And now that the cat’s out of the bag (blurb in PW online - scroll down to "Rights Report" on the sidebar), I guess it’s okay to go public. Right, Jenn?
Warning: the length of this entry is in direct proportion to the length of time I’ve had to maintain blog-silence.
When I called my mom to tell her my good news, this was her response:
“Well, honey, I always knew one day I’d be getting this call, I just didn’t know when.”
I sold my book.
(For those who hate wading through my prolix prose, the salient points appear in bold below.)
It’s my party, and I can effloresce if I want to:
From my good friend Jo, who loves my writing, and always told me I would be published someday.
Following is a true and faithful account of my Week of Whirl:
8:07 Driving to work. Monday blah. Cell phone rings. 415 area code – Jennifer!
8:08 We have an offer. I start screaming.
8:09 Jennifer tries to talk and I try to listen, but it’s hard when I’m screaming.
8:10 I try not to drive off the road. I want to pull over but I’m in heavy traffic on a road that discourages stopping.
8:13 I call my husband and scream, “I got an offer!” He says, “I knew you would!”
8:14 I call Lisa and leave a semi-coherent message. I want to call April but I don’t have her number in my cell.
8:15 I call my sister even though it’s early for her. She screams and we scream and she cries and I don’t cry. I scream. “I was thinking about you last night before I went to sleep,” she says. “And when I woke up this morning.”
8:25 – 8:45 I squeal at co-workers, with lots of jumping up and down, and my head even starts to kind of hurt in the back from all of the wide, wide smiling. People I’m close to say, “I knew you would do it!” People I’m not close to say, “You wrote a book?”
8:48 Friend John buys me a celebratory Java Chip Frappucino. I babble my news to my favorite barista, who writes “Yay! Yay!” on my plastic cup.
8:52 Lisa S calls me back and we squeal.
9:00 I’m back at my desk but I’m not working.
9:12 – I go into the restroom, and no one else is in there, so I do a happy dance. Kind of like the Laura Linney character in “Love, Actually.”
To recap: so at this point, we have an offer and that means someone actually wants to publish my book. Someone in a position of authority wants to give me money for it, print it, bind it in between two cardboard covers, and send it to a variety of bookstores and libraries … where living humans might actually pick it up and read it. No big deal, just a LIFELONG DREAM COMING TRUE.
Jennifer has informed the interested editor that four other editors have the manuscript, and she will contact them to let them know there’s an offer.
Potential editor sends the following email to Jenn, who forwards it to me:
“Thanks for the update, Jennifer. Obviously we are very excited about this book and author, so look forward to hearing from you.”
10:36 I start crying. She called me an author.
Somehow I make it through the rest of the day, getting almost no work done.
When I pick up my son, I tell him my news and he’s excited for me in a low-key, 10-year-old way.
We go to tae kwon do so I can work off some energy by punching and kicking stuff.
When we get home, my husband has bought flowers and chocolate truffles for me. (See below.) We jump up and down and scream. Well, I scream. He says, “Yay!” a lot and tells me again he knew I would do it.
We’re in danger of losing ours minds completely, when the dog barfs, recalling us to reality.
6 :00 – 11:30 p.m. I sit at my desk and revise, stopping only for a slice of pizza. I wear noise-canceling headphones to stay inside my head as far as possible. Potential Editor requested my second YA, so I want to try to get the manuscript in some kind of shape that at least I won’t be embarrassed to have her read it. I was already midway through my revisions, so it’s not too desperate. I include a note about what else I had planned to do in the unfinished revisions, hoping she can see, well, potential.
12:30 a.m. – Still awake. I think I finally fell asleep around one.
5:15 Alarm goes off.
5:20 I walk the dogs. They are unimpressed by my book offer, and unsympathetic to my short night’s sleep. It is time to conduct their regular morning smell analyses, and no amount of yawning on my part can deter them. In fact, I’m still so happy that I don’t feel tired.
