But let me tell you more about my ‘week off’. Apart from day and night editing of the blog to book, hereinafter called the blook, I received a publishing contract. Now I’m no JK Rowling or that guy who wrote The Da Vinci Code. There’s no super agent pacing my living room while screaming in her phone, “She doesn’t get out of bed for less than that.” On the one hand, an extra 15% in my pocket, on the other hand, I had to go it alone with contract negotiation.
I did a lot of research and then reached out to friends and an incredibly generous published author who read the whole contract, sent me very specific suggestions and voilà, a mutually satisfying deal was struck. I have signed with a smaller Canadian press who likes my blook just as it is. This is important because it is, as they say, ‘unusual’. Well, people say I’m ‘unusual’ so what else could be expected?
It’s interesting how this all came about. Last winter a reporter did a story on my adventure and she put me in touch with a Canadian editor, hereinafter called MY editor (nice ring to it I think). I asked her if she thought it would be worth putting my story in a book format. She said, “Interesting. Write it and we’ll see.” So all along I had been selecting and editing posts and so on with no real plan of actually publishing it. I just wanted to do it to cross it off my ‘life list’.
Then in the early summer she emailed me to ask how the writing was coming. Well now. So I set myself a deadline for the beginning of September to send her something. Of course it was October when I finally sent her an early draft. She emailed back saying she loved it and she wanted to publish it. I almost passed out from the shock of it.
I had received some earlier feedback that the format didn’t work. That it didn’t fit as a memoir which is true because that’s not what I set out to write. I come from a rich culture built on a foundation of story telling. I love my heritage so I wanted my blook to be a collection of small stories that, when strung together, told a larger one. And besides, Under the Tuscan Sun had already been written.
My editor gets that. She is also a Newfoundlander and loves the short chapter format that weaves in pictures like a good old travel diary. Of course I considered a very serious memoir, a deep and shrinky treatise on the examined life. But this past year was all about breaking away from my solemn life, about living in the opposite, so instead I wrote the literary equivalent of a goofy pop song. I don’t know if it’s any good but one thing I can for say for sure, it’s honest and true.
The blook tells the story of me and France, the same story you’ve read here with a little (I said a little) more finesse. Of course there are chapters never before seen just to keep the faithful Finders interested. I’m very happy to be doing it on a small scale although I shall remain flexible if Nora Ephron calls to talk about film rights. Allison Janney, if you’re listening and willing to have gray hair, I’ve got the perfect part for you.
Small scale however equals big work. I have to finish the final edit (at this point it feels like I’ll still be editing long after it’s published) as the manuscript is due Jan 7. I have to secure all the photo permissions. I have to write a dedication page (no brainer) and a thank you page (long). I have to write bios and cleverly describe my book in under 250 words. And then I have to put my thoughts to promotion, the real work involved in a blook coming from a small publishing house.
Of course without my Finders (especially iScott) there would be no blook. I never would have done this without all your kind words and endless encouragement. I had no idea anyone would be interested in anything I had to say, so thank you. Now enough of all that, what have you done for me lately? Obviously it’s up to you if you want to actually lay out some cash for my story but in these troubled times of disappearing bookstores, the most helpful thing for authors at small presses is word of mouth. I’ll keep you updated as we go along and when it hits the shelves (likely late April), I’ll be asking you all to help me out.
Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. And I’ll need everyone to hold my hand.