Dirty Houses and Messy Manuscripts

In the past six months, I've had the chance to meet two awesome women, my CP/BFFs Christine and Julie.

I know what you're thinking.

Yes, they are as awesome in real life as they seem online. Yes, I am actually taller than Julie. Yes, Christine does make the most a-MAH-zing scrambled eggs.

And no, I didn't watch them sleep (tempting) or hold them hostage in my crawl space when it was time for them to leave (also tempting).

When Julie came, I had just moved into my new house (living there for over a month still counts as JUST moving, right?) and there were still boxes everywhere. Within five minutes of our meeting, I had her and her husband helping me stuff boxes in a closet so we'd have room to hang out.

When Christine was here, she did my dishes on more than one occasion. She also babysat my kids while I picked my husband up from work.

Although our visits were--overall--super fun, I mention these lame things because inviting your best friend into your disheveled house is kind of like turning over your disheveled MS to a crit partner. It's not perfect. There are rough spots. There are embarrassing parts. There are things that don't work. But it's okay, because they are your friend, they love you, and they're there to help.

Turning a rough draft over for anyone to read is hard, but giving it to someone who cares about you takes away some of the pain. They have your best interest at heart. They don't want you to strain your back carrying those heavy boxes by yourself. They want you to try eating crab that's cooked right so you can get over your seafood phobia. And they want your story to be the best it can be.

It might be mortifying at times. It might make you feel like a dork. But, when the boxes are cleared, the dishes are dry, and the manuscript is fresh and tight and beautiful, you see that the most daunting tasks are better with a friend or two.


I've been tagged! I know that comes as a surprise to all of you. Who plays tag anymore, and on the Internet? Dangerous. It's all fun and games until someone trips over their spell checker. Thanks to Gina, Jenna, and Amber for tagging me!

Since I was tagged three times, with 11 questions each, I've decided to pick five from each tagger to answer. So, here we go:

  1. What is your favorite YouTube video? At the moment, this one: ^
  2. What was the greatest live music experience you've ever had?  This will make me sound like a super lamey lamerson, but I've never actually been to a concert, except my own in high school. So, I'll have to say, high school choir solos were great. Oh, and once we sang the national anthem at Candlestick Park in California, which is where the Beatles did their last public performance. So, there you go.
  3. What was your worst date ever? I was brought to the realization this summer, after a therapeutic discussion with a friend, that all of my worst dates have included frozen yogurt. The Frozen Yogurt Dates. Those are the worst ones.
  4. If money is no object, what would your dream vacation be? I would love to go on an African safari, the kind with the open air jeeps and the lions chasing me and giraffes eating leaves out of my hand. My plan, after high school, was to go to Africa and become a safari guide but that fell through. On my way home, I'd stop in Greece, Italy, and New Zealand as well.
  5.   Would you rather live in a crowded city or small town? Small town, but not too small. Although, my other plan after high school was to move to New York City and live in a tiny apartment, just me and a gray cat. This also fell through, in part because I'm allergic to cats.**
  6. If you could choose the manner of your death- but not the timing- what would you choose? I would choose a skydiving mishap. Then, on my 95th birthday, I would bid my family and friends farewell, get in the plane, and jump to my destiny. And enjoy the ride down.
  7. Redvines or Twizzlers? Pfff, Redvines. NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE.
  8.   With your iPod/MP3 on shuffle, what's the first song that comes up? "Sleeping to Dream" by Jason Mraz. What can I say? I like angst.
  9. You're the producer for turning any one book into a movie, which do you choose to do? Good grief, The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness, for sure. As producer, I do get to make sure the story isn't mangled, though, right? Because that would be a shame.
  10.   Flowers or chocolate? Flowers. I love flowers.
  11. Favorite book, movie, and TV show? Favorite books: The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. Favorite Movies: Stardust and Hairspray. Favorite TV show: Survivor. I will be on it someday, as soon as I get more buff and more crazy.
  12. Would you rather have free Starbucks for five years or free itunes for life? I don't drink coffee, so iTunes wins hands down. I love me some music.
  13. What inspires you more, music or visual (ie: photography, scenery, etc)? Music influences a lot of my creativity. But so does a long, hot shower...
  14. Would you rather be able to talk to animals or to be able to speak and understand any language? I think it would be cool to talk to animals. I used to talk to dogs about my woes when I was in those awkward teenage years, so it would've come in handy.
  15. Did you cry in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part two?  Was one of the times when Dumbledore asked Severus, "After all this time?" and Severus responded, "Always. "  And if not, are you sure you have a soul?  I don't let myself cry during movies unless I'm alone. If I feel the emotion rising, I chant, "It's not real. They're only acting. It's not real. They're only acting." I have vulnerability issues. As for the condition of my soul, well, let's talk about Fred Weasley and see how well my chanting works. 
Since I'm so late in the game, everyone else has been tagged, I think. So, I'm tagging...YOU! Pick one of the questions and answer it in the comments! (And if you haven't been tagged, consider this your tagsignation. [I don't know why I keep making up new words. I must be showing off for the new guys.])

**the real reason my plans fell through: I fell in love with my husband in high school and didn't want to leave him. Curse you, true love!!


Signs You're Not Ready to Query

Way back when I was riding on a high of finishing my first draft, aka ohmylandsthebeststoryEVER, I took the next obvious step and began researching agents.

Because, you know, I was ready. Heh.

I found an agent who was looking for my book. She didn't know it, but I had EXACTLY what she wanted. I planned to do a read-through, catch grammatical errors and misspellings, and send my manuscript on it's merry way to the bestsellers list.

Thankfully, at about the same time, I met my first critique partner, Christine. If you don't know her, go check her out NOW. My words can wait. She's brills for reals, guys. (I just made that up. Is it funny to anyone else?) More on the awesomeness that crit partners are later, but to sum up, after I sent her some of my perfect story, she very kindly but very firmly sent me back a "This isn't working." It wasn't ready yet. I had a lot of changes that needed to be made.

Since then, my first draft has been relegated to the File of No, where all first drafts belong. And even though it's painful to read now, I'm glad to be able to see all I've learned since I wrote it. Hopefully, I'll know when I'm ready to query for real someday.

So, compliments of my first draft (and a few other stories), here are signs your manuscript isn't ready to be queried:
  • Your own mother doesn't even finish reading the entire draft.
  • It starts with waking up.
  • Your protagonist has to look in the mirror and reassess that she still has sparkling blue eyes just a shade darker than the Mediterranean, white-blonde, wavy hair with that one crazy kink by her right ear, and the slight dimple in her chin.
  • The climax is a very earnest discussion with the antagonist where everyone politely agrees to disagree.
What are some ways you knew you weren't ready to query?


I'm BACK!!

I've been gone for a long time! But let's not dwell on that.

You guys, I missed you. Watch for my comments to start exploding onto your blogs. It's happening. I promise.

In other news, I just joined Rachael Harrie's Fourth Writer's Platform Building Campaign. Yay for peer pressure*!

If you've never done this before, go check it out. You can still join until tomorrow. If you have done it before, well, you know how awesome it is, so go join! This is an great way to meet new writing buddies, the kind who don't think you're crazy if you cyber-stalk someone just because THEIR SMILE LOOKS JUST LIKE YOUR MAIN CHARACTER'S SMILE!!! (that...is purely an example. *cough*) Writer friends are the best! Who doesn't want more?

So, I'll see you over at Rach's blog, yeah?

*no actual peer pressure involved, actually. In fact, my peers were all, "No pressure," and then I was like, "Ugh, okay, FINE, I'll do it!"