March 12, 2018

How I Got my Agent

The story of how I got my agent is not groundbreaking. Actually, as far as these stories are concerned, it's pretty dull.

The thing is, if you're reading this post, it's most likely because you're in the query trenches yourself (that, or you're so bored at work you somehow reached the end of Reddit). Either way, your standards here are probably much lower than groundbreaking.

And if that's the case, do I have a story for you!

So I guess I should start at the very beginning, where most writers explain how they knew they wanted to be a novelist their entire lives, how they came out of the womb with a tiny MacBook in hand, already 5k words into their WIP, etc. etc.

Unfortunately, that's not how I started. I mean, I've always loved writing, but I never really considered myself much of a storyteller. (I felt like I was more a current events/science kinda girl.)

But like things sometimes do, one day in 2014, an idea fell out of the sky on my way to Wegman's (if you're from Maryland, you know) and I decided to start a novel. And that went pretty well! I started with Chapter One—as one does—and when I was finished with that, I took a snack break that lasted a little over two years.

I started Chapter Two of that book shortly after I got married in September of 2016. Luckily things went a bit more quickly after that, and I finished the first draft of that book in March of 2017, revised a bit, and then sent it to some people who agreed to be my beta readers.

Side note: If you're going to write a book, finding beta readers is probably the second best thing you can do in terms of revisions. The best thing you could do is find MY beta readers, but I won't let you do that because they're mine. Sorry. (But not really.)

Anyway, after I revised again per my beta readers' comments, I felt I was ready. I sent my first query out in April of 2017, and I just wish I could go back and pat my little April '17 self on the head. I was so naive, so full of hope and faith and color-coded spreadsheets. Poor thing.

To make matters worse, about three hours after I sent my first query, I got a full request—which doesn't sound like a bad thing, but trust me, it was. Because after I got that request, my poor little naive self was Confident (capital C) that this was going to be a breeze. I was already daydreaming of book jacket fonts at this point. I mean, I had a full request, so that was the next logical step here, right?


The answer is no. That agent ended up rejecting my book with a pleasant and vaguely cataclysmic form letter. And to be really honest, I cried. It's not something I'm proud of, but we all do things we're ashamed to admit. (Except my cat. He has no shame, even for a cat.)

Anyway, by the 20th rejection, I wasn't crying anymore. And by the 30th, I'd pretty much accepted my book's fate. Luckily, I was already a good ways into my next book, which I had started for the sake of Gmail's refresh button. (I don't know if you can break that, but if you can, I'm sure I was only a click or two away.)

By the time I finished my second book in August of 2017, I had queried 68 agents total for the first book and had gotten a handful of requests (although frankly, no one really cared). So in August, I decided to shelf that project (RIP) and instead got to work on revising the second one.

(Again, I will never be able to thank my beta readers enough for their honest, harsh-but-not-too-harsh input and how fast they delivered. Seriously. They're the real MVPs.)

Anyway, the revisions took about a month, and by the end of August, I really couldn't think of how else to "improve" the story. Yet, at the same time, I didn't think I was ready to query again. It wasn't so much my book wasn't ready—it was me. I mean, one novel not getting picked up could have been a simple months-long, nationwide case of bad luck. But what if the second book was met with crickets too? Then what? Could I take it?

So instead of querying immediately, I took the coward's way out and participated in #PitMad. I mean, if no one liked my tweet, I could just delete it and pretend it never happened. Selfies disappear this way all the time, after all.

Thankfully, though, I didn't have to do that. Two people ended up liking my pitch: one, an author whom I don't know (although shout-out for the support!), and two, an agent named Jessica Faust, president of BookEnds Literary Agency.

After Jessica liked my tweet, I had to really look myself in the mirror, pull the stray Cheerio out of my hair, and ask myself: Do I have what it takes to do this again? 

As you may have guessed, I decided I did. (Otherwise, this post would have been an incredible letdown.) So I sent Jessica my query, and after I sent her that query, the floodgates really opened. I sent 7-8 more around the same time, and within a few days, Jessica had requested my full manuscript, as had two other people. And I'd like to say I handled this well, like I'd done it before.

