Ever since I was tiny, I have adored books—the look of them, the feel and heft of them, and the slightly altered or completely new worlds into which I dive when I open them. Books are the best magic I know in this mundane world since they allow me to travel at will and to live assorted, differing lives at the same time. Books multiply life and reality for me.
So it was no surprise that I would want to be a writer from my youth onward. By this time in my life, I have published novels, books of poetry, and even a cookbook. Tuesday, May 6, 2014, will see Every Hidden Fear, my sixth book and third Skeet Bannion mystery novel, published. You’d think it might be pretty ho-hum for me by now, but you’d be wrong. It’s still as exciting as that wild and crazy first time my first book, Skin Hunger: Poems, was published and my friend and colleague Kristin, who was a professor of women studies, held a launch party for me at her home.
The process begins with you all alone with a piece of blank paper or a blank computer screen. You’ve had this wonderful idea, and you can’t wait to put it down in black and white. Then, of course, the long trudge begins, and you lose your way, your hope, and your enthusiasm multiple times along the road. Whether you’re stubborn or just stupid, you keep at it, and the pages pile up. You learn not to think about them because the doubt that they are anything but rubbish will gnaw a huge hole right through you.
If you’re lucky, you have the chance to set aside that first draft when it’s finished and gain some distance on it. This is more likely to happen with your first book or two before you have contract deadlines to meet. Eventually, you take up the manuscript and read it, making notes as you go along. It is seldom as wonderful as you’d hoped or as awful as you’d feared. Now, you begin the process of revision that will shape your raw material into a book. This phase may take months.
Eventually, your work goes off to your agent and editor, and you cross your fingers and hold your breath, hoping they will like it. Back will come edit notes, and you’ll return to the revision process at a time that you’re completely sick of it. You send the edited manuscript back and are told it’s gone on to be copy-edited. When the copy edits return to you, you discover that you have a sick obsession with words like “just” and “really,” and you never told the reader what happened to the purse with the key evidence after mentioning it on page 98.
You get your cover art, and I understand that many authors are unhappy with their covers, but I can hardly complain since my publisher gives me gorgeous covers. You send the copy edits back and, after a time, receive the page proofs (which may go through first, second, and third). You find that the typesetter put all kinds of stupidities into the book that weren’t there, and at the same time, you discover that these books with a few sentences that don’t even make sense were sent out to major reviewers as ARCs. Alcohol may be involved at this point.
Now begins the promotional whirlwind. Before this, you’ve worked with your editor at your publishing house, but that changes at this point, and it’s your publicist you’re exchanging constant emails with. You set up guest blogs, blog tours, online and radio and TV interviews, and your book tour, which may cover a few events in your local city or months of them all across the country—and every possibility in-between. The reviews start coming. You tell yourself you’ll be smart this time and not look at them, but of course, you read them all (except the ones on Amazon and Goodreads if you have any sense of self-preservation, at all). You have your book launch planned at your local bookstore, library, or other bookish locale. People who haven’t seen you in years are suddenly receiving an email every month or so from you about your forthcoming book and launch party.
Finally, your book’s pub date comes. Your writer friends tweet and facebook their congratulations, and you’re very grateful for that because 47 mysteries are published the same day, including two major New York Times bestsellers. Your book is just one of the crowd, and anything that singles it out for a few minutes is a real gift. Then you get one great review that really understood what you were trying to do with this book right before the launch party, so you’re floating on air. You worried that no one would turn out for the launch, but you have a more-than-decent crowd, and everyone is so happy for you that it’s a wonderful night (or afternoon). For a few brief seconds, you feel just like an author!
Then, you sweep up the confetti and turn back into a lowly, hard-working writer and start the next book, beginning the process all over again. All that hard work, over and over, for that brief shining moment of publication, when there’s still the possibility that your book will be a huge success, maybe even an award-winner (though you won’t know about that until a year passes) or a bestseller. We writers are a weird group, for sure, and I’m right there with the rest as I eagerly anticipate Every Hidden Fear’s publication May 6th and its launch party the following Saturday. I’m getting ready to swing from the chandeliers a little and celebrate before I lock myself back into my lonely cell for another long slog through plot collapses, character recalcitrances, and bogged-down middles.
You know what? It’s worth it.
Every Hidden Fear will publish on May 6th, and it’s getting good reviews. Library Journal called it “engrossing.” It’s available for pre-order right now. Everyone who pre-orders Every Hidden Fear and sends me some kind of proof of pre-order (scan of receipt, email confirmation of order, etc.) at firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line of PRE-ORDER CONTEST goes into the pot for the drawing for the prizes. The grand prize is an original design, hand-knitted, multicolor lace shawl made from various luxury fibers, such as baby alpaca, merino, silk, and cashmere, many of which will be handspun and hand-dyed. I used to design and make these one-of-a-kind shawls on commission for hundreds of dollars each. I even made a special one for Sandra Cisneros. The second prize will be the chance to have a character in my next book named after you, and there will be two of these! And everyone who enters will receive a signed bookplate to go in their copy of Every Hidden Fear. For pre-order links, reviews and blurbs for Every Hidden Fear, and more details and photos on the shawl and contest, visit my blog. http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com/2014/04/pre-order-contest-for-every-hidden-fear.html