Monday, June 27, 2011

I GOT AN AGENT!

I've been dreaming about this blog post for a long time. I had it all worked out in my head--and let me tell you, friend, it was RAD!

First I was going to suck you in with a really sexy title like, "You had me at hello" or, "Out of the slush I will rise!" And then I was going to string together a beautifully eloquent statement about subjectivity, and how one agent's trash is another agent's treasure.

I was going to captivate you with unlikely metaphors, and dazzle you with my surprising wit and off-color humor. I'd offer a sweet little nugget that you'd chew on and think, "Man, that RookieRiter totally gets it!" And then I'd conclude my awesome post by telling you that it only takes one YES to make it all worthwhile.

And now here I am...
The day I've been dreaming about.
The day I've been praying for.
The day I got an agent.
And what do I come up with??? I GOT AN AGENT. (Brilliant, Rook).

The truth is, I'm at a loss for words.

Up until a week ago my story was cliche. But today it's charming & fresh? What gives?!

Doesn't this east coast agent of glory know who she's talking to? I'm the RookieRiter. I get rejections, not offers. I run around with women who liken themselves to goat herders, not poet laureates. Why do I deserve all this love & affection??

All I can come up with is, SHE GETS ME. I don't know how it happened, but Rachael Dugas gets me. And now she's going to do her best to help my book become something wonderful--and that is just about the coolest thing that's ever happened to me.

The 90+ rejections over two manuscripts are history. The words "cliche" and "predictable" that plagued me three weeks ago are just words in a dictionary now. All the hurt, frustration, tears, anger and booze (okay, not the booze) but the rest of it really is dust in the wind. It's gone...

Since I can't think of anything fancy to say (I'm in a happy fog right now), I'll leave you with this:
DON'T GIVE UP! EVER!! If it can happen to me, BELIEVE ME, it can happen for you! JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

PEARLS OF WISDOM. OR NOT.

I survived my 36th birthday this week. You know what that means, right?

It means service people call me ma'am, not miss. It means that the tiny little hair that creeps out of my chin scar every few months is going to bring friends with her next time. It means I can hold a pencil (or a phone book) under my breast with no hands. And it means I will probably never get carded for buying alcohol again. (Except at Claim Jumper--they card EVERYBODY!)

But it also means I've had 13,140 days to learn, grow, and experience life--and in that time I've learned some pretty valuable lessons. Today, I'd like to share some of them with you.

Ahem...

-A genuine smile can be very disarming.
-Your mother will always love your manuscript. Even if it sucks. She's just amazed that you were able to string 75,000 words together considering you're the kid she used to find you in the basement shaving bars of soap and sniffing--just to see if you'd sneeze.
-Do not go barefoot to pick up dog poop.
-One armed hugs are stupid. Go big or go home.
-Lite beer doesn't taste good, and only pansies drink it.
-Sing loud. Even if you sound terrible.
-Go to church sometimes. Good things happen there.
-Laugh until you cry.
-If a burner smells hot--don't touch it!
-Fainting goats are proof that God has a sense of humor. (see video below)
-Say what you mean.
-Girls with long hair should not stick their heads into ice coolers outside the 7-11. The little fan inside can do damage.
-If your dad offers to pick you up from school in a sky blue, 1969 Winnebago with an umbrella-holding, cartoon bear on the side, and a caption reading, "God's love shines through" just say no.
-Potlucks are a stomach ache waiting to happen.
and finally,
-Always have faith.

This post is like the penny-cup at the drug store. Take a lesson if you need one, leave one if you don't.


Monday, June 13, 2011

DON'T RAIN ON MY CLICHE!

cli·ché

As defined by Merriam Webster:

[klee-shey, kli-]

noun
Something that is so commonly used in books, stories, etc., that it is no longer effective

Or as defined by a nameless agent:

SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS (Rookie Riter's current MS)

It's true. A very well respected, desirable agent finished reading my manuscript and, after telling me how strong a writer I was and how likable the characters were, said this, "My concern really lies in the predictability of the story...in the end I am afraid that editors will see the story in the same way and that as a result it would be a fairly challenging sale."

Then a second agent who was reviewing only the first chapter said this, "...I just got back from a three week trip in New York City stacked with editor meetings and they were adamant that they don't want to look at anything even remotely derivative. It has to be truly unique to garner interest at this point."

I'm not going to lie to you, I was pretty pissed for a few minutes there...my story, predictable?!
And then I started thinking about it...

And they were right.
It is predictable.
Sort of.

The main character is an angry, self-absorbed girl who, through unlikely circumstances and even more unlikely friends, discovers who she really is and who she wants to be. Sound familiar? Probably--in one form or another, but I'm not convinced that familiarity is a bad thing.

For example: Have you ever read a Nora Roberts novel? (Don't be embarrassed. We've all done it. It's no worse than farting in the grocery store and blaming it on your disabled daughter who doesn't speak) Well, haven't you ever noticed all her novels are exactly the same?! ALL OF THEM. Here's the formula:

EARLY 30's KNOCKOUT WITH UNLIKELY JOB + MISUNDERSTOOD DREAMY MAN + DANGEROUS SITUATION = HAPPILY EVER AFTER

It's the same as our favorite chick flicks: We watch them because we know the formula:

HOT GUY + TUMMY TINGLES = $8 WELL SPENT!