I didn't, though.

Nope. I was a vibrating, vaguely nauseous ball of nerves every day since I sent that first query to Jessica. Thank god for Jessica, actually, as she put me out of my misery relatively early. A little over a month and a half after I sent her my full manuscript, she called me and offered to represent me and my book!



Of course, I did the whole responsible querying thing and gave other agents time to respond. (And by time, I mean three-ish days.) After those few days, I realized it didn't really matter what the other agents said: Jessica was exactly what I wanted in an agent, so I'd turn anyone else down anyway.

And that's my story! Not groundbreaking by any means, but if you've ever queried a book (or done anything, really, that involves sending a darling child full of all your hopes and dreams into the world to be judged and ridiculed by your peers), you know how much this post means to me.

And now, for those people who aren't interested in the story and just want the stats:

Book One
Total Queries: 68
Full Requests: 2
Partial Requests: 5
Rejections: 68 (including no responses)
Total Time: 3 months 

Just a side note, I say 3 months here because that's when I decided to move on. That being said, I did just last week (March of 2018) receive a rejection for a query I sent out in May of 2017. So do with that information what you'd like.

Book Two
Total Queries: 25
Full Requests: 5 (although 2 came after I'd already accepted Jessica's offer of representation)
Partial Requests: 3 (again, 2 came after I'd signed with Jessica)
Rejections: 17 (including no responses)
Total Time: ~1.5 months

December 05, 2017

Best Instagram Shots and Food Spots in Iceland

As I mentioned recently, I went to Iceland with two of my best friends last May. Now, some might feel that, as a blogger, it is now my responsibility to give you a detailed rundown of our trip's itinerary along with my planning tips and tricks. (Because bloggers always have tips and tricks.) But I'm not going to do that for two reasons:

One, I feel like that'd be a bit dishonest of me and frankly, ripping off my friend Erika, who did 99.5% of the planning. Erika is from Slovakia and also happens to be a consultant, so she travels—a lot. She's also one of those strange and admirable types who breathe what some people (me) find meticulous, aggravating, and sometimes impossible (creating travel itineraries). Anyway, I'll leave those details to Erika for if and when she ever gets a blog of her own.

The second reason I'm not going to detail our itinerary is that I don't feel like it.

What I am going to talk about is the two things I'm actually pretty decent at: Instagram pictures and food (eating it, that is). So without further ado, I present to you the best Insta shots and food spots in Iceland, according to me.

Instagram Shots

Best Place to Fake a North Face Ad: Skógafoss

Iceland is known for their waterfalls. Actually, I have no idea if that's true, but there are 10,000 plus waterfalls in Iceland, all of which are bound to be prime Insta locations.

I didn't see all 10,000, but of the ones I did see, Skógafoss was by far my favorite, mostly due to the fact that it's huge and you can get right up into it. And I mean right up into it, if you're so inclined. (I wasn't, by the way, because I was already cold and wasn't too into the idea of being wet and cold.) That said, you don't have to get too close to get a North Face-level shot.

Best Place to Have People Accuse You of Photoshop: The Blue Lagoon

I would go to Iceland again if just to spend another day (or month) at the Blue Lagoon, a spa/geothermal pool/blogger heaven near the Keflavik International Airport. It was the very first thing we did after arriving in Iceland (I think we can all agree that spa trips should be mandated after international flights), but we also ended up going our last day too because we loved it so much.

The Blue Lagoon's geothermal pool is man-made next to a geothermal power plant, where they use super hot water from the ground near a lava flow to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the water is fed into the lagoon, which is still pretty toasty (98-104°F, usually) and is filled with silica and minerals. Besides creating a sultry mist right above the pool, the water is also apparently great for your skin. (And I believe it. My skin was the best it's ever been after leaving Iceland, which was a miracle all on its own.)

Also (and more relevant to this post), the minerals turn the water in the pool a milky blue that is so beautiful, your photos will look Photoshopped. Seriously, look at them. I was there and I'm still not convinced they're not.

Best Pictures from Outer Space: Svínafellsjökull Glacier

I'm only half kidding about this, too. If you've ever seen the movie Interstellar, the pictures below might look suspiciously like one of its hostile, inhospitable terrains made only slightly more appealing by Matthew McConaughey.

