New post up at A-Team and other random things

This post actually went up last night, but I forgot to put a link to it here. Now I did! Go read it and come back, I’ll wait.

Okay, so I’m officially done with AUT revisions. That is a sweet, sweet thing to be able to write. I sent my revised manuscript to my editor via email on Monday (this was the second round), and God bless her she’d had the whole thing read by Wednesday afternoon, when she emailed me with three questions/clarifications. It took me about fifteen minutes to do those and shoot back an email on Thursday morning, and by the afternoon she’d sent an email saying that the ms was going to copyediting early next week.

Now it’s time to start working on something new…

LOL “working on something new”! Since my editor expressed interest in seeing MB after AUT went to copyedits, and since I told her that MB was “ready” (check out that diction choice–notice I didn’t say “finished” or “done” because I know there’s probably some rough revision time ahead of me), now I have to make sure that it is ready. I mean, I think it is, since I sent it to J in October and she sent me an editorial letter of things to change back and I made most of those changes, but it could still use a once- or twice-over, since I haven’t really worked on it seriously since November. That’s what this weekend is about. And then something new!

The annoying thing about “something new” is that I have two books on the docket (is that the correct usage of the word “docket”? Probs not) and my brain likes to alternate between them as if it expects to work on them at the same time, which, let me tell you, brain, ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN. Pick a side! For now I’ve been going with it, but that’s going to need to change soon if I want to be at all productive.

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STOP: COVER TIME

What? I am not leaving all the MC Hammer allusions for Josh Berk to just scoop up in put in his blog I mean really now.

So, anyway, last night I finished my revisions for All Unquiet Things. If everything goes as planned, this should be my last round of revisions before copy edits. I sent them off to my editor and my agent, and I’m left here, twiddling my thumbs, eating cheese, and wondering what to post now.

OH I GUESS I’LL POST MY COVER BECAUSE I FINALLY GOT PERMISSION TO DO SO. Pardon the shouting, this is very exciting for me.

Behold:

allunquietjkt

I think it’s amazing. When we talked about it months ago, the words “sophisticated” and “arresting” were bandied about, and I think it hits both of those right on the mark. “Beautiful”, “elegant”, and “creepy” are some more things that have been said, but I haven’t heard a peep of dissent about it. Everybody, from my editor to the RH sales department to Joanna to me to my mother, really loves it.

What do YOU think?

Stress

Stress is my eternal enemy. To be honest, I’m not very good about dealing with it. When I was in college, I decided to get a double degree, so I needed forty extra credits to graduate. As a result, I ended up overloading nearly every quarter. Also, I became a huge joiner sophomore year, so by my senior year I had all these external responsibilities. I was a supervisor at my job, in charge of hiring, firing and scheduling my merry band of misfits, second-in-command of our undergraduate literary magazine, an officer in my sorority, a Senior Senator and appropriations committee chair (lots of work, little respect, no compensation), and a member of the peer judicial board. Also, I had friends and a life and ten roommates. My grandmother died that year, and my father had a stroke. Needless to say, I was very, very busy and very, very stressed out, and the fact that I made it through 2004-2005 with my sanity intact is a miracle.

My body, however, did not fair so well. It got to the point where any attempt to relax, even for forty minutes to watch an episode of Law & Order with my roommates, would result in terrible stomach cramps the origin of which are a mystery to me. Forget taking a nap–I would get sick the moment I laid down.

Okay, so I didn’t go to the doctor, because I was sure it was all psychological. And sure enough, the day I graduated all my symptoms went away. I spent the next three years bored, but healthy. And then I got my book deal. And then I started having inconvenient, irritating friend problems. And then it was winter and I got homesick for my family and California. And now I can’t lay down without stomach issues and my shoulders feel as though a great weight is upon them and I wake up after restless sleep feeling twisted and achey. I have got to do something about this.

AUT revisions are stressing me out big time. I feel the pressure to finish them and get on with it, but mostly that’s internal. I’m excited about everything that comes next, so I’m busting my butt to get these revisions done, and I’ve accomplished a good chunk of it–now all I need is to carve out the time necessary to make the last changes. And, actually, I’m felling really great about what I’ve gotten done so far, and I’m pretty sure I know exactly how to fix the rest of the little problems in the MS. It’s just this last final push, when my energy is so low, that’s standing between me and being able to wave a fond farewell to AUT as it makes its way to copy edits.

