Organized Simplicity: behind the scenes

I‘ve been seriously elated with all your kind comments and fellow excitement about Organized Simplicity‘s release this week. Publishing a book was one of those items on my bucket list I was fairly sure would be a long-shot. My arms have been turning red from pinching myself, floored.

Over the past month, I’ve talked about some of the content and the overall theme of the book: redefining “simple living.” Here are those posts:

Today I thought I would savor this rare moment in my life — watching this book I’ve crafted over many months finally emerge as a tangible thing — and share with you some of the behind-the-scenes moments in my book writing process.

Come along for the ride, and I’ll end with a little treat for five of you.

The first contact: an editor’s email

I remember where I was and what I was doing. It was February 26, 2009. My husband, kids, and I were visiting my parents’ house and were headed back overseas in just a few weeks, so we were spending as much time with them as we could. I thought I’d quickly check my email before sitting down to watch TV with them (a baseball game? movie? can’t remember now).

There was this email from my contact page — a nondescript subject line, so I didn’t think much of it. But when I read this line:

“Have you ever considered writing a home organizing/cleaning book for print publication? I would love to discuss this opportunity with you.”

I straightened up, and so did the hair on the back of my head. After a bit more back-and-forth dialogue with her, I realized this offer was legit.

Tate's message to everyone: "Tsh wrote a book"

Next steps: A book proposal, timeline, and contract

This editor — who turned out to be a gem among rhinestones — needed me to write a book proposal in a matter of weeks. So on March 20, 2009, just a few weeks after we decided this book idea was pitch-able, I submitted a 19-page book proposal. I had to research all sorts of things I never knew prior, such as what makes a book marketable, and what hasn’t been written yet (clue: there’s not much, or so it seems).

She then pitched my proposal to her group of publishers, and they were enthusiastic about the book idea. On April 3, 2009, I received this email:

“Congratulations! The book was approved today. We are very excited. Sales wants to move the publication date back from August 2010 to November 2010 so the book can be considered for display in the bookstores ‘New Year, New You’ sections in January. Would a final manuscript due date of January 15, 2010, work for you? With an interim date of September 1, 2009?”

We ironed out the details and I signed the contract. The plan was for me to submit two chapters per month, with half of it done by September; the completed work in January. This meant 16 chapters and 4 appendices, not to mention regular blogging on Simple Mom, juggling cross-cultural living in our home in the Middle East, and being a wife and mom with a busy household to run.

I had my work cut out for me.

Kyle and I decided I needed a mama’s helper, so we hired 18-year-old Hannah to come over and watch the kids three mornings a week while I wrote. On those days, I would retreat to our bedroom where my writing desk was stationed, and I would flesh out those chapters while the kids played. I never could have written the book without her help. Thank you, Hannah.

I loved being able to thank in print as many friends I could think of

The waiting game

I turned in my manuscript with a week or two to spare, in January of this year. It was not unlike handing over your newborn baby — this vulnerable, helpless thing you’ve grown to love, hoping it’s in good hands. We worked through edits throughout the submission process, so by the time everything was in the hands of the publishers, most everything was done.

We went through two name changes. There were a whole slew of photos to slough through, taken by some dear blogging friends. We had to verify facts and quotes. I needed to write a resource section and whittle down my recommended books and websites to the absolute essentials, which was incredibly painful. The book ended up almost 50 pages longer than we originally anticipated, but we just couldn’t cut any of it.

Some photos were taken by Angie of!

Other than an introduction to write, there wasn’t much for me to do in the spring. It was a challenge to wait, but I was beyond busy with launching our SLM network and our family suddenly moving back to the States. My manuscript was in good hands, so I focused on our family’s needs while we set up a new home.

On April 9, I saw the cover of my book, and it appeared on Amazon for the first time. That’s when it felt official. My book was going to be printed and in the hands of people.

The book was designed and printed throughout the summer, and on September 21, my editor sent me my first copy of Organized Simplicity. Soon after opening the envelope, I posted this on Facebook:

Classy, indeed.

A gift

This book is a gift. To readers, yes, but also to me and my family. It’s a gift from you to me. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to write this book without you reading this blog, telling your friends and family, and sharing with me your thoughts and ideas how to make this site flourish. In that sense, Organized Simplicity is a book crafted by the Simple Mom community. Thank you seem like such small words.

Thank you.

