Celebrations by Laurie Calkhoven

My writer’s group is big on celebrations. For a long time we called ourselves the Champagne Sisters (we haven’t come up with a new name since a man joined our ranks). We celebrated the little things—finishing a draft, having an editor express interest—and big things—signing with an agent, an actual sale. We even had champagne at our annual January session in which we celebrated the previous year’s accomplishments and set our goals for the year ahead.

Writers spend so much time alone in front computers that it’s important for use to come together and mark the big and little things. But I don’t do much more than that. I remember when I first started working in book publishing, right out of college. There was a bestselling romance author who bought herself a new piece of gemstone or diamond-studded jewelry every time she sold a book. There was another who treated herself to a new pair Manolo Blahniks. I remember thinking at the time that when I became the writer I wanted to be that I would do something similar. I never quite settled on the thing—jewelry, art, shoes, vacations—but I was sure I’d find a way to do something fabulous for myself.

I haven’t.

Of course my advances don’t reach the level of Manola Blahniks let alone diamonds, but there’s also the question of WHEN do you celebrate? When the editor makes an offer? When the check arrives weeks or even months after the official offer and usually spent long before it arrives? On publication day when the check is long gone?

In addition to the WHEN there’s a WHAT and HOW. The idea of throwing myself a publication party makes me cringe (although I love to go to other writer's parties).  I did take my group to Fraunces Tavern when DANIEL AT THE SIEGE OF BOSTON was published, but I haven't done anything like that since. And do I celebrate all my books, including the freelance jobs? What about the ghostwritten ones that don’t have my name on them? I’ve never been sure, so I’ve let all those days slip away.

But now I’m thinking about celebrations, and I’m wondering why I believe they have to cost a lot of money. I live in New York City where I’m surrounded by some of the best museums in the world. Off-Broadway theater is vibrant and interesting and a ticket doesn’t rival my monthly mortgage payment. And Central Park is free.

So in writing this post I decided to give myself a celebratory experience for each book on publication day, whether my name’s on it or not. First up is MILITARY ANIMALS three days from now. I think it’s time I checked out Whitney Museum of American Art in its new digs. And because the book comes with a paw print dog tag, I already have the bling.


  1. Love this post Laurie. It's not the expense or lavishness of the celebration that matters...it's so we honor ourselves for accomplishing something special. Congratulations on the new book! Cheers to you!

  2. Here's a toast to the Champagne Sisters! It IS hard to figure out when and what to celebrate. I like your idea of making the celebration an outing that feeds the muse. As for me...I'm going to celebrate the release of MILITARY ANIMALS buy buying it. Congratulations!

  3. (Yes, I saw the typo in my last post just as I hit publish...buy instead of by...but it sort of fits, doesn't it?) :)

  4. I make sure to celebrate all the accomplishments in my control: finishing a new book, trying out a new promo idea, etc...


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