Chapter 100: Thom E. Gemcity Is Getting Married
A huge, and Tim knew from experience, very heavy box, was waiting at their door when they got home on September 10th.
“What is that?” Abby asked, looking at it.
Tim grinned at her, even though the return address was hidden on the underside of the box, he knew what it was. “Half my favorite part of being an author, half debilitating finger cramps.”
“So, it’s not a wedding present?”
“Oh.” Huh. That was a possibility. “I was thinking it’s the finished copies of The Traitor Within. They send me a few hundred of them to sign.”
“A few hundred fit in that box?”
“No, more boxes are coming. But you’re right, this might be a present.”
She opened the door, and he bent down to pick it up. “It’s the books. No one is getting us a present this heavy.”
He carried it into the house, put the box on the kitchen counter, and grabbed his knife to slit through the tape.
He’s smiling as he does it. This is familiar enough that he’s not shaking the way he was the first time he slit open a box filled with copies of a book he wrote, but he’s still excited. Still feeling the rush that goes with knowing something he made, something he lived and breathed and made real is about to go live and get shared with the rest of the world.
Abby’s standing right next to him, feeling the excitement of this moment. And sure, she’s seen all of the mock ups for the cover art, and the more or less put together version that was the proof copy, as well as the ARCs that went out to the reviewers, but this is the first time either of them get to see the real, finished, going on the market October 15th, people have already pre-ordered it on Amazon version, and she is bouncing a little at it.
Like all of the other Deep Six books the cover is a sort of menacing indistinct blur of mostly red on white. It feels nicely solid in his hand (this is the first hard bound copy he’s seen). And it smells the way a new book should, paper, glue, slight tinge of ink.
One of the perks of selling a lot of copies of your book is that your publishers are often willing to cater to some eccentricities on the part of a successful author. And Tim’s already got a reputation of being eccentric with a capital E. But, with handing in actual electronic documents, instead of making them deal with his typewritten pages, he got some wiggle room for a new bit of oddness.
Specifically, though he’s been through several edits, a proof copy, a mock up, and an ARC, up until this point the dedication page has never been in any of the copies that were sent to his home.
Sure, he wrote it and had it done the same time as the rest of the book, but he wanted it to be a surprise for Abby.
Deep Six had been dedicated to Penny, because she was, without a doubt, the most supportive person in his world when it came to his writing. She’d been his first reader for years when he was younger, always happy to lend her eyes to his work, and so he didn’t have to think about it when it came time to write the dedication for Deep Six.
Sarah got Black Rock. She’d spent hours helping him beat the plot into submission when his editor handed the first draft back to him and said, “Great characters, the stuff with Tommy and Liza is wonderful. But you don’t have a mystery here, and your readers, they want a mystery.”
Gibbs got Foreign and Domestic. Well, in a ‘round about sort of way. He wasn’t going to flat out write: For Leroy Jethro Gibbs, because without you I don’t have a story. And he wasn’t about to refer to Gibbs as his muse. That would be, well, weird, and not in a good way, but in a get headslapped sort of way. So Foreign and Domestic got dedicated to all Marines past and present, and if he was only really thinking of one Marine when he wrote that, oh well.
He watches Abby flip through the pages of Traitor Within. She’s read it already, so it’s not like what she’s seeing is a shocking new plot twist or anything.
“Why so many copies?” she asks, still flipping through.
“So I can sign them. Collectors like them. They send me a five hundred copies, I sign them, and they ship them to the bigger bookstores. They’d like me to do actual book signings and tours, but, not going to happen.”
“First off, I’m supposed to pay for a tour out of pocket. Theoretically that’s part of what my advance covers. Secondly, I’m a big enough name that the books sell, but not so big that people will line up around the block for me, so a book signing means sitting in a book store, just waiting around for people to show up and chat with me. I’ve got better ways to spend the day. Third, the only way the tour makes sense is if I push everything into a few weeks around when the book comes out, and spending three weeks around release time traveling everywhere isn’t my idea of fun, let alone what I want to do with my vacation time. I don’t like planes to begin with and hopping between three cities in one day, no. Finally,” he opens a copy to the dust jacket and the picture of him on it, “the more people associate this,” and it’s certainly him, just a very well photographed version of him from 2010, “with Thom E. Gemcity, the more I can be Tim in real life.”
She’s nodding like that makes sense, and he sees her flip to the front of the book, looking at the title page. Then she flips to the next page and sees it. He feels a wide smile creep across his face as her eyes scan over the dedication page.
The sun who lights my world.
The home at the end of my journey.
The life that makes mine whole.
And she was in his arms, kissing him, book forgotten on the counter.
He thought of something an hour later, as they were making dinner. “Do you want to be in my biography?”
