At around 7:30pm on November 3, 2015, I received an email with the subject line “HI” from a man named Jermaine Johnson in Los Angeles, letting me know he was a manager with 3 Arts Entertainment, a media/production company that happens to produce my favorite television shows in the world (The Office, Mindy Project, Brooklyn 99, and more…). He had read a blog post of mine and was curious where I was headed with my writing career.
I immediately figured it was a scam. Too good to be true and stuff.
But then I used the Google and read the email again and again and again, and realized it was indeed as real as real can be, and I went outside on the porch and read the email to Mac, and then he cried and I cried because we cry a lot, and he said, “I think our lives are about to change.”
I gave myself 24 hours to respond to Jermaine. I was terrified I would say the wrong thing and blow the whole thing up. Like he’d hear from me in email form and be like, “You know what? I was wrong. You’re an asshole. Please go away.”
But he signed me, and put me in touch with a top literary agent in New York City named Richard Abate, and together, we turned a terrible first draft I had written in 30 days in 2014 into a book proposal.
And then, in April 2016, that proposal sold, to Hachette Book Group, a top five publisher.
And then we cried again for a really long time and jumped and yelled a lot and ate 5-12 enchiladas in celebration.
From that day until now, I have been working on that book, and today, I get to share it with you.
It’s called “I’m Just Happy to Be Here,” and it’s a memoir on alcoholism and motherhood, which will be published May 1, 2018, but is available now for preorder.
If you feel so inclined, if you’ve ever wanted to drop a nod my way, these advanced purchases will go a long fucking way for the success of this book.
But more than alcoholism and recovery, this is a book about being a motherfucking outsider in this parenting world. It’s about not necessarily becoming a better version of yourself the second you find out you’re becoming a parent, and somehow finding peace in spite of that fact — or maybe because of it.
More than any other question, the one I receive from readers most is: How do you have the courage to say the things you say about motherhood?
Well, this book answers that question. It tells how I got to the place where most of my fucks were gone, my disguises stripped away, and I took the random, possibly ridiculous step of writing to you, to see if any of you felt like I did, to see myself in some other mothers, to ask other mothers to see themselves in me.
What came my way after that felt like a motherfucking miracle. And you know how I feel about words like “miracle.”
But seriously, this entire thing is surreal, and still feels vaguely unreal, though I hold the book in my very hands.
How? Whose life is this? Mine?
Because I sat down one January day in 2011 and wrote a post on free WordPress blog, and kept writing, clinging to each new comment from you, each message from you telling me to keep going, and that you related to the post, and then, six years later, I’m holding a book in my hand?
That shit ain’t real. And yet. Here we are.
I don’t know how to explain this feeling. I don’t know how to explain what it feels like to follow some weird ache in your gut, some relentless nudge to do something, even though it makes no sense, even though it will surely end in nothing – and realize it has, inch by inch, transformed your life into something you never dreamed possible.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my silly, broke-ass heart. I want to thank you for making this possible, for sticking around, for reading my rants and raves and mistakes and decency.
I truly cannot wait for you to read this, and I hope you see yourself on every page.
VíctoriaWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 15:27
Congratulations!!!! So excited for you! Already pre-ordered. I’ve always loved your writing and can’t wait to read your book. I’m sure it will be kick-ass! Best of luck!
MichelleWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 15:43
Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it. 🙂
JoodzyWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 15:50
I wish I could say I’ve been with you since the beginning, but you’ve only been hanging out with me for about 3 years. You probably don’t know we’re hanging out, though, and that you’re my second-best-friend even though I’m old enough to be your mother. I’ve cried with you, happy tears and sad tears. Right now those happy tears are flowing freely. Congratulations, my friend.
JennyWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 15:57
Wow, this is just fantastic!! I’m so happy for you and I can’t wait to read the book! I will pre-order it! Your blog hits the mark for me every time.
SherryWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 16:11
I cannot even breathe. Best day ever! Mine is already on preorder through chapters/indigo here in Canada. It’s already the best $30 I’ve spent.
Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this since, “AMERICA IS DUMBER THAN MILEY CYRUS.” My Renegade cherry was popped with that post, and my life has been better ever since. OK, maybe that’s overstating it. Maybe. But I’ve felt a little more normal ever since. Thank you for being you.
Congratulations. This is a well-earned/hard-earned achievement. I am ecstatic for you!
