After receiving my first offer of representation (!!!) I promptly notified the other agents who had my materials. With some, I withdrew my manuscript from consideration. With others, I requested that they finish reading and make a decision within 10 days (which included 2 full weekends). That meant the rest of my vacation would be a waiting game, as most of the querying process is, but now without that pit-of-your-stomach dread or exhausting self-doubt.
In Florence, we stayed at a homey B&B just around the corner from the Duomo. Five rooms branched off a main lobby, like a warren of rabbit holes. The husband-and-wife owners were tall and generous. They gave us keys, coupons, and a complimentary bottle of prosecco.
First we did the Duomo’s bell tower — 400 steps up a narrow curving stairwell, not intended for two-way traffic, and then 400 steps back down. Then we did Ponte Vecchio — a gold mall on a bridge, the stores full of jewelry too gaudy and expensive for our taste. And last but not least, we did the Galileo Museum — an elegantly designed tribute to centuries’ worth of Italian inventions and innovations.
Our second day trip promised the “Best of Tuscany,” and it didn’t disappoint. We lost ourselves (literally and figuratively) in the quiet, dusty labyrinth of Siena. We enjoyed the world’s best gelato at Dondoli in San Gimignano. And we ate a simple but exquisite lunch at an organic farm, overlooking endless green hillsides and vineyards.
It was all so tranquil and enchanting that I could almost forget about the agent stuff.
Before bed each night, I was glued to my iPad, eagerly working my inbox. (Thankfully Italy seems to be even more obsessed with free wifi than America.) I may not have been able to update my spreadsheet, but I mentally logged each agent’s response. And now that I wasn’t neurotically over-analyzing every word of every message, it seemed fairly obvious who was actually interested and who was just playing the game.
A second agent, also fabulous, soon tossed her hat into the ring. Unfortunately we couldn’t schedule a good day to talk until after I returned to the States — but that just gave me more time to look forward to the call.
Poor Andy had to put up with my constant questions and speculations. What if this? What about that? He was very gracious and remarkably helpful, but after a certain point, he would switch off the light on his side of the room and gently remind me that we needed to rest up for our next big day of adventuring.
I would say the mosquitoes were karma, except that they bit Andy too. All night we suffered buzzing in our ears, snapping us out of slumber, warning us of big red bumps to come. It wasn’t until morning that we realized the skylight was letting in more than sun and moon beams. Thankfully this Houston girl is a champion mosquito-hunter.
Neither the itching nor our aching feet could stop us from appreciating the rest of our time there. More gelato, more churches, some shopping, the Uffizi. Though small, the city was a treasure trove.
Maybe the most unique experience of our trip was truffle hunting in a hill-town just outside Florence. All morning we skirted the edge of a forest with Ricardo and his two dogs, Nebbia (fog) and Luna (moon). Nebbia was amazing, a constant rocket of energy, sniffing and circling and digging until she came up with a precious woodland nugget. Luna, on the other hand, was useless — but cute. She would dig excitedly in Nebbia’s wake, then peer up at Ricardo in hopes of a cookie.
Endearingly dumb, she reminded me of Riley, my beloved “grumble pup,” who I couldn’t wait to reunite with. It’s not that I wanted the trip to be over — I didn’t. But there were good things waiting for me at home.