Can You Handle the S#*t Sandwich?

And I’m off!

Where to, you ask?

Why, success and fame, of course.

(success and fame are relative terms.)

It’s less than three months until my novel, Blind Turn will be released. Which means I am in the midst of the ‘launch’.

This is the real work of being published. And here you thought it was the writing of the book!

The writing, my friends, was the easy part.

And it’s the part I miss desperately. I’d love to go back to those rosy days of writing and dreaming. Living my story vicariously through my fingertips every afternoon and then fantasizing while walking the dog about how it would be a bestseller and then a movie and make millions. I’d be inundated with requests for interviews and book signings, strangers would send me good chocolate and wine, and I’d be so famous that I could sit back and write books forever and pay someone else to promote them.

Those wonderful days of possibility, sadly, are over, along with the long messy middle of editing and pitching and WAITING and signing a deal and editing and WAITING and finally getting the date.

And for those of you not keeping score, that is exactly five months after the publication of 100 Dogs & Counting which is basically still in its pandemic-elongated launch period.

So right now, the job of writing is no fun. No fun at all. Just ask my husband. Pretty much every day I say, “I’m quitting. I don’t want to do this.”

But if I want to ever have another book published, I have no choice.

It’s just so much more painful this time around because the grind of getting reviews and media coverage and promoting, promoting, promoting is not counterbalanced by getting to meet readers and talk about the books with people who have actually read them. There’s no catching up with friends all over the country, no book clubs and no book signings (wait! I have news on this one!). Just me, my laptop and the vast world of zoom, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s a lonely existence.

I was complaining about this to another author via email yesterday and she said something that froze me in my whining tracks. She said, “Remember why you started writing in the first place. It wasn’t to make money it was because you had to tell your stories and get them on the page.”

And she’s right. That is why I started. I had to write. I loved putting my heart on the page. I loved the fun and the magic and the release.

So now it comes down to what in her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert calls the shit sandwich. If this is what I want to do, if this is what I love, then I have to decide if it’s worth eating the shit sandwich required to do it (her words not mine).

Right now, I imagine a lot of people are facing this same dilemma, at least anyone involved in the arts or small business. On my way to the grocery store yesterday, I saw that two more local businesses closed up shop and my heart lurched. It is a hard time for so many. A time when we have to cling to what we love, and endure, knowing that this time will pass, even as if it feels like it never will.

So, for those of you out there choking on your own shit sandwich—I’m with ya. And I’m staying the course, messy though it is. I hope you can do the same.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



If you happen to be in the south central PA area, I’ll be signing books on Saturday November 7 at Soulshine Boutique in Shrewsbury, PA. Soulshine is an adorable small business owned and operated by my dear friend Lisa. Stop in and see us – I’ll have something special for everyone who does. If you read my book, 100 Dogs & Counting, you met Lisa on the pages, come meet her in person!

If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website,

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog. And if you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this country, visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at

100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues was released July 2020 from Pegasus Books and is available anywhere books are sold, but if you’d like some help finding it (or want to read some lovely reviews), click here.

Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at

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