Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Introducing . . .

The newest client of Laurie McLean, of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents, Sarah M. Anderson!

It's official! Contracts have been signed, names and links have been added to websites and blogs, and editing of multiple manuscripts will commence in three - two - one - GO!

I'm deeply excited about working with Laurie. She's having an amazing year as an agent - and did I mention how excited she was about my work? She's already added me to her list of clients on her own blog, Agent Savant. It's alphabetical, so I'm second from the top. Who knew marrying a guy who's name began with A would come in so handy?

I'm looking forward to meeting Laurie, too. That'll happen at the RWA National Convention, being held in Washington, D.C. in mid-July. Hopefully, by that time, we've gotten at least two books edited and ready to shop around to publishers. I'm aiming for all three, but I'm sort of brand-spanking new to this side of the business, so we'll all find out together.

And you know who's going with me to Nationals? Dedicated readers have already guessed - my mother. She's a little hyped about touring D.C. while I do author things. I know we're going to hit the (relatively) new National Museum of the American Indian together (of course). I think she's going to do everything else on her own, frankly. That woman around historical monuments? Unstoppable.

Anyway, back to Laurie. She also organizes the San Francisco Writers Conference, which will be in February of 2010. I mentioned this to my hubby, and I think he's already set up the hotel, car, and activities for him and the kid to do whilst I schmooze. Something about riding a 'duck,' perhaps? Anything to break up February in Illinois, apparently. So those two are on board, as well.

Did I mention how crazy this week has been? I got So Excited about the whole signed-by-Laurie thing that I upset my tummy and couldn't eat a thing - for a week. On the plus side, I lost like seven pounds . . . but still, I'm glad things have settled down a bit. Warrior, Lawyer was in the top three for the Chicago-North RWA Fire and Ice contest (apparently, the world's worst title didn't deter them one bit). I get to go to a reception and awards ceremony for that in D.C., too. Have to find out if I can bring Mom to that one still.

And last Friday, I dumped 22 chapters of what is now being called No Man's Land, aka the bull riding book, on Mom and the Lovely Mary, Grammar Goddess. Usually takes Mary about 2-3 weeks to remove all the 's' I stuck on 'towards' and add back in all the 'the' and 'of' I glossed right over - but not this time. She read 437 pages in less than three days - and then had the nerve to demand I finish it RIGHT NOW so she could know how it ended! (To which I said, Um, about that - how do you WANT it to end? And this is one of the many, many reasons why Mary is so Lovely - after talking to her for 20 minutes or so, I have a much better idea of how everyone is going to ride off into the sunset.)

Tuesday was also insane. Less than a week after I got The Call, Craig, my web czar, completely redid my website. Part of that is so I don't bug the heck out of him when I want to tweak things - I can log in myself and change the font if I'm feeling like it. But the main reason is because now I'm writing New Westerns, and I needed to shift the focus to cowboys and Indians. That was my entire Tuesday. Took 30+ emails to Craig, all day of wrangling uncooperative computer programs, and a half hour call to some poor sap in Bangladesh before I got everything to the point where I could do it myself. (I sound just like my kid!) So go check out and tell me what you think. It's not 'done,' but it's not half bad, either.

So, as you can see, things have been Crazy in some of the best ways possible in the last week and a half. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a book to finish!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Call

There are two kinds of people in the world. The first kind is looking at the title of this blog and going, "What call?"

The other kind of people are going, "YOU GOT THE CALL?!??!?!?!!"

So, for those people not familiar with Writer-ese, The Call is when you are signed by an agent. Usually, a productive step toward publication of your writing.

In other words, someone else in this world besides the author (that would be me in this case) and their mother (Hi, Mom!) agrees that you write great stuff. Validation - and proof that it's not all in your head!

So, here's how my birthday went. Yes, you read correctly, my birthday.

Jake the Three-Legged Wonder Wiener woke me up at 5:15. And since the Agent had said she was going to call between 12 and 1, I knew I wouldn't get back to sleep.

So, at 5:30 in the morning - on my birthday - I was scrubbing a bathroom. You could say I had a little nervous energy to burn through. I also put away two loads of clean dishes, wiped down the kitchen, and removed a layer of grime two inches thick from the washer and dryer top.

Yes, that's right. By 5:45 in the morning, I was washing the washer. Inner peace.

After my guys got up, we did the breakfast-dressed-open a present because it's my birthday-out the door thing. I hit the gym, walked my tush off, and came home to laundry.

Tip: Scrubbing a bathroom is enough to distract your mind. Laundry isn't.

I think I managed to edit all of five words in the bull riding book. I moved a rug, did more laundry, showered, and took my dog for a walk. The whole time, I was talking to myself. The neighborhood no doubt thinks I'm even more insane than normal, but I looked at the scheduled Call as a Job Interview - and I hate being unprepared. And being unprepared means being nervous.

I tried to eat lunch. It didn't go very well.

As the clock zeroed in on noon, I began to panic - in the have-a-heart-attack kind of way. So I sang my "Happy Energetic Mood Music" song list as loud as I could, danced around, instant messaged my sister, and played more solitare. All at the same time.

And by the time the phone rang at 12:12, I was calm.

I had a great talk with the Agent. (I'll tell you who she is as soon as the official signing of the contracts is completed.) Did you know that I hire all the contractors who work on our house based on 'vibes'? Yes, I know it's a totally nuts new-age concept, but it's true.

The Agent has excellent vibes. She seemed to get my (slightly nervous) sense of humor; I thought she was easy to talk to, and - this is the very (damn) important point - she loved the Noseless Cowboy book, aka A Part of Her.

