Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Show me your Bad.

As writers, we hear a lot about improving our craft. Striving to be better. Murdering darlings.

But what about the BAD things we've written?

I'm interested in those. Specifically, ANGSTY POETRY!

Did some asshole break your heart, and you verbally owned him in your notebook? Did you write an angry ode to a jealous rival to scratch her out from under your skin? Friends/ parents/ society never understood you?!

Dust off that old journal. Dig out that box from under the stairs.

I want to hear your BEST angsty poem. Don't act like you don't have any.

You have it. I want it. The internet is rife with places to embarrass yourself. Might as well do it here with me.

That's What She Said.

The prize:
1) The dubious honour of winning the title of Feaky's Choice Angsty Poet Laureate.
2) A Thinkgeek giftcard for $50!!!! ZOMG! Those of you unaware of Thinkgeek's Awesomeness Go now. Snoop around. YOU WANT THIS PRIZE!


The rules:

1) 1 poem per person.
2) I want OLD, already written poems. Do NOT write anything new for this contest. While there's no real way for me to know the poem you submit is in fact old, lying is lame. Don't do it. Ceiling cat is watching you cheat.
3) Post your Angsty poem in the comments section of THIS post.
4) I get to choose the winner. And you don't get to bitch about it. But if you DO feel like bitching about my choice, write a poem about it. If this becomes an annual thing, maybe your poem will be next year's winner!
5) Contest ends on Tuesday the 5th of Feb. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday the 6th.
6) You won't get anything extra for tweeting/ shouting out this contest. But it WOULD be nice to see as many awesomely intense poems as possible.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Your words AREN'T perfect

No, really. Rein in that ego and listen up.

Crit Partnerships are a beautiful, sacred thing. We TRUST each other. We LOVE each other - and the words our CP's write.

But you have to know your words aren't perfect. And if you think they are, then we have a problem.

There's a difference between Crit partners, and Beta readers.

Betas are some of the first readers to lay eyes on your Manuscript. They give feedback that you may, or may not choose to act upon. They are AMAZING people, and resources, catching things CP's may have missed after several passes. Betas are the readers before the readers before the Manuscript is a book. But at this point, the MS should be shiny. Free of typos, grammar issues, etc.

Critique partners are the ones in the trenches with you. They're there WHILE you're writing the words. They talk you down from the trees of self-doubts and angst riddled rage seizures. They are the ones you send the MS to as soon as it's done - and you've done a pass through of your own edits.

(PSA - Crit partners are NOT unpaid Editors. You should do your own tweaks before sending to CP's. Don't expect them to do your work for you. Things are bound to slip through, but don't waste people's time on silly things you could have fixed before sending.)

Back to your words. And trust.

I say trust, because the Crit Partnership is SO important. We trust these people - some we only know online - not to fuck us over. Not to plagiarize. We trust them to keep our secrets. We trust them with our word-babies.

And we trust them to rip our words to shreds when they need it. We trust their judgment to make us stronger, make the words flow better, give us fresh eyes, and a way to make the MS truly sing.

Or we should.

See, some writers are unable to separate their words from themselves. From their ego. They think if you dare to make a suggestion about their PRECIOUS words, that you are attacking THEM! It is SO not the case, and it's indicative of an overly sensitive person -an  Artiste; or a new writer. I was there. You were there. Hopefully we've moved on to where we know it's not personal.

Subjectivity comes into it, yes. But some suggestions are NOT optional. The rules of grammar DO apply to you. There are some rules you shouldn't break.

Here's the thing. If you're not looking to make your MS better - if you think your words are PERFECT as they are, then tell your CP's before they begin reading. Tell them you are looking for a BETA reader, NOT a critique. TELL them you're looking for overall thoughts, and nothing deeper.

Because I've done crits for people. I've spent HOURS combing through MS's trying to make their beautiful words EVER BETTER! Some of those people take some of those changes. THAT'S how it SHOULD be.

