Therese here. I’m so pleased to bring you today’s guest: author Sarah McCoy. Sarah’s second book, The Baker’s Daughter, about the daughter of a German baker during WWII and her continuing story in the present day, was released just last week by Crown (and with a deckle edge; I love a deckle edge). Said Tatiana de Rosnay, bestselling author of Sarah’s Key, of the work:
A beautiful, heart-breaking gem of a novel written just the way I like them, with the past coming back to haunt the present, endearing heroines and a sunny, hopeful ending. You’ll wolf it up in one delicious gulp.
Sarah’s official bio will tell you some impressive things–about her first captivating novel, The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico, and that she’s taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso–but it won’t tell you that she has a love of hot chili peppers and wasabi, or that she’s possibly the most effervescent and lovely person you’ll ever meet. (She really is.) You should know her, and you will a bit once you read her post on book birthday celebrations. Enjoy!
Happy Birthday, Book Baby
The on-sale date of an author’s book is akin to a birthday. And like the bearing of a child, I’ve noticed the way in which we commemorate the occasion often falls into one of two camps: the Father’s versus the Mother’s celebration style. Both are noble outpourings of devotion and not at all particular to author gender.
The Father’s celebration is boisterous and communal, marked by great expectation of fun to come now that his book baby is in hand. The father/author pops champagne over the crowd and passes out cigars to relatives and friends. He’s waited a long time for this day and is ready to share it. There are cheers and laughs. The bubble of chatter is punctuated by the father’s hearty thank-you’s, sighs of relief, and invitations to come and see—come and experience this shining, new extension of himself that did not exist yesterday and does today.
I’ve attended many launch parties in the Father’s style and always have a marvelous time. I raise my glass in toast as we strike up the band and applaud the honored guest until my hands tingle. I thoroughly enjoy being part of a book’s exuberant welcome wagon, and the champagne is nice too.
Then there is the Mother’s celebration, which is no less enthusiastic, albeit predicated on all that comes before that blessed day. By the time the book’s due date arrives, the mother/author has put forth every ounce into creating, nurturing, preparing, and delivering the work. During the gestation period, she’s stayed up nights while the story kicked at her psyche. She’s consulted countless scholarly doctors on the material and prepared the world for it: knitted corresponding items to keep it warm; organized room in her home, her schedule, her life; allowed friends, loved ones, and strangers to put a hand to her unseen expectancy—to feel the kick of what was to come. She’s cleaned, nested, worried, and prayed that the thing within her be healthy and good. On its birthday, she’s overwrought with joy and affection but also exhaustion. Happily she hands her newborn to reader friends to tend and love while she rests, momentarily.
On January 24, 2012, my second novel, The Baker’s Daughter, released from Crown Publishing. After all of my theorizing, I can hear your question, “So then, how did you celebrate, Sarah?”
I got up a little earlier than usual and brewed a hearty cup of black-&-green tea. While still steaming, I took it out into the winter morning to watch my dog, Gilly, chase the daylight like the rays might explode with happiness—simply by being new. He didn’t know my second book baby was just delivered nor would it make a difference if he did. To him, I was the same caregiver I had been the day before. His nonplussed response reminded me that the sun would set and rise, and tomorrow, he’d do this routine again with equal gusto. There’s serenity in consistency—in the assurance that despite big changes and new arrivals, the earth will spin just as it always has.
After he’d run himself to a puppy pant, we came inside to warm by the fire and eat breakfast: a peas-n-carrot kibble for him, a chocolate shake for me. (Yes, chocolate for breakfast. After all, I just had a book baby!)
At quarter till noon, I sat down to a live video Goodreads chat with my dear friend and Writer Unboxed contributor, Jael McHenry. Though we ran into some technical difficulties and could’ve been poster children for a cell phone ad (“Can you hear me now? Now? NOW?”), I laughed, snorted into the camera, stared down my own face frozen in the most awkward of countenances, and enjoyed every minute of it. Why? Because it was me, my sweet Jael, and gracious readers who lovingly congratulated and praised my newborn. At the end of visiting hours, I said goodbye. Time to hush-now. Mother needs her rest.
Later, the doorbell rang with floral deliveries: rainbow roses from my parents and younger brothers; stargazer lilies and irises from my husband. I’m a sucker for bouquets, and I love that these came as buds that will unfold—are unfolding even now. My cell phone vibrated with family members’ text messages. Dear friends wrote loving emails and Twitter tweets. They know me well. I read them all as if they were in my presence but enjoyed the quiet solitude. Peace is it’s own celebration: to lift your fingers off the keyboard, close the laptop, and be still without guilt or worry or remorse. To know the work is done to your very best, and there’s nothing more you can do.
Yes, in the weeks to come, I’ll drink champagne, cut celebration cake, stay up late carousing with friends, and twitch with humility at my novel placed front and center on bookstore shelves. But on its birthday, it was just me and it, and the future, bright as the sun.
How have you celebrated, or how will you celebrate, your book’s birthday?