The Call. The fabulous call that announces you Have Sold A Book and all your writerly fantasies are about to come true… I fantasized about that call for eighteen months. I read all the blog posts I could find, both to live vicariously and to pick up etiquette tips. The only common consensus, though, was that it took much longer than anyone had imagined for the damned phone to ring and, amusingly, most of the about-to-be-published-for-the-first-time writers apparently descended into blithering incomprehensibility when confronted with a real live editor on the other end of the line. I figured I could stick out the wait (I’m stubborn) and it sounded like the editors expected and/or enjoyed the authorial babbling (which was a relief as talking on the phone ranks right up there with going to the dentist for me and both result in complete babble on my part as my dentist provides nitrous gas on demand).
I had just signed with the agent of my dreams, Roberta Brown of the Brown Literary Agency. After I hung up the phone with her, I literally danced around the house because I was too excited to sit still. Fortunately, her dogs kept barking in the background at the UPS man, which conveniently covered up the worst of my babbling. My husband, equally elated (and probably thinking: “My God, maybe she could make money doing this!), promptly sent flowers. He also forgot to sign his name on the card, however, so I spent the remainder of the afternoon emailing everyone I knew who might consider me flower-worthy, asking if they’d sent a fabulous bouquet of Stargazer lilies with a card that said only “Meow.” Most of those acquaintances, not realizing that I was shopping a sexy shapeshifter romance, decided I was crazy. Or had kinky habits of which they would rather be unaware.
Just in case I was in any danger of forgetting the Getting an Agent Call, however, I purchased a handful of Stargazer lily bulbs and planted them in my garden. I would, I decided, add a new lily every time I hit a writing milestone. A literary garden, like I’d read about. Of course, about a week after tracking down the bulbs, interpreting the picture-only direction on the back of the package, and standing 24-7 garden against marauding squirrels who thought my literary good news meant a super-special lunch for them, I realized my inspiration from this came from Anne Bishop’s Briarwood garden in her Black Jewels trilogy. Whoops. Because those flowers commemorated some rather unsavory and sadistic murders. Still, it was the thought that counted, right?
Agent acquired, bulbs planted, I settled in to wait. One of the great things about having an agent is that your book typically goes out to multiple NYC houses for editorial consideration. It’s like being offered a great big all-you-can-eat buffet of editors. Of course, it also means you get a great, big, heaping pile of rejections as well. My husband offered to locate some sea thistle bulbs for each rejection, but I declined. When, finally, my first book, THE HUNT, found its home at Dorchester, I actually didn’t get a call (bummer, because I’d practiced). I was commuting to work on the train and was miles below the San Francisco Bay, jammed nose to armpit with a lot of strangers. When I staggered into the office, there was email waiting for me. Alicia Condon wanted to buy my book. Since I had just started working at the day job, I restrained my urge to dance up and down the hall shrieking (not professional). And I restrained my urge to burst in on the senior vice president of engineering (my boss and the only other human being in the office with me) because I wasn’t quite sure what company policy was on checking personal email. During work hours. I spent the rest of the day reading and re-reading that email. Email is actually rather handy--- no worries that you didn’t hear your agent correctly. I was going to be a published author!
The lilies came up beautifully this year (take that, squirrels!) and I’ve been adding to my collection. I have some beautiful pink and white patches in the garden now: my floral happy dance at selling my second book, BOND WITH ME. I just sold books three and four, which means I’m due a date with my garden…
A professional technical writer, Anne discovered that getting laid off was actually A Very Good Thing. While looking for her next writing gig, she picked up her pen (well, okay, she used her writing as an excuse to buy a new Apple laptop) and started writing. She soon discovered that writing was uncomfortably similar to sit-ups: add a few more crunches each day, wake up sore, but, by God, you will fit into that bikini. Or finish the book (she’s still working on the bikini). Now she cranks out software manuals during the daylight hours– and writes about alpha shapeshifters the rest of the time.