Temporary Ecstasy: The First Book Deal

by Susan Henderson on March 26, 2007

Okay. Tuesday, as I’m folding laundry and trying to help my son find a snack and start on his homework, I get a phone call. And this person says, Are you busy? Is this a good time to talk?

And I say something like, Go ahead, I’m always busy.


And then she says, I’m calling from Huge Publishing House. And like a fairy godmother, she tells me the things I’ve needed to hear for I don’t know how many years – that she loves my writing and my book and the characters – and soon I find I’m not exactly listening because I’m thinking, Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.

And then she asks me if I have any questions, and I answer, Oh my God.

And then she says more things and says she’ll actually give me money for my book, and I tell her I love her because I do – it’s that easy to get me to fall in love.

She’s still talking, of course, because that’s the normal thing to do during a phone call, but once again I’m not quite listening because I’m thinking, I wonder if this moment isn’t true? I wonder if this is a cruel dream that I’m about to wake up from or if I’ve gone mad and started hallucinating? And then I hear her ask me to think about the offer and to give her a call, and I tell her, I’ve already thought long and hard about it and the answer is yes and please send the contract right away before I wake up.

The problem with phone calls is that, after you hang up, there’s no document you can refer back to that says, Hello this is Huge Publishing House and we love your book and want to buy it. So instead of being happy, which I was – unbelievably so – but only for a moment, I started feeling that more familiar sensation that something I’d wanted so badly would turn out to be a rejection. And it felt like years waiting for some written confirmation that all of this actually happened, and even now it really feels too good to be true.

Those of you who know me well know I have a strange phobia about sharing good news, so in saying all of this, I am going against my belief in The Power of the Jinx, but here goes:

In spring of ’08, or thereabouts, I will actually have a novel coming out. I know the majority of you understand how it is to collect years and years of rejection letters and to hear people around you questioning how you spend your time. After a while, you start to wonder youself if maybe you just suck and you shouldn’t waste your time writing.

What a trip. What an absolutely unbelievable trip to have someone tell you you don’t suck afterall. Man, if I could give that feeling to every one of you . . . .


If you post a comment, just for kicks, say something nice about the person who posted right before you. (Try it. Who couldn’t use a compliment?)

NOTE: I’ve made changes to the original post after canceling this book deal, therefore, some of the comments refer to the first version. 

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordan E. Rosenfeld March 26, 2007 at 5:44 am

Oh goody goody goody. Me first. That means I get to say something nice about Sue. Can I start with the surface and work in? She’s GORGEOUS. Not that one should be lauded for their looks–but c’mon…it’s true. But the coolest thing about her, since I had the opportunity to see her work a room when Night Train had a party in Petaluma, is how easily she she wins and charms people (without trying to). The word for Sue is “effortless.” That’s how the world sees her, at least.


Terry Bain March 26, 2007 at 6:22 am

Since nobody has posted before me, because I’m reading this at one damn odd time of night, I’ll say this about Sue: the novel purchase was inevitalbe, and we were all just sort of wondering what was taking them so long.

Congratulations, Sue. And happy birthday. And the answer to the quizzical question that follows the first question is e. Always and forever e. Though possibly f and g, because one never knows, and you can’t have an octave without them.



amy March 26, 2007 at 5:24 am

I just spent twenty minutes reading Terry Bain’s adorable dog book on Amazon, and now I have a gift for my father-in-law. So thank you, Susan, for this wonderful exercise!

And congratulations again and again on your deal… This is the novel, right, not the memoir?


Robin Slick March 26, 2007 at 7:04 am

Okay, I’m completely confused as to who to say something nice about since the order of the comments appears to have been switched around and everyone is claiming to have been here first.

So Susan: You already know I’m one of your biggest fans, and yeah, you are freaking beautiful in both the physical and intellectual sense, which is the best of both worlds; Jordan, that goes ditto in spades for you and hey does everyone know Jordan has a book coming out this year, too? Terry, you rock, both for your webmastership of this site and your book, which, as you already know, my entire family is in love with and in the over two years since we’ve owned it, we still read it out loud to each other at least monthly; Amy, I don’t know you but just went to your blog and almost swooned in jealousy over the photos of architecture and dreamy food (though the duck with blood…hmm..not sure I could eat that but then again, I eat things like roasted eel so who knows)…and of course I must know…did you get to see Neil Gaiman in Paris this weekend? And back to Susan…did you see Neil is reading in NYC with Laila? Please kill me because that is the night I will be cavorting with vampires and fairies at a book convention in Texas and most likely getting blind drunk in an effort to both “fit in” with that crowd and “suck in” my pouting lower lip while wishing I could clone myself…

Anyway, congrats again on the book deal! You didn’t copy the announcement as listed on Publishers Marketplace but don’t worry, I’ve got it in my blog today for you.

And just how did you spend your birthday yesterday? Any cool presents? Because really, I don’t think a book deal was enough. Ha!


mikel k poet March 26, 2007 at 7:07 am

I admire Robin Slick. She is a great mother. She is a great writer.(Hardworking and Talented.) And she once said that she liked my writing!!

Susan…congrats, congrats, congrats…you worked it girl and you got the reward. May the book sell a million copies and all your dreams(the good ones)come true.


Claire Cameron March 26, 2007 at 8:43 am

Mikel is such a jerk, but he really does have something to say.

And he is refreshing.


Renee Rosen March 26, 2007 at 8:57 am

So very, very happy for you! Major congrats! You’ve landed in a wonderful place! Oh, and happy birthday, too!


