by Janis Patterson
Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you probably know that my cozy historical mystery THE HOLLOW HOUSE was released on Monday. At least, I did my best to make sure that you and every other human being in the country did, and then told everyone again when two days later RT gave it 4.5 stars and Top Pick rating.
While writing is largely a self-satisfying exercise, something done to fulfill a need deep within ourselves, most of us have at least a small vested interest in making money from our work, which means the book has to be released.
Release days are wonderful things, full of potential and congratulations and nifty conversations with people you’d normally never get to talk to. Release days are horrible things, full of texting and tweeting and emailing and self-promotion. Both of these statements are true.
As the veteran of more release days than I care to remember, I decided this one was going to be different. This one would be done in a businesslike fashion, and as much as I hate self-promotion I would do a professional job of it. I would rise and dress as I usually do and in general treat this as another day at work. I would have my release announcement done ahead of time, each in its own little email to be sent to all my various groups, so all I would have to do would be to send them on their way. Of course, in the interims I would be tweeting and making various and sundry other comments.
First of all, my grand plan was handicapped by physical pain. The Husband, trying to have some fun after a couple of long overseas deployments, had booked us into a BMW performance driving class and a tour of a dinosaur dig. Later we realized they were for the same day, the day before Release Day.
The driving thing was fun. As a couple of generations ago I possessed both a BMW and an SCCA license, this was old home week for me. Don’t know when I’ve had so much fun – floorboarding on straightaways, standing on the brake on dogleg turns, whipping through the kinks of a slalom… Can’t say everyone in the car enjoyed it as much as I did, though.
The dinosaur dig was also fun, but a lot more challenging, mainly in just getting there. The dig itself was in a huge depression and about a quarter mile away from the road, but that was okay. The hard thing was getting down to it. First of all you had to shinny over this 6 foot near-vertical earth berm, then go down this 40 foot high cliff. The Husband says it was not a cliff, just a steep rise. I say when something is so steep I have to go down it on my buns, it’s a cliff! In the interest of public sensitivities I will not describe the trip back up.
For the driving thing I had worn lightweight sneakers for mobility and I hadn’t thought to bring anything sturdier for the dig. My bad. After almost an hour of tramping all over the site, slogging through water standing in ruts from recent rains and balancing over a single 2x4 ‘bridge’ over deeper parts, crawling over and stepping on rocks, my muscles were revolting and my feet starting to feel like hamburger. Then, as a great concession (the director of the dig could tell a couple of suckers when he saw them) we were handed trowels and told we could dig if we wanted to. Oh, joy.
I did find out that there was a way to drive in, for the formal diggers, at least. I considered offering one of them money to take me back to the road, but my purse and my money were up in the truck, and I didn’t think The Husband would hand over cash, as he saw nothing untoward about the situation. Navy-fit, he doesn’t understand how overwhelming this all was to someone whose only regular exercise is pushing her luck and jumping to conclusions!
So we dug. Not far down from me a man found a chunk of scapula from a protohadros (along with giant crocs the main inhabitants of our little boneyard.) When I said it looked just like a rock he gave me a 10 minute lecture on how to tell fossil bones from rocks. I actually understood what he said, and went back to digging, intent on finding a bone of my own. I found… mud. Wet, black, sticky Cretaceous mud. Not even a rock. Just mud. Lots of it.
Of course, The Husband saw to it that we are now registered as authorized volunteers for next season’s dig.
When Release Day dawned, my mind and heart were elated. THE HOLLOW HOUSE is a very special book to me, and I was delighted that it was finally going out to the reading public. The rest of me, however, was aching. Throbbing. Plain old hurting. The bottoms of my feet were actually bruised and there was no feeling in my toes. I hurt in places I didn’t know I had and just getting out of bed was a challenge. But I was at the computer before The Husband went to work, sitting in my nightgown and intent on getting an early start sending out announcements. I was still sitting at my computer, still in my nightgown, at 4 that afternoon.
Again I was split. As it was a wonderful, special, magical day, my mind was enjoying itself immensely. My body… well, being a lady I can’t use that kind of language. Before my elbows and knees fused into a permanent 90 degree angle, I forced myself to get up, shower and dress, then staggered back to the computer. When The Husband came home he took one look, then went back out to get Chinese takeaway for dinner, knowing it was either that or frozen pizza.
All in all it was a memorable Release Day. I can’t wait for the next one. Minus dinosaurs, of course.
(In case you’re one of the very few who missed my pr, here’s the teaser for THE HOLLOW HOUSE : When a murder is committed in her employer’s home, Geraldine Brunton knows she must solve the crime to hide the fact that she herself is a killer.)