Am I the sort of person who flies into JFK, takes a business meeting at an airport hotel, then flies out again? I sure am.
I’m also the kind of person who, when rushing around an unfamiliar apartment in Myrtle Beach, catches her toe on a chair and, when she gets through hopping around and screaming, realizes that her little toe is sticking out sideways.
The meeting pertains to the upcoming publication of my novel, Old Buildings in North Texas. I have a list of things Joe and I might discuss, but in reality I have no idea how this is going to go. Will we talk about cover art? Will he explain how deep into the work an editor delves? Will he ask about my process? I’d enjoy the implication that I have one.
“You should make a list of topics and questions,” David says as we’re on the way to the airport.
“You think?” I’m being sarcastic. Does he think I’d go to this much effort without appropriate introspection?
“I mean an actual list, so you can tick things off.” He lives to tick things off.
“Schedule for publication?” I ask. “Publicity? I think I can remember a few things without writing them down. Also, he’s done this before. He’ll know better than I will what to talk about.”
I thank him for the ride to the airport, kiss him good-bye, and limp off to catch my plane. My toe is broken, the whole quadrant of my foot swollen and blue, and that’s why, when ordinarily I’d be zipping through airports, impatient with all the sluggish meanderers that block my way, today I’m one of the sluggish ones, careful with every step. Myrtle Beach to Charlotte, to JFK.
I make my way to the Crowne Plaza via train and shuttle. The hotel parking lot is bustling, the lobby full of Australians. Joe arrives a few minutes after me. He’s young. I bet he’s often told that he looks like Peter Pan. (See picture below.) We seek the restaurant and take a corner booth.
Joe and I do indeed discuss cover art. He favors a graphic cover, which is fine with me, the main object being to sell the book. He offers a history of Arcadia and describes his colleagues and the working of the company. It sounds like he admires his co-workers, and that they love what they do; and I like to hear this because I love what I do, too, and together we’ll all be joyfully productive.
As far as publicity is concerned, while there’s no definite plan, there seems to be a proven method. I might be asked to write a few interesting articles that will bear my name, followed by “author of Old Buildings in North Texas.” There’ll probably be book signings. I tell him that a dream of mine is to read my work at the London Book Fair. His trapped sideways glance and the way he carries the conversation forward leads me to believe that this is an unrealistic aspiration. But then he says maybe the Edinburgh Book Fair, and I’m okay with that. Edinburgh’s one of my favorite places and I have fond memories of their book fair.
We discuss personal aspects: Joe was in Cambridge for five years, was considering going for his PhD, when he realized that by doing so he’d be choosing the academic life, and he wasn’t certain that was where he wanted to go. He moved to London, got a job with a literary agency, which led to his job at Arcadia—and what I get out of this is that Joe must be really good at what he does, because my understanding is that, from any angle, the publishing industry is competitive.
My personal tale to share is that I have a broken toe. He seems horrified that I simply wrapped it, which is what I’m pretty sure a doctor would do. It’s a toe.
I’ve been writing for thirty years and Joe wonders why I’ve not been published before. The answer is that I could never get an agent to view my work, much less represent it. When Helen, my current agent, entered the picture, I was reconciled to my novels going no further than the flash drive. Having this opportunity spring up, unexpected and unsought, is one of the most wonderful things that’s ever happened to me. Married to a man who never says no, mother of two wise and righteous sons—but no success of my own. Until now. I’m thrilled and proud and grateful.
I’m given a publication date: June 2. At this time, also, Old Buildings in North Texas will be available electronically, but only on Amazon UK, which means everywhere because Amazon UK is worldwide.
JFK to DC to Myrtle Beach; I arrive at 9:19, picked up by David, who, it seems, had a nice day of golf.