A book is written in solitude, but when publication day arrives, you realize it is carried on the shoulders of others running and cheering in the streets all the way to the bookstore.
Today marks a day I never thought would arrive. I thought I'd die an unpublished novelist and my wife would engrave "He tried hard, but...." on my headstone.
And yet, here we are. September 4, 2012. The official birth of Fobbit, a novel seven years in the making.
This is my Academy Award moment, so I have a few people to mention. Here's the Acknowledgements section from the back of the book, revised and updated....
My thanks to:
Dan Wickett who posted some of my journal entries from Iraq at his Emerging WritersNetwork blog in early 2005. The result was an outpouring of care packages full of not baby wipes or foot powder, but the finest kind of surprise a soldier like me could have found after he ripped away the packing tape: books. The EWN members kept me well-supplied with enough reading material for five deployments. Thank God it never came to that. Aside from the wartime support, Dan's EWN introduced me to an entire army of writers who have continued to support me over the years as I hunkered down at the keyboard. I've met some of those writers, but for the others, I remain little more than a mute avatar on Facebook. They have never stopped buoying me up with encouragement and for that, I am truly grateful.
Nat Sobel, agent extraordinaire, who read Dan’s EWN blog and tracked me down while I was still in Iraq wondering what to do with all the notebooks full of journal entries. Nat changed my life when he wrote: “I've come to believe that only in fiction will this insane war finally reach an American reading public.” Fobbit had its true birth in that email. Thank you, Nat, for your unswerving faith in me for the following seven years.
Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller, Richard Hooker, Tim O'Brien, and Karl Marlantes, for paving the road and lighting the streetlamps.
The men and women of the 3rd Infantry Division with whom I served and who may find bits and pieces of themselves strewn throughout the novel like confetti.
Early readers Aaron Gwyn, Kerri Arsenault, and Thom Mills who all saved me from embarrassing myself on more than one occasion. Any mistakes I’ve made writing passive sentences or loading weapons with the wrong ammo are entirely mine, not theirs.
My editor Peter Blackstock, publisher Morgan Entrekin and the entire Grove/Atlantic family, for taking me in and making me feel less like a fobbit and more like a literary warrior. Special thanks to publicists Deb Seager and Jodie Hockensmith who may or may not keep a pair of pom-poms at their desk, but they sure as hell have been my greatest cheerleaders, persuading bookstores to schedule readings and book signings with this debut novelist, an unknown commodity.
All the booksellers, now and in the future, who are the true longevity of our craft as they bring Reader and Writer together in happy matrimony.
The ladies (and a few gents) of Book Pregnant who, for the past 10 months, have let me cry on their cyber-shoulders without ever passing judgment on a dude who sheds (virtual) tears. I've never met any of them in person, but they exemplify a perfect writing community--nurturing, but also applying swift kicks to the butt when needed. To the best of my knowledge, not one of them has ever exclaimed, "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' book babies!"
My parents and my brother for all the warm comforts of home growing up in a small town. You shaped me into the man and writer I am today--that goes without saying; but you should know that all those hours I spent cooped up in my bedroom with my nose buried in a book have led to this moment. Thank you for giving me the space and freedom to discover myself through literature.
My three children: Deighton, Schuyler and Kylie who are the smartest, most resilient, and bravest military brats I’ve ever known. During their most malleable years, they endured six upheavals, six moves to a new Army post, six traumatic interruptions in stability (again, for the hundredth time, I apologize about the gerbils who didn’t survive the trip from Alaska to El Paso). They did so with a grace and elasticity uncommon to most kids their age. They are better than the best children I could have ever hoped for.
My wife Jean, but especially for three moments: August 1983 when she turned to me and said, “You’re a better writer than you are an actor;” December 18, 2005 when she stood at the end of a long walk across a Fort Stewart parade field and her arms and lips said “Welcome Home;” and December 2, 2010 when she turned to me in the parking lot after the first public reading of Fobbit at the University of Montana Western and, tears in her eyes, said, “Wow. Just wow.” For the past 28 years she has been patient (and sometimes, justifiably, impatient) as I sequestered myself in the basement to spend what looked like fruitless hours at the keyboard. Her faith in me has never wavered, and I want you to realize that when you read Fobbit, she is there on every page, holding my words up to you. She is the bone, sinew, and blood of the book. And frankly, she is better than the best wife I could ever dream of having.
And last, but certainly not least, YOU the Reader. You've already floored me with your unbridled enthusiasm for Fobbit and have made this experience richer, deeper, and more exciting than I could have ever imagined. Every writer writes to be read, but not every writer is as lucky have an audience as wonderful as you. Thank you for the Facebook wall posts, the Tweets, the emails, and the photos: