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Inspirational Reads

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April 25, 2008

A few months ago, I was told by someone that some people think that I sometimes have a somewhat bad attitude. I told them to grow some and to give me names, instances and examples. Okay, so the latter isn't true, but the former is. In accordance with this revelation, I've spent the past few months trying to...reinvent...myself in a not-so-dour-and-pessimistic way.

Growing up, my mother always talked about the power of one's words, and how if you say something bad, it could potentially happen. Saying something good would yield the opposite. I always thought this interesting, as belief in this hinky voodoo magic was counter to the unwavering faith in God and Jesus that my mother crammed down my throat since I was a wee babe in swaddling clothes. I've never been a big believer in this; if I say "Wow, a topless Leelee Sobieski would be nice right about now", Ms. Sobieski isn't going to stroll through that door sans-a-blouse (never mind that she doesn't have a proper key fob and I'm pretty sure my friend Joe wouldn't let her in for me, but rather he'd squirrel her away and keep her for himself). Yep. I'm still waiting.

I have to think, however, that my current run of good luck is just that--a lucky streak. It can't be because I'm thinking fewer terrible thoughts about the woman in the building who smells like dirty feet, right? Right.

What luck, you ask? Well, allow me to recap (this is where the suspense is supposed to be building for the announcement--just to let you know):

We have a concierge service at my work, and that provider was running a March Madness trivia quiz. Basically, answer a very easy question, and you get your name put into a drawing for a free shirt of your favorite team. Well, yours truly happened to win week two's drawing. I opted for an Indiana shirt, though I was tempted to go for something crazy, like the Maine Black Bears or the VCU Rams (or the VCU dance team). I ended up going with Indiana since I grew up an Indiana fan, and my in-laws send me a Notre Dame basketball t-shirt every year (they get a free one for buying season tickets, and neither my father-in-law nor my mother-in-law are really t-shirt kind or people, if you know what I'm saying). So, it's not like I don't have a shit-ton of ND basketball shirts lying around. They do happen to be very good for mowing the lawn in (as, usually, the advertising on the back is more prevalent than the logo on the front).
The excitement should be building...just to let you know.

On the same day that I caught word of the glorious news of my basketball trivial knowledge (the question happened to be the distance of the three-point line in college basketball), I received other glad tidings. You see, I will now officially be a published author. It's true; I heard from someone at my old employer that they had submitted a paper to Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, which has since been accepted--so long as the small revisions are made. Now you, too, can see the contributions I made to peeling back the foreskin of HSP-90 inhibitor science. Once the ASAP is out, I'll publish a link here. Until said time, bask in my carbazole-synthesizing glory. Bear in mind, I have written a master's thesis and published two patents prior to this, but this seems bigger. My name will now be linked with something grand and glorious and involving a Fisher Indole Synthesis.
Just to let you know, the excitement should now be on the verge of climax. Get your tissues ready.

Remember my April's Fool's "prank" know, the one that you all saw through? Yeah, well, I did send out a couple more query letters to gauge interest in the book. Monday night, I came home and stopped by the mailbox. Therein, I found a letter addressed to me, with my own handwriting. Naturally, I thought this could only come from a future me, and that I was sending myself vital information that could save my life. Dare I read it, lest I alter the space/time continuum, thus throwing the universe into complete and total chaos?

I realized, then, that this was my self-addressed, stamped envelope that one of the agencies asked me to include with the query letter. Figuring it'd be another rejection, I opened it up and started to read the letter as I was strolling down my driveway. I began to bounce my head back and forth as one does in a sing-songy way when reciting something that you know by heart. "Dear Mr. Jenks, Thank you for submitting your novel with us, however, it does not fill our needs at this time..."

Only thing was, those weren't the words. Instead, the agent said that The Boar War intrigued him, and that he wanted to read the first 50 to 75 pages of my book. I stopped right there in the middle of the driveway. I re-read the letter. I messed my pants.

I debated whether I should share this in a blog, because, you know, other people can find this site and read through the shit that I puke up onto the screen on a semi-regular basis. I was worried that this might turn off any potential agents or others interested in my work. But then I thought that these guys probably have a lot of other things going on in their lives and that looking me up on the internet to see if I have any unholy fascinations with certain young starlets. Plus, when I started this blog, it was supposed to be a look into the life of a writer, seeing what he goes through trying to write, develop and ultimately sell his product, and getting an agent and all the good things that go along with it are a part of that process. So, there you go. I'm sharing.

Now, let's not put the cart before the horse, either. This is just initial interest, but it's at least something. It isn't the same rejection I've been met with all the times I've submitted before. I'm still a little shocked and still greatly honored that this chance has finally come. I've had my wife look at the first 75 pages (it just so happens this coincides with the first three chapters and the prologue) and corrected any mistakes I might have made (there was one glaring one that dealt with the timing of the story). Now, I have to put together another synopsis, this one dealing with the remainder of the story, but in more detail than I had shown with my original synopsis. I plan on getting it out this weekend, and then we'll see where we go from there.

So, there's the big announcement. Probably not as much as you were hoping for, but it's something, at least. A starting point, if you will, that shows that, yes, I really can do this. Now, hopefully, I can seal the deal and give you more good news in the coming weeks.


Ψ*Ψ said...

YAY!! that's great news all around! :)

Chemgeek said...

Holy cow this is great news!!!!! A free T-shirt!!! I'm very happy for you. Congratulations!!!! Wow, a free T-shirt. Awesome.

Oh, and congrats on the book thing.

Joel D. Timm said...

Congrats, you earned it. The book is great, they will love it.

The Ex said...

Awesome!! A long time coming if I do say so. Good luck :)

Frank said...

Hooray! Now all I need is for someone to be interested in my book. Unfortunately, publishers don't seem to take to kindly to something with the working title, "I Rule. You Kind of Suck." *sigh*

Maybe I should start thinking more positive...

Rider said...

That had to have been the best feeling. Congratulations!

Lisa-tastrophies said...

YEAH!!!! YEAH!!! I am so happy for you. Karma is totally cool (on occasion). Promise you will do a book signing in Austin. I was completely convinced with all the home repairs you were talking about that you were going to say you were having another baby!! :-)

Hap said...

Congratulations on your book. I figure that you'll say when it is published.

I'm sort of happy about the BMCL paper. All I have from my GS years is an "unpublished results" acknowledgement in a JACS comm. (the unremarkable solution-phase analog of the SAM-bound ligand my post-doc and his undergrad made and tested). On the other hand, reading and analyzing BMCL is suboptimal - the authors seem to forget lots of the data needed to figure out what they did, and the reviewers seem to notice only sometimes, so putting together what the authors made is difficult. Still, it's a paper, and one that someone may actually read, so it's good.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

Hap: Thanks, man. I'll let everyone know any status updates on the book as they come to me.

Also, yeah, I'm happy that I've got a paper published, but BMCL is kind of a maddening journal. I'm always put off by the lack of experimental, because sometimes some really good chemistry is done in those papers, but there's no report to duplicate it, which means another search through their supporting info. I'm lazy and prefer my experimentals attached at the end of the paper. But that means it's no longer a letter, right?

Lisa: Yes, I love Texas. I'd love to tour it and do a speaking/signing engagement all over the state. I've never been to Texas, but at Notre Dame there were so many kids from Texas that they formed a "Texas Club". Basically, they talked about how great Texas is (no, Sandy Cheeks was not a member). And, everyone I've ever met from Texas has been a very friendly, very nice individual, so, yeah, I'd love to tour Texas.