|Wedding Day – Havana, Cuba 2003|
I am thrilled to report that after roughly nine years of writing and editing a memoir, La Americana, I recently scored a book deal with Skyhorse Publishing, a New York-based house with nine imprints and a stellar roster of authors, including best sellers and 2012 Nobel Prize winner for literature, Mo Yan.
My story begins in 2000, as a newbie University of Georgia journalism grad pressing to climb the editorial ranks of Talk Media, the joint venture between Tina Brown and Harvey Weinstein that produced Talk magazine and Talk Miramax Books. But when my mother was hit with an advanced stage of cancer that same year and died seven months later, it sent me head on into a tailspin. I left New York in March 2001, devastated and lost, only to land in Havana’s José Martí airport weeks later. I was there in escape and never expected to meet my now husband, Luis, nor spend the better part of next three years on Castro’s isle as we waited for a visa that would allow him to move to the U.S.
The warmth of Cuban locals, the exotic locale and exposure to intimate cultural experiences like the raw and riveting power of Afro-Cuban ceremonies, were offset by my introduction to police harassment, the Cuban hustle to survive, mounting travel costs and growing bitter sentiment between President Bush and Castro. It was a very crazy, exciting and occasionally terrifying time.
Slated for a Spring 2016 release, La Americana: A Memoir/Love Story in Cuba (or something like that, as the subtitle is still yet TBD) intrigued my new editor, Julie, for its cross sections of travel, culture, politics, love and loss. When I got the offer via email, sitting poolside during one of my daughter’s swimming lessons, it felt like a quick sting, a slap to the face, and then my eyes welled.
It was a very emotional thing for me, having such a huge dream realized, especially during one of life’s everyday moments, but in the following week my nerves played somewhere between excitement and disbelief, so much so that I literally couldn’t eat for days. I had been, after all, plucked out of obscurity with no “platform” to ride on. I don’t have thousands of followers on Facebook and I just opened a Twitter account a couple of months ago.
While Cuba is a hot topic and I did the hard work, pushing that book out in the madness of babies, marriage, work and life, I also have to do a shout out to Savannah’s creative set. Specifically, Polly Powers Stramm, who edited my manuscript with a sharp, compassionate knife, and Janice Shay, who guided me over the course of a year and made the deal happen a couple of weeks ago.
In a bit of a full circle moment, my book will be distributed by Perseus Books Group, which is in partnership with Nation Books, as well as joint ventures with Weinstein Books, owned by Harvey, and The Daily Beast, created by Tina Brown.
|Photo credit: Mayra Roubach|