I’d dreamed of The Call, as I suppose all aspiring writers do. I programmed into my mobile phone the office and cell phone numbers of my agent (the very talented Kristin Nelson), and gave those numbers their very own ringtone. I was sure that’s how the call would come. I’d be out and about somewhere, and I’d hear that special ring, and I’d know right then my dream had come true.
As with every step on my publishing path, reality had little to do with my fantasy. In this case, however, it was even better.
“The Call” turned out to be a series of calls and e-mails. First, there was the innocuous subject line in my e-mail from Kristin inquiring about my next project. No big deal, right? Then I opened the e-mail. She was asking so she could prepare for a potential two-book deal, because the book was already being passed around for “second reads” at one publishing house. This was six days after the book went on submission.
The next “Call” was Kristin telling me an editor wanted to talk to me. No offer yet, but it was looking good. I talked to this lovely editor on a Monday.
Tuesday was agony, wondering what that editor thought, if she wanted my book. I still had no offer on the table and I thought it could still fall apart. Five o’clock came and went, and I sighed, bracing myself for another day with my nerves tingling at every phone ring and e-mail ding. Then, doing the dishes at 7 p.m. or so (by hand, because my dishwasher was busted and we were too broke to replace it) my landline phone rang. The Caller ID announced Kristin’s cell phone.
We had an offer. That was THE CALL. I was stunned and ecstatic that my book would be published but there were more developments to come. The next day, an e-mail subject line read: “2nd offer is in.” The auction was on.
I talked to more editors on the phone, and they were just as lovely as the first. A few rejections trickled in, but even those were glowing.
Auction day approached and I chilled champagne, though part of me still believed it would all fall apart at any time. I packed the entire Thursday before the Auction Day with activities so I couldn’t dwell on it. Then on Friday, Feb. 22, my ears were on high alert for phone calls and e-mail dings again, and updates every few hours kept me up to speed. My mom called late in the day, dying to know what was happening and I almost screamed at her to get off the phone because I was waiting to hear. Then at 4:30 p.m. or so, as New York City was buried in a blizzard and I was giving my baby a bottle, Kristin called to say, “You have a tough decision to make.”
You might ask: C’mon, how tough could it have been? Well, in the end I had two final comparable offers, and it’s not always about the money. The decision was tough –my suitors seemed wonderful – but the answer was also clear. I didn’t torment myself or anyone else by taking all weekend to figure it out, so that, at last, was The Call of all Calls. Lucia Macro of Avon/HarperCollins won, and in fact, so did I.
I took the family out for pizza and my husband and I toasted my dream come true in front of the fireplace after the kids went to bed. I woke up the next day with a champagne headache and never did a headache feel so wonderful.
I’m happy to report that our dishwasher has now been replaced, because we’re less broke and it’s because of my book, which thrills me to no end. Maybe next time I get an exciting Call, I’ll be performing some other vital chore, like scrubbing the toilet.
That would suit me just fine.