Anneliese March 26, 2007 at 9:14 am

Congratulations! What an exciting phone call! I bet you put that money in the savings account so you have a bit of tangible evidence of the results of the phone call – then you’ll spend it on touring around the country for your readings! 🙂

Say something nice about the person before me? Well, I don’t know Renee, but she and I share the same letter first/last name phenomenom and I read about her and her novel on her website and the book looks interesting! Nice photo of Renee too! 🙂


Betsy March 26, 2007 at 9:23 am

Annelise is always kind and thoughtful here and plus I like anyone who thinks I’m funny.

SUE! I could have written that entire post myself. I know all those feelings. And – although I told people before the ink was dry, until the book came out I continued to think something would prevent it from happening. Wait until you hold it in your hands. Wait until you see it in a bookstore for the first time. I am so so so happy for you. You are obviously a champ to writers, and you deserve all the best. I think the answer is – all of the above.


Ric Marion March 26, 2007 at 9:45 am

Oh, cool, I get to follow Betsy. Short stories are something I haven’t been able to master – so anyone who can write (exclusively?) in that fashion has my unabashed admiration.
Not to mention she lives in Chicago, my favorite city – well, only because my daughter lived there and I kept going to visit and see all the cool stuff, like dyeing the river green on St. Patrick’s Day, and Frank Lloyd Wright, etc, etc,

Congrats to Susan! Great “I got the call” story, btw.



lance reynald March 26, 2007 at 9:45 am

about that advance: sad truth is I’d have to say all “of the above”. Maybe the first book is about the validation and the thoughts of dollars comes later. Unless you just signed a Zadie Smith style deal…in which case … well, congrats no matter!!

wow, I adore Betsy… all through my recent trials she’s offered great kindness and heart. Her writing is sharp and puts a smirksome grin on my face. Come on, just one glance at her bio photo over at the nervous breakdown and you can tell she’s got that special friend quality about her!

and again Wondertwin… Congrats!! I’m actually doing well with my envy… which surprises me as you just signed to my fave house in my fave building… but the envy is toned down by the fact that I know no-one more deserving.

xoxo- LR


Ric Marion March 26, 2007 at 9:46 am

Great, Ric, you screwed up the link.

the Litpark post a comment won’t accept my link, sorry for the intrusion.


Susan Henderson March 26, 2007 at 9:48 am

amy – Amy has one of the most interesting and unique blogs (please click on her link!) and everytime I read it and see the food pictures I think of my friend, Bob Arter, and how much he would love what she writes. Amy has a wicked but subtle sense of humor, and I think the book she writes will show that off.

Jordan – Jordan is one of those people I’m lucky to know in real life. She reads like a fiend and conducts the most intelligent interviews for radio and for magazines. She’s an old soul and a great listener.

Terry – T is and will always be one of my best friends. There is no end to his heart. Plus he’s a kick-ass writer and editor.

Robin – Robin is so real and funny and generous to her friends. The book she just finished will make her famous. Also, we share very similar taste:

mikel k poet – Mikel writes volumes every day. I’m in awe of how deep he digs and how he puts his whole self out there. Also, he has cool tattoos.

Claire – Claire appears to be so utterly wholesome on the outside, but she has fascinating quirks, from her fixation on roads and tar and lines to her rock star yearnings to her dry dry sense of humor. I like her.

Renee – Renee and I now share an editor! And one of the reasons I suspect I will like her in real life is this description of her book: Every Crooked Pot is a funny, heartfelt and beautifully perceptive novel. In her insightful character study, Renee Rosen takes the reader deep inside the heart and mind of a delightfully real young protagonist. In her spirited portrayal of an ordinary — yet improbable — American family, Rosen illuminates great unspoken truths about young women, about daughters, and about all families. – Adrienne Miller, former Literary Editor of Esquire Magazine & Author of The Coast of Akron

Anneliese – Anneliese once told me a Hollywood secret that not only made her forever memorable but showed something I like very much about her character.

Betsy – If I had known Betsy growing up, I would have had the most awesome childhood.

Ric – Ric is a solid, nature-loving gentleman who reminds me to cherish the simple things in life. The world would be a better place if there were more Rics in it.

Lance – I adore him. Easy as that.


Lori Oliva March 26, 2007 at 9:53 am

What can I say about everything you have shared with us? Your brilliant writing and observations keep me thinking into the day. Your honesty and sincerity about your life make me stop and think about mine every day since your loss. I admire you and I know there are others out here in cyberland who do so as well. Thank you.

Susan…I’m so, so, so, happy for you! I had a close friend of mine who was an editor at St. Martins and I know it’s a great house. You deserve ALL the success that’s coming to you! xoxo


Roy Kesey March 26, 2007 at 10:18 am

Again, Sue, I am so so so happy that this has worked out, and at how it has worked out. You of all people deserve those feelings. Well done.


Jonathan Evison March 26, 2007 at 10:38 am

…and st. martin’s, no less!…i’m sure you’re discovering (as i am) that this is all so very worth the wait, and work, and rejection !!!

…oh goodie, i get roy kesey– that’s easy! roy kesey is a very funny man . . . i wish he didn’t live in china so i could buy him a beer . . . another thing about roy kesey: he’s always one of the first people there with a hearty congratulations in times like these!


Kirk Farber March 26, 2007 at 10:50 am

I’m relatively new to Lit Park, but I’ve been reading long enough to know that Sue is having a pretty good week. Congratulations on the novel. That’s very exciting. I don’t know Roy Kesey, but I have greatly enjoyed reading his dispatches on McSweeney’s. Funny, engaging stuff.


Myfanwy Collins March 26, 2007 at 11:06 am

Oh, geez. I don’t know the person before me. So I will say hello and welcome to Kirk Farber!

Susan, so very, very happy for you. Looking forward to the days and months ahead and reading more about your publishing experience as it unfolds.


