Bookends by Deb Kristy

I hate the phone. It runs in my family. I am genetically predisposed to distrust all forms of instant communication. And yet for a writer on submission, the phone takes on a level of importance only slightly above oxygen. Every time I was at my lowest point on my road to publication, by some bizarre cosmic coincidence, that phone rang.

Posting each instance of this would take an entire page, so I will present you with the first and the last time the phone saved my writer’s soul. Author psyche bookends, if you will.


The first really down moment came with my first novel, the practice novel, the novel that will never see the light of day. Just finishing it was such a strange feeling. Pride competing with terror, with a massive dollop of ISUCKITIS thrown in there. Then trying to track down all the information I needed to learn– how to compose a query (to even know I NEEDED a query!), researching agents, learning everything I could without benefit of a knowledgeable friend or the plethora of websites that exist now– was nearly as exhausting as writing the book.

After sending out so many queries and getting so many form rejections, or no replies at all, I was truly at the end of my Rope of Sanity (closely related to the Cliff of Despair) one Saturday. My husband was at work, the dog was ignoring me, and I was draped across the sofa with tears rolling down my face, telling myself, in excruciating detail, exactly how stupid I was for ever thinking I could do this. I cried calmly at first, but it soon took hold, and then I was sobbing in great heaving gasps as only a fellow panic attack sufferer can identify with.

And then the phone rang.

I am also genetically predisposed to be able to answer a phone in a perfectly reasonable tone of voice no matter the situation, and so, through my sobs I picked up the phone and brightly said, “Hello?” Yes. It was an agent. An agent’s assistant really. Calling to say that the agent really liked my sample pages and would like the full manuscript. THE FULL MANUSCRIPT.

Thank you, phone.


I wrote three more books after that first one. Got an agent on the second one, and that was a fun week, filled with phone calls from several agents. Loved that phone that year. But that book didn’t sell, and now my fourth was on submission. I’d gone through this enough times by now that I was just living my daily life.

On this day, one of those daily life things was my annual exam. Yep. That one. But of course we’d sold my car a year before so that I could continue to pursue this through the one last book. And so my appointment was over, but I was waiting. Waiting for my husband to get a long enough break at work to come pick me up and take me home, like a child. Lots of women came and went, driving their damn cars just like it wasn’t something to be incredibly grateful for. And sitting there, waiting, I admit that my frustration got the best of me.

I stopped smiling at women who walked by me, jingling their car keys with their manicured nails, walking around in their new shoes. The feelings I was having were very unusual for me. They were ugly, and I didn’t like myself much right then.

And then the phone rang.

And, much like Mia, my agent told me that Leona Nevler, a legendary editor, loved CATCHING GENIUS and was calling back with an offer. My husband arrived right then, smiling so very sweetly at me through the windshield, and two women walked by, and they smiled at me too. I smiled back at all of them.

Thank you, phone.

18 Replies to “Bookends by Deb Kristy”

  1. What a beautiful story. You sold your car so you could write. Isn’t it amazing just how compelled you are to create? Come to think of it, I might sell my hair. Do you think I could get my husband to sell his dive watch?

  2. What a beautiful post. I believe those who refuse to give up chasing their dreams enjoy and appreciate success so much more when they’ve gone through rough spots and THEN land in that puddle of perfect where it all goes right.

    Now I’m really looking forward to reading CATCHING GENIUS!

  3. I have a summer home at the Cliff of Despair, but I’m trying to sell it and move to the Valley of Great Hope.

    CATCHING GENIUS was wonderful – and come on, sometimes the best things in life take the longest to achieve but look at what we learned along the way. Your perseverance is inspiring, K, and helps me not be too hard on myself. Thanks!

    And God bless Leona!

  4. Ho-hum, another overnight success story.(Wink) Timing is everything and in reading six different posts about “The Call,” I’m struck by how the phone rang for you when the time was right. How else to explain your coming together — here and now — at The Debutante Ball? Thank you all for a memorable week!

  5. Amy, your hair is lovely on your head, and its value on the current market is so much less than the current value of your fascinating-sounding novel. Hang in there. The only woman who looked good bald was Demi Moore. And that story always broke my heart. 🙂

    Eileen, you’re no stranger to struggle yourself, so thank you.

    Gail, DON’T MAKE ME ALL SNIFFY! Tell me it sucks! I am feeling, as we’ve discussed before, globally emotional today. I can’t handle KINDNESS for god’s sake!

    Patricia, you’re SO not alone. Reach out, we’ve been there. You’re going to do just fine.

    Holly: puddle of perfect. HA! That’s great 😀 I’d settle for a droplet of decent, but yeah, sometimes you do step right into a puddle of perfect. That’s great 😀

    Mia, hilarious! The Cliff of Despair is so, like, a weekend place for me now. I’m currently clearing land to build on the Beach of Bestsellers. The insurance is a bitch though…

    Larramie, I loved reading them all too. One thing I’ve really been enriched by on this grog is how varied and yet similar our stories are. It gives my own experience a certain weight.

    Tasha, well. I’d say you know me well enough to know that I snorted at that. But I love you anyway. You, in particular, have inspired me with your support (your books SO don’t suck, either).

    At the end of this week of posts, which, I noticed, we all stayed on topic for, I am particularly struck by the common element of wonder. None of us are taking this for granted. I LOVE THAT!!!

    A Debutante Across The Board of Religions Blessing: May we all remember the call, the gratefulness we felt, and the joy. We are doing what we want to do, we have succeeded thus far, and that is, indeed, something to be in awe of and thankful for.

    *sigh* I’m such a sap.

  6. It’s the old fourth book magic, Kristy! I know it well. What an amazing post. And a wonderful follow-up, too. Nothing in life should be taken for granted and we all, each and every one of us, have so much to be in awe of and thankful for.

  7. I can’t stop thinking what a story this would have made if you’d been “on the table” when you got the call.

    Great story Kristy. We also went into serious financial distress with me home writing for years. But I’ll bet you wouldn’t trade your moment for all the new shoes in the world!

  8. Wow, kudos to you for living your dream no matter what it took. Personally, I love the phone. It’s much better than email! I like to think that just by hearing somebody’s voice, I can imagine the expression on their face =)

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