Writing and Editing My First Book

Since 2018 I have blogged very little, but I have been writing! Writing so much, in fact, that I finished my first essay collection. It’s a coming-of-age memoir-in-essays about growing up poor in Ohio, to young adulthood in Detroit and Brooklyn. Through my essays and my experiences, I examine what love looks like, whether it’s from my supportive mother, my absent biological father, my steadfast stepdad, or eventually my husband and first daughter. 

After many beta readers, in 2019 I submitted my collection to an editor friend of mine, Chelsey Clammer, who I admire. She gave me my first round of professional edits, along with homework to develop my stories and characters. I listened to all of her suggestions and advice, honing, toning, paring down, and building up. Then I submitted and submitted (and submitted). 

Many publishers said the book wasn’t a good fit for their current slate, some showed serious interest but went in another direction, and many outright ghosted me. That’s the life of submitting. I kept my chin up and submitted more.

Then in April 2020, during the beginning stages of our pandemic, I received an email from Brandylane Publishers. They wanted to publish my book! I read the email at least ten times. Then I cried. Then I jumped up and down and cried some more. Then I ran outside barefoot and still in my pajamas (even though it was almost dinnertime because pandemic–who wears real clothes anymore?) where my husband was mowing the lawn. I flailed around so much that he turned off the mower and ran over to me, alarmed, checking me for wounds. Then I showed him the email. And then he gave me the biggest hug. 

It was a great day.

Since April, my collection has gone through several more edits to build, cut, and perfect. The team at Brandylane is a wonderful group of people, and I’m not sure any other publisher could have done so much magic with my words. I love each and every person I have “met” there, but especially my project manager. She’s been with me every step of the wild ride, cheering me on. My book is in the final proofing stage now, and soon it will head to design where I will choose my cover and interior font and layout. It’s scheduled to release in late 2021. The collection is titled, When Love Sticks Around, and I hope you’ll consider sticking around to read it.

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash