There's nothing quite like getting that first actual printed copy of your book in your hand. It's a truly transcendent moment, one that can't be adequately described. But hey, let me try.
It's been a long road, even when it's your 16th book. From idea to draft, through cover concepts and rewrites, copy edits and at least a year from delivery to book in hand. That's a lot to think about, and it takes you back to your childhood, when a book from the library or the bookstore had surely come from some magical entity who could create stories that came from the top of a mountain, or something. You, joining that rarified company? It doesn't seem possible.
But there's that physical proof in your hand. So it must be true.
Some time after that magical first copy appears, a box of books for promotional purposes shows up on your doorstep, and now you have a shelfful of your work. And that looks even cooler, if such a thing is possible.
That's amazing, but--and please don't take this as a complaint--after a few books, you have, let's say, an overabundance of stock. Those suckers that you don't send to reviewers or sell to people at book signings not in bookstores (which of course you don't do because they're promotional copies) tend to sort of pile up a little. Or a lot (See above, which represents only some of what's currently living in my house).
No, I'm not going to give them all away, although the occasional contest is a possibility. And I'm not going to pack them all up and put them in my leaky garage, where a family of raccoons has just taken up residence and won't be movable for months (the pest control guy tells me they can't separate a mother from her litter; I feel taking all of them would be just fine but he doesn't see it that way). So displaying the titles is something of a challenge, particularly in my space-deprived house. I had to clean off that table for 15 minutes before taking the picture.
But that's not why I called you here today.
This coming Friday, after a very long wait, will be May 1, and that can mean only one thing. Okay, two things. The second is that I'll be driving to Bethesda, MD for this year's Malice Domestic conference. I'm looking forward to some of the usual Malice highlights, not the least of which will be dinner with my fabulous editor Shannon Jamieson Vazquez and the rest of the Berkley bunch Friday night, meeting wonderful readers, other authors (friends and to-be friends) and attending some panels to find out what I don't know about writing crime fiction, which is quite a bit.
If you're traveling to lovely Bethesda as well this weekend, please drop on by and say hello. Assume I want you to stop me in the hallway or pretty much anywhere but the men's room and strike up a conversation. Both E.J. and I will be there, so feel free if you see either of us.
And if you like, drop by the panel on Sunday at 10 a.m. (I know, the death slot but hey, it's a mystery conference so "death slot" is sort of a compliment) called Challenges, Challenges: Protagonists on the Edge, at which E.J. and I will be mostly listening to Greg Lilly, the moderator, John Betancourt, David Burnsworth and KM Rockwood speaking on something about characters with challenges, which all characters should have. So there you are. For the whole schedule go here.
And on a personal note: It was 28 years ago yesterday that an unbelievably understanding and wonderful woman stood to my left and, when asked a long and convoluted question, said, "Yes." And my life has been better in every way since.
Happy anniversary, honey.