Ten years of publishing... TODAY!

I am celebrating my tenth anniversary in publishing today!

On July 14, 2009, I published my first novel, Something Missing, with Broadway Books, a division of Doubleday, thus making a seemingly impossible dream come true. I can still remember walking into the now-defunct Borders Books and seeing my book on the shelf for the first time.

This was followed in 2010 with the publishing of my second novel, Unexpectedly, Milo, also with Doubleday.

In 2013, I switched to St. Martin’s Press, a division of Macmillan, and published Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, my most successful book so far. In 2016, I published The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, also with St. Martin’s Press, and in November of this year, I’ll publish my fifth novel, Twenty-one Truths About Love.

Sometime in 2020, my sixth novel The Other Mother, will publish here in the United States. It’s already been published abroad.

I also published Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Power of Storytelling in 2018 with New World Library.

Six books in ten years. It’s been an amazing decade.

in addition to publishing in the United States, my books have also been published in more than 25 countries overseas, and three of my four novels are currently optioned for film.

I’ve also become the humor columnist for Seasons magazine and an advice columnist for Slate magazine. I’ve published pieces regularly in Parents magazine

The Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists has awarded me first prize in the opinion/humor writing category in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend was the 2014 Dolly Gray Award winner and was a finalist for the 2017 Nutmeg Award in Connecticut.

I say all this because despite a decade of consistent work in the publishing world, here’s the crazy thing:

I still don’t feel like a real author. I still feel like at any moment, I will be discovered for the fraud that I surely am and be unceremoniously kicked out of the literary world.

Isn’t that crazy?

I’ve often wonder when the day will come when I will feel like an honest-to-goodness writer and rid myself of this persistent imposter syndrome.

Then again, maybe imposter syndrome isn’t such a bad thing. It keeps me on the knife’s edge, working like hell to stay relevant, valuable, and in the game.

Still, it would be nice to answer the question, “What do you do for a living?” by saying “Teacher, writer, and storyteller” and not feel like the writer part of that answer isn’t real.

Either way, it’s been ten years today. A decade that I never would have dreamed possible and still seems kind of impossible when I reflect back upon it.

And would’ve been impossible if not for the support of friends, family, editors, publicists, booksellers, Elysha, and my agent and friend, Taryn Fagerness.

Hopefully I’ll be writing a similar post in another ten years, and perhaps by then, I’ll be feeling like the honest-to-goodness author I’ve always wanted to be.

Turkish publishers offer a small bonus to their readers

The Turkish edition of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs has arrived!

It never stops being exciting to see the international editions of my books arrive on my doorstep.

Just this week we sold the Taiwanese rights to my next novel, 16 Truths About Love, which will publish in the fall of 2019. And The Other Mother, which will publish a year after that, will publish first in the UK in the spring of 2019.

Publishing internationally is something I never imagined happening when I published my first novel in 2009. In addition to the excitement of knowing that your story is traveling the world and the financial benefits of publishing a book in two dozen countries, I hear from international readers all the time, often through the magic of Google Translate.

Recently, Mexican teenage girls have been writing to me about my first and third novels, wanting to know what happens next.

It’s a strange, strange world.

I opened the Turkish edition of my book, mostly to see what Turkish looked like, and look what I found. Inside the book, affixed to the binding with a perforated edge, is a bookmark designed to appear like the cover of the book.

How clever.

Also, why don’t we get something like this in the United States? I’m suddenly feeling like our American publishers are letting us down a bit.

Three continents in a single day

There is something to be said about the golden age of literature:

The time when television, film, video games, and the internet did not steal away eyeballs of potential readers.

Authors like Fitzgerald, Hughes, and Austin had enormous audiences of readers just waiting for their next books, aching for a new story or poem, because reading was one of the primary sources of entertainment in the world.

Today we have to shout and flail just to be noticed above the noise. More than a quarter of Americans report not having read a book within the past year. And more books are published today than ever before.

It ain't easy finding an audience. 

But there are some distinct advantages to publishing books in today's world. Yesterday was a fine example: 

It started with an email from a teenage girl in Columbia, who wanted to know if my upcoming book, Storyworthy, was going to be translated into Spanish. She's read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs (both available in Spanish) and was hoping for the same from my next book. 

