Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Got Call?

A year ago today, I received

The Call

the one all writers dream about, the one from a publisher saying, "We want to buy your book(s)!"

(I should note that for Requiem, The Call came in the form of The E-Mail, which was fortunate because I had a whole weekend to decide whether I wanted to go the e-book route. I did, and I'm glad for several reasons, but the fact that I got an e-mail instead of a phone call was indicative of things to come.)

Unlike some writers who are brilliant at remembering poignant details of moments like these, all I could recall as I wrote in my journal the night of February 15, 2005, was the following:

I was sitting on the couch, hard at work on Angel's Gambit, a currently defunct writing project. (When I say 'hard at work,' I mean I was creating a new playlist in RealPlayer called "AlternaChicks," featuring bands like Belly, Hole, Liz Phair, etc.)

The phone rang. My husband picked it up, looked at the caller ID, and gasped:

Chris: Honey, it's--it's Luna Books!
Me: Well, of course it is. What took them so long?

OK, I didn't say that. I probably said something that can't be repeated on a family blog. But I knew that the decision process had moved on to the last stage, and if the answer had been No, it would've come in an e-mail or letter. So a call meant YES.

Anyway, moving on to where I pick up the phone and say hello:

Stacy (editor): Jeri? I have good news.

Everything after that is a blur. She rattled off some numbers, and I thanked her for the offer and told her I had to acquire an agent before I could make any decisions. Part of me wanted to say, Yes Yes Yes!! right then and thank her for saving me from eternal oblivion, but I demured.

Then I called my family. One of them said, "I guess you'll be quitting your job now."

Snort!

Thus began the education of my loved ones on the realities of publishing, on how getting a contract doesn't change one's life, except to make it busier. My first advance check (which I received five months after the original offer, mainly because the contract took four months to negotiate) vanished in the face of overdue taxes, credit card bills, and mortgage payments, as will the second (I hope to use the third to pay for promotional expenses).

A year later, I'm still at the same job, one that gives me the flexibility to pursue my own goals as well as enough money that I don't (usually) have to raid our joint account to buy groceries or pay the electric bill.

On the outside, nothing has changed. But where it counts, everything has changed. The Call finally gave me permission to take writing as seriously as any other business. I wish I hadn't needed that external validation to start working my butt off. If I'd applied myself more, The Call might have come years sooner.

If you're an unpublished writer, pretend you're not. Pretend you have an editor waiting to see your manuscript by a certain date, and stick to it.

If you've submitted a novel for publication, start writing the next novel, and the next one.

Don't abandon a project midway; even if it sucks, finish it and improve it on the rewrite.

Be your own toughest and most supportive boss.

Take a stand with those who would distract you: First, gently and respectfully state your need for writing time. If they keep up the pressure, gently and respectfully instruct them to sod off.

And remember, no one ever had "World-Renowned TiVo Watcher" etched on a tombstone.

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7 Comments:

My mom's a fantastic writer. She's been trying for years to get published, but I personally think she's THE best out there. Of course, I'm not even slightly biased.:-) Umm much. But the neat thing about her not being published yet is I get to be greedy and keep her work all to myself. Someday though, I hope she does get published. I think she'd be a great author. I'm trying to convince her to go to Luna since many of her long stories would fit into that fantasy romance genre. Umm did I mention I'm a huge fan of my mom's?:-)

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 2/15/2006 9:41 AM

It's wonderful that your mom has such a big fan! Supportive family is so important. It can take a really long time, but the key is to keep writing, keep improving one's craft, and keep submitting.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 2/15/2006 12:27 PM

As a newly Christened TiVo watcher, I resent that remark. OK, the real reason I resent it is b/c I don't have a modicum of your talent. You're a fine writer, and watching you create fascinates me. I enjoy that nearly as much as reading your novels. And I do wish Angel's Gambit would reserrect.

Cecilia

PS Could someone explain the purpose of word recognition to me?

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 2/15/2006 10:12 PM

It's a twofold purpose. Word recognition is one, designed to help provent people from spamming the boards, and two, make the rest of us go blind trying to read what the word is.:-)

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 2/16/2006 5:08 AM

But Cecilia, you have talents that I don't have and couldn't have in a million years. Believe me, TiVo Watcher won't be on your tombstone. I was referring to writers who have big dreams but find themselves too distracted to achieve them.

As for Angel's Gambit, that's a looong way from being resurrected. First Requiem would have to be republished, then the other two sequels, then AG. And since I don't have time to write more than two books a year, it'll be at least 2008 before I could tackle that project as it is.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 2/16/2006 7:41 AM

Gee Jeri, will you have time to sleep at least?

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 2/16/2006 8:00 AM

Mile grazie a tu. OK, I just jumped into a faculty beginners Italian class at St. Joseph's and that's all I could get out.

Cecilia

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 2/16/2006 12:52 PM

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