A giveaway

Now for some fun. I’d like to give five of you a signed copy of Organized Simplicity! Here’s how you can win one:

1. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post, telling me about my favorite time of year, fall. Sweaters, leaves, college football, pumpkin spice lattes… What’s your absolute favorite thing about the fall?

2. To get a second bonus entry, mention this giveaway on Facebook, linking to this post. Here’s the URL:  Important:  You must then return here and leave an additional comment, telling me you did this.  It won’t count otherwise.

3. To get a third bonus entry, mention this giveaway on Twitter, linking to this post and using @simplemom.  Again, same as above — you must return here and leave yet another comment, or else it won’t count.

This giveaway will end tomorrow night, November 6, at 11:59 pm CST, and I’ll announce the winners soon after. I hope you win!

This giveaway is now closed. Check back soon for the winner!

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. I absolutely LOVE everything about Thanksgiving. Making rolls to bring to my grandma’s house, cooking alongside her and my mom, aunt, cousins and sister…the smell (& taste!) of the turkey…it’s magical.

  2. I recently wrote about the beginning of fall in my blog, listing some of my favorite things about the season…

    September is my favorite time of year. It brings the (usually) perfect weather with warming bursts of color appearing from the changing leaves. It is a time that produces an abundance of wild foods, which was always fun to hunt for as a child (although, I must admit, I think I have more fun at 25 scavenging for wild foods than I did when I was younger). It always promised winter flavors that accompanied all the canning and drying my family would do from the profusion of garden produce and the fruit from local orchards. Today it also brings the certainty of change–unmistakable from my expanding abdomen and perpetual drowsiness. A mix of nostalgia and transformation, time forever recycling itself.

  3. Being an artist what I notice about fall is the change in the light. I love the afternoon light, as it hits the side of the houses. The shadows are longer, and the color is intense in the shadows. I love SoCA in the fall, because the days are perfect for painting outdoors.

  4. Congratulations!! What an accomplishment! I love when the heat goes away. I don’t like being hot. And I like changing up my wardrobe to sweaters and jeans. And soup. I love fall as well!

  5. First of all- congratulations! The book looks great – if I don’t win one, I will definitely be buying one (I almost did and then saw this chance to win one). I would love to have a signed copy though…so personalized!

    As far as this favorite time of year – first, I love the MLB playoffs and world series – and it was especially great this year with the Giants winning it all! A second, I love the crisp mornings with warm afternoons – dressing in layers and using those pieces that haven’t seen the light of day for almost a year! Oh, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Peppermint Lattes are my faves!

  6. I posted on your book and this blog post on Facebook!

  7. Neat book!

    My favourite part is all the wonderful cozy fall food and smells – especially pumpkin.

  8. Congratulations! Fall is my favorite season- apple picking, pumpkin patches, sweaters, the foliage (I’m a New England girl), and I could go on and on.

  9. I love how blue the sky is, and how it compliments the orange and yellow leaves. And, of course, those pumpkin spice lattes 🙂

  10. Congratulations on your book! We are having one of our best autumn’s (OK fall to the US readers!) ever in England – I love the amazing colours on the trees and the smell of the leaves when we get into the woods for a walk.

  11. I shared the link to the giveaway on facebook too.

  12. I tweeted about this giveaway! And I must say, I appreciate that you kept the ways to enter the giveaway simple 🙂

  13. Congrats!!! I’m excited for you!

    I love thanksgiving, and my daughter’s birthday! (She’ll be 1 this year).

    Are there any plans for a kindle edition? I would love to buy a book like this for my kindle, as that’s where I do most of my reading! If you could ask your publishers, I’d appreciate it! 🙂

  14. Tweeted!

  15. Shared on fb too 🙂

  16. OOH, I hope I win, Tsh! I love the intensity of the sunshine, the cloudless blue skies, and crisp autumn air. I love the sense of renewal I get at back-to-school time. I love getting out the pants, long sleeves, and later, scarves and sweaters. I love all the celebrations – besides Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, there’s my birthday and anniversary.

  17. I love pumpkin carving! And yesterday I tried the first pumpkin spice latte in my life – it was delicious! So I guess my favorite thing about fall is pumpkins!
    I already have your book on my Christmas wish list, but I’d love to win this signed copy!

  18. What I love, love, love about fall are those unexpected warm sunny days. Just when you thought it was time to stay home and cozy up, you get a day where you can just go outside, have a picnic and wear short sleeves… in the middle of November! (at least, that’s what happens in my corner of the world).

    Oh, and the other thing I just love about Fall is that, for me, is like a New Year. I do resolutions, plans, etc just as if it was January. I guess it’s because of the School year. I’ve been a student for the last 23 years, and I love it.

  19. Tweeted!

  20. … and shared on FB too 😀

  21. I love pumpkins – roasting them especially!

  22. My favorite part of fall is cooler weather – we also live in the Middle East, so fall means long sleeves and rain – lovely, wet, refreshing rain.
    Congrats on the book and continuing success on your projects!

  23. Happy for you…I love the changing leaves…sweaters…and yummy drinks…a la Pumpkin Spice Latte’s (which this year I finally learned to make at home!)

  24. Tweeted

  25. congratulations- I really hope i win as i look forward to your book but am not sure when/if it will be in Australian shops.
    Growing up in NYC and going to college in New England my favourite thing about Fall was the changing of the leaves – so beautiful to look at, fun to play in and kick as you walk along the sidewalks. Hot apple cider at the Union Square farmer’s market is heavenly.

    Now in Brisbane, Australia where it is a subtropical climate I love Autumn (little “falls” so seems silly to call it that now) for it’s balmy temps with no humidity – perfect for outside time enjoying the fresh air and local parks with my kids.

  26. And shared on Facebook as well

  27. And tweeted

  28. I love the relief from the heat of summer.

  29. I am SO pleased for you! It’s on my bucket list (I call it a life list) too.

    My favourite thing about autumn is the cool weather which for me means soup, tea, reading in bed, creamy pastas, more baking. Lots of it revolves around food!

  30. Fall is the time of many new books, the time of bright colourful trees and pumpkin risotto, yeah these are my favourites.
    I’m very excited about reading your book!!!

  31. Fall…I love that my family finds their way into the kitchen to cook Thanksgiving dinner together after our morning ritual of Krispy Kreme donuts and the Macy’s parade. I love that while the turkey cooks we bundle up and meander over to a local field to partake in the annual “Turkey Bowl”. My husband started this tradition of gathering friends in the neighborhood together for a game of flag football when we were first married sans kids. It has now grown to include entire families, in addition to relatives who come to visit all running, laughing and doing a little pre-feasting workout.

  32. I live overseas…in the tropics (don’t worry if I win, I have a US mailing address), where we serve as missionaries. The thing I love most about “fall” here is that we have to make it ourselves. We decorate the house, make spiced cider, and pumpkin rolls. For Thanksgiving our entire ex-pat team (42 people in all) all join together to make the day special and eat our simple meal together. There is no Stove Top, no pumpkin in a can, no french fried onions. But, the beauty of the simplicity that encompasses our Thanksgiving here is that we are so thankful for what we do have, which is each other.

  33. I like raking leaves with my boys and having them jump into it and throw leaves on each other. They enjoy burying themselves in the leaves and hiding from me. They get such joy from this simple event.

  34. Fall for me is hoodies, college football, that sharp wind that turns your cheeks pink and you wonder where summer went., crunching in leaves, curling up with your favorite pair of sweats, a blanket and a great book. LOVE fall! I don’t think I could pick just one favorite thing.

    Congratulations on the book, you’re such an inspiration! I look forward to reading Simple Mom every day and can’t wait to read the book!

  35. I facebooked the giveaway!

  36. My favourite thing about Fall (or Autumn, as we refer to it in Australia) is the many different colours of the trees as they change. Thanks for the opportunity to win one of your books 🙂 they look fantastic!

  37. Tweeted it too!

  38. Congratulations:: I love experiencing fall and remembering other falls we’ve had in this place. Remembering the one song my kids would listen to on our trips to a dear friend’s, in the fall last year. Remembering the leaves dropping, branches bare and they did grow again. Seeing the splash of light out of the corner of my eye that is the yellow leaves in the trees.

  39. Fall is our favorite time of year, because it is a celebration of our family. Our anniversary and 3 out of 4 birthdays are in the fall, so we are party our way through the season. I also love the chillier weather.

    Congratulations on your book. That is so exciting.

  40. I wrote a message on facebook

  41. I tweeted.

  42. Congratulations, Tsh! Yes, fall is my favorite season… it feels like renewal because of all of the years that I started school… it feels like nourishing comfort because the cooler temperatures force us to huddle closer. I do love fall.

  43. What isn’t there to like about fall?! As a Deep South gal, I love that the weather finally gets a little cooler. I love taking the kids to the park and playing falling leaves. I love the way the sky is so very blue, and how sunsets seem clearer, sharper in the fall. Seriously, I could go on for hours!

