The run-up to publication

Tomorrow, my debut novel, Missing Pieces, will be launched. I keep telling myself that the only real change is that the Amazon button which now reads ‘Pre-order’ will change to read ‘Buy now’. But it’s not working. Today, I’m an unpublished author. Tomorrow, I’ll be a published one. People I know and love will start to read my book. It will be out in the world, making its way.

The reception it’s had so far has been beyond anything I could have imagined. At the time of writing this, it has 113 reviews on NetGalley (a site book reviewers can use to access books prior to publication) and 67 of them are five stars. Authors including Sarah Pinborough, Amanda Berriman, Tamsin Grey and Fiona Mitchell have read it and said some truly wonderful things. The blog tour started on Monday, and the reviews there have been fantastic.

So I have every reason to believe that things will go well. And I’m not entirely sure what I’m nervous about. But today, I’ve been distracted and unable to concentrate. I’ve done a (very short) run, I’ve visited Rach, I’ve hung out and folded washing, I’ve packed a bag to take to London tomorrow, and I’ve refreshed my Twitter and Facebook feeds a thousand times. I haven’t been able to read and I haven’t been able to write. And whatever I did, I felt like I should be doing something else.

Two years ago today was my first chemo. It was also the day my nephew Jay was born. When I saw Rachel today, I thought a lot about that day, just two years ago, when we thought that my cancer and Elodie’s worrying start to life were as bad as things were going to get. Perhaps that was the cause of some of my inability to settle to anything.

Mid-afternoon, the doorbell rang and a man held out a box to me. Beautiful flowers and a box of macarons. I knew they were from Paul, who’s in London. The card read ‘To Laura/Mummy, Happy book day. You’ve shown us that it’s possible to achieve your dreams. That’s the best lesson any parent can teach their children. We’re so proud of you, and we love you more than anything. Paul, Joseph and Elodie xxx’ I sat down on the stairs and cried.

Before I put him to bed, I told Joseph that tomorrow was a special day. ‘Is it Mother’s Day?’ he asked. ‘No,’ I said, ‘it’s my…’ ‘Birthday?’ he tried. I shook my head. And then he said it. ‘Book birthday?’ I smiled and said yes and he launched himself into my arms and said he promised to remember in the morning as long as Daddy reminded him.

But Daddy won’t be here, so I’ll be the one trying to get him and Elodie to clean their teeth and put their clothes on. I’ll be pouring them cups of milk and walking them to nursery. I doubt I’ll have slept well. At lunchtime, once Paul is back, I’ll get on a train to London for a trip that will involve fundraising drinks for my friend Michael’s upcoming charity run, lunch with my publishers and a launch party. And when I come back, things will have shifted for good. And I’ll try to get my head down and start concentrating again, because I’ve got a second novel to finish.