The Return to Paris, the Starred Review, an Upcoming Book Launch…and More!

Less than a month ago, I was strolling the streets of Paris once again, after two and a half years away. Needless to say, I am grateful to be able to travel again, grateful to be here, and just in general, I am trying not to take things for granted anymore (especially with everything going on in the world).

Paris, je t’aime

When I arrived in Paris after all that time away, my two best friends who live in France were waiting for me at the airport, and let me just say—when I hugged them tight and my eyes got misty, the ugliness of Charles De Gaulle Terminal 2A melted away, replaced with the vivid brushstrokes of raw and unfiltered joy.

The funny thing was, this trip wasn’t even about Paris at all. We’d planned the trip as a getaway to Sicily, our first jaunt together as the three musketeers. But would I pass on the chance to fly in and out of Paris, and spend a few days in the city that has my heart? Of course-fucking-not.

I will write about Sicily another time (and I still have to write about the wondrous time that was had in Puglia in 2019, and in Slovenia the year before that), but for now I can confirm that Paris is as glorious as ever, fresh croissant are as flaky (and chewy) as ever, “wine on a terrace” life continues to thrive (thank god), and walking 20,000+ steps a day still feels normal and essential when in Paris (although I had to stop at the foot of Sacré Coeur on the second day in Paris by mid afternoon, to apply a bandage to a bourgeoning blister). I can also confirm that leaning on the bridge at the Seine River at night, and watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle while you’re arm-in-arm with your BFF, is still as glorious as ever. It simply never gets old.

There are also those hilarious and unexpected moments—which still seem to occur despite this being my ninth time in Paris—and this latest one happened in Montmartre, after a long walk, a lot of stairs, and an intense need for a late afternoon drink on a terrace. It happened across the pedestrian street, where in plain view (and full earshot), a Frenchman with an accordion seated by the curb, was full on shouting expletives at the woman at a table just a few feet away. She, meanwhile, was smoking her cig and muttering some things, not giving a shit at all. From what we could surmise, she had said something to provoke him—not that it should excuse his aggressive outburst. She probably called out his terrible music (justified), and when the waiter in his crisp white shirt and black apron arrived on the scene to break things up, he actually, kind of…didn’t break up anything at all. He seemed as disengaged as the woman, staying on theme of giving very little shits, despite the fact that a rowdy situation was unfolding at his literal workplace. It’s France, you guys. Needless to say, the curbside cobblestoned theatre made every sip of my drink taste better, and every laugh between myself and my pals even louder. I love Paris.

Here are some photos from my whirlwind return to beautiful Paris (with a second return just a few weeks away—more on that in the next edition).

Less than 3 weeks until the launch of 24 Hours in Paris!

Meanwhile, I have a novel about Paris that will be releasing online and in bookstores in less than three weeks, so now’s a good time to talk about the many (many!) things that have happened since I last wrote about the book deal.

The starred review a.k.a. holy shit

The first thing—which shocked me and filled me with joy—was receiving not only a Publishers Weekly starred review for 24 Hours in Paris, but a review so positive, it blew my mind and the minds of multiple people on my team who have worked in the traditional publishing industry for years. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I come from the self-published world, so to receive a review like that for my traditionally published debut? It made me feel like I wasn’t wrong for believing in myself for all those years when I was a self-published party of one (and it made me grateful for the people in my life who always believed in me too). Here’s a link to the review and you can also read it below:

The physical book a.k.a. also holy shit

Receiving my author copies and getting to hold the book in my hands—the result of 86,000 words written, structurally-edited, line-edited (twice), copy-edited, and proofread within nine months with a full-time copywriting job to boot—well…it was a monumental thing. It also closely aligned with my birthday, so naturally I had to celebrate.

Preorders (and no rest for the type-A dreamers)

It would’ve been great to be like “I got a starred review, I’m launching a book in a month, time to chill out and bask in my success, suckas!”, but anyone who knows anything about publishing knows you have to scrape and claw to find success in an extremely saturated market, even when you’re traditionally published. You also probably know that the traditional publishing industry has historically ignored POC writers, and even though efforts are being made to fix that, the industry is still years behind other mediums like streaming services, which are finally giving more POC-led artistic endeavours a chance (which has resulted in the opportunity to binge-watch some of the best and most memorable shows in recent years with POC characters and creators at the forefront—see that, industries? You’ve been missing out!)

As a POC author with a novel that is led by a POC protagonist, I feel immense pressure not to fuck this up. I’ve spent over a decade trying to make my mark in writing books, and I finally have the chance to be on a broader stage, to have the kind of exposure I never would’ve had as a self-published author. With this opportunity before me, I don’t want my book release to barely make a dent and be quickly forgotten. I don’t want to fail and then give ammo to the ones in powerful positions, the ones who still wrongly believe that “diversity doesn’t sell.” I want the book that I wrote from my heart—the one that doesn’t use POC characters as tokens, but rather as complex people with hopes and flaws and desires and dreams (because hello—we are human beings too)—to be successful!

No pressure, right?

For the reasons above, my mind won’t rest, nor will my colour-coded marketing content calendar that I continually update in Google Sheets, even though I know my publisher is helping me too. I have lost my mind.

The good thing is, all the thinking and planning and communication has resulted in a good level of social engagement, and even some conversion into preorder sales, which are another new aspect I didn’t experience in the solo self-publishing world.

I’m told that preorders are very important, to drum up demand and help bookstores—and libraries—see that your book is an exciting story, a cool-ass thing they should be stocking up on ASAP. I can’t control every aspect of this preorder thing, but thank you to the many on social media who have preordered my book thus far. It is very appreciated, and if you haven’t had a chance to preorder 24 Hours in Paris but are interested in doing so (or would like to order another copy for a friend), all of the purchase links are here.

A first podcast interview and hating my voice

I mean…the subheading pretty much sums it up. It was an absolute thrill to be invited on This Podcast Needs a Title, for an amazing talk about publishing, random stuff like Jurassic Park and Seinfeld, and of course my upcoming book. It was such a thrill, in fact, that I’m not even embarrassed to share the link (which contains my ridiculous Canadian voice that kind of sounds like a 1990s valley girl). You can listen to episode 21 on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Just when I thought the starred review was the pinnacle…

So…every year, the Publishers Weekly staff decides on their “Best Books Summer Reads 2022” list. Somehow…me, just the debut author girl from the self-published world, was the TOP FREAKIN’ ROMANCE PICK OUT OF ONLY FIVE ROMANCE BOOKS CHOSEN! This happened two days ago. I’m still buzzing about it. You can see the list here, and here’s what they said about why it’s a great summer read.

And to be exact: two weeks and four days ’til the book launch (yes, I’m counting)

I’m tired, but it’s the glorious tiredness of watching a lifelong dream take shape. In the next two weeks and four days (as of midnight), I’ll be keeping my head above water at the full-time copywriting gig, sharing sneak peeks and tidbits about the book on Twitter/Instagram/TikTok (you can find me on all those channels at the username “romimoondi”), and finally, on May 10th (a.k.a. release day), I will be giving myself a moment to take a break, soak it all in, and ENJOY IT.

Until then, follow along on social media, and thanks for coming by and reading this blog, this thing that in the world now ruled by Gen Z, feels as archaic as Fred Flintstone ordering a brontosaurus burger (at the drive-in he arrived at by peddling his stone-made car with his fucking bare feet. Young people scare me).

More to come after the launch!

À bientôt,

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