Both of those programs spurred me on and kept me writing.
Wanna know what goal I set for myself back when I was twenty-three and freshly graduated from college? Publication by thirty. The good Lord has laughed and laughed at that solemn proclamation. I was forty when I held my first novel in my hot little hands.
So, back to release day: I asked for glorious hashbrowns at the Waffle House. Glorious, they were. Then we went to Barnes & Noble, and I have to give kudos to the West Cobb Avenues B&N because they already had my book on the shelf. There it sat nestled between Sue Monk Kidd and Stephen King, and I had to stop and stare for a while because….wow! That’s my book baby, just chilling on a shelf with a couple of my favorite authors, you know.
Then we had to take my book’s first official baby picture at the Babies ‘R’ Us. You may not know this, but the staff at Babies ‘R’ Us don’t think too highly of someone using their sample cribs for taking pictures. Then they try to charge you for your own book when you buy a giftie for someone else’s child. True Story.
At this point, you may be thinking, “What’s this we stuff, kemosabe?” Well, my husband took the day off to gallivant around town with me. He dubbed himself my #trustymanservant and plied me with sugar, caffeine, and alcohol all day long. Also, joining our tour was Kim, the self-proclaimed president of my fan club and my future spiritual advisor.
We went to the Book Exchange, and I signed stock. (How cool is that?) They gave me a number of launch party reservations that gave me pause. Then we checked another B&N and a Books-a-Million, both of which had not done their daily shelving yet. Also, you’re welcome BAM! I did that alphabetizing for free, and I was an honest-to-goodness bookseller so you know I know what I’m doing.
Then we went home and had a softball game and wine and pizza and talking until the wee hours of the night and solving the world’s problems. That was a great day.
Oh, but Saturday was a humbling day.
I had my launch party, and I sold out. I sold out at my launch party thanks to an incredible number of family and friends and, yes, a few folks who didn’t know me. I still can’t believe it. I still can’t believe that some people traveled hundreds of miles to come to my launch party. I was actually shy. I had a James Harvey (my dad) moment and wondered about all the fuss, but I made a note. I put all of those faces away in my heart to treasure later. If I were to die tomorrow, I could ask for no more from that book, and I could certainly ask no more of my family and friends.
Then today rolled around. Sure, I had leftover launch party cake for second breakfast, but then things got real. I had a piece of cold pizza for lunch while driving to the school to pick up Her Majesty for her eye appointment. Oh, and I’d fed the cats but forgotten to wash my hands so the bottom of the pizza held the faint aroma of dry cat food. Also, there was the classy moment where I considered tossing the crust in the school’s shrubbery (It’s biodegradable!), but I didn’t. Kids were on the playground, and I didn’t want them to think I was actually littering.
So I left it wrapped up in a Kleenex in the side compartment of my door because no one wants to put out enough trashcans anymore, and I didn’t drive through an area rural enough to toss it. The struggle is real, y’all.
Oh, and on the way out the door to the softball game, I picked a burger off one of the launch party sliders and ate that. Only I’d just helped Her Majesty get her cleats on so the burger held the merest trace of red Georgia clay dust. If I keel over, you’ll know what happened.
Did I mention I’m also wearing a T-shirt that says “cleverly disguised as a responsible adult”? Yeah, from glamming it to slumming it, that’s the life of the debut author. Oh, and thanks, Tanya Michaels for the shirt—you know me well.
I keep thinking I may wake up from this dream and find myself once again struggling to finish a manuscript or striving to find an editor or agent willing to take a chance on one I’ve written. But, nope. I’m living the dream. I know I don’t always say it well enough, but I mean it when I say thanks to everyone who helped me get there.
*Clearly, I need the British spelling of glamourous, right?