But there are the other writers. People who are great writers, and snag a lot of full requests. People who I suggested changes for. People who keep getting rejections on those full requests, but still think there's nothing wrong with their MS. Newsflash - it's not ALL subjectivity from Agents and Editors.

If you're not implementing the changes your Crit Partners suggest, but you still ask them to CP for you, then YOU ARE WASTING THEIR TIME!

If you don't agree with their edits, then guess what? They aren't a good fit for you, and you need to have The Talk - it's not You, it's Me. You're not what I'm looking for.

If you don't agree with ANYONE'S crits, then sweetie, it's probably not Them, it's You.

People can be wonderful writers, but not a good fit for Critique Partners. It's not personal. It's no big deal. They can still Beta, or not. They can still be your friends!

But if you ask me to RE-Crit something I've already done, I shouldn't be finding the same GLARING errors I found the first go-round. I shouldn't find that giant fucking plot-hole I told you about the first time! I shouldn't see that huge tense shift I showed you when I critted the Manuscript MONTHS AGO!

So, you're basically wasting my time TWICE, because I already critiqued these mistakes. And you're probably not going to fix them this time either, are you? Nope. Because you think your words are perfect. 

There are 'I don't like this line/ character/ subjective' crits, and there are 'You need to fix this because it's bad/ wrong/ sloppy' crits.

If you don't trust your CP's to tell you ways to fix your MS, then you need new CP's, or you need to take your head out of your giant... ego.

I'm not saying I know everything. If I've critted your work, you'll see that I've got very strong opinions on things I hate and things I love. I'm a writer too! I'm an opinionated asshole, as sensitive as the next person about my word-darlings.

But I'll murder them in a HEARTBEAT if a CP shows me a way to make them better. That's where the trust comes in, and the ego goes out. Sometimes fresh eyes are just the thing to point out something amazing, or point out a glaring error.

Does it hurt? Sometimes - yes. But it makes my Manuscript SO MUCH BETTER.

And THAT should be the end goal.

Don't waste people's time by being a diva. Don't waste people's time by thinking your words are perfect. There's ALWAYS room for improvement. You are NOT the exception to that rule.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Have you heard the word of full frontal nudity?

So.

The Jehovah's witnesses knocked on my door this morning. I answered and was talking to them. Two ladies in their 60's. The one did more of the talking. She was like - 'We're wondering what you think of the state of the world. What can make it better.'

I was like, 'Well, people. We can make it better.'

Her, 'Well the governments are the ones making things the way they are.'

Me. 'Governments made up of PEOPLE. Who we elect. WE can make things better by electing the better people, or running for office. Or we can write letters and do all we can when we don't agree with what they're doing.'

Then she goes, 'Well you haven't really been around the world long to see what's happening.'

Me, 'I'm a lot older than I look.'

'How old are you?'

'I'll be 31 in a couple months.'

'OMG! I thought you were 17! haha congratulations! What a great way to start your day!'

Me. '...' Side note, I don't think looks are something to be proud of. It's genetic chance. It's not like I have an athletic physique I've spent hours a day cultivating. I had nothing to do with the way I look. It's no big deal, and certainly not an accomplishment. But I digress.

Then she launched into end of days stuff. I read out a line she asked me to about how the world is coming to an end, but the believers will live eternally. I'm paraphrasing. I can't remember it verbatim. I hadn't had coffee yet. :(

She asked what I thought that meant. I said, 'In this context it's saying the world is ending, but the people that believe in god will live eternally.'

She's like, 'Well, the world isn't really ending-'

I'm like, 'Um no. It says 'The world is coming to an end. It says that. Right there, right?"

Her. 'Yes.'

Me: 'Every religion has their own version of end of days.'

Her: 'Yes. They're all saying the same thing.'

Me: 'No, they're not. They have different versions.'

Her: 'Well the world isn't really ending. We'd have to define what the earth is.'

Me. 'No, I think they're pretty specific in the bible about the earth and heavens being different.'

