Have you ever walked into a bookstore and known the type of book you wanted to read but not a title? I did that about ten years ago. It was early summer, and I was interested in reading a compilation of four novels in one set on the Pacific Coast. Where was Mountain Brook Ink’s Finding Love on the Oregon Coast compilation then? (*grin) Ten years ago, I wanted to find a book that would take me to the beach and let me feel the sun on my face and smell the salty air. I wanted to read four novellas full of interesting characters in beachy locations. But I didn’t find such a book. So, I decided to write a novella and gather a team to write three other novellas, which we would then pitch to a publisher.
My first step was to find one other team member. I scanned the author’s names on the novella compilations I had in my writing office and found one specific person I could approach. Turned out, she lived near the Washington Coast at the time, and our family was about to take a vacation to the coast, so this new friend and I could meet and discuss the project. This may have been my first author-to-author meeting, outside of conferences and my critique group.
After that meeting, where we enjoyed delicious food in a restaurant/hotel overlooking the dunes and Pacific Ocean, we gathered a team and developed a proposal that we pitched to an editor of four-in-ones. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the editor decided to pass on our project. But I’d made a new friend.
What started out as a novella, grew as I grew as a writer. Over the years, the project went from 20,000 words to 85,000 words. I set it aside for years at a time to work on other full-length and shorter projects, some of which were published. Then, last year one of MBI’s authors mentioned MBI’s Finding Love In line on Facebook, which made me dust off this location-based story. I pitched it to Miralee, along with two other stories set in Washington’s Puget Sound and Salish Sea, and she offered me a three-book contract. A dream was coming true!
My characters were based on another summer trip our family took, near the same year, this time to Friday Harbor. While on that vacation, we went on a whale and wildlife tour around the San Juan Islands. Inspired, I invented a whale tour captain character for my book. But he’d need something to overcome. Then, I concocted a heroine who could rescue him while being rescued. All of this set against a backdrop of saltwater and marine life and oh, fudge! Our family’s beachy vacations always include a stop to the local touristy candy store for homemade fudge.
Now here’s the after story. Remember that friend I met on the Washington Coast ten years ago? The location for that meeting was a place I never thought my humble family could afford to vacation in. But this summer, as my book is nearing its release date, my husband and youngest child and I were able to stay there for a short visit. God had brought my own story full circle. We ate at the same restaurant. We walked the same beach. We drove the same roads we’d driven ten years ago. The trip came up spur of the moment, with provision, and everything worked out. I could sense God’s handiwork, even in the minor details, as if He were smiling over all the joy He’d given me in seeing this dream come true.
So, if you’re looking for beachy books, check out MBI’s Oregon Coast compilation and my Friday Harbor book, releasing Sept. 1st. And get away to the beach for some sunshine, sand, and salty air.
Happy reading, friends!
Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. She likes to say she’s addicted to color as flowers and seascapes inspire her. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest.
Visit Annette: annetteirby.com