We exchanged emails throughout the day. She asked me questions about my novels and my writing process, and I asked her about the town where she lived and what she wanted to do for a living when she was finished with school. Despite the fact that we lived on two different continents and spoke two different languages, we connected in a way that would've been impossible just 20 years ago. 

I ended my day with an interview via Skype with an Australian-based podcast. The host of the show and I discussed Storyworthy and my storytelling career. Specifically, we talked about the teaching of storytelling, the components of an effective story, the best means of delivering presentations, keynote speeches, and the like.

I was able to engage in a face-to-face conversation with a woman on the other side of the world, and that conversation will be turned into a podcast that can be listened to by anyone in the world. 


But the moment that best illustrates the good fortune I feel about being alive today came in the middle of the day, when I received a Facebook mention from a reader in India.

He wrote:

"Awestruck seeing how the basic human emotions n stories are the same across continents and time zones and developed and developing countries.. one of my favourite author Matthew Dicks feeling the same in America which I sit and feel here in a corner in India.. Nostalgia is universal..."

This says everything.

A reader in India is reading my blog.

A reader in India is reading my books.

I'm the favorite author of a man in India. 

Best of all, thanks to the internet, enormous distances, multiple time zones, and countless cultural boundaries are pierced rather easily, bringing two people together in both thought and sentiment in a way that could've never happened before the twenty-first century.

I can't tell you how excited and surprised I was to see this appear on Facebook. Thrilled, even. 

Fitzgerald and Hughes and Austin had larger, more attentive audiences for sure. There were far fewer books being published in their day.  

But none of them could've connected with readers on three different continents, in two different languages, in a single day. If given the choice, I would absolutely take a larger, more attentive, more voracious audience of readers, but if that can't happen, I'll take days like yesterday and consider myself blessed. 

I broke my promise to my wife: The origin story of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

The paperback edition of my fourth novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, is finally out! If you didn't have an opportunity to read the hardcover, now is the time to purchase the paperback with it's brand new cover.

Order online or purchase in your local bookstore. And if your bookstore isn't carrying the paperback, please be so kind as to request it. When readers ask booksellers to stock a book, it makes a difference. 

The origins of the book are interesting, and they include a broken promise to my wife.

Years ago, Elysha and I were lying in bed, talking about our childhoods, when Elysha told me about small but apparently memorable moment of cruelty. A friend was sleeping over her house, lying beside her bed in a sleeping bag, when she said, "Emily Kaplan's bathroom is bigger than your whole bedroom."

The words were probably not meant to be mean, and they certainly aren't excessively cruel by any standards, and if you ask Elysha today, she will adamantly report that this was no big deal.

Except it was a big enough deal for her to remember the moment more than 20 years later. So it was something...

I said, "Wouldn't it by nice to find that girl and say the things you wish you had said that day?"

Truthfully, Elysha didn't feel the compulsion for revenge, but I knew that many people would feel differently. I knew that there were lots of people who would love to find their schoolyard bully as adults and really let them have it. "That would make a good book," I said, lying beside her in the dark. "Don't you think? A girl who is bullied in high school goes back to her hometown, finds her bully, and says the things she's always wanted to say."

"Sure," Elysha said, wanting to go to sleep.

I agreed. I added it to my list of book ideas, and years later, I wrote that book.

As I was writing the book, I chose the name Emily Kaplan for Caroline's bully in honor of the book's origin story. When Elysha began reading the manuscript, she asked that I change the name, particularly because Emily Kaplan had done nothing wrong in her childhood story except live in a home with a large bathroom.  

I agreed. I promised I would. Then I didn't. As I continued to write, Emily Kaplan became Emily Kaplan, and eventually it became impossible to change the name because she had become real in my mind.

As real as any other character who I have created. 

I didn't tell Elysha about my failure to change the name until the book was in production, at which point the change would have been impossible. 

She was rightfully annoyed. Not angry, but not pleased, either. It might be the only promise I have ever broken to her. 

But it was done in the noble pursuit of literature, and that makes it okay. Right?

Great first sentences (and an analysis of the first sentences of my own novels)

I have no definitive favorite first line of a novel, though I am partial to the first line of Slaughterhouse Five:

"All this happened, more or less."