Her. 'Yes.'

Me. 'So if you take part of this sentence literally, you have to take the rest literally. You can't pick and choose.'

Her: 'Well even in the king james version of the bible, it was written in old english, and we don't talk that way anymore. So we have to interpret it with today's language.'

Me: 'No. If the bible is literally the word of god, then it can't be open to interpretation. It has to be taken literally. If you believe god is infallible, and the bible is literally the word of god, then you can't pick and choose.'

Other lady: 'You're right. I agree with that.'

Then the phone rings.

My dad (from his bedroom) shouts my name as the phone is for me. He thinks I'm downstairs instead of by the front door, and he walks into view COMPLETELY NAKED!

So the Jehovah's Witnesses were treated to a 6'2, 240 pound full frontal action shot of my dad.

So yeah. They beat a hasty retreat, and I talked to my work.

Dad had scampered to put clothes on, and was in the kitchen by the time I finished on the phone. I told him he'd just flashed a couple jehovah's witnesses.

My dad cheekily asked, "Well, why didn't they come in?"

And people wonder why I'm the way I am...

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Call: After

After Marisa called me on that fantabulous Saturday morning, I pretty much did this:







She said she'd be sending over a contract in the next couple days, and as soon as I signed it and mailed it back, and it was filed, THEN I could announce.



Which SUCKED! I was SO excited I wanted to shout it from the rooftops!  But Marisa was all, NO! You have to wait til it's official!





 Okay, so she didn't smack the hat off my head. She was excited too. Heeheehee





I was all, yeah sure I can wait. NBD.




You know what sucks? Mailing ANYTHING on December 10th in the afternoon. The line up at the post office was so long I had to stand OUTSIDE until people left. Hmph. Out in the cold with the contract burning a hole in my hands. But I did it. 45 minutes later, I got to the front of that line, and it was GLORIOUS!

Of course, then I panicked until Marisa said it had been received. Never was I so mistrustful of the postal service as in those LONG three days waiting for my contract to be received. But it got there. :D


And I FINALLY got to announce to the world I had signed with MARISA CLEVELAND of the SEYMOUR AGENCY! <3 And the outpouring of love I received from the writing community was beautiful.



And now, Marisa and I have been working on SUPER SECRET PROJECTS! And I've sent her the sequel to the Manuscript she fell in love with and signed me with.

The road isn't over. But I've reached a milestone. And Marisa is an amazing woman.

2012 was one of the worst years in my life, but the best so far in my writing life.

Mom was hospitalized, we thought she was going to die. In ENGLAND, so I couldn't even go and see her. She was okay, but will require open heart surgery in a couple years. But then my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer that same day. A couple weeks later, my father in law had a significant stroke. Those are the major bad things that happened.

But I met my first ever CP Jessa. And then added a couple more CP's that I met in some contests. Then Pitchmas happened, and we made people's dreams come true! Or at least, provided an opportunity to get to the next level. Pitchmas had lots of success stories.

Mine was one of them. :)

*heads back to the writing cave*


Thursday, January 10, 2013

How the evil supervillain SYNOPSIS can make you a better writer.

No, really.

This is an elaboration on a tweet I made Wednesday.

Everyone's method is different, but when I'm crafting a synopsis, it involves three things.

1. Flailing around in my chair, hating everything in sight.
2. Bitching to my CP's/ Writer friends that I'm writing that 'damned synopsis.'
3. Writing the synopsis.

3b. I go through chapter by chapter, and summarize the events in each in a fresh word document. Then when that's done, I go through it and cut or add to the synopsis trying to hit whichever page/ word count I need for the submission.

(Note, I'm speaking specifically about a full synopsis, not a half-page version which is definitely shorter and will leave things out.)

And here's what I've learned from the dreaded synopsis: If I come across an entire chapter that I don't have to mention in the synopsis AT ALL--that chapter isn't necessary to the manuscript.

