It’s the end of a seemingly ordinary workday when an email from the senior editor at the publishing house arrives. The subject line is, “Offer of contract coming on Friday.”

I gasp. Does this mean what I think it means?

I click to open the email, chanting, “Oh my God oh my God oh my God.”

It does mean what I think it means. It means that after weeks of waiting and years of work, Broadleaf Books is offering me a book deal.

I have put my whole heart into this book, and the sweetness of knowing that it is going out into the world this way is almost more than I can bear.

There’s a text message from my literary agent: “CONGRATULATIONS!!! Check your email!”

But I can’t respond to either message, not right this second. I need a minute to breathe. I’m 33 years old and 35 weeks pregnant, and I’ve wanted to be a published author ever since I was six years old.

In pursuit of this dream, I’ve been blogging for eight years, and writing for many more. I’ve spent countless hours conducting interviews and giving freely and building our community and readership.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes I’ve written and rewritten this book in its entirety, multiple times. I’ve created a proposal, and then a different proposal.

This was not an easy or straightforward process. I’ve had to wrestle with the voice of doubt, the voice that hisses, “Guess it’s just not going to happen.”

But all of it has brought me to here, now, to this overwhelming moment.

“Oh, I need to find Jonathan,” I whisper. And there is a rush of love in my heart, such complete clarity in knowing who needs to hear this news first. I will call my closest friends soon, but first I need to find my husband.

He has always believed that I could do this, and he has offered so much practical support in service of this goal. He’s built websites and designed banners til the cows come home. He deserves to hear this news immediately.

Jonathan is outside, painting our porch in the stifling Alabama heat. We’ve been married for nearly 10 years; the moment he sees me, he puts down the paintbrush.

(This is us the night before our baby was born.)

“I got a book deal,” I say, and his face breaks into a full-on grin. My husband is the king of subtle facial expressions – the single raised brow, the slight half-smile – so this? This is special.

He wipes the last of the white paint off his hands before carefully wrapping his arms around me in my black tank top and big belly. It is too hot for hugging, but we don’t care.

I have to cry – just a few happy tears – and he has to hold me close and say, “What is this? No crying!” which of course only makes me cry more.

Even as I’m in it, I know that it’s one of those moments I’ll remember all of my life. We are standing there in our front yard in each other’s arms, feeling our long-awaited baby kick. She is strong and bright as the late-afternoon light, bathing us all in blessing.

It’s too hot to stay outside for long. Passing the mirror in our hallway, I stop. There’s someone else I need to talk to: Me.

“You did it. You are an epic fucking badass,” I say to my reflection, quoting Katherine North and swearing with a smile on my face.

My upbringing strictly forbade swearing, and I save it for special occasions. Right now, the once-forbidden words feel just right.

“You didn’t give up,” I say to myself. “It has been a long road, and you did not give up. I am so freaking proud of you. You fought for this. And now you get to go ahead and enjoy every bit of it.”

And that’s when it dawns on me: This sense of celebration in my core is not just about the book’s publication.

It’s about the way I’m talking to myself now. This is what I’ve been practicing for so long. This is what all of the inner and outer work has wrought.

This is what I’ve always wanted, even more than a book deal:
To be in my own corner.
To look myself in the eye, say kind words to myself, and mean them.

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  1. Denis June 29, 2021 at 9:38 AM - Reply

    Congratulations, Caroline, not just for the tenacity and the book, but for the baby too!
    At approximately the same time, we got our first grand-daughter.
    She was also born out of a lot of tenacity.
    Very best wishes,
    ;Denis (from M.A.)

    • Caroline McGraw June 29, 2021 at 11:50 PM - Reply

      Thank you so much, Denis! It’s great to hear from you, and I’m delighted to hear your happy news. Congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter! It sounds like she too is a force to be reckoned with. 🙂

  2. Sondra June 29, 2021 at 9:58 AM - Reply

    Caroline, thank you for trusting the nudge and sharing this story! Perfect timing for me. I also loved the part about you needing to talk to YOU. Your beautiful story models the perseverance and importance of being in your own corner, with kindness and love. 💕
    Hope you are enjoying your maternity leave!

    • Caroline McGraw June 29, 2021 at 11:51 PM - Reply

      Sondra, I’m so glad to hear that this story resonated with you! Thank you for letting me know that it landed for you, and for the well wishes too. <3

  3. Renee June 29, 2021 at 2:54 PM - Reply

    Congratulations on the births of your human baby, your book baby, and the new you! There is so very much to celebrate!

    • Caroline McGraw June 29, 2021 at 11:51 PM - Reply

      Thank you for celebrating with me, Renee! I am touched by your words.

  4. Bridget June 29, 2021 at 5:24 PM - Reply

    Absolutely lovely. I’m glad you have reached “epic fucking badass”-edness. I’m sure you will continue to do so. There are many in your corner – glad you joined their ranks.

  5. Lynnette June 29, 2021 at 8:44 PM - Reply

    Wow! Wow! Wow!… did it! You deserve to be proud and busting from the seams. To have stayed true to both you and your dream – you are a remarkable young lady. Enjoy and bathe in these moments.

    • Caroline McGraw June 29, 2021 at 11:52 PM - Reply

      Lynnette, that is so kind of you – thank you. I feel the celebration coming through your words, and I’m grateful.

  6. Nicole June 30, 2021 at 12:06 AM - Reply

    I loved reading about your special moment. The moment where epic and hugs and knowing and being in your own corner all collided in a happy dance celebration-kind-of-way. Beautiful and so well deserved! Congratulations xxx

    • Caroline McGraw July 1, 2021 at 11:04 PM - Reply

      Nicole, I’m glad to share this story with you! Thank you for reading and for celebrating with me here. I know you know what it takes to create a book too! 🙂

  7. Carly June 30, 2021 at 11:14 AM - Reply

    Dear Caroline,
    I Love this story. I ESPECIALLY Love the self Love in the mirror BEST! Of coarse I am super proud of your published book but you know and I know that the self Love that we give ourselves first brings us amazing outcomes. This story is a GREAT reminder for me personally. I too am a writer, no book out there yet, but have been writing since I was 8, when I received a journal for my birthday from Auntie Eileen. I have been writing ever since. I get confused sometimes, not knowing which step to make sometimes. This story gave me joy, hope and a beautiful reminder of self love.

    • Caroline McGraw July 1, 2021 at 11:07 PM - Reply

      Thank you Carly! You said it – the love we give ourselves brings us amazing outcomes. And good for you for keeping up with your writing even during the times when you’re not sure what step to take. I’m cheering you on and hope to read your book someday.

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