Second things second: My main character Nikki gave an interview over here. That playful little minx! I didn't know she could do these things without my knowledge!
Thirdly, EVERNEATH comes out tomorrow. Tomorrow!! I know some of you have already seen it in stores (and if you have, tweet me a picture!) but it's out officially tomorrow.
This is causing me to do something I rarely do: Reflect. I can't help it. I print up all of my rejection letters in preparation for the launch party tomorrow, and the next thing I know, I'm reflecting.
All those people who thought my book wouldn't sell. And trust me, there is a stack of them.
I check out the dedication in the book:
To: my dad.
A quiet man.
A fierce warrior.
And I can't help but remember there were many people in the past four years who told me he wouldn't live to see my book on shelves.
*HIGH FIVES, DAD*
I read over the acknowledgements page, which I'll share with you now, because there are so many people besides me who are behind this book:
Brace yourselves: this is going to be long. It takes a village to raise a novel, and this book owes its existence to one giant, crazy village.
First off, a big sloppy kiss on the cheek to the folks at DGLM, especially my agent Michael Bourret who is one half advocate, one half shrink, and the other third kindred soul. Thank you for seeing the beauty in the beastly draft that I sent you, and for talking me down from the ledge on a regular basis. And for loving tennis just as much as I do. Added kisses for Lauren Abramo and her stellar work abroad on behalf of Everneath.
Next, high fives all around to the entire team at Balzer+Bray and HarperCollins. Special thanks to Sara Sargent and my editor Kristin Daly Rens, who fell in love with the story of Everneath months before it was even submitted. You taught me to never stop asking questions and digging deeper. The Everneath came to vivid life because of you. Also thanks to the many people behind the scenes, including even more editors, copy editors, and the enthusiastic sales, design and marketing teams.
Slaps on the bums (football-team style) for my writing group The SIX (aptly named because we are all six feet tall) Bree Despain, Emily Wing Smith, Kimberly Webb Reid, Valynne Maetani Nagamatsu, and Sara Bolton. Without your brilliant critiques, endless readings of crappy drafts, and emergency runs to In-n-Out, this book would be a flaming pile of goo.
Hugs all around for friends who have helped me through the madness of trying to get a book published, either by reading early drafts or providing emotional support and chocolate: Amy Jefferies, Diane Adair, Anne Petty, Matthew J. Kirby, Alissa Owen, Raina Williams, Debbie Lambson, Jenni Elyse, Robin Weeks, Karin Brown, Amy Weech, and especially Dorien Nielson, who read the earliest version, when it was only twenty pages long and I was getting it ready to be critiqued at a conference.
Thank you to Martine Leavitt and the rest of my WIFYR 2009 workshop group for their insights. Thank you to many more blog friends, Twitter friends, real-life friends, and book bloggers who have watched my journey from the beginning, and have thrown their enthusiastic support behind this book. You know who you are!
Chest bumps to my extended families, including Frank and Kathleen, the Johnsons, the Otts, the Jacksons, the Ellingsons, and the other Johnsons, and endless nieces and nephews who also were subjected to early drafts. Special thanks to Eden Ellingson, who gave me the idea to write a book in the first place.
A noogie on the head for my sister Erin, who shouted the praises of crappy first drafts, and was ready with a pair of brass knuckles for anyone who thought differently. I'd want you on my side of any battle! Extra noogies for her husband, Dave.
A kiss on the forehead for my mom and dad, who raised me to believe I could do anything, and celebrated every step of the journey, from false starts and rejections to that magical day when I got THE CALL.
A pinch on the cheek for my boys, Carter and Beckham, for reminding me there is life outside of my books.
Most of all, a smack on the kisser for Sam. You never let me give up. You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. You are the best man I know. It’s you and me against the world. Love you.
Lastly, I want to thank all of you blog readers - lurkers and frequent commenters - for accompanying me on this journey. Today, I'm just filled with love and gratitude and I don't know how to repay everyone. I'm always searching for words, but right now there are none.
Except THANK YOU.