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A year in the life

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the road to publication, and since it’s just about a year ago to the day that I received my offer, I thought it was a good time to write a post about my journey.

The idea for FOREVER WITH YOU began to take shape in 2007, during a time when I was surrounded by the world of wine. My guy at the time was studying to become a sommelier, and I was learning a lot merely by being along for the ride. I’d heard the term ‘heartbreak grape’ tossed around in reference to Pinot Noir, and this idea of a second chance romance in a vineyard setting took shape. I started writing, with no sweet clue what I was doing—no clear outline or any idea how to even structure a novel. But I was having a lot of fun. Then life happened. I got lost for awhile—and spent some time digging my way back out. Cut to 2012 or 2013. I pulled the book back out and dove into some actual research. I joined twitter and followed a lot of wineries for a day-to-day glimpse at the world I was writing about. At this point it still hadn’t occurred to me to find a network of other writers, but I was getting warmer. More life happened. I uprooted my life, this time by my own choice. I took a new job, moved back to my hometown. I traded the city I love and a really great social circle for higher pay, better benefits, and the family homestead. But there was still something missing. I changed jobs again, thankfully landing somewhere that would stick. Fast-forward a few more years. It’s 2017 and I’m home on Mat leave with my 6 month old daughter. I began to think about life a little differently—the example I wanted to set for her. Did I want her to grow up thinking it was okay to shelve your dreams as long as the bills were paid? No. I wanted to be living proof that you can come from the smallest dot on the map and still be anything you want to be. That your corner of the world does not diminish your talent or get to hold you back. So one day, when she was having a rare afternoon nap, I pulled the book out again and read it. I thought—this isn’t actually that bad. But I had no clue if I was writing women’s fiction or romance, so I did some digging, and it was then that I kind of sat up and took notice of the writing community on Twitter. I connected with other writers, started reading everything I could get my hands on about the craft, and found critique partners.

That was the turning point.

I began to treat writing like a second job—albeit one with a ton of rejection and zero pay, but a job I looked forward to every single day.

I’d rarely looked forward to any other job in my life. When I was finally finding my groove, I started writing a second book, and had a loose concept for a third. But in 2019 I got burned out from the process of querying the first book. I had a bunch of rejections from agents, which I knew was all part of the process, so even though I’d been rising above it and continuing to try, eventually it wore on me. I accepted the fact that the first book would be shelved for good, fated to forever be known as my learning book. But some little inner voice inside whispered ‘not yet’. So I did something a bit bold. I submitted it to a couple of editors—digital imprints of publishers I dreamed of working for. Then as writers do, I let myself forget about it.

Months passed while I worked away on book 2 revisions and began drafting book 3. And then one day I got an email from a woman named Junessa Viloria. She actually apologized for the delay and said she was enjoying my book. She wanted to know if I had plans to make it a series. Unfazed by her casual interest, and ultimately assuming it would end in rejection anyway, I said, yeah, I’ve got the second book written and I’m drafting the third one right now. She asked for a synopsis of the other two stories, so I sent them, still never allowing myself to hope. After all, this submission had been one last kick at the can. I was a ‘digital only’ imprint. Even if this went somewhere, I was never going to see this book on a table in Chapters, and I wasn’t sure I was interested in sacrificing that dream, no matter how much I wanted to be published. And then, exactly one year ago this week, it happened. I was scrolling through my phone one night before bed and checked my email to find a reply from Junessa. I opened the email and as had become customary, I skimmed for the word BUT or the word UNFORTUNATELY. But something amazing happened that I couldn’t even believe I was seeing.

It was an offer.

For all three books.

I was shocked and thrilled, followed by an immediate moment of disappointment as I reminded myself it was digital, and I wanted to SEE my book in a bookstore…

Then I reread the last line of her email: ‘By the way, this is actually for the print side of the company.’ I went back to the beginning of the email and read. I reread. I read it probably ten times to be sure. My hands were trembling so hard maybe I wasn’t seeing clearly. Chris came into the room and said with a super serious expression, ‘What’s wrong?’ To which I said, “I think somebody just offered to publish my book.” Then I immediately jumped on the self-doubt train (again). “She must’ve sent this email to the wrong person… I probably read it wrong. Let me read it an eleventh time.

… But no, it was legit.

An imprint of the Big Five wanted MY words.

Even now, a year later, I can’t wrap my mind around it. I’ve held the book in my hands. I’ve signed copies. I’ve seen it in Chapters. It still has not sunk in.

To be clear, I stand by the phrase 'everyone's path is different'. I certainly do not recommend spending over a decade on one book!! All I can say is that I refused to give up because this book refused to give up. It went through drastic changes since the beginning, and I think in a way I probably did too. And maybe that’s how it all eventually came full circle. <3


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