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RWA–Thursday–Publishing News

It’s never any good to start your first full day of a conference exhausted. Kim is mainlining coffee as we speak. Apparently we were given the loudest room in the hotel. There’s something outside of our window that sounds like a train or a large box truck that “drives by” every three minutes and sometime in the middle of the night there was a lot of banging of doors outside our room. At least I imagine that tonight we’ll both be so exhausted we’ll sleep through even a fire alarm.

Speaking of fire alarms, some of our long time readers might remember our conference two years ago when we had to run out in the middle of the night for a fire alarm. Needless to say, traveling with Kim and me always results in an adventure. While I never profess to be a humor writer I will attempt to share how our trip started out yesterday. Pulling into the parking lot at the train station, Kim and I knew we were cutting our time close. We had only about 5-10 minutes to get to our train, but we were in the parking garage so how hard could it be? Well, apparently a parking garage at a commuter train station on a Wednesday morning is a little full and a little crowded (obviously I’ve been out of the commuter world for quite some time). It took 5-10 minutes to park the car. Once we found our space, we grabbed our bags and hustled down six flights of stairs. The minute we hit the sidewalk outside we saw our train pull in. Figuring we missed it, we went straight to the ticket counter thinking we were going to simply change our tickets for the next train. Nope, according to the nice ticketman we still had time. Run!!!!! I dashed off first, ticket in hand, yelling back to Kim that I wouldn’t get on board until she was there. Dashing through the tunnel, dragging my gigantic shoe-filled suitcase behind me, I flew up two flights of stairs and made it to the platform and train door just as the conductor announced to stand clear of the closing doors so what do I do? What any New Yorker would do? I threw my suitcase into the train vestibule and stood right in front of the closing door. At that point I saw Kim’s head pop up the staircase at which time I proceeded to hollar, “hurry, hurry” and Kim, moving as fast as she could (although it looked a little like a slow-motion scene in a movie) ran for the train, the doors banging against my back in an attempt to close. Finally, Kim made it to the door. I grabbed her bag, tossed it inside with Kim pushing inside behind it, knocking me over in the process. I flew over the two bags landing on top of them in the train vestibule. As I glanced up to see if anyone noticed (how could they not) I could see heads popping out from behind seats to see what the commotion was. Needless to say, other then a bruise on the shin, we made it on the train in two pieces. Although I’m not sure Amtrak is going to want us back.
Okay, on to real publishing news. Yesterday was busy of course. I spoke on a terrific panel for the Golden Network with Abby Zidle from Pocket, agent Kevan Lyons, Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks, Tracy Ferrell from Harlequin and agent Emmanual Alspath (I know I got spellings wrong and sincerely apologize. I’ll try to correct later, but I’m blasting this out before getting to a breakfast meeting and won’t be back until this evening). In a nutshell, publishing news is not pretty these days. Agents have gotten pickier and editors are having a really, really difficult time getting projects through. In other words, buying a new book or even an option book is hard these days. Sales are down, bookstores are in trouble and everyone, from buyers to publishers, are cautious with their money. So what does that mean? Do you delay submissions for now? I don’t think so. I think it simply means you have to make sure your book is even better then your best work.
The literacy signing was chaotic and full of people which is fabulous. Kim and I made a quick entrance, but it was hot and crowded so we choose to spend out time chatting with authors in the bar instead.
And from there we headed to the Bookseller’s Best Awards where BookEnds authors Elizabeth Amber, Terry McLaughlin, Sally MacKenzie, and Stacey Kayne were all finalists. Congrats to them!
I’m off for a full day of appointments with clients and will be back soon with more news. Sorry, for the brief report and any and all typos and errors today, but I’m really trying to run out the door

Category: Blog



  1. Ref: I flew over the two bags landing on top of them in the train vestibule.

    LOL. Whatever happened to the relaxing train trip you had planned yesterday?

    At least you made it. And what a performance! Hope your trip back will involve fewer feats of daring.

  2. "Dashing through the tunnel, dragging my gigantic shoe-filled suitcase behind me, I flew up two flights of stairs and made it to the platform and train door just as the conductor announced to stand clear of the closing doors so what do I do? What any New Yorker would do? I threw my suitcase into the train vestibule and stood right in front of the closing door."