And you'd be right, because it's where they filmed parts of the movie.

That said, the Svínafellsjökull glacier hike was probably the coolest and most unsettling thing we did during the trip. Coolest because... well, look at the pics. Unsettling because, while the hike guide didn't exactly make us feel unsafe, he was alarmingly adamant about us following his footsteps EXACTLY so as not to fall into a frozen crevice and die.

Then again, what's a good Insta pic if you're not willing to die for it, am I right?

Best Place to Capture a Horcrux: Vík

(FYI, I'm working under the assumption that you know what a Horcrux is. As one should.)

For the majority of our trip, we stayed in Reykjavík (in two different and equally awesome Airbnbs). We did, however, also spend two nights in a little village on Iceland's southern coast called Vík, which is much closer to Svínafellsjökull than Reykjavík is. The best part about staying at the old-school bed and breakfast Guesthouse Carina was, by far, the homemade rúgbrauð (an Icelandic bread that's really cake) in the morning. The second best thing, however, was the black sand beaches protected by a daunting line of cliffs at the edge of the village, which actually look eerily similar to the cave where Voldemort hid Salazar Slytherin's Locket.

Seriously, don't tell me I'm wrong about this:

Most Hipster-esque Shots: Reykjavík

What I didn't realize about Iceland (besides the fact that everyone there is beautiful. Seriously. I don't think I saw so much as a blemish the entire time I was there.) is that it's got a pretty solid hipster scene, if that's what you're into. Between the murals and the marble countertopped eateries, even the city life there is pretty darn Insta-worthy.

And this, conveniently, leads me to the second part of this post:

Food Spots

Now, for some reason (that reason being that I take food extremely seriously), I was in charge of a lot of our restaurant decisions. And they were decisions I did not take lightly.

As a disclaimer, this post isn't entirely necessary, as I'm pretty sure you can't really go wrong with choosing a restaurant in Reykjavík. (Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the three restaurants in Vík, where I'm pretty sure Hannah got served a plate of frozen mozzarella sticks with barbecue sauce.) That said, below is just a list of my favorite spots in Reykjavík.

You'd think the reason I liked this bakery so much is that it's totally Insta-worthy. (See below.) Not so. I actually loved this joint because of all its delicious, homemade carbs and the sweet-smelling smog of sugary goodness that oozed out of its front door. But really just the carbs.

We found this place mostly out of desperation (Erika had taken the car, and Hannah and I were starving), but this little cafe (which was a two-minute walk from our first Airbnb) turned out to be solid gold. Insta-gold, yes, but also homemade cinnamon rolls in the morning gold as well. (See discussion on carbs above.) The menu at Borðið was unfortunately in Icelandic, but it didn't really matter. You could point at anything on the menu, and I'm sure you'd still end up happy.

This was perhaps my peak in restaurant discoveries, and it's hardly even a restaurant at all. Kex is actually a hostel (and an inconspicuous one at that. The front door looks like the sort of warehouse door you'd only really think about entering if you're Olivia Benson). The inside, though, is nothing like SVU. The bar/restaurant on the third floor is hipster dining at its finest, complete with a view overlooking the water and a starter consisting of fried dates and bacon. I didn't offer much in terms of planning this trip, but I did offer Kex, and that, I think, was enough.

If we're being totally honest, I wasn't too pumped about the Cosy Pig. Granted, that might have been my fault seeing as I ordered a veggie burger. (I felt obligated to at least pretend I was balancing out the fried bacon.) That said, I had to include it, seeing as Erika went out one night on her own while Hannah and I were sleeping to get a second order of their beet and goat cheese gnocchi. And while Erika doesn't exactly value sleep as much as the rest of us (and much less than I do), still, I think the Cosy Pig has earned a spot on my list.

So there you have it! My highly anticipated, very timely post on the things that really matter when it comes to international travel. Next up, I'll likely be reviewing the trip to Israel we're set to take in a few weeks, which I'll probably post sometime in 2019.

