dance of joy

Something Wicked...

.... wicked AWESOME that is.

You have no idea how long I've been wanting to write this blog post. I've kept it under wraps and now that ink is on paper and things are legal and binding I can finally--FINALLY--say some amazing magic words.

My debut novel has been picked up by a publisher.

That's right, guys, I've finally mastered that strange alchemy of turning words into an actual factual contractual deal with a purveyor of books.

Meet me below the jump for the details! (Cause I've been dying to tell you all about it!!!)

So, for those who don't know, my book TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES** (Book 1 in my Etudes in C# series) has been on submission to publishers since mid-June. This means that my agent--the fabulously stellar Jennie Goloboy--sends an email &our big ass proposal document to editors at various publishing houses. If they like the sound of my book from the proposal, they will ask to read the manuscript.

As I said, the book had been out to several different houses over the course of about 4 months with various degrees of success and failure (depending on how you measure both). Tuesday, November 27 I got word from Jennie that an editor was taking the book to the acquisitions board at her publisher. (As I'm sure you can guess from the title, an acquisitions board is in charge of acquiring new books. In other words: someone was interested in buying MY book.)

I spent that evening freaking out and full of anxiety and researching this publisher and talking myself out of it and basically turning myself into a ball of self-defeating tension. The next day I emailed Jennie with some of my concerns and we talked on the phone for a bit. (This is the part of agenting that I think requires the patience of a saint: putting up with my insecure ass when I'm hopped up on anxiety and caffeine.) She laid things out clearly, explaining some things that I hadn't quite understood from the email. Then she said, "By the way, she's calling me tomorrow to let me know if we have an offer."
We have just lost cabin pressure.
An offer? Soon? Like tomorrow? Oh sweet dear god! So, as you can imagine, I didn't sleep much on Wednesday (the 28th for those keeping score). I was up all night (again) with my brain doing backflips and inverting on itself and and and oh sweet lords of chai kill me for all the shit going through my brain! I woke up Thursday vibrating and messaged Jennie to tell her so. (She then told me to breathe and not have too much chai. How well she knows me.) She told me that she'd be calling later with the results of her conversation with the editor in question.
So, I went to the gym. And I puttered around the house. And I waited... and I checked my email. And I waited. And I looked at my phone... And innocent pixels died. Then it was time for me to go pick up my daughter from school."Alright," I said to my phone. "I'm leaving now. I'll be back in about 10 minutes. You know, in case anyone wanted to call. You could just...wait til I get back."
Wouldn't you know... the phone rang about a minute after I pulled out of the drive way.It was Jennie. She'd talked with the editor. We had an official offer.
We talked out all the details. I took notes. We both had a bit of a freakout because it was made of win. She had let all the other editors still reading the book know we had an offer and had given them a deadline as to when we needed decisions. Monday (December 3). By Monday we'd either move forward on this offer or have to possibly entertain others...but either way, Monday was going to be a big and decisive day.

Not much to do... other than celebrate!

I was all...

I was so freakin' happy and pumped full of mood altering hormones that I felt like I was going to vomit sparkling rainbows. So, I immediately hugged my husband. I sent a text message to my Attack Fish (my devoted Beta Readers who are epic amounts of amazing). I called my mother (yes, I do that). I called my father, but, he chose that particular week to be out of the freaking country bobbing around in an ocean, so this was the response I got from his voicemail:
I'm on a boat.
That night we had dinner plans with friends, so I took along a bottle of champagne to their house. When one of said friends saw the bottle she just looked at me and said, "Really?" I nodded because being a writer I like to show and not tell. There was rejoicing. And my friends were all like...
I got to spend the weekend waiting and pinching myself. "Yup, offer of a book deal is still real." FINALLY got to tell my father and some other friends. Spent Sunday burying myself in football and housework to avoid the fact that the clock was moving too slowly. Started practically vibrating again....And then Monday rolled around.... by the end of the day I had an email from Jennie telling me that Cat and Marius have found their home. Long story short (too late), we officially accepted the offer from Entangled Publishing. And I was all...