How much? Like "I usually do a line edit (read with pencil in hand to mark errors, you non-writer people!) but I was so engrossed with the story, and I wanted to make sure I signed you before anyone else did - I thought, I can do that later!" That much.

To be clear, not even my mother has said something that effusive.

So, she loved my work. She thought the book that I wrote after that sounded interesting - especially after I mentioned that that book (Remember the world's worst title? Warrior, Lawyer? That one.) had just finaled in the Chicago RWA North Fire and Ice writing contest in the Single Title category (one of three finalists!)

She loved the premise for the bull riding book. She laughed when I explained the book after the bull riding book would be a carnivore v. vegetarian, jock v. nerd, red blooded American male v. bleeding heart liberal set up.

In her follow-up email, she said, and I quote,
"I am thrilled with your answers about your willingness to revise your work, your super-fast writing pace, your creative and fresh ideas for plots and characters, your commitment to writing contemporary western romance novels and just your bubbly personality in general. . . I believe wholeheartedly that your work is sellable and that there is an audience for your writing."

So, you know what that means.

I have an agent.

It was one of the more exciting birthdays I've ever had.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hark! What Yonder Breaks?

It is a PATIO! Oh, and something about Juliet being the sun. But what's really important RIGHT NOW is the PATIO!!



and now, finally, almost an After:

It's not done. You know why? Because we were supposed to finish this Project that Wouldn't Die this weekend - and then I woke up at 4:30 Saturday morning with a raging sinus infection.

Yes, if there's anything better than backbreaking physical labor on Mother's Day weekend, it's trying to do backbreaking physical labor on Mother's Day weekend when your head is trying to explode.

So, the hubby took off Tuesday - the day I'm supposed to stay home and write my darned cowboy books. Had to get it done - major storms were forecast to roll through (and boy, did they!) And then he woke up with a fever at 2 in the morning.

You know what happened next. We tanked up on behind-the-counter drugs (the good stuff - the stuff you have to prove you're not a criminal to ingest) and caffeine and Gatorade and did it anyway.

We ate dinner out on our patio that night. The whole time, he and I were going "ugh," or "man," because we were that damned tired.

That stuff on top of the pavers is sand and about a zillion maple seeds (in this house, aka Whirlygigs). Gets swept into the cracks.

We still have to fit in the edge pieces and then cut in the curve. We still have to backfill the hell out of the little moat area that currently surrounds the edge of the patio. We still have to fix the step I was working on before I got sick - the math wasn't quite right (not that I'm pointing any fingers!) and we were half an inch off. Gotta fix that. And we're getting to the point where I can start to seriously think about landscaping and plants and - you guessed it - sod. None of which is going to happen until the pinched nerves in my wrists stop firing and the bruises heal and the snot drains out of my head. (Lose your grip on a 40 pound paver because your wrists feel like a wasp is stinging you, and it don't matter how much padding you've got on your thighs. You will bruise.)

But it is now a usable space. A patio. And, as my kid would say, "We did it ourselves!"

The Project That Wouldn't Die is still not dead. But it's on its last legs!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


So, definitely making serious patio progress. See?

And I went today and picked up the steps - those bad boys weigh 83 pounds a shot. My car was weeping as the guy loaded them in. I could hear it sobbing. But I got them out without breaking anything important, so all is well.

Why did we need to go buy steps? Because of my new superpower.

Call me Level-Headed Woman.

My neighbors no doubt think I'm insane. (To be fair, they probably already thought that.) But I'm out there, pacing back and forth over everything from newly dug-out dirt to rock to different rock. I can sense a change in the level. Even tiny ones. So what if I look like a deranged model on the loose? I'm Level-Headed Woman!

So, Sunday, it had dried out enough that I could go out there and dig. The dirt wasn't too heavy - not light, but moveable. And I'm leveling the ground so that, once we get the four inches of gravel and inch of sand and two-inch pavers, it will be level with the walkway we've already done.

And I look down to where we'd ripped out the old sidewalk - where we'd already dug out - where we'd already put down the gravel - and I realize that something is very wrong.

"Honey - that's not level."

And I get this lecture on how a little bit of grade is good, as long it drains away from the house ... yada, yada, yada.

"No, it's really not level. Do some math."

This is how our project has gone. I dig; he does math. I shovel; he does more math. Don't get me wrong - the math is important (see above drainage point), but let's just say I'm earning the office furniture I'm going to get with all the money we saved doing this ourselves. (And, to be fair, he's done some digging too. He also moves my full wheelbarrow for me. I hate wheeling my barrow. Hate it!)

So, he runs some lines, does some math, and discovers that - surprise! - it's not level, by a whole five inches. Over 10 feet. That's a whole lot of drop for a 16 by 16 inch paver stone to cover.

So, I ask my boss (an experienced fellow in this department), who, whenever we talk pavers, winds up giving me the "that's one way to do it - not the way I'd do it, but one way," look. And he tells me to do a step, where to get the supplies, and the steps I need to take.

Thus, my project today. Steps.

You know, there is so much more going on right now that just the Project That Wouldn't Die. My toddler is a toddler no more - he turned four on Tuesday. He's now officially a 'kid.' And while I was digging? My hubby made him this:

The kid insisted he eat the wheel first. That was tricky . . .

That's how we roll. Gender roles don't really apply at this house, but that's okay. He bakes a lot better cake than I do. And I level a lot better than he does.

Our seventh wedding anniversary was a few weeks ago. Not itchy at all!

Mother's Day is this weekend; in a week and a half, I'm turning thirty three.

I have reverse writer's block - I have entire chapters, down to the commas, written in my head. And I cannot get my fingers to type the words.

So, as you can see, there is a ton of stuff going on. And all of it is overshadowed by this danged patio.

But it's going to be great when it's done, right, Jake?