The Magic Fabric
When failures, friendship, and furniture collide, dreams come true
This is a piece of magic fabric.
For many years, this fabric covered a wingback chair in a rented apartment in Istanbul, Turkey. With its tall back, stately side wings, and shooting-star velour upholstery, the chair looked like something Gandalf the Grey would have selected when decorating his Middle-earth apartment.
I got to know this chair and its owner, Jodi Cowles, when we met online in March 2021 as part of a month-long book writing cohort. I had come to the cohort in the very early stages of developing my own book, hoping the cohort would give me some much-needed guidance, accountability, and encouragement to get my jumbled ideas onto the page.*
While part of the cohort, I learned that Jodi and her husband lived in Istanbul where they ran a business and were in the process of adopting their daughter. Jodi was further along in her publishing journey, having written and self-published a handful of fiction books with storylines heavily influenced by her many years spent living abroad.
Another new friend from the cohort, Rachael Mitchell, lived outside Seattle, where she ran a copywriting business and was busy caring for her family of five. When the cohort started, Rachael had just finished penning her first book, a story about the importance of honoring the people who have been most influential in our lives.
All three of us were on a journey with the destination dream of being published. So, after our 30 days in the cohort were up, we decided to keep meeting online as a way to stay accountable and keep each other up-to-date on our writing and publishing pursuits. During our Zoom calls and MarcoPolo messages, we bonded over the ups, downs, stops, and starts of our journey as unknown authors.
It was during these online connections that Jodi’s wizard-y chair would frequently make an appearance, peeking out from behind her shoulders as we laughed/ranted/cried over why this writing thing was so hard, and when would we ever catch our big break.
On more than one occasion, Rachael and I made fun of the big, burgundy chair with its celestial motif. It felt like it belonged more on a movie set than in a Middle East apartment. Jodi told us the chair had been in the apartment when they moved in and she had no idea of its origins. As storytellers, it wasn’t hard to imagine its backstory. What kind of stories could this chair tell? How many people (butts?) had sat in it over the years? Had others used this chair as a spot to wish and hope for their dreams to come true? It certainly felt like a possibility.
As we met, the chair became a part of our regular scenery. The chair was there when Jodi shared the hard stories about trying to adopt her daughter in a country that didn’t make it easy. The chair was there when Rachael shared that her manuscript had been rejected by another publisher. The chair was there when I told them my brother-in-law was dying. And the chair was there when one day, in the middle of a “down with publishing” rant, we pondered: Maybe we should start a club for unknown authors like ourselves.
Suddenly, what was once just a group of friends commiserating over our failed attempts at getting published, was now an opportunity to create something we (and so many other unknown authors) wanted to be a part of.
It felt like a moment of magic.
We spent the rest of 2021 planning and preparing a way for unknown authors to be celebrated and published regardless of their influencer status. And in March 2022, we officially launched The Unknown Authors Club. Now, we are mere weeks away from publishing our first book—an anthology of stories about life as an unknown author, written by fellow unknown authors, including the three of us. A literal (literary?) dream come true.
Earlier this summer, Jodi announced some big news: their adoption was final and she was moving back to the U.S. after many long, hard years spent abroad. The only thing she was bringing was the essentials—her family (of course) and a few suitcases.
Asking if she could bring us anything from Turkey on her trip back stateside, Rachael jokingly said, “Yea, can you bring the chair?”
Knowing it would exceed the size of the overhead compartment, Jodi did the next best thing—she cut out swatches of the magic fabric and mailed them to us when she got home.
Talk about a Turkish delight.
I can’t help but chuckle thinking of the family who will eventually move into the Instanbul apartment and find big holes in the wingback chair. On behalf of the three of us, I sincerely apologize; we are normally not prone to vandalism. But in my opinion, those holes were worth it to never forget all the dreams and plans and ways this magic fabric wove itself into our friendship and into the heart of The Unknown Authors Club.
*As for my own book, it’s written, but I’m still in the editing/polishing/preparing to publish stage. There will be more to share about that project very soon, but I would appreciate your prayers as I tie the final pieces together. I still can’t believe I may have two books published before the year is through. Two in 2022—what a dream come true!
Join Our Book Launch Team
Our new book, The Life of an Unknown Author: An Anthology on Writing and Publishing from Some of the Best Authors You Haven't Yet Read, launches on October 11, 2022 and we want you to help us spread the word.
If you’d like to be part of our book launch team, simply complete this form. We will provide you with all you need to help get the word out about the book and The Unknown Authors Club.
Join Me for a Women’s Retreat
I’m excited to announce I’ll be serving as the keynote speaker at the Crosspoint Church women’s retreat this fall. I’ll be speaking about friendship and how to grow a real community in a social world.
The retreat is Friday, Sept. 30—Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Moha Ranch in Caddo Mills, Texas, about an hour east of Dallas.
If you live in the Dallas area (or want to travel for the weekend), I’d love to see you there. Registration is now open.
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