Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rejections no more… and a timely excerpt

Last week I received another rejection letter for my manuscript, Bastard Husband: A Love Story. As rejections go, it was a really nice one.

Hi Linda,

I received your sample manuscript and enjoyed reading it very much. You have a great voice, and I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions. Unfortunately, with today's difficult publishing market, we don't think our agency would be able to get your book the attention it deserves.

Best of luck,
Andrea
Well, I wasn’t disappointed—rejection is part of the game—and actually, by the time I heard from her, I’d pretty much decided to self-publish. Having an agent say she liked my work, but can't do anything with it because of the state of the industry sealed the deal for me. Now it’s full steam ahead. I’m psyched; this is going to happen, and it’s not going to take forever. I've received my last rejection.

For those of you considering self-publishing, I’ll keep you informed of the steps I take along the way. I'm still very early in the process. So far I bought two domains: bastardhusband.com (can you believe that was available?) and bastardhusbandalovestory.com. I’m going to push traffic to bastardhusband.com; the longer URL will be directed to that one. Tomorrow I meet with Gregory Kompes, who’s going to do the internal design (fonts and layout), and possibly the cover. Next week I’m going to purchase my ISBNs and set up an LLC to establish my own publishing company, which will be called “Aging Nymphs Publishing.”

I think my regular readers are going to like my book. I really do. However, some people are going to hate it, and hate me. I expect that and won’t be forcing anyone to buy it.

Anyway, this week as I’ve been doing my final, final, final editing, the media’s been full of stories about Chris Brown’s alleged (!) attack on Rhianna. Watching Larry King and Oprah this week, along with rereading my pages, brought back some uneasy memories. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been stated about that case and the problem it represents. I'll take a more personal approach to putting in my two cents by posting a couple of pages from my book.

I know this is the one piece of my story that my ex would rather I didn’t release for the world to see, though I don’t think he disputes the veracity of my account. Certainly my intention is not to embarrass him; I have no doubt that he was sorry for his actions that night (as well as others), and I’ll emphasize that he was never physically threatening.

So what is my intention? I'd like to think that if any woman recognizes herself in my words, she'll know she's not alone and will have the strength to remove herself from the situation. I'm particularly hoping one young friend of mine sees this and finally does what she should have done long ago and gets the hell out.

This is not fiction; it’s a memoir. And a memoir reflects an author’s representation of the truth, as remembered through the filter of the author’s own experience. This is how I remember one night back in 2002.

My heart raced as I waited for the Laramie police to arrive. Oh, God, did I do the right thing? I wondered. Maybe he’s not as bad as I thought.

I met the two female officers at the front door and closed it behind me. “I think everything’s under control now,” I said, shivering in the overnight chill. “I probably don’t need you after all.”

“Where is he now, ma’am?” the taller woman asked. I’d put her at about five-foot three. Talk about a small police department. Good thing I didn’t fear for my life.

“In the basement,” I replied. “There’s a little room with a couch. He’s settling down now. I probably didn’t need to call. I’m sorry to bother you.”

“We’d like to speak to him, ma’am,” the other one said.

I could tell they had no intention of leaving, so I let them into the house and led them through the kitchen to the stairs.

“Why don’t you stay here,” one of them advised in a question that wasn’t a question. The two of them trudged down the steps and after a moment, the blasting Iron Maiden CD shut off mid-scream.

I remained in the kitchen, mentally trying to justify the call. I kind of expected a blowout that night, since the day marked the last day of classes. He was particularly vulnerable when something came to an end, whether it was the semester, a paper he’d written for an academic journal, or sometimes simply the end of the week. All ends seemed to lead to the deep end.

I knew the pattern well. The beers in the first stage of intoxication inspired brilliant philosophical revelations, invariably related to harness racing or the stock market. During Stage Two, he loved me deeply, and would even wake me from a sound sleep to profess his adoration. “I’m the luckiest guy, babe,” he’d say. “You’re the woman for me. You understand me.”

And then there was Stage Three.

Somehow between the eighth and tenth beers the most perfect woman on earth inexplicably morphed into a white trash whore who should be eternally grateful to be married to an amazing guy like him. He would sometimes accompany the tirade with a peculiar, and extremely annoying, practice of pouring water on me in bed. Water doesn’t leave a mark, but believe me, it can scar.

Often when events began to unfold like that, I’d leave before the situation got too ugly. But on that night I wanted to sleep in my own bed. I’d already taken my contacts out and wasn’t up to facing a puzzled front desk clerk remarking on the fact that I was checking into a motel three blocks from my house.

I should have left anyway; I should have recognized the new level of aggression, the way he followed me around, pressing his weight into me and shouting, “You can’t control me!” “You fucking bitch!” and other selections from his greatest inebriated hits. He’d never been physically violent, but the behavior that night scared me. I didn’t want to risk what could happen if his mood escalated. Mostly I worried he might accidentally shove me into something or send me flying down the very cellar stairs I’d fantasized about finding his drunken ass at the base of. I thought I was right to call the police. Maybe not.