And I either need to cut the chapter from the manuscript, or fix it.

EVERY chapter should have something happen. EVERY chapter should be vital to the manuscript. Whether it's an event or an emotional realization that draws the plot forward, there needs to be SOMETHING happening to draw the story forward or it's just filler.

It might be the PRETTIEST, WORDIEST, MOST POETIC filler you've written, dripping in wit and humour and raw emotion, but here's where murdering your darlings comes in: It may be an amazing chapter, but if nothing happens, then it needs to go.

If you're married to that chapter staying in your MS, then you need to fix it. MAKE it VITAL to the manuscript. MAKE something happen.

But, I'd say 9/10 times, you can probably just cut it.

I recently deleted an entire chapter, and omfg did that ever hurt. But you know what? I saved that chapter in a document by itself. Maybe I can make that beautiful chapter into something else some day.

But it's not meant for that MS.

And it was The Dreaded Synopsis that taught me that lesson.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Call: During

So Monday's post was about before The Call. Here it is if you missed it.

Today we discuss... DURING.

Picture it. Canada. 2012. It was a cool December 8th. When we last saw our heroine, she was perched in her chair, waiting, hoping, not believing that the phone would ring.

And then it rang.

My heart wildly pounding, I waited for the second ring so I wouldn't appear like a losery loser. I was playing it casual, you see.

Yeah, that lasted about as long as, "Hi, is Tamara there?"

"That's me."

"Hi! This is Marisa Cleveland of the Seymour Agency."

AND I LOST MY FUCKING MIND!

My first thought was, 'She said my name right!!!!!!!!!!'

You know, I can't even remember anything in a chronological way. That phone call was a delightful shimmering tetherball made of unicorn farts - we'd both say something, and the conversation would swing in another direction, and it was SHINY, and we were laughing, and I liked her right away, and I was *REALLY* trying not to say SHIT and FUCK - but those were echoing around my mind because SHIT, I COULDN'T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS WAS HAPPENING!

It had all happened SO FAST! Wednesday NIGHT she requested the full. Thursday she wooed me over Twitter. Saturday morning, I had The Call. WAS THIS HAPPENING?! It BROKE MY BRAIN!

I managed to ask her a couple of the questions she didn't say right away. She asked me a couple questions. She said she couldn't wait until Monday to call me and MY HEART GREW THREE SIZES THAT DAY because I'd had NO idea how I was going to make it to Monday either! I had ALL the feelings, and KNEW she was the one. The One. MY AGENT!

But I'd told the other agents that I'd give them time. Damn it. BUT I told Marisa they would have to pretty much pull off a miracle to sway me because SHE was my girl.

We talked for about 20 minutes, that just flew by. I felt a bit awkward, because mostly I was trying not to squee and swear. I think I said 'I can't believe this is happening, this is so cool,' about eleventy billion times.

And then I had to hang up and walk to work.

I think I skipped the entire way there.

:)

Monday, January 7, 2013

SEX: A slippery slope


*deep breath*

I haven't ranted in a while. But if you've been following along for a while, you might remember that occasionally, I see something so stupid that I have to vent. I'm sure we all remember THIS POST

Anyways. Today, I was taking a break from writing, when I saw a link on Twitter about New Adult.

I truly think NA should be a category unto itself. I hate to pull argument from authority here, but as a librarian, I recommend the shit out of books on a daily basis. And it's blatantly obvious to me, that NA is needed, and indeed already sort of exists. Patrons want more of that age group's experiences.

And I recommend books that fit NA all the time.

But what pisses me off, is people are starting to equate NA as YA with graphic sex. And sorry to let you down, but that's just not what it is.

Sure, in some of the NA books I've read there has been sex. Some of it graphic. You know what other books have sex? Young Adult. Oh, and Adult.

You know what books DON'T have sex? Young Adult. Oh, and Adult.

Because, you see, not all Adult category books have sex! Not all have graphic sex. And to act like every book in a category is the same is just ignorant bullshit.

