I Like Books So Much, I Wrote One

When I started this blog in 2010, I remember it feeling like an enormous jumping off from my comfort zone. I was putting myself out there in a way my public relations career and all its accompanying writing never had – my name would be attached to every word I published, and with that comes responsibility. I have taken that seriously, and I hope my food writing, both here and for my column in the Watertown Daily Times, has reflected the weight of that over the last eight years.

Despite hundreds of blog posts, I never thought I had a book in me. People have asked me about a cookbook periodically over the years, but recipe generation is not my strong suite. Then, last summer, a thread on Facebook about conspiracy theories got my mind racing. What if there really was a bunker underneath the Denver Airport? Who would inhabit this bunker? Who would choose those inhabitants? What would life be like down there?

It was something I couldn’t put aside once the wheels began to turn. Before I knew it, I had two main characters and the beginning of a plot hastily scrawled in the pages of a blank journal, with scraps of dialogue saved as notes in my phone. By December, I had a first draft. It happened out of the blue, and then suddenly, I had written a book! It’s called The Curated, and I hope that you all will get to read it someday.

The book is not about food, which people who know me from Big Hungry tend to be shocked to hear. It really is a novel about a survival bunker under the Denver Airport, the people who live in it after worldwide floods ravage the Earth, and the group who selected these particular inhabitants for its population.

Of course, there is a chef in the bunker. His name is Bobby Guerrero, and in addition to teaching my main characters how to make carnitas and apple cinnamon ice cream, he wears a series of funny t-shirts throughout the book and is just generally a super friend and a guide to my main characters.

I’m now just about done polishing my manuscript and am beginning the long process of querying literary agents in the quest to get it published. Have you heard stories about how hard this is? Most authors get around 80 rejections before signing with an agent, and then you begin pitching the book to publishers, which means more rejection. I have six rejections so far from the 16 agents I’ve queried. Every rejection stings, even though I know they are normal and part of the callus you need to build as a writer.

It's a slow process. You have to do your research to find an agent who handles your genre of book and is looking for either the subject matter or style of story you’re telling. Then you follow them on Twitter, so you can appeal to them in the right voice in your query letter, hoping you’re not sucking up too much, but also that your letter markets your book to them properly, and that your first few pages are scintillating enough to convince them to request your full manuscript.

It’s like asking 100 people to be your friend, knowing full well the overwhelming majority of them will say, “No thanks, you’re just not what I’m looking for.” All the while, you’re obsessively polishing both your pitch letter and your manuscript so that if and when you get the nod from someone, you won’t full-on panic that it’s not good enough to send.

So if you’ve been wondering why I’ve cut back so much on posting about restaurants around Upstate New York and the rest of the country, now you know. I’ve poured 75,000 words into The Curated, and it's tapped me out when it comes to describing even the tastiest treats from around our state. I’m not abandoning blogging, but I’ve really found something I’m passionate about in this novel writing game, and I hope, if I ever do get a book deal, you’ll read it and love it! 

If you'd like to keep up on my journey as I seek a book deal, make sure you're following me @BigHungryShelby on both Instagram and Twitter. It turns out Twitter is really where it's at in terms of agents and publishers, so I'm sharing much of the process there, and trying to grown my following to show agents that I can handle marketing a book when the time comes. I appreciate your engagement on the blog, and I hope you'll be interested enough in The Curated to come along for the ride!

1 comment:

  1. I am so proud of you and as you know I love the book and was honored to be an initial reader.