Babies and Books
Or, How I went from being a single, childless actress in Hollywood to a married, momma writer in NY in less than seven years.
A former editor from Putnam hears me read at Spoken Interludes, the reading series that I produce. After I finish, she introduces herself, and says those magic words, "Do you have an agent?"
I sign with an agent. She starts sending my stories out. Hooray! And nervous!
I become a Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady (yes, seeing "Funny Girl" on TV growing up had an affect!) The happiest day of my life.
Joyce Carol Oates reads one of my stories, then faxes my agent a note saying, "a wonderful, idiosyncratic voice and an extremely promising talent." But that she thinks it is a chapter of a novel.Time to re-think!
Taking nine stories I had written about a young woman living in LA (similarities to moi?) as source material, I being writing my first novel. Having only written short fiction for over six years, it feels like finally being able to breathe to have so much space to tell a story.
I finish the first draft of my first novel. Hooray! I call my agent who promptly tells me that she is leaving the publishing world. No hooray! But she has already made some phone calls to other agents for me. Though they have to like me, and I them. Oy, as my mother-in-law would say.
Meet an agent in New York. We have a great meeting. She wants a rewrite, so do I.
Fellow Louisiana-ian Christopher Rice and fellow Southerner Beaty Reynolds (is there a pattern here?) give me notes. Now to tackle them.
Start second draft of novel. And go see my theatrical agent to tell him that I am leaving the business. I loved doing the indie films and TV guest star jobs that I did, but want to devote myself to writing my novel and to running Spoken Interludes and teaching writing to at-risk teens through the outreach program I started. Check out the video about it! Though my agent is upset, a heartbroken mob begging me to return does not appear at my front door, so I figure I made the right move.
Pregnant! And due in mid-January. Hooray! But now I really have to get this book done!
Okay, who says you can't do anything through morning sickness? Not that it was fun…But now I get to decorate the baby's room!
After sending out blind queries to more than fifty agents, five want to rep my new book. I fly to NY to meet all of them, but end up going with the one I met last year. She promises to send out my novel in the new year.
The month my son arrives. If my wedding was the happiest day of my life (and it was), then this is the most miraculous day.
I am now officially a mother—and we are moving to suburbia! And all the way across the country to NY! Despite being horribly sad to leave great friends, gorgeous weather, and the best produce you will ever find in your life—and I'm a vegetarian, so this counts!—I am thrilled to go back to NY.
After hearing little to nothing from my agent about the book, I let her go and contact one of the other agents I had met last year. She jumps right in. Hooray!
My first novel, Aftermath of Dreaming, is bought in a two-book deal by HarperCollins. A dream come true.
After finishing revisions for Aftermath of Dreaming, I start my second novel.
My first novel, Aftermath of Dreaming, goes on sale. Booklist weighs in with "Michel's crisp writing and keen observations make her a writer to watch." And Kirkus calls it "A promising debut" among other reviews. Hooray!
Start my book tour. First stop, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Also read at Duttons and Borders in LA. It is great to be home! And my two-year-old loves the hotel pool. Le Parc —if you ever need a fabulous, but not insanely expensive place to stay in LA. Tell them I told you!
After doing events in Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, my son and I land down in Louisiana. This really is home! Read at Octavia Books in New Orleans, then wake up the next morning with a funny taste in my mouth that I've only had one other time in my life. Uh oh. Could it be?? Yes, I'm pregnant! Call hubby with happy news.
My two-year-old is now an old pro at airports. He whizzes through security with the best of them. After events with Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge; Lemuria in Jackson, Mississippi; and Davis-Kidd in Memphis; we fly home. Only readings in New York; Boston; and Newburyport, Massachusetts to go, and then I can succumb to the morning sickness—when I'm not finishing my second novel. Now I really have a deadline!
I finish my second novel. Hooray!! Working title: Living Secrets (that will change!). My son is due in January of 2007, so lots of time to relax, right?
The month my son arrives. My second son is born at the hospital. But in the elevator! Attending the birth: my son and myself. My husband and a woman I had never seen before and didn't even know she was in there were also present, but they were busy trying to get the elevator to go faster; it wouldn't. I was busy delivering the baby. My son had a great reception when the elevator doors opened and the entire labor/delivery ward staff rushed in. What did we need them for? Truly one of the most thrilling—and easy—events of my life.
The paperback of Aftermath of Dreaming comes out. Josh Getlin of the Los Angeles Times writes "…a promising novelist with a strong literary pedigree…DeLauné Michel's Aftermath of Dreaming is rich in insights." Take three-year-old son, and-four-month old son to LA for events. This is all feeling very familiar! But this time, no surprise news in Louisiana!
After many wonderful choices, we pick the cover for my second novel—and a new and improved title, The Safety of Secrets. Check out a peak behind the scenes of the cover shoot.
Quotes about the new book start coming in. Dani Shapiro says, "Written with tremendous narrative velocity, The Safety of Secrets is almost impossible to put down. DeLauné Michel has crafted a story that manages to be several things at once: a hilarious inside look at Hollywood, a nuanced portrait of a friendship and its secrets, and a moving testament to the powerful effects of a destructive mother." Also weighing in: Jill Davis, Cathleen Schine, Merrill Markoe, Peter Biskind, and Warren Leight.
Check them all out at www.delaunemichel.com.
Number Three: Book, Not Baby! I start my new book. My husband asks me how I'm going to write a book without morning sickness or a baby's due date for a deadline. I tell him that I'll manage somehow.