Almost as Good?

- by Susan Aylworth

Is there anything more fun than getting your first book contract, seeing your first galley proofs, and opening the package when your first finished books come in the mail? Nope, there isn’t. That first book changes everything, everything. The work and dreams pay off, the future suddenly looks different, brighter, and your status in the world changes: You’re an author now! Nothing in the world is quite like it. Still I’ve managed to find a couple of close seconds.

Every book has been a thrill. With eight novels behind me and the ninth in progress, I still eagerly anticipate each sale, each new cover, each set of first copies in the mail. No thrill is ever quite like the first (they say you never forget your first book, right? Oh, that wasn’t about books? Really?), but each is wonderful, and that makes every subsequent book a close second.

The other way to recreate that first book thrill is to share it with someone you love. I did that in 2008 when my husband sold his first book.

My dh is a journalist. He has spent his career covering school board meetings and traffic accidents, natural disasters and chili cook-offs, local campaigns and charity fund raisers, all without raising an eyebrow or showing a glimmer of opinion. Then sometime around 20 years ago, he looked at the small town paper he was editing and realized he was giving readers the news they needed, but failing them sadly when it came to entertainment, or even a bright spark to lighten their day.

He began writing a humor column focused on the silly things that happened every day in our large, funny family. That column has appeared weekly in a number of different newspapers for close to two decades. (On a side note, in that very first column he referred to me as “the saintly Susan” and I said No, No Way. So of course he has used that phrase consistently every week. Sigh.) Over time our lives have changed, the columns have become less about the kids and more about the grandkids, but the fun and the feeling have continued as his fans have come to know our family.

People began asking when he was going to write a book. Then one day he looked at the hundreds of columns he had completed and realized he had written a book. We put it together as a manuscript, sent it to NINC member Fran Baker at Delphi Books, and A Place in the Shower Schedule: 101 Favorite Columns became a reality. He got to thrill to all the first-time author experiences from galley proofs to book signings, and I got to experience it all vicariously, enjoying his fun.

Now we’re doing it all again; Roger’s second book will be out next spring. It’s Time for Senior Showers: 99 More Favorites is a compilation of his more recent work. We’ve already been over the galley proofs and we anticipate seeing the cover soon. One day next April we will get those first copies in the mail. Will it be like the first time? No, it never is, but every new book is a thrill.

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