Last year, I went around to various bookstores and signed stock (and left boxes of chocolate wherever I went, like an Easter Bunny in August.) I went into one and couldn’t find my book, though it had only been out a couple of days. I asked if they had it.

“Let me see,” said the clerk, clicking away. “Nope. We only get the important books.”

Allow me give to you a knife so you can stab me in the heart and ease some of my pain, clerk.

Most books see a pretty short shelf life. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t find the title on any store shelf. Stores ran out and didn’t re-order, as far as I could tell.

When you’re an author and it’s difficult to locate your physical book in a physical store, that can be pretty discouraging. (I know e-books are supposed to be taking over and then no author will see her book on a shelf, but there’s nothing that can compare to seeing a physical manifestation of your work, typeset and beautifully cover-arted. Hugging it to your chest, smelling the glue. Rolling around on top of the complimentary books like Scrooge McDuck on his money pile.)

But then! My paperback came out this week.

On release day, because regular life doesn’t stop for nothing, I needed to get some toiletries and Kool-Aid.  Well, I didn’t *need* Kool-Aid, but what is summer to a kid without the sweet sweet artificial nectar? Nothing.  I am an American and I drink me some Kool-Aid.

I went to Target.

“Let’s see if your book is in here,” suggested Cadillac.  Of course I was thinking that, but glad he suggested it.

We looked on the big floor directory for “BOOKS.”  Not on the directory signs that tell you where the departments are.

“It’s usually by electronics,” he said, and we went upstairs.

Finally, I saw the “Books” sign hanging down.

I walked one aisle, Cadillac the other.

Jamie Ford.  Jodi Picoult. I turned and scanned the shelves. Prepared for the same disappointment I’d felt every time I looked for my book and seen…nothing.  Lisa See. Some books with dogs on the covers.  And then, the familiar orange and green.

There it was. With a shelf price thing! With my name on it.

And only three copies left!

I don’t know how many they started with, but still.

Today, friends sent me photos of the book at airports and Costcos and bookstores.

Like I said, seeing your physical book, especially in multiple locations, makes you feel different.  It makes you feel like it’s real.

Also real: getting to go on a small tour, set up by my publisher.

What I have dreamed about since I was a little kid.  Getting to be an author.

Cue triumphant music! (Okay, I was going to use something like Chariots of Fire but felt that was too staid to convey the overall up-energy I felt, and asked Cadillac which song I should use for this bit and he suggested this song.  It’s punk rock! Bad language.  So don’t be clicking on it if you hate that and you know who I’m talking to).