Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Lonely Manuscript Club
by Brenda Janowitz

OCTOBER, 2013:  FABULOUS NEW UPDATE!  THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB HAS BEEN SOLD TO JASON PINTER, FOUNDER AND PUBLISHER OF POLIS BOOKS!  THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB WILL BE RELEASED BY POLIS BOOKS IN WINTER 2014.

This cycle we're talking about books that never saw the light of day. Yes, we published novelists have drawers full of them-- novels that never got finished, never got sold, never got read.

So, today, I'm sharing the first chapter of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, a novel I pitched, but never sold. I really loved this character and the idea of the book-- it's about a woman who unknowingly starts a big anti-love movement-- but no editors did. Which is sort of a problem if you want to sell something. Anyway, this one still holds a special place in my heart, so here goes:


THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB

By Brenda Janowitz


Money for nothing


“Jo, you’re fired,” he says.  Just like that.  Fired.  And I’m utterly shocked.  I know that no one ever expects to be fired, but I really didn’t see this coming.  I find myself with my mouth wide open, just staring back at him. 
            “Fired?” is all I can choke out.  The room begins to spin.  That may be because I was out until sunrise last night drinking vodka tonics at an underground club in Williamsburg, but I’m pretty sure that it’s the news that’s doing it to me, not the hangover.
            “Yes, I’m sorry, Jo, but it’s not working out here,” he says.  His skin is gleaming when he says it.  His skin always gleams.  He’s a dermatologist, so it has to gleam in order for him to stay in business.  My skin doesn’t ever gleam.  At the very most, it shines and turns red when I get hot or embarrassed.  I feel it beginning to shine and my hand immediately flies to my cheek, which, of course, only makes it get hotter.
We are in his office when he tells me and he is sitting at his desk, his head framed by his many diplomas and awards that are hung on the wall behind him.  They are, as they are always, shining brightly as if they’d been dusted and cleaned that very morning.  I look at the picture that he keeps framed at the edge of his desk—a photograph of his family taken at a New Year’s Eve party for the year 2000, framed in a sterling silver picture frame that his wife lovingly picked out for their thirtieth wedding anniversary—and then look back up at him. 
            “You can’t fire me,” I say, which I wholeheartedly believe.  I really didn’t think that he ever would or could fire me.
            “I can,” he says, “and I am.”  He begins to toy with one of the pens sitting on his desk. 
            “I’m your best employee!” I plead.
            “You wore a ‘Save CBGBs’ T shirt to work,” he says.
            “CBGBs was a New York institution,” I say.  He gives me a blank stare.  I shrug in response.  Is it my fault that this man has no sense of culture?  Of history?  “What does it matter what I wear under my assistant’s coat anyway?”
            “People can see the prints on your T shirts right through the fabric,” he says.  “And sometimes you wear ones with dirty words on them,” he continues, whispering the ‘dirty words’ part as if his grandmother is somehow listening from up above and would be appalled by this particular bit of information.  “Jo, it’s not just the T shirts.  You’ve called in the wrong prescriptions for my patients more times than I’d like to admit.”
            “Some of those drugs have very complicated names,” I say in my own defense.  And for the record, they do.
            “That doesn’t mean you can give a patient a more pronounceable drug without consulting me first.”
            “Then maybe you and your colleagues should start prescribing more pronounceable drugs,” I argue.  He furrows his brow in response.  “But, I’m your favorite employee!” I plead.
            “You balanced the company checkbook wrong the last three out of four quarters.”
“You know that I’m not an accountant.”  When he hired me for the job two years ago, I knew that there would be some accounting involved.  What I hadn’t realized at the time was that I would have to be quite so specific with the numbers.  Which is a challenge for me seeing as I’m really more of a right brain kind of person.
“But, you know how to balance your own checkbook, don’t you?” he says.
For the record, I don’t.
“Of course I know how to balance my own checkbook,” I laugh, as if to say, ‘Doesn’t everybody?’  “A business checkbook is much, much different than a personal checkbook,” I explain. 
For the record, it’s not.
“I’m your most loyal employee,” I say.  My last resort.  I find myself alternating between staring into his solid gold monogrammed Tiffany belt buckle and his shellacked black hair because I can’t meet his eyes.
            “This is difficult for me, too, you know,” he says, even though I know that it’s not. 
“Do you realize how embarrassing this is going to be for me?” I say as my last resort.
“I thought you don’t get embarrassed,” he replies, looking into my eyes, challenging me.
“I don’t,” I say, frowning like a little girl who hasn’t gotten the piece of candy that she wanted.   
            “Don’t take this personally, Pumpkin.”
            “You can’t call me Pumpkin when you’re firing me, Daddy.” 
#
Thanks so much for reading!  I hope you enjoyed Chapter One.  If you'd like to read more, I've got Chapter Two up on my blog today.

I’m the author of SCOT ON THE ROCKS and JACK WITH A TWIST. (And, ahem, the very unpublished THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB.) My third novel, RECIPE FOR A HAPPY LIFE, will be published by St. Martin's in 2013. My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly. You can find me at brendajanowitz.com or on Twitter at @BrendaJanowitz.

25 comments:

  1. Brenda, that's such a cute opening--why weren't they falling over themselves??

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    1. Thanks, Lucy! I totally appreciate that!! I don't know why?! We were trying to get this out there as publishing peeps were proclaiming chick lit was dead. The feeling was that this was too chick-lity. :(

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  2. A grabber,for sure! I love what a screw-up she is ... and the surprise at the end. Maybe you'll be able to resurrect this one day. xx

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    1. Thanks, Ellen!! I really fell in love with this heroine, too!

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  3. Lonely no more, indeed - great opening!

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    1. I so appreciate that, Lauren! This was one of those openings that I just wrote very quickly. Sometimes those are the best, I think.

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  4. Love it, Brenda!! Terrific opening! Great grabber at the end!

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    1. Thanks, Laura!! I do like a first chapter with a bit of a kick! :)

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  5. This is so cute! I loved it. What were the objections?

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    1. Thanks, Karin!! The main objection, as I was telling Lucy, was that it was chick lit. And I HATE that because I know that there are so many readers out there who want chick lit!

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    1. Thank you, Meredith! Thanks so much for visiting and reading!!

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  7. Publish it yourself! It looks like a winner.

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    1. I have thought about that, Judith! But I am, ahem, how should I put it, um... totally scared to do that!! I haven't jumped on to the e-pub train yet, but if I did, this is the one I'd e-pub.

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  8. This is terrific, Brenda, and a lot of fun! Thanks for sharring it.

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    1. Ahh, can't type today, LOL. "Sharing" :).

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    2. Thanks, Marilyn!! So glad you liked it.

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  9. What a fun idea - and I agree - what a hooky (is that a word?) first chapter.

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    1. Thanks, Amy! Can't wait to see yours!!

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  10. Nice twist. If you ever want to talk about epublishing, you got some girlfriends who have answers :)

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  11. Thanks, Ariella!! I may be taking you up on that offer!!

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  12. Aw, what a fun beginning! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Maria! I'm so glad you liked it!!

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  13. Loved this! And WTH is the deal with pubs not wanting "chick lit"? And do they label "guy lit"?

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    1. Thank you, Christa! I know!!! Why do we get pigeonholed like that??

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