Richard Cooper March 26, 2007 at 11:22 am

I get to comment on commenter 18, Myfanwy Collins! She once judged a little flash fiction contest that I barely won, so–naturally–I think she’s terrific. The book reviews and links she shares on her blog are almost always fascinating, too.

Congratulations Susan! Can’t wait until next year to read your book!


Tish Cohen March 26, 2007 at 11:28 am

Yay, I get Myfanwy. I don’t know her personally, but she leaves intelligent and hilarious comments on all my favorite blogs – especially Patry’s (I’d link to Patry here, but I’m link challenged). So hi, Myfanwy! Oh, I also love Myfanwy because she added Town House to her listmania list on Amazon. That alone makes me want to marry her.

Now on to Susan – it’s about time some fantastic publisher woke up! I never had a moment of doubt it would happen and I don’t have a moment of doubt it will be a huge success. Long overdue. Congratulations, I’m over the moon for you – this is SO deserved!

P.S. Patry and I are coming to NY for a May 29 book event – hope you’ll come so we can brag about you…


LaurenBaratz-Logsted March 26, 2007 at 12:15 pm

I get Tish – everytime I look at Tish’s book cover, it makes me happy. 🙂

Yea, Sue! I’m still celebrating here!

Me, I’m a saver. I remember once reading an interview with T.C. Boyle where he cautioned not to go buy the big house with the first advance. I took it to heart.


Julie Ann Shapiro March 26, 2007 at 12:29 pm

I’m so happy for you. Congratulations big time. I always knew your novel would get published. Now that I see what the dream is like I need to imagine it happening like that for my novels. Spead the dream and all!!! It’s so cool that you are living the dream.

Ok, now it’s LaurenBaratz-Logsted. The only name of yours I can pronounce is Lauren. I want a lesson on pronunciation – please! I don’t know you well, but you have this warmth that bounces off the pages when you post comments and it feels good. It tells me you have a big heart. Ok, that’s my intuition speaking.
I also want to read you books, that one about the year of saying yes sounds hilarious.



Jody Reale March 26, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Yay, Sue! Thanks for sharing the scoop. As someone who once adopted the “jinx” theory herself, I decided that spreading the news, besides being something that Frank Sinatra encouraged us to do, gives countless others hope for their own dreams and desires.

And, hey, Lauren. We keep running into each other, don’t we? You are so freakin’ prolific that I keep wondering if maybe you’re really a server farm in Palo Alto. I envy you and your hardest-working-woman-in-literature c.v.! How do you do it? And also, I think you’re someone who’s not afraid to ask the tough questions–and then hear the tough answers. That’s awesome.


Carolyn Burns Bass March 26, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Susan. What can I say? I am blissfully happy for you. This deal was Divine Synchronicity.

Julie Ann, the enthusiasm and confidence that you project is a winning combination. Divine synchronicity is working in your life, too.

Renee Rosen! Great to see you here. I can’t wait until May.


LaurenBaratz-Logsted March 26, 2007 at 1:03 pm

Julie, Baratz is pronounced like the Barrett in Elizabeth Browning’s name if it were plural. Logsted is exactly how it looks except people keep wanting to inject an ‘a’ to make it Logstead. Oh, and I’m glad you like what you see of me here and want to read my books…but I didn’t write The Year of Yes! 🙂

Jody, we keep running into each other because we frequent all the best places. And how do I do it all? I’m nuts, that’s how.

And now I’m feeling like I shortchanged Tish. So, more on Tish: everywhere I run into her, I can tell she is a force for good.


Julie Ann Shapiro March 26, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Sorry, I confused you with the year of yes author. I love your pronunciation lesson.



Richard March 26, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Lauren is one of the most wonderful, kindest, most generous and thoughtful writers I’ve met online. Plus her books are really good!



Richard March 26, 2007 at 1:13 pm

Julie has published some terrific stories at Pindeldyboz ande Opium and a other places. I want to read more of her work.

(When I first posted, Lauren was the last one…but now I get the pleasure of saying something nice about Julie, too!)


Susan Henderson March 26, 2007 at 1:17 pm

The answer to the quiz: e. I bought art and a pool table.

Lori – I like Lori so much she’s been invited to do something here on LitPark very soon. Then you’ll know what I know.

Kesey – I can’t possibly list all of the things I like (or know!) about Kesey, but I can say I was with him on one of the top 5 days of my life:

Jonathan – If you like rabbits, you’ll like Jonathan. He’s almost the same thing, in all the best ways. I first joined MySpace because my musician friends talked me into it, and I wasn’t at all sure it was a place for writers until I met Jonathan.

Kirk – I like Kirk. And his taste in books is just one reason. These are the favorites he lists on his MySpace page: Jeffrey Eugenides, Haruki Murakami, Tim O’ Brien, Chuck Palahniuk, David Mitchell, David Sedaris, Tom Perrotta, Dave Eggers.

Myfanwy – What I want to say about Myf is that the baby she’s carrying is the luckiest in the world.

…I’ll post this while I answer the phone. Back in a bit…


Gail Siegel March 26, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Hmmm. It might be cheating to post about Susan, but she IS the last person to post above me. Let me tell all of you, in addition to all of her virtues, her great humor and smile and her beautiful prose, she is a great road trip companion. Whoever gets to do a book tour with her is in for a treat! Wish it were me!


margy March 26, 2007 at 1:42 pm

Since I post on the park so infrequently, I’m feeling a bit sorry for whomever comes after- but let me say that Gail sounds like a great friend, Susan! You might want to consider the travel offer!

…and, WHAT A GREAT BIRTHDAY PRESENT!! I’m so excited for you, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!


Maria Headley March 26, 2007 at 1:42 pm

I love Gail Siegel’s story, Falling Objects: Chicago, which I’ve read before, and just read again. This part especially, and the way each paragraph twines with the next, expanding out and in and back again: “Meteors leave luminous trails of azure and emerald in the inky night sky. They brush so near to earth that a fat man in his yard at 1 AM hears them crackle like sparklers.”


ROCK ON SUSAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s such spectacular news, and you SO SO SO deserve it! Congratulations!!!!



LaurenBaratz-Logsted March 26, 2007 at 1:44 pm

I’m going to keep posting all day long, so people have to keep saying nice things about me! (Hi, Richard!)

Julie, when you go looking for The Book Of Yes, look for my books too! 🙂

Sue, you’re getting your own pool table??? When are you inviting me over??? I’ll bring my own stick!


LaurenBaratz-Logsted March 26, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Maria snuck in ahead of me. Maria is the true author of THE BOOK OF YES. Now go buy Maria’s book, everybody!


Carolyn Burns Bass March 26, 2007 at 1:49 pm

While I was posting about Julie Ann, who I thought would be the comment previous to mine, Jody Reale posted. So here’s to Jody, whom I knew nothing about before checking her link and reading about her witty one-liners and award-winning essays. She’s queen to a princess named Sophie, who loves Marichino cherries and should probably not begin gymnastics until her collarbone is completely healed. Jody is working on a collection of essays she hopes will grow into a narrative, or a fireman. I think she must be a hero.


Susan Henderson March 26, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Someone asked what kind of art I bought with my book advance (that I haven’t even receieved yet), and when I tell you I bought two Rembrandt’s, let me be very clear that I overspent the advance.

Tonight, by the way, Bach-Boy is playing Fur Elise for his NYSSMA dealie. He’s been dying to get this over with so he can get back to learning Bohemian Rhapsody. Okay, back to the comments thread….

Richard Cooper – Richard is someone who never ever shows off about himself, which is why I like him. But today, I’ll brag on his behalf: He studied at Iowa, he writes everything from short stories to novels to screenplays, and he takes some pretty sharp pictures.

Tish – Tish is smart and funny and pretty and one hell of a storyteller. AND her book will be a movie soon!

Here’s your link to Patry:

Send me a note with exact where’s and when’s you and Patry will be in NY because I am so there!

Lauren – Lauren is generous, engaging, prolific, funny, quick-witted, and cute!

Okay, I have to run an errand but I’ll be back because I have things to say about all of you.


Maria Headley March 26, 2007 at 1:58 pm

And everyone go and buy Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s books too – they are fantastic. I’ll share authorship of The Year of Yes with you, if you’ll share your books with me, Lauren! Maybe we can just merge into a single entity?

As for Carolyn Burns Bass, who hopped in before this comment – I love the title of your “novel-in-progress,” The Sword Swallower’s Daughter, and I just read the first chapter on your website. I’m now champing at the bit for more. Gorgeous writing. And a quickie for all above: Thank you for telling stories and sharing them with the world. I owe all of you a drink. You keep me up at night, and when I go to sleep, your stories make my dreams a hell of a lot more interesting.


Susan Henderson March 26, 2007 at 2:17 pm

Julie – Julie is an original. Her writing isn’t magical realism and it isn’t new age and it isn’t fantasy. It’s simply Julie.

Jody – Jody is f u n n y. And I’m not kidding. She is laugh-out-loud, stand-up comic level funny, and please read her essays:

Carolyn – Carolyn is all heart. She can take the sad and broken parts of you and heal them.

Richard Grayson – Richard is way cute. You must know that first because you’ll soon be caught up in how talented and unique a writer he is and you’ll nearly forget.

Gail – I think of Gail as my sister. I’d walk over hot coals for her.

Margy – Well, first of all, Margy doesn’t even link to herself so let me do it for her:

And now you know she’s beautiful, she watches The Colbert Report and Antiques Roadshow, she reads Hemingway and Chabon, and she teaches Language Arts. What you may not know, but I do, is that she’s kind.

Maria – Maria’s THE YEAR OF YES is absolutely fantastic. But what you don’t know about Maria is that she is larger than life. In any size gathering, she stands out with her infectious and flirtatious smile.


lance reynald March 26, 2007 at 2:23 pm

ok, I have to jump in here.

Mrs. Headley is awesome, not only in her own right but as a founding memeber of The Memoirist Collective at Myspace. A most inspiring group on the literary edge of MySpace…

plus, she managed to give me some great advice a few weeks back… a camerade in a few ways here…

fun thread today.

and Wondertwin…we so spend in the same ways!!


Nicole March 26, 2007 at 2:25 pm

well, I don’t know many people here … and I really don’t know Susan well yet, but it appears as though if somebody hasn’t snuck in and commented before me, that I get to say something nice about her.

So, Susan … this is a very cool place you have created. I’m glad I’m finally participating. And SUPER excited for the sale of your book.

I get excited whenever I sell a single book, because I’m with a tiny tiny press and I’m not mass production. So, I can imagine my excitement about selling a single book, and times it times a million. I can’t wait to read your novel.


Nicole March 26, 2007 at 2:26 pm

Crap … Lance snuck in there … but I love Lance! Hi Lance.


ellen meister March 26, 2007 at 2:51 pm

Nicole has a cool, funky MySpace page and cool, funky taste in books. AND, I just asked her to be my friend. Hope she says yes.

May I also say something nice about Mt. Martin’s Press? They are very, very, very, very smart. And they, too, have cool, funky taste in books.

Go, Sue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Carrie Hoffman March 26, 2007 at 3:22 pm

We’re all thrilled for you, and here you are — in your good news post — saying nice things about us. I guess that’s why we’re all so happy for you? You deserve it and more.


