No matter how often I have yearned for long stretches of boredom, the universe never delivers them for me. Possibly because of that time after college when we found out what happens when I get bored. As much as I wish for unrelenting tranquility, I never get any. Not that I ever planned to get through this life without bruises. Just that a little recovery time between bouts would be much appreciated.
Some of you may know that I work as a book development editor at Adams Media, a Boston book publishing company that focuses mostly on nonfiction books. Since I have written or coauthored approximately one million nonfiction books of the type they publish, they hired me about a year and a half ago to help them edit.
I enjoy the work—a variety of fun titles (Meditation for Moms, Cookouts Veggie Style, Ancient Bastards) and great authors. But I don’t do acquisitions, and I don’t work on fiction. And those of you who have been following along know that I write romances under a pen name, and that I am a voracious reader of genre fiction. But you may not know it has always been my dream to edit fiction for an established publishing company.
I always thought I’d missed my chance, not moving to New York after graduate school, but taking a teaching job in a tiny town in the midwest and getting married instead. I haven’t moved more than ten miles in the years since (Adams Media lets me telecommute), and it seemed like being a fiction editor would always remain a dream. I can’t uproot Jessica and move her from her father just so I can knock back Manhattans with my publisher at the Algonquin (does anyone actually do that anymore?)
So then, in early January, when I got back from my Christmas travels, the publisher at Adams Media called me up and said, “Our new romance e-book line?”
“Would you launch and manage it?”
“Oh my GOD! I am SPEECHLESS. I cannot believe you asked me to do this. This is a DREAM OF MINE. You just made A MAJOR DREAM OF MY LIFETIME COME TRUE. I love you.”
“I am so glad—”
“I LOVE ROMANCE. You have no idea how much I love romance. I DEVOUR ROMANCE. I write romance, I know what romance readers like, I know a gazillion romance writers, I’m a member of the RWA, this is PERFECT.”
“Yes, that’s why—”
“THANK YOU. OH MY GOD. I just don’t know what to say. I just don’t.”
“We’d like to do an aggressive release schedule with a June launch. Can you—”
“OF COURSE! No worries. At all. Leave it to me.”
I hung up the phone and then I thought, Oh my god oh my god oh my god. And then I thought, wait, that’s a lot of work between now and June.
But I am indomitable by training if not by nature, so I got to it, thinking how happy I am and how I never expected the most fantastic opportunity in the world to come along just now. How many people get to launch a romance imprint from their living room in Kansas? I floated for days, lighter than air, knowing that I am the luckiest woman living.
And a week later, I am sitting in the neurosurgeon’s office with Jessica and her father, and the world falls apart again. And I think, how can one person feel so much happiness and so much pain all at the same time?
Still, I am grateful for the gift of work, because the work has always been a refuge for me, a sanctuary, and I am glad to have it. And in between phone calls with the publisher and phone calls with the neurosurgeon, I think this is what life is, so much happiness and so much pain all mixed together. I clutch my happiness to me, a thing I know how to do now in a way I never knew before Jessica, a small but brilliant light in my heart.
For those of you who write romance fiction, or know someone who does, I am looking for finished manuscripts in most romance subgenres and of practically any word length. You can reach out to me at jennifer at jenniferlawler dot com with a note about your project(s) and I’ll let you know what I think. I will post actual guidelines later this week.
For those of you who mentioned you wanted to make sure Jessica had flowers for her upcoming surgery, I appreciate your kind intentions and for thinking about her. She will not be able to have flowers in the hospital (because of the unit she’ll be on) but I’ll make sure she has some when we get home. If you’d like to send her a card or e-mail, I know she would love that. She is always so amazed and delighted that people care about her story and want to be part of it. Drop me a line at jennifer at jenniferlawler dot com. And please know how much we appreciate everyone who stops by the blog, even if just to read for a few minutes.
WOW – this sounds so wonderful for you. I'm an engineer and I don't know anyone that has written a novel much less wants to write a novel, so I can't help you there. But a huge Congratulations to you. And horray for happy distractions.
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