OMG. I can breathe again. Almost.
It's been a non-stop freight train of awesome (and a few not-so-awesome) things since Duplicity released on March 17. Here are the things I did and what I learned from them in these past two blurs you call months:
- March 21: Duplicity launch party & reading. Not as terrifying as I thought it might be, maybe because I practiced what I was going to say 3784 times the week before. Confirmed my suspicion that cake wins all parties. Learned I need to think of clever conversation topics for strangers, because there were two awkward silences when teens who'd been browsing around brought books up and it went from "AUNT HAZEL! So glad you could make it!" to "Hi. Um. How do you spell your name...?" #dyinginside
- I was also asked if I could write an encouraging message in one of the books for someone who was trying to get published. I wish I had thought to ask how long he'd been at it and if he was feeling discouraged or not. This is a book I wished I had back so I could personalize it a bit more.
- Rest of March through early April: Panic-checking reviews, Amazon and Barnes & Noble sales ranks, and libraries for the barest hint of how the book might be doing and If It Will Be Okay. Awesome things: finding libraries in other states (and other countries) that already have all copies of my book checked out. Not-so-awesome: negative reviews. I KNOW - the first rule of negative reviews is that you do not talk about negative reviews, so I'll be brief. Some of them I totally understand and see their point. My book is not going to be everyone's type of book, and not a single book out there is unanimously loved. Some of them really hurt my feelings with the assumptions they make. But there are also some amazing positive reviews, so I binge on chocolate for a little while and move on.
- April 11: This is one of my favorite days of last month, where I got to meet my amazing critique partner Lori Goldstein at a conference in Denver to teach a workshop on writing voice. Lori is the shiz, and you should definitely check out her debut Becoming Jinn if you have even the slightly curiosity about genies. I also had the pleasure of meeting multi-award winning author Andrew Smith, wherein I learned that I don't do words very well around people I admire, because when Andrew asked what imprint published me, I had to ask Lori. I also couldn't remember the name of one of the editors I'd met on my last trip to New York, or how to pronounce Feiwel and Friends (Lori's publisher, who apparently I COULD remember). Thank goodness I knew my agent's name when he asked. Good lord.
- April 15: Presented a "How To Get Published" lecture to creative writing students at my old high school. I thought I was going to die of nerves going in. I was so glad I did it going out. The kids were wonderful, engaged, and even laughed at my ridiculous jokes. And they had the best questions, including one I'm still thinking about: "How do you make characters?" because at this point, it's such an automatic process in my head. But I'm ready for next time, y'all. Bring on your tough questions.
- April 25: Science fiction panel at a Barnes & Noble in Nebraska. This time I signed books like a pro, and even had a conversation with a teen who brought a book up for me, and who was also curious about how to create main characters. OH YES. I HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THAT. Also, meeting other authors is officially one of my favorite parts of my job.
- April 27: Had to put my sweet 7-year-old cat/writing buddy to sleep. She'd been diagnosed with lung cancer in January and I'd been hoping to have a couple more years with her, but the cancer spread very quickly, and it was time.
- April 28: My birthday. Yup.
- April 17 - present: Began work on a sekrit project. Lots of words and a tight deadline, which is not so easy to do when driving two days there and back to Lincoln, or with said writing buddy now missing from my lap. But it's been a refreshing distraction and something I'm very excited about. Hoping to have more on this soon.
As I would answer Taylor Swift - nope, we're not out of the woods yet, but we're getting there.