I’ll be honest, the endless plot twists that made up 2020 did not a blogger make! I’ve neglected le blog for quite some time as I navigated seeing patients in the midst of the pandemic, balancing schoolwork, and *massive drumroll please* GETTING MY BOOK PICKED UP BY A PUBLISHER!!!!
~screams, ugly cries, and dances around for twenty-seven minutes because I’m still so grateful it feels like my heart will burst~
I am honored beyond reason to report that my book A Brush with Love was picked up by Eileen Rothschild at St. Martin’s Press Griffin!
And, to put a cherry on top of this absolute dream come true, it was bought in a two book deal! Words truly cannot express my unfettered joy at this opportunity.
There were times in this process that I wanted this moment so badly, longed for it so desperately but truly feared it would never actually happen my bones would ache with it.
I never want to minimize the difficulty of the publishing process, and I also want to be as transparent as possible about my experience with it for all of you also in the trenches, so here’s a little timeline:
I started querying ABWL in August 2019
I signed with my angel agent Kelli Martin from Wendy Sherman and Associates at the end of October 2019.
There weren’t massive edits done on the MS and we went on submission February 14th 2020 (yes, about two weeks before the country massively shut down… this didn’t stress me out AT ALL *nervously laughs*)
Then, rejection came in.
And ooohh doggy did this hurt. So badly. The dinging of my email resulted in a pavlovian reaction of cold sweats and heart palpitations. I will always be incredibly grateful to all the editors that were kind in their passes of the book and their willingness to even consider my writing, but at the time it was incredibly difficult.
We were also in the midst of shut-down, and the stress of being on sub while also seeing absolute tragedy happening every day, and still having to go to school took a massive toll on my mental health. I was depressed. I was anxious beyond belief, having almost daily panic attacks. I wasn’t sleeping. It was a lot to deal with and I started to sink into that very dark trap of telling yourself you aren’t good enough. I know everyone has a tendency to self-doubt, but I think artists in particular feel a certain intensity of it when it’s their work, their creative product, a piece of them, being judged and critiqued.
And then, after ten weeks on submission with more than a few rejections and a whole lot of doubt, I received an offer for a revise and resubmit (R&R). For anyone wondering, an R&R is when an editor (or agent) sees potential in the work but there are things they would want changed. They give you those revisions, you implement them, and then they take a second look. Naturally, I jumped at this incredible opportunity being offered to me.
I worked non-stop for a week straight (ADHD hyper-focus comin’ in hot ya’ll) on changing my story. I pretty much rewrote the last 100 pages, changed a bunch of up-front details, and flushed out some missing character motivations. And it was tough. It was killing my darlings and just as challenging as authors discuss. There were times I wanted to dig in my heels and refuse to budge on something. Other moments where I doubted the new work so much I wanted to delete the entire document. But, more than anything, there were moments that felt incredibly right, like I was pruning the manuscript so it could fully blossom.
It was also incredibly personal and introspective.
When taking on the challenge of writing about mental illnesses, and finding love and laughter in the darkness, I don’t think I fully grasped how much work it require I do on myself. It felt like cutting open a vein, exposing myself completely, to write about the painfulness that often comes with these disabilities. It felt raw and honest to put those feelings on the page. And, I realized, that sometimes when writing, I didn’t actually go there. I took the easy way out.
Doing the R&R made me realize that my original ending was the easy one. It was the one I could get on paper without having to look too deeply into my own mental illness and internalized ableism. It was the nice little bow that didn’t have much mess that wrapped up my story but didn’t do my characters justice. It didn’t make me cry when I wrote it, which was fine with me because I didn’t want to go there in my own thoughts and experiences.
But, through the advice of my incredible editor and the support of my wonderful agent, I went there. I set my ego aside. I gobbled up the notes and did my best in implementing them.
And then I submitted the damn thing.
AND THEN WAITED AND EVERY DAY FELT LIKE ACTUAL TORTURE WAITING GAH! Side note: that’s the thing about publishing, it is endless waiting that will make you tread holes in your carpet with all of the wild pacing you do, waiting for news.
And then, on July 15th 2020, one of the best calls of my life came through. I had lab at 2:00pm, and at 1:50pm, my agent sent me an all caps text.
And then the call came through.
I was in the courtyard at school, absolutely bawling and shaking with joy at the news that my book was being picked up by SMP Romance in a two book deal.
Nothing has ever felt so surreal or sweet or incredible.
My little book. My ode to anxious people. My story littered with oral puns and messy women and lots of love was going to be published.
There really aren’t words to describe the feeling of putting so much of yourself into something and seeing your dreams for it come to fruition. It’s scary to write about mental illness and love and finding satisfaction in life. But damn did it also feel good.
And I will always be so thankful for that R&R, that push to dig down, make my characters get ugly and messy, make them more human and more complicated and more flawed, also made their love that much sweeter. Their happily ever after that much more satisfying to write, and I hope it made it more satisfying to read.