word craft


Publication Day: Loyalty

LoyaltyFeb­ru­ary 8, 2022. This is pub­li­ca­tion day for my new book, Loy­al­ty (Clar­i­on).

Pub­li­ca­tion Day is often a day for some (mild) cel­e­bra­tion, though I recall news sto­ries of var­i­ous Har­ry Pot­ter Books hav­ing mas­sive mid­night par­ties for the new books as they were published.

Not quite for me.

My favorite account of a pub­li­ca­tion day may be found in Edward Gorey’s The Unstrung Harp, as fun­ny as it is truth­ful about a writer’s life—and a pub­li­ca­tion day.

In 1984 I pub­lished Devil’s Race, a ghost sto­ry of sorts. It was set in a place with a won­der­ful name, St. Anthony’s Wilder­ness, a Penn­syl­va­nia state park through which the Appalachi­an Trail runs. It is a strange place, a for­est with black earth, and the ruins of 18th cen­tu­ry vil­lages. I had hiked through it with a hik­ing group a num­ber of times. The name of my pro­tag­o­nist was John Proud which I took from a tomb stone in a long aban­doned ceme­tery I came upon in that park.

When my hik­ing group learned of my book they sug­gest­ed a pub­lish­ing par­ty in the park. That’s what we did, each of us car­ry­ing tiny bot­tle of cham­pagne in our back­packs as we hiked into the Wilder­ness. And so, that night, sit­ting around John Proud’s ancient grave we drank (warm cham­pagne) to the suc­cess of the book.

Regard­ing Loy­al­ty, because of all sorts of sup­ply chain issues so com­mon these days, I had yet to see a copy of the book. As far as I know not even my edi­tor has seen it.

This morn­ing, my last day in the rehab hos­pi­tal, my doc­tor walked into my room—to give me my dis­charge papers—and said, “Look what I found at Barnes and Noble.” And he hand­ed me a copy of Loy­al­ty. 

I looked through it quick­ly, tak­ing note in par­tic­u­lar of the end-paper maps which had tak­en so much effort to make and mark correctly.

“Can you sign it for my girl­friend?” the doc­tor asked.

“Of course.”

Did so, (mis­spelling “Kelli’s” name—with a Y) and a note that this was the first copy I had ever seen—and off it went.

Pub­li­ca­tion day. And I get to go home. 

A good day, so far.

6 thoughts on “Publication Day: <em>Loyalty</em>”

  1. Con­grat­u­la­tions on being dis­charged and on the book being offi­cial­ly out! What a great sto­ry about the Debil’s Race and on how you got to first see the new book! Bless­ings abound!

  2. Thrilled you’ve made enough progress to be able to go home. Please take care of your­self. The world needs you! Con­grat­u­la­tions on LOYALTY.

  3. A great sto­ry. I sup­posed a lit­tle warm cham­pagne would be good, but…then again, who needs a tip­sy recov­er­ing hip patient! I am sure Kel­li will be thrilled nonethe­less. Look for­ward to read­ing this! Cel­e­brate your con­tin­ued hard work. A quick ques­tion, when did you start writ­ing the book and when did it get “mov­ing” at the pub­lish­ers? Just curi­ous. Thank you.

  4. Re progress of Loy­al­ty: First dis­cus­sions with edi­tor per­haps two and half years ago. A year and a half of many drafts, and then for­ward with pub­li­ca­tion process. Fair­ly normal.

  5. So, my almost 14YO daugh­ter and I have estab­lished a real bond­ing rit­u­al over your books. When Noah was intro­duced to Jola, my daugh­ter paused the audio­book and let me know right then that this was one of your books we’d be giv­ing a sec­ond lis­ten. It was­n’t quite like Rag­weed meet­ing Clutch, but it was some killer sweet word-mag­ic dude.


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