Posted by on July 28, 2018

Four years of hard work have come to a close, and my debut novel, Tea in Crimea, goes on sale July 30. It’s been a long, difficult road, and I’m very, very happy to finally arrive at the end of this journey.

Print version comes out July 30.

Kindle version comes out Aug. 30.

Back in 2014, I penned a serial fiction blog that mirrored events playing out during the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine and Russia’s subsequent invasion and annexation of Crimea. That story was called Tea in Crimea, and while it was a passion project with a limited audience of friends, I realized after completing the final installment that I had written the basis for a pretty decent novel.

During 2015, I stitched those installments into a single manuscript, and then went into beta reading and editing mode. I received volumes of invaluable, on-point input and advice that I incorporated into the novel. I then shopped that manuscript draft around to agents for a bit, but despite my best efforts, it didn’t resonate. Ultimately, I concluded in 2016 that self-publishing the novel might be the best path to follow.

However, if I was going to self-publish, I wanted to do it right. While the initial feedback from beta readers was invaluable, I also knew as someone who edits for a living that the manuscript needed a really good line edit from a literary expert who could tear apart sentences as well as story structure. I needed someone who could see both the forest and the trees — and keep me from getting lost in the woods in the process.

That person was William Boggess. William works with New York Book Editors and I credit him with helping me take my novel several levels higher during the editorial process. Coming from periodicals, I’m a different editorial creature, I really respected his talent and his professional knowledge.

I edited with a tough, relentless pen, and rewrote several portions of the novel to take the story to new, and sometimes difficult-to-write places. But the result was a more thought-provoking story that told a much deeper truth.

In fact, I was so happy with the result that I decided to put a pause on self-publishing and give querying literary agents a final shot. I did this, I’m sure, to the consternation of multiple people, including the magnificent Tony Millionaire, who illustrated a cover image for the novel; Nicholas Hope of Classic Capture, who shot my author’s photo; and Andrea Meredith, who generously set up the initial Tea in Crimea blog and hosted it on her business server. I also did this knowing that I would be ticking off a number of fans, family, and friends who have been supporting me and expressing their eagerness to read the novelized version of Tea in Crimea

Well, the “final shot” at querying missed its mark. I researched agents extensively and took great pains to ensure I was making the right appeals to the right people, but for whatever reason, my pitches didn’t reach out of the “slush pile” and grab any agents by the collar. Ask any author about blind querying a manuscript, and they’ll tell you it’s a maddening and potentially demoralizing crap shoot. Well, I crapped out for the second time and opted to walk away from the table.

I resumed the process of preparing “Tea in Crimea” for indie publication. The graphic designer Wendy Byle, who I have worked with in the magazine world, incorporated Tony’s illustration and Nick’s photo into a cover design that locks in on readers like a tractor beam. I scoured the manuscript like a paranoiac several times and now its ready for purchase.

To my family, friends, and people who have been working on this novel with me, know that you have my genuine gratitude for patiently waiting through my learning curve with Tea in Crimea. Many thanks.

This is a very happy moment.

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