The Power of a Team
36 Weeks to Publication
Thank you for staying with me through the challenges of the last few weeks in Nashville. The people in the Covenant community are still grieving, and also starting to move through their grief. Services were able to continue in the main chapel, and being able to gather for the Easter observances and celebrations was especially meaningful to them.
While my brother has been working daily with the team trying to get things back up and running, other family members participated in protests, finding that together their voices are making a difference. They are tired and they are still hurting, but they can also feel your prayers.
Meanwhile, on the Tigerbelles book front, things are happening! I am still waiting for notes from the editor, but I have now started working with a Globe Pequot (the parent company of Lyons Press) publicist.
So many questions are being answered! Within the world of traditional publishing, it seems that there is a huge range between responsibilities of the publisher and what is left up to the author. As this is my first traditionally published book, I assumed I would be on the low, low end of that range and was fully prepared to lead myself through the process, following tips and strategies I was learning through independently published authors. I still don’t know a lot about what might be available to other authors or in other publishing houses, but the good news is that I will have help!
There are people on my team who know what they’re doing and want as many people to find the story of the Tigerbelles as I do! So as I work to share the story, others will be working to spread the news as well. From booking events, to organizing media, there are a thousand tasks to complete, and having any level of help is a major boost.
While writing a book is sometimes a solitary process, it never gets to a reader’s hand without a team. First it is just a confidant or two listening to the idea and cheering it on. Then writing partners give encouragement and share strategies along the way, next finding an agent, then partnering with an agent to find an editor and publisher…this has only gotten me halfway through the process, and there will be many more people from the PR team and cover designer all the way to the booksellers who are essential in bringing a book to life.
For all of us who love books, it’s humbling and also inspiring to think that each book on the shelf of a store has had so much time and energy from very talented people put into it before you ever reach out to pick it up. All the author is hoping is that the cover is interesting enough for you to open it up, look inside, and hopefully bring it to the counter to take it home. If you enjoy it enough to share it with a friend, the dream is fulfilled.
When I first started this substack, I thought that finishing the manuscript was like reaching the finish line. Now I understand that was only the equivalent of finishing my training, and now I’m preparing for the performance on the big stage.
When the Tigerbelles made the Olympic team in 1960, they spent a few weeks training before they went to New York to be outfitted with the unforms, gear, and other clothing they needed to be a part of Team U.S.A. It was a moment that was so impressionable the athletes described it in detail decades later. They had made the team, they were touted as the best of the best, and they were being seen by the nation as ambassadors to the world.
That was the big picture, but the smaller things that were similarly thrilling were getting custom fitted for several new uniforms and dress suits, including shoes, purses, hats, gloves, belts, and even travel bags, all emblazoned with the United States colors and Olympic symbols. Edward Temple said, “When you make the US team, then you travel first class. First class hotel, first class airfare. When you wore a US sweatsuit, that was the greatest thing in the world.”
I understand a small part of that pride, when outside parties recognize an accomplishment with a tangible reward. If only all of our accomplishments, big and small, could be celebrated. Many of us, especially women, take on so many roles that aren’t traditionally valued, and we can go a long way by starting to acknowledge and celebrate milestones of all sorts. I see you mothers moving heaven and earth to say goodnight to your children, I see you students standing up for one another, I see you caregivers putting your lives on hold to honor your loved ones.
You are all the reason our lives keep moving forward, and together in ways big and small we can support and value each other and affect positive change.
In recognition of the work of other authors, I’d love to share with you what’s on my bookshelf:
Pangyrus 10 is out! I can’t direct you to periodicals without first sharing the work of the Pangyrus team. This anthology includes short fiction, nonfiction essays, and poetry. It’s a great collection, and I’d highly recommend checking it out! For sale on the Pangyrus website, where you will also find loads of great content.
Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult. I’m a fan of Picoult’s and this one is great for a book club, particularly one I participate in as our kids range from 17 to early 20s. There are some rich topics addressed, but to me it seemed the core of the story is the struggle between a mother and her son as he reaches adulthood and makes choices and mistakes on his own. The mother is also a beekeeper, and Picoult goes deep into the process setting up a tense balance between the devotion, vulnerability, and patience required for caring for the bees, and her child.
The Wife App by Carolyn Mackler (release date: 6/27/23). I’m only halfway through at this point, but the premise itself has hit a lot of hot buttons for me. While it seems that the author might be playing into an old trope, she actually probes the areas where relationships are still often heavily unbalanced and so much of household labor falls to female partners. She has a group of friends start a gig app like task rabbit that pays women for the skills they have had to develop and the mental load they carry. It’s light reading, but brings up a lot to think about.
Next up is: The House is on Fire by Rachael Beanland back into one of my favorite genres, historical fiction based on true events. A crowded theater in Virginia in the early 1800s catches fire and the actions of four people offer a chance at redemption through tragedy.
Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Rides by Eric Etheridge. This came out recently by Vanderbilt Press and I found it after an adjacent story came up in one of the Tigerbelles interviews. Etheridge reproduced all of the mug shots from the Freedom Riders that were arrested in 1961, then combined them with essays and modern portraits. It’s a powerfully beautiful production.
Witches by Stacy Schiff From a master of narrative nonfiction, Witches covers the Salem Witch Trials in fascinating detail. With one of the final accusations taking place in my little town near Salem, I’m having fun digging deep into this one.
Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo I devoured this one. I’m knee deep into my youngest’s college search, and getting a view behind the scenes of selective school’s opaque deliberation process is jaw dropping. If you have ever been confused by the vague phrase “holistic approach” this book is for you.
Happy reading, and until next time!