Deb Erika Bottles the Whine, I mean, WINE.

I think it was George Carlin who was responsible for one of my favorite quotes of all time:

“The only thing better than being first, is being next.”

To me, that about sums up the joys of anticipation. That feeling of being on the cusp of the excitement, knowing it is in reach.

The journey to publication is filled with delicious moments like that. Sending off a query, and waiting. Sending off a partial, and waiting. Sending out line edits, and…okay, okay, I’ve made my point.

But Deb Erika, you’re saying, we were promised wine!

So without further ado, to the whine. I mean, the wine.

My husband has always been a homebrewer and when we married, he brought many delicious things into my life, one of which was a love and appreciation for good beer.

I used to think brewing a batch of beer required tremendous patience. Then, we tried our hand at becoming vintners.

As those of you who’ve tried this too know, making wine takes a wee bit of time and, you guessed it, patience. More so than brewing your own beer. Weeks more. Now for my husband, the biologist who has years of research experience behind him, waiting for results is par for the course. You’d think a writer who took twenty years to sell her first book would share that perspective, wouldn’t you?


“We have to wait three months?” I whined at the news. “Is that, like, ball-park? I mean, that’s just suggested…right?”

To which my husband gave me a well-deserved side-eye for an answer.

But guess what? The weeks passed, the time arrived. The wine was ready. Well, at least ready to be bottled. (Or, in our own case, bagged. Today’s vintners who live in a two-bedroom apartment and don’t have storage space for bottles can make their own boxed wine. How cool is that?)

Now three filled bladders wait for their time to shine, jiggling in the pantry like little waterbeds. They’re supposed to sit a while longer, though my husband tells me that’s really more for bottles than bags. (God, I love that man.)

But as I sampled the remaining liquid in the carboy, it occurred to me those bladders aren’t so different from the stack of LITTLE GALE GUMBOs I just received from my publisher a month before the book’s release. Like our wine which has endured its own series of steps to become what it will be when it’s finally poured, LITTLE GALE GUMBO has done the same and now it sits, waiting to be poured, or rather, released. And believe me, I’ve held the copies in my hands, visiting them where they are lovingly shelved on our bookshelf, much in the way I’ve checked in on those bags of wine.

It’s a long journey, indeed. But we’re close.

Or should I say, we’re next.

So tell me, friends: What are you next for?

38 Replies to “Deb Erika Bottles the Whine, I mean, WINE.”

  1. Cool! My daughter and son-in-law are just getting into brewing their own beer. We’re all anxiously awaiting the results of their first batch — can’t wait to taste it. Maybe I can convince them to try making wine next.

    Will your wine be ready for consumption by your book release day? Because I can’t think of a better way for you and your husband to toast your success than with a glass of something you made yourselves. 🙂

    1. How exciting for them–and YOU! I think they’ll love the process. It really is so much fun–and the smell of the boiling hops is, for my money, as delicious as any baking pie. I hope you’ll let me know how it comes out!

      And yes, I’m using the word “ready” in its most liberal sense for that very reason ;). I couldn’t agree more that it would be a perfect way to celebrate. But actually, my husband has already started to brew a batch of Scottish ale which we are calling Little Gale Ale, which MIGHT be ready for a small taste just in time too…

      1. Little Gale Ale!! I love it so much! Now I’m wondering what beverage my book would be. Probably something involving cheap vodka. 🙂 I’m sensing a future Deb Dish here…

    2. My brother-in-law makes his own beer. He dropped something in to his first batch, reached in to pick it out, and then bottled it anyway. I chose not to partake in his arm beer, but evidently either his hand or whatever else it was he dropped in did something funny to the beer and, while it allegedly tasted fine, it made people almost instantly drowsy.

      1. Eeew. I think I would have passed on the arm beer, too. Gotta wonder what he accidentally dropped in it if it made people instantly drowsy. 😉

        1. Ha! I love it, Jen! But my husband has a motto which I hold dear–alcohol kills everything. So while I am oogie-phobic in every other way, I am remarkably tolerant of oogie-potential in adult beverages. Go figure? Bu yes, the whole sterilization part of the process gets daunting, keeping track of this not touching that so the whole batch doesn’t go bad…again, my scientist husband is all over that. Me, I’m sort of the sous-brewer…

  2. And what a vintage LITTLE GALE GUMBO is – 20 years of writing mixing, bottling and aging to perfection. Oh, and Linda’s got a good point about toasting success with your own wine – how perfect would that be?

    (And I’ve never heard that George Carlin line before, but I LOVE it)

    1. Joanne, isn’t that a great quote? I heard it easily 12 years ago and I’m almost positive it came from Mr. Carlin, but it sure seems like the sort of flash of genius that would have come out of his mouth, so I’m sticking to that.

