June 26, 2014

Power to Burn

I hurried down through the lobby to the elevators. It was quiet on the floor—everyone was power lunching. I was surprised William was even in the office. I knew he wanted to see where we were at with the offer for The Five, and I was dreading having to tell him that only one editor had read it thus far—and that that editor was Frank, no less. Frank and William do not mesh.

I was thinking about how to spin the situation to William when I stepped into his office and my breath caught in my throat. Howie was sitting on the white leather sofa in the corner—next to CWA’s CFO, Kevin Holtzbrook, wearing his signature custom made Tom Ford suit.

“Mr. Holtzbrook,” I stuttered. “Hi.”

He gave me a polite smile and said hello.

“Hi, Josie,” Howie said, her voice sickly-sweet.

“Hi, Howie,” I said, and forced a bright smile onto my face. Everything was fine! Everything was under control! I could feel William’s eyes, boring into the side of my face.

“Josie,” William said, pleasantly, “Kevin was just stopping by to see where we stand on the offer for The Five.” He widened his eyes at me, and I caught his drift. Make up something good.

“Of course!” I said, chipper as the captain of the cheerleading squad. “This manuscript has generated a lot of interest. Editors are clamoring to get their hands on it! I knew that would be the case from page one.” I shot a pointed look at Howie. “Howie knows I skipped lunch to finish it! It’s why she was so eager to get her hands on it too.”

Howie wrinkled her nose at me, like I was the cutest puppy at the kennel. “It was such a great read and I just knew Denise would fall in love with it.” She turned to Mr. Holtzbrook. “She’s an old family friend. The last time I saw her she mentioned she was looking for fresh new talent, and I thought of her immediately when I read The Five.”

So that was Howie’s connection. I swallowed, nervously. Old family friend bond trumps former boss bond every time. Even if Frank came back with a better offer, Denise could come back with an even higher one.

“I admit I’m slightly confused as to why you wouldn’t just put Josie in touch with Denise, since she is our literary contact here,” Mr. Holtzbrook said, and I wanted to high five that man. I didn’t want to be the one to point it out, but Howie had violated the CWA code that says you must “Always call in before you call out.” The policy is basically shorthand for saying that you should loop in all invested colleagues before you make any moves with the outside world. For instance, CWA’s multimedia deals are a prime source of revenue for the company, but a client’s point agent doesn’t handle business across all platforms. Say a musician wants to act or write a book, the musician’s music agent, AKA her point agent, would reach out to a talent agent and a lit agent to help arrange those deals. The point agent would then step back and let his colleagues handle it from there, but his colleagues would be expected to keep him abreast of all the details of the deal—before anything went down.

Likewise, Howie should have told me she had a contact in the publishing world before she reached out to her. The entertainment industry is full of untrustworthy shadeballs, and CWA prides itself on its foundation of transparency, communication, and integrity—none of which were qualities Howie displayed by going behind my back the way she did.

But, at the end of the day, if Howie earned the company money and I didn’t, that was far more important than our moral code. And that was the reason I hadn’t made a stink about Howie’s breach, because it could have been misconstrued as a ploy to take take the heat off me, and quite frankly, irrelevant. I’d gain more respect from the partners for fixing the issue, not complaining about it.

“I was just so excited about the book that I suppose I had a lapse in judgement in regards to protocol,” Howie said to Mr. Holtzbrook, apologetically. I caught William roll his eyes.

“We are all so excited about this book,” I added. “It’s got heat. Which is why I think we can do better than the initial pre-empt.” I started to rattle off the names of the editors I’d emailed, but Mr. Holtzbrook stopped me. “Has anyone actually made an offer?” he asked.

I glanced at William, and he nodded at me to go on. “We expect to have a few on the table by the end of the week.”

“I, for one, would love it if a better offer came in,” Howie said, generously. She was so full of shit I didn’t know how Mr. Holtzbrook couldn’t see through her act. “But the Little, Brown pre-empt is only on the table until the end of the day today, and I just don’t want to see that expire, and then what if these other ‘interested parties’—she arched an eyebrow at me suspiciously— “don’t come through?”

