Ten or eleven or so years ago, I went to work for Rebecca Pratt at her eponymous agency. I wrote, worked with clients, did all the things that agents do–except sell stuff. Then about five years ago, I bumped into Dick Baran, with whom I taught at Wheeling High School for many years until he left to pursue other things with the help of a buyout from the district we worked for. I saw him occasionally, and I was always glad when I did, because he’s the guy who got me going on my doctorate at Vanderbilt. He finished his doctorate at about the same time I started on mine, CA mid eighties, and I finished in 1990.
I saw Dick at faculty reunion things over the years and knew that he’d been writing, but didn’t really do much about it. Then, I found out that he was unhappy with his agent, and offered to help–we wound up working together as partners in the Pratt Agency. Since then he sold three of my books, I’ve sold a couple of his, and today we stepped into a new area as I submitted a manuscript to Tyndale, a Christian house in Carol Stream, about ten miles from here. Here’s hoping.
Anyway, I’ve sold a couple of his books. The first one came under really neat circumstances. I’d sold a couple of books to Total Recall in Fairview, TX, and suggested that they look at one of Dick’s, a really nice one called The Jacket. Bruce called me and told me he wanted it, and I immediately called young Richard.
In the meantime, Dick was having a meltdown. He was sick and tired of a half century of writing and then getting rejected by publisher after publisher. On this particular morning, he stood up from his computer, walked out into the kitchen of his house and said to Carol, his (significantly) better half, “That’s it. I’m not writing another word.” Out he went for a walk, went down to church, got a cup of coffee and came home.
When he walked in, Carol said, “Jeff called. He sold your book.” A deep, profound silence settled in. Then he called me. “Jeff,” he said. “Don’t jerk my chain. I’m in no mood…” I said, “No chain jerking. You’re a published novelist.”
A nice day, and a nice memory for da boat of us. Walk with the King.