December 01, 2017

A Cautionary Tale: The Vacation from Hell

Well, I promised I'd blog more, so here I am. Unfortunately, this post is not actually about any of the things I promised to blog about. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Actually, I started writing this post earlier this fall, but I got sidetracked somewhere along the way. I've finally finished, though, and it somehow turned into the short novel you see below. Because like they always say: why say a little about something when you can say entirely too much?

That said, today I am going to tell the story of the last night of my family vacation last summer. We were nearing the end of our annual week-long stay at the Outer Banks in North Carolina, the same vacation I've taken every year since 1989, when I was still a kumquat in my mom's womb.

This vacation, however, was not like the rest.

Image via Unsplash
Anyway, to the tale.

This tale begins at 4:30 AM on a Thursday, when most of the world—including me—was still sound asleep. You see, at 4:30 AM on July 27, 2017, a group of people I can only assume are the same people who don't use turn signals were building a bridge. And in the midst of building this bridge, they were doing the one thing bridge-builders are specifically NOT supposed to do: they hit a wire underground. Yes, with one of their presumably very big and very destructive bridge-building tools, they hit a crucial wire used to power the whole island.

So at 4:30 AM on Thursday, the Outer Banks in North Carolina went dark.

Fast-forward to 6:30 AM on Thursday, with me—crusty-eyed and sweaty—waking up to realize that our bedroom fan wasn't spinning. Not yet fully awake, my first thought was, logically, that Derrick had gotten up in the middle of the night and turned the fan off. So, after grumbling for a moment, I got up and plucked the cord once, then twice, then three times. And that's when I realized what was really going on: the power was out.

However, still crusty-eyed as I was, I didn't really feel like investigating. So instead, I plopped back down on the bed and tried to go back to sleep. And this lasted all of about four minutes before I decided it was too hot to sleep. (There was sweat on my brow, for God's sake. Things were dire.)

So I decided to do what anyone in a dire situation would do: I went downstairs to find someone to complain to. And I found my sister, who was also in the middle of her own bout of grumbling over her own fans, which also wouldn't turn on. So together, we sat there in the slightly stuffy living room telling one another just how pissed we were and just how soon they better get the power back on, otherwise we wouldn't be able to make a smoothie for breakfast and so help us, if we couldn't make a smoothie, heads were going to roll.

Oh, how naive we were.

Because we wouldn't be having a smoothie for breakfast. We also wouldn't be having a smoothie for lunch. (Although not for lack of trying. I don't think I've ever witnessed anything quite so pure as my sister speed-walking across the road, trying not to spill the full blender she was hoping to discretely plug into our neighbor's generator.) Regardless, we didn't end up getting power back that day. We did, however, get an update from the local news network telling us that power would probably be restored in a few weeks.

WEEKS. In July. No power in July for WEEKS.

Now, before I go on, I should explain something about myself. I really, really like being comfortable. For a while, I tried to hide this particular characteristic. I tried to pretend I'm a "cool girl" who likes camping and music festivals and backpacking and other uncomfortable situations like that. But I'm not and I don't. I hate being hot. I hate using flashlights. I hate cold showers and unwashed towels and that slightly damp feeling of your shirt sticking to your back. So needless to say, I was not very pleased with the happenings going on that Thursday.

This, however, is not a tale about flashlights or cold showers or the infuriating state of my sweaty shirts (although all those things did happen). No, this tale is about what happened after we made dinner by flashlight, after the hour-long games of poker and magic card tricks and my sister's boyfriend falling through a tree in search of firewood. This tale is about what happened when we decided to go to bed.

Our plan for going to bed was simple: at 11:00 PM, we would all jump under our sheets and fall asleep as quickly as possible.

Now, you're probably wondering why 11. Well, according to the local news network, at 11:00 PM, our town would be receiving three blessed hours of power from the generators they'd hauled in, three wonderful, blissful hours in the midst of the "rolling blackouts" they'd scheduled so our food didn't go bad.

So we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then, finally, 11 o'clock rolled around...


I'd like to tell you I handled this well, that I simply folded my hands in a dignified manner and said something like, "Ah, well, what's done is done," or whatever it is dignified people say in times like that.

