Heading for the hills

Posted by in Book

Dear amigo,

We’re heading north on the Pan-American Highway toward Managua. The tuk-tuk wagons and occasional cattle herds slow our progress, but we hope for a safe arrival within the hour. Once in Managua, Müffa will spend the better part of the day renewing his resident visa while I post up and work from a food court at a shopping mall. Once our business in the capital city is wrapped up we’ll head farther north into the coffee-growing region of the country, just outside of Matagalpa, for a writing retreat in the mountains. We are both looking forward to feeling cool air again as we complete the last leg of the proposal-writing marathon.

We wouldn’t have known where to start on this proposal if it weren’t for a thoughtful gift from Chris Guillebeau. He forwarded us a book-writing guide that he and his literary agent, David Fugate, created called the Unconventional Guide to Publishing to help get us started. Within it are detailed descriptions of what’s needed in each section, along with a few examples of completed proposals from other writers. This framework has lent much-needed structure to our work together, turning what would’ve felt like a blind sprint up a mountainside into a paced jog along the oceanfront.

Over the last few days, we’ve made our home base at a rustic farmhouse on the outskirts of San Juan del Sur. The house itself has been generously loaned to us by Tim Kelly, a philanthropist and land owner in the area. The quieter surroundings have provided a less distracted setting for us to make progress on writing detailed outlines and summaries for each chapter of the book. Sure, we miss the amenities of Casa Oro – espresso and air conditioning – but they are small luxuries to sacrifice in the service of writing a book.

Meanwhile, as we’ve both been dedicating every spare hour to this project, we’ve also been busy with our lives as usual. Last month, Müffa hosted his Tio and Tia, as they came to see the newly renovated hostel and share delicious curry recipes with kitchen staff. And, hot on the heels of the hostel’s expansion, the restaurant and bar are in process of being revamped under the leadership of an extremely talented chef from New York named John Sagradaca and his partner, a designer, Hillary Steedle. All at the same time, Dane has been preparing for the launch of an online magazine for creative professionals that he’s editing and co-creating.

Obviously, life doesn’t slow down just because you decide to write a book. If anything, it feels more loco than ever.

A deadline for the book proposal has been set; it directly corresponds to Dane’s departure date: May 4th. We are confident that, with time spent writing during the retreat up north, we’ll be ready to call the proposal “good” by the time Dane flies out of Nicaragua. However, we are equally aware that the work has only just begun. After the proposal is written (and reviewed by trusted friends who like editing), we will begin shopping the book to publishers. To be honest, we are a little unsure what that process will look like. If you have any experience in pitching a proposal to a publisher, please reach out. We aren’t ashamed to admit that we don’t have that part totally understood.

For now, we aim to spend our retreat writing an example chapter to include in the proposal. All that to say, we’ve got about 20 pages of writing to do in the next three days. Wish us luck!

All the best,
Müffa & Señor Johnson

PS: If you missed the first newsletter about this book-writing subject, check it out here.

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