Monday, February 16, 2009

In Which the Universe Sends a Little Karmic Justice My Way


No, it isn’t my birthday.

OK, actually it is. It's my birthday. (Am I allowed to say that? Is that like some kind of big faux pas? Here's my whole thing about birthdays. You SHOULD get extra recognition on your birthday. You kind of need it to get through the day, because it's not like its a naturally fantastic moment in time. Sure, you might snag a few presents, but really it just means you're one year closer to death.)

(I would never end up having a Sixteen Candles forgotten birthday deal, because after about five minutes I’d be all, HELLO LOSERS, WHERE ARE MY PRESENTS?!)

(My husband likes to claim I forgot his birthday last year, but this is a wretched lie. He was getting ready to leave for work and I stumbled out to the kitchen. I was barely conscious, and he gave me a whole thirty seconds of head clearing time before he said, “I can’t believe you forgot my birthday.” I was like, “I didn’t forget your birthday - I’m not even AWAKE yet.” It’s not like I was going to forget it all day long. Probably.)

We celebrated my birthday on Monday, because Tuesday is one of our horrifically busy days, and today we were all home. Sarah used her actual piggy bank money to buy me a present. My husband tried to pay for it, but she insisted, and actually CRIED when he didn't use her dollar bills to pay the cashier. If that isn't so sweet it makes your teeth hurt, then you are DEAD INSIDE.

I answered some of the questions from the last post in the comments to the last post. Tonguu Mama was right - I’m kind of sick of talking about myself. (I KNOW! Who'd have thought?!) There are a few I didn't answer that I'll probably post about later. I know you can hardly stand waiting for my thrilling answers. Try to contain your excitement.

Aprel, Mandajuice and Melanie all wanted to know how things were going on the book front and I've been meaning to talk about that, because the whole thing is ridiculous. (Me + ridiculous = SURPRISING.)

So how things are going, how things are going, how things are going....

Wait. Before I tell you, first I'd better make sure we're all on the same page, that we're speaking the same LANGUAGE, that you know all about the whole publishing BAG.

Here is how traditional publishing works:
  1. In order to get published, you need an agent. They’re the gatekeepers for the publishing world.
  2. In order to get an agent, you have to write a query letter. Most agents get hundreds, if not thousands of query letters every month – so your letter has to be at least goodish.
  3. If the agent likes your query letter, she might ask you to send a partial manuscript – usually the first 30 to 50 pages or so.
  4. If the agent likes your partial, she might ask you to send her the full manuscript.
  5. If she likes your full manuscript enough, she might just go crazy and decide to represent you.
  6. If she represents you, she’ll shop your book around to publishers and you MIGHT get a book deal. And CHANCES ARE, if you get a book deal, she's gonna ask you for another cookie.
(Wait. Not that last sentence. Scratch that last sentence.)

So if you've read for a while, you know that one night a few months back, I completely lost my mind and sent out query emails to a few agents in the middle of the night. Even though, uh, I hadn’t exactly written a manuscript. And by that I mean I’d written four pages.) But they were GOOD pages.)

I did not expect to get an answer, especially from a national agent who pretty much specialized in the kind of stuff I imagined I wrote. (I mean, I had no actual proof, but I was guessing - if I wrote something, it would be RIGHT UP HER ALLEY.)

But a few days later I did get a response, and she wanted to see a partial. So I got all blithery dithery and pounded out a partial, sent it to my critique partners (who told me exactly what I needed to fix), then sent it off to her after making my changes.

Now this agent said it would take her a couple of months to read the partial, and not to expect to hear from her before that time. So I planned to use the two months to finish the manuscript.

And I started. I did. I started to finish it. But when I didn’t hear from her for a few weeks, I started to have doubts. Because really, would it HONESTLY take her two months? Just because she'd said it would? Of course not. That was probably just her way of letting the bad writers down easily.

Obviously, the only reason she hadn't responded within the first two weeks was that she'd read it and decided it was the most horrible dreck that ever drecked. I re-read the partial approximately eighty times, and by the eighty-first read I was ready to stomp on it, burn it, curse it for the horror it was. There was no way she would like it, why bother finishing it, why bother even LIVING, blah blah dramatic blah.

So I stopped working on it.

And of course, a week or so ago she sent me an email. She really liked my partial and wants to read the full.


So now I'm working on the full, hoping that she'll still want to read it when I'm done. I figure – hey – what’s a little two month lapse, right? Right? RIGHT?

And so I sit here late at night after the kids are in bed and I’m done with my work, trying to write something funny and fluffy and my mind is a total blank. All I can think about is popsicles.

I’ve always wanted to be a real live published writer, and now that I have something close to an opportunity I’m completely frozen. It’s like those dreams you have where you’re back in high school and there’s this really important test you need to study for, and then suddenly you’re in the classroom and the test is right in front of you but you didn’t study, and also you’re naked.

