I’m briefly pausing from getting psyched for All of You’s launch (October 11, baby!) to share that Saturday, October 1, marks six years of marriage to the day for Craig and me. (I know, right? Like, when did that happen? How did it all go by so quickly?) To celebrate, Craig and I decided to give our co-penned novel, You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky, a cover makeover and do a Kindle sale for our anniversary month, effective October 1.
We also kind of wanted to renew our vows to this book. Let me explain.
In April 2016, while on an overnight trip to Seattle to see Paul McCartney in concert, Craig and I joined some folks at Lake Union, our publisher at the time, for lunch.
“We totally want you to co-write a novel,” they said. “A he-said-she-said, but not too rom-com.”
Craig and I agreed, excited by the idea. When we were platonic friends, we’d tossed around the possibility that perhaps we could co-write something. Our Facebook banter had become like good jazz, each one riffing off the other.
This was all talk at this stage, however—no contracts were signed.
Later that year, on a road trip to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with Craig’s family, an idea came to us, and we could hardly wait not only to write it, but also to pitch it to Lake Union and watch them do their magic.
We wrote the manuscript in 2017. We did indeed use the he-said-she-said trope, but with a twist—a third character named Mr. Blue Sky, who happened to be a guardian angel with a penchant for 1970s pop culture. This third voice interjected between the other two, and functioned as a sort of Greek chorus. Craig and I had a great time writing it, and we challenged ourselves by switching roles, meaning I predominantly wrote in the male character’s POV and Craig in the female’s POV. We took turns writing Mr. Blue Sky, and especially had fun with those chapters. We then sent it to my literary agent Nalini, who signed Craig as well.
She pitched it to Lake Union.
They passed on it.
They also, subsequently, dropped us.*
Enough time has passed where I can look at this moment with some detachment, say “them’s the business,”** and be OK. But at the time, the rejection was the arrow to my chest that bled for years. As much as I stress the need to stay in a business mindset, I so often use love relationship metaphors when speaking about said business. This was the moment when Lake Union divorced us, left us for newer, shinier authors, and let me tell you, I was completely unprepared for it. I wanted to stay happily married, couldn’t believe I was being passed over, wanted to prove my love and loyalty and capability to keep on being a successful author.
After additional submissions and rejections to other publishers, Craig and I decided to publish YMMBS ourselves, our first book under our Lancarello Enterprises umbrella.
But first, a move across country. Which wasn’t going so well. But we weren’t ready to admit that to ourselves or each other.
Craig and I were in a dark place all around. Our royalties had decreased to the point of no longer being sustainable. We were stung by the rejection, and adrift without a publisher. Our creative wells had run dry. And our new home had yet to take root (it never did, through no fault of its or our own).
We released YMMBS in January 2019 (my birthday, to be exact), and by then we were so burnt out on the business that we barely cared. We did little to no promotion. We didn’t schedule a tour until months later, and did it in our then-former residence of Montana (and I ended up not accompanying Craig; a different story altogether).
Of course, I put on a different face. Made it seem like the launch had a good jump out of the gate.
And yet, we loved this book. We were proud of it. Within the coming year, it would earn a Finalist position in two awards. And those readers who stuck with us loved it as well. One reader loved it so much that she posed with it—and her book club—at her wedding.
We just weren’t capable of expressing that love at the time, or putting it in action. We didn’t have the bandwidth.
Fast-forward three years.
We moved back to Montana. We made peace with our parting with Lake Union. Craig joined forces with a new publisher, and I tried other things until I finally returned to my first love and went all in on Elisa Lorello, Author 2.0 with re-calibrated expectations.
We were on to new books and new ideas. But we occasionally looked at You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky and wished we’d done a better job of setting it up for success.
It might not be possible for YMMBS to have a second first time (see what I did there?), and I certainly don’t want anything stealing All of You’s thunder, but our anniversary seemed like the perfect time to renew our commitment to it. To make amends for its lackluster entrance into the world. To cut the energetic cords of rejection and resentment and burnout that had surrounded it.
Just like Craig and I do every year on our anniversary. We recommit. We renew. We cut the cords of yesterday and look forward to tomorrow while giving thanks for today.
We know Mr. Blue Sky approves, and is cheering us on.
*By the time we officially submitted YMMBS, both Craig’s and my last couple of books with Lake Union didn’t sell well. From a business point of view, that’s pretty much the nail in the coffin in terms of future prospects with the same publisher, regardless of how good the manuscript is.
**There’s a load of privilege in this post, and in our life. I never want to lose sight of that. We lived a dream so many authors never get to actualize. So please don’t interpret any of this as a “poor-me” tale.
Want the snazzy new paperback (and who wouldn't)? You can order it through This House of Books, and you can even request for both of us to sign it at no extra charge!
NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU SPECIFICALLY REQUEST THE NEW COVER! Use the ORDER COMMENTS text box on the online order to specify that you want the new cover and/or a signed/inscribed copy. (You can also call the store direct!) And please allow several weeks for the new design to take effect and be delivered. (At the time of this writing, the old cover is still showing on the website.)
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I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.