But I didn't. Instead, I yelled and I stormed and I generally went apeshit around the house because it was hot, dammit, and I was sweating and besides, now all my yogurt was going to go bad, and who was going to pay for my yogurt, I'd like to know? Those numnuts who were building the bridge?

And to make matters worse, I knew some people were getting power somewhere out there, because every once in a while the silent darkness outside was pierced by the hooting and hollering of someone who's just experienced electricity for the first time in hours. So, that's all to say I was not particularly dignified about the letdown at all.

Regardless, we didn't have a lot of options at that point, so the only thing we really could do was carry on as scheduled and go to bed. Only we couldn't go to sleep inside, because it was hot as balls inside, even with all the windows open. And not just hot—it was stuffy too. Like, panic-inducing stuffy. Have you ever been trapped in a D.C. metro car that's broken down in the middle of summer? (Which, if you've ever been to D.C., I'm assuming you have.) That chill you get, a mixture of sweat and panic and that "are we ever going to get out of here or is this the end" feeling? That was our house.

So, in a surprising display of teamwork and heroism, Derrick and I instead decided to maneuver our queen-size mattress down an (unnecessarily, if you ask me—more on that later) narrow, unnecessarily steep staircase to the front porch, where we decided we would sleep.

And to be honest, once we were out there under the sheets, it wasn't so bad. I mean, it was no DoubleTree—even without the warm cookies. But lying there, with the breeze flitting through the porch railings and the faint buzz of mosquitoes serenading us softly to sleep, it really was okay. A very hard, exceptionally mediocre okay.

But, of course, that wasn't the end of this story. Actually, that was only the beginning. Because little did we know, as our eyelids grew heavy in that sticky, buggy humidity, we were about to enter the Hunger Games.

Now, if you haven't seen or read the Hunger Games, specifically the second one, first of all, what are you even doing with your life? Second of all, this probably won't make much sense to you. But assuming you're living in the twenty-first century and do know what I'm talking about, the night to come was a little bit like the 75th Hunger Games arena, wherein every hour brought about a new and surprising horror.

Hour One: The Fallen Boulder

Let me set the scene for you: it's nearing 1 AM, and I'm in that stage halfway between being awake and asleep, when you can hear what's going on around you but it doesn't really register. Derrick is snoring softly beside me, and there's no other sound but the buzzing of insects I've done my best to ignore.

And then, suddenly, the silence is broken.

It started with a large thud, which then sort of extended to a very long thud that felt like thirty minutes but was probably more like ten seconds. Regardless, as this extended thud shook the house (literally—the house was on stilts, so even a slightly-violent microwave door slam shook things), I froze. Like, I don't even think I was breathing. I was just lying there, fists clamped on the sheets, thinking, "Oh my god. Someones's died. Someone fell off the back porch and has died." (I never said I was any good at crises.)

Of course, Derrick was sound asleep, so he didn't hear the thud. But my mom, who I'm convinced is mostly machine and therefore doesn't sleep, did hear the thud. So about two seconds after the shaking had stopped, my mom—who is also much better at crisis situations than I am—appeared in the door.

"What was that?"

"I don't know."

"Was it Sam?"

"I don't know."

And then she was gone.

By this point, Derrick had woken up and had figured out there was some type of emergency to be dealt with. He told me later he didn't know exactly what type of emergency it was, but he nonetheless felt the need to spring to action anyway. So, he jumped out of bed and followed my mom to where she'd disappeared into the living room.

Now that I was no longer frozen, I also followed them. And what we found was, uh...

Well, what we found was my sister at the bottom of yet another unnecessarily narrow, unnecessarily steep staircase that led from the living room to the lower level bedrooms. She and her boyfriend had been sleeping on the back patio, which was just outside the living room, so she had also heard the thud. And, because she hadn't frozen like I had, she'd been the first one inside the dark living room to ask, "Is everyone alright?"

And she was also the first person to hear my dad, who was lying at the bottom of the unnecessarily narrow,  unnecessarily steep staircase, whimper, "No."