And, okay, the friend stuff is problematic. This is probably the biggest stresser in my life that I have no control over. It’s coming at a really inopportune time and every attempt to deal with it just makes the situation worse because the cognitive disconnect between me and this person is so great. Generally, I don’t deal with tough interpersonal problems by withdrawing and being distant and withholding my friendship–I like to confront things head-on, fix them, and forget about them–but the situation is such that my only option currently is to shut it down. I’m perfectly happy to discuss issues in the hopes of reaching a satisfactory conclusion, but I’m not prepared to teach somebody how to be a good friend. That’s not my job. We’re all adults, it’s time to act like it. Take what you want and pay for it, says God.

But what I realized yesterday is that as much as AUT has been stressing me out, in so many ways it has saved me. It has given me something to focus on that is productive and satisfying and meaningful. I wrote AUT for many reasons, but one of them is that I was trying to puzzle out what it means to be human, what it means to grow up, what it means to love people, to forgive them, to ask for forgiveness. My characters are not flawless or perfect, and they don’t always mean well, but they are searching for a way to be good, to repair what has been broken to whatever degree it can be repaired. These revisions have given me extra time with them, and it has been so great for me because it reminds me what I value.

So my strategy is this: take lots of deep breaths, have faith in my own principles, and focus on the work*–not only what I can give it, but what I can get from it. Already I feel a little lighter. Confession is good for the soul. Thanks for listening!

*Also, plan a vacation. Cambria and I are buying tickets to London tonight! (I think.) I need a break, even if it’s not going to happen until May.

Oh, so THIS is what it feels like to be productive

Ladies and gentlemen, I had one of the most productive weekends ever. I’m very proud of myself for getting stuff done, because I normally have big plans for my weekends and then I end up sitting in my pajamas all day eating ramen and watching Monk on Hulu (I did that anyway this weekend, but for once I balanced it out).

As you probably already know, finishing my revisions has been the monumental goal in my life for the last week, so Friday I opted not to go out with friends and instead went home to work. I got through about thirty pages, which is respectable, but not great. I also watched some TV on the Internet, because I’m incorrigible, and I finished reading Agatha Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, which was pretty good and I even solved! the! mystery! before Poirot exposed the criminal(s).

On Saturday, my friend/coworker/web designer/brother from another mother, Eric, picked me up and took me to IKEA, because he’s just that awesome. I bought a bookcase and a new dresser (mine is quite literally falling to pieces), plus some knives (IKEA has the best knives, you heard it hear first), some extra plastic utensils, a replacement corkscrew (ours cost $3 at a bodega and is a terrible piece of worthless plastic; the IKEA one cost $2.50 and is an indestructible brushed steel), a couple of document boxes, and two chocolate bars.

Let me opine for a second about the IKEA chocolate bars. My friend Marisa handed me a dollar on Friday and asked me to bring her one. She also said, “Please get one for yourself; you won’t regret it.” I did what she said and I bought two milk chocolate bars, even though I’m not the biggest fan of sweets (I’m much more of a salty/savory person by nature). Guys? I ate the whole thing as soon as I got home. It was delish. Late last year I bought a Cadbury bar at the grocery story, as my once-every-three-months sweet tooth demanded, and it was not very good. I would later discover that the Cadbury brand in the US is actually just Nestle or Hershey’s or whoever owns them–it’s not actual Cadbury chocolate. Gross, right? Well, IKEA tastes just like Cadbury, so I was very gratified. It’ll hold me over until May, when I’m going to England and plan on importing several Cadbury chocolate bars.

