A mix of awe and anxiety coursed through me Tuesday as I walked through the front doors of a local bookstore. I'd already told my youngest no gasping, no yelling, "That's my mother!" when and if my new novel was already on display. We made a sharp right-hand turn into a area filled with tables and scrap booking supplies so I could catch my breath. My daughter's face contorted in amusement as she whispered through pursed lips, "Look over my right shoulder. There it is!"
My heart somersaulted. Tears pressed at the backs of my eyes. There it was indeed. My book. My novel. Not just obscure occupation on a lowly, remote shelf, but prominent display with the works of other authors. Authors I love and admire and respect.
What the heck was my book doing with theirs?
I turned away.
Keeping to the absolute fringes of the bookstore, I made my way past cards and art and t-shirts and posters and skirts and dresses. I didn't dare look back at the display, didn't dare breathe.
What if the book with my name on the cover disappeared?
What if it was all a dream?
My second daughter walked in and we shooshed her over to our hiding spot. By this time the employees of the beautiful little store had noticed us--they probably thought we were casing the place. They politely asked if there was anything they could help us find. We smiled and told them no thank you. My two daughters looked like cats who'd eaten canaries--trying not to laugh at their insane mother. I don't even want to know what I looked like. Probably ashen and shaky--like a criminal trying to case the place.
We moved to the cookbook section where we stroked the pages of Annette Lyon's new book, Chocolate Never Faileth. With its scalloped pages and gorgeous photos of scrumptious chocolate masterpieces, the book is sincerely drop-dead wonderful! (It's what I'm getting friends and family for Christmas--and I've dropped enough hints that I'm optimistic it will show up under my tree as well).
When I finally decided to leave my giggling girls behind and move to another section of the store, I passed the display and let myself have a brief glance. The book was there--really there. And it took a few moments of meandering through art prints before I was sure I wasn't going to more than shed only a few tears--that I wasn't going to outright cry. Cry hard.
I didn't want to scare the employees so I held myself together.
I ended up finding a book of Sudoku puzzles for my mother-in-law. As I approached the register, my girls brought to my attention a second, and a third, display of the book. My knees shook. My voice squeaked when I spoke to the cashier, who was super-kind, and probably relieved I was leaving with my enthusiastic entourage. I paid in quarters, thanked her for her kindness, and left the store without letting on that I was the author of the novel in three displays.
Because after years of self-doubt, and trepidation, and thinking maybe I'd make a better fast-food fry cook than author, after overcoming fears only those closest to me understand, my novel is in print. I feel blessed--so blessed--and happy, giddy, anxious, and freaked out all at once.
And I just had to see it on the shelves for myself...