“I’ve got a Wikipedia page, and Twitter, and Facebook, and a website, and all of them have some sort of personal section about me. I keep it pretty short because...” And he let that trail off, they both remember exactly how insane his fans can be. “Right now mine has that I’m a federal agent, that I support Wounded Warrior Program, and I’m the older brother of Sarah McGee.” Sarah’s first novel had come out two years ago, and the fourth one was due out in two months. She was a lot faster at getting them written than he was, but she was also writing young adult paranormal romances full time.
Abby’s eyebrows were high as she stopped cutting up celery and looked at him. “You have a wiki page?”
“Thom does.” He pulled two pork chops out of the fridge. “You didn’t know that?”
“Come on.” They head for his office, dinner on hold. He turned on his computer and brought up the page. It was a fairly standard bio. There was the traditional shot of him, same one from the cover of his books, along with one of him with his sister in the personal section. “My publisher set it up originally, but every month or so I check it and change it if need be. So, do you want to be on here?”
“Can I pick the picture of us?”
“Sure, if you want. Or no picture.”
“Oh no. If I’m going to be on this thing, there has to be a picture.”
“You want me to update all of my stuff.”
He watched her mess with her phone. She was staring at something. “You tweet?”
He looked over her shoulder and sees she’s just followed Thom on twitter.
“Rarely. There’s a guy at the publisher’s office who does most of it. Usually when I’m doing it it’s something like this.” He took out his phone, and headed for the kitchen, quickly signed the first book, snapped a shot of it open on top of the other books in the box, and fired off 1 down 499 to go.
He heard her laugh from the office, and went back to join her.
“So how would you add me to your wiki page?” she asked, looking up at him.
“In 2013 Gemcity got engaged to forensic scientist Abby Sciuto. Something like that?”
“Kind of bland.”
He shrugged. “It’s a Wikipedia article. They’re all sort of bland. What would you like?”
“How about stick a spoiler in there for Most Precious about McGregor and Amy getting married?”
He shook his head. “Can’t. Not allowed to leak things like that.”
“Yep. That’s part of my contract.”
She didn’t look like she believed that. Not that he was lying to her, but that someone at his publisher would think to put that on paper and get him to sign it. “Your contract is that specific?”
“Yeah, it is. I’ve got a list of things I can ‘let slip’ and major plot points aren’t on the list.”
“Huh. Then, sure, kind of bland is good.”
He shifted over to the edit page, and started typing. She flipped through the pictures of them on her phone. “How about this one?”
It was a shot from the last Shabbos at Ziva’s. She was sitting on his lap, arm around his shoulder, and he had his hand on her back. They were both laughing at the story Ducky was telling, and Breena had snapped the pic of them.
“That’s a good one.”
She sent it to him, and he uploaded it.
The next morning he had seventeen congratulatory emails from different fans in his Gemcity account. And one somewhat cranky one from the publicist who worked for his publisher and was assigned to him, wanting a formal engagement picture, as well as a blurb about the wedding, and once they got married a wedding picture so they could do a press release and take care of this properly.
He was staring at his computer screen, wishing this hadn’t just bit him in the ass that hard, and hoping Abby wasn’t going to be annoyed with this.
Tim headed into the kitchen, saw Abby eating her breakfast and said, “So… um… yeah…”
She’s staring at him, looking nervous. “What, new delay on the house?”
“Oh. No. At least not that I know of.” The current owners hadn’t expected to sell so fast, and now they were scrambling around trying to find a new place of their own. They’d ended up with the closing set for the middle of October, which they didn’t much like, but at least it made getting their apartment sub-letted easier. “Nothing like that. I hope. No. I got an email from my publicist—“
“You have a publicist?”
“I share her with about twenty other authors.”
“Really?” Once again Abby looked surprised. It occurred to him that he might keep the author part of his life a little too quiet if even she had no idea of how involved it was.
“Yeah, really. Jennifer Manz. She’s in charge of making people want to buy my books, and keeping me in the news whenever a new one comes out. We’re not exactly good friends because she wants to splash me all over the press, and I want to hide. Anyway, she’d like a formal engagement portrait of us to send out in the press release.”
Abby just stared at him.
“Apparently it’s pretty standard that if you’re going to let the world know you’re engaged to then make sure everyone knows. So, she wants to do a release, and would also like some wedding pictures and something about how we met and...” And he let it trail off because she looked like she was about to burst out laughing.
“It’s not a big deal, Tim.”
“Really. I like the idea of an engagement portrait.”
“It’s not too invasive?”
“I don’t mind if the entire world knows we’re getting married.”
“You sure? This is like, blurb in People Magazine, public.”
She grinned at him.
He smiled. “Cool.”