“It’s only noon,” William said. “I say we”—

He stopped talking because my phone began to ring. I fumbled to silence it, but stopped when I saw who was calling me. It was Frank.

I held up my phone. “This is the editor from Literatti calling me right now. Excuse me please.”

I stepped outside of William’s office. My hands were trembling as I shut his door behind me and ducked into an empty cubicle. Have something good for me. Have something good for me, I thought as I picked up. “That was fast!” I said, lightly. The first rule of agenting—never let your nerves show.

“I know a good thing when I see it,” Frank said. “How does $500,000 sound?”

Like a goddamn Christmas miracle, I thought, squeezing my eyes shut and pumping my fist in the air, victoriously. I took a deep breath to compose myself before answering. “Can I get that in writing?”

Frank promised to email me the offer and I promised I would get back to him within the hour, after I’d run the details of the deal by William and Richard. I hung up the phone and mouthed, Yes! Yes! Yes! over and over while doing a little victory dance. I froze, mid-air hump, when the door to William’s office opened. Howie was standing there, glaring at me.

“Any day now,” she hissed.

I cleared my throat and straightened out my dress. “Coming,” I said. I was going to enjoy this.

I brushed past Howie and waited for her to close the door. “I have good news,” I said, proudly. “Literatti wants The Five. For half a million dollars.”

William clapped his hands together and let out a loud guffaw. Mr. Holtzbrook tipped his head at me. “That’s fantastic, Josie.”

I wanted to play it cool, but I couldn’t stop the grin as it spread across my face.

“Well, that is fantastic news,” Howie said through her teeth. “But I’d love to go back to Denise and see if she can do better.”

Mr. Holtzbrook raised his hands in the air. “By all means. See what Denise can do. But I have a feeling she’s going to have to step out of the ring at this point.”

Howie seemed to be holding onto her smile with every fiber in her body. “Worth a try,” she said.

“Well, touch base at the end of the day,” William said. “We’ll see where we’re at.”

We all stood to go. As I walked past William, he muttered under his breath, “Attagirl.” Howie and Mr. Holtzbrook had their backs to us, and we gave each other a silent high-five.

I was bursting at the seams to call Richard and share the good news. I took the elevator to the ground floor and hurried outside to the courtyard again. I couldn’t wait until I was finally an agent and had my own office.

Richard was staying with a friend in the valley, and his phone only rang once before going straight to voicemail. He’d mentioned he wasn’t getting very good service out there, so I sent him an email and a text telling him to call me immediately.

I should have gone back to the mailroom, but it was so warm outside, and I was so exhausted by the drama of the last few days, that I decided to take a seat and catch up on my emails, figuring Richard would probably call me back soon and I didn’t want to have to run back outside to talk to him privately again. I had forty-eight new messages (ugh), and even though it took nearly half an hour to get through all of them, Richard still hadn’t called me back by the time I wrote back to the last message. I sighed and checked my outbox to make sure my email to Richard had gone through. It had. The text had delivered too. Maybe he was working out or something.

I was just about to open the door to the lobby when a new email came in from Howie. I froze with my hand on the door as I read it. Denise had come back at $600,000.


  1. NOOOO I was so happy and then so frustrated!!

  2. I'm all for Josie getting ahead in her career but this is such a stretch. Of course Frank came through with an offer and then Howie got another. I bet Richard will chose Literatti because that how it goes in Josie's world. Everything pans out at the last moment. I'm so frustrated with this weeks posts. I realize the blog is ending and Jessica tying up loose strings but it doesn't seem realistic to me anymore. I want Josie to succeed and not be given everything on a silver platter but she is a special little snowflake, isnt' she?

    1. Sheesh can't people like you just be happy that's she's choosing to finish the story and stop be such a Debbie-downer! Who cares if it's not realistic... IT'S A FICTIONAL BLOG!! It is not real! Sounds like youre just jealous about josie. Even though she's not a real person.

      I love how the story is coming along Jessica! having it go back and fourth is alot more exciting then just letting Howie win!

