Without a doubt, last week was the week that was! If I live to be 100, I doubt that I will ever again experience anything like the thrill I felt when I saw DEAR HEART come into the world on Amazon.com. Indescribable happiness, yes. But there were also some unexpected postpartum blues to contend with.
I always said that the joy was in the journey, and if my reaction to getting the email from my publisher saying that DEAR HEART was ready to go is any indication, I was absolutely right. Why do I say that? Because when I realized that I had reached the top of the mountain, I was suddenly filled with sadness that the journey had come to an end, and with a great big dose of stage fright.
Even though I had been preparing for it and dreaming about it for four years, when I learned that DEAR HEART was about to be published, I felt like I wasn't ready for it. In a panic, I started to wonder how my publisher would react if I asked if the launch could be delayed until, say, September 10th or 25th, or December 24th, or next Valentine's Day, key dates in the book. I knew I was being stupid, and I was pretty sure that Solstice would not be thrilled with the idea, and I couldn't blame them. Worse, I figured they'd think I was insane and would wash their hands of me all together, so I abandoned that idea fairly quickly.
Still, I didn't know what I was going to do with myself now that I wouldn't be obsessed with getting DEAR HEART to market, and I was worried that my friends and acquaintances would not be impressed with the book or, horror of horrors, be offended by it. Let's face it, not everyone is going to think that carrying on a lifelong affair is a good thing, and there are a few erotic passages in the book that could evoke more shock than awe in some of my more conservative friends.
I figured I'd have a couple of days to (a) convince myself that everyone who knows me will love DEAR HEART -- or at least lie to my face and say that they did, and (b) get comfortable with the idea that my beloved book was going to leave the nest and go out into the world to be reviewed and probably skewered, but no. Let me tell you something, Friends, Solstice Publishing is on the ball! I okayed the final galley around 9 AM on the 7th, and by 9:10 I received an email telling me that the book would probably be uploaded to Amazon later that day or the next. At 6 PM, while I was watching tv with my husband, Arthur, I suddenly got an urge to check Amazon, and OMG, there was DEAR HEART, ready to be purchased in its digital version!
I sat and stared at the listing for a few minutes -- not really savoring the moment, as you might think, but paralyzed with fear. But, I pushed through it and and sprang into action. First I called or emailed my friends and family to let them know that it wasn't all a figment of my imagination, the book was actually published. Then I updated my website to replace the 'COMING SOON' tags with ones that screamed 'NOW AVAILABLE', and to add the first chapter on my DEAR HEART page. Then I went to my blog to publish the announcement I had prepared weeks ago, but I ran into a snag when the fireworks photo wouldn't upload to Facebook. I played around with that for over an hour until it finally dawned on me that the photo file might be too large (something I learned from my social media consultant), so I resized it, and voila!, shortly before midnight, the announcement went live.
After a few hours sleep, I was back at it. I checked Amazon again to make sure I hadn't imagined the whole thing, and discovered that the paperback was now available. This was a pleasant surprise because I thought that I, and all of my friends, would have to wait several weeks to get our hands on a copy. Now that we could get it in a matter of days, I could schedule and send out the invitations to my launch party -- also completed several weeks ago, which I did.
Meanwhile, my iPhone was constantly pinging with alerts for emails and text messages of congratulations. Although I'm not really comfortable being the center of attention, I have to admit that I was touched by my friends' support, and their eagerness to attend the launch party.
In between all this hoopla, I got the bright idea to replace all of the shrubs outside my study with knockout roses. If you've never had to tear out a mature shrub, or in my case six of them, here's a bit of advice: hire a young stud to do it for you or leave them the hell alone. Cutting off the foliage isn't hard, but digging out the roots is murder. We broke two chainsaws in the process.
Once that was done, I turned my attention to the side-yard garden, which I normally fill in with annuals every year. But since I am currently obsessed with all things DEAR HEART, it occurred to me that -- can you guess? That's right, I filled it all in with hydrangeas, daylilies and Shasta daisies. This necessitated trips to three nurseries to find Shasta daisies, but the perseverance paid off. I'm not even going to tell you how much we spent on the flowers, but it was probably enough to feed a small underdeveloped country.
Speaking of food, with the launch party now only a month away, finding the perfect crusty roll became a hot priority. And here's where I lucked out. I found exactly what I wanted, along with a couple of other things I didn't know I wanted, at Wegman's. With that last bit of launch party mania out of the way, I thought I could finally relax, but no.
The post announcing the publication of DEAR HEART, which I boosted to reach romance readers in the United States and Europe, was disapproved by Facebook because of a connection it had to a referendum in Ireland, which I couldn't figure out. I appealed the rejection, but after 24 hours, I got tired of waiting and changed my target area from Europe to South America, and it sailed right through.
Then it was back to scouring the internet for ideas on how to promote the book, which was periodically interrupted with RSVPs for the launch party. When one of my friends mentioned that she was bringing her copy of the book so I could sign it for her, it occurred to me that she, and maybe others, would probably expect me to write something wise and pithy above my signature -- another source of panic. It took me a couple of late nights to summon enough pith to go around, but as I write this, I think I nailed it.
With all of the really hard stuff finally behind me, I'm going to take a couple of days off before I dive back into launch party prep and promotion pandemonium. God knows I need a break, and as for Arthur, I'm surprised the landscaping alone didn't kill him.
One last thing. I was hoping that DEAR HEART could launch on Mother's Day because, after she died, I discovered that my mother kept a file of things that I had written, and, apparently, phoned some relatives to let them know when my short stories were published. But it was a no go. So this is for Mary Ann. Mom, I'm sorry I couldn't get the book to launch on Mother's Day. I really tried. I hope it's good enough that I wanted to honor you in that way, and that I dedicated the book to you and Pop. I miss you both more that I could ever say, and wish you were here to share this milestone with me. Happy Mother's Day to the best Mom ever!