Also, Fahrenheit 451

"It was a pleasure to burn."

Of all my books, I like the first sentence of Chicken Shack, my unpublished novel that will hopefully see the light of day someday, the best: 

"They tried not to receive corpses on the same day as chicken, but since it was impossible to predict when a logger might fall from his bucket truck and break his neck, the two deliveries occasionally coincided."

I like to think that it works well because it’s unexpected and a little mysterious but contains enough specificity to make the initial image real for the reader. Why chicken and corpses would arrive anyplace on the same day is strange, but the specific image of the logger’s fall is enough to also establish the reader within the story. 

At least I hope. 

I also like the first sentence of Unexpectedly, Milo:

"The moment that Milo Slade had attempted to avoid for nearly his entire life finally arrived under the sodium glow of a parking lot florescent at a Burger King just south of Washington, DC along interstate 95."

Again, the sentence contains that combination of mystery and specificity that I like. The moment that Milo has been trying to avoid for his entire life is left undefined, but the setting is clearly established. In doing these two things simultaneously, I like to think that I both intrigue and ground the reader in the story at the same time. 

However, this sentence was not originally the first sentence of the book. Prior to the addition of the prologue, this sentence appeared closer to the end of the book than the beginning. The original first sentence was:

"When he spotted the video camera the first time, sitting on the end of the park bench beneath the dying elm, Milo didn’t take it."

While I like the new first sentence better, this isn’t bad. The use of the phrase "the first time" lends an air of mystery, yet I again attempted to make the specifics of the scene (park bench beneath the dying elm) clear to the reader. 

The first sentence of Something Missing reads:

"Martin opened the refrigerator and saw precisely what he had expected."

I don’t like this one nearly as much, but it accomplished the goal at the time. Compared with the other two books, I put in significantly less thought into the first sentence of Something Missing, but my intention was to begin with action, knowing how much of the story would take place within Martin’s head. I also revised the sentence much later to include the words precisely and expected, knowing how appropriate they are to Martin’s character. 

The first sentence of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is a good one, too:

"Caroline Jacobs rose, pointed her finger at the woman seated at the center of the table reserved for the PTO president and her officers, and said it."

Truthfully, though, it's really the first paragraph as a whole that works well. The first sentence contains that same blend of mystery and specificity, but it works even better in concert with the four other sentences that make up the first paragraph.  

The same holds true for Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. The first sentence is:

This is what I know:
My name is Budo.

This is the beginning of a list of nine things that comprise the opening page, and these items work well together. In fact, the last item is the sentence that hooked by editor when she was considering the book. 

Sometimes a first paragraph is more relevant than a first sentence.

One of my favorite first lines of a book (and many people's first line) comes from Charlotte's Web:

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

It’s probably my favorite because author EB White appears to have the same goal in mind as I do when writing a first sentence. "Where’s Papa going with that ax?” is certainly intriguing, but White also firmly establishes character and setting in the second half of the sentence.

My wife’s favorite line is the classic line from Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

I recently attempted to challenge the merit this line, claiming that it may have a foundation in sexism, patriarchy, and materialism, but my wife threatened to go out to the shed and get Papa’s ax if I said another word.

But still, doesn’t it?

An alternative to this line can be found in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the retelling of the Jane Austin classic with “ultraviolent zombie mayhem!” Expectedly, the famous first line of Austin novel was re-written for this retelling:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

No question of sexism there.

Do you have a favorite first line to share?  If so, please do.

Book Club Adventures on Planes and Trains and Automobiles (sort of)

Since I published my first novel in 2009, I have attended well over 100 book club meetings both in person and over Skype with people from all over the world who have read my books. While I love speaking in book stores and libraries whenever given the opportunity, it's always a special honor to be invited to one of these book club meetings. These are folks who have already read my book and are armed with interesting comments and questions that I love to listen to and answer.

What I have discovered over the years is that no two book clubs are exactly alike. Each possesses a unique personality and culture that is often surprising and oftentimes unimaginable.

Simply put, I have witnessed a great many things over the years while visiting with book clubs. Occasionally, Elysha will join me for a book club meeting, making these experiences even more fun.

