Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's hiding in Juliette Fay's drawer....plus a book giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

Today we welcome Juliette Fay and her latest novel, The Shortest Way Home. Juliette's won the 2009 Massachusetts Book Award Book of the Year for her first novel, Shelter Me. Her second novel, Deep Down True, was short-listed for the Women's Fiction Award by the American Library Association. She received a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a master's degree from Harvard University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children.

To learn more about Juliette, visit her website, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Thanks to FSB Associates, we have two copies of The Shortest Way Home to give away to some lucky readers anywhere in the US and/or Canada.


A Book in The Drawer . . . Right Where It Should Be
By Juliette Fay

I have a book in the drawer. Okay, it's not in an actual drawer. It's in a box with old tax documentation under my fax/scanner. I also have electronic copies stashed in several places. Not that it matters. It will never see the light of day.
The Book in the Drawer is a phrase I've heard often from other authors, nearly proverbial in its usage. It's the practice novel, the one that never got published. If a fiction-writers bible were ever to be written, the psalms might include the following lamentation:

Oh, Lord, have mercy on my wretchedness.
I have been cast out into the wilderness of time wastage.
I have put my pen to many a parchment,
Pages that speak from the depths of my soul,
And yet my toil has been for naught!
Alas, my Book is in The Drawer.


(Woeful sigh.)

I wrote my drawer novel out of aggravation. I had just read a remarkably bad book. The only thing I liked about it was the premise: two people trapped in an elevator. (She was beautiful, he was handsome. Of course. Yawn.) I found myself wondering, What would I do with that for a starting point? Who would I put in that elevator?
I decided that the man had just come from a family barbecue at which his siblings had skewered him for being selfish. The woman was a recovering alcoholic with an unmedicated anxiety disorder. The elevator got stuck between floors during a power outage, and the woman had a panic attack and peed her pants.
I called it The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society. It took me a year to write. In the end, the best thing about it was the title, which I still really love.
And it almost got published! I had an agent and everything. (He completely ignored me then shunted me off to some 24-year-old "associate" who clearly hated me and my book. After a couple of painful months they decided it was unpublishable, notifying me by registered letter. I am not making this up. Seriously, they couldn't have picked up the phone?)
I was in a state of ocean-floor level misery until I remembered how much I truly loathed and was slightly afraid of the both of them. Also, in the year that I had been trying desperately to get an agent, then waiting for them to find a publisher, I had written another novel, Shelter Me, and I knew it was better than The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society, except for the title, which, let's face it, is hard to beat.
Shelter Me was soon repped by Theresa Park of The Park Literary Group, my second -- and as far as I'm concerned, final -- agent, whom I love. After she got Shelter Me sold to HarperCollins, I asked her to read The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society. She was not enthusiastic -- didn't even think it could be fixed -- so I left it in The Drawer (so to speak) and turned my efforts toward the new story I was working on which became Deep Down True.
There are three things I'm grateful for regarding The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society:

1. That I completed it. Before that I truly had no idea if I could take a story from the bunch of stray thoughts to a full-length novel with a recognizable beginning, middle and end. It allowed me to put an official check mark next to something I'd always had on my bucket list: write a novel. Not write a bestseller or even get published. Just put the words on paper from start to finish.

2. That it's in The Drawer. For a while I had a hard time with the fact that I'd spent an entire year writing something that would never see the light of day. After I finishedDeep Down True, I went back to see if I couldn't -- oh, how foolishly -- prove my agent wrong by buffing it to a publishable state. I couldn't. It was not good. And if it had been published, I would be embarrassed by it now. It was a practice novel, pure and simple.

