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The Journey of the Coffee Table Book – Part I

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The Journey of the Coffee Table Book — Part I

With the countdown on for the book launch September 17, 2012, I thought I’d share my personal journey of the book. Sometimes it is hard to believe that I am now in the publishing world.  How did this happen?  From actress, to event producer, to creating the “Meanwhile, …” show to book!  Life sometimes takes you on a much different path than you ever imagined and you just have to buckle up and enjoy the ride…
On January 6, 2012, I delivered the “Meanwhile, Back At Cafe Du Monde…” book materials to Pelican Publishing.  After 32 shows in 3 states (Louisiana, Mississippi, California) with over 230 people sharing their life stories around food, there would soon be a beautiful coffee table book of the Louisiana life stories about food with pictures and recipes from 67 of the Louisiana food stories along with the history and vintage pictures of Cafe Du Monde!  

In September 2010, I had invited the Pelican Publishing team to come see the “Meanwhile, Back at Cafe Du Monde…” New Orleans show at Ralph & Kacoo’s Restaurant in the French Quarter. Dr. Calhoun, Owner/Publisher, and his team loved the show and embraced my idea of creating a coffee table book with the stories, recipes and pictures.  After presenting them an outline a few months later, we went through months of discussions with the Pelican team led by Editor-in-Chief, Nina Kooij; my literary agent, Anna Olswanger at the Liza Dawson Agency in New York; and my attorney, Jeff Spellerberg in Los Angeles. It was a new world and scary at times, but very exciting.

I finally signed the contract a little over a year later on October 6, 2011 at the Pelican office in Gretna, Louisiana (across the Mississippi River from New Orleans). I was thrilled as I truly felt it was a milestone in my life and a huge step for the “Meanwhile, Back At Cafe Du Monde…” brand! 
Immediately, nerves set in as I knew I had a huge amount of work to do in three months to meet my deadline of January 6, 2012. Was I nuts? I’ve never written or produced a book before – could I do it? What was I thinking? I must be crazy! I wanted the book to come out in the Fall of 2012, in time for the holidays and Pelican had told me it would need to delivered by January if I wanted it to be launched in the Fall.
I flew back home to Los Angeles and a week later, I received an email from Pelican that said, “Congratulations you will soon be a Pelican published author. Click here for instructions on how to deliver the book materials” and I clicked to see a very intimidating long list with format needed for text and pictures, indexing, printing hard copy, etc. I remember reading it around 9:00 PM and I literally felt sick. OMG – what have I done – how can I possibly do this? I was totally overwhelmed and almost started to cry. I couldn’t believe my reaction, physical, mental and emotionally. I had worked so hard to get this book deal and now I felt like I could not possibly do everything that was required in a few months! I took a deep breath and told myself that I would figure it out a day at a time and ask for help. I went to bed and prayed for guidance and the courage to make this book happen. My husband, Jimmy, reminded me that the joy is in the journey and this definitely was going to be an adventure and I would learn as I went.

Two days later, I went to my mailbox and received the Cafe Du Monde 2011 Holiday Catalog! The picture on the cover took my breath away!  There on the cover was a vintage picture of Cafe Du Monde in the New Orleans French Quarter with a banner across the page “Celebrating 150th Anniversary in 2012” and inside was the history of Cafe Du Monde.  I realized what a gift it was that the book would come out in the Fall of 2012, the year of their anniversary!  I emailed Karen and Burt Benrud who run the business and asked them if I could include the history and some of the vintage pictures and they emailed me back saying I could definitely include the history and they would give me all their vintage pictures for the book. I had previously asked Karen Benrud to write the foreword and she had graciously accepted. Her Grandfather, Hubert N. Fernandez Fernandez, bought the cafe 70 years ago and running the cafe, gift shops, catalog and on-line store is truly a family affair. To have their history and vintage pictures in the book would be the icing on the cake or I should say, the powdered sugar on the beignets! I felt so blessed and at that moment I knew everything would work out exactly the way it was supposed to be!
Stay tuned for the next part of the book journey in my next blog.  Thanks for being a part of my journey!
Meanwhile, Back at Cafe’ Du Monde…
The festive and unique monlogue event about the
2nd Universal Language – FOOD and how our lives
revolve around the satisfaction of it!