I know it's real because my name's on the paper and it's not something I wrote on my own--it's from a publisher. It's kind of a surreal to see the contact come in the mail and you open it and it's your name printed on the page.
This is the second contact I've signed for a second story I've written to be published (actually, it's the third contact I've signed, but that's another story...). It came last week and I need to get it sent off as soon as possible. Tomorrow it's going in the mail.
The last time I did this, nothing seemed real--not that it was like a dream, but you know how it is. You do something and someone tells you of the consequences of your actions, then you wait a little while and other things happen because of those things you once did.
It's still strange to me that there on contacts with a publisher with my name on it, that a book exists where my name is printed on the cover and in the pages, and that the Library of Congress has an item with my name on it. I know it's just one book (with another one on the way...), but it's still a bit surreal.