To recap: the living room was pitch black. There was a loud, extended thud which had resulted in my father—a steak-and-potatoes, football-and-power tools, man's man kind of man—whimpering at the bottom of the stairs. There was also, as Sam soon realized using the flashlight on her phone, a trail of blood leading from the top of the staircase down the wall to where my dad was crumpled.

So, naturally, Sam's first reaction was, "Oh my god. Dad's died. Dad fell down the stairs and has died."

And that's when we entered, to my sister sobbing at the bottom of the stairs screaming, "We have to take him somewhere! We have to call an ambulance!" as she tried to drag my boulder of a father up the stairs.

So, of course, my first reaction was to stand at the top of the stairs, screaming in hysteria. My mom, however, has a different approach to crises. You see, whereas I cry when I get scared, and Sam panics when she gets scared, my mom gets angry. And I mean violently, this threat is nothing to me and my womanly fury angry. So, naturally, my mom pushed me and Sam out of the way and took over.

"Jerry, what are you doing?! Why aren't you in bed?!"

**indiscriminate whimper**

**Sam and me sobbing at the top of the steps**

"Jerry, get up and go to bed! Now!"

And then my mom appeared at the top of the step with my dad in tow, snapping at us all. "He's fine. Go to bed."

So we did. I learned later that my mom had woken my dad up every half hour after that to make sure he was in fact fine and not dead. And the next morning, we learned that the trail of blood had come from a combination of my dad's left ankle and his broken right hand. But that all did not happen until after I spent another thirty minutes lying on our mattress outside crying because—well, I don't know why. Just because it was all very traumatic and it seemed like the right thing to do. Actually, I don't even know if it seemed like the right thing to do, but it happened anyway. And so it goes with me sometimes. I cry a lot.

Hour Two: Blazes of the Sun 

After a half hour of unnecessary crying, I was finally able to fall asleep. This, unfortunately, only lasted another thirty minutes before the second horror arrived—the electricity.

Now, this might not sound like a horror given the circumstances we were in, but when you're dead asleep after a somewhat traumatic incident, and suddenly the white glare of a porchlight is blazing right above your face, it feels a bit horrific. I think I was convinced for a moment that God had come to collect my soul. The worst of it, though, was that this brief bit of electricity wasn't really "the power"—it was just the rolling blackout power we were supposed to have received hours earlier. Basically, it was just enough power to cool down our fridge and turn on a light, but not enough to use the AC.

Regardless, as soon as the light switched on, so did Derrick. I barely had time to register what was happening before he sprung to action. (He springs to action a lot, if you haven't noticed.) I'm not sure what exactly he did while he was inside. I'm not sure he even knows exactly what he did. He tells me it was more like an unconscious and arbitrary flurry of switching switches and plugging plugs (like our dead phones, for example). I think my mom did a load of laundry. On the bright side, though, at least our phones worked the next day.

Hour Three: The Warriors of the Night

So you know how in any crisis situation, there's always that select group of heroes who are out there weathering the storm? You know—police people, firemen, doctors, Captain Planet and the Planeteers? Well, apparently trashmen are also on this list, because while the rest of the world was being thrown down stairs and into complete disarray, these heroic few were out there at 3 AM, collecting trash when we needed it most.

And, okay, in hindsight, I am a little glad the trash was gone the next morning (so the island was just dark, not dark and stinky), but I wasn't particularly thrilled about it at the moment. You see, the trash truck startled me back awake less than an hour after I'd barely escaped God coming to collect my wordly soul, and it was the exact sort of wake-up call I didn't need.

This was horror number three.

Hour Four: The Wakening of the Giant

I don't talk a lot about my brother on my blog, but there are a few things you should know about him: Nathan is very tall. 6"7', per his latest estimate, with a shoe size that they apparently only sell online. He also likes being comfortable even more than I do, and for reasons I will never understand, prefers wearing short-sleeves in 40 degree weather so he "doesn't get hot."

As you can imagine, Nathan was on a short fuse that night. And apparently, that fuse ended right at 4 AM, when he became so uncontrollably irate over the situation that he decided to take matters into his own hands. And by that, I mean he decided to storm down from his bedroom, through the front door, and to the car downstairs, where he presumably sat the rest of the night with the AC on. (I wasn't positive what he was doing, though, because I didn't say anything as he roared by. I think by this point I was numb to any additional emotional turmoil.)