And I couldn't wait to tell the whole freakin' planet. I wanted to grab that guy at the gym and shake him like an 8 ball telling him, "DUDE! They're going to publish my book!!!" I wanted to buy everyone daisies and write it in the sky. I wanted to post far and wide my joyous squees... but I couldn't. Things weren't legal. Ink wasn't dry. Contracts still had to be negotiated and all that fun stuff.
Honestly, it took a while to sink in. A week later, when the vibrating stopped (or at least slowed down), I just sat down and the depth of it hit me. This is really happening. This is the real deal. Oh my fuck.It's taken some time, and I've developed tremendous restraint not to just blab this all over the Intertubez, but now... NOW!... I can finally squee out loud and fill you all in. Now I can tell you that my debut novel TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES** will be available as an ebook from Entangled Publishing.
We totally did it, guys. We got this far. We got to the part where the book gets published and you all can finally--FINALLY--read it!!! For real!I'm very excited to work with Entangled. They're enjoying a lot of successes right now and more good things are on the horizon for them. I'm very proud to be counted among their authors.So, as things get closer, we'll be pimping it and having all sorts of fun gearing up for the release. Until then, I've got some work to do, kittens.

HOLY SHIT!! :-D*bouncy happy squee*
**EDITED 16 September, 2013: This book has a new name! Henceforth it shall be called WILD CARD.

An Offer I Can't Refuse?

As most long-time readers know, I've been actively questing to build a writing career since 2008. In October of 2010 I signed with a literary agent for my zombie novel. That ended abruptly in June of 2011.

For many reasons, I put that book away and wrote another one, the start of my Etudes in C# series. In December, 2011 I started querying it.

Here it is, April of 2012 and I can finally share with you what this latest foray into querying has been like. Sit back (this one is long) and let me tell you a tale, a tale of a fateful trip....

I started querying TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES in early December. That month, I saw a lot of rejections. I revamped the query letter a couple of times, but other than a single partial request from one of my dream agents (awesome!) December was uneventful. Right up until the end. I found out about open submissions going on at a small press. The acquiring editor there is someone I've followed on Twitter for a while and I really respect her work. The chance to get my manuscript under her eyes was priceless, so even though it's generally frowned upon to sub to both pubs and agents, I took the shot. A couple of days before 2012, I sent a partial and a query to Editor A (a is for AWESOME!), just barely skirting the submission deadline.

January opened with a bang. The year was only two or three days old when Editor Awesome requested the full manuscript. Two days later, Agent A requested the first three chapters of the book. An hour later, she emailed back saying, "That was fun! Send me the rest!" Yeah. An hour. My flabber was well and truly gasted on that one, so I sent it to her tout suite. The next week? Agent B requested a full and Editor Awesome made me an offer of publication.
Seriously, we weren't even 2 weeks into the year and already I was spazzing out with epic loads of fantastic.
Ultimately, I passed on the offer from Editor Awesome. I know. I can hear the screech of tires as you go back to re-read. You did what? You rejected an offer of publication?! WHY? Look. She is fabulous and her feedback was priceless. I really hope she and I can work together on other projects in the future because she really is that awesome. However, I had to make a decision based on what I want for this series of books I'm writing. So, I passed.
Agent A requested some minor revisions to the manuscript, and I got them back to her at the end of February. Honestly, February passed much like December: nothing to report. In March, Agent B left the agenting biz, but the agency said they would still review my manuscript and get back to me. Meanwhile, Agents C and D requested partials. With the revisions done, I decided to try again with a few agents who had rejected the piece in December. I sent out four requeries and got a partial request from one that ultimately ended in a no. While I'm doing this, a rocktastic friend of mine who is multiply-published sent me a private message asking if I'd queried her agent. I told her I had in December and got a form rejection within a couple of days. My friend was adamant: query her. Query her right now. So, I checked the shine on my query and fired off one more to her. We'll call her Agent E.

Flash forward to my birthday, April 6. Agent A gets back to me saying, "I love the revisions. Can we talk on the phone next week." *blink* Really? Did I just get the "Let's set up a call" email on my birthday? Woot! I did. We did. And on April 9 that phone call ended in an offer of representation. I hung up the phone, ate the last piece of leftover birthday cake and sent out a barrage of emails to all of the agents who still had queries or submissions. Agent B (or rather her agency) bowed out immediately and I can understand why. Agent D also bowed out saying that while she and her colleagues enjoyed the writing, the manuscript just wasn't a good fit. Which is more than fine. (Remember: Having no agent is better than having the wrong agent.)

A lot of people might think that getting The Call makes the decision a simple one. Why query if you're going to say no to an agent? Well, I've learned the hard way that it is something to think about even longer than you imagine is necessary. That experience has made me gunshy, perhaps excessively so. I stayed up late April 11 with a brain that wouldn't shut off. I kept mulling over the hesitations I had. Now, I've talked about going with your gut. Part of that, though, is learning when your gut is talking and when it's just your gutless fear. Fear is the killer. Don't mistake it for instinct. I talked to myself, tried to untangle all the knots that snagged my thinking process. When I came to a conclusion, I slept on it. The next morning, it still seemed clear as crystal. So I slept on it again just to make sure.

I woke up Friday the 13th ready to make my decision and act on it. I just had to wait on confirmation from Agents C and F that we were not going to move forward. When they both got back to me, I emailed Agent A to tell her my decision.

Many were the squees heard that day. Had to wait a bit to bust out with the good news so that ink and paper could make their way across the country. But now? Now I can officially announce that I am represented by Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary Agency. I am beyond excited to work with her and can't wait to see how both of our careers grow.

What really made the decision easy? Jennie's excitement for the project is palpable. She really loves the book, believes in it and I believe she will do everything she can to make sure it's sold. That enthusiasm is paramount. As I've learned, contacts can be built, but a genuine love of a story is golden and damn necessary. Otherwise, what's the point?

To recap:

Between December 5, 2011 and March 27, 2012 I sent a total of 75 query letters to 68 literary agents and two publishers. (Yes, five of those agents received two queries from me because they rejected an earlier draft and I wanted to try again. I'm tenacious like that.) Of those 75 queries:

14 went unanswered. This happens for various reasons. Maybe my query got stuck in cyberspace somewhere. What's more likely, though, is that these agents have a "no response means no" policy. 9 came back with requests for pages.

  • 4 requested a partial manuscript
  • requested a full manuscript
  • 1 partial request escalated to a full request
Out of those requests:
1 publisher made an offer of publication.
agent made an offer of representation.
The rest were all rejections. That tells you what you should've known already: I'm batshit insane to put myself through this kind of thing. BUT, in the end it's those last two numbers that count, isn't it?Keep moving forward.


Imaginary Friends

Way back in the earliest days of the Interwebz, I met people on AOL through chat rooms and stuff. Met some cool people, really. But there was this idea that people online were always out to scam you! You have no idea who these people are! They could be killers! Don't trust the people you meet online!!!! Over the past couple of decades things have changed. Yes, we are still to fear anyone using Craigslist, but on the whole, many of us interact with others solely using social media and email. There are people I've known since the 90s that I've never met in person. If I know you online, but have never physically seen you, I refer to you as my Imaginary Friend.I just need to spend a few minutes today praising those people, those staggeringly awesome figments of my over-active imagination. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone on Twitter be the first to ask me if I'm okay on a bad day, or to be there with a cyber hug. They are there to celebrate good news and help me navigate choppy waters.

And they are genuine.

I appreciate and love those who are so open and real with someone they've never met. Thank you for giving a damn and being amazing. Thank you for being my friend...even if you are a bunch of 1s and 0s. :-D


Blue Socks

Happy 2012 and Nerdmaste to you all! We're 4 pages into the daily calendar and already there have been victories and losses. Life. It happens.
Just before 2011 made its way into history, it set off one last volley at me. I came home from running errands on Saturday to find a package waiting for me. I opened it to find 2 pairs of awesome socks from Sock Dreams. The invoice said, "Blue Bee Socks for the Best Blue Bee Ever! You are loved and adored. Nerdmaste, my friend." Around this little message, drawings of blue bees swirled about hearts. at the bottom, someone had drawn a ginormous blue bumblebee wearing little blue socks.
Sent by "Anonymous Gifter! :) ".
I admit it... I cried. (meet me after the jump.)

The sentiment of the note was nice, of course, and the socks are freaking wonderful. The drawings were such an awesome touch, too! But it was the act itself that really got me. Just a random act of kindness that someone did anonymously to tell me they cared and to help keep my chilly feet warm with amazing blue stripey socks. (And socks with monkeys! MONKEYS, people!) Someone who didn't have to took a moment for me. And that means so much to me.
Now, my brain can't just let a puzzle sit there. I did guess who my secret Sock Fairy was and I did shower said Sock Fairy with love and gratitude. Sock Fairy asked me, though, if the Sock People followed any instructions... I sent Sock Fairy this picture.
Sock Fairy let out a squee because the people at Sock Dreams went above and beyond the requested drawing. I posted about it on Twitter and actually got a message from the person who drew the bee on the invoice. That drawing of a a bumblebee rocking its own blue socks is so freaking stellar I can't get rid of this piece of paper. My Sock Fairy did something awesome, but so did the Sock Dreams employee.
I can't put into words just how heartening it is to see. Like I said, the socks are cool and the note is sweet... but it's the kindness behind both socks and drawing.
2011 was a difficult year...especially toward the end.  This, though... this redeemed one year and set the tone for another.

As some of you know, I spend every New Year's Eve with my Ohana. Have done so for 7 years with one exception due to illness. One reason I go to this party every year is that this party is where Sean and I decided to take a chance on one another and become an US. So at midnight every year, we kiss and celebrate our anniversary as a couple. Another reason I go is because the people there are my home. There's no better way to spend the first hours of a year than gaming, laughing and enjoying good food amongst them, my family of choice. We have a couple of cool traditions, too. The Year In Review is a favorite. Seven years ago, this rather pessimistic bastard had come to the fireside and complained that nothing good happened in 2004. Brian, the host of the party and my soul friend, pointed at some random partygoer and said, "YOU! Name something good that happened this year." This went on for a while.... we were able to come up with many good things for each month of the year. Now, we do it every year and we have to start earlier in the night every year. We start with January, go around the circle and spend the last minutes of a year counting our many blessings rather than dwelling on the bad stuff.

This year was no exception. However, there was mention of one bad... we lost a member of our family and we couldn't ignore that. I cried like a fucking baby and for those that were present, I'm sorry if my squeaking held up the line. But, we spent 90 minutes coming up with positive things that happened in 2011. New people joined the circle this year, too. That's pretty damn cool in and of itself.
Anyway, that's our end of year tradition. The start of the year has one, too. It's a silly thing, but Brian will usually wake up the next morning and head out to the smoldering fire for a cigarette and a donut or something. As he shambles out, like a grumbling bear from his cave, Brian proclaims the name of the year. We have, in the past, had the year of Dropping Trou, Gay Chicken, and The Fruit Bat. Last year was named after a new friend... the Year of the Laughing Giorgos. Apparently, this year tradition shifted just slightly and Brian named the year just after midnight. (I wasn't by the fire at that point... I was in the house reading a Captain Underpants book to my daughter.)
2012 is ... aw hell let me just have him say it. This is from his Facebook:

And so ends 2011: The Year of the Laughing Giorgos. Thus too begins 2012: The Year of Behaving Admirably. You are invited to do good things, noble things, kind things, things that your loved ones would tearfully hug you for. Not for recognition, but because you are far better than you think you are, and the world needs you mroe than ever. Happy New Year!