    2. I think I'm missing the "silver platter" in this situation. So it's either lose out or it was "handed" to her? How exactly does that figure when there is a bidding war going on that she has zero control over?

    3. If you want the blog to go YOUR way, perhaps you should go start your own.

      Otherwise, shut up and enjoy the ride.

    4. Be nice ladies. Some people don't love the story anymore, and are just coming back to see how it ends. I forgot it was even was post day today, and Tuesday this week. Often the story has been a stretch, this person is right. I've said it before, comments are comments, not necessarily compliments. Jessica hasn't shut them off yet, so this person can say what they please. I have seen far worse on here anyway.
      I don't bother commenting on the posts anymore because my thoughts don't really matter to the writer. But I feel very strongly about people acting the way they do online. Particularly, LisaB. Your comment was rude and uncalled for. Clearly the op likes the blog (they are still reading). This is one post that the person had a negative comment on. Calm it down.

  3. I don't know that I've ever hated a fictional character as much as I hate Howie. What is she doing?! This isn't her department, she already has an offer to stay at CWA, and she gets to go home. Her behavior now is straight up petty and vindictive. Please Jess, let Josie (and Frank? I always liked him) shut this b**** down!

    1. totally with you!! Except I absolutely loathed Umbridge way more than Howie ;) No one character is more vile than Professor Umbridge

    2. Haha Umbridge does win over Howie! I basically gulped this post down, can't take the suspense anymore!! I want to watch Josie win, I don't mind if she wins in all causes, she's our protagonist and it's a little expected, of course real life isn't like this, but this is called entertainment!


    3. Umbridge is probably Howie's mom.

    4. HAHA Lisa!!!! I snorted my Diet Coke

  4. I'm on the edge of my seat! I can't wait to see what happens next! Keep up the great blog!

  5. maybe i'm just an "easy" audience, but i have no idea why these posts are garnering so much negativity. I'M LOVING THIS ALL! Jessica, I feel like you've been stringing us along (in a good way) and I can not wait until the next Tues/Thursday.

    Ignore all these downers. Keep it coming!!!!

    1. Oh man I forgot it was Thursday. I'm impatiently waiting for Tuesday now. I can't wait to see what happens next! :)

    2. I'm with you...why read it if you expect it to go a certain way? It's Jessica's story and I'm enjoying it.

    3. Me too! I'm loving this career drama! Looking forward to Tuesday!

  6. I can't for the next post. Hoping Josie gets the deal but not Richard!

    Can anyone recommend similar blogs? I broke my leg and can't get do much and need something fun to read.

    1. www.lovelifela.wordpress.com

      Don't Judge.. I like reading blogs... lol
      anybody else have any other suggestions?


    2. Check out @Trag20Something Danielle has a great story on the go. She posts Wednesdays and Fridays.

    3. My favorite blog besides this one is:

      http://crazyadventuresinny.blogspot.com/ The author updates every Monday and Thursday

    4. Lilysplaylist.blogspot.com

      Hotmessinhighheels.com- this one is real!

    5. Also http://poetsandheartbreakers.blogspot.com

    6. If you're not going to read them all my fave from these is californiasoulblog.wordpress.com !!

    7. I disagreee, Crazy Adventures in NY and MinneappleGirl are the best in my opinion.

    8. i loved breakups makeups but it seems like the author deleted her blog. It's a shame because I was hooked.

  7. Bonus post tomorrow!!!!!

  8. I love this blog and I love/hate that you are keeping me on the edge of my seat, keep up the great work! can not wait till next week.

  9. I HATE HOWIE! Please let this all workout for Josie!

    1. Meeeeeee too! Exactly my sentiments.

    2. I completely agree. Why is she taking this so personally? Can't wait till next week!

    3. Howie needs to end up terminated with prejudice, destitute, and forced to take work as a stripper to pay her credit card bills at the end of this blog.

  10. A bidding war!!! I hope Josie comes out on top. At first I was set on her having major repercussions but enough is enough!!! She needs to take Howie down a few pegs!


