(continued . . . )
Madeleine agrees to represent me, and we work together for three years. Early on, somewhere around the cusp of 1999, Madeleine helps me craft a book proposal entitled, Candles in the Dark. The title was my idea, and it's actually the one-and-only book title I've conceived that eventually wasn't changed later by the publisher. We get the proposal together, and I make the mistake of also sending along three other fully-developed book proposals.
Madeleine calls me later and asks, "What are these other ideas? I can't go to publishers and tell them I've got a writer who can produce four books in a year."
"Why not?" I ask.
"Who writes four books a year?"
"I do," I tell her. "In fact, I did it in 1998. I had FIVE books published that year."
"You must have done nothing but write," she says.
I tell her that, in addition to the five published books, I also wrote an equal number that were not published. And in the year I wrote the five, I also packed up a family and moved house and home across the state. I had a new pastoral gig, and that took an enormous amount of time. I wrote 50+ sermons that year, too, and I was a husband and father and I conducted something like twenty funerals, ten weddings, and would have done circumcisions, too, had someone offered me the opportunity to snip.
"You're telling me you can write five books a year doing all of that?" she asks.
"Lady," I answer. "I can write twenty-five a year if you get me the contracts."
Madeleine doesn't bite on my prolific output, but she does manage to sell Candles in the Dark. I work on the book for a year, and it is published two years later, in 2002. A three-and-a-half year odyssey that drives me nuts. It's a book that requires me to make three a.m. phone calls to Europe to get permissions from publishers who ask questions like, "Iz Zees ze Amerikan callinz to get zeez permission for zeez publisher in Amerika?" It's a book that requires enormous amounts of postage and research and marketing funds, and by the time the book goes to print, I'm in the hole, the entirety of my tiny royalties advance shot-to-heck.
Then one fall day in 2002, just a few months after my book has been published, I receive a phone call from Madeleine. She has a sad tone to her voice as she begins to explain, "I have some bad news . . . . "
(to be continued . . .)