This Coronavirus. First of all, it is a thing and I must do my part to help curb it. Events, travel, regular life activities have been cancelled.  And this comes on the heels of my book launch for Curse of the Ninth! I don’t want to whine as I’m not the only one on this sinking vessel, but damn this is my story and right now it sucks! And it all makes me wonder if the universe is trying to tell me to abandon the writing ship.

It is reminiscent of my first book experience with Isabela’s Island published in 2004. Back before then, I’d first queried another book,The Apple That Fell From Grace.It seemed like it was taking forever to find an agent (after a couple of weeks), so when a small publisher from Wisconsin was excited about my submission, I signed with them. While my editor/publisher Elizabeth worked on my book, I started and finished Isabela’s Island. She loved it and pushed to get that one published first. Wow this writing stuff is pretty easy! Elizabeth and I became fast friends, discussing book signing tours (I believe she even mentioned Oprah) and how we would take a train and work our way across the country signing my book after my September, 2003 launching. 

During our conversations back and forth, Elizabeth had talked about her back problems and how she was going in for a minor procedure on a Friday. Sunday, I called and her husband picked up the phone in one ring. “Hi Bob. May I speak to Elizabeth?” “Elizabeth is dead,” he said. I sucked in a breath as he added, “You know how she loved her baths?” What? “She was soaking in the tub. I should have checked on her sooner, but when I did she had slipped under the water.”

I became unmoored. My mind was reeling. What might have gone wrong during such a simple procedure? What was she doing in the tub so soon after surgery? Why did Bob sound so cavalier? Perhaps he was in shock. Honestly, I never trusted the guy (fellow authors also suspected some sort of foul play, but we’re also writers with vivid imaginations). Perhaps, there were clues in the books she’d written about an abusive naval officer husband. But what about my book? “Needless to say,” Bob added. “The company will close down. Your book will not get published.” 

Of course I cried and mourned my publisher, and just because my book got sucked down the drain, I wouldn’t allow myself to cry. For cry-sake, Elizabeth had just died. But I wasn’t ready to give up on my book and because it was already so close to launch time, very quickly I landed another publisher (albeit another vanity press). 

So now my book Curse of the Ninth.  This time I’d do it right. First of all, it would take years of research in libraries and archives, both here and in Iowa. I’d earn my Writers’ Certificate in Fiction from UCLA. I’d workshop, pay for and go to conferences. I’d network, meet agents (buy them drinks), write, rewrite, revise, query hundreds of agents, swallow hundreds of rejections (“Not for us. Don’t give up.”), seclude from and lose family and friends (husbands), quit my good paying job and become a ghostwriter. I’d hold my head up just above the water. I’d keep going! 

Three years after the completion of Curse of the Ninth, I find a publisher. Eighteen months of revisions and edits and I get a polished gem of a book. So then it launches, and I get to work setting up book events across the country, including the L.A. Times Book Festival, Barnes & Noble, and small bookstores from Mandeville to Carmel-By-The-Sea. And I’m anxious anyway because public speaking is not my thing. But then this Coronavirus is a thing – a cursed thing!

So what will I do now? I’ll not wash my hands of this – oh wait, back up. I will wash my hands and isolate for now. And then I’ll grab another life ring and keep paddling to shore. 

(Credit for hand washing photo .)

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