The third reason is a little surprising. My father read and loved The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society when I first wrote it. Along with being an adoring and completely biased parent, he's also a psychologist who often sees clients with phobias.
A couple of months ago, he was helping a client with incapacitating claustrophobia -- especially in elevators. Her father was very ill and being treated on the twelfth floor of Massachusetts General Hospital. She desperately wanted to visit him, but not being in great health herself, she couldn't walk up twelve floors. My father went with her to help her get through the elevator ride. As they waited on the ground floor, she became terribly anxious, and he thought she might not be able to visit her dad.
He later told me, "I wanted to distract her, so I started telling the story of The Hyperventilating Pants-Wetter Society. By the time the elevator came she was laughing, so I kept going. When we got to the twelfth floor she couldn't believe the ride was over so fast."
Thus, 3. That it helped someone. You could look at a book in a drawer as a year's worth of work for nothing, and in some sense you'd be right. But when I remember that mine also helped an ailing man get a visit from his daughter, my frustration is reduced to almost nothing.

Thanks to Juliette for enlightening and inspiring everyone and to FSB Associates for sharing The Shortest Way Home with our readers.

How to win The Shortest Way Home:
Tell us about something you keep hidden away but can't bear to throw out (a story, an old letter, something from your school years, etc.).

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends November 12th at midnight EST

38 comments:

The Every Free Chance Reader said...

I don't know that I keep anything hidden away...I have a box of ribbons, momentos, etc that I have in my closet...not hidden but not open for all to see. (Not exciting either. LOL)

everyfreechance@gmail.com

Ingeborg said...

I have a box of letters my mom wrote to me through the years. She lived in Australia and passed away in 2004. I sometimes read them because they were full of humor, she was very funny.

Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

A Novel Review said...

I have a copy of THE PEPPER, it was our high school newspaper. It was it's first edition and I had written one of the top stories. I was super proud of it. I have it in an upstairs box of things I'm proud of :D

Laura Kay
anovelreview(@)yahoo(.)com

Margaret Literary Chanteuse said...

I keep all my old lyric sheets. Even though I'm not singing any of those songs with a band anymore I just can't part with them.

Margaret
singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

Stephanie said...

I still keep a friendship bracelet from my best friend in grade school.


Skk25@aol.com

Jessica said...

I have Regis Philbin's autograph and I will never get rid of it!

Thanks!
-Jessica M
walkingcorpse11@hotmail.com

Nova said...

Sparkle40175@hotmail.com
I have my senior Tshirt with all my classmates names on it : too small for me now but can't get rid of it! :)

JennD said...

i still have the shirt I wore on my first date with my husband.
I will never fit into again, yet I cant get rid of it!

jmndowning@gmail.com

Carol N Wong said...

I have a box of letters from my mother and father to each other during World War II in an old leather suitcase.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

gail said...

I have kept all these years a letter written to me from my first love, who I consider the love of my life. It is hidden away, but it will never be thrown away. Gail at mcellen2006@gmail.com20

Sharn3960 said...

Gross I know - my baby teeth. My mom kept them and gave them to me when I was an adult. I have no use for them but can't throw them away either.

That and positive pregnancy tests - again - gross, I know.

sharn3960 AT comcast DOT net

rhonda said...

The first ring my husband gave me just plastic but it was first freinship ring soon replaced by engagement. Ring this time the real thing.Lomazowr@gmail.com.

Bonnie K. said...

I still have a clip of my baby's hair that my mother saved and gave to me when I became an adult. Not hidden and something I can't throw away. I've kept many correspondences from old boyfriends just because they were good writers. Unfortunately, I gave away precious letters from one old boyfriend because I sensed my husband's jealousy---wished I still had them.

bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

Erica said...

I keep a plastic charm from my biggest crush in college. We were good friends but I always wanted more.

wordywon at gmail dot com

I follow on GFC, twitter, email

Jilleen said...

My sorority pledge book and letters from my mom while I was in college (before internet and long distance phone calls were expensive!).

Thanks for the great giveaway.

Jill at Seaside Book Nook

seasidebooknook at yahoo

Tia Dalley said...