I listened hard at the top of the stairs, but heard only muffled conversation. What the hell could they be talking about? He’s probably giving them stock tips.

The women finally made their way back upstairs. I half expected them to tell me he’s the greatest guy and I should be thankful to be his wife.

“He’s going to stay down there tonight,” the smaller one reported. “I think he’ll be asleep soon. I doubt you have anything to worry about.” She handed me a card with her name and badge number. “I’ve circled a referral on the back for Project SAFE. They can help you if you need a place to stay. I think you’ll be okay for tonight, but you’ll have the number in case you need it in the future.”

A police officer just gave me a referral to a women’s shelter.

“You know, I have a master’s degree…” I wanted to say. Instead, I took the card and muttered, “Thank you.”
This excerpt shows the “bastard” side. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved him.

Questions? Comments?

26 comments:

Sandi said...

I can't wait to read the whole thing!

Anonymous said...

WOW...I will buy a copy!!

DebraLSchubert said...

Intense. Well written. I was right there with you in the moment. You go, girl, and get that baby self-published! We Blogging Babes will help you get the word out. Cheers! Debbie

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Linda, your book is going to be great. Of course I will be buying at minimum one copy and of course I will be broadcasting to the world that they should read it.

This account of the night you called the police touches home in several ways. I think many women will be able to relate to what you have to share.

Why is it that the ones we love so dearly are the ones that hurt us so painfully?

Lilly said...

I have been wanting to buy your book ever since I think I found you via Roseanne's blog (I think as it was so long ago). You have a great story to tell. so you can count on one sale from me.

Well I was in a violent relationship and like you I used to think no, it cant be happening. I am smart, nice, educated this kind fo thing happens to other people. I guess I chose to be a victim by failing to acknowledge reality and having no self esteem so when he told me it was my fault I believed him. The shock when it happens the first time is hard to describe. I never understood and to this day I dont really get how the dynamics work. I will never judge anyone again as to why they stay in these relationships. Its not that simple. I also have never had anything to do with police before until my time with him. Humiliation is something you get used to. Thats why we keep abusers secrets hidden. My ex never even had alcohol to blame for his anger management problems, more likely he was borderline pathological. Regardless of all the counselling I have had there is still a little part of me that wonders was it me that set him off. Even though I know better that type of control is hard to shake.

The good thing is that I love myself enough never to let anyone cross my boundaries. If I see a red flag I am out of there!

All the best with the self publishing and I will be interested to see how you get on. You have achieved lots already and this one will get done and will be a success. Besides we can all advertise it on our blogs!!!

Linda and her Twaddle said...

Having been brought up in a violent household I think it is vital that women know there is a way out.

Domestic abuse, whether physical or verbal, has no class barriers.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Thanks to all for your support and offers to promote my book through your blogs. Very much appreciated!

@ Lilly: Women often wonder if it's their fault and I've heard comments like, "You must have drove him to drink." Yeah, right.

@ Barbara: I think compassionate people are especially prone to abuse since they see the good in the person and believe he really doesn't mean it. I adored my ex, but I now realize I was more in love with the person I thought he could be than the person who exhibited that behavior.

@ Linda: You're right--there are no class barriers, as we see with so many celebrity cases.

Krissyface said...

I am so excited to read your book. Your story and the choice to self publish is inspiring to me. Also lighting a fire under my lazy ass to get myself writing something about my wack story...

go, Linda, go!!!

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

I'm so anxious to buy a copy (autographed, right?) I know how frustrating it can be to get rejections...my sister and I have counted at least 62 rejections on our kids book. But, if all goes well for you in self publishing....I may be picking your brain. This is going to be a best seller for you! I just know it.

By the way, I listened to your blogradio on procrastination. You and your sister and so cute together...the way you talk back and forth and of course, totally honest too!!

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

I'll be waiting for your book! And I hope any abused women out there will find you too and take heed to your words of experience.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

Anonymous said...

Linda,

I look forward to reading your book.

Michelle

Julie said...

Ugh. It didn't take my ex any beer at all to make that leap from perfect woman to white trash whore about me. He could do it just on a dime.

Like everyone else, I can't wait to read this book. When I see you (in 68 days!) I'm going to steal the manuscript and read while you sleep. LOL

Fragrant Liar said...

Sounds like a poignant and provocative read. I will look forward to seeing you in print.

Anonymous said...

Hi LL,
I'm a jumper from Mikey's blog.
What would it cost to enable your book on kindle?

just a thought.
Good Luck

bdog

travel girl said...

I'll be right there with Jules, reading the manuscript while you sleep.

Did he ever quit drinking?

Vegas Linda Lou said...

@ Chocolate Covered Girlfriend: I'll share everything I can about self-publishing; I'm convinced it's the way to go, at least in this economy. Don't get frustrated about rejections. The publishing houses are in tough shape these days and will go only with known entities; it's not a reflection of the quality of your work.

