OK, I don’t actually think there were candles on the table at that lunch my new editor took me and my agent to. But there might as well have been, as readers of this blog know. It was pretty spectacular.
But spectacular can’t last forever, otherwise it would become, well, non-spectacular. The bar would keep having to rise to make something else fit the definition, right?
I guess it kept rising for a time. At the lunch, there was in fact champagne, for instance. When the waiter approached, my editor looked at us both and said, “I’d say we should have champagne, yes?”
It reminded me of that Seinfeld episode. Was I champagne-worthy? Was my book? No way.
And the atmosphere was so comfortable and chatty and laugh-y that toward the end, my editor invited us both to a cocktail party she was hosting at Random House for the Romance Writers of America the following month. So there I was, one dress just bought, and another one now needed, because I was going to be walking through the hallowed halls of a lifelong dream. In the RH building lives a copy of every single book they have ever published. That building is my cathedral.
There was another champagne drink at that party–tinted pink for the romance authors. It was lovely. Friendly, non-intimidating people, some of whom had even heard about my book. After toiling with only my husband and family to know what I was doing for so many years–maybe an agent by my side, but basically feeling too lame to talk about it with anybody else (how many times can you say, “No, it was another failed sub,” “No, the editor couldn’t get permission to make an offer” ?)–this was a world out of bounds.
But as I said, the champagne has to end, and end it did. I count myself lucky that I got to go three rounds.
(The third was at ThrillerFest. I didn’t actually drink champagne there since I hadn’t paid to attend and didn’t have eight dollars to buy a drink–see? I told you things would get back to normal–but I’m sure other people drank some.)
After a hurried round of introductions to some of the ITW members, me and my family jumped in an overloaded car, and headed west.
(OK, we didn’t actually jump. With two kids, you don’t even climb into a car. What you do is schlep out, two hours over-schedule, amidst shouts of, “Do we have the snack bag?” “Where’s Molly? And Julie?” “Sweetie, we can’t FIT Molly and Julie!” “Yes, we can! Look she’ll go right underneath me on the booster!” “Sweetie, you can’t sit like that for 3000 miles, it isn’t even safe!” “Yes, I can–” “Molly and Julie are both going in a meat grinder if we don’t leave one of them behind!” [That's my husband. He's kidding.We don't even own a meat grinder. It's not like you can ask the guy at the deli to use his on an American Girl.])
But finally we were off and heading west. Way west. We drove to OR, stopping at bookstores along the way, and dropping off bookmarks for Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.
It was an amazing trip. It was great to be in Portland again, with my brother and his family, and meeting writers, some for the first time, like mystery author Elizabeth Main, who discovered my blog and reached out to me. Or Johanna Copeland Garth, with whom I’d exchanged enough emails to really feel like I knew, but now was only a bike ride away from sharing lunch. Or Connie Jasperson Johnson, an internet-only friend, whom I was finally able to meet F2F. Others, who will appear on this blog before too long, I hope. And of course, Lauren Sweet, dear friend and former New Jersey-ite whose editing I have long relied on.
Which brings me to what happened next in my book deal journey.
No more champagne.
My editor checked with my agent to make sure I could edit while on vacation. Sure, I said. This wasn’t really vaca anyway–we live in Portland most of the summer. Besides, how much editing could there be? My book had sold, after all.
Ha ha ha ha ha.
Hear that? That’s what the writing gods were doing. They were laughing.
Think your book sold, do ya? Think that means it’s in good shape?
Ha ha ha ha ha. And, ha ha ha ha ha HA!
It wasn’t in good shape. It was a terrible, wretched piece of whatever, suited to wringing out like a dull rag, not to reading.
Even worse, I had no idea how to fix it.