Pub Day: It Can Happen

I thought I should make a post on this day, the pub day for my new novel, Break the Skin. Such a thing doesn’t happen without the help of  a number of people. A book doesn’t make its way into the world only because of the efforts of the author. There are the people who support and encourage that author through the years that it takes to write the novel, loved ones who listen and console, who even offer suggestions and advice and who understand when things aren’t going well. There are those who read the manuscript in its various drafts and offer editorial advice. There’s the agent who does this as well (at least, thank goodness, mine does) and then takes the polished manuscript and offers it to editors, negotiates the deal once an offer is on the table, advocates for the author and his or her book through all the stages of publication. This may include fighting for other book jacket designs, urging the publisher to pull out all the stops with marketing and promotion, listening to the author (okay, to just say it, listening to me) whine and complain about any number of things because writers are, after all, apprehensive about how a book will do once it’s in the bookstores.

There’s the editor who helps the writer make the novel the best book it can be. In the case of Break the Skin, I worked with three editors. I won’t go into all the details about the “restructuring” at the publishing house that led to the editorial changes. Suffice it to say, editors move around quite a bit, either by their own choice or by the choice of others, and sometimes authors are orphaned and then adopted by another editor at the house. Above all, there’s the publicist at the publishing house who pitches the book to the media, the reviewers, the bloggers, and who arranges readings and signings for the author. The publicist, in short, does everything he or she can to get attention paid to a book. To all of these people, I say thank you with all my heart. Thank you for taking care of my novel. Thank you for taking care of me.

In my writing room, I’ve done what I can with this new novel. Now it’s out there on bookstore shelves, or on readers’ kindles and nooks, etc. My attention now is on doing what I can to publicize the book. I’ve done posts for various blogs, interviews with various forms of media. I’ve agreed to readings, the first of which will be at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington, Ohio, on June 21 at 7pm. If you’re interested in other events, you’ll find them under that link on my web page (

Most of all, I want to thank all of you who have read my blog posts these past months and tolerated the things I’ve done to promote this new book. I hope I’ve offered enough of substance when talking about the craft and the teaching of writing, to excuse the occasional shameless plug.

I’ll make one more (oh, who am I kidding; of course, there’ll probably be many more). Break the Skin is a book about working class people and their conflicted hearts and everything they do to try to make them feel that their lives matter.

“Tell me how you see magic and spells working in your novel,” an interviewer asked me yesterday.

I’ll let my narrator, Laney, answer:

We were scared. You have to understand what happens to people who start to believe they have no choice–people like us. We had so little–or in my case, I’d thrown too much away–and we were fierce to protect what was ours.

People like Laney come to hope for anything that might turn their lives around. A little practical magic? Sure. Spells cast? Why not? A revenge plot? What harm can it do? Plenty, of course. As Laney eventually says, “You could be that person you saw sometimes on the news, that person who’d done something unforgiveable and could barely face it. Trust me, I wanted to say. It can happen.”

Leave a Comment