Notes From the Panic Room: Debut. Author. Battles. Clock.

I’ve always secretly shared in that special thrill when a new author officially starts her countdown-to-publication clock. She may not know me, or think anyone’s noticed other than a few Facebook “Likes,” but I’m rooting for her and her first book baby all the way. Yep, I watch those ticking clocks on blogs and websites and Twitter more closely than Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brian.

I used to have the 24 countdown clock as my ringtone. But it got way too stressful beeping in the background as I hunted my phone down in my bag, so I had to ditch it. Now I have the cheery, mellow TV theme from Murder She Wrote. No one recognizes that one, so I no longer get smiles (just pity and disgust over the messy bag thing) from other Target shoppers and fellow hostages in DMV lines.

Anyway, now that I’m miraculously a debut author myself—appropriate book title: CARDIAC ARREST—the relentless clock deal has a whole new meaning. Because the world might very well end at midnight EST on November 2, 2015, when my book officially pubs. Or, at the very least, time may stand still, and every beeping clock in the universe will mercifully be silenced.

Technically, my book is already out there in the world, tightly bound (well, not really, since it’s an e-book) and gagged and on high alert for possible pre-orders. But November 2nd is the official day The Ladies Smythe & Westin will meet the world (or hopefully a few people, at least). It’s also the exact time readers can begin posting reviews—and the floodgates also open to the inevitable, bloodthirsty trolls. (I am deathly afraid of trolls. But that’s a subject for a whole new blog.)

Lately I’ve spent hours (literally) of each night lying awake, watching the numbers flip on my husband’s digital clock. Do other debut authors do this? Or is it just me?

I debate all kinds of essential, insomnia-extending questions:

What if no one wants to read—or even notices—my book? Am I doing enough to promote it? Am I properly “branding” myself? (Ouch.) Wait, what exactly is my brand? I mean, who am I, really? And another thing: I write cozy mysteries, but if I’m this obsessed with time, and thrillers are characterized by a ticking clock, should I switch genres for my next series?

I guess I never expected this short-term safe zone before my first book pubs to be all unicorns and rainbows. Or maybe I did. But I definitely wasn’t prepared for the sudden semi-crisis of confidence. Please don’t get me wrong. Of course I’m thrilled and undyingly grateful that my book will be published at all. It’s just that I’m way more nervous now—at least in the dead of night.

I remind myself I worked hard for this, like every other writer—published yet or not. I’m proud of my book, and immensely appreciative of the huge debt I owe my ever-supportive family, my friends (especially my fellow Chicks!), the mystery writers community, my publisher, and of course my amazing agent and champion editor. My name may be on the cover, but bringing this baby to pub has truly been a joint endeavor. I can’t choke at the last minute and let my partners down. (Right, Jack? Chloe?)

If I’m this wide awake, I should get up and write. The deadline for my next book is approaching even faster than my pub date. Or…I could just turn the freaking clock around so it faces the wall. I can still see that demonic digital glow, though, so I block it with a tissue box and a stack of to-be-read books. Much better.

Thank you for listening, and taking your time to read this. See you on the flip side…if the world doesn’t end before my book pubs, I mean. I know you’re still out there somewhere, Jack and Chloe. You’re doing a great job. Stay on that ticking clock thing for all us first-time authors, will you?

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.


11 thoughts on “Notes From the Panic Room: Debut. Author. Battles. Clock.

      1. Thanks so much, Vickie–and don’t worry, those clocks are way overrated.The one in the sidebar of our home page keeps terrible time. Congrats on your upcoming book–what is the title, so we can look for it also?


    1. Or get rid of the clock altogether. Is that an option? Yessss…..(rubs hands gleefully together a la Homer Simpson’s boss)


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