On DELIVER HER Launch Day, Reliving the Journey

UPDATE May 8, 2017: DELIVER HER just turned one! To celebrate, I’m giving away five signed copies of DELIVER HER. For a chance to win, sign up for my newsletter by May 13, 2017 using links at top and right. Winners announced here and on Facebook on May 13! Don’t miss the party!

playland_poolToday is the day every writer waits for: the day their book officially launches into the world. To celebrate today’s publication of DELIVER HER, I made a pilgrimage to Rye Playland, the scene of several key events in the novel. It was a beautiful spring day, not unlike the afternoon the fictional Meg Carmody strolled the promenade, pondering a very important decision.

And since launch day comes but once, it seems appropriate to briefly reflect on this four-year journey. Because just as Carl and Alex’s road trip takes some unexpected turns in DELIVER HER, the book’s path to publication experienced its fair share of detours. Just how far the story veered from my original intent became apparent to me one recent evening at the local library.

The event was Pitchapalooza, when aspiring writers make one-minute book pitches to The Book Doctors, who critique the pitches and choose a winner. As a 2012 winner, I was invited to be an “alumni” presenter at this year’s event.

Playland pilgrimage on DELIVER HER launch day.
Playland pilgrimage on DELIVER HER launch day.

For the uninitiated, a book pitch is a writer’s elevator pitch, their sales pitch, their book’s heart and soul in sixty seconds. A savvy writer knows their pitch inside and out and can recite it on demand. (For the record, when my publisher challenged me to describe DELIVER HER in fifteen seconds, I accepted. You can watch that here.)

Anyway, when it was my turn to face the fifty or so hopefuls waiting to pitch their own stories last month, I dug out my old pitch (see below) and began to read it. And as I read, I smiled, because the book I pitched four years ago, then titled TRANSPORTED, was miles from the story of the desperate mother and grieving daughter in conflict that is DELIVER HER. Rather, the book I nervously pitched four years ago belonged to Carl, a solitary, stranded driver-for-hire smitten with Iris, a disenchanted “sloe-eyed” shopkeeper. (On a side note, I’m convinced the phrase “sloe-eyed” clinched Pitchapalooza for me that year.)

Having collected my prize that night, I went home to write that book, to flesh out the twenty-five or so pages that formed the basis for the TRANSPORTED pitch. The first order of business was fashioning a client for Carl to transport, to give him a shot at Iris. And so were born mother and daughter Meg and Alex Carmody, two headstrong women who commanded my attention like hitchhikers waving madly on the side of the road. It was impossible to ignore them. Ultimately, their complicated story took precedence over Carl’s, who gallantly stepped aside to serve as the vessel for this family’s journey.

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If you haven’t yet read DELIVER HER, I hope you will, and let me know what you think of it. If you have read the book, I think you’ll enjoy reading the original pitch below, which provides a peek into the writer’s process. In early reviews of DELIVER HER, readers are rooting for Carl and want him to find love. Or at least another client. I think he will.

Because what I’ve discovered about writing is that it is rarely a straight path from A to Z. Just as in life, there are plenty of traffic jams, distracting drivers, and rough road. But if you sit back and relax, the creative process can be a exhilarating ride, with side roads and scenery too delicious to miss.

Thank you for spending DELIVER HER launch day with me!

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Original Pitch for TRANSPORTED, July 2012

Thirty-eight-year-old Carl Alden sells serenity. He’s a professional transporter, a hired hand to whom parents pay almost any price to deliver an out-of-control teen from their bed to treatment.

At her limit, Meg Carmody hires Carl to transport 17-year-old Alex from the Maryland shores to a New England rehab. The pre-dawn pickup is executed flawlessly. But just miles from the Alpine Rehabilitation Center, the elements conspire to throw the transport off course. Carl regains consciousness to find Alex missing and an ice storm raging.

At the Swiftwater General Store, a log cabin on the hip of the Kancamagus Highway, Carl accepts help from Iris, a sloe-eyed shopkeeper whose own dreams were detoured 20 years before. A hundred yards away, Alex bargains with a young stranger to lead her back to civilization.

Duty-bound to his client, Carl must find the girl and complete the transport, or risk his reputation and his business. Alex must decide if freedom is worth the price. Swiftwater provides shelter from the storm, a command center for the search, and an unlikely milepost from which to examine roads not taken.

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