Grant Bailie March 26, 2007 at 4:02 pm

First let me say that is comforting to know, Susan, that you are as screwed up a myself.

And secondly, I have lucked out in that the person before me (when I started this, at least) is Carrie Hoffman, who it is enormously easy to say nice things about.

So aside from being remarkably cute, she is a woman of remarkable taste in not only eyeware, but also in music, literature and fiances. She also makes the most charming drawings and is a writer of no small talent

As I am on comp-day today and have drunken a little wine, I will not go on for fear of mispelling things further and causing Ms Hoffman to take out a restraining order against me.

That is all.


Grant Bailie March 26, 2007 at 4:07 pm

Also, she is a doctor! (Ms. Hoffman that is)

But now I am commenting beneath myself so must say something nice about myself and so:

Grant Bailie is not a surly drunk.


Amy Wallen March 26, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Carrie has the best website. Besides that she’s been published absolutely everywhere grand, she’s also got a fabulous recommended reading list (which hopefully will soon include Susan’s new novel!)

Susan, when I got my book deal, I was having all the same feelings you had and I was so afraid I would jinx it that I didn’t want to drive for days because I knew I’d be in a car wreck and never get to see it published. You know that happened to Poe. He finally got a deal that meant he was going to be able to make a living at writing and he went out to celebrate, got so drunk that he fell face down in a ditch and drown. Not to put a downer on it, and I’m not trying to say you shouldn’t leave your house, but there’s definitely a wonderful druglike haze that hovers around your head for a few days, so watch your step. Enjoy every bit!!! You only get your first deal once! And keep a wide berth with ditches.

Love, Amy


Trisha Mortimore March 26, 2007 at 4:16 pm

Congratulations, Susan! You deserve it. I love LitPark! I read it religiously everyday.


Carolyn Burns Bass March 26, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Susan said: Margy – Well, first of all, Margy doesn’t even link to herself so let me do it for her:
Ah ha! It’s my friend Margy from MySpace, who writes cool blog posts and looks equally adorable as a blonde or a redhead. Great to see you here, Margy.


Noria March 26, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Yay, Sue! When I got the news about my book deal, I felt sick to my stomach–I respond the same way to good news as I do to bad. People expected me to be excited, and I had my moments of excitement, but mostly I just felt exhausted and relieved.

I can’t wait for CBB’s The Sword Swallower’s Daughter, as I have a special fondness for all things sideshow-ish.


Sarah Roundell March 26, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Something nice about Carolyn Burns Bass – During my time in the park Carolyn’s posts have stood out from the rest partly because she always has great comments with nice things to say about people and intelligent input in the discussions we have here, but also because she has one of the best names ever!

Susan, Congratulations once again on the book deal. You must be over the moon! I can’t wait to get my very own copy.

Looking forward to the Wednesday interview and sorry if I took so long posting this and put the nice game out of order.


Kimberly March 26, 2007 at 5:15 pm

About Sarah – she’s a gemini – which means that if we met, we would be good friends – because of the dual nature of both of our personalities!! She also asks the question: “Which John Cusack are you” on her MySpace page – which I think is the coolest!

(btw, Me? Lately, I feel like John Cusack in ‘Identity’ which is double-edged, both for the split-personality/aquarius/gemini comment – but because I’m wearing three hats at the moment and can literally feel my personalities shift completely depending on whom I am speaking with)

MRS. HENDERSON!!! Incredible news! Happy Birthday indeed!!! Will have to celebrate with you very soon! Hip hip HOORAY!!!


NFD March 26, 2007 at 5:58 pm

Goddam Susan, it’s awesome to see what is happening in your life. You give me hope for the future, you really really do. But for now I’m content to live through your enthusiasm, vicariously of course. Your book deal came just in time, I’ve gotta tell ya. I was at the brink of desperation and discouragement and all the other downer d-words until you came up with this wonderful news. You’re an inspiration to us all.


Carolyn Burns Bass March 26, 2007 at 6:14 pm

Oh, Sarah. I almost spurted my Diet Coke onto the keyboard when I read what you said about my name. “Best names ever?” My name is a running joke with my kids who like to make sentences from it. There was the time I cooked some bad snapper that even the cat wouldn’t eat. I became Carolyn Burns Snapper.

I just sent you a friend request.


Julie Ann Shapiro March 26, 2007 at 6:54 pm

I was ready to post for NFD, but then Carolyn snuck in there. Now I feel like talking surfer-ish to Frank. – “Dude,” I totally admire your guts and courage.” Ok, enoug with the surfer language.

You’ve got that take charge gene that’s so admirable. Plus, I just love your riot posts. They always get me charged up.

I think we’re locals or maybe we were. Now I’m in Encinita. You often mention OC. I used to be up in Laguna and Newport. I hope I didn’t mix you up. At any rate, I love your sense of humor and warmth that comes across in your posts. There are some people that post something and it’s like a hug with words. That’s you and our super talented and beautiful hostess, Susan.



Julie Ann Shapiro March 26, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Oh no…I made typos. Forgive me. And no…I won’t go posting flattering things about myself – since I follow myself.


Susan Henderson March 26, 2007 at 7:06 pm

Lance – We should be VERY careful about shopping together.

Nicole – Things I like about Nicole: she supports indie presses, she has a Bush countdown ticker on her page, she likes Neil Gaiman and Brad Listi. Nice to have you here!

Ellen – I called Ellen right after I hung up with St. Martin’s because I couldn’t reach my mom and I knew Ellen would be the only other person who could hear all of the emotions I had and say all the right things. Ellen is a great friend, a great mother, and a great human being, and I’m lucky to know her.

