By Lissa Linden
My path to publication involves four manuscripts.
A couple hundred rejections.
And the produce aisle.
It was in July that fruit came into the picture. While I was sitting in the den where I write. Staring at my most recent manuscript wallowing in the purgatory that is Submittable.
The thing just wasn’t moving. It wasn’t being sent to live in rejection with my other stories. Week after week it sat there, taunting me with its “In-progress” status. I just wanted it to move over to “Declined.” Declined I could deal with. Declined would be nothing new.
Then, I got an email. An agent I’d queried months before wanted a partial. Then an hour later, an upgrade to the full.
“Uh,” I called to my husband. “I think we should have a key word.”
“A key word?”
“Yeah, like, pineapple of something. In case an agent actually offers and I freak out and can’t make words and you think something bad is happening.”
“I wouldn’t think something bad is happening,” my ever supportive husband replied. “But it would be kind of fun to hear you yelling about pineapples.”
I couldn’t fault his logic.
The agent’s request for a phone call came through the next morning. “Avocado!” I yelled. “Kumquat! Things that are like a pineapple, but aren’t!”
For some reason, this confused my husband. And explaining how a request for a revise and resubmit was comparable to a kumquat didn’t exactly go smoothly. But then again, words weren’t flowing smoothly in general. That was the whole reason for the fruit-based conveyance of news in the first place.
It was only a couple of days after the avocado-kumquat incident that I got another email. Another request for a call.
I was prepared this time – avocado and kumquat firmly added to my lexicon of publishing based communication.
But really. You can never be prepared in publishing.
See, I was prepared with a code word for an offer of representation. I’d added a couple others for revise and resubmit. But for an offer of publication? I was not prepared.
“MANGO,” I texted my husband when the call ended. “Banana! Kiwi!”
He called to check on me.
I managed to hack my way through explaining the difference between an offer of representation and an offer of publication without bringing any more fruit into the mix.
“So,” he said, “what does this mean?”
It meant that I followed up with the agents who still had the manuscript. That I ended up adding two pineapples to my publishing fruit salad – two offers of representation along with an offer of publication. It meant that I had more mental fruit than I knew how to handle. So I did the only sensible thing: turned it into sangria.
I measured and marinated and chopped my good news until the options condensed into something delicious. Until they liquefied into something I wanted to share, and I found the place I wanted to share it. It was weird, honestly. Overwhelming, this getting to decide where I wanted to go when I’d spent so many years trying to get anywhere at all. But the decision was easy in the end.
After all, the Red Sofa is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of sangria.
Lissa writes contemporary romance with spunky women and swoon-worthy men on their journeys to find all kinds of fulfillment. Her debut, ONE MATCH FIRE, is coming from Carina Press in 2018. Follow Lissa on Twitter @Lissa_Linden.