The methods by which book clubs choose the books they read are fascinating. From debates to democracy to diplomacy to the simple process of taking turns (the preferred method of my own book club), these decisions are fascinating to watch and sometimes a little overwhelming. I have witnessed two PowerPoint presentations at the end of book club meetings, filled with slides arguing why a particular book should be chosen next. I've watched people read book reviews aloud in an effort to win over their fellow book club members. And I've watched one woman offer to buy the book for all of the ladies in the club if they agreed to read it next.  

I have participated in living room game shows of sorts, designed by book club members to test their fellow members' knowledge of the plot and characters of the book. One of these games included theme music, an enormous scoreboard, and electronic buzzers.

I've attended book clubs where the only food served was food mentioned in the book.

I've attended book clubs where members skinny dipped in the adjacent pond. Granted that was my own book club, and one of the skinny dippers was my wife, but still. 

I've visited the book clubs of colleagues and friends. High school classmates and former students. Elysha's first babysitter. My ex-girlfriend. A fellow author.   

I visited a book club that rates the books they read on a 10-point scale, and these scores are averaged, giving the book a final score. In addition to assigning a number, each person also gives a reason for their determination. Members not present who finished the book can email in their rating and rationale. One of their members on the night I was there was in Korea but still took the time to email a score and a paragraph explaining her thinking.

At the end of the year, this book club meets for an awards night of sorts. The members vote on the books read during the year in categories like best and worst book, best passage from a book, best and worst male and female character, best discussion, best cover, and more. They run this awards gala like the Oscars. Members vote, and presumably one member (unless they also enlist the services of Price Waterhouse) collects the votes and places the winner’s names in Oscar-like envelopes for the dramatic reveal.  

I've Skyped with readers in at least half of the 50 states, plus Canada, Mexico, the UK, Denmark, Brazil, and Germany. I've spoken to a bookclub of women in Saudi Arabia who were all donning full burkas for the entire discussion. I've spoken to students in on the other side of the country and prisoners behind bars. 

I've often thought that I should write a book about my book club adventures. I have more than enough stories to fill the pages, 

And I continue to experience new and interesting moments with book clubs all the time. Last week I had two such experiences.

Early in the week, Elysha and I were invited to attend my first book club meeting on a boat. We traveled to Coventry, CT, where we boarded a small boat on Lake Wangumbaug and went for a ride on a warm, summer evening with about half a dozen ladies and two of their husbands. Barbecue chicken and other tasty morsels were served, as well as Blackstone wine, in honor of my hometown and the setting for The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs.

It was a beautiful summer evening and a picturesque setting for a chat about books, writing, schooling, and more. We met some fantastic people that evening and hope to see them again sometime soon.

Later in the week, I was scheduled to Skype with a book club in Strasburg, Ohio, but a mix-up on my part regarding the date of our meeting caused me to be double booked. I was supposed to be at a Moth StorySLAM at the National Black Theater in Harlem that night while also speaking to a group of library patrons who had just finished reading Something Missing.

So in another book club first, as we drove into Harlem, Elysha called the group via Skype on my phone and pointed the camera in my direction while I sat behind the wheel. While I navigated the surface streets of Harlem, I answered questions from the group about Something Missing and my writing process. And when things became dicey because I was traveling into unfamiliar sections of the city and needed to consult my GPS, Elysha turned the phone on herself and answered questions from the group.

Book clubs folks love to ask her questions. 

One of the questions asked was this:

"Is Matt as funny at home as he is in his books?"

Elysha's response:

"No, not really. But he makes like interesting."

Two weeks later and I'm still stinging from that answer.

But it was my first book club conducted from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, and while it caused Elysha to panic a few times, it was exciting, and the readers in Ohio got a kick out of listening to me speak while catching glimpses of New York that they only see in TV and movies.

I like to think that I turned a problem (double booking the evening) into something better than originally planned.  

I also offered to do a more traditional book club meeting with them anytime they want.

I've yet to meet with a book club while on a plane, train, bicycle, or horseback, but I'm sure that day will come. 

If you'd like to invite me to one of your book club meetings, either in person or Skype, simply send me an email. I'd be happy to get together with you and your fellow readers.

