» Confessions of a Debut Author

Confessions of a Debut Author

Hamster Posing on Exercise Wheel I wish someone had warned me.

You know, about the being nervous part, about the part where those supposed butterflies in your stomach actually feel more like a hamster.

On a lopsided wheel.

Trying to gnaw its way out.

Why, you ask? My debut historical romance What Happens in Scotland is almost here!!! February 26th is the day, which means I have just under a month to bite my nails down past the quick (given they are already hovering in the vicinity).

Scotland Road Sign


The month before a debut author’s book release (at least, the month before my book release) is interesting, terrifying, and beautiful. After all, I’ve been waiting ten months for this, ever since I got that amazing call from Esi Sogah at Avon. And reaching even further back, I’ve been working toward this for four years, ever since I started writing my very first novel. In the writing world, both of those are shockingly brief amounts of time. But start to finish, four years is still longer than it took me to find, charm, and marry my husband. And ten months is longer than it took to cook to perfection and deliver my children.

More significantly, as my husband will calmly inform you, I am the sort of person who can graciously tolerate—at most—about two weeks of waiting.

Which means I am not feeling very gracious right now.

I am reaching for distractions like they are a tether to my sanity. My writing time for the past few weeks has been spent working on quirky blog posts that will populate the blogosphere and showcase (I hope) my sense of humor. Of course, there’s the inevitable backdrop of worry that when you guys actually read them and get to know me a little better you will realize I am just weird. I try to stay away from the Goodreads early reviews that are starting to pop up and not agonize over them, but given that they are the most tangible link I have to the fact I am about to be published, such discipline is proving elusive.

But am I excited, somewhere in the middle of all these nerves? Oh yes, there is more than a bit of that percolating. I welcome the excitement. It means I am not taking a single moment of this for granted.

WhatHappensinScotland Cover So now I am going do something important, given that I imagine those weeks around P-date are going to be a big blur. You see, I am not sure anyone other than authors ever read the acknowledgements page of books, especially e-books. So I am going to put my debut acknowledgements page out there now.

So we both have something to read while we are waiting for February 26th.

And before everyone figures out that I really am weird.

Without further ado, here are the people that I really need to thank, or at the very least, buy a round:

Like many debut authors, I owe an amazing debt of gratitude to an entire herd of people. Not just those who helped me with this, my first published book, but those who have helped me on the entire journey, which spanned three years and five completed manuscripts. First and foremost, I want to thank my supportive family, without whose love and support I could have never conceived of writing a book, much less completed one. My husband John deserves a special thank-you and probably a three week vacation for everything the spouse of an obsessed writer must endure. I am grateful for my mom, who made that all-important parenting decision that if I was old enough to sneak her historical romances under the covers, I was old enough to read them. Thanks to my sister Julie Hensley, who provided early critical feedback as I sorted out the business of being a writer, and who isn’t afraid to tell her literary genre colleagues I write “those books.” Thank-you to my beautiful girls for bringing me such joy. I love you dearly, but don’t assume every book deal = another new pony.

I owe a very loud shout-out (more of a shriek, really) to Georgia Romance Writers. I value every one of the friendships I have formed in this wonderful writing community, and cannot say enough good things about how much they support emerging authors. Thank-you to early beta readers Stacy Heilman, Allyson Reeves, Angie Stout, Colleen Wolpert, Anna Steffl, Laura Disque, Kristina McElroy, Daphne Ross, Terry Brock Poca, Noelle Pierce, Helene B. Chandler Rosencrantz, and Emery Lee, who read some truly awful stuff. Thank-you, as well, to published authors Meredith Duran, Courtney Milan, and Vanessa Kelly, who offered charity critiques I was lucky enough to win and smart enough to study. 

No writer can succeed without amazing critique partners, and I owe a huge thank-you to Romily Bernard, Sally Kilpatrick, Tracy Brogan, Kimberly Kincaid, and Alyssa Alexander. These ladies always tell me when I get it right and never fail to point out when I write something too stupid for words. Thank you to Tony Bernard (a.k.a. Boy Genius) for the gift of my beautiful website. To Sarah MacLean, who gave me the loveliest cover blurb on the planet: thank you for your wild excitement, and your heartfelt advice; it means the world to me.

Finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the most patient agent on the face of the planet, Kevan Lyon, and to the amazing Esi Sogah and the entire team at Avon for making me feel wonderfully welcome. Here’s hoping I fulfill your faith in me!

That’s quite a list, isn’t it?

Imagine how long it SHOULD have been. I am sure I forgot someone, and if I did, I can only offer an apology and promise them TWO drinks.

For those of you who are interested in those two drinks and local to the Atlanta area, I would love to have you come out to my debut book signing. I will be at Eagle Eye book store in Decatur, GA from 7-8pm on Thursday, February 28th (signing alongside the fabulous Sophia Nash), and I promise I will have brandy-filled chocolates as giveaways. And then one week later, I will be signing at Mac McGees in Decatur, GA on Thursday March 7th from 7-8pm, and that all-important keg of Scottish ale will be tapped.

I even bought pens.

Until then, I’ll just keep dealing with this hamster in my stomach, and figure out how to feed him.

Something tells me he’s going to like those chocolates.