Anne MyersWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 17:09
I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years and I think this is the first time I’ve commented. Not because your blogs don’t affect me (they do and I usually wake my husband up by laughing my ass off because after getting my 3 year old to finally fall asleep in her own bed, which will only last a couple of hours, I’m scarfing down a glass or two of wine, eating chocolate and reading your blog in bed), but because I’m not usually one to leave comments. But, this is amazing news so thought I should tell you. I just put the book on my Christmas wish list to I hope to be reading it in bed on December 25th. Love your writing and what it’s brought to the world!
AgataWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 17:19
Amazing. I truly hope you are as madly proud of yourself as we—the strangers on the Internet, granted—are of you. Thank you for your voice, and your courage, and your humour. Wishing you a massive success, you’ve earned it.
KathleenWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 17:19
I am so damn happy for you! And am I the only idiot who read “Hatchette Press” and thought it was your name, and how crazy that was? Congratulations on your book! What a testament to one day at a time living and finding out what you are capable of doing!
Amy DuBoisWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 18:28
Bahaha! I read the same and never questioned it until I read this comment!
SherryThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 13:32
I totally read it as “Hanchette” until Jenelle said something somewhere about “Hachette” publishing being one of the big five… I was like, ohhhhh, right. Reading. Hard.
EmilyWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 18:13
Congratulations! I’ve been a “mommy blog” reader for the last few years (ever since I became a mother myself) and your blog makes me laugh the hardest of all. I’m really happy for you- can’t wait to read your book!
Amy DuBoisWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 18:27
I don’t know you, but I’ve been following your kick ass blog for a couple of years (therefore, I THINK I know you)! I am excited beyond words to read your book! Congratulations! ❤❤❤
MargoWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 20:38
JaneWednesday, 29 November, 2017 at 21:19
Janelle (and your entire family!)
I don’t think I have ever been so proud of someone–weird to say, but true. And yes, there are tears.
You are one of the “lucky” ones who not only made it out alive, BUT YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A BOOK PUBLISHED!!!! Can’t say I am surprised, I knew you were destined for SOMETHING out-of-this-world BECAUSE (and I don’t care if I am using capitals EVERYWHERE 🙂 you are one MIGHTY FINE WRITER and human).
Because you are so you in your writing there is not the normal separation I might feel with other writers. [And I have been following along with your life for years, I feel as if I know you and your family, albeit in the strange internet way}.
May EVERYTHING that comes as a result of your sweat and tears in writing a book(AND BEING PUBLISHED !!! be more than you can wildly imagine. May it be so successful that you can find out how money can help buy happiness.
SuzanneThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 0:11
Congrats!!! So happy for you and can’t wait to read it.
MelissaThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 0:29
So, this is fucking AWESOME!! I can’t wait to get my hands on your book…it’s going to be a long 6 months waiting for this gem. Congrats!!
HayleyThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 1:12
I’m so glad I could preorder this to Australia! Can’t wait to get it Janelle, it will arrive just after my 29th birthday.
Arlo was born a few months before my eldest and I’ve been reading your words ever since. All of the tears, all of the laughs, and yes, all of the seeing that someone else felt the way I did.
So thank you. Keep on keepin on.
FylliaThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 5:09
I see myself in a few years watching some fancy writers’ award ceremony on television, and Janelle gets the award. And I swell with pride, because I am thinking – I used to read her awesome blog, long before she was this famous. Many congratulations – you are a role model to me in so many ways. Because motherhood is challenging, life is challenging, being true to yourself is challenging, because I too want to write and I am scared – all that and more.
Pre-ordering as we speak.
LyndaThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 5:25
Pre-ordered in chilly Edinburgh, Scotland. Something to look forward to in will-still-be-chilly-in-May!
SummerThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 6:14
Congratulations!! I can’t wait to read your book!
LornaThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 8:10
Hurrah, Hurrah, ordered, can’t wait, well done – congrats…
Jen YostThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 10:11
You are literally the raddest woman EVER!!! Congrats, sister!
MaggieThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 13:36
This is amazing! I have been reading your blog for years and love it! Can’t wait to read your book. I am really inspired by you!
AnnThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 14:13
How Completely Thrilling! Congratulations! Any chance this will include a tour with a visit to my city and a signing at some great local bookstore?
Lisa JThursday, 30 November, 2017 at 15:52
Congrats Janelle! I feel like we are friends. Seeing, “Renegade Mothering” in my inbox is like a phone call from a good friend; I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to! This is big. You are talented and good. Yay. I can’t wait to receive my copy!
