Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Letter To Renee Collins On Her Debut Day

Magical! Fantasy! Western!
How could you not buy it?
Dearest Renee,

Your heart is probably racing already, and the day has hardly begun. My guess is that you are feeling things. Lots of things. Some of those emotions are probably in the fear and overwhelming category, and others are in the joy and gratitude area. And that's okay, because today is the day your first book debuts to world.

This makes me very happy, and I'm sure it makes you happy, too, though exponentially more and mixed with a lot of other complicated things. You might be freaking out a little—I wish I lived close enough to take you to lunch, because that sure helped me to have my friends surrounding me on such a big day.

Can you believe it's been over five years since we met? I know we've nostalgically talked about those times before, but it's days like today where those memories come flying back to me. Of the first times we critted each other's manuscripts. Or how exciting it was to make a real friend on the internet. And of course the first time we got to meet in person! Not to mention all those philosophical journeys we've endured together.

Okay, this is starting to sound awkwardly romantic. Let me back this train up a bit. Er, what I want to say to you today are things that our dear friends said to me on my debut day. Perhaps all writers hear this from their already-published author friends on this day—and it's okay if you don't listen because I certainly didn't. At first. I'm doing a little better now.

First, take deep breaths. It won't solve everything, but your heart is still racing, right? That'll keep it in check today. We don't want you having a heart attack. You need to make it to your Utah signing so I can see you.

Second, do something nice for yourself today. Or better yet, lots of things. I hope you are going out to lunch or dinner, and maybe even visiting your beautiful RELIC at the bookstore (and don't worry if it's not on the shelf yet—mine wasn't but they got it out for me). Buy yourself something to remember this day by. Be with the people you love. Go places that make you feel peace and joy.

Third, don't forget that this is just the beginning. Now, you know I've struggled with this one, with feeling like if I don't succeed RIGHT NOW that it will never happen and my career will be tanked before it even began. It's very easy to fall into that, to look at numbers and feel like it's not enough. But this author thing isn't a one day thing or even a one year thing—you are now published and that will be part of your life forever. That is awesome. You are awesome. Your book is awesome. Regardless of how quickly or slowly things start.

Next, some things will change and some just won't. What freaked me out most after I debuted was how the people in my life (mostly acquaintances) began treating me. Not that it was bad, but the questions change. Kinda like how before you get married everyone asks when will you, and then after you get married everyone asks when you'll have kids. It might be weird. It might take adjusting. That's okay. And of course there's the things that stay shockingly the same—mostly the writing and plain work of this job.

And finally, be proud of what you've done. You've published a book! We all know just how hard that is to do. It's so easy for us writers to diminish that accomplishment when it's what we are working for everyday, but it IS a big deal. Today is a HUGE deal! Because it's the day that all your hard work has been invested in—and it's paid off. Never feel guilty for being PROUD of that.

So, my friend, I hope this day is everything you hoped for and more. Things may never stop being crazy (they certainly haven't stopped for me), but take this momentous day to remember how far you've come. Remember how much you love this story you wrote, and have faith that many other people will love it, too.

I'll be drinking Dr. Pepper in your honor today.

Love ya,


  1. Okay, so this totally made me weepy. :) Natalie, you are the best. Thank you for the excellent advice. (You always have excellent advice!) And thank you for always being there for me. You are a true friend, and I'm very grateful to know you.

  2. I love this!! You're the best friend Natalie, and we are all lucky to know you.

    And Renee, I couldn't agree more with what Natalie said! Happy release day! I hope it's wonderful!!

  3. Aww, such a sweet letter! And great, heartfelt advice as usual. :)

  4. I adore this post, Natalie!!!! Such sweet, sweet advice from one of the sweetest, most giving writers around. (YOU, silly.:D) I agree with Sara & Renee--you're made of awesome and I'm so grateful to have you in my life.:)

    And Renee--happy release day!!!!:) *throws RELIC confetti*

  5. Quite a letter, Natalie!

    Renee, congratulations!

  6. A very lovely letter, thanks for sharing it w/all of us. And congrats Renee, hope you had an awesome release day!

  7. This is the nicest thing ever. :) Really great advice too!

    Congrats, Ren! I hope today was everything you'd imagined and more. Your book is amazing and will rock the world!

  8. You're such a good friend, Natalie. I'm looking forward to Relic...which should arrive in the mail any day now:)

  9. Congratulations Renee! And Natalie, what a sweet, informative letter to your friend on her debut day!

  10. Wow, great letter! This encourages writers like me to keep pressing on! Congrats Renee! You're an inspiration...I love that we share the same last name too! :-)