The World Needs More Pie

"Give a Piece a Chance." — Books. Blog. Pie Classes. And a Pinch of Activism.

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I have been writing all my life and while my byline has frequently appeared in some of the country’s top magazines, I always dreamed of writing a book, of being a published author. On Friday, February 18, 2011, four days ago–sixteen months before I turn 50, and eighteen months after my husband Marcus died–the Elusive Book Deal finally arrived.

This will be the official announcement in tomorrow’s Publishers Marketplace:

Making Piece: A Memoir about Love, Loss and Pie by Beth M. Howard, the author’s story of how pie helped her heal after losing her 43-year-old husband by traveling in an RV in search of pie stories, and ultimately arriving at the American Gothic House where she now lives and bakes pie, in a pre-empt to Ann Leslie Tuttle of Harlequin Nonfiction by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency (World English) in a very nice deal.

I should be ecstatic, I know. And a huge part of me is. But it is not lost on me that a) it took Marcus’ death for me to have a story compelling enough to interest a publisher (or a subject bone-crushingly tragic enough to force my writing to go deeper), and b) I still have to finish writing the manuscript. (So far I’m one-third of the way done.)

Oh, I WILL celebrate. Trust me on that. But I’m superstitious and prudent enough to delay the celebration and champagne until I have the entire book written. Which, hopefully, will be no more than two months from now. Provided I keep my (growing) butt in the chair.

Cover art for my book?
The title of Molly Moser’s painting, “Make Piece,”
inspired the name of my memoir

But let me just say this: Book deal or not, I love writing. I love the process of writing, of turning the noise inside my head into prose on the page, words that may be of guidance, or at least entertainment, to others.

Writing this particular book is no exception. Okay, maybe I’m not loving writing the parts about Marcus dying.

But even with this difficult subject matter, I find myself transported when I get immersed in a long writing session. (Funny, making pie has the same effect on me.) In fact, today I was in the middle of writing about driving the RV to LA (December 2009) when my phone rang. I had a two o’clock conference call with my agent (the phenomenal Deidre Knight) and my new editor (the gracious and enthusiastic Ann Leslie Tuttle at Harlequin Non-Fiction). Normally, I would have been watching the clock in anticipation of the call, but I was so absorbed in my writing, the phone startled me when it rang. Not only had I lost track of the time, I didn’t even realize I was in Iowa. As far as I knew, I had just arrived in Santa Monica and was about to park the RV. I was admiring the blue California sky, the magenta-colored bougainvillea, and inhaling the sagebrush-scented air. It took me a few minutes to remember that I was not actually in Los Angeles, and instead was sitting in the American Gothic House kitchen. I love it when that happens.

I am so grateful that writing is my profession, that I can afford to call myself a full-time writer (and part-time pie baker), that I live in a place so peaceful and grounding that my thoughts crystallize and pour out onto the page. I am grateful that I have a team of people in the book publishing world who think I have something meaningful enough to say that they’re investing their time, money, paper and ink in me.

I wrote the first page of “Making Piece: A Memoir about Love, Loss and Pie” last June and posted it on my blog. Here it is if you missed it. I didn’t write another word until January 2 (ya gotta love it when those New Year’s Resolutions pay off). But now, the words are coming faster, more urgently. I take it as a sign of progress, of healing, of my increasing ability — as the title suggests — of making peace with losing Marcus.

I hope you’ll buy a copy — or two. But you’ll have to wait until June of 2012, which, coincidentally, is the same month I turn 50. Seeing my first book in print will be the ultimate birthday to myself. Now that will be something to celebrate.