I write New Adult. I have manuscripts with graphic sex, and some with none. It's about what's authentic for the characters in that story. It's what feels right for the manuscript overall. 

Here's a link to the article that contains the comment section that spurned this ranty post. Go read the comments. I'll wait.

Back? Good. In case you cheated, I've posted some of the comments here to showcase my arguments.

"More smut aimed at programming our children's minds, encouraging them to become promiscuous adults before their time"

This is the type of response of a person who blames rock music when something bad happens. 'If it wasn't for that damned rock and roll teaching our kids it's okay to do drugs and have promiscuous sex...'

If your TEENAGER is SO impressionable that merely reading a novel with sex in it influences them to run out and emulate it - you've done something wrong as a parent.

"Ah, chick smut. Erotica is what people write when they want to be a writer but aren't good enough for the job. Add Twilight and Harry Potter to that and BAM horrible writing. This is the reason why I only read non-fiction and technical books. Thanks, crappy authors."

No. Thank YOU for parading your ignorance all over the internet. You freely admit you only read non-fiction and technical books, yet you feel qualified to label ALL New Adult as 'Chick Smut,' and paint all Erotica writers as talentless hacks. This, boys and girls, is what we call a "self-Pwn."

 "I wish they would just label the books. Not all teenagers have sex and use the F word on a regular basis and it's always great when I can find an author that writes smart, intelligent books without that in it. I can't tell you how many I take back to the library because they are offensive. It's a lazy author who has to sell sex to sell a book."

We do label the books. Fiction. Non-fiction. Then by category. Adult/ YA/ Juvenile. We're trying to add a new category - New Adult. Then by genre. It would be a logistical nightmare to label books further - 'Contains swearing, but no sex.' 'Contains sex, but no swearing,' 'No sex, but someone makes it to second base, and someone else says, 'Shit.''

See how ridiculous it would get if we labeled every potential trigger, or thing that someone might find offensive? You bring back "offensive" books - fine. But what's offensive to you isn't offensive to everyone. That's the FABULOUS thing about books - there is something for everyone. But just because YOU don't like something, doesn't make it bad. Just because an author chooses certain words or content doesn't make them lazy. It's a choice. It's their voice. If you don't like that style, choose another. Get recommendations from a friend for some "safe" words for yourself.

You know what offends me? Censorship. Bigotry. Racism. Gender inequality. Not a swear word in a book. Do you get JUST as outraged when you see injustice to gay rights? To the continual subjugation of women in modern society? Do you rear back in outrage when you come across a book with any kind of violence in it?

Because I'm more offended at something unnatural (violence) than something natural and healthy (consensual sex between willing of-age partners). 

Some people find interracial couples offensive. Some people find LGBTQ relationships offensive. I call these people IGNORANT ASSHOLES, who society will look back on as cowardly bigoted morons.

But I digress.

The main thing I disagree with in the comments section is the rather histrionic attitude that their kids are going to read about sex, and turn into wildly promiscuous little shits, their innocence torn from their child-like grasps before their time.

And I have a few issues with this.

1. Promiscuous? So, we're back to the slut-shaming? It's baffling to me that in 2013 we're still hearing things like this. We teach our daughters that they are strong, and independent, and liberated, oh, but don't have a lot of sex, because that somehow decreases your moral value, and makes you a bad person. Oh, don't enjoy your body, and rejoice your sexuality in a monogamous, consensual way - that's icky and wrong. WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBOURS THINK?! Fuck you. Go back to the forties and clutch your pearls.

2. Virginity =/= Innocence. If you think it does, you've never met a child who grew up without enough to eat, who saw a parent die in front of them. Who was beaten and taught that stealing was okay. I've met plenty of those children. Six and seven year old virgins who have seen far too much in their short years. Old, weary eyes in their tiny faces. Virginity is just that - not having had sex. Innocence is a world view - a state of mind. We've all met seniors, and strangers who aren't virgins who are fresh as the day is long. They are pure, and delightful people who don't always see that dirty joke coming. Who cry at silly commercials and are beautifully tender-hearted. Virginity has NOTHING to do with it. I'm looking at you Summer  and you Jessa

3. Impressionability/ Sheltered children. It's FINE to want to protect your child from things you think may harm them. It's natural, and beautiful to want to keep them safe.

