Life really never goes as planned. Well, it doesn’t go the way I plan it, that is. I’ve spoken before about my overall publishing journey and learning to let God be in control. I mean he is already right? A friend once said to me, “I just need to let Jesus take the wheel.” I commented back to her that he already had it, she just needed to let go. I’m one that likes to grip that wheel, so I speak from experience.
Today, I want to share the publishing journey of The Lemonade Year. My agent, Julie Gwinn, had actually signed me on a different novel, but in the course of shopping that one around, she asked if I had anything else. I did. The Lemonade Year. I dusted it off and sent it out. Then I went back to life as I lived it. (Writer’s tip: work while you’re waiting. Live while you’re waiting. You’re going to do a lot of waiting.)
Then one day, Julie called.
Hmm, I thought, this could be news. It was. Shadow Mountain Publishing had made an offer on The Lemonade Year! This was the call I had dreamed about. My first novel was about to be bought. I was elated. I was also alone. No one was home. So, after I jumped around in my bedroom for a minute, I finished the laundry and waited for people to come home. ( Writer’s tip: Remember that you’re in the passenger seat for much of the ride. You can’t reach the gas pedal from there. That’s ok! The controls on this vehicle are sometimes beyond your scope of experience. That’s why you’re with a publisher. Let them drive. They know what they’re doing.)
Life keep rolling, and while I was waiting on the contract to get finalized and sent to my agent, I went camping at Lake Michigan with my family. A campsite with no cell service, no internet, no nothing. (Then again, you’re camping, you don’t need those things.) Of course, that’s when the contract came through. I happened to see the message when I went out for supplies. So my daughters and I set off in an and unfamiliar town to find anywhere that had a printer and a scanner. We got lost, turned around, lost again, laughed a bunch and then found a Staples. I got the contract, printed, signed, and sent in.
I had been waiting for my turn to post one of those “contract signing” pictures that I saw other writers share. They always looked so professional: Them at their dinning room table, or on their patio, or surrounded by friends at their writers group. I was at Staples rocking some “camp hair’… and it was fantastic!
Well, then, it got real. There were notes and edits and deadlines, of my! There were scenes to change and adjustments to make. Suddenly, I was “on deadline”—another thing I had longed for. I always wanted to say, “I’m so sorry, I can’t do lunch today, I’m on deadline.”
So, I packed my laptop up (yes, I had brought it camping, of course) and went off in search of somewhere to work. It might not have seemed ideal on the face of it, but I loved every minute. I loved going to the bagel place to put In a couple hours of work and then going back to the camp site with my family. They were happily playing with cousins (annual week-long, extended family reunion), swimming in the lake, taking naps in the tent and riding bikes around the park, and I was getting some needed alone time and meeting my brand-new deadline. (Writer’s tip: Be open to suggestions from your editor. He or she has done this a time or two after all. You’re a team now and your best novel is everyone’s goal.)
Flash forward, the book came out the following April and that following August, I found myself back the campsite. It felt like I’d come full circle as that summer I had the actual book in hand and was even back at the bagel shop, writing again in the same city where I had signed my contract and my dream had started on a new leg of its journey to reality.
I am often asked if there were changes I had to make to the novel that I was not happy with. I happily say, not a one. I loved my publishing journey from start to finish. I have the best agent (Julie Gwinn), the most amazing editor (Lisa Mangum) who totally gets my style and who made all the right calls on changes and edits, and a wonderful publishing house (Shadow Mountain Publishing) that has been so supportive. It’s been an honor.
Then there was you! Thank you so very much to everyone who has read this novel and been so encouraging. I love to hear people tell me that they have fallen in love with this story. All my love to you! It’s been a wonderful ride so far!