How I found my Publisher And Started to Write a Book at Retreat


The line of thirty completed journals standing side by side high on a shelf in my bedroom closet gave me the initial idea. While studying the various bindings, thickness and colors, some larger and brighter than others, I thought about the potential story housed within those thousands of pages. The journey, the characters, the wonder of whether my desire to write a book could also help others navigate their own challenging experiences without feeling so alone, like I did. I’d searched for a book to help me at Borders books. I couldn’t find the right one.

At first I wasn’t certain or clear on what exactly my book would be about. After talking with a friend of mine about courses I was taking at that time through Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City, and my burning desire to write more seriously, she suggested I follow an author and writing mentor named Joanne Fedler on Facebook. When I received a newsletter highlighting an upcoming writing retreat Joanne was offering in Fiji, the words felt as though they had lifted off the page and landed in my lap. “Limited to 10 participants, you will have 5 days of time, focus, and support to work on writing, whether it’s still an idea, a work in progress, or a draft.” 

I had excitedly shared the details with my husband, Gordon, while we stood in our soon to be remodeled kitchen. 

“You can’t find a good writing retreat nearby in San Francisco or Los Angeles? You have to go to Fiji?” He’d asked with eyebrows raised.

“I just feel like I’m meant to go, Honey. I can’t explain it.” As usual, he gave me his blessing and support to follow my dreams.

While writing on the porch of my own beachfront bure in Fiji after four full days of lessons and writing sessions followed by a one on one meeting with Joanne Fedler, was the vivid realization that I did indeed have a worthwhile story to tell. A story about not hearing my own truths, my own inner voice, and not speaking up. A story that might help others through their individual series of struggle. 

Following the writing retreat, I participated in a group mentoring program with Joanne and I wrote every single day. I signed up for her Author Awakening Adventure program and wrote and revised more. 

In November, 2014 I accompanied my husband on a dream trip of his - an skiing expedition in Antarctica. Not an adventurous skier, I participated in alternative activities such as visiting penguin rookeries and trekking with a group and guide. I realized during this 12 day trip how much my experience in Antarctica had strong parallels in terms of themes to the story I was writing. I wrote on the ship every chance I could. Unbeknownst to me then, escapades in Antarctica would provide a significant frame for This Kind of Silence.

My first draft was complete in 2015, but it was during the process of revisions and rewrites that the story began to take true shape and form. I kept in close touch with Joanne, who cheered me on through emails and Zoom sessions, eager to read a piece I wanted to share, and always believing in my ability to finish strong. 

I attended another workshop Joanne hosted about how to pitch, publish and promote a final manuscript in October 2017 in Sydney as my draft moved towards it’s final phase. At this time, Joanne had just established her own publishing company called Joanne Fedler Media, while continuing to coach many writers through each phase of writing a solid story.

When I finished and finalized my manuscript, had it professionally edited, revised it again, and reached completion of a full solid manuscript I was proud of, I sent it to Joanne to read. Not only was she full of praise, pride, and encouragement for me to seek all publishing opportunities, she also told me she would be honored to publish it if I wanted her as my publisher. This was another moment when one of those all-knowing voices of wisdom within spoke with clarity. I knew the answer was yes. This baby who’s viable form started in Fiji five years earlier, would be birthed to the world by the most wonderful book mid-wife I could ever imagine having by my side - Joanne Fedler. That baby, This Kind of Silence, will be released March 8, 2019. 

Michele Brown