On writing a book: Part 1

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In February 2010, the week of Valentine’s Day, after three fantastic years in film, I left Hollywood and started writing a blog.

I wanted the blog to be the place I could share healthy recipes, write about losing 135 pounds, and how I’d found balance and peace with food after 20 years without either. I had been every single weight; I had felt highs and lows when my life appeared like I should have felt just the opposite; I had discovered a way to cook and eat that allowed me to feel full and satisfied (and cake was still involved!). And I knew that the only way to tell anyone how I’d achieved balance was to show them–in pictures and posts over days and weeks and maybe years of examples. That’s what a blog is, isn’t it?

So I did.

My mom was disappointed. “How can you leave film?” she asked me, horrified at the thought. “I think you’re making a mistake.”

My stepdad was concerned, but willing to go along with it, “Sweetheart, you do whatever you want to do. But what’s a blog?” 

I just wrote.


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I decided I didn’t ever want to get preachy with anyone who might read the blog. I’d never be a health zealot or prescribe my own healthy living rules onto someone else. Instead I asked, Can You Stay for Dinner?

And the name of the blog was born.

I showed readers what I ate for breakfast, my salad at lunch, what I made for dinner…in part to answer one of the most common questions I got after losing weight: “So, what do you eat?” But also to share how easy and satisfying it could be to eat healthy, satisfying meals every day.

I loved cooking and eating enough to snap an obscene number of photos of anything and everything edible in my home. I found something beautiful in every plate of food, and loved making food beautiful.

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I had so much to say about body image, weight loss, and maintenance — the most valuable lessons I’d learned, things I’d do differently, the mindset shifts that helped me transform…and more. Maybe most importantly, though, I just didn’t want to write about weight and food and weight loss in the way I’d read about it forever, which is, that it’s this linear path to happiness, or that it’s as glowy and glossy as the before and after pictures we see on magazine covers. Because it’s not. I didn’t want to write about balance like it’s a skill we can learn, or a state we can move to. Because it’s a choice, every day.

I wanted the blog to be honest, vulnerable, and different. And by sharing everything — from my ups to the downs — I knew that others would know me better, trust me, and then the blog would be more meaningful to the reader, and to me.

And so I blogged. A year and four months of healthy recipes and reflections.

I wouldn’t be overstating it to say, I had the time of my life. I got comments and emails that made me glow from the inside out. The conversations that were started made me so happy. I met all of you and you made my life fuller.

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On June 5, 2011, a longtime reader of mine, someone I’d come to recognize and love through comments and brief emails, sent me a note:

Andie, I am an assistant book buyer at a big corporation and, well, I’ve seen lots of bloggers getting book deals lately. I know you have a book in you and I would love nothing more than to read it. Would you mind if I sent the link to your blog to some publishers I know? I just want to share you with them.”

Would I mind?

Could I mind?

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I replied in fourteen seconds. I told her, in much more articulate words: “I am so flattered. I would love that!”

On June 8th, I woke up to an email from the senior editor and vice president at Simon & Schuster.

“Andie, a colleague passed your blog along to me. I really like your voice. Have you any interest in writing a book? I’d love to discuss it with you.”

I replied in twelve seconds. I told her, in much more articulate words: “Holy* $&*%, YES! I am very interested. I’d love to speak with you further.”

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*I left out the holy part.

She wrote back in a matter of seconds, and within ten minutes, my phone rang and the two of us began what would be an hour-long conversation that


could not have gone better.

I adored her.

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We spoke, almost so comfortably that I felt uncomfortable. I did not know that it was essentially an interview. The greenness of me couldn’t have known that this conversation would decide whether or not the girl who writes that ‘can you stay for dinner’ blog has a book in her. This editor was feeling me out. She knew, I’m sure, that lots of writers work well with words on a page, but she wondered, ‘can that passion be palpable in real-time? Is there a story in you that’s unique? A confidence in vision and voice?’


She asked if I had a literary agent, and when I said no, she recommended I get one. She told me an agent was not essential, but they’d be extremely helpful to me in reading through contracts and legal documents and securing the best book deal. They’d negotiate best on my behalf.

I agreed.

We hung up as she said,

“Andie, write a proposal. Roughly thirty pages- all that you’d want your book to be. Get it to me… I think you have something.”

I called my mother, just after I squealed for a solid thirteen minutes.

I did not have a deal. I did not have anything more substantial than a vote of confidence. A nudge from someone whose gentle push could move my whole life.

Part 2 to come…



69 thoughts on “On writing a book: Part 1

  1. Kristy

    I’m so happy I just came across your blog today. It was really inspiring to me and hit home in ways since writing a book is one of my very dear goals in life. Congratulations. It’s nice to see you follow your heart and you do not get swayed by any other opinions.

  2. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen

    I am so, so, so excited for your book. You really do have such a unique voice and write beautifully. I discovered your blog back in April while sitting in a hotel room, and I read through almost all of it that evening. I have a feeling I’ll go through any book you write almost as quickly!

  3. Natalie S.

    Andie, reading this makes me so excited for you. I’m incredibly happy that you got a book deal, and I can’t wait to read it cover to cover. You deserve the best. You deserve to write this book.

  4. Johnny

    You go girl! Capture your dream and in so doing you will enhance ours. The beauty that comes from you inside far outreaches the beauty you show outside (and that is saying alot because you are so very beautiful on the outside!) You are a true inspiration and I can’t imagine anyone not liking your writing! :)

  5. Patricia

    Andie, from the first time I read your blog I knew you had a book in you. Well done, and keep smiling. Let the hard work begin and don’t ever be daunted. I can’t wait!!



