So here’s the honest-to-goodness truth…
When I first pitched my editor the idea for Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish, I was unbelievably excited about the project. There were dreams of a hunky, brilliant chef with a temper, trying to salvage his reputation. There were visions of a sweet and innovative Southern pastry chef fighting tooth and nail to maintain her dignity and kindness. And there was so much anticipation for the romantic scenes in the kitchen! (Because #cookingandkissing is the best.)
And then I wrote the thing.
Let me tell you…God and I wrestled over this one and, truth be told, I hated almost every minute of creating the first draft. I knew the story wasn’t shaping up the way I had dreamed, and I was sad to discover I found no joy in writing, for the first time I can remember.
And then my editor read what I had written.
Now, if you’re thinking this is the part of the story where my editor saw the magic that existed in the story and reassured me that I was actually a decent writer, and that the manuscript just needed a little polish to become the masterpiece we had envisioned from the beginning, well…no. Not exactly. Not at all, really. I was given two-and-a-half weeks to do a complete rewrite. And I’m not using the word “rewrite” loosely. I literally had to rewrite the book. Characters, situations, romance, fights…even one character’s POV.
It. Was. Horrifying.
But it was also exciting. And, in a strange way, it was also reassuring to find out my editor thought it was bad in all the same ways I had known it was bad. That told me I hadn’t completely lost touch. I had just not been able to get things on the page the way I knew they needed to be. But I had a second chance (and a very scary, tight deadline) to make it happen.
So…I rewrote the thing.
And the second time, God and I didn’t wrestle. We’d already done that. He’d already won. Between His guidance and my editor’s, I finally understood exactly what the story needed to be. Funnier. Sexier. More relatable. More painful. More hopeful. And did I mention sexier? For two-and-a-half weeks, I wrote. Apart from family, church, and work, I did nothing else. (And I even took a little time away from family, church, and work.)
And then I turned the new book into my editor.
It had not only become the book I dreamed it would be, back in the very beginning, it had become the book she had dreamed it would be, too. Oh…it wasn’t perfect. I had a round of edits with her after that (and had about a week-and-a-half until that deadline) and had to write a couple new chapters. Easy peasy, right? I mean, I finally knew what I was doing. I finally understood this story. I loved these characters and wanted to spend more time with them…so no problem!
Except I AM SUCH AN ISRAELITE SOMETIMES!!
Do you know what I mean? I never understand why the Israelites continued to question God, time after time after time. After He freed them from the Egyptians. After He parted the Red Sea. After plagues and Passover. After He delivered manna to their doorstep each day, with more efficiency than Amazon Prime has ever dreamed of. And still, the minute the going got tough, they started building idols and whining about how much easier life was when they were slaves. I don’t understand that. And yet I do the same thing. Time after time after time.
I sent my editor panicked texts, warning her that I had ruined the book.
I talked to my agent and basically begged her to assure me my career wasn’t over.
But God had not left me (of course). In fact, He showed Himself in the biggest, most impactful way by giving me new words that, as it turned out, were the perfect, complete answers to earlier questions that I didn’t even know had been asked.
You guys...I love this book, and I hope you will, too. The sweet and innovative Southern pastry chef is more strong and complex than I’d ever envisioned. The romantic scenes in the kitchen (and other places, too!) will not disappoint. (At least…I like them!) And the hunky, brilliant chef with a temper? He surpassed my wildest dreams and managed to becomemy favorite hero I have written. I can’t wait for you to meet Hadley and Max. And I can’t wait to tell all the stories of how God was faithful and present through it all, and how this difficult, frustrating, heartbreaking process shaped into a book I love more than I had ever imagined was possible.
Here it is! The cover of Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish!
Now…it isn’t completely final. For one thing, that Publishers Weekly quote at the top is just a placeholder for an author endorsement. But it’s not going to change too much. So what do you think? I just think Gayle Raymer (Art Director at Revell/Baker Publishing Group) and her team do such an amazing job of creating covers that capture the tone, heart, and nuances of a story. I’m so grateful for that!
With this cover, I particularly love the antagonistic rolling pin and knife!