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behind the scenes of finishing my book

Last Wednesday I called my dad and said, “I finished the book!”

I think I’ve finished Catchlight at least 6 times.

There was the moment I finished the very first super rough draft. It was 2009 and I was 24 years old. 

I was sitting in a coffee shop in Washington, D.C., where I lived at the time with my roommate and childhood best friend, Celeste.

I finished the book and I thought, I know it can be so much better, but I have no idea how to make it better.

Eighteen months later, I enrolled in an MFA program to help me do just that.

During my MFA I started the book over, from scratch, on page 1 – twice.

I finished my thesis, which was the first 100 pages of the book, during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. My husband Simeon and I lived in Long Island at the time, and my office in Queens was closed for a week. 

I sat at my dining room table for 7 hours a day that whole week and made those 100 pages as good as I could possibly make them.

I finished the whole book in the fall of 2013, sitting at my desk at that same house in Long Island. I had worked on it for an hour every weekday morning for three years. And now it was done.

I sent it out to more than 100 agents. I entered it in contests. Then, after about a year, I put it away and started working on some new projects. I started my business. I gave birth to my son.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I decided to enter Catchlight for the Fairfield Book Prize (for the second time). 

And this time I won. 

I got the news on June 19, 2019. My daughter was nine days old and it was my ninth wedding anniversary.

I was searching in my inbox for the date of an event when I saw an email from Woodhall Press. It was actually the second email they had sent – because I was fairly preoccupied with my brand-new baby.

I saw the email and burst into tears. I told my husband, then called my mom, my dad, and my sister all separately. I cried every time I shared that Catchlight was coming out into the world.

At the award ceremony for the Fairfield Book Prize, guest judge Phil Klay said, 

“Catchlight is a book that asks whether we can make art out of pain – and it’s a book that shows us how.”

It was one of the proudest moments of my life. 

I can’t wait to share it with you. I just finished making final edits. The release date is set for October 1, 2020.

I’m planning a world premiere event in Philadelphia, where I grew up, and a launch party in Stratford, CT, where I now live. 

And I’m planning something super special in the coming months to share a window into my creative process and more details about how the book was made. 

Stay tuned.

March 21, 2020

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