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My Jane Austen Summer
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Category Archives: launching things
My family was hopeful that after the launch of my debut novel, things would return to normal. And ideally, I would have dropped everything and gone back to matching socks, if only my novel-in-progress had not been weighing on me like a term paper for a class I’d stopped attending. Since I was already short-listed for Space Cadet of The Year, and considering how little time remained before summer, it hardly seemed worthwhile to switch gears. If I could just take the momentum from my book launch and apply it to finishing next novel, I could be present for an earthling summer and sort socks in time for camp. Unfortunately, over the previous year I’d only demonstrated ability to focus on next novel while in solitary confinement, at least 450 miles from home. Sacrifices would be required to replicate the intensity. Earth would have to go.
I have been a published author for a full week which qualifies me to observe that the old uneasy feeling of handing my precious manuscript over to my husband or my writing group and then WAITING for the verdict, now seems cozy and quaint, compared to the dizzy sensation of surrendering 40,000 copies to the United States of America, its territories and possessions, the Philippines, Canada, and the rest of the world, with the exception of countries listed on Schedule A, and WAITING for the verdict.
My book will be available in stores on March 29 and I am hyper-focusing on that date as I have not obsessed on a date since the labor and delivery of my sons. March 29 will come and go without much notice for the rest of the world, as it spins through spring break and on to Easter. Only for me, does everything come to a screeching halt on March 29. Life as I know it will cease.
My book launches exactly nine weeks from today and the first question people ask is, are you going to do a book tour? The answer is: I did it last weekend. My book tour consisted of transporting high school textbooks from the dining room to teenager bedrooms so that extended family could celebrate a birthday dinner around an actual table. Turns out, ten city book tours only happen to celebrity authors and fictional protagonists. According to my publicist, appearances do not sell books. According to Guerilla Marketing for Writers, the average number of books sold at a book signing is…four.
In the spirit of Pilgrims and Indians, I shut down my Word files the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and invited Niece and Nephews to spend the afternoon with me. We would prepare our Thanksgiving Turkey and take the puppy for her first walk ever. The Little People, as their older cousins call them, never refuse an invitation. (Aunt Cindy is still fun!) They wear superhero attire at all times because The Call could come at any moment. Niece wears a tutu and Nephews dress as Spiderman or X Man. Don’t be fooled by their height, they know an empty gas gauge when they see one and two of them can read traffic signs. At the grocery store, all of The Little People wanted to carry the celery. At the lake, all of The Little People wanted to walk the turkey–I mean puppy. (Aunt Cindy is still funny!) When I mentioned we might have time to read Thanksgiving stories, oldest Nephew said, “Oh yeah, baby, baby!” (Aunt Cindy still does cool stuff!)
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wish to express gratitude to technology for promoting close ties with my loved ones (pictured right) even if it occasionally feels too close for comfort. Take my cell phone. Please. Family members can catch me in the book store, girl lunches, and the hairdresser’s shampoo station. Husband invariably calls both times I visit the pedicure salon, and since he doesn’t really know what a pedicure is, makes me repeat the word five times and seek other words to describe what I’m doing, until all 17 fellow pedicure clients glance up from their magazines to lament my short leash.
Last Sunday my family won the New Puppy Battle. Their secret weapon? Daylight Savings Time. For nine months I successfully stonewalled, not until the clock rolled back, bestowing that luxurious extra hour, luring me into a giddy state of benevolent expansion, did I cave. By 2 pm the next day, The Puppy Team was in Arkansas signing adoption papers and flying home. With my New Office Mate.
Her name is Sophie.
Imagine the outrage of 700 Janeites (myself included), packing our bonnets to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, upon reading the shocking Muggle headlines suggesting Jane Austen may not have written her prose. Where is Dumbledore when you need him?
At the meeting in Portland, Oregon, papers will be presented, a monstrous deal of quizzing will take place, and many will dance in Regency attire. But Janeites are not happy, emails have been flying, and a heads-up urged us to be prepared to discuss “the issue” in hallways and breakout sessions. Even my non-Janeite friends are forwarding articles to me. All because an Oxford professor made provocative comments as she introduced her three-year project: digitization of 1,000 handwritten pages of Jane Austen’s letters and manuscripts. The timing of the project’s debut could not have been more accurately targeted to nail the attention of her audience. On the eve of the convergence of North America’s most dedicated Austen enthusiasts, while thousands more Janeites watched from home, and Janeites everywhere turned their exclusive focus to all things Austen, Professor Sutherland announced that Jane Austen couldn’t spell, demonstrated no grasp of punctuation, and had a terrible accent.
We dropped Oldest Son at college last week, our first to leave home. As we packed the car early Sunday morning, a young couple entertaining a toddler on their front steps watched our separation unfold. A perfect moment for me to witness the startling truth of how swiftly 18 years can fly by. I could show them pictures.
And explain how it happens in no time at all.
But they wouldn’t believe me.