My writer friends are all hating me right now, thinking "CHEATERS NEVER PROSPER," and "THIS IS KARMA" and such. And yes. Yes. THIS, THIS is why you don’t try to cheat the system, my friends.


See, this is what being impulsive gets you. (Besides married. And owning a boat.) LET THIS BE A LESSON TO YOU.

PS: No – that isn’t my news. The news – I’m still percolating on that, but it’s nothing very exciting. I'll probably tell you about it later. I was just feeling a tad dramatic that day. (I like to be melodramatic, have you ever noticed? You probably haven't noticed. I'm subtle.)


  1. Anonymous11:25 PM

    0. I had to type this comment twice since Blogger ate the first one. Open ID has issues.

    1. Happy birthday!

    2. If you need ideas for your book I used to read this one blog about a girl in a hopeless romance -- it was totally entertaining and you could get a lot of ideas from it; just change a few names and no one would probably ever know the difference!

  2.'re birthday is the 17th and this posted on the 16th...but HAPPY BIRTHDAY anyway. And I'll post to your fb wall the same exact message TOMORROW. ;D

  3. PS-At least your birthday isn't on September mine. Ug. But now I think I know why you dislike Valentine's's too near your birthday!

  4. Wait, you're on facebook?

    I'm totally gonna friend request you. Well, maybe not. It's late and facebook bugs me sometimes.

    But happy freakin' birthday! If I had a wish then it would be -- some inspiration for your book from God and me! Serioualy. I still think about Cordy sometimes -- usually when I hear Jason Mraz. Especially his new some with Colbie Calliatt -- that would've been their song had they actually got together. So if you're book is anything like what you gave us with Cordy, it's gonna be awesome and you'll be FAMOUS.

  5. wow, congratulations and happy birthday!

  6. Sue--You are hilarious! I am laughing so hard I am crying!

    Happy Birthday and all that jazz!

    I agree with myimaginaryblog...I used to read that same blog. Wonder what they are up too???

  7. I'll never forget your birthday since you share it with one of my favorite monkey-babies! So happy b-day! Heck, happy birth-month! Celebrate big!

    Hey, try sleeping one night and then writing the next, maybe if you weren't terminally sleep-deprived your imagination would flow freely.

    When you get it done, it'll be great. And many people will want to publish it. This agent knows that. She'll still be there when it's done.

  8. I forgot what we were talking about...

    Happy Birthday anyway.

  9. That whole hands-on-the-keyboard-while-staring-blankly-into-space thing? If that's what you're talking about, I totally get it.

    Minus the agent thing.

    And the deadline.


  10. Happy birthday sue!

    I do not envy you one single bit. Having to suddenly churn out funny writing that is supposed to "be you" is grueling. Have fun with that. I'll say a prayer for you. Seriously.

  11. Happy Birthday, Sue! Have a great day--you deserve it.

  12. You forgot the timeshare....impulsiveness also gets you a timeshare.

    Happy Birthday!!

  13. Happy Birthday!

  14. This post makes me giddy. Love it.

    You're going to get published. Your writing is incredible.

    I've already busted through the publishing tape, but the thing I'm working on now--phew. I need funny, and it's eluding me.

    You are FUNNY.

  15. I wish I could somehow lift the pressure from off of you, so you could have the words pour out or you like so much candy syrup. Huh? I don't know what the meant either. Maybe something like the chocolate waterfall in Willy Wonka.

    Maybe you just need to get loaded. With red bull and chocolate cake, silly.

  16. Happy birthday!!
    Good luck on that manuscript. You will rock!

  17. Hey! Happy Birthday!

    When I am stuck for writing inspiration, I eat candy and take a nap. Try that!

    Good luck!

  18. Birthdays are for suckers. Wait...

    I think you should clear your mind--don't think about popsicles ever again. You need that space for bookish stuff, and you're an amazing writer. So the book is going to get published and it's going to be really really really good. So there.

  19. Colette's first husband used to lock her in a completely bare room with nothing but a pencil and paper or something. Maybe your husband could help you out that way.

    And haaaaaapppppy birrrrrthday tooooo yoooooooou!

  20. Happy Birthday! :) I hope you have a terrific day!

  21. Happy Birthday!

    I am equal parts jealous of you and freaked out on your behalf. The pressure! The excitement!

    Can't wait to read it.

    I've found that when I get stuck staring at the screen, it's best to just skip ahead to a sex scene. Fun parts are easier to write.

  22. I love your subtlety, sue. Is subtlety spelled right? That just looks so weird.

    Anyway, happy birthday and stuff. If I was a better blog-stalker, I'd already have known it was your birthday, and I would have found your address and sent you a present. Probably boat polish. Aren't you glad I'm not a very good blog-stalker?

