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  • Writer's pictureWarren A. Shepherd

We Have Liftoff!!!

If the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, then I have felt every one. At times it’s seemed as if I was walking on air. Others, as if I’m tap dancing on Lego. But today… today it feels as if every stubbed toe, every blister, every rusty nail through the foot has been worth it. For today, I signed on the dotted line: that’s right, I put my name to a traditional publishing contract. And boy, does it feel great!

The Covid Years have been rough on everyone, no doubt. Combining that with a long concussion recovery period has cursed me with time enough to suffer a significant existential crisis; the relentless crush of time has a sobering effect on one’s dreams.

But then just as 2021 was coming to a close, I received a request for an interview from a small press publisher I’d submitted to. They’d previously asked to see my full manuscript, but history had conditioned me not to expect miracles. The interview (conducted via Zoom) was very positive. They really enjoyed my story and said I had a great, natural voice, something every author yearns to hear. The only fly in the ointment, was that they had a pretty rigorous publishing regimen and would expect me to deliver roughly three books a year. This took me somewhat aback. While I do have a series planned, my debut novel has taken much more than that to see completion (granted there has been a significant learning curve). So it was no surprise that my confidence that I could perform to such a schedule was sorely lacking.

We left it on a positive note, with a request from the publisher for me to contact them again when Book 2 was finished, in the hopes that we could revisit a plan to work together. Don’t get me wrong, I was dead chuffed that I’d gotten this far, farther than I’d ever been down the publishing road before. But at the same time, it seemed like defeat dressed up in finer clothing.

So imagine my surprise and elation that not a week later, I received an email from another small press who had previously requested to see my full manuscript. Again, my Pavlovian conditioning warned me off reading the email at first, fearing the inevitable rejection. But finally, I summoned the courage. I don’t think my brain fully understood what I was reading at first. It was very matter of fact, as if they did this sort of thing every day, obviously unaware that I was far from used to reading this sort of thing every day. Phrases like, “we’d like to offer you publication,” and “attached you will find your contract,” followed by, “we look forward to working with you” seemed like the chittering of an alien tongue.

Finally, my universal translator kicked in and I realized that I’d actually been offered a publishing deal. After years of toiling in the darkness with no promise of light, my world had suddenly gone supernova. To be honest, it still all feels very surreal.

And even though I know that there is much work ahead and the path may not always be a smooth one, I know that finally, I am on the right path. Someone appreciates what I have to offer, sees potential in my words, and wants to go on that journey with me. And between you and me, it’s going to be a hell of a ride!

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