The Pizza Slices of Happiness

So I finally sold my book, PUNISHMENT. Thanks to the hard work put in my my agent, Barbara, and my new friends at Amazon, Jessica and Sara. It’s a two-book deal, so I had to get started on the sequel right away… but we’re still not out of the weeds.

I’m still not out of the ring.

The fight is never over, and I guess that’s part of the big lesson. It’s like searching for happiness. There was a time when I thought I would find happiness and then just consume it, like a slice of pizza (weird that I’d use food as a happiness analogy, hmm…), and from then on out I’d just be happy. What I’ve learned is that happiness is more like working out, in that you’ve got to choose it everyday, you’ve got to work for it, even after you’ve found it.

Same goes with writing.

Same goes with everything, doesn’t it?

So my book had been sold, but we were only just beginning. I now had to go through the developmental edits with Thomas & Mercer in order to get the thing in tip-top shape. It wouldn’t seem possible that a book I rewrote a bunch of times could actually benefit from another rewrite, but…

… enter David Downing. Jessica let me know that I’d be working with David on the developmental edits, and we set up a schedule to which we would adhere.

Here’s where I need to confess something. All the years I had been writing and trying to find an agent and trying to sell a book I felt alone. Barbara, Jessica, Sara, Nicki… please don’t take offense to this. The role you’ve all played is huge, but we’re teammates with different roles. To go back to the boxing analogy; if I’m the boxer, you guys are my manager, my cut-man, my trainer, etc. You’re experts who know things I don’t, and you help me and guide me and force me to be better. WE are achieving this thing, you know? WE are working toward this dream.

But when I’m in the ring, I’m in there alone.

I broke down emotionally when I got my first round of editorial notes from David Downing. For the first time since I placed a pen on paper to write fiction, I felt like I was communicating with another boxer. He pointed out the little victories in the manuscript, the little turns of phrases or knockout sentences that thrill a writer. He saw them and liked them, too. He questioned the same things I questioned. He cut out the parts that I wanted to cut out, but was afraid to (and for me, who writes with an axe as much as a keyboard, that’s saying something).

Point blank, David and I were in tune.

So we made changes, and I had to admit the book was far better than before.

After that, Jessica stepped in for a final round of developmental changes, and her edits were extremely valuable, too. In fact, as I was accepting her changes in the document, I started doubting whether she got my cadence, because she was ripping out commas left and right. But I told myself to give the changes a chance. I just accepted most everything, put the book on my Kindle, and read it with fresh eyes, telling Nic, “I bet you I’m going to trip all over this thing.”

When I was done, I couldn’t recall a single place where the cadence seemed off, so another lesson reinforced: let experts be experts.

And so PUNISHMENT has officially moved into the copyediting phase. Which means we’re one step closer to a final product.

Next up will be the cover reveal!

And that’s us all caught up to today. I’ve skimmed over so much of the ten years it’s taken me to get to this point, but nonetheless we’re here, and I’m eating the pizza slices of happiness on a day to day basis. Some days are happier than others, but in the pursuit of this dream, all the slices are starting to taste pretty good.

Can I tell you something else? Eric, the ever guru bastard that he is, told me from day one, “It’ll take you ten years to get good enough.”

When I see him, I’m gonna unleash pansy fury on him.

I’ll continue updating as the days and months build toward publication, and maybe throw in some other random thoughts here and there. God knows I have them.

Thanks for listening up to this point… and get ready for more!

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