Hour Five: Morning

The sun started rising a little before six. I have trouble sleeping (thanks, insomnia), so normally I'd be a little anxious about waking up that early with such little shut-eye. That morning, however, I popped right out of bed.

Coming into the house, it felt a little like I was coming home from war. Slowly, each one of my family members lumbered into the living room, with the exception of Nathan, who was still stewing in the car. Together, we assessed our injuries—mostly emotional, although in my dad's case, new and unexpected sources of dried blood scattered around his body.

Technically, we still had one more night of vacation, but needless to say, by that time, we'd all had enough. So that morning, I took a cold shower with an unwashed towel, slipped on a shirt that stuck to my sweaty back, and ordered my very first Starbucks coffee as we made our way off the island. 

If you're still reading, this is where the story ends. I'm not sure this is exactly marketable blog content, but I think it is a good cautionary tale for anyone thinking of going to the Outer Banks when the power's out. TL;DR: don't.

November 24, 2017

Annual Life Update

Hello everyone! And by everyone, I mean no one, since I can't really expect anyone to be here when the person who actually owns this GD site—me—only shows up once a year.

That said, if for some strange reason you are here: Welcome. I love you. And I do not deserve you.

Anyway, I decided to dust off the ol' blog because I recently designed a new website (a Wordpress website—please hold your applause), which reminded me of this website, which was much easier to design and is much more interesting, IMHO. If you're interested, the new website is creatively titled It's pink and painfully boring, but it's also responsive (am I saying that right? It works on phones and tablets. I'm trying to say it works on phones and tablets) and took me a lot longer to figure out than I'd like to admit.

But anyway, I'm not here to promote that new site (which actually contains as close to nothing as a website can possibly contain). The real reason I'm here is to give my annual life update in hopes that this turns into at least a semi-annual thing. Because I miss blogging! (But not, like, that much, as evidenced by my lack of blogging.)

Anyway, to the update! Here are four things that happened to me since I last posted that I would like to discuss:

1. I signed with a literary agent!

This is by far the most exciting news of all the news I wanted to talk about, and it will probably be the subject of a much longer post in the future. But to summarize, someone (other than my mom) liked my book enough that she's decided to work with me!

I rarely use exclamation points when I write, so the fact that I've now used two should tell you how I feel about this development. But in case it doesn't, I feel like this: I am grateful and nervous and PUMPED and sorta weepy and honestly, still in disbelief. Traditional publishing is hard, guys. Like, getting a literary agent is only the very first step in this whole thing, and I've already been told I'm not good enough more times than I really think should be allowed. But that's just how the game is played, and at least I'm making progress.

But before you start mapping out the fastest route to Barnes and Noble, I'm going to stop you right there, because having a literary agent absolutely does not guarantee my book is going to be published. The next step, after my agent and I revise the book as she sees fit, is for her to start submitting it to editors who will hopefully want to publish it (which is by no means a done deal).

Of course, I'll update this empty room—uh, I mean my blog—if this happens (along with any and all social media outlets I can get my hand on). I'll also update my fancy Wordpress site, which was built for that very purpose. In the meantime, though, please enjoy this unnecessarily large picture of my face featured on my agent's website.

2. I went to Iceland.

I mentioned this in my last life update, and I am pleased to report that things went according to plan (i.e., I did not fall into a glacier crevice and die, though not for lack of trying). This will also likely be the subject of an upcoming blog post because the pictures are amazing.

And in case you're wondering, no, the amazing pictures are not because of the sinfully expensive camera I bought and never use, as Derrick likes to remind me frequently. Iceland is just the most colorful, surreal, and frankly, photogenic place I've ever been to. See, for example, Exhibits A and B, below:

The top picture is of my friend, Hannah, and the bottom is of me. They were both taken with my iPhone 6 (the one with the cracked screen) and are probably the best pictures that have ever been taken of us. So thank you for that, Iceland. (10/10 would recommend, by the way.)

