A little under two years ago I first posted on Facebook that my book had sold. I just snuck a glance back at that post (which involved a little bit of profanity and a lot of capslock) and a friend who’s known me pretty much my whole life commented, “I know this has always been something you’ve wanted!”
And, you know, she was right. It’s hard to define always, but back when she and I were hanging during recess every day, we were playing pretend. I spent all of elementary school spinning up elaborate imaginary games and drafting my friends into them. There were princess and knights, princesses who also happened to be knights, pirates, quests, dinosaurs, and more. The swingset stood in for horses — the higher you swung, the faster you went, see? — and the monkey bars were a dungeon. I wasn’t writing it down yet, but trust me: I was telling stories.
When seventh grade rolled around and we no longer had recess, that was when the writing-it-down part started. I filled up notebook after notebook, floppy disc after floppy disc. I wandered the aisles of Barnes & Noble and imagined my stories there.
By college I was sharing my stories online, with a website I coded myself — WordPress and WattPad didn’t exist yet. But hey, we had webrings! I doodled my characters in my notes and I did NaNoWriMo, mostly to prove to myself I could. Senior year, I wrote my first real manuscript.
Well. I’ve been out of college for over ten years now, and today, my first book is in stores.
Like I said: wow.
Just about two years ago, I talked with my editor for the first time. She’d made an offer on BBB&S and she, my agent, and I needed to make sure we were on the same page with how we envisioned the book’s revisions and its sequel.
That evening, several hours later, I got a phone call that my grandfather had died.
It wasn’t a shock; he was in his 90s and had been ill and mostly asleep for weeks. A few days later, at the funeral, my uncle asked how things were going with the book I’d been working on, so I told him it had sold — though I hadn’t planned to bring it up, given that the day was really not about me. But he was excited, and he told the family, and so as people came up to hug me because they were sorry for my loss, they also congratulated me on my good news. It was a little surreal.
But it’s actually my mother who I miss the most today.
Mom died a little over three years ago. Before my book deal, before I signed with my agent, before I even finished workshopping the book with my critique partners. She knew I was writing something and that I hoped it would see publication someday, but, well, that had been basically my permanent state since about age twelve. She never got to read it.
Mom not being here has been the hardest part of this process for me. But I’m lucky, because Mom was not one for keeping her feelings hidden. She always encouraged me, she reminded me how much she loved me, she told me all the time how proud she was of me. I wish she was here to see this now — to read the book, to cheerlead its release, to share this part of my life.
She’s gone, but I think she always believed more than anyone that this would happen someday.
And someday is today. It’s incredible, and just a touch bittersweet.
I’m taking today off work, but I don’t have big plans. There’s some shopping I need to get done, and I’ll probably take myself out for coffee and a bagel. If it’s not too chilly, I might sit in a park and read a book for awhile. And of course there are plans for fancy dessert and drinks with my writing group tonight, because did I mention that today is the culmination of a life-long dream?
But really, the biggest thing I’ll be doing is taking my laptop to a café where I can sit down and begin hammering out an outline for my next book.
No, not the BBB&S sequel — that one is already safe in the hands of my publisher. The one after that. It’s new characters and a new world. It’s a story I’ve been daydreaming about for a few years now, and I’m excited to finally get to spend some time with it.
Because the thing is, today I get to see a dream come true. My book — my first book — is real and out there in the world. But it’s also kind of a dream come true to think that I get to keep doing this. This is a culmination, sure, but it’s also a beginning.
So here’s to the first of, hopefully, many.
Places you can win a copy of BBB&S:
Places you can buy BBB&S: