Inspired Celebrations Book...the journey!

Inspired Celebrations Book...the journey!

“We were sitting backs to each other in the office, both working on our respective business projects. A tiny office, but ample space for the two of us. A short time of acquaintance in retrospect, but abundant time to find trust andcompatibility with our friendship. Then Ngoc, without much preamble said; “I think I’m going to write a book.” -Rachel Anderson, PR Assistant for Ngoc Nguyen Lay, Spring 2009

The kind of dreams that are birthed in the middle of the night are often ones that you forget by morning. Mere tricks of the memory that play out in odd order while you sleep. This dream too began in the middle of the night, and it wasn’t until years later did I realize that it wasn’t one that was meant to be forgotten.

I’ve had lots of ideas over the years. And many that never came true. I wanted to be interviewed by Matt Lauer,  flying to the moon, or even opening a bed and breakfast. When I first thought of writing a book in March 2009 it could have been like any of these. Yet there was something about it that held a promise of potential and excitement. I had decided that I wanted to write a book about celebrations and event planning, and how any person could make a simple celebration into something amazing. Soon I was thinking through what it would take to make this book about events happen; aproposal, a co-author, a publisher,  recipes, and photographs among other things.

Immediately I knew that my good friend Tram Le would be the perfect pairing for my celebrations idea, and so I decided to see what she would think about such a proposition.

“It was winter and I happened to be in California for the holidays. Ngoc called me, and although we hadn’t spoken in quite awhile, it felt like college all over again. She said she had an idea for a book and she wanted me to be a part of it since she liked my food blog. For me, it wouldn’t be work, but just a good reason to document the things I made and a good opportunity to work with an old friend. Without hesitation, I said I would work on this with her.” -Tram Le, Nutritionist, Winter 2009

Tram was on board and so I knew that we had more than just a vague idea; we now had something with potential. Something worth trying. That next year was filled with researching, writing book proposals, studying publishers,  fully developing the future content of our book, and dreaming about what could be. Tram and I worked as a great team, and in September, 2010 we were ready to send our cover letter and book proposal to the 13 publishers we selected. We were both ecstatic and ready to wait in anticipation.

And then it looked like everything was going to change. Mid-November Tram was in a massive car accident and her future was being challenged. The book was no longer the priority. To completely write about the accident and Tram’s journey would take too long, but you can read ithere on her blog. As she calls it, the day she didn’t die affected both of our lives, and the course of our journey together.

Now commenced waiting. Waiting for contact from a publisher. Waiting for Tram’s slow recovery. In February of 2011, one of these waits was over. Brown Books Publishing contacted me with interest in our book, and for the next three months we exchanged emails and phone calls until finally it was decided: we would be published.

After months of waiting and hoping for Tram to be well with only slow progress, the decision had to be made whether or not Tram should continue with me in this progress. After talking with Tram and her husband, it was decidedthat this might be the perfect avenue for Tram to focus on to aid in her recovery. So May 23, 2011 we signed a contract with Brown Book Publishing.

I started writing. Tram started cooking. And together we started developing. The following six months were full of ideas and collaboration, excitement and uncertainty. Writing a book is not all smooth sailing, but every hiccup was a chance for something better. Tram got stronger, and our book got closer and closer to being done. Finally in July 2011, we were ready to put together photo shoots to show our readers what the recipes and events might look like to include in our book could look like.

“When she first told me she wanted me to shoot the book, I thought it would be a fun project to work on together. It was just so perfect.”-Caroline Tran, Photographer, Winter 2010.

Photoshoot after photoshoot, recipe after recipe. The most hands-on and intensive planning and cooking sessions I’ve yet been involved with took place. But they were also the most rewarding. Finally it felt real, like the book was now just in reach, and everything was becoming a sprint towards the finish line.

Completed manuscripts were submitted, line edits were made by the Publisher, design layouts were compiled. Cover design was decided, interior designs were finalized, and pre-press proofs were made. Trips to Houston to see Tram were made and time passed quickly. Suddenly 11 more months had flown by and in just a few short days I could be anticipating a complete book.

3 years 4 months. The dream started in the middle of the night, by myself, and will finish with hundreds of others, for all to see.

June 14th is a very special date. It’s the date of a dream being completed and the date of a dream that has touched so many lives before it’s even in publication. Without this book my life, and the lives of those involved with it, would be so different. Granted, maybe not entirely different, but still different. This is the best part of any dream: realizing that it’s not just you who gets to celebrate but each individual who gave you an encouraging push towards the realization of that very dream.


  • 3/2009 = I thought of the idea in the middle of the night and told Albert about it!
  • 5/19/2009 = Got engaged!
  • Summer 2009 = First talked to Tram about writing the recipes.
  • Late 2009 = Started Research and Writing the Proposal.
  • Early 2010 = Researching started for Publisher List.
  • 6/2010 = Draft after draft of cover letters.
  • 9/4/2010 = I got married!!!
  • 10/2010 = Final Edits of the Proposal and Cover Letter Composed.
  • 11/2010 = Mailed Cover Letter and Proposal to Publishers.
  • Mid November 2010 = Tram’s accident.
  • 12/4/2010 = Me and Albert purchased our first home.
  • 2/2011 = Brown Book Publishing initial contact with me.
  • 5/2011 = Brown Book Publishing Proposal and Final Decision on the book. We’re doing the book!!!
  • Mid May 2011 = Confirmed Caroline as the photographer.
  • 5/18/2011 = Talk to Phong (Tram’s husband) about Tram’s continued involvement in the project. (Tram said yes!)
  • 5/23/2011 = We signed the book agreement with Brown. Strategic writing plan with writing coach.
  • 6/1/2011 to 10/1/2011 = Ngoc writing and working on chapters (4 months).
  • 8/30/2011 to 10/30/2011 = Tram working on the recipes (3 months).
  • 8/7/2011 to 11/28/2011 = 12 photo shoots with 6 designers (4 months).
  • 11/16/2011 = Food photo shoot with Tram.
  • 12/22/2011 = Submitted complete manuscript and photos to Brown Books.
  • 2/20/2012 = Complete line edit of manuscript.
  • 2/28/2012 = Cover design finished.
  • 3/1/2012 to 4/1/2012 = Interior book design finished.
  • 3/27/2012 = Pre-press proofs approved.
  • 5/3/2012 = Blue line proofs approved.
  • 5/4/2012 to 6/8/2012 = Book print and production.
  • 6/14/2012 & 6/17/2012 = Book Party!!!!
  • 7/1/2012 = Shipping for online orders

Total Timeline to Date = 3 year and 4 months

Story of Ngoc Nguyen Lay told by Rachel Anderson

Post Published on June 10, 2012. 

Book Dedication

Book Dedication

Take Home a Piece of the Beach

Take Home a Piece of the Beach