On another note, I actually wanted to write you today…although I wasn’t sure how to do that. I’m curious if you’ve heard about the book, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters” by Erica Komisar (a liberal psychoanalyst from Manhattan who’s being embraced on conservative talk radio and shunned by feminists). This book helped me and I hope a more child friendly society follows the conversation. I love the way you express your thoughts and respect your perspective. Wish we could discuss this one over wine on the porch…
Anyway, best of luck as your world expands. Remember to breathe.
Ang CFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 6:38
Book ordered! Done! Make time to celebrate – this is AWESOME!
Cheryl S.Friday, 1 December, 2017 at 6:51
Already pre-ordered! I can’t wait to read it. You are incredibly brave to put yourself out there the way you do. Lots of love!
TeriFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 10:26
Pre-ordered and can’t wait until May! So much support and love to you and your family. Way to be brave and just do what was right for you!
MichelleFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 11:36
Thank you. Thank you for your vulnerability, your courage, your beautiful and heartbreaking words, for the space you have created here to speak the truth about what matters. There are so many people out here who breathe a bit easier because you speak to their hearts. Including me.
Oh, and congratulations. =)
JessicaFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 12:13
Congratulations Jenelle! I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time…since I’ve followed you years ago when I discovered you through my blog “a nj housewife”. I abandon my blog years ago to write my own book however things just didn’t work out so I understand how hard it is to get published. You stuck with your passion and you deserve success. I wish you the best!
Your fan ????
JaquieFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 17:19
Well, fuck, my mom asks me every year what I want from her for Christmas, and, just in time, this appears!
AnneFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 18:09
Flipping cannot wait to read this book. YOUR BOOK.
Beth KaneFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 21:02
Please add me to your email
Erica DolsenFriday, 1 December, 2017 at 23:50
I remember reading the died to live column when I was 2 week post part I’m with my first baby and just crying and crying. Thank you for all you’ve done and will do. Ordered and stoked!
Heather J.Saturday, 2 December, 2017 at 21:36
Please know that you deserve every bit of awesomeness that has come and is coming your way. Thank you for all of your writing – I am excited to read this new bit of it.
RHONDA WALLERSunday, 3 December, 2017 at 12:37
OMAGAWD! AWESOME! CONGRATULATIONS!!!
BethanneSunday, 3 December, 2017 at 16:53
I can’t wait to have this book in my hands!!! <3
Jay BeeSunday, 3 December, 2017 at 19:00
You go girl!!! So proud of you! Still need to take your writing workshop, but you know the mama-wife struggle and procrastination is real so I know you won’t judge me. SOO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!
Shannon JohnsonMonday, 4 December, 2017 at 13:10
just got my copy via Amazon for my Kindle!
TabMonday, 4 December, 2017 at 16:04
I’m so excited for you!! Eek!! Pre-ordered mine already. I just love your writing and adore anyone who keeps it real when it comes to motherhood and this crazy ride. THANK YOU for always keepin’ it real.
AmyMonday, 4 December, 2017 at 21:09
AmyTuesday, 5 December, 2017 at 13:56
I am so incredibly happy for you. Congratulations.
AJTuesday, 5 December, 2017 at 16:51
Congrats! Thank you for sharing so much with us. Motherhood can be so lonely, and sobriety can be too. You have helped me embrace and enjoy both (and feel ok with myself when I really struggle with each…. both can be so difficult.) Thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart.
TarahTuesday, 5 December, 2017 at 19:42
So amazing. Congrats! I have been reading your blog for a couple years now and if anyone deserved a book deal it is you woman! Thank you for always giving me the feels when I read your writing.
ClaireWednesday, 6 December, 2017 at 16:15
Congratulations!! Wonderful news – you rock!
Debbie StothertThursday, 7 December, 2017 at 2:08
Pre-ordered and looking forward to the read !
SarahFriday, 15 December, 2017 at 10:49
I just preordered your book and I don’t know how you’ll feel about this, but you know those “Customers who bought this item also bought” recommendations, well the first item in that list was a box of 24 cans of cat food. I laughed, not sure why.
Erica Dee FoxSaturday, 23 December, 2017 at 21:19
Hey I just realized you announced your book release on my 3rd sober-versary. I’ve followed your blog the whole time since I quit drinking because I relate to it, and probably before that too! Stoked for you. Making my husband pre-order this for xmas present 🙂
AshleyWednesday, 27 December, 2017 at 17:33
I don’t buy books, or pay shipping charges in general, and I just did both. I will likely forget I’ve done this by the time it arrives as a belated bday present to myself, so thanks for the late bday present! I know I’ll love it!