    What fantastic and exciting news. You are a great writer and I love reading everything you write- can’t wait for your book to come out!

  7. Jane Tierney

    As I struggle mightily to stay within my Weight Watcher’s point range, I just know there’s got to be an easier way to lose 40 lbs. I have learned so much from your blog and I’m really excited about your book. Good writing! Jane

  8. Kendall (On An Inhale)

    I can’t wait to read part two. I also can’t believe you not only have one book deal but two!! I’m so happy for you and SO excited to read more about your journey. I’m also looking forward to the Boston references :)

  9. holly

    you’ve articulated and talked about so many things that have gone through my brain exactly! i mean, i feel like i could have written this post (minus the person contacting me about a book, of course! :).

    it is helping give me the strength to reach beyond what i thought is possible and go for it. thank you. and congratulations on the book! it is going to someone oh so deserving.

  10. holly

    congratulations on the book deal! you articulated so many thoughts and words here that i too have felt myself – i feel like i could have written this post (minus the someone nudging me with a book deal part :). it is helping give me hope and inspiration that i too can push outside myself and reach for things i never thought possible.

    thank you – the book deal couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person!

  11. Sara

    I’ve only known your blog since this past spring and at one point this summer I mentioned you should write a book–little did I know that at that time you were well on your way to doing just that! I wish you the best and I cannot wait until your book is published, I’ll be buying a copy, count on it.

  12. SallyBR

    You know I haven’t found your blog too long ago, I am a recent reader, but you can count me in for buying your book, and at 5ft 95 pounds, it won’t be for any weight related issues! ;-) I love your writing, and you will definitely inspire anyone to reach any goal…

    congratulations, looking forward to reading part 2… and 3… and 4 ;-)

  13. Melissa

    Of course they wanted you! I can’t imagine anyone spending 5 seconds on this page and not realizing what an extreme gift you have. All you need is someone to believe–even if it’s just you to start. After that, the sky’s the limit!

    Can’t wait for the book . . . and the rest of this series!

  14. Stacey

    I know I don’t know you, and I only fairly recently stumbled upon your blog, but I am so incredibly happy for you! May all your dreams come true. Congratulations!

  15. Andrea

    I am so excited that you are writing a book! For you, and for all the lucky people that will get to read it. I have been following your blog since october or november of last year, and through all your wonderful recipes, fabulously honest voice, and personal stories, you have helped me reshape my relationship with food! Thank goodness you were discovered by the world of publishing! Good luck!!

  16. Russo

    This was very inspiring and wonderful to read! Very happy for you and can’t wait to check out your book once it’s done! I also agree with the publisher’s opinion about you having a great voice and ditto these other comments about how truly inspiring you are. Keep these post coming!

  17. Stacie A

    Andie, since our short email conversation, I have not missed an entry or recipe! I am excited everytime my iPhone dings with a new email from your blog! I think you are an amazing writer and I’m so excited for your book to be released! I will be the first in line to buy it! Your words speak volumes to me and bring tears to my eyes!!! I am so happy you followed your dreams! I’m sure your book will touch many more lives. Thanks again for sharing yourself with us!!!
    -Stacie. :)

  18. Manda

    I recently (last week) stumbled upon your blog, I don’t normally read blogs, I googled black bean enchiladas looking for a good recipe, looked at yours first and then couldn’t leave. I instantly fell in love with your blog, your recipes, your photos, your humour. I’ve made 3 of your recipes so far and they all turned out great (super tasty & easy!) I just wanted to say I can’t wait to read your books & thank you for having such a great blog and sharing so many fun stories & recipes with us all! Much love

  19. Caitlin

    If you writing about getting a book is THIS fantastic, I can only imagine what reading your actual book – beautiful hardback in hand, thumbing pages with so much enthusiasm – will be like. Oh, what a happy day that will be.

  20. Debra

    Holy $&*%! You’re truly inspirational! Thank you for allowing all of us to accompany you on Andie’s Excellent Literary Adventure. I know I’m not the only one that is giddy with anticipation awaiting your next blog and your first book. It’s kinda like being the relative of a loved one who is awaiting the birth of her first child! SO very,very exciting! Is there such a thing as a book shower?

  21. Beth

    I know I’ve commented to this point before, but I am on the weightless journey and have read the magazines, blogs, books… Your writing is a breath of fresh air. Your voice is real and feels like an old friend right away and definitely has helped bolster my efforts. Thank you and congratulations again!

  22. Mila @ loftyappetite

    thank you for sharing your book story! that’s so wonderful and you really deserve it. you really have a gift for creating great emotion in readers through your words. i laugh, i cry, i salivate. i can’t wait to read your book!

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  26. Anne

    I loved reading all of this. I cannot WAIT for the book(s) to come out!!!! I am sick that it is soooooooooo far away. So very happy for you and oh! so lucky us!!!!! Keep on keepin’ on!!! Love to read your words/sentences……………you really have a knack.

  27. Becky

    Hi Andie- I just finished reading the galley of IWMAA and wanted to tell you how much I liked it. While I have never been morbidly obese, I have been seriously chubby and have spent far too many hours hating my body, even though I am now close to two decades fit and stable at my weight. There were parts of the book that I related to directly, as well as parts that were personally foreign but nevertheless enlightening. It’s beautifully and propulsively written and I will recommend it to many. Thank you for your honesty and courage.

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