Are they cliche? Prolly.
Do we still love them? YES!

So, my beef is this: WHY DOES A CLICHE HAVE TO BE A BAD THING? Aren't the millions of dollars in royalties from best-selling books and box-office chart busters proof enough that cliches are, sometimes, a good thing?!

I leave you with this final nugget to chew on: (Relax! It's a 100% pure breast meat nugget. Only the best here.) My favorite television show is the biggest cliche imaginable. The dorks make Farmer Ted look cool. The Jews compare their large noses like other people exchange text messages. The jocks think with their man parts, and collectively, the cheerleaders are as bright as a box of hair. In case you haven't figured it out yet, it's a little show called GLEE. And, from what I've heard, it's doing pretty darn good in the ratings.

So, to all you agents out there, I say this: DON'T RAIN ON MY CLICHE!



Or, according to a recent agent, MY NOVEL

Thursday, June 2, 2011

DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME(me)

ou may have heard about a sneaky little guy whose been corrupting the coolest blogs on the blogosphere. He strikes when you least expect, is harder to shake than a booger from your finger, and leaves you with a creative hatchet wound so deep it will literally keep you up at night. He's called MEME and he was created by a pretty rad chick we call, GREEN WOMAN. (I'm guessing that's a pseudonym, though I once was secretary to a committee that housed a member named RICHARD BONER, so who knows.)

GREEN WOMAN suggested that writing was definitely NOT like a box of chocolates, but thought her fellow writers were astute enough to come up with a metaphor for what writing IS like. So, my sweet friend Angela, and my disturbed friend Marewulf, happily leaked my location to said MEME, enabling him to jump me like a common street thug after my late night shift at Hooters, and forced me at cursor point to come up with my own MEME.

So...here it goes:

WRITING IS LIKE THE ALL 80's CHANNEL ON SIRIUS/XM

I know you're wondering how on earth I'm going to swing this comparison, but bear with me for a minute. It all makes sense in my head.

I was born in 1975, thus making me a
real kid by the time the 80's rolled around. Like every other Reagan-era thug, I wore jelly shoes, tried (unsuccessfully) to master the Rubik's cube and yes, had a wide variety of neon-colored clothing, studded belts, and even a pair of L.A Gear high tops with two different colored laces just like Tiffany's (You know, I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW). But besides my bitchin' wardrobe, I also developed two great loves in the 80's: Music & Writing. (I wrote my first book in 2nd grade. It's a testament of why parents should not pay the extra money for private school)

It's not to say that I'm stuck in a time warp, but there's something about the 80's that feels familiar. Comfortable. The way I feel when I'm writing.

(yes, this would be the segue to the metaphor)

Some days a really
bitchin' song will come on and I am transported back to the place when I first heard and fell in love with that song. Like SISTER CHRISTIAN, by Night Ranger. I remember riding in the backseat of our Malibu Classic and the plastic seat covers were leaving marks on the back of my legs, but I didn't care because that was just the coolest song ever! I still feel that way about my first manuscript. I remember a moment from a particular scene, or that stolen glance that still makes my tummy twist in delight. Those are the days when I love being a writer.

Then there are the days when you feel like you're off to a good start. You drop 300 words in a matter of minutes, and the familiar song stars to play. You get yourself all worked up, expecting another 500 words to flow magically through your fingertips, and then you realize it's Duran Duran's ,THE REFLEX, and that the song actually sucks. And before you know it you're staring at a blinking cursor, wondering why you ever thought you were a good writer, or that Duran Duran wrote good music. These are the days when being a writer is frustrating.

Unfortunately there are the SUCK days, too. The days when Linda Ronstadt and Lionel Richie are clogging up the airwaves and my fingers are nothing more than bloody stumps completely incapable of typing. How is one supposed to come up with a decent thought when ISLANDS IN THE STREAM is playing the background? It's impossible. Those are the days when being a writer totally blows.

But, like every John Hughes movie, something good still lies ahead.

It's one of those days where you're cruising along an empty freeway--you're alone, the windows are down, the sunroof is open, the warm spring breeze is whipping your hair so you look just like a girl on a
Pantene commercial. Everything is just right. Your chair is comfy, the scene you wrote before you went to bed last night still rocks, and then you hear it. Eddie's guitar riff, Sammy's familiar voice. Your fingers start dancing across the keyboard. 100, 200, 300 words. And then you're singing--like you've never sung before. LOVE COMES WALKING IN...Who needs thesaurus.com, you're a wordsmith on your own! You've never seen writing like this! It's beautiful and amazing. Just like Van Halen's gut-wrenching ballad. You are a writer! YOU ARE A WRITER! And those are the days that make it all worth while. Because it erases all the edits, takes away all the distractions and reminds us that it's not a choice. Writing is just who we are.



(Side note: The Rookie Riter looks a lot like Sammy, minus the red parachute pants. It's all about the hair, baby!)

Now I think the MEME rules say that I'm supposed to chuck this little miscreant at someone else, but I'm going to leave well enough alone. In part, because I'm lazy. Sorry guys, it's something you should know about me. But also because I'm in a Hagar-induced daze right now and the only creative thought coming to mind involves me, a sandy beach, Sammy Hagar and a bottle of suds.