Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It Only Took One Week (Plus About 20 Years)

The view from The Barngalow.

This is for everyone who writes. Or paints. Or sings. Or cooks, or dances, or builds, or teaches, or searches for cures. Or catches flying objects while leaping in the air.

This is for everyone who has a dream. Or maybe you don't have a dream. Maybe you're just trying to get through a tough time. It's for you, too.

It's for everyone who feels like they can't quite get a break but they can't quite give up, either.

It's for everyone who cares deeply about what they do, who wants their work to somehow find its place in this world.

Keep going. Don't give up. Because the cliché really is true: You never know what might be right around the corner.

I have been writing for years. For decades, even. And last week my agent, the incredible Elisabeth Weed, sent my novel out into the world...

But wait, let me back up a bit. The week before that I sent my son Michael out into the world. He landed in Italy. This is how he looked to me right before we said our good-bye at the airport:

Ciao, Michael. (Appearing somewhat blurry through his mama's misty eyes.)

The next week Elisabeth sent my novel, The Underside of Joy, to her amazing foreign rights agent, Jenny Meyer. I felt a bit like this, getting out of the shower that morning:

On pins and needles. (Photo by Daniel Prince)

But Jenny said wonderful things about the novel. Both she and Elisabeth sent it out. And the first place it landed? The first country to make an offer? Italy. Italy!

God, I love that country.

It was my husband's birthday. I woke Stan up with the news. We had a good cry.

More offers came in from other countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Israel and Taiwan. There were several auctions. (Sometimes, I admit, I have to recheck my emails to make sure it's really happening.) And then, this past Wednesday, an auction in NYC.

I am thrilled and honored to tell you that my U.S. editor is Denise Roy, and that The Underside of Joy will be published by Dutton in January 2012!

And I am humbled, because I know so many gifted writers who have worked hard and long and still haven't heard the big Yes. I want you to know that I had received nothing but rejections on my other manuscripts. There were a few very close almosts and kind words of encouragement, yet they always preceded one or more of the following: But. Unfortunately. However. Nevertheless. In this difficult market. Didn't quite fall in love. Not for us.

I'll write more later about the long uphill-both-ways icy road that led to this miraculous week, and how Elisabeth became my agent. (It wasn't through contacts. I queried her. We met through the dreaded slush pile.)

But for now I want to tell you about one more crazy thing. The week before all this happened, I'd made reservations to go ziplining through the redwood canopy this past Sunday to surprise Stan for his birthday. We'd never ziplined before. I love the redwoods and they play an important role in my novel. So the day turned out to be a fitting celebration not only of his birthday, but of the whole wild ride we'd found ourselves on.

You want me to do what?
If you've never experienced ziplining, it goes something like this:

1.  Stand on a miniscule platform 300 feet or so from the ground. Try to look casual while gripping tree trunk.

2.  Allow a friendly young stranger to secure your harness, helmet, and shiny metal aparatus.

3.  Allow same stranger to hook you to a cable that extends 800 feet to another tree, still 300 feet from the ground, so you can travel 25 mph suspended from said cable.

4.  Hang on.

5.  Step off miniscule platform into vast sky.

6.  Keep hanging on.

7.  Say, Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

8.  Repeat 7 times.

Happy 50th, Stan!


  1. Congratulations!

    One of my co-workers here is big in Italy. Maybe you will be too!

  2. This is wonderful - it's amazing how well everything is working out. I love zip lining, I did it in the UK through their greenest forest during a thunderstorm. It sounds dumb but the experience was unforgettable. (They did determine it was safe with the storm before sending us).

  3. Seré - Huge, huge smiles and hugs! I'm jumping up and down for you. Maybe I'll even hop a zip line (I've yet to do it, but I will!). Seven times. You go girl! What a story - how ironic, Italy being the first taker. Your son obviously knew before you. ;)
    The title and the Redwoods are making me want to read your book now. Can't wait 'til it arrives next year so I can get my hands on it.
    Big thumbs up. Congrats! :)

  4. Yes! I've been dying to post! I am so proud of you. Zip lining! Oh and, having that amazing novel published is pretty cool, too. ;). I've been blessed to know what a talented writer you are my whole life. You wrote some very clever plays when we were little. Watching this novel grow from conception to now has been an honor. I'm glad the rest of the world will get to enjoy the beautiful way you use words to weave your story. Are they in for a treat!

  5. zzzzzipidy do da!!!!!
    YOU DID IT!!!!!!
    Jan E A

  6. That is awesome. Congrats! I'd love to try to write something of substance that is worthy of even trying to get published. I just know how difficult it is and how much work it will take. I should make time. I'll never know if I don't try, right?

    Let me know when I can read your book (in English)!

  7. Sere, having read one of your previous novels and was completely confused why it was not snatched up and become a best seller, I am totally excited that this novel is on it's way. Congratulations! I can't wait to read it.

    PS thanks for the inspiration....I won't give up.

  8. @Mandy: Thanks! I'll be honored to be noticed at all by the country that came up with gelato.

    @Shopgirl: Oh, that must have been beautiful. The UK's greenest forest...now that's really green!

    @Jayne: Thank you so much! You have to go ziplining. With your kids. They'd love it, too.

    @Suzanne: Ah, yes...The epic The Elf Who Stole the Girl. My first play. And you were the star! Standing ovation from the aunts and uncles, if I remember correctly.

    @Jan: Mr. Bluebird's on my shoulder... Thank you, I can hear your sigh of relief from across the miles. :)

    @Awkward: Thank you! I read your blog. You've already written things of substance. And you already have an appreciative audience. Getting published can take time, but it doesn't take everyone as long as it's taken me! Go for it!

    @Liz: Thanks for your kind words. Yes, that was the almost, almost novel that came so close, but alas! So glad to hear you're inspired. Keep painting and making beautiful art.

  9. Seré, What an uplifting, motivating, encouraging post for all of us who have gone through the same rejection route as you outlined above.

    Many, many thanks for sharing your wonderful news with us. Those twenty years of apprenticeship and knocking on doors just paid off for you. Well-deserved. It also shows how we must never give up on our dreams - a main theme in my blog posts.
    I loved para-gliding so I'm sure I'd enjoy ziplining. Never heard of it before.

    BTW, I met Elisabeth Weed at a conference in San Diego several years ago. I really liked her and so I'm glad she has come through for you - big time.

  10. Seré,
    I'm so excited for you! Suzanne already has plans for the celebration party when you come to Austin for your book signing. I can't wait to read the book and meet you.
    Patty Rusthoven

  11. What a stellar week on every level! You're zip-lining through life at the moment, seven times over!! :)

  12. Not sure how I missed this big news, Sere! WOW!! That makes me sooooooo happy!!! You are an amazing writer and an even more amazing person. All best to you!