When Anxiety Attacks!

The day my book hit the bookstores I finished my workday in a daze and drove home in a dream. It’s a miracle I didn’t hit anything. I’ve always got one foot in a fictional world and the other fishing for the floorboards, so I’m a hazard at the best of times. But that day, I was definitely not here.

All through the evening, my thoughts kept turning to the book, sitting in the darkened bookstore on its shelf, waiting for its (hopefully) adoring public.

I cooked dinner, worked on a couple of guest blog posts, then headed off to bed. Scrape was in Portland or Dallas or something–he’s hard to keep track of–so I took a book to bed.

I was propped up on my pillows, enjoying a LInwood Barclay thriller (Linwood Barclay can almost out-plot Harlan Coben, and makes the everyday middle-class world equally threatening) when I realized there was a distinct possibility that someone else, in some other half-darkened house, was also lying in bed, or maybe lounging in their recliner, reading Cowboy Trouble.

That’s a good thing. A very good thing. I’m so thrilled that the book is out there, and other people are getting to know my characters and enjoying their story.

But that night was the first time I realized what getting published really means. All of a sudden, I felt like there were poeple in my head, reading my thoughts.


That’s the sound of me having an anxiety attack. I know it’s ridiculous, but for a minute there, I couldn’t breathe.

I recovered, obviously, and the next day I was bac k to being thrilled and excited that the book had made it into the hands of readers.

But for just a hard-won heartbeat or two, it scared me half to death.

Today, though, I got over my fear for good.

When you’re writing a book–especially a romance–you can’t help realizing once in a while that your mom and dad are bound to read it someday. This is something romance writers have to get over, because you can’t write love scenes if you feel like your dad is looking over your shoulder. Trust me, you just can’t.

So while I was writing the book, I let loose and wrote what needed to be written. What my characters told me to write.

And Luke told me to write some pretty spicy stuff.

He told me to write some goofy stuff, too. So did Crazy Mike, and Josie and Brandy, and Libby herself.

So the other day, when I packed up a couple of books and sent them off to my parents, I learned the true meaning of the word “trepidation.”


There was about a week of ominous silence. Oh, God. They hated it. They hated me. I’d accidentally spilled some heinous family secret. I was disowned. A pariah. My black sheep status had been assured forever.

But my mom called me today. They like it. They really like it!

I hate to admit it, but pleasing my parents is still a big motivator. It’s huge. And the fact that they like the book means everything to me.

I don’t think I’ll have any more anxiety attacks now.