So, I’m back from Comic-Con, jet-lagged into a zombie state, and desperately wanting to give you all the fabulous lowdown on the Amazinginess That Is The Con.

Thing is, the Convention was amazing, but not for any of the reasons I expected. Sure, I saw some celebrities (and my Soul Twin Sarah shook Alexander Skaarsgard’s HAND. 5 days later, and I don’t think she’s washed that hand yet… ;)). I also saw some amazing, mind-blowing costumes and went to some even more amazing, mind-blowing parties…

Yet, the best part of Comic-Con was that I learned something about myself–something that has been a long time coming but didn’t really hit home until now.

You see, I met some Big Name Authors–authors whose books have literally transformed me into the person I am today. Authors who have been on the scene for a while now and actually know what they’re doing (unlike me). People such as:

SHE'S HOLDING MY CARD!!!! GAAAAAAH!!!!!

  • Robin Hobb! ROBIN HOBB!!!! I actually burst into tears when I met her….and then Sarah burst into sympathetic tears beside me. It was pathetic.
  • Melina Marchetta! O_O Sarah burst into tears upon meeting her, and then I burst into sympathetic tears with her. We should not be allowed to cry near each other anymore.
  • Patrick Rothfuss! This dude was SO COOL. I want him as my best friend.
  • Raymond Feist! Also totally awesome, and he told me all about his daughter in art school. Authors are real people too–how easily we forget.
  • N.K. Jemisin! She literally has the most beautiful, glowing skin of ALL TIME. And an incredibly contagious smile.
  • Scott Westerfeld! GAAH! He even asked me what I do and was so supportive when he learned I was a debut YA author.
  • Nathan Bransford! So cool, so relaxed, and now my friend on twitter. (He has no idea what he has gotten himself into by doing this….Mwuhahaha.)
  • James Dashner! First off, he was so funny on his panel that I knew right away I had to find any excuse to talk to him. Fortunately, this was incredibly easy to do and even more fortunately, he was even more hilarious in “real life”. He also had great advice for a debut author.
  • Dana Fredsti! She was my panel-mate, and we were both super nervous. The crowds for our “Not with a bang, with a bite” panel were just SO HUGE. I could barely breathe, but she totally held my hand and talked me through it. Then–as if she wasn’t cool enough–she also sat next to me at our post-panel signing and chatted with me as if we’d been BFFRs forever. She (and her boyfriend) literally got me through the panel and signing without having a heart attack.

All of these writers were so gracious. So generous with their time and their advice. So not-freaked-out by my fangirling. So NORMAL.

And it made me realize: this is only the beginning. My agent, Jo, recently said to me: “So many authors get so psyched out about their first book, and it’s easy to forget, you’re in this for the long game.”

And I am, guys. So are all of you (well, those of you who are aspiring or already published writers). Our first publication is undeniably exciting, but it’s only the start of a long career of storytelling. Racing to write more books won’t change our long term goals, right? And stressing or obsessing over our first book won’t change the outcome at the end of the day. As Robin Hobb very sweetly told me at the Con, “Enjoy your debut year. There will only be one, so have fun with it.”

Fun ≠ stressing.

Which leads to something even more important: when the end of the our days comes–be that tomorrow or in a hundred years, what will you wish you had done more of? Written more stories or enjoyed more conversations with friends and family? If you were on your deathbed, would you say, “Gosh, I sure wish I had finished that book” or “Gosh, I sure wish I had hung out more with my Mom”?

There is no right answer. What IS right is that you choose an answer and live your life accordingly.

And that’s why I’m done with freaking out about my book’s release. I know people think I’m crazy when they ask me if I’m terrified/stressed/wigging-the-eff-out and I lazily shake my head. I’m very VERY excited, but at the end of the day, it’s just another moment in my life–one moment of many.

I totally wore myself out with self-promotion, so now rather than obsess over tweeting and facebooking in one last ditch effort to get my book onto the world’s radar, I’m going to wrap up all my interviews/guest posts…and then I’m going to read. I’m going to spend time with my amazing husband. I’m going to call all my friends and do some much-needed catching up.

Oh, and I’m going to continue playing this song on repeat and ROCKING OUT around my house.

So sing it with me:

This is it, boys, this is war – what are we waiting for?
Why don’t we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype – save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style

And that’s alright; I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I?

You tell me: What do YOU want to have done when you reach the end of YOUR days?