    I think you've got a future as a writer. I don't care how slow the book biz is.;-)

  3. Hahaha! Actually it sounds like you might have a career as a stunt double. I’m sure I've seen a scene just like that in a movie somewhere. 😀

    Well Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  4. "…so what do I do? What any New Yorker would do?"

    LOL! I was going to say this was a funny read until I got to the part about the dire situation of books/publishing. Sigh…

    Thanks for telling us like it is, though.

  5. Noise abatement…

    Go to any Wal-mart, sports store or anywhere they sell guns… buy ear plugs, 31 decibel types. They're spongy, roll tips between fingers, insert into ears. Plugs will expand in ear canal giving you almost complete silence!

    I wear 'em all the time shooting Sporting Clays.

    Haste yee back 😉

  6. Ummmm… I believe Jessica has misrepresented the events a tad. It wasn't so much that I knocked her over as that she tripped over her bag in her haste to clear the entrance. (At least that's what my lawyer has advised me to say.)

    But yes, Rosemary, not a hair on my newly coiffed head was out of place throughout the whole ordeal.

  7. What an adventure – sounds hectic and nerve racking and fun!

    Although sorry to hear about your room! Trying to function without sleep always makes everything surreal – and it sounds surreal enough in real life. I liked the slow motion running. 🙂

    I hope you both have a great time at the conference.

  8. Fabulous story! I'm picturing the scene from League of Their Own.

    At least you can take comfort in the fact you didn't have to toss your bags aboard and jump onto a moving train. 😉

  9. Jessica, it sounds like you and Kim have the same kind of wild adventures traveling that Chritie Craig and I have. So far, nothing weird has happened but I figure it's only a matter of time. LOL.

    Thanks for the industry update, too.


  10. That’s what it’s like when you stay at the YMCA. I stayed at a YMCA hotel in the midwest one time. No train noises (although the El must have been around there somewhere) but the bed would seem uncomfortable to a monk, and the door to the room was so flimsy anyone could force it open by leaning against it. Just outside the door lower class people were coming in drunk and yelling at each other all night. At least it was cheap.

  11. "But yes, Rosemary, not a hair on my newly coiffed head was out of place throughout the whole ordeal."–which explains your slow-mo run for the train?

  12. One piece of unsolicited advice for the sleep deprived:

    BC Powder. Fast and highly caffeinated. If you can't find this staple of Southern medicine cabinets where you are then anacin is a decent second choice.

    At my house BC Powder and a coke is considered the breakfast of champions.

    Have a great time!

  13. "While I never profess to be a humor writer…"
    Just a small piece of unsolicited advise: Never undercut your own ability to communicate…even in a blog!

  14. I've seen this advice before… I understand it's still to agent and publisher's advantage for writers to continue to submit. But how is it to the writer's advantage? Wouldn't it be smarter for me to submit in a more secure economic climate where an agent or editor is going to give my query a more positive look?

  15. Your train story was quite funny! I could picture it like a scene from a movie 😛

    Thanks for posting this amidst your busy conference schedule!

  16. Coming out of lurkdom to agree that Jessica is a better humor writer than she's giving herself credit for.

    Having had the pleasure of meeting Jessica – and admiring her footwear – this is the phrase that had me cracking up: "my gigantic shoe-filled suitcase."

    Then there was Kim's, "… that's what my lawyer has advised me to say." comment.

    Here's hoping you get more sleep and have a great conference.


  17. That publishing news is a bummer. I do wonder, like anonymous 11:13, if you as an agent are doing anything different regarding submissions–holding off for a bit or not?

  18. wow – my wife left for RWA with a suitcase filled with shoes, blister pads, hastily selected clothes and is stuck in a loud room at the hotel too. She has a roomie who decided to leave her laptop, chargers, and toothbrush at home. Still, she's having a great time. Man, I miss her.

  19. What a hilarious story… it made the sad publishing news at the end easier to swallow. From now on, you should sugar-coat all negative info with a funny personal tale. I'm just sayin'.

    Have fun at the conference!

  20. I would also like to hear what you think of anon's 11:13 question.

    You work so hard for years, get the agent, and now you find out they aren't buying debut novels?

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