3. We got a cat.

Remus R. Cat (named after the honorable Remus Lupin) was born sometime around April 25, 2017, in a small hole in the ground in Southwest Florida. A friend of a friend found him and his siblings in said hole, and because it appears their mother died (or otherwise abandoned them), our friend's friend nursed those sweet babes back to health. And then, once she started spreading the word that four gerbil-sized kittens needed a home, the rest is history.

When we first brought Remus home, he was so small that you couldn't even tell if he was male or female. The lady who was taking care of them thought he was a female, so for the first 24 hours in our home, he was known as Clementine. He also had fleas.

Both of those things (the gender identity crisis and the parasites) were taken care of the next day at the vet, and it's been mostly love ever since! I say mostly because Penelope is not a fan. During Remus's witching hour (i.e., when he goes batshit for no reason), I'm also not a huge fan either. But he more than makes up for it when he is being sweet, which really is most of the time.

4. Derrick and I booked our flight to Israel.

After I shared the above pictures of Iceland with Derrick, I think I infected him with the travel bug. I took that trip with some of my girlfriends, and now Derrick wanted a turn. We have a lot of places on our bucket list (or, should I say, before-we-start-trying-to-have-kids-and-have-another-small-human's-life-dependent-on-our-responsible-decision-making list), but Israel is definitely at the top.

So we got the flights, got the Airbnbs, got the rental car, and got the Insta-worthy swimsuits for our float in the Dead Sea. In other words, I think we're ready. (Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself.) Any and all recommendations are unbelievably welcome, though!


Well, that got out of hand pretty quickly, so I'm going to stop there. I really do plan on making this a more frequent thing, though, so I don't have to dump a year's worth of news into one obnoxious post.

That said, I'm not making any promises. Mainly because I don't like breaking promises.

March 30, 2017

Life Lately

I usually try to stay away from cliché, uninformative, no-one-cares-but-my-mom-and-even-she-sorta-doesn't type posts, but today I'm going rogue. Because I've spent the last six-ish months neck deep in the book I was writing, which was six-ish months of me holding the weight of a fictional character's fictional life in my hands. Which, let me tell you, is a lot more demanding than J.K. Rowling might lead you to believe.

Anyway, that's all to say that I deserve a break and some time for mindless word vomiting. Which is why we're here: what I've been up to lately, old school list style.

1. Wrote a book.
I think, maybe, I might've mentioned this before. Or, at least I slipped it in somewhere. Maybe it's under that dead horse?

Anyway, yes, most of what I've been doing for the last six-ish months has revolved around my book: writing the book, re-writing the book, agonizing over the book, hating the book, etc. And that's not even including the time I've spent trying to figure out the world of publishing. (Is death by query letter a thing? I'm assuming it is.)

But I won't talk about that anymore (at least for now), so I'm just going to move right along. That being said, because the book has been priority number one through 225 right now for me, I will continue with my list accordingly.

226. Booked a trip to Iceland.
For months (probably years), my friends and I have been saying that we should go on a trip. And then, one afternoon, we very quickly went from vaguely talking about it (the same way I vaguely talk about losing five pounds) to having bought the tickets. So quickly, in fact, that all three of us forgot we all have siblings graduating from college the same month as our trip, which led to $200 in flight change fees and me never wanting to look at my bank account again.

But the good news is that two of my friends and I are going to Iceland in May. So if you know any great things (and by things, I mean food) we need to try while we're there, let me know!

227. Took a trip to New York.
This actually happened a few months ago, but it's also the last time I used my (very expensive, as Derrick likes to remind me) DSLR camera. So I feel like I should bring it up so I can post these pictures.

And, since there's really no graceful way to segue at this point, here:

228. Developed a meaningful and pleasant relationship with my pet.
Just kidding.

Penelope's acceleration toward grumpy old woman is increasing at a pretty alarming rate. She mostly tolerates me but she will have nothing to do with anyone else who tries to touch (or be within ten feet of) her. And she still sometimes won't even have anything to do with me.

So, mothers of the blog world, I hear you. But, really, I don't think even angsty teenagers have anything on Miss P.

So that's my life in a nutshell. Let's hope I can find my camera battery charger before May so I'm prepared for my next update.