  23. And aspiring writers everywhere who can't get past the query stage now hate you.

    But seriously--good luck! Exciting stuff! Hope you can think past popcicles very soon!

  24. Happy Birthday!!! I am totally NUTS about my birthday and make sure everyone knows it. I think I posted at least 1200 times about my birthday before it was actually my birthday. So, enjoy your day! You deserve it.

    As for the book...AWESOME! Holy COW! Sending lots of creative writing vibes your way!

  25. Write. Now. Right now.

    And I'm serious about sending you some chocolate. I'm on the verge of sending it via Cristina, so hook a sister up with an address, yo.

  26. DUDE! That's exciting! And happy birthday and all that jazz.

  27. Your book is going to be great. Happy birthday you wacko. :)

  28. Happy Birthday! I'm doing the fashionably late thing here because Bloglines hates me this week.

    I'd love to say you're only getting what you deserve, except I could totally imagine doing the same thing.

    Minus the interested agent bit, of course, because my writing's crap compared to yours. But excepting that? Could totally happen to me. So I'll hope for great things for you regardless.

  29. Happy Birthday! Can't wait to read the book!

  30. Happy Birthday. I thought I'd check in on you. Sounds like you are great. I can't believe you didn't finish it when she told you to. Duh, you are amazing. Of course she is going to like it. I don't know a thing about writing and I know you are the best I've ever read.

    Hope you have a great birthday.

  31. Happy Birthday! My husband did forget my birthday this year. It's an awesome thing to be able to remind him that he forgot.

    Also...impulsiveness gets you all sorts of stuff on the Home Shopping Network. Think Magic Bullet and Space Bags.

  32. You can do it-- I know you can! And the agent would be crazy not to want to see it when you're finished. I wish I could send you some popsicles for your birthday, but I'm afraid they'd be all melty by the time they got there, and a box of soggy sticks would be a pretty lousy birthday present.

  33. Brace yourself. You ready? SLAP. Great big SLAP right across the puss. Better? Less hysterical? My advice: shut up, already. Do you know nothing about "show biz?" Do you not know that when somebody offers you a part and they ask, "Can you ride horses?" that NOBODY says "Geee. No. I can't."

    So you are normal. You are a bit of an idiot, but you are normal. And what you write in a hurry maybe be a he-** of a lot not as good as it might have been if you'd been writing in quiet time - but dear girl - QUIET TIME????? Like, with you, when is that?

    So get off the air waves and eat some chocolate and stop whining unless it works in the book. By the way, you better read the finished about eighty times, too - let me tell you that an agent can be a vicious, betraying daughter of a dog. And have somebody read it who has a full set of deconstruction skills. Oh, and also somebody who is a pure and unadulterated member of the target audience.

    Honestly. And buy a dart board. The only use I have for agents is to decorate the middle of one of those. Or maybe a voo-doo doll. You can make one and stick a tiny symbolic paper book in her hands, and then she'll HAVE to like it.

    Good luck, in any case. You have the gift. Let's see what you do with it.

  34. Happy Birthday Sue! And congrats on your agent being interested in your book. Holy crap, you're famous! Even more than you were before!

  35. Guess what? I am going to sing to you... because that is what award winning Mommy Bloggers do (yeah, I got the Friendship award. Twice.)


    Happy Happy Birthday
    From this Old Jen to YOU
    Happy Happy Birthday
    May all your dreams come true

    Vote For Pedro

    This is your Birthday song
    It isn't very loooooooooooong

    *jumps out of cake*

    So now that your day is complete GO WRITE!! I can't wait to buy your book.

  36. Happy Birthday!! I hope you get inspired on your book!! Especially if it is the one about Super Hopeless Romance!! I can't wait to get my hands on it! I miss the blog, I know pathetic. But I admit to it!

  37. Happy Birthday!

    I'd like to order an advance copy of your book, please.

  38. With so many comments, its hard to say what hasn't already been said. So I'll add my own wishes for a happy birthday (Happy Birthday!). Good luck with the karma, please let me know if you find the secret to taming it.

  39. Zippity-ay! I think birthdays (especially yours) should include hot air balloons and singing telegrams.

    You are going to have a great year, Sue. I feel it.

  40. Hi Sue...again. I was just reading through the comments, 'cause I am kind of stalkerish like that...

    A few weeks ago, I realized that we have a friend in common, K. K and I have rode many a choir tour bus together. I just read her comment and thought, that is just so like K. :) Anywho...I just wanted to volunteer to be the "pure and unadulterated member of the target audience."

    (Actually if you must know...I almost fell off my chair saying, "Ooooh pick me! Pick me!")