@ Anonymous jumper from Mikey's blog: I am indeed looking into Kindle. I'll probably have a presence there before the paper version of the book comes out. Thanks for checking out my blog!

@ Travel Girl: Up until last October, Bastard Husband and I were in almost daily contact, even though he's been living in New Zealand since 2004. Now that he knows I've been seeing someone, and quite seriously, I may hear from him once a week or less. I can tell when he's drinking because that's when I get a bunch of emails from him. I can't imagine he'll ever stop drinking; it certainly would be in his best interest if he did, but I don't see it happening. Just my sense.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

P.S. @ Chocolate: Thanks for checking out our Aging Nymphs show on procrastination! It's a topic near and dear to my heart. Anyone who wants to listen to the archive can just click the show title on the right sidebar. The show will start right up.

Ken said...

Linda, Im a first time commenter, I've read your blog a few times here and there. I must admit that I never thought Id read any excerpt from your book, but I actually enjoyed it very much. I actually wanted to read more, and that definitely doesn't happen often since the last book I read was 12+ years ago in college!

I probably dont fit your target demographic profile (35/male/asian), But I wanted to offer my thoughts if it is OK. Have you ever considered changing the name of your book? Just my novice opinion, I never would have gave a second look based on title alone. The title bastard husband conjures these images: bitter, blame everything on husband, complaining, difficult to please woman who isn't over her X. I thought, oh this is just another woman going thru a midlife crisis.

But after reading the excerpt realized it was a great story! Nut Im not so sure I would have read the excerpt based off title alone...Anyways, thats my novice opinion. All the best to you, and I hope everything works out for you.

Ken

Vegas Linda Lou said...

@ Ken: Thank you for reading my blog and thanks even more for commenting! I can't tell you how many times I've reconsidered that title, and for two reasons: 1) the book is more about my post-divorce journey than it actually is about my ex (though certainly reflections on that relationship are threaded throughout) and 2) the title, as you've say, implies bitterness. That said, I've decided to stay with it for one huge reason: the title gets attention. People remember it. It came to me one morning in the pool area of the Ramada Inn in St. George, Utah, where I'd spent the previous night due to an episode like the one in this excerpt. I sat in a lounge chair thinking, "What a bastard, but I love him." That's when I thought I had the makings of a book.

I'm considering offering two different covers. One will look like a plain brown wrapper with no writing on it. That way people can read it on the plane or at the beach and no one will know what they're reading. Gimmicky, I know!

You're right that you're not in the demographic I'm going after, which is women over 40, particularly divorced women. Believe me, they dig that title!

Again, thanks so much for your input. I truly appreciate your taking the time to comment.

CarmenSinCity said...

I love it! I can't wait to read the book. Good for you for going the self publishing route - I am proud of you. When can we buy it?

Hurricane Mikey said...

I'm looking forward to the sequel-- "Bastard Commenter, A Blog Story".

Just don't use my real name in that one. That's all I ask.

Anonymous said...

First time commenting:

You write very well from a womans point of view. As a guy, I have been tempted to haul off and smack my SO from time to time. I know it would be wrong and immoral. I also understand in your situation, problems with alcohol caused your ex to lose his fragile temper.

On the other hand, I often feel that women have a superior fuse that causes men anguish. Men respond differently when they feel threatened. I also think women know exactly what to say to a man to get them angry. Is it safe to say that some women make every effort to cause the most anger in their choidce of words?

Since you are such a good writer, I would be interested in a good Male response to your book.

Regards

ISe

Vegas Linda Lou said...

@ Carmen: I'm thinking it won't take more than a couple of months to have it out there for your reading enjoyment--yay!

@ Mikey: You are so not a bastard.

@ ISe: Thanks for commenting! You have some interesting insights. Rest assured that women have also been tempted to give their SO's a smack, though of course that, too, lies beyond the limits of decent behavior.

I don't know if women have a superior fuse, though we're probably less inclined to resort to violence. I don't think we have the innate warrior nature and we'd most likely get our asses kicked anyway. Maybe that's why we're good at biting with words. But I don't think we make any effort to cause anger in others. Anger is such a drag--why would we want to bring that out in someone?

Vegas Linda Lou said...

P.S. I think it would be FASCINATING for my beloved ex to write his account of the same time period. I wish he would! He writes a lot and could definitely do it. Maybe after my book reaches some level of success he'll come out with his perspective. I'll start nagging him about it now...

Todd said...

Looking -really- forward to the imminent publication. Excerpts like this make me want to read the rest so badly. I also can't help but think about friends I have who were or are in similar situations and the biggest thing I always hear is that they think they're alone. That they're being unreasonable. More people need to see this kind of thing. Not as a self help book but merely as a story. I think people connect better that way.

annie said...

WOW, Linda!
I am so very glad that you made the decision to get this book in print! This IS your year...this is your time to shine.
I can't wait to read it.
Annie