I published a novel, Death’s Collector, on Sunday, and cheering bounced around inside my brain. Outside my brain, less cheering was done, and by less I mean none, which is fine. If some people said, “Hey, cool,” when their pre-release copy showed up, I consider that a marvelous victory. It’s the best kind of victory, really, because I have no evidence that they didn’t say, “Hey, cool.” I can imagine that every single person who bought a pre-release copy said, “Hey, cool,” and each of them had one or two people looking over their shoulder at the time, and those people said, “Hey, cool,” too.

I could go all out and imagine everybody cheering, but at a certain point imagination becomes delusion, and I’m  pretty sure “everybody cheering” is that point.

This is my fourth novel. My first three were stealth books, never published and never will be. As books, they stunk, but they were great blocking dummies. I humiliated myself, said, ”Shit!” a lot, and learned a great deal by bashing myself against them. I’ve met quite a few unpublished writers in the last few years, and a surprising number of them had already finished their first novel but needed one more month to polish it. A year later they had been polishing it for a year and needed just one more month to polish it.

They taught me that sometimes the damned thing will never get any shinier than it is right now. Put it in  a drawer, back away, and start writing something else. Whatever it was that made the first book so hard to polish, don’t do that thing anymore.

Some people won’t like my book, which is okay. No book can tickle everybody. I feel confident that a big group of people, scattered around the world, will like it. Or, they will if I can get it into their hands. I have specific plans for doing that. I hope they work. I’ve already finished the fifth and sixth novels, and they’re not getting any shinier.