  44. I love just about everything about fall. The crisp air outside, the color of the leaves, going to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch, making chilis, stews, and drinking apple cider. I could go on and on; fall is my absolute favorite time of the year!

  45. Fall is cozy, comfy, crisp, clean, colorful! It is my favorite time of the year.

  46. Sara Jane says:

    I love fall! From finishing up the garden harvest, to seeing my children off to school, to trick-or-treating, fall is a wonderful and busy time for us. I try to remember to find time to jump in the leaves!

  47. Congratulations on publication of your book!
    What I love about fall where I am now is that the heat finally breaks, and we can live with the doors and windows open.
    What I love about fall where I lived before was the smell of the leaves, and the color change of the leaves.

  48. So excited for you! I absolutely love Christmas, but my favorite season is definately summer!

  49. I love fall baking and pumpkin spice lattes, sweaters and sweatshirts. Fires in the fire place and kids jumping in the leaves.

  50. I shared on FB. 🙂

  51. Love the fall! I wish SC had beautiful fall leaves to enjoy… but nothing says fall to me like enjoying spiced pumkin coffee and sweaters!

  52. My favorite thing about fall has changed in the this year. My son (now 4.5) loved playing outside, late, all summer with the neighbor children. With days getting colder & darker he’s inside earlier and *I* get to play with him. 🙂

  53. Congrats on your book! I can’t wait to read it. I have so many favorite things about fall that it is hard to narrow it down. I guess I would say sweaters, the feel of the crisp air, the colors, and the smell of the wood stove.

  54. I posted on facebook…

  55. Congratulations on a book!! It looks intriguing – really !! FALL??? Don’t get me started – the stellar crisp days with blue skies and no humidity, hiking with my kids, looking for my favorite leaves/trees, and even rainy days where you notice the color against the darker wet trunks, streets, and sidewalks…. the first hints of a chill and pumpkin/squash everything!! Lastly, SOUP!!

  56. My most favourite part of fall is bringing out the sweaters and scarves. All the wonderful warmth and colour!

  57. Lovely Autumn . . .
    the time of newly sharpened pencils and a slowing down as the frenzy of summer passes . . .
    the air grows crisp and the trees dress in their dignified end-of-thesummer best . . .
    I sit under a thick fleece blanket with a hot cup of tea and read.

    These are things that I love.

  58. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your journey to publication with us. I am confident your book is a gem.

    Choosing one favorite thing about the fall, my favorite season as well, is so hard! But I would say, the cozier family times we share– everyone seems drawn in close to home and hearth somehow. And hot chocolate doesn’t hurt!

  59. I shared the giveaway on Twitter 🙂

  60. Congrats!! That’s exciting news. Sign me up!
    Sarah M

  61. just posted on Twitter!

  62. I love fall!! actually everything you listed, sweaters, crunchy leaves, tights, pumpkin anything, college football, just everything about fall!!

  63. and my favorite favorite thing about fall is the smell – fires, leaves, pumpkins, it’s just incredibly cozy.

  64. YAY!!! Congratulations – I loved seeing the timeline and all the behind the scenes things that went on before your book hit the stores!

    My favorite thing about fall is… EVERYTHING. It’s my favorite season, too, and I love the cooler weather, the sweaters and scarves, the colors, the food…

  65. facebooked

  66. tweeted!!

  67. Posted the giveaway on Facebook 🙂

    Thanks so much for this opportunity. And congratulations!

  68. Summer! The pool, the beach, the water parks, the splash parks… I’m an Aquarius, what can I say?

  69. Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the vibrant yet mellow hues God paints on the foliage; the scents of leaves, pumpkin, rain, and spiced apple; the cooler temperatures that invite turtleneck sweaters, scarves, cozy jackets, and comfy socks; the sight of my children dancing in falling leaves, silvery frost and misty fog in the early morning light – in short, it’s simply delightful!

    Karen H

  70. congrats on the book!! I live in New England, so I have to go with the foliage – just amazing!

  71. I’m not a huge fan of fall, too windy around here. But I love the changing leaves. Congratulations on the book!

  72. Jacqueline says:

    I had the pleasure of living in Boston for 4 years during college and the New England foliage during Autumn was breathtaking. I’ll never forget the stunning displays of reds, yellows, and oranges. Thank you for the generous giveaway and congratulations on your wonderful accomplishment!

