Maryland Writer Hopes Debut Novel Will Help Others Dealing with Grief

To be released May 2

Upon becoming widowed suddenly at 40, Michelle Paris found writing to be very cathartic. Always a sucker for a happy ending, Ms. Paris decided to write her own. New Normal is a fictionalized version of Paris's own experience with grief. It tells a story of loss through relatable characters who find themselves in situations ranging from devastating to heartwarming and comedic.

It took Ms. Paris more than ten years to write and edit the novel. She shopped it around to agents and editors who showed initial interest that ultimately ended in rejection. During that time, she listened to feedback to fine-tune her manuscript until it was the perfect blend of personal experience and made-up characters that tell a story that is both heart-felt and humorous. Paris was thrilled when Baltimore publisher Apprentice House Press agreed. Ms. Paris attributes the journey of finding a publisher for New Normal to the lesson of resiliency she learned when dealing with the sudden loss of her husband. "I believed in my story and myself," Paris says. "Like the message I convey in New Normal, I never gave up."

Ms. Paris's personal journey through the grieving process was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 2010. "When my husband died, I just wanted someone to tell me everything would be okay. I hope I am that person for others," says Paris. "My ultimate goal is to let readers know, even when life is really hard, never give up hope."

After the sudden death of her husband, Emilie Russell just wants to feel normal. But being a middle-aged widow doesn't come with a how-to manual. Her well-meaning friend, Viv, believes the cure to all that ails is simple: a new man. So, she sets Emilie up with her handsome and charming new neighbor, widower Colin. There's only one problem with the plan-Colin is gay.

Emilie embarks on a rollicking journey of self-discovery with Colin as her mentor and best friend. From learning to swipe right without cringing while midlife dating in constricting shapeware to cougar moments in Key West, Emilie reenters the dating pool with both humorous and soul-crushing results.

With the encouragement of her friends, including a new furry one, plus a little therapy, Emilie begins forging a new life, one where she exchanges tears for laughter, and one that maybe-just maybe-includes the courage to find love again.

Michelle Paris is a Maryland writer who believes laughter can heal the heart. Her debut novel, New Normal is loosely based on her own experience as a young widow. Her personal story of overcoming grief was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. And her essays about grief and mid-life dating have appeared in multiple editions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul inspirational book series as well as in other media outlets. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Maryland Writer's Association. Currently, Michelle is enjoying chapter two of her life with her new husband, Kevin, who keeps her from being a cat lady but only on a technicality.

 

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