    Just wanted you to know I am so here for you like that... ;)

  41. I'm gonna ignore the stuff about the agent because I am seething with jealousy but I will say

  42. So, my birthday is on Thursday. Can I have a book deal, too?

    Oh, right, you have to actually submit a query and write something, right?

    Dude, give yourself some credit.

  43. Happy Bday!

    Your book news is so exciting! Keep pressing forward - it sounds like you're onto something really promising.

  44. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! Lots of birthday love coming your way. (wow, that sounded a tad inappropriate didn't it) I hope you have a great day! Sounds like yesterday was perfect. Sarah is the sweetest thing since pie!

  45. and your brother is funny, but YOU are funny. I always, ALWAYS have the laughies BIG TIME with you. I know you really don't see yourself as cool as you really are, but truly you are the best.

  46. I am still smiling after reading your post. This is my first, but not last visit. I like your writing style. You made me smile, big. Can't get much better then that.
    Good luck with the book!

  47. Darn it! Everybody read this first. So now I am number one millionth to wish you a happy birthday. How special is that? Not very.

    And it is exciting, you doofus - the news, that is.

  48. You really are subtle. I can hardly ever tell what you're thinking. So...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! You're an Aquarian, like me! I don't have any idea what that means except when I read my horoscope it's DEAD ON! And I did a whole freaking week on MEEEE during the week before my birthday so for you to barely mention yours? Seems a little low key, to me. Hope you had a great day.

    PS Who do you think you are? A president? Celebrating your birthday on the Monday before your birthday which also just happened to be President's Day? Whatever. (LOL) (I was kidding. You got that, right?)

  49. Happy birthday.

    Some advice whether you asked for it or not? Just start writing. It doesn't matter if it's drivel. Write anything. You can cut and refine later.

    If you can't even do that, write what you thought you wanted to write about. Describe it in detail. Start with "What I want to write about is..." And then write...and I do mean really write this..."What I meant to say was..." and go from there. I've seen this crazy thing work with people from age 10 to 70. If it doesn't work, you can tell me I suck. Then again, if it does work, you're on your way.

    You've already proven you can do it. Grab your ring. Good luck.

  50. Awesome about the book! I've been reading for a while and LOVE your blog!
    And happy birthday! I hope you had a great one!

  51. Anonymous2:24 PM

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! :D (Even though I'm late. Oops. I swear, every time I stop reading blogs for a couple of days BIG THINGS happen!)

    And HOW COOL about your manuscript! Well, the fact that she wants to see it, not the fact that you're writing frantically. That part isn't as great. (But it IS funny.) But you will be FANTASTIC, and get published, and we will all be able to say we "knew you when . . . "


  52. HOw very cool for you SUE...I'm so happy and excited for you...i would DEFINITELY read your stuff!!! :)

  53. You didn't answer my question.

    But happy birthday and good luck on the book anyway.

    I will try not to be too upset.

  54. Happy Birthday! I love that Sarah bought you a present with her own money. What a sweetie! I am so excited for you and your book. That is the coolest thing ever!

  55. Happy Birthday! And, my gosh, I wish I had your problem.

    Congratulations - and sleep is optional at this point. Are you the kind of Mormon who might actually drink caffeine?

    Maybe you should tell her you'll get back to her in 2 months.

  56. So happy for you about the open door for a book. Even if it doesn't all flow like you'd wish, good things will come of this opportunity... Wishing you the best.

  57. Not sure how I missed this post but CONGRATULATIONS! You go girl! You are brilliant and funny and talented and the agent loved what you wrote. It will all work out. Yay!

  58. Here is a post script: reading you just fires my little style center, and after I got all fancy sassy with you, I went upstairs to take my shower and had the second chapter of a book I've been wrestling with forever just kind of pour right out - hey! She was YOU. And it was fun. And I'd lost most of it by the time I finally got downstairs and dressed, but it was a break-through. So, see what your birthday did for me? Hope it was lovely.

  59. Hold the Mayo! Seriously?! Sue you rock and I swear you are living my life! The day before the Cordy blog thing I told my friend Miri~ "hey I'm gonna make a fake blog and name my self Cordelia!" She said "Sue did that already!" Then I was looking at Query Shark and thought to myself why couldn't I send out a bunch of letters and write the book later? Seriously, Sue, you and I must have been separated at birth.

    Good luck! :) And Happy Birthday!

  60. So, very funny woman, how is the book going? I linked to you because I think you are freaking hilarious, and lo and behold, you are trying to get published, too. I'm finishing my first YA novel, but blogging about it (as I intended) is pathetic. I privatized my other more-frequently-read personal blog to post on my less personal, more sterile and forever boring "writers" blog. Blah.

    Anyway, I want to be part of a local writer's group that meets and critiques and such. Could you point me in the right direction? I'd be most obliged. (When the breastmilk vampire is not feeding, of course!)