A real life person signs my books as his fictional self, which sounds weird and is admittedly a little weird.

I have a habit of including real people in my fictional stories.

If you've read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, you might know that Mrs. Gosk is a real person. She was my colleague for 18 years until last year when she terribly, tragically retired. If you have the audio version of that book, you can hear an interview of Donna and me at the end of the recording.

In A Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, there's a minor character named Eric Feeney who appears in the first couple pages of the book. He's a father of twins who is attending a PTO meeting and waiting anxiously to leave so he can watch the New York Giants game.

Feeney is also real. I teach with him. He has twin daughters. He's a Giants fan.

He's also a publicity hound, so last week, while visiting Northshire Books in Manchester, Vermont, he convinced the lovely booksellers to allow him to sign a copy of the book.

I'm not surprised. He also signed copies during my release party last fall. He actually wanted a table set up next to mine just so he could sign as many books as possible. 

To his credit, he is probably responsible for selling at least two dozen books on his own, so it's hard to complain. 

A very special chair and a recommendation to librarians everywhere

I visited the Townsend Library in Massachusetts this week. I spoke to some lovely people about my path to becoming a writer, ordered them to go home and write, answered some interesting questions about my books, teaching, and the writing process, and then listened in as a book club discussed The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

It was fascinating to listening to people talk about my characters as if they were real people. In my mind, they are absolutely real, but rarely do I get to hear others talk about them in the same way I think about them.

They loved Polly. Argued about Emily. Identified with Caroline.

They all claimed to love the story, but I was sitting about three feet away, so perhaps they were being kind.

The book club consisted of about ten women and one man, who amusingly had to raise his hand in order to speak. Apparently it's difficult to get a word in edgewise.   

I was also permitted to sit in a chair that very few people are allowed to even touch. Apparently one of the librarians - a woman named Molly - is fairly protective of this commemorative chair, going so far as to placing a warning sign on the chair which contains a picture of the chair in the event the sign somehow falls off the chair. 

I was told more than once how fortunate I was to be sitting there.

Before I left, another librarian, Stacy, showed me the shelves containing my last book: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

So rarely have I thought that a library or bookstore has the right number of my book.

In the case of the Townsend Library, they nailed it.

Librarians around the world may want to take note.

The oddities of becoming a somewhat (but not famous) public figure

I am not a famous person, regardless of what a couple of my friends may insist. I am not even close to being famous.

I am not even fame-ish.

I've had the honor of occupying the same space and even spending time with famous people this past year.

A long backstage chat with Dr. Ruth.
A backstage discussion with The Daily Show's Samantha Bee.
A conversation with the magician David Blaine.
An elbow rub with Louis CK at an event where we shared the same stage. 
An email exchange with Kevin Hart.

These are famous people. I am not because none of them knew who the hell I was. 

Nor does anyone else.    

But thanks to my books and storytelling and public speaking, I am a bit of a public figure, and that means that every now and then, my name pops up in strange places, oftentimes unbeknownst to me until someone else points it out.  

Elysha recently found my name attached to a lemonade recipe, apparently inspired by my latest novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. Characters drink lemonade on two separate occasions, which was enough for someone named Ingrid to create her own lemonade recipe and share it with the world. 


Earlier this week, this splash card was forwarded to me by a friend on Facebook. I'm not entirely sure what it means, but it's always odd to see my name attached to something as seemingly random as this. 

My visit to Northshire Bookstore: Cakes designed to look like books and a mysterious comment left unexplained

A couple weeks ago I visited Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, as a part of my recent book tour for The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs.

Northshire is one of my favorite bookstores in the world. My wife and I take an annual pilgrimage to Northshire in the spring and always love our weekend spent in the bookstore. They certainly didn't disappoint this time around, either. I spoke to a warm and engaging audience, and after my talk, there was a cake auction to benefit children who need books in the home. 

Cakes were designed to represent books. Here are what a few looked like:

After the talk, I was approached by a woman who said, "You are a lesson in contradiction, sir."

Before I could ask her what she meant, she was gone. But she bought two of my novels on the way out, so I'll assume it wasn't meant to be too bad. 