  73. I love the slowing down of fall. We’ve passed the craziness of back to school and are still a few weeks away from the holiday race. The shorter days and cooler weather make me feel cozy.

  74. Fall –

    soup. leaves. cool mornings. sunny afternoons. knitting. Sweaters. Cute jackets. Rain boots. Umbrellas. Thanksgiving. Love it all.

  75. My favorite thing about fall is the cooler nighttime temps and being able to put the down comforter back on our bed to snuggle underneath. Of course, that makes it harder to get out of bed on those cool fall mornings!

  76. Ohhh! I can’t wait to read it. I love this time of fall, the cool air. I LOVE the smell of the woodsmoke in the air on a cool evening, then walking into a warm home with the smell of spices!

  77. Oh, I love fall. Candles, throws, knitting, soup, leaves, Thanksgiving… wonderful!!!

  78. I shared it on my facebook page! 🙂

  79. My favorite thing about fall is doing all of the things we do to bunker down for colder weather… Putting on cozy sweaters, extra blankets on the bed, making chili, etc.

  80. Congrats on your book! My favorite thing about fall is hot chocolate and a crackling (real) fire in the fireplace!

  81. Oh I wish I still had facebook so I could have another post…but needed to “simplify” life 😉 So here goes…what I love about fall: trees changing colors, cooler weather which means my faves of cappuchino & chili! I also love how everything seems to slow down in the fall.

  82. Congratulations!!! Your book looks great!

    My favorite things about fall are the change in wardrobe and the return to more of a routine after summer!

  83. Fall is my favorite season, there are so many things to love about it, but being in New England, I’d have to say the foliage – the colors are so vibrant, and it makes me want to slow down and look at everything!

  84. Naomi Jones says:

    My favorite thing about fall is smelling the smoke of a freshly lit fire in the crisp, clear air.

  85. I love the crunchy leaves–my children are so young now that that there is nothing more exciting to them than going outside and just stomping on leaves. So fun!

  86. Congratulations! Fall is my favorite season. I love the warm sun with a nip in the air. And dressing at Thanksgiving.

  87. First, I must admit that fall is not my favorite time of the year. Days are so short and cold… By the time I get out of the office and pick up my son at the day care it already feels like the day is over. But there is one thing that is so precious to me these days: because it is already dark, we both head straight to our home and spend some quiet time reading stories together until his dad comes back. I am pregnant and it is very special to me to be able to spend quality time with my son (despite working all day) and tell him how much he means to me and to this new baby.

  88. Fall leaves (falling not raking) the colors, the sounds, picking apples, baking apple crisps, and getting ready for halloween!
    Congrats on the book – that’s awesome!

  89. Amanda T. says:

    So excited for you!

    Fall is my favorite season. I love the way the mornings are crisp and make me want to cuddle up with a book, blanket and some tea.

  90. I love the cooler weather!! I’m not made for the heat of summer so by the time fall finally gets here, I’m so happy!

  91. My favorite thing about fall? I love everything that goes into the preparation for Thanksgiving.
    Congrats on a beautiful book – I can’t wait to read it!

  92. i tweeted the link : )

  93. I posted the link to my facebook! : )

  94. Hi,

    I would LOVE a copy of this book! I hope you will send one to Germany if I am a winner! 😉


  95. I got chills reading the story about your book publication! Congrats! I’m a fairly new follower, but I just love all the tips you share because they always have a touch of something personal to go with it. Thanks for “keepin’ it real”! 🙂

    Fall – I don’t even know where to begin! I’m a total sensory freak. I love all the sights, sounds and smells of autumn. The crunching leaves, the hint of winter to come on the breeze that gives your cheeks that rosy glow.. my cranberry chutney candle burning while the pumpkin muffins are baking. I’d like to say I could live year round where the season never changes from this… but then I guess it wouldn’t be as special. 😉

  96. Sabrina Stewart says:

    I have to say that my favorite thing about fall is the change in the weather and all the beautiful colors of the leaves. I love to open the windows and allow the cool breeze waft through while I snuggle up with a hot cup of coffee and read. I also love to go for a walk and enjoy the colors, it’s amazing just how stunning nature is full of color!

  97. Congrats on your book! It looks fabulous!! I love football, love being able to turn the a/c off & enjoy the windows & doors being open, I love the colors of fall.

  98. Autumn! The sky is different and beautiful, the leaves keep me outside a little longer, then cozying up in my warmest comforter, awaiting colder days. And I hate wearing socks too! Congrats on your book, that’s wonderful!