The Year of Behaving Admirably.
So you... fellow museslave, wandering reader and demented soul... you have a mission. Do good things. Put people first rather than corporations. Let go of grudges and say hi to someone you've lost touch with. Cook dinner for your friends. Have a potluck picnic. If you miss someone, call them. Talk to people. Take time to be kind. Keep behaving admirably... even if it's just buying a friend some blue socks.

Score One For the Home Team

So it's Monday, and while this is normally a lamentable occurrence I can't help but feel full of awesome today. As of today I will not be paying AETNA for health insurance anymore. To quote Portal, "This was a triumph." I've been dealing with their shit for years and now I'm free. Not only that--I am free of Chase! I paid off my credit card and severed ties with them. *happy dance* And--AND!--the Indianapolis Colts finally won a game! The world is a weird place right now, isn't it? The Iraq War is officially over. Troops are coming home. Another lunatic dictator is dead. There are beginnings and endings that are positive and negative all around. For now, fuck the negative, let's talk about some fun shit that's happening!

Christmas is coming and with it are the cookies and mugs of hot chocolate or chai and all the other fattening indulgences. It's also turning pretty damn cold here in the Valley of the Sun. Walking my daughter to school the other day we could see our breath. She's six and therefore amused by this. Me? I'm a wuss and I shivered in my multiple layers. My kiddo is freaking awesome. I know I'm biased, but there's been a lot of supporting evidence of late.

Last week we were walking around and looking at Christmas lights when she just stopped and looked at the sky. "I can hear the stars twinkling," she said. I melted. This is the same kid who told me that clouds probably taste like the sky and the sky tastes like strawberries. I love her mind and its synaesthesiac tendencies.

Also, K's class had a Christmas presentation Friday night. There was a spectacular display of off-key singing and then we were treated to cookies. The kids also did presentations on how Christmas is celebrated around the world. K's group did Mexico. She told me about a tradition involving a doll of baby Jesus being baked in a cake. I asked her if her teachers had told her anything else about Baby Jesus. She informed me that he's a Baby. His name is Jesus and he lives in Mexico. Weeeelllll, okay. At least I know there's no indoctrination going on. (Before you freak out that my daughter doesn't know who Jesus is, know this: Our family is very diverse and we want K to grow up with equal knowledge of as many paths as we can give her. We have told her about Christianity in a very loose, kid-friendly way, but haven't gone into the Jesus/Trinity/Crucifixion/SIN thing. I did explain to her that the Baby Jesus of Christmas fame does not, in fact, live in Mexico but was born in Bethlehem over in the Middle East.)

Saturday we took the kiddo to IKEA for her big present: A new bed. Dude, I'm so freaking jealous. Sean and I spent hours putting this thing together. There was some small amount of cursing, admittedly, but now that it's done it is a thing of epic cool. I want one for me. It's a reversible bed. Seriously, it can be a low bed with a canopy OR you can flip it over so that it's a small loft. We got a little bed tent to go over it that looks like a star field. Why can't grown ups have cool stuff like this, too?

The kiddo will be out of school for Winter Break from Wednesday through the end of the year, so writing time (both fiction and blogging) will be at a premium. I'm so excited, though. Family time this weekend and various gatherings...some of my friends are getting the most amazing gifts of seeing children who've been away at Basic Training. Others are welcoming home their father as he comes home from his third (or fourth?) tour of duty. There are many tables I know that will have an empty space...mine included. But we're still here. Still kicking and surviving and laughing through all the craziness going on.

And that's all you can do, right? Keep laughing. Keep hold of your family. And listen to the stars twinkle.