But you can't protect them from growing up. And in order for them to be successful, they need your honesty, and the benefit of your wisdom. Don't bubble wrap them with ignorance, hoping to protect them from the world. Arm them with healthy curiosity, tempered with critical thinking! Teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

If you're not there to tell them the right answer, how will they know if someone is lying to them? If you're not there with the information they are hearing at school, on the bus, at a school dance, at the mall, then how will they know that their peers are full of shit?

Arm them with information! With facts! Telling your teenage daughter not to have sex with boys because 'No one will want to buy the cow if you give the milk away for free,' is NOT a deterrent. Being VERY real and honest and saying, 'Yes, sex feels good, but here are the ramifications of having sex,' IS. Teaching your kids about sex. Demystify it. STD's are very real. Teenage pregnancy is very real.

YOU know your teenager is only screaming at you because of their hormone riddled brains.

But their feelings are VERY REAL. You need to teach them to make smart choices for themselves.  If you teach your sons and daughters to be ashamed of their bodies, and that their feelings aren't real - they will find someone who validates their beliefs... and someone who makes them feel good about themselves. That isn't a healthy way to go about it.

You will NOT always be there to protect your baby. So you need to instill in them morals, and values, and the ability to make healthy decisions for themselves when they are alone, and grown.

4. Stop blaming books/ movies/ music/ video games as the reason the world's gone to hell in a hand basket. Here's a shock - THERE WERE NO GOOD OLD DAYS! The world was always this fucked up, we just didn't have the media and internet to show us exactly what we were all up to. Again - if you've taught your kid the difference between fantasy and reality, then it's not a big deal for them to watch a movie, or let them play a video game. They're not going to snap and lose it and perpetrate a crime because of the game/ book/movie.

If you think they are, then maybe you need to read a book about critical thinking.

5. 'It's a slippery slope. Let them read about sex, and they're going to want to DO IT!'
 Newsflash dumb ass - THEY'RE ALREADY DOING IT! And if they're not doing it now, they're trying to figure out how they CAN!

Not everyone who reads mysteries wants to rush out and solve OR perpetrate crimes! Not everyone who watches a cooking show wants to be a chef! STOP USING THIS SLIPPERY SLOPE ARGUMENT! You're only making yourself look like a hysterical dumb ass.

6. And this goes back to a few I've already listed. but if you're worried about your child learning about sex from a book - you are REALLY late in having The Talk with them.

I grew up on a farm. I NEVER had that awkward sex talk with my parents. I never grew up thinking sex was shameful, or dirty, or something to be glorified. It was a natural part of life. Horses did it. It led to babies. If I had further questions, I'd ask my parents. but it was never a big deal.

And being around promiscuous peers didn't change MY mind about sex.

I was a virgin until after I graduated from High School, and moved out of my parents' house.

I drank. I did drugs. I had peers who had multiple sexual partners. I was attracted to people. I was attractive to people. But I was a virgin until I decided I was ready to have sex. It wasn't peer pressure, or evil rock and roll, or smutty books (and boy did I ever read the shit out of those!) that made me decide when I was ready.

So, no. New Adult isn't just YA with more graphic sex. And people are going to try to vilify it as such. And when they do  - just remember this post, and tell them exactly why they are wrong.

Safe, consensual OF AGE sex is not bad - in real life, or in fiction. And if it is - you're doing it wrong. ;)


 XXX

The Call: Before

The amazing Tonya Kuper came up with the idea for a Seymour Agency Blog hop, about The Call.

