After school, one day this week:
Chicken Noodle: Mom, you be me and I’ll be you.
Chicken Noodle: What did you do today, sweetie?
Me: I went to Kindergarten. It was so cool! I love it I love it I love it!
CN: Oh, that’s drjeffsklar.com nice, honey.
Me: What did you do today, Mom?
CN: I wrote a book.
Me: Oh yeah? What’s it about?
CN: Courage and love.
Me: Wow. I really want to read that one.
CN: You have to learn to read first, honey.
I know, huh?
Three weeks ago, I received an e-mail from an acquisitions editor at a press back east. He’d been searching for someone to write a travel guidebook about Oregon for one of their series. He came across my bio on the Willamette Writer’s website. Then he “followed me around the internet.” He read various essays and articles posted on my website, my Travel Oregon blog postings, and this blog. He thought I’d be perfect. He thought I was funny. He’d like to talk to me about offering me a contract.
I sat there in front of the screen for a long, stunned, surreal moment. Then I forwarded the e-mail to Capt. Daddy, adding a few excitable expletives. Capt. responded instantly and wisely—“call him.”
A week later I traded my signature on a contract for an advance. Now I have to write the book by Nov. 15. Not even kidding. But never mind about that. I’ve been writing professionally for ten years. Surely I can churn out 65,000 words in eight weeks. No problem.
The amazing part is that for years all I’ve been told is that to get a book deal, writers have to burn up the keyboard relentlessly pitching agents, chase after editors with finely-tuned elevator pitch in pocket, be willing to offer publishers one’s first-born child and grandma’s gold coins. I did all of that. For years. It didn’t work. (I even sacrificed the first-born child—ha, and ouch). But something must have worked. Because ten years into this little song-and-dance, two publishers in a year came to me.
Because of the tight turnaround on the travel book, both it and my memoir (about growing up in Oregon—how coincidental) will be out at the same time—next spring.
This photo is of a painting my dear friend and fellow writer Suzanne Burns made for me three years ago, after I set fire to my first memoir and pretty much figured my dreams of publishing a book were dead. It’s been hanging in my office since, guiding me to places I couldn’t see coming. Suzanne saw what I couldn’t yet—with work and faith, something new would come along.
Someone suggested that with two books coming out, I should change the name of my blog. Nah. Lots more blooming to do. I might have to update my bio again, though. That book fire really is starting to feel like it harbored the Phoenix instead of defeat.
Me (troubled): You know what I think it is? I think I am anxious about Kindergarten.
Mama’s so proud. Her little pterodactyl’s going off to public school. Still got that dimple in her nose, though. Sniff…