Carrie – Okay, you can look at Carrie’s resume, her doctorate, her publications and think what a cool person she is. But it’s the way she laughs at herself and it’s her cover of the Black-Eyed Peas that shows what she’s really made of:

Grant – I love to make fun of Grant. I love to poke him. I love to chew gum with him while making fun of him. He’s also a pretty amazing writer.

Amy – Amy is not only pretty and funny and a fabulous writer, but she understands the weird feelings I’m going through and knows a story about Poe dying is just what I wanted to hear.

Trisha – Trisha needs to post her website here so you can all see what a tireless champion of books she is. She is one hell of a book reviewer.

Noria – I love Noria because she understands me. I don’t know many who can write the way she does or see the world as she does and still be so humble.

Sarah – What Sarah doesn’t know is that she is one of the first people who glued the LitPark community together and why I stuck with it. She did it by connecting with others here and by being kind and encouraging and invested in others. I will cheer the loudest when something great happens to her.

Kimberly – If you guys knew how brilliant and talented Kimberly is and how many of her projects deserve huge accolades, you would know only a fraction of what makes her amazing.

NFD – Frank! Frank is inspiring, courageous, and an unblinking writer. Who’s that director who did Kill Bill? He needs to take on Futureproof.


Sarah Roundell March 26, 2007 at 7:30 pm

I just want to say that this was a great way to start off a week in the park! Everyone is saying such lovely things about each other whether they know them personally or not.
Kimberly – No doubt we would be friends if we met and judging by your extensive resume there would be plenty for us to talk about(love your website design and what a great picture of you!).
Carolyn – It’s my turn for beverage spray from the nose with that story about your kids. Cute.
Susan – You are so amazing. Because I’m not currently working on any big projects I sometimes feel like a bit of a poser here in the park, but you always make me feel welcome and today you gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Thanks for being so sweet and dedicated and for all of the hard work you put in to Litpark when you have so much else going on in your life. You are loved and appreciated!


ellen meister March 26, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Sarah has pretty blue eyes and shiny hair and cares a lot about the size of people’s hearts (a good thing!). I also just asked her to be my MySpace.

Sue, my lovely friend, thank you for saying those kind things about me! Makes me ashamed of myself for wanting to suggest we punish those who aren’t playing by the rules. Lol.

It’s been fun playing here today!


Julie Ann Shapiro March 26, 2007 at 8:29 pm

She’s a role model for being a successful novelist and reaching out to her friends. From what I can see you’ve maintained your warmth as you’ve hit the big time. Everyone always speaks the world of you. If that’s not a trait to admire, I don’t know what is.



Carolyn Burns Bass March 26, 2007 at 8:59 pm

Julie. Yeah, I lived in OC for many years, the Newport Penninsula during my college and waitressing days, Corona del Mar during my settle down from the Penninsula days, then further south to Laguna, my adopted hometown, for my creative and free days. Then I got married and wanted to afford a house. Now I live in the land of horses, goats, and chickens; an oasis only an hour from Laguna.


Katrina Denza March 26, 2007 at 9:16 pm

I don’t know Carolyn but her website is cool and I see she’s received a nice comment from a nice journal regarding her story and that same journal has asked to publish it! So congrats! And nice to meet you. 🙂

And Sue–congratulations! You are an inspiration!


Carrie Hoffman March 27, 2007 at 1:07 am

I messed up and didn’t say something nice about Ellen Meister. I sux and deserve no compliments.

Ellen Meister, however, does deserve compliments. She has lovely hair and is a very fancy published author. Her book has a great cover. She is a friend to many. She also likes Alice Hoffman, with whom I share a last name.


Carrie Hoffman March 27, 2007 at 1:14 am

Oh, now I am also below Katrina Denza, who has a blogspot account, proving that she’s hip, contemporary, and in-the-know. She has good taste and is publicizing Roy Kesey right now,w hich shows she has good taste. Her stories are scattered all over the internet and the best compliment I can give her is to go read one before I go to bed.


Robin Slick March 27, 2007 at 6:56 am

Mikel, you are right – I do love your poetry.

Carrie – let us know how you liked Katrina’s stories (I bet after reading one you went on to read a lot more) because she’s brilliant. Hey. you do have an awesome website. When I met Pia in Philly for the 215 Festival, she wore one of your t-shirts. I want one!

Richard Grayson – I just spent two days reading your bio – probably one of the most spellbinding pieces of writing I’ve come across this week – hilarious, bittersweet, and tortured all at the same time. Brilliant. Here’s the link in case anyone else wants a great read:
(and oh do I feel your pain, especially as a long time sufferer of panic attacks…I think I’m having one now as a matter of fact as I prepare to get ready for jury duty today)

Carolyn Bass Burns – that is one hell of a great name. One reason I don’t use my middle name is that it’s “Joy”. (1) Because my jerkweed father used to call me that sarcastically; (2) Robin Joy sounds like a chocolate bar with coconut and an almond put out by Peter/Paul Company; (3) Joy Slick…well, I don’t have to explain that one, do I.

Great exercise in getting to know a rather interesting crowd, Susan. And that photo of Neil Gaiman is to die for. Why do men get better looking with age? Unfair! Totally unfair!


Susan Henderson March 27, 2007 at 8:28 am

Katrina – The fact that Kat is one of the most supportive people out there to her fellow writers – with her blog, her book reviews, and her championing of literary magazines – it’s sometimes overlooked what a great writer she is in her own right.

Robin – Man, isn’t it unfair how beautiful men get? I agree. And thank you for linking Richard’s bio. I like him, and he’s utterly fascinating. It’s amazing how many writers and artists on LitPark have mentioned having panic attacks and agoraphobia. (Um, I erased three different jokes about “Joy,” realizing it’s not nice to tease people about their middle names.)


