So, meanwhile, back at the ranch, I had decided to try and finish one cartoon a day for six weeks to see if I could produce at the pace I’d have to if I got syndicated.  I did not manage to do this, but I was close.  It actually took me about 8 weeks to finish my submission.  But I neglected one little thing.  I had already WRITTEN these cartoons, I just had to draw and ink them up.  Doing those things AND writing a weeks worth in a week was not something I was remotely ready to do until I was suddenly expected to do it.

I had stumbled across a Reader’s Digest story about Scott Adams where he said he used positive thinking to get syndicated.  I can’t remember the specifics, but he’d basically written someting like “I am a syndicated cartoonist” 15 times a day, every day, until he got syndicated.  So I decided to try it.  During the entire time I was doing my submission, I wrote “I am a syndicated cartoonist” 15 times a day.  One thing it did was absolutely convince me that I was going to get syndicated.  I don’t know if it fools your subconscious or what, but after a while, I had no doubts.  I never did this again though because I started to wonder if it was unChristian.  I never wrote “Clear Blue Water will become a blockbuster strip,” and sure enough, it didn’t become a blockbuster strip.  Funny how that works…

People often want to know how I came up with the name for my strip.  I have an affinity for the color blue and I wanted it in the title.  I also love water.  So I wanted water in the title if possible.  My strip was often political, so I decided that I needed to find a political term with blue and water in it.  I thought the odds of finding one were just about impossible (my back up title was “Something Blue”, from the  marriage poem, Something old, something new, etc.)  I googled politics, blue, water and immediately the term Clear blue water came up.  It’s basically the idealogical divide between two political parties.  Hey, now!  Manny’s Republican, Eve’s a Democrat… it seemed like kismet.  The title was the easiest part of this entire process.  It just fell into place.

Anyway, I finished the cartoons in mid-December 2002, and my goal was to get them sent out before New Years.  I had to draw up a character sheet and a cover for my packet, write my cover letters, put each submission into a neat little packet that was tailored exactly to each syndicate’s specifications… yeah, it wasn’t enough time and I basically rushed it because I also had to do Christmas and holidays with my family as well.  I finished the packets at around 4 pm on the last day of 2002 that had mail service.  I rushed the packets over to the post office so I could get them out before 5, and found out the post office had closed at 4. 

I completely freaked out.  My goal was to get them out BEFORE New Years, and now that wasn’t possible, and now I’d probably messed up the timing and, and…  I KNOW it’s crazy.  What difference could a few days either way possibly make?  My best friend stepped in and talked me down.  She told me that I couldn’t possibly screw up God’s timing, and maybe there was a good reason that my strips weren’t going to go out until January 2.  It’s always nice to have people in your life who will talk you down from your crazy ledges without calling you out on your craziness.  She does this for me.

I sent my submissions out on January 2, 2003, and on January 8, 2003 Lee Salem called me.  My kids were still on Christmas vacation and they were running amuck when the phone rang.  I couldn’t hear him and I began frantically motioning for my oldest to herd everyone into another room so I could hear.  After a short but intense life-or-death game of charades, she finally obliged.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of the conversation.  He said he really liked my work and he’d showed it around to a few editors and they’d liked it too, and now he was going to show it to even more people and get their opinions, and he’d get back to me, but he really liked it.

I basically said stuff like, “Oh!  Wow!  Really?  Thanks!” like a moron, and when he hung up I immediately called my husband and screamed at him that Lee Salem had just called me on the frickin phone!  He said, “Who’s Lee Salem?”  Sigh.  So I explained and then he said, “So are you getting syndicated?!”  And um… he hadn’t really mentioned that part.  And the clouds rolled in…

Because I had heard so quickly from Universal, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the other syndicates would love me as well.  Why, what if there was a bidding war?  Oh my goodness, what does one WEAR to a bidding war?

…There was no bidding war.  I ended up getting rejected by all of the other syndicates with form letters.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I never heard back from King at all, and United Media sent me back my own cover letter with the word NO!  scrawled across it in big screaming red letters.  …I’m guessing it wasn’t right for their list.

So now it was down to just Universal and it had been a few weeks with no contact and I was getting worried.  Then I get a letter in the mail from Universal and I almost cried.  They don’t send you letters to syndicate you, they send you letters to reject you.  I didn’t even open the letter for an hour.  When I finally got my courage up, I found a really nice letter from Lee that told me how much he liked my strip and why.  He compared it to a cross between two really big strips (stroke, stroke my ego…) and he told me that there was some concern about the tone of the strip.  The main couple was very angry.  He didn’t reject Clear Blue Water in the letter.  Instead, he gave me his number and told me to call him to talk about my strip.

A decade later I got the same opportunity, again, and this time you better believe I called him.  I actually wrote out a color coded script so I could make sure I remembered to hit important points, and (after a stern talking to by my best friend “You BETTER call this time!”) I sent my husband to the park with the kids, gathered a notebook and pen, and called.  His secretary said he was out.  A reprieve!  We set up a time to call him back when he’d be in, and I hung up.

To be continued… 

Oh, by the way, about today’s strip.  It’s a double daily because I didn’t feel like making it a Sunday and coloring it, considering that today’s Friday, but I also didn’t want to stretch the halloween stuff into two days, and the strip I wrote was too long for a reagular daily.  So it’s a double daily.