So the advance reader copy (ARC to those in the biz of my new book, The Halcyon Bird, arrived in the mail this past Thursday. There’s still nothing like holding my new book in my hand. It felt great with the first book, and it’s still magnificent with the second one. I wonder what it will be like with the ninth or the nineteenth? May I be spared to write ‘em.
I remember so well that sense of awe when I held my first ever printed book in my hand. Awe, and pride—pride not only in myself, but in the many other people who contributed their time and energy to the publication of my novel, from my friends, my family, my writing peers, to my kickass agent and editor, and everybody at my publisher. Really. I did have one of those “…and I’d like to thank the Academy” speeches running in my head, because by the time the book arrived I had learned, step by step, just how long and steep a road a book must travel to arrive in a bookshop or on a doorstep, and I knew that I couldn’t have even finished the darn thing if I hadn’t had a bunch of people cheering me on.
That sense of awe, and pride in myself and others, returns with this new book. I feel a different joy, though, this time. The first time I was thrilled to see the results of a decade of creation, submission, rejection, and submission again—followed by rewrite after rewrite and some pretty hilarious discussions with our completely badass copyeditors. This time, the book was written and rewritten in just over a year, though a few parts of it were based off of much earlier drafts. So I feel completely amazed that I did this, and during a year when so much was happening in my life that it’s a wonder I got any writing done at all.
But I finished it. And, what’s more, I think it’s better than the first one. Don’t get me wrong. I love the first book, The Demon Catchers of Milan. I think it’s a great story to read, and it’s funny (any book on exorcists, or any other dark subject, should be funny if it possibly can). In the second book I think I continue the great story, and draw my readers deeper into the lives of Mia and her wackadoo family.
So this time my joy lies in knowing I did a damn good job with a sequel, something that’s worth the wait for my readers. I see too that I am getting better and better at my trade all the time, achieving greater mastery as a writer while still having a world of craft yet to learn.
What a relief, to know that there is so much to learn. When I worked day jobs my biggest problem was that I couldn’t find one that would hold my interest after I’d figured out how to do it competently.
What do I want for the ninth book, the nineteenth? I want to feel this awe, this pride, and this joy—and I want to know, at some point down the line, that I’ve written not just a very good book but a truly great one, the kind that’s a gift and a light in the world, the kind that, when it shows up at a library sale in a tattered dust jacket a century from now, gets snatched up and becomes the stuff of legend. “Ma’am, I found a first edition of The Awesome Badass Girl by Beyer. Do you know what that’s worth, even unsigned? Are you sure you want to sell that to me for a [minicopper/crystal chip/fifth of a goat hide/whatever we’re using as currency in a hundred years]?”
After I finish rewrites on The Halcyon Bird I go back to writing the third book in the trilogy. So only six more to go before I get really, really damn good. That’s great news.