Juliet deWal March 27, 2007 at 9:30 am

I hoped Susan would be the one to comment before me. And so I shall commence with the complimenting:

One of the things that shines through so clearly at Litpark is your incredible heart and desire to see others succeed. You never fail to have an encouraging word, to boost someone’s soured hope, or to share your own wonderment with the world of words. It’s a beautiful thing to click in here each week to find you in the writer’s corner: celebrating with us, guarding and feeding us.

So, regarding the book, I CAN’T WAIT. AND, I’ll mudwrestle Lance for the right to interview you when it comes out.
(I think you should let us ALL have a crack at the interview bat.)

(PS, guys, check it out:

(a bit of shameless promotion for the publishing house and print business)


Juliet deWal March 27, 2007 at 9:46 am

I’m back (having spent the last ten minutes reading and clicking my way through here) to say that I ADORE Lance and think he should run for Litpresident and that I’m with everyone on the Maria Headley bandwagon.
I think, Susan, that you should take on some YES of your own, and jinx jinx by ALWAYS celebrating who you are.

I really should work.

Did anyone mention Alexander Chee? I want to adopt him as my foster child.

And if you’re over at myspace, don’t forget Marcy

alright, work calls…


Nathalie March 27, 2007 at 11:19 am

How can I play ?
I don’t know anyone, here…

Yet the challenge beckons or rather : provokes (I just wished it would have stopped blowing raspberries my way).

So, commenting just before me is Juliet, who seems as passionate as her classical namesake. The offer to mudwrestle Lance over the interviewing possibility also denotes a good sense of humour, as well as a sound determination, all excellent things.
(And her site must be cool because my work-based internet connection banned me from accessing it as being of a “social” nature.)

And more congratulations to you, Susan, for that book deal and on your immaculate taste as far as Neil Gaiman is concerned.
Having just met him in Paris (and plagued him with my camera), I can confirm he’s a lovely person as well as a good writer.


Juliet deWal March 27, 2007 at 12:04 pm

“of a Social nature”

yeah, that’s what they said in highschool.
Just, not so… classy.


Elizabeth Alan March 27, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Great great news Sue. Many congratulations. We hope and continually look forward to the same thing happening to us.


Karen Dionne March 27, 2007 at 1:18 pm

congrats congrats! Soooo happy for you, Susan! I got EXACTLY that phone call last January, and you described it perfectly – too, too cool. As for your advance, I’m guessing your practical nature will win out, so I’m going with b. with a smidgen of d. because you have to have fun!)

As for saying something nice about the commenter ahead of me, what name could be more beautiful than “Juliet”?


Julie Ann Shapiro March 27, 2007 at 1:30 pm

How about we make this topic go to 100? A big hearty congratulations again to Sue and to everyone for being part of this special community.


Trisha Mortimore March 27, 2007 at 3:40 pm

Thank you, Susan for such a nice comment about my book review site on MySpace NEWS AND REVIEWS FOR BOOK LOVERS. Here is the link:

I hope this works.


lance reynald March 27, 2007 at 6:15 pm

gotta give some kudos to Trisha for doing a great job over at her blog to help readers and writers meet.

as for that offer from Juliet… Jello is so much more fun… but, I think Susan merits a far more professional interview than me… I nominate Chee! But I think you and I are up for some wrestling no matter what.

and I’m totally gonna cheat now and try to give a shout out to some of my faves in the litpark gang…those I imagine are cool enough to chainsmoke under the monkey bars with me:
Robin- the sweetest rockstar in any park, Lauren- amazing, sharp and full of heart, Lori- another amazing tender heart, NFD- simpatico, Carolyn BB- always love your contributions, n.l.- you keep it fun, ellen- I always like the ellens, way kind. Sarah-ditto on Susan’s comments.
I know I’ve missed many that have been hanging around the park since the beginning…but, this is turnig into a huge thread and I’m certain I’ll find the opportunity to heap praise on all of you somewhere along the way.

ok, this is starting to feel a bit like a John Hughes movie…and I best get back to writing that damn book….

to all of you with all my heart.


Richard Lewis March 27, 2007 at 7:03 pm

Damn! I keep going to your other website and finally found out where the real people hang out! Heard about your deal at Backspace…this is so cool, well deserved, and how did it happen without an agent? Is that true? A bouquet of plumeria and hibiscus from Bali.


daryl March 27, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Well, I’m gonna fail at this challenge because I don’t really know Lance, unless he is the same Lance as “Free Lance Poet” on MySpace. In that case he is actually a very nice man because he approached me months ago and asked me to be a “friend” of his. Regardless, I’ve been a faux friend as I only accepted his request but have never even politely commented on his site yet. Lance? If this is you I’m sorry buddy. Honest, I’ll work on this friendship this year, I promise.

So then hop-scotching up the list I can really only say amazningly great things about the two women who have brought me the insight and humility to believe that I am even worthy to mingle in a community like this; Robin and Susan. truly they are the greatest women that I know right now and I appreciate their friendship and honesty so much… I hope over the next few days to become good friends with others of you too.

{receding back into my woodwork now},


Pia March 28, 2007 at 12:54 pm

Oh, Sue. Yes, finally, yes! I love that book, and I’m relieved and happy for you. Don’t you dare use the advance for bills. That’s what the NYT Bestseller list is for.

Daryl – hi! I’m about to read your interview, which looks brave and hard won, and like something I need to take my time with. (I love Johnny Cash’s version of the Cat Stevens.)