After work, I take my son to his Tuesday night art class. It’s the last one, and his stick figures look much the same as they did when he started, so we might as well own up to the fact that we’re WORD people, not artists. I walk down the street to my local independent bookstore, Annie Bloom’s Books. I daydream about where my book will go on their Teen Books shelf. After some discussion among friends and family, I’ve decided to stick with the pen name Madigan, so that means the M shelf. Oooh, somewhere between Carolyn Mackler and L.A. Meyer, who pens my favorite swashbuckling series about the resourceful Jacky Faber. Oh, and there’s some other ‘Meyer’ there, too, taking up a lot of bookshelf real estate. Stephenie, I think? ☺
8 a.m I leave my cell phone at home on the charger. Oops!
9 a.m. I email Jenn to tell her, giving her of my work phone number in case she needs to get in touch. “Chill out,” she replies. “Nothing’s going to happen for a few days.”
I’m as chilly as an author with a deal on the table can be. I know the speed of publishing … I hunker down for another wait. It’s a familiar place.
4 p.m. I leave work at my usual time and pick up my son. No messages on my cell, no blinking light on my home answering machine. We go to tae kwon do.
5:45-ish. I get home and see a message from Jenn on my cell.
“Hello, Lisa. I’ve attempted to reach you and been stymied. Perchance, would you be so good as to call me when you have a moment?”
(Um, no. She’s a tiny bit more excited than that, possibly verging on frustration, mentioning the approximately nine thousand messages she’s left me.)
Wait. Wha —? I didn’t get any messages. And I was instructed to ‘chill out.’ What happened to the chilling?!
I check my home phone. Still an unblinking red zero for calls received. But … uh-oh. Didn’t my DH just decide that our phone should be Comcast Digital? And the guy came out a couple of days ago to make it so? Oh crap! That must mean it’s on some Comcraptic voicemail system now!
I call Jennifer.
She says, “Oh hello, Lisa. Good to hear from you.”
(Again, no. She prefaces the word ‘finally’ with a very colorful adjective.)
“What? What?” I say in a panic.
My internal voice is making noise: Is it good news? Already?! It can’t be. Is the deal falling apart? Did my second YA make Potential Editor react like my nauseous dog and decide to take back her offer?
Potential Editor offered us a two-book deal.
“What?!” I yell.
Jenn explains a bunch of other stuff to me, but all that really matters is that we decide to accept the offer.
“Tell her yes,” I said. “And not just ‘yes.’ Tell her HELL, YES!”
(I don’t know if Jenn actually repeated that. She is professional, and I am a screamer.)
Potential Editor stops being potential. She is MY EDITOR. I have an editor. I haven’t even gotten used to saying ‘my agent’ yet, and now I have an editor!
She is at Houghton Mifflin! I love Houghton Mifflin! But, er, I don’t know if it’s okay to say who she is. (Btw, it’s pronounced Hoh-ten. Did you know what? I heard Garrison Keillor say it that way on the radio.)
How much did it almost catastrophically suck that I was sans cell phone and a functioning answering machine? (I did have one message from Jenn on my work phone the next day. She must have called after I left.) It figures: two years of waiting for good news, and then on the day it comes I’m MIA.
6 – 11:30 p.m. I bounce off walls and scream some more. I call people. After my family goes to bed, I bounce alone.
8:30 a.m. I jump up and down at work again, telling people about the two-book deal. Everyone is really excited for me again! They’re so nice.
I’m juuuust starting to calm down a little, when Jenn forwards me an email from the publisher about marketing plans. Now I’m Alice plunging wide-eyed down the rabbit hole. Whoa. I guess they’re serious: they like my book. They already have plans for it. Every day it becomes clearer to me that my book will go off into the world like a child going off to college, and make a new life for itself. I gave birth to it, but it must survive on its own.
All week long, I sported a monster zit on my chin, reminding me of the RIGHTNESS of my chosen genre. My character, Blake, suffers through a zit in one chapter. I’m channeling my fictional teen boy!
Here we are, a month later.
I’ve waited a long time to share my news.
I waited a long time for the right agent, too … but she didn’t have to wait at ALL before targeting the exact right editor. Yay, Jenn! She came busting out of the agenting chute, didn’t she? We had an offer two weeks after she subbed the manuscript.
She reminded me that she told me a long time ago my book was good, and if she was an agent, she would represent it. I thought she was just being nice, at the time.
Now here we are.