Journey To The Well
Randy Ingermanson 

Randy Ingermanson has published six novels and received about a dozen awards for his writing. He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from UC Berkeley and is the entire software department for Vala Sciences, a San Diego biotechnology company. Randy is the inventor of the "Snowflake Method," used by novelists around the world to design their novels. He the publisher of the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, the world's largest electronic magazine on writing fiction. More than 1000 novelists read his daily blog, the Advanced Fiction Writing Blog. Randy's goal is to become Supreme Dictator For Life, and he may have already succeeded. Visit his site at

Those Pesky Endorsements by Randy Rooney

aka Randy Ingermanson

“Whatcha reading?”

I spun around and looked to see who was talking. It was my plumber, Sam, leaning against the doorway of my office, holding in his massive hands the corpse of our former garbage disposal unit. “So, um, how much is that going to cost me?” I asked.

“It cost ya nothing for me to take it out,” Sam said. “And only a couple of hunnert to put in the new one. Probably no big deal for a big-shot author like you, right?”

“Right.” I didn’t bother to tell Sam that a writer has to sell a stack of books higher than my chimney to earn “only a couple of hunnert.”

“So, whatcha reading?” Sam said again.

I held up an advance reading copy of Shaving Babbit, a novel that would be coming out shortly. “A friend of mine wrote this.”

Sam grabbed it and began pawing through it with greasy fingers. “They sure didn’t waste no money on the print job, did they?”

I laughed. “Sam, that’s not an official copy. That’s an advance copy so I can write an endorsement.”

Sam’s eyebrows bumped up a notch. “Really? You do endorsements just like Michael Phelps and all?”

“Sort of.” I took the copy back and wiped at the grease stains with a Kleenex, spreading them out into a disgusting smear. “I read the book and then I say something nice about it.”

“What you gonna say about this one?”

I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes. “Here’s what I’m thinking of saying: ‘Shaving Babbitt is strong and true. A deep, powerful, satisfying read, rich with pathos and humor, with characters that will haunt you forever. Triumphant and bold.’”

Sam’s forehead was knotted in tight concentration. “Does that mean you like it?”

“It means it’s very good. There were a couple of issues with the plot, so you’ll notice I focused on the characters.”

“I noticed you focused on double-talk. How come you didn’t say nothing in plain English? And what the heck does ‘triumphant and bold’ mean?”

“Look, that’s just the way endorsements read.”

“I still think you oughta talk like normal people.”

“Such as what?”

Sam paced back and forth in my office, dripping oily gunk from the garbage disposal onto my floor. “How about if you was to say, ‘I can’t speak too highly of Shaving Babbitt, and I couldn’t wait to get done with it.’”

“That’s, um, a little ambiguous, Sam.”

“You got to admit it beats the pants off ‘triumphant and bold.’”

My e-mail program dinged.

Sam leaned over to read it. “Hey, looks like you scored! This guy wants you to read his book for endorsement. Who is he?”

I scanned the e-mail. “Somebody I’ve never heard of. He can’t spell my name, but he believes he’s the next John Grisham, if only he can find a publisher for it.”

“Wow, really? You gonna give him one of them ‘triumphant and bold’ double-talk things?”

I hit the Reply button. “I’m going to tell him that I don’t write endorsements for people I don’t know, I don’t promise endorsements for books I haven’t read, and I don’t read books that a publisher hasn’t bought.”

“Well, ain’t you Mr. Hoity-Toity. How come you’re such a prima donald?”

I clenched my fists. “Sam, do you have any idea how long it takes to read a book?”

Sam grinned. “Yup. I read one once, and I done it in less than three months. You read books all the time, so I betcha you can probably read one in less than a month, right?”

“Have you ever heard the saying ‘Time is money’?”

Sam thought about that for a couple of minutes. “So what you’re saying is that the time you spend writing them endorsements is time you coulda spent putting in garbage disposals and getting paid?”

“Exactly.” I scanned the rest of the e-mail. “Uh-oh.”

“Whatsa matter?” Sam leaned down to read it.

“This guy somehow got my home address. He’s invited himself over for lunch and he’s bringing his manuscript.” I leaned back in my chair and massaged my temples. “Sam, how am I going to get rid of this guy?”

The doorbell rang.

“I’ll handle it.” Sam clumped out into the hall.

The doorbell rang again.

Footsteps. The door opened. “Triumphant and bold!” Sam bellowed.

There was a shriek, and then the sound of running, followed by a war whoop from Sam. “Strong and true! Rich with pathos and humor! Characters that’ll haunt you forever!”

I looked out my office window. The nimble young endorsement seeker was running at full tilt, with Sam lumbering behind, waving a garbage disposal over his head, but steadily losing ground.

I went back to my computer, deleted the e-mail, and typed an endorsement for Shaving Babbitt. I am ashamed to confess that it included a “triumphant and bold,” a “strong and true,” and even a “haunt you forever.” I’d have tried for a little more originality, but my creativity was shot.

By the time I finished writing the endorsement, Sam was back, puffing and streaming sweat and grinning ferociously. “I almost landed a ‘triumphant and bold’ right on his backside, but he got away in his truck. Had the engine waiting and everything.”

“Thanks, Sam, I owe you.” And I didn’t complain at all when Sam wrote me out an invoice for “three hunnert.” I figured that for once, he’d earned his money.

Sam had been gone for ten minutes, and I was sitting down to lunch when the phone rang.

I picked it up. “Hello?”

“This is the UPS office,” said a man, his voice full of perfect fury. “We have a report that you assaulted one of our drivers with a garbage disposal unit.”

“Driver?” A sick feeling filled my stomach.

“And you shouted ‘triumphant and bold’ repeatedly, along with certain unprintable profanities.”

“That was my plumber. He’s a lunatic but I assure you he’s harmless.”

“You’ll be hearing from our lawyer,” growled the UPS manager. “We’re gonna sue you for every dime you’re worth.”

The doorbell rang.

I peered down the hall.

A young man in a three piece suit stood outside holding a thick manuscript.

I set the phone down, leaving the UPS man screaming, and went to open the door. “Listen, this isn’t a good time, unless you happen to know a good lawyer.”

The writer flashed an enormous smile. “Then it’s a great time, because I’m a defense attorney. Did I mention in my e-mail that I think I’ll be the next John Grisham?”

I grabbed his manuscript. “John, or whatever your name is, I’ll be happy to read your manuscript if you could just come in and talk to the gentleman on the phone and settle a little problem I’m having.”

He grinned and strode in. “Glad to help.”

In a minute, he was on the phone, talking in a calm and professional lawyer voice.

I retreated into my office, plopped down in my chair, and took a look at the dreaded manuscript.

I have to admit, the title won my heart immediately—Triumphant and Bold.

Advance Fiction Writing E-Zine