I’ve been pregnant with The Fish Dress for over ten years. One day, while living in Maine, my sister and I were on a hunt for used dishes, books, and vintage clothing at the local thrift shop. I spotted a black and white dress etched with fishbones and mysterious symbols, and I had to have it!
When I started wearing the dress, friends and even strangers complimented me and treated me differently, and I felt special. I asked myself, “What if there really were a magic dress?”, and before I knew it, I was filled with the seed of a story about a dress that empowers and transforms its wearer. (I love when inspiration comes into your life without effort.) Click here for more information on my writing process.
When I moved back to Connecticut, I took a writing class at Wesleyan University’s Liberal Studies Program, and The Fish Dress grew to a short story. The professor, Anthony Valerio, told me my story had legs, and at that moment I endeavored to grow it into a book. I connected with two other writers, who, like myself, wanted to start a writing group when the course ended. We are still going strong after nine years, sharing and critiquing our works, and supporting one another.
The Fish Dress squeezed into a full manuscript of 400+ pages, with multiple points-of-view and past and present perspectives. I was thrilled, convinced my book was ready for delivery, but feelings of accomplishment were short-lived—my writing partners said, “It’s too complicated and has too many themes. Pull the book apart and you’ll have at least two books there.” They were right, but I couldn’t see it for myself at first.
The Fish Dress deserved more than simple edits; it needed major revision. I spent the next several months revising the book I had extracted from the original; my inner critic fueled by perfectionism slowed the process, but I was progressing. Then, on March 28, 2018, my 36-year-old son died of an accidental drug overdose, and I would never be the same again. Gradually I returned to writing—journaling about grief, pain, and self-blame—and then back to The Fish Dress, determined to finish the book.
I took a six-month online course with Write, Publish, Sell and Alexa Bigwarfe (Kat Biggie Press), whose team I thank for believing in my book enough to want to publish it.
I think the editing has been the most labor-intensive part of the birthing process. The Beta Readers had varying opinions: some said sex too graphic, others said domestic abuse brought back painful memories, and one said she didn’t like a happy ending. I’m thankful for all their comments and made more edits.
Professional edits followed, both developmental and copy. It was hard having to kill off characters or leave them out of the story completely, but I did it, accepting that I could save a character for another story. Racy Sex scenes became more suggestive than explicit. I kept my eyes on the plot, taking care not to lead my reader down a little side road that doesn’t go anywhere and could cause her to put the book down and never pick it up again. Finally, I went back to my original ending—one that my characters had shown me early on.
On October 27, 2020, the birthing of The Fish Dress will happen, whether I’m ready or not. 2 weeks ago, I landed in the hospital with a hemorrhagic stroke. At first, I worried about the marketing, the social media, and the promotion that need to get done for a successful launch. But life-changing events reshape our perceptions.
There’s nothing to be gained by trying to bang something into place. It will be. I’m thankful for all the support I’m receiving from family, friends, and my two marvelous marketing assistants, Jess: Brand Strategist – www.ciaojess.com and Lauren from Forest City Marketing. I’m excited to birth The Fish Dress and start my next book!
I invite you to download an Advanced Reader Copy of The Fish Dress….