Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Call

or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being in Suspense

By Ellen Meister

A few months ago, my agent called with news that could change my life forever. No, it wasn't The Call. It was a call. All lower case with an indefinite article. Why? Because the news was merely a possibility. An exhilarating chance that my career could soon soar.

This, I have to admit, has been the pattern of my life. My good news has never come in one life-changing, confetti-falling-from-the-ceiling phone call. Instead, it comes in tiny, excruciating teases.

I should have seen this pattern emerging back when I was trying to conceive my first child. We had been hoping for so long, and I was desperate to see my dream finally come true. Back then, home pregnancy kits weren't as sensitive as they are now, so if you wanted a quick answer you needed a blood test.

I was under the care of a specialist, so when I suspected I might be pregnant at last, I ran to the doctor's office and had my blood drawn. Then I went to work and waited for ... The Call.

It was four o'clock by the time the doctor phoned. Oh, please, I thought, when I heard his voice. Please, please, please, please, please.

The news? My hormone levels indicated pregnancy, but the lab had a problem and they were rerunning the tests.

Wait. What? Am I pregnant or not?

The next hour-and-a-half were pure torture. But at last, I got the news that made me weep with joy.

It was the same thing when I wrote my first book and tried to get a literary agent. For months and months, I sent out queries and suffered the agony of rejection, all the while fantasizing about The Call That Would Answer My Prayers.

When at last my caller ID showed the 212 area code of a wonderful New York City literary agent, my heart almost stopped beating. Was this it? The agent, sounding ebullient, wanted me to know that her assistant read my book and loved it, and that she would be reading it herself over the next few days and would get back to me soon.

Thunk. More waiting.

It was the same pattern when I learned that my first book had been sold to a major publishing house. And my second. And my third. All the phone calls began, "We have an offer, but ..."

I suppose I'll never get the-call-that-feels-like-someone-has-just-knocked-on-my-door-with-TV-cameras,- balloons-and-a-giant-check. But I have to admit that the news I got from my agent a few months ago feels pretty damned close. And so, at last, here it is ...

My friends, HBO has optioned THE OTHER LIFE for a television series.


Ellen Meister lives in New York and is the author of three novels. Her latest, THE OTHER LIFE, has been optioned by HBO for a TV series, and is available in stores today. To order online, visit any cyber bookseller, including Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Book Revue  Books-A-Million  Borders  Indie Bound  Powells

For more information, visit her website at


  1. Loved this, my obstacles lately have been crazy. Broke my finger, needed surgery to put it back together, hence writing is just not happening. I've got full submissions out there though...maybe the call will come soon. Hope so. You just never know.

  2. Ellen, what great news! And how funny that the tv journalist who interviewed Susan on the St. Louis news show totally called this in advance!

    I'm definitely tossing the confetti for you!

  3. Ellen, congratulations! Thanks for sharing your exciting news. Maybe it's better that the news comes in smaller increments like that -- so you can get accustomed to it. :) Hope to hear lots more great news from you in the future.

  4. Congrats on such great news and love this post on all your wonderful lower case calls.

  5. Wonderful! Yay, for you and all your good news!!

  6. Hurray for smart, talented authors getting amazing opportunities. Congrats Ellen... let's bring on the confetti AND the champagne. This is worth celebrating.... Let' just say that HBO stands for Hope Brings Optimism! Can't wait to see how this all unfolds.

  7. I hate cliches, but I think this one fits--"Good things come in small packages." Good things also come in small, drawn-out phone calls. Maybe instead of agonizing over the tantalizing but frustrating dribs and drabs, you could look at them as unwrapping little Christmas packages, while you see the big one waiting for you in the back of the pile!
    Congratulations on the new book, and the HBO series.

  8. Yippee!!! I am so, so excited for you. And I'm super excited to celebrate all of this at your launch party tomorrow night!

  9. Hard work and perseverance pays off, apparently. As does nurturing one's talent, and staying true to the task one feels called to. *grin* What great news. It's encouraging to a baby writer (actually, I am more like a zygote -- just going with the whole pregnancy conceit you played on here) like myself who thinks, "I just want to finish a draft of a complete novel," seeing as all I have are the aborted, crazy-quilt pieces of writing littering my files from the past three years of NaNoWriMo. I'm starting to realize what it is to get my rear in gear, though, et voilĂ : back to my first sentences where I realize how hard work pays off. Perseverance pays off! YAY for you!!!

  10. Congratulations, Ellen! Loved your post. This one was worth the wait:-). Your book sounds amazing ~ it's now on my TBR list

  11. Wow!!! Congrats, Ellen! Amazing news. I was lucky to read advance copy of THE OTHER LIFE and know what a terrific and moving novel it is--will make a great series too!

  12. Wowza, Ellen! That's so awesome! I'm going to have to tell the folks at "Great Day St. Louis" as they all said, "this should be a movie!" What a great HBO series it's going to make! Hip-hip-hooray! :-)

  13. Really wish I could afford HBO now...:( Congrats to you, though!! It couldn't have happened to a more wonderful person!!


    LIZ :)

  14. An honor just to be optioned - especially by such a brilliant network. Congratulations!!

  15. YAY, ELLEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I've had my fingers crossed for you on this!! I'm thrilled, thrilled, thrilled -- CONGRATS!!!!
    (And, no, I did not use too many !!!!!!!!! :)

  16. Ellen, that is fabu news!!!! Congratulations! I know what you mean about The Call usually really being the call. May this time be different for you!

  17. Ellen
    What great news! Enjoy it. Entertainment is such fun and HBO is truly the gold standard for television. Well done!

  18. I loved this post and related to everything you say about the call in all its various forms. Gotta read your book!!!

  19. What a wonderful post, Ellen!! Cue confetti is right!! I was nodding my head reading b/c, I too, have experienced a racing heart over a 212 area code! It all boils down to hurry up and wait, doesn't it? And I can't wait to read your book... or, maybe, I'll catch it on TV!! Congratulations!!

  20. Awesome news, Ellen! Congratulations! I can't wait to read your book. I popping over to Amazon now!

  21. Congratulations!! I read a wonderful review of your book today and I can't wait to read it.

  22. That sounds like balloon-at-the-door news to me. Congrats!