I have a feeling I will be the last one on this list and no one will say anything about me, so my bottom lip’s out a little.


patry March 28, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Susan! The first three things I have to say are 1) oh my god 2) oh my god and 3) OH MY GOD!!! I was practically in tears reading this, because you described the experience so well, and because you so deserve it, and because selfish, eternally hungry voracioius reader that I am, I can’t wait to read your book!


maryanne stahl March 28, 2007 at 6:14 pm

Sue–Big Congrats! I’m so excited for you and your wonderful novel.

I don’t know who’s above me, so I’ll just say that Jordan, Myf, Robin, Ellen, T-Bear, Pia, Kat, Grant, Roy, Gail, and Richard Lewis are all some kick-ass writers.



Bruce Hoppe March 29, 2007 at 10:33 am

So, I only have maryanne’s website to inform me (and to my loss as I read it) Still, drawing from that limited intro, words like “accomplished” and “inspiring” pop out as gut level first associations. So excuse me now while I read more.

Susan, all the best to what, certainly in this case, is a well deserved coming home of the chickens to roost.


Mark Bastable March 29, 2007 at 11:42 am

I know absolutely nothing about Bruce except that the pitch for his book (follow the link of his name) is one of the few “What if..” openers that have ever made me both laugh and wonder.

It’s this…

What if a small New Mexico ranch came under siege by nudist balloonists?

I defy anyone not to picture that and, having pictured it (from most angles), you pretty much have to read the story, don’t you?


Jason Boog March 29, 2007 at 1:23 pm

Mark Bastable has the simplest, most readable Myspace page, more soothing than the hundreds of obnoxious, noisy pages that gum up my browser.

Via his excellent page, I discovered his nice short story at Amarillo Bay–a stylish piece in love with the virtual worlds and twisty syntax of the Internet.

Most of all, I like how he fixated on the phrase containing “nudist balloonists.” That says a lot about a person.


Susan Henderson March 29, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Hey, everyone, I’ve got lots of comments to catch up on, and I’ll be back this evening to respond to everyone. In the meantime, if you spot anyone in this thread who got gypped out of a compliment, see if you can leave them a nice note.

See you after some errands, and at the very least, see you after Indian-food-open-mic, which is where I am every Thursday. (Kenny, did you get my request to do “Bungalow Bill” tonight?)


LaurenBaratz-Logsted March 29, 2007 at 2:34 pm

The comments flew so quickly this week, I think Pia got shorted. Pia’s site is so cool – – that I now have Pia-envy. Hi, Pia!

I really do think we could jack this baby up to 100 with little effort.


Julie Ann Shapiro March 29, 2007 at 5:59 pm

I agree with Lauren. This post can easily reach 100. Susan’s book deal shows the dream of getting a novel published really does happen.


Julie Ann Shapiro March 29, 2007 at 5:59 pm

I agree with Lauren. This post can easily reach 100. Susan’s book deal shows the dream of getting a novel published really does happen.


Julie Ann Shapiro March 29, 2007 at 5:59 pm

I agree with Lauren. This post can easily reach 100. Susan’s book deal shows the dream of getting a novel published really does happen.


Sheila March 29, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Congratulations, Susan! I just discovered your website after reading another.
Something nice about Julie Ann? She has a very interesting site of her own, and seems multi-talented, with a knack for great titles!
I run an online book club, so it’s nice to learn about new writers. I also write myself. Anyone read my novel, “Trial by Fire”? How about my kid’s picture book, “Doggerel”?
Didn’t think so.
As we say in Canada (at least in Quebec), c’est la vie!


Susan Henderson March 29, 2007 at 11:24 pm

Juliet – If you go back to the comments section for the Alexander Chee interview, you’ll see why I like Juliet. She is a deep and thoughtful reader. When we’re struggling away as writers to nail the wording or some nuance of our characters, what we’re hoping is the person reading our book will be as sharp as Juliet.

Nathalie – Gorgeous photos on your blog. I’m glad you’re here!

Elizabeth – Welcome! I admire people who can collaborate, especially in writing! I’m going to link your site again so others can visit:

Karen – Karen has some pretty great book news, too. And I’m thinking a movie deal will follow! Karen’s writer organization, Backspace, is an unbelievable blend of tips, community, and marketing. I’m so excited about the conference this summer.

Julie – Thanks for being so active in this thread with welcoming folks.

Trisha – My pleasure.

Lance – Wow. I want to have my name linked with you and Alex more often.

Richard – Richard gave me the coolest-smelling pen from Bali. And an even bigger gift was the honor of reading his book before it went to press.

Daryl – Thank you.

Pia – I’ve eaten strange organic things with Pia in Central Park, and we’ve read the NY Times together on my very doggie couch, and she is my number one favorite writer ever.

patry – I can’t tell you how excited I am to know I’ll meet Patry this summer!

maryanne – Maryanne has a smile like the Cheshire cat. The very first time I met her, she nearly got everyone busted, but that’s all I can tell of the story.

Bruce – Here are just a few reasons to like Bruce: He did Peace Corps in Africa, he trains cutting horses in Montana, and he plays guitar. Go check him out:

Mark – The most memorable part of a conference I did last year was Mark Bastable.

Jason – One of the best bloggers out there. I’m very much looking forward to seeing his writing.

Sheila – Librarians and Canadians are two of my favorite people, and Sheila’s both of them!


n.l. belardes March 30, 2007 at 5:34 pm

Holy crap. I don’t tune in for a few days and suddenly book deals are falling from the sky!



Pia March 30, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Lauren! Thanks for remembering me! And reminding me that I need to post something new on my site. I like yours too.


LaurenBaratz-Logsted April 1, 2007 at 4:04 pm

In eight hours it will be a new day here on the East Coast. I think we can hit 100 by then, can’t we???


Rachel April 2, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Lauren pulls off short hair with pizazz!


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