My book was conceived in September of 2007 while I was making plans for an RV trip with my husband and my parents. I’m a bit of a control freak, and one of the ways I attempt to control my life is by making lists, and this epic trip was going to take a lot of control and a lot of lists. David and I had owned our motor home for less than two months, and we planned to visit sixteen states in seven weeks. To add a little extra drama, my mom had Alzheimer’s and my dad had vascular dementia. In the preceding few months I had written several articles on Facebook about my care giving experiences, and since this trip seemed like it might provide plenty of good writing material, I added a spiral notebook and several of my favorite Precise V5 pens to my shopping list.
In the first week or two I filled the first notebook and bought a larger one. Four years and fourteen edits later I had a memoir called A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos. Then the question was, now that I’ve written it, what do I do with it? I talked with other authors and sought out sources to educate myself about publishing, and I learned about queries and pitches and rejections. In late 2011 I signed with an agent, but by early 2013 I wasn’t where I wanted to be, so I decided to strike out on my own.
In July of 2013, one of the members of my author support group posted information about PitchMAS, a semi-annual blog contest and Twitter party put together by Jessa Russo and Tamara Pederson. The idea of the contest is to put authors in touch with agents and publishers, so I decided to give it a try. I didn’t make the top 50. Crushed but not broken, I put the next round on my calendar, and on December 15, I tried again. This time Jessa and Tamara included the top 75 in the final blog group, and on December 19, my blog pitch was posted in the #73 spot. Almost immediately I received a request from Kara Leigh Miller, Managing Editor at Anaiah Press, asking for a query and the first five chapters of my manuscript. I responded that afternoon, and the next day I received a request for the full manuscript from Jessica Schmeidler, Managing Editor of the Inspirations imprint at Anaiah.
I was excited but a little disappointed that I had received no other requests. However, I’ve been told that memoir is the hardest genre to sell unless you’re a celebrity, so I was grateful for Anaiah’s enthusiasm. One thing my education in publishing had taught me was that the wheels turn slowly in this business, so I settled in for a long wait. But this time was the exception. On December 26 I received an e-mail from Eden Plantz, Executive Editor at Anaiah, offering me a publishing contract. On January 10, we “inked the deal.”
Since then, I’ve come to love the staff as well as my co-authors at Anaiah. Jessica has become my editor and a cherished friend, and I have learned about the love/hate relationship an author has with the “real” editing process. During the process, I have mourned the brilliant passages that have ended up on the cutting room floor, but I have also celebrated the final product that is better than I imagined it could be. Through it all, Jessica has been patient, talking me off the proverbial ledge more than once. She has also been understanding, feeling the heart of my story and treating it with respect.
Eden Plantz designed the perfect cover, and Melinda Dozier, the wonderfully talented Director of Marketing and Art at Anaiah, put together a beautifully touching video trailer. The marketing department put together successful cover and trailer reveals, and a blog tour and other events are in the works.
It has been a long road since I first bought that spiral notebook and those pens, but thanks to the wonderful ladies at PitchMAS and the extraordinary staff at Anaiah, I’m reaching my destination. A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos will be released July 1.
If you’d like to participate in Linda Brendle’s blog tour or review her book, please complete the form HERE.