Northshire is also the only bookstore that I have visited that has a special case for the pens that authors use to sign books. I like it. Made me feel very important despite my actual import. 

The most difficult (and possibly inappropriate) question asked on book tour thus far

If you've ever attended one of my author talks, you'll know that I encourage strange, difficult, inappropriate, and challenging questions during the Q&A portion of the evening.

I even award a prize for the most challenging of questions: foreign editions of my books, books I have read and will never read again, and once $2 because I had forgotten to bring a prize. 

This tradition was started in honor of a woman at my very first author talk who asked, "How do your ex-girlfriends play a role in your fiction?"

Surprised by the question, I responded, "Why do you ask that question?"

Her answer: "You look like the kind of guy with a lot of ex-girlfriends."

I'm still not sure if that was meant to be a compliment or an insult.

Either way, her question gave me the opportunity to tell a couple of funny stories about my ex-girlfriends, which is what I always do when asked a question. I tell a story.

During the most recent book tour for The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, I've been asked a fair number of challenging questions, including, "How many of your students have been inspired enough by your success to become writers themselves?"

I think the answer is none, though in fairness, the oldest of my former students are still in their early twenties. I didn't become a published author until I was 37.

But the most surprising, challenging, and possibly inappropriate question asked so far came a couple of weeks ago at a bookstore when a woman said, "You're such a sarcastic person. Do you ever make people cry?"

Sadly, the answer was yes, followed by a couple of funny stories about times when I ended up in trouble because of my mouth.

A character from The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs comes alive. Seriously.

If you've read my latest novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, you'll know that the book opens on a memorable scene in a PTO meeting. What you might not know is that there is a nonfictional character living within that scene.

Eric Feeney, identified in the book as a father of twins daughters and a New York Giants fan, is attending the PTO meeting on the same night that his beloved team is playing on Thursday night football. He is wearing his Giants jersey to the meeting in hopes of reminding the PTO chairperson to wrap up the proceedings quickly so he can catch the game.

Eric Feeney is a real person. He's a teacher at my school. He has twin daughters and is a rabid New York Giants fan. And at last night's PTO meeting - on a night when the New York Giants were playing the Washington Redskins on Thursday night football - he showed up with wearing his New York Giants jersey, thus bringing this fictional sliver of my novel to life.

Sadly, I had to leave the PTO meeting a little early, but Feeney is never one to miss an opportunity to garner a little attention. After the PTO meeting was finished, he gathered a bunch of parents and teachers and had a photo taken with my book, which he sent to me. 

Feeney is not the first real person who I have embedded in one of my novels. In Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, another teacher from my school - Mrs. Gosk - plays a prominent role, and over the years, real people have occasionally occupied small roles in my books.

Feeney is just the first one to revel in his inclusion in fiction to this degree. On the night of my book launch, he was there, hoping to have a table set up beside mine in order to sign books. When that didn't happen, he offered to sign books for several people but was declined each time.

Still, I love his enthusiasm. He has me considering making him a reoccurring character, which would pretty much blow his mind, I think.  


My book launch party was filled with many surprise guests and references to Dungeons & Dragons

My most recent novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, published ten days ago on September 8. Originally my book launch party was slated for September 10, but that was the date of the Patriots home opener at Gillette Stadium, and I have my priorities.

My publicist understood completely, so the launch was moved to September 14.

A few weeks later, I had to point out that September 14 was Rosh Hashanah, and given the fact that my wife and many of my friends are Jewish, this date would also not work.

Please not that it wasn’t my wife or my in-laws or any of my many Jewish friends who noted the conflict, even though the date was made public and added to calendars for more than a month. It was me, a former Gentile turned reluctant atheist, who first realized the problem.

After I realized the conflict with Rosh Hashanah, we moved my launch again to September 17, which was last night. It meant that I needed to leave Colebrook, CT in the midst of a weeklong trip with my students to a YMCA camp to return home for a few hours, but that was fine.

Better than missing the Patriots game or disrespecting my wife’s holiday.

