Hello and good day!
I've been working on a book for the last year and a half.
I received word two days ago from my editor that there are no more revisions and that she is sending the manuscript to the copy editor, whose job it is to remove typos and correct improper grammar.
This means that my job is officially done.
Here is a link to the Penguin Random House listing.
The book isn't officially coming out until June 2024, so you can't buy it yet.
But when it does come out, I hope I can talk you into considering a copy. I did my best to make it a juicy and educational read.
Here is the synopsis from the book's web page:
Finding Fortunato, a business-adventure-travel-chocolate memoir that takes readers on an up close and personal journey into the northern Peruvian jungle to watch as last chance entrepreneurs accidentally stumble upon a thought to be extinct variety of cacao.
Dan Pearson was a 62-year-old man coming out of bankruptcy when he started a mining supply distribution company in northern Peru with his stepson Brian Horsley. Like almost all of Dan’s previous businesses, the mining supply company soon came to an end and Brian found himself married, with a child, and living in Peru without a job.
Through a series of completely unpredictable lucky breaks, Brian and Dan found a population of cacao growing in a remote canyon of the Peruvian jungle that the USDA called “an unprecedented discovery”. With no job and no other way to earn a living, Brian moved out to the jungle to live with cacao farmers.
With yet another business teetering on the edge of going under, Dan and Brian realize that the only way they can survive and thrive is to completely reconstruct the way chocolate supply chains work. Instead of middlemen eating up all the profits and keeping cacao farmers in relentless poverty that leads to environmental destruction and slavery, Dan and Brian decide to give back as much as they can to their cacao farm partners.
The new approach didn’t only save the business. It provides a blueprint for conducting environmentally sound and ethical direct trade with cacao farmers while also producing more delicious chocolate for chocolate lovers at a better price.
Here is something I learned from writing a book.
A good story is 99% of the battle. If you have a truly good story to tell, the book part is mostly just a matter of having the discipline to sit down and write it up.
Finding a story worthy of your time is the hard part.
It just so happens that I've been lucky enough to see one hell of a good story unfold in real time over the last 22 years. A very excellent feature of writing a book is that you have enough space to really lay out what happened.
If you've been reading these emails for a while, you may recall that my brother Brian lived in the jungle buying and processing cacao for ten years. During that time, he traveled back and forth between Cajamarca, where he lived with his family, and the northern Peruvian jungle, where our cacao project was, and still is, located.
He had to say goodbye to his wife and daughter and take a 17-hour bus ride out to the jungle roughly every two weeks. A 17-hour bus ride in each direction, every two weeks, for ten years. When our project began, his first daughter had just been born. He had to kiss his little girl goodbye every two weeks for ten years. From age zero to age ten, his daughter saw daddy coming and going.
And there were many times during those ten years when Brian was gone for months at a time because some emergency popped up that Brian had to stay and fix.
Here you have a pretty decent summation of what Brian sacrificed for our chocolate company. If you've ever had to walk away from something or somebody you love in order to carry out your duty, I'm sure you can fill in the gaps and imagine how Brian and his wife, and eventually his daughter, must have felt.
However, what I don't normally have space to get into in these emails is what that 17-hour bus ride looked like and how Brian came to feel about it. The bus ride goes through stunningly beautiful nature.
But Brian came to hate that ride.
The first time you take a ride like that, it blows your mind. The thirtieth time you have to take it, you just want it to be over with. The hundredth time you take it, you begin to wonder what in God's name you are doing with your life. I can't get into the nuances of how it feels to both be sad about leaving your family and at the same time invigorated by the nature of your work.
That is an interesting little twist of human psychology, isn't it? You are sad when you leave your family, but really happy to see your team and get back to making progress when you get to where you are going.
And then your wife hears that you sound happy when you call to check in and she begins to wonder whether you really miss her, so you have to put on a sad voice so that she doesn't feel bad.You aren't pretending to be sad when you talk to her either.
Talking to her and remembering that she and your daughter are waiting for you does legitimately make you sad because you do miss them and you want them to know that.
However, you are also extremely satisfied that your team just had a record harvest day and after you get off the call, you and the fellows are gathering in your house to have beers and celebrate your accomplishment.
Our journey has provided all kinds of paradoxes like this, and in a book, I get to really delve in.
Here is another one, briefly.
When we first launched the chocolate business, I was doing payroll for the department of defense to make ends meet. I worked in a cubicle. The job only took two hours a day and that left me six hours a day to kill.
I drank a lot of coffee. I read every article online about every news story. I'd never been more informed. Nobody saw me as anything special, just another cog, punching in at the beginning of the day and punching out at the end.
And then my dad and my brother start a chocolate business and my dad asks me to chip in. With great enthusiasm, I tell my co-workers about this new project and how exciting it all is, and they flat out don't believe me. If it were true, I wouldn't still be sitting at my desk drinking coffee and cruising the internet for six hours a day, every day. Thus began a long stretch of living a double life.
Payroll for the Navy during the week. Chocolate industry conferences on the weekends. A year and a half later, we're making progress on the business, but we still haven't made any sales, and I'm still in the cubicle.
"What ever happened to that chocolate business you started?" they ask. "It's still going," I say. "Sure, it is," they say, shaking their head, and turning back to their computer.
Anyhow, I have already gone long for today. As you can see, there are very good stories that can be told in satisfyingly sufficient detail in a book that I don't have space for here.
To conclude, if you've ever dreamed of writing a book, look for a great story. I strongly believe that this is the most important part.
Thank you so much for your time today.