      And boy do our manuscripts ever brew, right? Batch after batch after batch…;)

  3. I am next for some very good things, none of which I can say in public. D’oh! But I am trying not to wish my life away to get to those things, wonderful as they will be, and enjoy the now. I guess that’s the tricky part of anticipation – enjoying it while not rushing things along to get there.

    1. Oh, goody! We’ll wait right alongside with you, Eleanor, because the only thing better than getting good news, is getting the news that soon there will be good news! (I think George Carlin would approve that interpretation, don’t you?)

    1. Thanks, Elise (blushing here)

      The wine COULD be consumed sooner rather than later–we did try a glass (the leftovers) and it was promising (and more importantly, DRINKABLE, which I know is not always a given in these ventures…) so depending on if I meet my deadlines this week, I might put in a request with my scientist husband to perform an early, um, experiment. But from what I understand, it really won’t make a huge different to wait a few weeks. I promise to report back!

    1. Woohoo! Jen, I’m so excited. And so grateful!

      However, if you find yourself unable to resist making copious amounts of pralines afterwards, (with included recipe) I can’t be held responsible. 😉

      1. Huh. Don’t know about Jen, but I am totally blaming you for my intense craving for pralines. And gumbo. You book was hard on my waistline!

    2. Making wine sounds like fun and it’s a good thing you don’t live closer. You might lose a bladder, or two! 🙂 Very excited for you and look forward to enjoying a glass while reading your book.

      My “next” is having an article published in a local magazine in a couple of months. It’s a start! Cheers!

  4. Every time you said “bladders” (especially “three filled bladders”) I giggled. I am WAY mature.
    With less than four months till my own publication day, I feel like that’s what I’m next for too. It feels like it’s at once happening tomorrow and happening in forever. But in this group, I’m glad to be next after next. You get first honors! Then I just try to follow in your footsteps.

    Oh and I want wine now. It’s 10 am.

    1. Rachel, I did the same thing. I couldn’t get past “full bladders” when I wrote this post so I changed it to “filled bladders”. Cause that’s so much less funny, right? 😉

      I won’t lie. The amount of brewing alcohol in this place is a bit scary now that I look around. The dessert bar at Sizzler kind of scary. You know, scary in that good way.

  5. Wine sounds good right now! Agreed Deb Rachel!!

    Next for me is to move beyond my chapter outline and on to writing the actual chapters……how do we make more time in the day? Something has to go.

    1. Oh, that’s an exciting stage, isn’t it, Missy? Do you dive straight in or do you do sort of, what I call, scene sketches or scene snapshots, where you maybe work out scenes out of sequence?

      1. Well……I think I’m going to be a non-fiction writer. I just don’t have the creativity that all of your fiction writers have. I sure enjoy reading fiction but I am just not cut out (or motivated) to write it.

        I will definitely write my chapters out of order. I am going to start with the easiest one first. My goal this year was to keep my company going (it just started last year), read 24 books, and write one. I feel behind on all counts. But I sure have learned a lot and met some cool people along the way!!!

        1. The key really is to find out what you like to write, isn’t it? I think too often we think we are cut out to write what we love to read–and sometimes, A LOT of the times, sure, it does work out that way. But not always. When you find that genre, that voice, it’s gold.

  6. I love the comparison — beautiful! That must be so exciting to have those books on your shelf. I’d probably be sleeping with one under my pillow! I can’t wait, either!

  7. It’s like those old Gallo commercials. We will sell no wine before it’s time. I guess that’s true of book manuscripts also. 🙂
    I’m still waiting for the fermentation process to be completed. (Or something else vaguely cool sounding. I have no idea about the wine making process.) I hope it’s done soon!

    1. Jackie, seriously great minds here, dear. I was TOTALLY going to use that line. It was in my head the entire time I wrote it (spoken in Mr. Wells DEEP VOICE of course;))

      Have those cupcakes arrived yet?

      1. The cupcake arrives tomorrow. I repeat: The cupcake arrives tomorrow.
        It’s like a dear old friend I haven’t seen in years. If you don’t hear from me, it’s because I’ve died and gone to heaven.

  8. Love, love, love the parallels between wine-making and novel-writing. It is curious isn’t it: how we writers really DO seem an impatient lot in general (I am NOT patient), but that we’re willing to wait it out to achieve our dreams. Maybe, as you suggest, it’s that we can so readily envision that final dream day of holding the book in our hands?

    Love your descriptions of little waterbeds. And I also find it interesting that your husband, trained in the sciences, is totally OK with that waiting and waiting … Maybe all writers should be required to minor in science? (I’d choose the biological sciences, I think. Though, being a rockhound/earth lover, it might be tough. Better experiments in biology, though!)

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