This is a Blog Hop, so be sure to hit up Tonya's blog, and then check out the rest of my agency sisters' blogs for their stories!

For those of you who aren't as obsessed saturated with writerly vocabulary, The Call is that moment when an Agent, or Editor, phones you to discuss your manuscript. This call is sometimes a formality before the Agent offers representation. Usually, it's for you to get a feel for each other, and to weed out the crazies.

(I slipped by! MWAH HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAA)

*ahem*

It's an amazing moment, either way, and I hope you get YOUR Call soon!

But my call story will be in a couple days. This post is about before the call.

I'm a librarian for the town I live in. Best. Job. Ever. I'd written a few manuscripts before MOONDREAMER, the one I was querying (and got me Marisa, My agent). Manuscript 1 was adult urban fantasy, and like the first pancake; okay, but better that no one consumes that one.

Manuscript 2 was adult commercial fiction, though technically New Adult. I queried that one for a LONG time, with no bites. I knew the query was solid, as I'd beaten The Query Shark herself with that one. Then a few agents told me that while they liked the idea, in their experience, adult fiction about musicians just doesn't sell well.

I'd known that there wasn't a lot on the shelves about it, but written it anyways. I had to shelve that manuscript and move on to my next project.

My next project was a New Adult contemporary about a librarian with synaesthesia - a condition I have. During this time I met my first ever Critique Partner, The AMAZING Jessa Russo

Then came a life changing moment.I showed her the 10k I'd written of MOONDREAMER, curious as to what she thought. It was based on a dream I'd had, and thought - hey that might be a cool book idea. But I wasn't sure. See, I hadn't really read any YA. Jessa pretty much ONLY reads YA. She read it.

And told me I HAD to write THIS story, because it was different than anything she'd read.

So I did. I drafted the rest in a whirlwind 3 week period. Then revised. Then queried. Then wrote a new beginning - two new chapters that made the Manuscript SO MUCH better. I got an R&R from a Big Agent, and his revisions made MOONDREAMER SO much better.

And I read a metric SHIT-TON of YA books in the meantime. I firmly believe you should read the category you write in, if only to see what else is out there. Every book you read should make you a better writer - even if you're only learning what DOESN'T work.

And then came Pitchmas.

I don't know if fate exists. But if one thing had gone differently, I wouldn't have my agent - Marisa Cleveland - one of the Pitchmas judges.

Pitchmas was Jessa's idea. If she hadn't said, 'I want to do a pitch contest, and I want to do it with you,' I wouldn't have connected with Marisa.

I SO wanted to enter Pitchmas but entering your own contest is TACKY AS HELL! But I was SO tempted, that I asked my friend/ CP Tristina Wright to write me a new pitch - just to see what she'd do with my MS. It's ALWAYS interesting to see what another person thinks are the key moments of the MS. If she hadn't come up with such an AMAZING pitch, I wouldn't have caught Marisa's attention.

Her pitch was so amazing, I lamented to CP Laura AKA Mittens Morgul that I couldn't use it. And SHE said, 'Well. Entering might be tacky, but you could use your pitch as the example for everyone to see how to format their pitches.' O.O

It was just so crazy it might work!

So, I deleted the one I'd made - a Princess Bride example. And I slipped mine in there, still feeling a bit douchy, but knowing I wasn't taking anybody's place.

But if Laura hadn't been so diabolically clever, my pitch wouldn't have been there at all.

So. Three things that if hadn't aligned perfectly, may very well have been the different between successfully finding my agent, and still being stuck in the query trenches.

THEN PITCHMAS HAPPENED! O.O

Seriously. Throwing a contest is just as nerve wracking as entering one. We were so afraid of ALL THE THINGS that could potentially go wrong. No one would want to be a judge, we'd get judges but no one would enter, people would enter, but no one would get requests.

We were wrong. With over 108 requests from the blog alone, I'd say it was a resounding success.

