Good News and Bad News
First, I'll give you the potential good news:
For those of you weren't told directly by me, I'd given up on literary agents and had begun to send proposals for my new novel, The Toy Cop, directly to publishing executives and senior editors. Within hours, I got three nibbles. Jason Kaufman of Doubleday agreed to look at the sample chapters I'd sent and Bob Loomis, VP at Random House, said it wasn't his cup of tea but consented to pass it along to an acquisitions editor at RH's imprint, Ballantine.
The biggest nibble came from Judith Curr, Senior VP and Publisher at Atria Books (she's the founder), a major imprint of Simon and Schuster. Understanding, as with Jason Kaufman, how frustrating it can be to find an agent, she'd requested the entire manuscript, Apparently liking what she'd read, she tried to hook me up with a literary agent (who'd, unfortunately for her, rejected it with a form rejection letter just nine days prior to this.). Since then, she's passed the book along to Nick Simonds, an acquisitions editor on her staff. As Ms. Curr reminded me, she's not an editor and while she may have autonomous acquisition power with the editorial board, the journey from manuscript to finished book would be a lot less rocky if she had some consensus on the board. I do not know why she'd invest the precious time of a staff editor unless she thought it was worth the time to read all 470 pages.
I've been chewing my fingernails up to the elbow in virtual silence for the last 5 weeks because every time I tell you guys about some promising development, it's as if I jinx myself and it falls apart like a piece of cheesecloth in a thresher.
Now for the potential bad news: First, last Tuesday night/Wednesday morning we lost the free internet access that we'd been using at home since Nov. and since I lost my unemployment benefits last month. We're now living solely on my fiancee's weekly $135 in unemployment insurance, we won't be able to use the local cafe's internet wifi (they generally get cranky when you don't buy something). In fact, I'm here now using their wifi but as the coffee shop closes at 6, this will be it for now.
Since we're now reduced to living on $135 a week, it's only a matter of time before we get evicted either next month or June. Obviously, we cannot afford to get internet access of our own since feeding ourselves is our direst and most immediate challenge. The state Department of Transitional Assistance won't help us since we're neither handicapped nor elderly and the application for SNAP food assistance (aka Food Stamps) I'd requested two days ago takes a month to process (although maybe I can get a hardship dispensation and get my claim processed in a week.).
I have a job interview in a little over 48 hours so perhaps that'll bear fruit but I've been disrespected and disappointed by companies too many times to get my hopes up.
Failing anything positive, Mrs. JP's seriously considering us moving to Texas or Florida on the vague promise of her securing employment. And, having lived in both states, I so incredibly do not want to leave New England, leave the place I fought so hard to get and keep since the Troubles of two years ago. Going back to where she came from would be an admission to her family of my failure, my inability to take care of my own fiancee. Plus, the prohibitive cost of highway gas for a car and a rental truck, plus tolls, would make moving too expensive.
I hate inflicting these constant personal financial troubles on you guys as I realize this kind of embarrassing disclosure borders on the irritating and perhaps even on the intrusive. But I have more than just myself to worry about. I also have a fiancee and a cat to keep fed and sheltered.
I'm sorry if this proves to be an inconvenience or an irritation for any of you but I suspect this is what John Lennon meant when he talked about life getting in the way when you're making other plans. We're slowly going under in spite of my most valiant attempts to keep our heads above water. I was hoping and praying that an advance from Atria would come to rescue us in time but that looks less and less likely. A job interview, let alone an actual paying job, is an utter impossibility. I was lucky to get the one I secured yesterday. I miss the America I knew.
If any of you could help out again or for the first time ever, not only would we appreciate it but if I get the book deal that I believe I'll get from Simon & Schuster, you can consider it a loan and every one of you will be repaid. As it is, we have less than zero chance of paying our $650 a month rent on May Day, much less stay fed, pay the $45+ gas bill that just came in, electric, car insurance, cell phone minutes and everything else that pops up.
Our backs are against the wall like never before, thanks in large part to getting clobbered with $1000 in car repair bills since last winter. There's no other place to go but up and anyone who can help us can consider any Paypal donation a loan they'll eventually get back.
P.S. I just found out I owe the IRS $438 because I couldn't afford to have federal withholding taxes taken out when I was on UI last year.