Well, it’s done and I’m such a proud parent. I’ve birthed my book, not in nine months but in nine years from its conception to publication. Oh yes, nine long years of arduous labor, but the outcome was worth the pain. My baby has arrived and I’m euphoric as I strut around the house basking in the afterglow. The act of writing as someone once said is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration and I hate to sweat; but that’s what occurred as I navigated the publication process. Some days I felt like a drunken monkey as I coped with drafts, revisions, agent searches, and the nuances of contract signing when one finally took me on. One year turned into the next as my agent submitted my book numerous times, only for it to be rejected after a long wait. I revised, changed the focus, added material, and twisted in the wind as I tried to produce a saleable product to someone else’s specifications. Finally, I took a step back and asked myself, “What are my expectations for this book?” I came to the realization that in the end it was my book and I would do it myway. As offspring are offshoots of their parents, so should a book reflect its creator. My goals for After Sybil were first, for it to be a book of which I could be proud; second, that it would honor my friend of many years, Shirley Mason, aka Sybil; third, that it would shed light on multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder (DID). My friend Shirley had sixteen personalities and her story had already been told in a bestselling book by Flora Schreiber. I asked myself, “What can I possibly add to her story?” The answer was plenty because I had Shirley’s handwritten letters in which she talked about her daily life from 1970 when I met her until her death in 1998. As aspiring authors we all dream of producing a best seller and for some, like Ms. Schreiber, those dreams come true. My expectations were more realistic. I simply wanted to share what I knew about the lady who was arguably the most famous multiple of all time. I wanted her to be seen as a productive adult and a prolific artist with her own company. I wanted her to be seen as someone who had survived childhood abuse and become a productive, relatively happy member of society. Ms. Schreiber ended her book with the integrations of Shirley’s alternates in 1965 and I began mine with the day I met Shirley at Rio Grande College in southern Ohio. The use of Shirley’s handwritten letters and her art in the context of my book made Shirley real to those who didn’t know her as I did, and that was my intent from the beginning. Incorporating these items though caused problems of their own in that the color version of my book became very expensive and I had to cover my bases with the owners of the art by getting their permission. Fortunately, they granted me full permission and gave me their blessing. Shirley’s diagnosis of DID has become controversial over the years. I know that Shirley believed in the correctness of her diagnosis and in her therapist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur. I say that because Shirley told me so. While other authors have written books about my friend, those authors did not know her as I did. By reading Shirley’s letters, my readers can glimpse the real Shirley Mason; the one who signed my original copy of the best seller Sybil; the one who painted the watercolor that hangs on my dining room wall; the one to whom I said goodbye the month before she died. From my book’s conception, through the labor of writing it, to its arrival was a grueling process. When I approached the end after nine years, I just wanted the darn thing out there. My agent had tried her best, but main stream publishers want guaranteed return of profit from their investment in an author. I don’t blame them, but this means that new authors have the odds stacked against them. It was at this point after my agent had exhausted her leads that she herself actually referred me to Infinity Press. It was a good choice in many ways. From initial contact to publication was less than six months. It would have been sooner had I not been obsessive about my editing and proofing. What a relief it was when I gave the final push and submitted my last version of After Sybil. It was as perfect as I could make it and I was at peace with what I had produced. I think Shirley would be too. Now, here I am, and as new parents do, I cuddle my baby, wrap it in my warm embrace, shower kisses on its cover, and show it off to others. In olden days I would have passed out cigars as the proud parent I am. But alas, at the same time, I am experiencing post partum book blues. I am starting to wonder if I shouldn’t produce a sibling, but I dread the process. Birthing a book is not an easy chore and should not be taken lightly. On the other hand, the joy is exquisite.