Today, a step-by-step guide:

  1. Get up at the crack of dawn. Make strong coffee. Stay in your jammies–who’s gonna know? Set a lofty goal for your page count. Ten pages of your novel, at least.

    big plans for the day

    big plans for the day

  2. Innocently check e-mail queue to make sure the world didn’t come to an end overnight.
  3. Discover that, yes, the world did come to an end overnight. Your professional world, anyway. Your book, which is a finalist for a big-ass prestigious award–the Queen of all Knicknacks–has not been received for judging at the Central Judging Office of the Universe.
  4. Remember the unbending strictness of this rule. If books are not received by the cut-off deadline, you will be immediately disqualified. This has happened, people. It’s happened to the best romance writer on the planet. Her contest entry books were held up by trolls at the US/Canada border one year and arrived a bit late and she was DQ-ed and sucked forever into the Tubes of Obscurity. Shudder to imagine the same fate for yourself.
  5. Suffer deep executive assistant envy of your friends who have them. If you had an executive assistant, you would simply push a button on the intercom and say, “Mr. Matsura, would you please send Five Copies of my Finalist Book to the Central Judging Office of the Universe to arrive before 5pm Central?” And he would adjust his loin cloth and say, “Yes, ma’am, right away ma’am” and you would start scribbling madly, knocking out those pages.
  6. Shake off fantasy, track the shipment you expedited twelve days ago and discover it has been labeled “Exception” which is their way of saying, “My bad. Your books are lost, honey.”
  7. Let coffee get cold, decide to go to Proper Office to get more Author Copies to re-send, overnight, at Enormous Financial Expense. Slog up the driveway to Proper Office in your jammies and gardening clogs, praying the neighbors don’t see.
  8. Cheerily greet Mr. Dow who gives you a wave on the way to get his paper. Tell yourself he already thinks you’re an unemployed alcoholic anyway, so this won’t change anything.
  9. Discover that there is not a single author copy left of the book in question, except the versions in Chinese, Latvian, Urdu and Manga.
  10. See if you can figure out a way to pin this fiasco on a man, because somehow it has to be the husband’s fault. Oh! I know! He raided your supply of author copies to give out at a charity golf tournament. It’s too perfect. Better than a smoking gun.
  11. Call local bookstore which has good news! They have completely sold out of that title! 100% sell-through, baby!
  12. Call adorable daughter. Learn that she is suffering from the plague and consigned to bed and besides, her local bookstore only has three copies anyway. Call indulgent mother. Learn that she is gone to a Red Hat Meeting and besides, her bookstore is fresh out of copies, too.
  13. Sheepishly e-mail publisher and ask if they can send books. Remember publisher is in Canada and fear that Border Trolls will hold up the shipment. Listen to Adam Lambert’s “Mad World” with new appreciation for the lyrics.
  14. As a back-up plan, log into Big Giant Online Lollapolloza Bookstore and order 5 copies to be sent overnight, at Enormous Personal Expense. Feel nervous about the Fine Print.
  15. Consider calling girlfriends in Houston to ask them to round up books and take them to the HQ of the Biggest Writers’ Organization in the Universe (BWOU). Realize girlfriends have better things to do with their time.
  16. Discover that the BWOU employs a compassionate person who wants to help. Accept her offer to pick up books at a local bookstore. Dub her your NBF (New Best Friend). Call local bookstore and be told they don’t accept payment over the phone. Overnight check + chocolate to NBF.
  17. Realize the Hq of the BWOU will soon receive 20 or 25 copies of Finalist Book.
  18. Dare to look at clock. Remember company is coming for dinner. You are still in your jammies and there is no food. Regard blank pages in horror.
  19. Clonk head on desk.
  20. Repeat as necessary.