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Trey vs. The Recovery (How I Got a Book Deal, Part III)

When last we left our (kind-of) hero, things looked…well, grim. To be honest, “shitty” might be more appropriate. A brief summary for those of you who didn’t read Part I or Part II of How I Got a Book Deal: Editor said yes, publisher said no, Trey wailed “Noooooo!” like William Shatner yells “Khaaaaan!”, then Trey’s heart said “AAAARGGGGGH.”

ICU Trey.jpg

The clueless author, before he learned it wasn't just heat exhaustion


In what should be one of the least suspenseful plot reveals in history: I survived.

No coma, no over-enthusiastic plug-pulling by my mother, no death on the table—just a terrified dude on a gurney with a heart re-wired like the Griswold’s Christmas lights. I was thrilled to be alive, however… I was slightly less thrilled at my physical state. In literally a single day, I morphed from an athlete able to lift more than double his body weight, into an invalid barely able to lift a fully-loaded FORK. The day of the attack, I’d run 400 meters while carrying a 45-lb. weight. The day after the surgery, my big accomplishment was STANDING.

Humility, thy name is heart surgery.

The next month was transformational (and deserves a blog entry of its own) in many ways, both physical and mental—without question, the most difficult period of my life. All I could focus on was pain, fatigue, and WHERE THE HELL IS THE VICODIN? But slowly, as my body healed, the old me started to resurface…the cynical smart-ass who had come this close to selling a novel. The guy who’d had no clue how to attack the daunting pile of edits necessary to resubmit the book to Simon & Schuster.

By the time month two of recovery rolled around, that guy STILL didn’t know what to do or where to begin, but as my grueling physical therapy regimen began…something changed. I realized the heart attack, albeit a complete and utter Festival of Suckage, was also sort of a <gulp> gift. The gift of perspective.

Where I once saw an insurmountable obstacle, I now found myself saying, “Well, shit. Might as well give it a try. It’s not like it’s gonna KILL me.” So roughly two full months after the surgery—three months since the Simon-and-Schuster-Nut-Punch—I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I bounced some ideas off my author pals Ara Grigorian and Chase Moore (generous, kind men who for some strange reason, never shy away from lending a hand on any project) and slowly began to build a strategy for tearing up the novel and rebuilding it. Better. Stronger. Faster. (Anyone born before 1970 will understand the reference.)

A book that I considered written in stone was quickly reduced to rubble—over the course of the next two months, I rewrote 10% of the narrative, moved chapters, deleted others. On December 2nd, 2013, almost four full months after the surgery, I forwarded what was then called “Aphrodite Way” to Margaret, my overly-patient agent, under the subject header “Don’t die of shock” (she’d been begging for the finished product for many weeks). To my delight, she did NOT reply with “This is an unmitigated pile of cow dung. Never contact me again.” She loved it, and within days, we sent it back to S&S.

At that point, I fully expected to be rejected, mostly because I assumed they’d moved on to bigger and better things. When Jon, the editor I’d dealt with before, replied to the manuscript with a sedate, “Great, give me until after the holidays and I’ll give it a look,” I was nervous, but hardly the wreck I would have been pre-heart-attack. A month passed by, and I began steeling myself for the inevitable call from Margaret—“we need to start targeting smaller publishers.” Instead, a glimmer of hope—an email from Jon:

“Changes look good. Give me a couple of days and I should have some news for you.”

Seldom has a two-sentence email had so much impact. The dream LIVES! But…the deep-testicle-ache from the last go-around with S&S was still uncomfortably fresh in my mind, so I held my breath and waited for the inevitable rejection to come.

It never did.

I leave you with the Facebook post which announced the wonderful news I received that day:

It’s official, so I finally get to write the Facebook post I’ve wanted to write for the last five years...Simon & Schuster has purchased my first novel. It’ll be released in October of 2014, when I expect all my friends to buy a copy, or potentially several, because it’ll make a good gift. :) Thanks to everyone who has helped along the way—this has been a helluva journey thus far, and I’m sure it’ll get even cooler as the future unfolds. And to anybody who thought I was insane back when I quit my sales job to chase an impossible dream, I respectfully say:

Sometimes the impossible…happens.

PS: Suuuuuuuuck it.

Trey and Steph - Zoo3.jpg

The slightly-more-clued-in author, 45 days after surgery

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