Friday, December 01, 2006

SHH...Let's Not Tell the Dog

When you’re an unpublished writer, you dream of the day you’ll sell your first book, hit your first bestseller list, see all those dreams realized. If you’ve watched any TV or movies at all, then you’ve probably got a feather boa, a red velvet loveseat and a Pomeranian involved in those author fantasies.

Oh, and an endless supply of chocolate. (Maybe a cute guy dispensing margaritas, too, always ready to answer your every beck and call--and adept at doing housework. Okay, maybe that’s only in my imagined world, but hey, that’s what they pay me for, to imagine things).

I had all those dreams, and a few more, when I sold my first book December 12, 2001. I got THE CALL at 3:33 in the afternoon but couldn’t take time out to celebrate because it was an Advent Wednesday and I had a preschooler who had to go play an angel in the school play. Needless to say, he wasn’t very impressed with the news of my sale. All he wanted to know was whether we could go to McDonald’s after the play.

Instead, this being a big night, we went to Applebee’s. Had a dessert and a glass of wine (for me, not the preschooler). No time for celebrating afterwards because the kids had school the next morning, I had work. But I vowed the next day, my first as a published author, would somehow be changed from the one before because now Things Would be Different. I didn’t know how, just that they would be different. That was after all, what I’d seen on TV. In the movies, and pictured in my mind for years.
What I hadn’t counted on was the preschooler throwing the tennis ball into the Christmas tree all afternoon and telling the Golden Retriever to go “fetch.” She did eventually do what he asked--

In the middle of the night. Knocking my tree to the floor, breaking every glass ornament, and then, the dog, so fascinated by all those shiny little things, had eaten them, and left me many doggie surprise the next morning. I spent my fist say as a published author cleaning up broken glass and doggie surprises.

Okay, so that one didn’t go as I planned.

When my fourteenth book hit the New York Times list (“Twelve Days,” my novella in SUGAR AND SPICE), I vowed this time I’d have my boas, Pomeranian and loveseat, damn it. Or something close to it.

But my debut on the bestseller list of all bestseller lists happened the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, as it’s known to anyone who shops. Anyone who knows me, knows I shop. Which means I came home too exhausted to do much more than boil up some ramen soup for myself and pour myself the last glass of wine left over from Thanksgiving dinner. But my kids, older now, did dance and celebrate in the living room with me, and broke into their hidden Halloween stash to share their hallowed Reese’s Peanut Butter cups (yeah, they love me. I do feed them, after all).

It was a family cheer, and I went to bed that night, sure that tomorrow Things Would Be Different. I was adding New York Times Bestselling Author after my name. This would change things, right?

Well, no.

My Golden Retriever had apparently joined in the celebration that night, too. And eaten something she shouldn’t. When I woke up in the morning, she had again left me several doggie surprises.

I spent my first day as a New York Times bestselling author doing what I had done my first official day as an author--cleaning up doo-doo. If I’d been on a pedestal, this certainly brought me right back down to Earth.

When I told my editor, she laughed and gave me one piece of advice. “Next time something good happens in your career, maybe you shouldn’t tell the dog.”

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