I have my blanket from when I was a child. It has been loved so much that it is threadbare. But it has been with me when I gave birth to my children, and even on my honeymoon. I keep it hidden except for special occasions. I would never get rid of it. I told my husband I want to be buried with it. Yes, It's true I am weird!

Tia Dalley said...

OOPS forgot ....my email is videoclimber(at)yahoo(dot)com...Sorry!

Krystal Lynn said...

I have a baby shirt from 1985 with my name on the back of it. I was a small baby so it's tiny. I also have a cabbage patch doll that I refuse to get rid of. Tried to once and couldn't do it!

miss_kris_11 (at) yahoo (dot) com

susieqlaw said...

Old journals

Sendsusanmail AT gmail DOTCOM

Anita Yancey said...

I have a stack of old letters that my husband wrote to me while he was in the army and sent to far away places, that I can't bare to throw away. I have had some of them for 33 years. Thanks for having the giveaway.

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

pascale said...

I keep a couple of letters I wrote to my children the first time I left them for an extended time.

pascale.poitras@verizon.net

Susan @ The Book Bag said...

I have all the little notes and drawings that I got from my husband when we were dating. I am pretty sure if I showed them to our children, they would be surprised to see that side of their dad.

suzebomb(at)gmail.com

karenk said...

i have a collection of cards...

thanks for the chance to read julie's latest novel

i'm a follower, too

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I still have my old diaries from when I was a teenager
marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

Sunnie said...

I have my grandmother's prayer book...a very special momentum from her.

sunniefenk@hotmail.com

Bridget O'Neill said...

My baby blanket that my grandma made me. She passed away 24 years ago, and I plan to pass it on to my daughter, and hope that she passes it on to her children!

bjoneill@hotmail.com

Jeryl M. said...

I have all my old diaries from the time I was 17.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

rubynreba said...

I have some of my old baby clothes. Don't know what I'll ever do with them but I can't get rid of them!!

pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Lindsey Coolidge said...

I have old notes from friends from elementary school.
lcoolidge8@yahoo.com

Maureen said...

I have a lot of my kids drawings and projects from when they were little but I need to pick only a few.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Kim W. said...

My positive pregnancy tests (yuck, I know) and my baby bracelets/ID tags from the hospital. Hair from their first hair cuts too!

kewalker1972@gmail.com

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I keep every bookmark I ever get, no matter how silly!
Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

Tiffany Drew said...

I have an old stuffed McGruff the Crime Dog that was given to my daughter years ago by my grandmother before she died. My siblings/cousins and I played with it as kids and loved it. Even though it technically belongs to my daughter, I can't bare to let it out of my hands. I know I will pass it on to her later though when she is older and more able to appreciate it.

jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

Leah said...

In addition to my first Teddy Bear and my Raggedy Ann doll I had as a child, I also have the pink dress I wore on my first birthday. I have many pictures (black and white) from that day of my parents and me wearing the dress that it's nice to have the actual dress. I think it's what started my love of pink and all things girly.

Leah
lae3567@yahoo.com

Dolly said...

I have several of the things others have listed (school ribbons, bookmarks, Raggedy Ann, etc), but what I keep and can't bear to part with is my late husband's wallet. Of no earthy use to anyone, and it can't be wrested from my hands.

jcsites2002 at hotmail dot com

StereoQueenBee said...

I have far too many things hidden away. I wouldn`t say I am a packrat but I love mementos! I keep them in storage at my parents, kind of sad, no?

queenofcrunk@gmail.com

faithspage said...

I have a stuffed animal my grandfather gave me when I was 5, it's not hidden but it is put away

kyfaithw at aol dot com

Melissa said...

Thanks to everyone for participating and sharing what is hidden in your drawers and closets. Lots of fun mementoes. The positive pregnancy tests stood out to me the most. I save my kids' old hearing aid ear molds, so talk about being sentimental!

Random.org chose from all entries with contact info (one per person).

Congrats to Margaret Literary Chanteuse and pascale!