  11. Something in me told me not to celebrate right away and I should hold out to the end. That something in me was right. It's a good thing too otherwise I probably would've been screaming at Howie through my phone hahaha. She's such a snake and unfortunately snakes like that always seem to catch breaks. I feel like good usually triumphs in the end and unrealistic as it may be I would love to see Josie succeed and have everything work out for her in the end.

  12. I'm sooo freaking sick of the people on here saying they want Josie to fail. In case you haven't noticed by the drama, she doesn't always get her way. I for one am reeealllyy hoping to see her rock this one and seeing Howie fall on her bitchy face. Your writing is amazing, Jess, and I can't wait to see where this goes (but please don't make the ending depressing lol)!

  13. *Now* you're talkin'! (in agreement with Lisa B's comment about Howie). If there's one thing I'd like to see when this blog raps up, it's Howie getting what's coming to her (termination or demotion...with a generous dose of humiliation). Besides Josie getting the great position (in *New York*, no less) that she's coveting, along with the great guy (c'mon...we all know she wants Richard, and vice-versa) who's willing to make changes and cooperate within their relationship toward a happy mutual future together...the cherry on top would be a satisfying resolution to this whole Howie debacle. The shrew needs to go (even though they're in different departments), which will open up the New York position for Josie (fiction can work it in there in a million ways - no sweat), Josie and Richard wind up riding off into the sunset together, all with Josie's close buds within a hop-skip-and-a-jump. What could be better?! It *is* fiction after all, so we're allowed to hope the main character gets a fantastic ending. Great writing, Jessica; thanks for all your gracious hard work while so many other things are vying for your attention!

  14. I really hope Josie can get a better offer than that devil-manuscript-stealing-wench

  15. dang it. I have my fingers crossed for Josie but I don't see this ending well.

  16. Great posts so far, Jessica!!! I'm really hoping for Josie to pull out a miracle on this one! I have a feeling the bidding war will be tough considering Howie has a family friend involved. I'm wondering if one of the other lit agencies Josie wrote too will even come through by the end of the day still and blow both Literatti AND Little Brown out of the water!! So many possibilities and I can't wait to see what happens! Not sure why people are actively hoping for Josie to fail when she's done nothing crazy wrong (unlike Howie, seriously eff Howie lol). Also I'm a little worried at what's going on with Richard and why he wouldn't answer his phone. Maybe he got a different offer from someone other than CWA that neither Josie nor Howie know about. Can't wait for Tuesday!!! Keep up the awesome story Jessica! Team Josie all the way :)

    1. Ugh "Josie wrote to***" oops!

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  18. I can't wait until next week!!!!!!!!! Urgh I'm counting down the days on my calendar.


  19. So, I know this is sort of unrealistic and the blog is wrapping up, but what if Josie loses the bid? BUT instead she finds another gem, which William and others are skeptical of, but she really really believes in. She manages to sell it to a smaller firm which is really interested in it (after many rejections) and once it releases it is crazy popular. Very JK Rowling story. ;)

  20. I sense another Richard-bomb coming. Why wouldn't he be waiting by the phone at a time like this?! This guy makes no sense to me.
    Can't wait til Tuesday!

    1. Mmmm...good point about Richard; wonder what he's up to that'd make him unreachable.

  21. Wouldn't it be interesting if after this bidding war the story was found to be plagiarized or something like that! I am wondering if Richard has already been approached by Howie and has accepted her offer and doesn't want to face Josie. Could be interesting!

  22. I hate to admit how sad I am that Josies story is coming to an end.
    I'm hoping that Richard will only take the deal if it is Josie who offers it.
    Howie is a lying deceitful bitch. I want her to crash & burn!
    On the other hand, im still hoping Josie has to face some repercussions for being careless.
    I can not wait to see how this all plays out!


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  25. I keep checking today thinking it was Tuesday!! ugh I cant wait to read the next post!

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  27. What did I miss? Where is the next chapter in this story????

    1. If you click on newest post on this page it will keep taking you to the next one and you can finish it off (:

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