It was a terrific evening, and I thank each and every person who attended for making it a fantastic night. One of my friends counted well over 100 people in attendance, and I had many surprise guests, including:

  • My aunt Paulette from South Carolina, who I haven’t seen in almost ten years and have only seen a handful of times in the last 30 years. She and her husband were traveling to Niagara Falls to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and made a detour in order to attend the event.
  • Sarah, a high school student in Rhode Island who I have been corresponding with for almost two years about writing and publishing. I visited Sarah’s high school last year – where my former high school vice principal and nemesis is now principal – and she returned the favor by making the almost two hour trek to Connecticut to join us for the event.
  • Sara, my friend and author from Vermont, who has now driven more than two hours to attend my last two book launch events.  
  • My superintendent, who told me that he would try to attend the event, but knowing the schedule of someone in his position must keep, I hardly expected him to make it. His willingness to give up an evening to support my work meant a lot. 
  • Many of my fellow teachers and colleagues, including one who had just returned from our YMCA trip hours earlier and was sitting in the front row.
  • Maybe best of all, dozens of my former students, many all grown up and some who left my classroom just last year, all sitting or standing (there was a large standing-room-only contingent) in support.

Rather than reading from my latest novel, I spoke about how a high school teacher and an assignment on satire turned me into a writer and launched my first business, and how 20 years later a friend's request that I play Dungeons & Dragons with him and some buddies saved my writing career. I also recommended some books (including The Boy Scout handbook), took some questions, handed out some prizes, and signed many books. 

It was an incredibly fun night and well worth the wait.  

Audio excerpt of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

As an avid audiobook listener, it was thrilled to receive the audio excerpt from my upcoming novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. I had no say in the choice of narrator, but once again, the producers have done a fantastic job. 

I actually think the book sounds better in Cynthia Hopkins' voice than it does when I hear it in my own head.   

First review of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs arrives!

The Kirkus review has posted online, and I'm thrilled to report that it's a great one.

Kirkus Reviews is a magazine of book reviews published on the first and 15th of each month. It offers a preview of books prior to their publication, as well as a short but critical review of each book. 

It's an important moment in the life of a book. It's a review that booksellers, librarians, and the like pay attention to.    

Of The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, Kirkus says:

Dicks (Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, 2012, etc.) well balances Caroline’s caution against Polly’s pluck, Caroline’s passive-aggressiveness against Polly’s outrage, creating a believable mother-daughter relationship. As each secret comes to light, he shapes their initially fraught ties into strong friendship.

Heartwarming and often darkly humorous, this road trip for vengeance fairly cries out for filming.
— https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/matthew-dicks/the-perfect-comeback-of-caroline-jacobs/

It's been a week of exciting news in our home, and this was one small but important bit. 

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs: An expletive-laced mention in Library Journal

Library Journal - the journal for librarians everywhere - mention my upcoming novel with some surprisingly explicit language. 

But in a good way. 

I'm thrilled, of course. After my wife and children and the New England Patriots and the person who makes my Egg McMuffin every day, librarians are my favorite people. 

Today I feel like a real author – which doesn’t happen often – and not for any reason that you might imagine.

I’m not sure if other authors feel this way, but most days, I don’t feel like a real author.

Its ridiculous but true.

I’ve published three novels – two with Doubleday and one with St. Martin’s Press – and I have a fourth publishing in September. My last book was translated into more than 25 different languages and was an international bestseller.

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All three of my novels have been optioned for film or television.

I receive emails and tweets from readers all over the world daily about my books.

And yet when I’m completely honest with myself, I don’t ever feel like a real author. At best, I feel like I’ve fooled people into believing that I’m a real author, and at any moment, the literati will discover the truth and my last book will be my last.

Someone recently asked me, “When did you know that you had finally made it?”

Without any attempt at humor or self-deprecation, my instant response was, “You’re probably the only person on the planet who thinks I’ve made it. I’m not even close to making it. I don’t even know what making it looks like. I don’t think I’ll ever make it.” 

I have no evidence, but I suspect that these feeling are true for many authors.

Thankfully, there are moments when this stupidity is challenged. Yesterday a reader send me a photo of her Book of the Day calendar. March 18 had been given over to my last novel, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

Oddly enough, this tangible mention of my novel, sitting atop a reader’s desk on a square of paper, made me feel more like a real author than many of the moments that should’ve convinced me long ago.

And I have no idea why.