Monday, September 03, 2007

This time last year

Last Labor Day I was in a completely different space physically and mentally. Hubby and I took 5 days and drove to the Grand Canyon. It was absolutely beautiful country with vistas the likes of which I'd never seen.

Things on the book front were not going well. Orange Mint and Honey wasn't selling. My agent said not to worry, but, of course, I did. I started to lose faith that it would ever sell. Before we went on vacation, I wrote in my journal that I was going to let it go. I was worn out from gripping the faith so tightly, so I was going to leave it to my agent and my husband and my family and friends to keep believing for me. I pictured our hope as a large piece of glass that I had been holding up for years and it was just too heavy for me at the moment, but I knew that I had lots of people who would hold it up for me while I let go. I was going to go away and have a good time and not brood about it. And that's what I did. I had other things to worry about.

Like for example, did you know the Grand Canyon was up so high? I did not. I thought it would be like in Thelma and Louise and you stay flat and then all of the sudden the land opens up into a giant hole. No! People, no! That is not what happens. You go up, up and up! Then you look down into the beautiful big hole and see that it is full of mountains and valleys. And you feel humble in the face of such beauty.

Nor did I know that to go into Arches National Park (in Moab) you go up a long winding road WITH NO GUARDRAILS. WTF??! I was the one driving and it was not pretty. Which is why we only went up as far as Park Avenue and The Three Gossips (which I called The Three Wisemen), which are spectacular and made me wish I was braver so we could have seen Delicate Arch.

After the Grand Canyon we went to Mesa Verde to see the cliff dwellings. Now a smart person would probably put it together that "cliffs" go with "height." Thankfully, I did not or I never would have saw them. And I'm glad I did.
I also got to put one foot in 4 states (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah) at the same time. And got to try India fry bread-yum!

So with all the literally awesome scenery and the heights, my little monkey mind was too busy to worry about my book.
The day after we returned my agent called with the 1st offer. It was 4 months from the time she agreed to rep me. The offer was for a smaller advance than we'd hoped, so we were disappointed, but it was an offer. Tellingly, I wasn't excited. I kept telling myself, You have an offer! Your book is going to get published! You should feel excited. But then...another publisher was interested and that's when it got exciting. One World/Ballantine wanted to make an offer. My agent emailed. They want to know if you have another book. Why yes I do, I said. Email me a 1-liner, she said. That, I didn't have. But I did have a 1-paragraph pitch, which I sent and my agent forwarded it to Ballantine. The editor responded, "Sounds intriguing." Doesn't get any better than an editor using the word intriguing about an idea of yours. The following week they came in with their offer for a 2-book deal for the Random House Reader's Circle Program and a much better advance.
This Labor Day, Orange Mint and Honey galleys are being made, and I'm 143 pages into my 1st draft (actually the 3rd first draft) of the 2nd novel in the 2-book deal. And I feel enormous gratitude for all those who held up that hope for me when I couldn't do it for myself.


Carleen Brice said...

It's actually 2 feet and 2 hands in four states at once. :-)

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience! It is so encouraging to know that the people I look up to can look back and put experience into perspective. Beautiful photos and a wonderful story. Bravo, and looking forward to hearing how things unfold once the galleys go out.

iyan and egusi soup: said...

what an affirming experience, carleen--to allow others to believe for you when you just needed to be!

Shauna Roberts said...

I found your blog through Lisa Kenney's Eudaemonia and am looking forward to reading about pajama gardening. (Pajama writing I'm already familiar with.) Thanks for posting your gorgeous pictures for us to enjoy. I'm moving out West next week, and the Grand Canyon looks like it should be on our list of vacation spots.

Carleen Brice said...

Lisa and Olufunke, Thanks as always for reading and commenting! Happy to share the story.

Welcome Shauna! We didn't know when we set out, but our route is known as the "Grand Circle": Arches, the Canyon and Mesa Verde. Highly recommend them all. (Just hope you're not afraid of heights!)

Sustenance Scout said...

Carleen I LOVE this story; that image of the huge piece of glass and just letting it go, trusting those who love and support you will help hold it up while you take a break. The photos are phenomenal too. And so are you! Looking forward to meeting you soon. K.