Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Undie Woes!

Is it all underwear in general, or just mine, that doesn’t seem to make it to its destination? Every time I order some, it seems to go astray.

First it was the great Spanx debacle. Fed Ex lost my undies and I had to go lumpy to my daughter’s wedding. To make matters worse, since the lovely black Spanx did not arrive, I wore what I had, which happened to be white. I didn’t think it would show through the black dress, but in every photo where the sun was bright or the flash was right I look like I have two blazing headlights! Today, a month after the fact, I get a call from Fed Ex wanting to know if my package ever arrived and if my issues had been resolved. You really don’t want to know how I responded to that question.

Not yet having my fill of delivery woes, I ordered a couple shirts and bras a week ago. They shipped UPS on the 16th. When I got the e-mail notification of shipping, I checked the UPS tracking for the package. It stated that the destination was closed when they attempted to deliver on Friday. So I just thought it was because no one was home, but didn’t quite understand why they didn’t leave the package on the front porch as usual. After all, it was shirts and bras, not gold bars. I was also surprised that they didn’t leave an info-note…telling me to expect another attempt.

I had Mom keep an eye out on Monday, but there was no delivery activity. When I got home, I checked the tracking. It said a second attempt was made, but was unsuccessful. Now I was really concerned. So I called UPS. I was told that the sender had specified that the package be delivered to the post office for delivery. Evidently, they are saving money by making a single post office drop for an area or some such thing. I asked for a USPS tracking number, and they gave me one.

Unfortunately, the USPS website could not find any such number. Likely because they didn’t yet have the package. So on Tuesday morning, I headed to the post office to see if they could locate my stuff. Well, they said. In the infinite wisdom of the US Postal Service, the Perry office has been downgraded to a service station with minimum staff and no mail carriers. All the mail is being shipped in from Cleveland, drives past Perry, gets dropped at Madison, sorted, and then the carriers deliver it back to Perry from there. Because they have no carriers, as of two weeks ago, they can’t accept packages from UPS because there is no one to deliver them. Therefore, they refused the package, once on Friday the 17th, and again on Monday the 20th. In all fairness, they informed the driver of the situation and told him he had to go to the Madison Post Office, both times.

I called UPS back and explained to the nice but not so bright woman who answered the phone that my package had been refused by the post office and why. She said that I should not worry because it would be delivered to my post office. The shipper had said to deliver to my local post office and if the truck got there and they told him to go to another post office he would. I reminded her that they had done that and yet UPS attempted to deliver the package to the Perry P.O. a second time. I was told not to worry, that the driver would take it to the correct P.O. I asked where the package was right now, and was told it was on the truck for delivery to the P.O. I asked which one and she gave me the address of the Perry P.O. So I said, “You make four attempts and then return the package to sender, right? Well when the truck gets to that address, they will be making a third attempt at the same place they refused the package the first two times!” I asked if they could hold the package in Austinburg at the hub and was told no, that she had no way of doing that.
My next call was to Congressman LaTourette’s office to register a complaint that his office had done nothing to prevent this situation with our local post office in spite of a serious phone and e-mail campaign by the residents to stop it from happening. As I told the nice young man who answered the phone, I could understand downsizing a rural post office like Thompson where it is mostly farmland and sparsely populated. But every time I go into the Perry P.O. I have to stand in line and wait. It is a populated and growing area and a constantly used P.O.
When I got home tonight I once again checked the UPS tracking. It stated that my package had been delivered to the P.O. It neglected to inform me which one. USPS tracking confirms that the package is now in Madison. If I am lucky, I will get it tomorrow. If the Perry P.O. had not been downgraded, I would have had it last Saturday.
In all the on-line purchasing I’ve done over the years, these two incidences are the only ones where there have been issues with delivery, and both orders included underwear. I get the feeling God is trying to tell me something. I don’t quite know what it is, but I am pretty darn sure he is not telling me to stop wearing underwear!

Monday, June 13, 2011

R.I.P. Jesse Blount, Friend and Agent

Around the beginning of May, just as the ticking time bomb of wedding preparations was threatening to cause a meltdown, I learned, quite by accident, that my literary agent had died in the middle of March and no one had informed me. I had sent him an e-mail and when he didn’t respond in a week or two, I called. Rather than hearing his booming James Earl Jones voice telling me to leave a message, I was connected to a female voice informing me that the number was no longer in service.

Knowing that Jesse had been suffering some serious health issues in the previous year, I typed his name and “obituary” into Google and was horrified when his obituary popped up on the list.

Talk about rocking a writer’s world. Jesse was a really great guy. We had many long conversations over the two years that he represented my work. He was a deep thinker and a true writer’s agent with a phenomenal grasp of vocabulary and nuance. He also had a terrific sense of humor. He lived in California, but he was a native of Cleveland and often threatened to make the trip home so that I could escort him on a tour of the Northeast Ohio wineries. I miss his keen wit and his illuminating correspondence.

But his passing has left me with unanswered questions and much uncertainty. Jesse was an independent agent, not with an agency. There is no one, not even a secretary, to pick up the standard and carry on. Coupled with the fact that he was gone for six weeks before I found out about it, and two more weeks before I was able to track down and contact his son, too much time and many of his records have been lost.

I was given the name of one of his friends who is mining his computer for information, and we talked several weeks back, but he has yet to get back to me with any information of any kind.

I do not know:
1.) What publishers are in possession of the current manscript
2.) What publishers responded with rejections
3.) Who Jesse was in contact with regarding the manuscript
4.) If Jesse was in negotiations with anyone

It is a bit hard to pick up where he left off or to let another agent know what avenues he was working when I have no information to impart.

The only think I am absolutely certain of is that our contract became void at the time of his death.

I have decisions to make, and I will be making them in a most uninformed fashion, because I need to get the book out there for it to do any good for anyone.

I am loathe to spend another 2-3 years sending queries to agents, hoping to snag one, and then wait for them to send even more years of queries to publishers on my behalf (Jesse had not succeeded in getting a bite in two years, that I know of).

I am also loathe to spend 2-3 years sending my own queries to the limited number of publishers presently accepting unagented material. The state of the industry is such that it seems a particular waste of my time.

I could e-publish on Nook and Kindle but marketing is still a huge issue. The fact is that this book is not going to appeal to the masses. It has to strike a chord with the reader.

I could self-publish, but funds are lacking.

I could forget the whole thing.

I was toying with the idea of commercial publishing…using space in the book to advertise certain products that would be of interest to those buying the book, but I was advised by a very wise businessman that large corporations take almost as long if not longer to make a decision about something like this than the long road to traditional publishing.

A lot of heavy-duty pondering and out-of-the-box thinking is now being done in an effort to decide how to proceed. In the meantime, I am doing some minor rewrites and edits and getting the manuscript polished up for whatever its fate may be.

Darn it, Jesse...I miss you!