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How I Wrote a Book and Got Published Without Meaning To

I never intended to write a book.

In 2008, I was teaching sex ed classes to 7th graders. I was 37, getting ready to send my only child off to college, and floating around in a long term relationship with a cop who had a magazine addiction and tool hoarding issue. If he paid a bill now and again, I might have endured the landslide of Popular Mechanics and collection of antique hand planes that made their way from eBay to my bedroom. I knew the relationship had to end but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be the one to end it or if I would suffocate under another collapse of piled high periodicals.


Column by Caroline E. Zani, author of PIPER, ONCE AND AGAIN
(July 11, 2016, Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing). Caroline is a spirit
medium and author quite by chance. She loves nothing more than to
work with people who come to her feeling lost and broken and showing
them the amazing gift of intuition they didn’t know they had. She resides
in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter and many four-legged friends.
Follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Feeling conflicted and bored, I finally accepted an invitation to a much talked about pocketbook party at which there would also be a woman reading cards. Knowing I didn’t need a knock-off purse and certainly not interested in having Oda May Brown making up my future by looking at playing cards while taking my money, I left my house. I figured I could have a glass of wine and escape relatively unscathed by buying the cheapest wristlet that would probably only see the inside of my closet until spring cleaning when I would most likely donate it. The evening was everything I thought it would be and as the hostess was looking for my coat another woman approached and asked, “Are you writing a book?” I told her, “No, but I always say I’m going to.” She told me she saw me writing a book and that it was going to be very important—that people need the story and it will help them. And to this day, I laugh when I remember her saying, “It will catapult you to very different work." I then realized that she was the card reader from the den. She certainly did not look a bit like Whoopi’s character in Ghost and she was not wearing a scarf on her head. She seemed like a very normal, well put together, articulate woman. I shrugged and put my coat on. I accepted her business card with no intention of ever looking at it and so I felt it belonged zipped safely in my new wristlet (on sale for $23).

(4 Signs of an Unhealthy Agent-Author Relationship.)

I went home intrigued and tired, but more so intrigued. I poured half of a glass of wine and sat at my computer and opened a Word document. Looking past the screen in front of me suddenly there were names, faces, scents, scenes and truly another world there. I started typing what I saw—as it really, incredibly, was just right there as if it was just waiting for me. And so it went for the next 76 consecutive evenings. Chapter after chapter, I diligently captured a novel from that ethereal space beyond my computer screen and behind my physical eyes.

Not knowing what to do with my manuscript, I resigned it to a shelf above my computer. Almost exactly a year later my life was in tatters—a grim grey landscape of despair.

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I was raped by a prominent doctor and got a firsthand look at what “justice” means in the court system. Badly broken and with newfound abilities to receive and deliver messages from people who have passed, I thought I’d lost my mind. That’s a column for another day, but as it turns out I hadn’t lost my mind and instead found my path and, thankfully, a mentor who could help me understand how an out-of -body experience during a traumatic event can change you and not necessarily in negative ways.

After contacting the number of the woman on that tucked away business card and hearing that I had a lot of unseen help with my novel, I knew she was right. This book was going to help people as it helped me during my darkest days. Feeling lifeless and alone, I would flip through my manuscript and see words I hadn’t remembered writing but they helped me take the next breath.

(Once you sign with a literary agent, can you get out of the deal?)

Another year passed and I handed off my manuscript to a woman at her request and she sent it to another woman in L.A. who contacted her agent who pitched another title to a press in Oregon. Nancy Clearly of Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing turned that title down and inquired about PIPER, ONCE AND AGAIN. From there, it has been an amazing journey of understanding that life has a bigger imagination for us if we are open to the synchronicity and rhythm all around us. If it weren’t for my life exploding in a big way, that manuscript would still be on my shelf. Instead, it’s being released with fantastic advanced praise. I am one grateful writer.


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