Just a quick note to thank all the readers who’ve reached out to share their feedback on Hard Dog to Kill. I’m tremendously grateful for your comments, and wanted to help you understand why I’m so damn giddy about hearing from you.

So. Here’s what it’s like for an author publishing her/his first book; We’re struck by an idea we love, and spend years of our lives immersed in the world of our book – the characters and setting, the themes, the mechanics of storytelling and the effortful (soul-crushing?) minutiae of editing. We flog the book far and wide, begging strangers to Please, read my words! And after dozens – maybe hundreds – of rejections, a lucky few manage to sign with an agent. Then, The First Miracle; our agent sells the book to a publisher.

Hard Dog to Kill as a birthday gift! (Jo Gives Book to Jim)

And lo, Dear Reader, the writer doth rejoice. Great is the warmth in the author’s heart. Verily doth he/she hoot and holler, running frolicsome through the streets, crying hot, fat tears of joy. Adult beverages are consumed in abundance. Strangers are stopped in grocery stores and cornered at parties to be drunkenly regaled with happy news which interests them not one whit. (Okay, maybe that’s just me.) But then, belatedly, comes the realization that friends and family will read the book. And they might not like it. Giddy euphoria ends, and we enter the Oh-Shit-What-Have-I-Done phase.

In my case, I worried about making my friends uncomfortable. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me if they hated my book. And I had come to believe there was a very real risk that a lot of people would hate it.

“But Craig,” you say, “If you’re so insecure about your work, why did you let them publish the thing?” Well, Gentle Reader, there was a time when I was confident about the book. I wrote fearlessly, just like the speakers at writing conferences said I should. But then I spent years editing, receiving feedback and generally descending into a vortex of self-doubt. I went over and over the book so many times that eventually I couldn’t really see the words on the page. Hell, I started to doubt whether or not I was fluent in English. Believe me when I tell you that by the time this book was released, I’d lost all sense of whether it was a ripping yarn or 348 pages of word salad.

But then you all started reading it, and reaching out to tell me what you thought about the story. That, folks, is The Second Miracle.

Books make Mokhtar smile
Books make Mokhtar smile

Not all of the feedback has been positive, of course. But it’s all been thoughtful. I’ve had some great conversations, ranging from “Do you really know people like Frank?” (I do) to “Is the Democratic Republic of the Congo as violent and intense as it’s portrayed in the book?” (It is) Best of all, many of you have told me you enjoyed the story, and that you are looking forward to reading a sequel. And that, my friends, makes me very happy.

I’ve spent a lifetime as an avid (obsessive?) reader. And after deriving so much pleasure from books over the years, it is beyond thrilling to realize I’ve actually put something back in that river for other people to enjoy. It’s damn exciting to hear that my story entertained some folks, allowed them a bit of escape, and got them thinking about places and people they hadn’t thought much about before.

So, again, thanks for reading the book, and for taking the time to share your thoughts about it. It means a lot.

Hard Dog to Kill takes a bath
Hard Dog to Kill takes a bath