Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Galleys and first moments

So last night I’m reading over my galleys for THE COBRA & THE CONCUBINE and I’m laughing at the humor, blushing at the love scenes. One of the most significant scenes is where Kenneth and Badra share a moment of passion in his library. Quite symbolic, because she was illiterate in THE FALCON & THE DOVE and longed to learn to read. In COBRA, she’s literate and is very proud of it.

Kenneth says to her, “Give me back my desert, Badra. One kiss, one small memory of the home I left behind. Kiss me, Badra and let me taste Egypt once more.”

As I’m reading, DH (dear hubby) is beside me on the couch watching TV. I get to a funny section, read a line aloud to him, and he just grins and shakes his head.

Then he looks at me and says, “So how does it feel?”

I ask, “What feel?”

He points to the book. “That. Finally seeing it typeset. Knowing it will be published, in print and not just on your computer.”

And I’m staring at the pages and I smile and say, “It feels good. But you know what? Nothing can ever feel as good as the first book.”

It’s true. The first book, the first set of galleys, the first time you see your cover with your name on it and know, “This is my book. My name’s on it!”

The rush of excitement is incredible, especially if you’ve struggled for years to get published. Especially if you have a few yellowing manuscripts tucked beneath the bed that are battle scars. Or judges’ comments from entering contests that pinch, but ultimately can be helpful.

All those wonderful first moments which come with a first book. My first booksigning took place at the 2002 RT convention. I’ll never forget walking into the auditorium and seeing my author name placard… and a stack of THE FALCON & THE DOVE beside it. I didn’t think Dorchester could get the books there on time. They did. I stood there and cried. And Leah Vale and Nancy Warren, who were flanking me, asked what was wrong. I just pointed to the books and blubbered, “My book! It’s my first one!”

And they immediately understood.

Having a third book in print is wonderful, but the first one is like making love for the first time. You never forget it. And if you’re very fortunate, it will be an experience you’ll cherish for years to come.

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