El Libro: It’s Happening!

Before I dive into the details, I’ll get straight to the story first: I signed a book deal! (There it is on the table, done and done.) And… It’s a cookbook! Typing out those words is something I still can’t believe. I’ve been sitting on this news for a few months and it should’ve been…

Linda Ly
My first book deal

Before I dive into the details, I’ll get straight to the story first: I signed a book deal! (There it is on the table, done and done.)

And… It’s a cookbook!

Typing out those words is something I still can’t believe. I’ve been sitting on this news for a few months and it should’ve been part of my 2013 year-end wrap-up, but I wasn’t quite ready to divulge yet. (Yep, that was the big news I was so eager to not tell!)

It’s been full speed ahead on the manuscript since last month, and I’ve been cooking and eating and dishwashing like a fiend. My refrigerator looks like it hasn’t been emptied since the holidays… but thankfully, there’s nary a turkey or cranberry in sight. My crisper bins are bursting out the sides, and every shelf is packed with jars of homemade condiments and platters of meals-in-progress.

The husband — whom you might know as Will Taylor — is my guinea pig/recipe tester/styling assistant/photographer extraordinaire. He’s shooting the whole book! (Such a different subject from what he normally shoots — after all, you can’t really tell tomatoes to arch their backs or point their toes — but so far the images are looking amazing.)

I’ve had the idea for this book percolating in my head since last year… a cookbook that I haven’t yet seen on the shelves. I needed to sit down and get all those thoughts out of my head and onto a piece of paper to even know whether it was viable.

One week later turned into one month later turned into three months later… when finally, six months later, a road trip we’d planned had to be postponed because of Will’s work. Not wanting to let a long weekend go to waste, I called a girlfriend and we met up in the California desert for a duo retreat.

It was a weekend for us to get away from the distractions of home and work, chores and errands, and really focus on the things we loved to dream about: new business ventures, five-year plans, faraway travels… and book proposals.

The sacred joshua tree

It’s hard not to get inspired in such a sacred place as Joshua Tree, a high desert community in the Mojave. Looking out over the landscape, at the odd and otherworldly Joshua trees and enormous heaps of boulders, makes you want to get lost, in a good way. The extraterrestrial feel of this terrain was amplified only by its silence. On a Saturday afternoon, all we could hear was the occasional rustle of wind.

Joshua trees

A neighbor way out there

Thorny cactus

Mojave Desert landscape

Joshua tree in my backyard

We stayed at a friend’s house just outside Joshua Tree National Park. It was a former homestead that belonged to the grandparents and was remodeled over the years to become the family’s midcentury modern oasis and vacation rental, an escape from the hubbub of Los Angeles.

The backyard

The backyard

The backyard

Midcentury modern oasis

Dining room


Vintage radio

Vintage typewriter

If I wasn’t typing away furiously (on my laptop, not that typewriter!) in the living room, or the dining room, or the backyard, I was in this bathtub. It streams a column of water from a spout in the ceiling!

Backside of the bathtub

Beautiful bathtub

A column of water streaming out of a ceiling spout

Picture window

In the evenings, I’d retire to the living room to watch window TV. The sunsets (and sunrises) in Joshua Tree are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Watching desert TV

Sunset in Joshua Tree

But mostly, I was getting away to work. Working “on vacation” just happens to be my thing. (And I do differentiate between vacationing and traveling.)

On our first morning in the house, I sat in front of my laptop, poised to start researching. Out of habit, I mindlessly checked my email and the first message that came in was from an editor at a publishing house. He said he’d been following my blog for some time, I’d be the perfect author for a book he wanted to pitch, and would I have any interest in writing this book?!

I managed to reply through my sheer shock and excitement that, coincidentally, I was just sitting down to write a proposal for a book I’d had on my brain for a while. We compared ideas and they turned out to be one and the same! It was pure serendipity.

For the next four days, I was a mind-mapping machine, plotting out every thought that popped into my head. I came home and turned those random thoughts into what I hoped would be a cohesive and convincing proposal for the publisher. Exactly 1 week and 25 pages later, I hit send at 7 in the morning and went straight to bed. I didn’t wake up till 3 that afternoon.

It would be a very nerve-wracking three weeks before I heard back from the publisher. What happens is the proposal gets passed around to all the other editors, the sales and marketing people, and the CEO himself. Once they’ve had a look-through, they convene at a meeting where all the current proposals are pitched before the entire staff and get voted up, down, or sideways. (Sideways? That’s when they might like the author but not the idea, and vice versa.)

Well, you can guess how this meeting turned out for me.

On the day before Thanksgiving, I received exciting news: The team at the publishing house was all on board with my book, and they made me an offer! (So much to be thankful for that Thursday… and every day, really.)

On the day before Christmas, the contract arrived and it was a done deal. Best Christmas ever! Will signed on to shoot my first cookbook (that sentence alone still boggles my mind) and we’ve been at it all month.

I’ll share more details as the recipes are developed and my manuscript is submitted (in three very short months!). The book is slated for release in Spring 2015 and I promise it’ll be worth the wait! (Eeeeeeeek!)

Read the full “Making of a Cookbook” series:


  1. Congrats on the book!! That’s very very exciting for you.
    Love the house you stayed at, super funky. What a great place to work and neat your able to work & vacation 🙂

  2. Wowie! So very excited for you!!! You do have so much to share and how exciting it will be to see your work in print! Congratulations to you and to Will too! Cannot wait to see my autographed copy ;)!

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