WEDNESDAY: Jessa and I were trying to live tweet when agents were on the blog. And caught up in FEELINGS, I tweeted, 'I just really want everyone to get at least 1 request.'

Marisa Cleveland responded to my tweet, asking if I'd gotten any requests, because she thought my pitch sounded awesome.

I said no, as I hadn't technically entered the contest.

She told me to send her the FULL that Wednesday night.

Thursday I was back at work, and unable to be there for much of the Twitter Pitch day.  I was wrecked, having stayed up late Tuesday night, then gotten up early Wednesday morning for the contest. And the stress of the friggin entry window which we will NOT EVER be doing that way again. *sidles up to random draw, lust in her eyes*

So when I got home, and saw this tweet from Marisa: 'Excuse me @FeakySnucker. You know how my wish list states voice is key for me? Well, have you got it and I want it! Let's make this happen.' NATURALLY I thought I was hallucinating.

I wasn't sure what she meant - it had been LESS THAN 24 HOURS since she'd requested my full.

I replied asking if I was hallucinating this tweet as it had been a wild few days. She told me she always means what she says, and to check my email.

So I did.

And what I found, was this: 'I am interested, and I am meeting with my senior mentor agent tomorrow.
If all goes as planned (my plan, of course!), I have your phone number (from your manuscript), and I intend to use it. *fair warning*'

And more things that made my little heart pound.

I just couldn't believe it! She'd basically offered me OVER TWITTER! WHERE PEOPLE COULD SEE! She wasn't playing it cool at all, and it was heady stuff. I swooned, and freaked out in emails to friends who were squeeing with me, asking if I'd seen her tweets! I even asked Marisa if she'd read the whole thing yet haha. I'm such a LOSER! :D

Then a little later on twitter,  Marisa Tweeted this: 'the moment I realize I can't stop reading a manuscript and I rush to my bookshelves and find exactly where it would fit... that moment.'

And a tiny part of me was like, 'OMG! Is that about MEEEEEEEEEEEE?! No! Wow Little Miss Ego, rein that shit in. Not every tweet is about YOU!'

And then Marisa Tweeted again: 'That last "moment" tweet was for @feakysnucker... and yes, read it in 3 hours, loved it halfway through Pg.1. #Pitchmas'

At which point my CP's and I pretty much LOST OUR TINY LITTLE MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So FRIDAY came. I waited for The Call - but it never came. Marisa sent me an email, saying her meeting had been rescheduled, so she'd call me on Monday instead. BUT I emailed the other agents who still had my Full, and agreed to give them time.

:(

I was a bit disappointed, but it had all happened so fast, it was all right, though I wasn't sure how I'd make it through the weekend with my sanity intact. What if she changed her mind?! What if I'd imagined the whole thing?! What if - well. We won't get into the neurotic flailings. Suffice it to say, I had to be peeled off the ceiling a few times.

SATURDAY Morning.

I see Marisa Tweeted this: This manuscript is submission ready! I want to make an offer right now. Must I really wait until Monday? #Pitchmas request. @JessaRusso

Again, a tiny part of me was like - is that about ME?!

I promptly gave that little voice the smack down. NOT EVERY TWEET IS ABOUT YOU, TAM! WALK IT OFF! Holy EGO!

I was bleary eyed, and tired, and impatiently waiting for coffee. I Tweeted this, feeling it was COMPLETELY TRUE: I suspect the coffee pot is sentient, and basks in my attention, so it's brewing the coffee as slowly as it can to savour our time together.

And Marisa responded right away with this: '@feakysnucker oh good you're up is the coffee done brewing???' 

And I'd gone to get a cup of coffee, and read it when I came back. 

And while I wasn't sure she was going to phone me, I RAN upstairs and grabbed the cordless phone just in case. 

Then I RAN back downstairs, and gulped as much coffee as I could JUST IN CASE. Needed the synapses to be firing. 

And then I opened the Word document I'd made, of questions to ask Marisa when we had The Call... JUST IN CASE.

And then the phone rang...