Deb Sarah vs. The Mac…

082_Sarah_Pekkanen_4X6I usually write these blogs a week ahead of time, just to be safe. You see (cue knife-shrieking music as we enter into the “nightmare” portion of this post), my computer terrifies me. And like dogs and bees, my computer can smell fear. Most of the time my Mac is content to simply demonstrate its dominance by correcting my spelling with a superior sigh, or showing me a better word for what I’m trying to say (“Oh, Christ,” my computer hisses under its breath when I don’t pick the word it suggests. “You really think you’re going to make it as an author with those tired old adjectives?”)

But those are just warm-up squabbles, like the flurry of punches a boxer might throw at the beginning of a match before moving in for the knock-out blow. “You don’t even watch boxing,” my Mac is scoffing. “I, on the other hand, can give you its complete history in one-point-two seconds.”

I’m terrified that somehow, someway, I’ll mess up when I’m posting my blog, and click the wrong button, and I’ll crash not only the Deb website, but possibly all the websites for every one of our guest authors – don’t sue me, John Grisham! – and every single person in the world named Deb. My computer might do this, just to mess with me (“I might,” it agrees, feigning boredom as it looks down at its fingernails).

So to cover myself, I write my blog well in advance, and obsessively check to make sure all the links work and that I’ve uploaded a photo of myself, instead of the shirtless one of Hugh Jackman I stared at too long on Then I sit bolt upright in bed at 3 a.m., covered in flop sweat, wondering if I’ve remembered to schedule it to run.

But today, for the first time, I’m taking a big chance. I’m writing this live, just hours before you’ll read it, because I couldn’t write about my “dream” portion — cue lovely Sarah McLachlan ballad — without telling you what happened to me today.

By 8 a.m., I barely recognized myself in the mirror. I wore a crisp white shirt with no baby-spit up on the shoulder, and heels instead of flip-flops. My hair was blow-dried instead of scrunched into a messy ponytail, a style that I pretend makes me look like a casual Hollywood starlet but really screams “Frazzled un-showered suburban mom!”

I hopped on the train to New York – er, figuratively, since hopping and heels don’t go so well together for those of us who aren’t blessed with coordination — and arrived just in time to meet my agent, editor, and Atria publicist at a fantastic restaurant. God, was I nervous, convinced I’d have food stuck in my teeth and no one would tell me, or that I’d knock hot coffee into my editor’s lap.

But they were all so lovely and warm that I forgot to be self-conscious. We talked about The Opposite of Me, and publicity plans, and then passed around photos of our kids.  We feasted on blue crab-and-avocado salads, and ordered cappuccinos and cookies, and chatted some more.

Then we all went back to the Simon & Schuster building. I had to pause for a moment as I crossed the threshold and it hit me (I’d use a boxing analogy here, but my computer won’t let me): I’m going to have a book published. People other than my parents might read it. Maybe one or two of them will actually like it! 

I turned to my agent and asked her to pinch me. She took me literally.

Then we all went into the gorgeous, sunlight-filled office of Atria’s publisher – the woman who founded the Atria imprint, which is home to authors like Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner – and she couldn’t have been warmer or more supportive (as an added bonus, she had a charming Australian accent, something I’m now determined to acquire). I was terrified I’d be known as the spinach-between-teeth author who’d scalded her editor, but somehow, everything went shockingly well. The cherry on top: I left with an armful of about-to-be-released books to read on the train home.

Now I’m eating a Milky Way bar, and counting the stops until I’m home. The first thing I’ll do is cuddle my three little sleepy boys, then have a glass of wine with my husband and tell him everything. It’ll be the perfect ending to a dream of a day.

12 Replies to “Deb Sarah vs. The Mac…”

  1. Oh, how lovely!!

    I’m not sure which I’d enjoy more: the thrilling fancy-salad lunch, or the totally relaxed and satisfied Milky Way on the train home 🙂

  2. Okay, Emily, confession time: My family met me at the subway station and we all went out for ice cream. I had an ice-cream sundae. Right after the Milky Way! Definitely starting raw/vegan/grapefruit diet soon.
    Thanks for all the good wishes! So much of our jobs is sitting around in sweat pants, staring at the computer. So this part was really nice.

  3. Hmmm…I’ve never felt so far away from NYC as I do right now on my tiny island in western British Columbia! Glad you had a great day…somewhat envious here, though! Congrats!

  4. Oh, what fun to read this! Brought back memories of my own similar day, which for me involved a weekend trip and a plane ride, so in addition to the heels and such I was also the hayseed Midwesterner gawking while pretending not to be gawking.

    During my lunch, we all ordered off the prix fixe menu only I didn’t know how to say that (still don’t, actually) so I pointed. So suave…

    You deserved the sundae and the Milky Way!

  5. What a great day; I’m thrilled for you and thanks for sharing it with you. I remember “my day” like this–I actually went in the Random House building the day before ( atrial run, in a way), so I could gawk and pinch myself and try to get over my “oh my god this is so so so cool!!” reaction before I had to actually try to act like an adult and a writer in front of my editor.

    I only sorta pulled it off.

  6. Judy — I don’t blame you! I would’ve done the same thing if I could have.
    And Kristina, that cracks me up. How do you pronounce that, anyways? I can’t even spell it.

  7. So this post could have been entitled LIVE from New York (or almost New York), it’s Sarah Pekkanen! It IS your dream come true so I thank Mac for allowing you to share the reality.

  8. Yes, Larramie, my Mac took pity on me. Thank goodness.
    And Joelle – trust me, I’m back in sweats, haven’t showered in 2 days, and am schlepping to the grocery story with the kids (who are screaming for cookies). The glamour had to end sometime!

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