One week from today, the fourth and final Lady Adelaide Mystery, Farewell Blues, comes out, and I’ve been thinking about past release days. I don’t think any writer gets jaded about them, no matter how many books they’ve published. There’s a mix of excitement, dread, and uncertainty. You wonder if you’ve done too much or not enough. You know you’d still tweak the story if you could, and think of the perfect scene far too late. You promise yourself not to read the reviews but do it anyway. You Google the book title, refresh Amazon every hour to see your stats in Hot New Releases, and post on Facebook and Twitter all day until people are pretty sick of you and your damned book.
But nothing tops my very first “book birthday,” all the way back to April 27, 2010. On Saturday, April 24, I brought my husband John to the hospital emergency room early in the morning. He was in acute pain and gastric distress. By that evening, a surgeon had removed 18 inches of his colon and clapped on a colostomy bag. The doctor’s diagnosis was Stage 4 rectal cancer, delivered around midnight in a matter-of-fact way to my oldest daughter and me in an empty visitors’ room. She wasn’t sure what it meant, but I was. I went home and contacted our other kids, friends, and online writing friends I’d never met in person but who had supported me every word of the way. I was totally numb.
By Monday, the lab results came back, and oops. NOT cancer. The colon had wrapped itself around something and the mass formed a blockage. We were incredibly relieved, though kind of angry at the same time for the two days of deadly depressing death-thoughts. But now all four kids were home, and it wasn’t for a vigil.
The day after I found out my husband was not going to die a gruesome imminent death, the book debuted. There was no champagne. I was still in an exhausted fog without it, and all of the promo stuff on Twitter and Facebook you’re supposed to do was taken over by my wonderful critique partners and writing friends, for which I cannot ever thank them enough.
That Tuesday, I was so relieved John was going to be all right, I went out and bought a house on a lake that he’d looked at. And by looked at, I mean he walked around the outside once and stared in the windows. He didn’t even know how much I paid for it until he came out of his drugged stupor days later. We toured the inside once he got out of the hospital. Fortunately, he liked it and thought I got a good deal.
We moved away from the lake two years ago, and other release days have been much less momentous. Next week, there might even be champagne. My writing friends will cheer me on again, and I will be filled with gratitude for eleven more years of marriage, mayhem, and the mysteries of life and publishing.
Maggie Robinson is a former teacher, library clerk, and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adjectives and adverbs as possible doing so. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives with her not-quite perfect husband in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing historical mysteries and romances. A two-time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice nominee, her books have been translated into French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Dutch and Italian. Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and Maine Romance Writers.