The House That Jack Built
About fifteen or so years ago, I was living in Florida while my husband was stationed on the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, his last tour before retirement from the Navy. My kids were two and five, and I had a full-time job working for a wonderful company headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area. I got to work from home while taking care of my kids, which was such a blessing. With my husband frequently deployed, life was busy, to say the least. There weren’t enough hours in the day back then to think about anything other than diapers, baths, meals, laundry, work and keeping everyone safe and happy.
Despite the chaos of those years, I occasionally thought about a book I wanted to write “someday.” It would be about an architect named Jack, who had a fantastic life with a wife he was still in love with after twenty years of marriage and three daughters he adored. In my book, Jack’s lovely life would be turned upside down by a mysterious accident that leaves his wife in a coma that doctors say is irreversible.
Though I thought and talked about Jack often enough for my husband to declare him “the other man” in our marriage, I didn’t do much about this story that was circulating in my busy brain. Until early 2004, after my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and it became very clear to me that the future is now. If I wanted her to know I was pursuing this lifelong dream, I needed to get hopping.
Working on Jack’s story gave me something to focus on besides her terrible illness. Julie Cupp, one of my closest friends at the day job, was fascinated by the idea of me writing a book and wanted to see what I was up to. She read everything as I wrote it, and we talked endlessly about Jack and his dilemma when he meets another woman through his work a year after his wife is injured.
Back then I didn’t really think anything would ever come of my desire to write a book other than maybe, someday, I might finish Jack’s story. My mom died at the end of August 2004, having read the first four chapters of the book that became Treading Water when I finished it on May 18, 2005. It was a massively overwritten 150,000-word mess the day I wrote The End for the first time, but it was done. I’d written that book I always said I was going to write.
Suffice to say Treading Water didn’t take the literary world by storm. One agent told me she had “coma fatigue” after the Terry Schiavo case made the national news around the same time Treading Water was out on submission. So I put it aside, wrote a few sequels, continued to “fix” Treading Water as the years rolled by and one book became seven and I landed an agent and finally sold a book and things started to happen—slowly but surely—but still, no interest in Treading Water.
I was finishing the third book in that series, Starting Over, when I went to Chatham in the summer of 2006 and saw a sign on the side of a house that said “House That Jack Built.” I took that as an indication from my mom to stay on the path, to keep pushing forward, to never give up. I put Treading Water, Marking Time and Starting Over on the shelf and moved forward by writing new books, but I never forgot about Jack or the “house” my architect began to build for me with that monumental first book.
Fast-forward a few years, self-publishing came into vogue, and my writing career took off in ways I’m still processing five years later. Julie, my very first reader, is now my full-time assistant and the chief operating officer of my company—House That Jack Built, Inc. otherwise known as HTJB, Inc. I published Treading Water, Marking Time and Starting Over at the end of 2011, more than six years after I first wrote The End on Treading Water, which went on sale at a much leaner 92,000 words. I learned every lesson the hard way with that book, and I’ve never made the same mistakes again.
Readers LOVED the trilogy and begged me for more of a story that was left unfinished in book 2, Marking Time. That led to the publication of book 4, Coming Home on 12-12-12. My most frequently asked question is whether there will be another book in the Treading Water Series. I hope so. I’d love to return to Jack’s world to write more about the Harrington family when my schedule frees up a bit.
Earlier this year, I signed on with Diversion Publishing’s EverAfter Romance line to distribute my self-published titles in print. Julie and I were on a conference call with the EverAfter team a couple of months ago when Mary, the editorial director, said, “What would you think of putting out the Treading Water Series in hardcover?”
I’m not ashamed to admit that Julie and I actually squealed with excitement over the thought of Treading Water in hardcover. This series means a lot to both of us. In many ways it changed both our lives in ways we never could’ve imagined back when we were first talking about Jack and his story. To see this series in hardcover is like another dream come true.
I’m thrilled to announce today that Treading Water, Marking Time, Starting Over and Coming Home are now available in hardcover! If you love this series as much as we do, here’s your chance to get the books in this awesome new format. We’re so excited about this, and we hope my readers will be, too. Special thanks to Mary and the team at EverAfter Romance for making this happen.
Everyone at Jack’s house is delighted!
Get your hardback Collector’s Edition of the Treading Water Series today!
Treading Water, Book 1
Marking Time, Book 2
Starting Over, Book 3
Coming Home, Book 4