ESSENCE's One-Year Anniversary

This time one year ago, my debut novel ESSENCE was released into the world. It was a life-changing day for me, the realization of a dream held close to my heart. It was a beautiful day, and it was a kinda tumultuous one. ESSENCE's release was thrilling--obviously--but it also brought up a host of emotions I didn't expect to feel that day.

Just before I headed out the door, just before my release party and an incredible night filled with so many more friends and family members than I ever would have expected, I jotted down some reflections. One year later, these feelings still ring true. 

The truest statement among them is this: GETTING A BOOK PUBLISHED WAS SO MUCH HARDER THAN I EXPECTED.

Please enjoy a repost of "ESSENCE's Release Day" below, and please scroll all the way to the bottom for a chance to win an autographed copy of ESSENCE and two commemorative pins. Thanks in advance for your support!

June 3, 2014

Today is ESSENCE's Release Day. I truly can't believe this day is finally here. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be an author. I wanted to be an author before I knew how to read a word, or write a sentence, or turn on a computer, and I worked steadily at this dream for most of my childhood and nearly all of my twenties. 

I failed more times than is reasonably necessary, but I finally found success last summer when Strange Chemistry acquired my debut novel ESSENCE. Today, almost exactly one year later, ESSENCE is being released into the world. 

Wow. This is really happening.

As of today, perfect strangers can now purchase ESSENCE on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They can read the words I have written, and they can be transported to a world that--up until this point--has mostly only existed in my head.

Wow. This is kind of a big deal, isn't it?

I'm not sure how I expected to feel today. Giddy, I think. Dancing on air. And to an extent, I am. I have a wonderful book signing planned at Inkwood Books in Tampa tonight, and I may even bust out a new dress and do a reading of some sort--all the while surrounded by family, friends and even some perfect strangers.

I'm elated. I really am. But what's interesting is that instead of feeling like I won the lottery, I really feel like I earned this. And that sense of accomplishment is accompanied by a bone-tired weariness that borders on exhaustion.


I'm not talking about the obvious hardships--writing the book, finding the literary agent, finding the publisher... Those pursuits were incredibly challenging, and they are certainly worth a mention, but I am more talking about the hardships I didn't expect: the sacrifices, the struggles for validation, the doubts and the second-guessing and the fears and the heartbreaks.

This sounds dramatic, but trust me, it's not. Because the thing about book-writing is, it doesn't exist in a vacuum. When you chose to dedicate yourself to it, you must make sacrifices in other areas of your life.

As many of you already know, I got divorced during the course of this journey. My book certainly wasn't the reason my ex-husband and I decided our lives weren't headed in the same direction, but I would be lying if I told you it wasn't a contributing factor at all.

I wasn't actively writing when my ex-husband met me, and then suddenly I was. It was all I wanted to do sometimes, and he didn't understand nor appreciate how intrinsically connected it was to my soul. He just wondered why I didn't want to spend as much time with him anymore, and his bewilderment over my strange new hobby highlighted a fact that neither of us wanted to admit: we were growing up now, and the fabric of our shared life was slowly unraveling.

My dedication to my writing--and to the travels and adventures that inspire it--has affected me in other ways as well. I have never owned a house or lived in one town longer than three and a half years, post-college. I have never painted a wall or planted a garden, and I have left soulmate friends scattered in every corner of the world. 

I have sacrificed all these things in the pursuit of something I couldn't quite explain, and that something is what has led me to this moment.

It is ESSENCE's Release Day. 

I published a book.

I accomplished that thing I said I was going to accomplish, and if I play my cards right, I may get another Release Day with another project some time in my future. 

But I may not. No matter how much I want to publish another novel, this may just not be in the cards for me. 

So... It's funny to sit here and hold ESSENCE in my hands. It's proof that I have reached my goal, but it's also so much less and so much more than that.

It's just a book. A book you can read in a few days and then go on with your life.

But it's also a love story. To adventure, to independence, to my adolescence, and to people I know and don't know. To that summer in Yosemite that changed nearly everything.

It's a dream. A pledge. A promise I made with myself. 

It's a blood contract and a shackle. The end of one life and the start of a new one. 

It's a heartbreak. A prayer. A song in my head and a light on the horizon.

It's the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me.

It's time to set it free


Thanks again for sharing ESSENCE's One-Year Anniversary with me. To celebrate, I would like to offer an autographed ESSENCE paperback and two commemorative pins to one reader. Please enter below (U.S. only), and thanks so much for stopping by. The winner will be announced next Wednesday, June 10th!

Can't wait that long? Click =>HERE<= to purchase ESSENCE on Amazon!