On Saturday night I went out to dinner in the Financial District, which, guys? Just don’t do it. This is a little New York advice from me to you. I’ve spent more time in the Financial District than I ever cared to in the year and a half I’ve lived in New York, and other than Trinity Church and some of the old New Amsterdam stuff still around (which is way cool), it’s pretty worthless in the off-hours. I came up from the subway at 9:30 and of course it was dark and deserted and while I didn’t feel unsafe, necessarily, I get really turned around in that neighborhood and it’s just not great. Also, the restaurant was totally empty, which is creeptastic on the weekend at the dinner hour. Then we went to a ridiculous house party at this giant apartment that used to be a nightclub that our friend Kyle’s friend owns; there was a salsa band and Kyle somehow got control of the remote for the projector and put on The Beach (??) and it was PACKED, although we stuck together and didn’t mingle because none of the people were interesting to or interested in us. You can only have a party like that in the Financial District; anywhere else and your neighbors would call the cops in three seconds.

On Sunday I watched like 15 hours of Psych on Hulu, put together my bookcase, rearranged the living room a little, went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and got a bunch of stuff including a vacuum (!!), took out all the garbage and the recylcing in the entire apartment (which was a lot), moved all my books out to the bookcase and now I can finally BREATHE in my bedroom, and cleaned my room a little. I thought that was enough; I was like, “Anna, you don’t have to do any more revisions today, you’re good.” But then I was watching Psych and Friday Night Lights and I just kept going, “One more page, I’ll just work on one more page,” until everything was finished. Finished! Although not quite finished. I still have some flags in the MS of notes I have to go back to, and my editor gave me a one-page editorial letter with some clarifications and I have to make sure all those got taken care of. But the big work is done. And I’m feeling very accomplished.

It’s business time

  • First of all, this, JIC you didn’t catch the reference. I’m not the world’s biggest Flight of the Conchords fan, but this is pretty funny. Also, “Jenny”.
  • Second of all, I have a new post up at The A Team. Go read it!
  • Third of all, sorry my posts have been kind of lame (although very informational, right?) this week–like I said over at The A Team, I’m in the midst of revising AUT according to a deeply line-edited manuscript I picked up from my editor last week. As a result, I spend all day staring at a computer screen at my day job, then I go home, eat dinner, and spend two or three more hours staring at a computer screen, typing in changes and threatening to kill Microsoft Word’s track changes feature. So, I’m tired and cranky and headachey. But I’m over halfway done, so hopefully I’ll finish this weekend. Next stop for AUT after that: copy edits.
  • Fourth of all, I’m 9,176 days old today according to this handy calculator which I found via fellow Tenner Irene Latham. Fun fact!
  • Fifth of all, I gave up Diet Coke for Lent. This will not go well.
  • Sixth of all, my friend Eric is taking me to IKEA this weekend so I can get a damn bookshelf, which I badly need because, as I told my mom a couple of days ago, all the books in my room are a hazard to my health. I’m pretty sure someday one of the huge stacks I have will topple over and smother me to death. Also, I need a new dresser, because the bottoms are falling out of the drawers in my current dirt cheap IKEA model. Sigh.
  • Seventh of all, I’ve been watching a lot of 30 Rock while I work and before bed and so have had two dreams about Liz Lemon recently. In one of them, she and Pete Hornberger were buying a house in my friend Kim’s parents’ neighborhood.
  • Eighth of all, Gossip Girl has been renewed for another season! This is such good news! I call for rejoicing in the streets! All men should wear ascots and purple velvet jackets in honor of this truly momentous occasion!

GOSSIP GIRL

Because I haven’t talked about it enough

I’m over at The A Team today, blogging (whining) about my favorite subject: revisions! Check out J’s latest post as well.

As for me, I’m feeling pretty good about the work I’m doing. As I mention over at The A Team, I haven’t been doing a whole lot recently, except tweaking MB in preparation to turn it in to my editor. But recently (in the last few days) I’ve switched gears, and now instead of living in MB in my head, I live in GR. I’ve started writing the synopsis and made some big choices about POV and the little details that make a story a story have started to creep in. It’s all very exciting and new and gorgeous and I feel really good about it, which means in about three months I will probably think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written. So get ready for that!

2008 wrap-up

2008 was, in many ways, the best year of my life so far. I guess it’s pretty apparent as to why. It didn’t start off so great, or at least it started off a little “meh” as far as my life was concerned. I’d just gotten a rejection on the full of AUT on Christmas Eve, and I was back in New York after spending the holidays with my family in Chicago, which always sort of depresses me, 1. because I love my family and miss them when we’re apart and B. because I only like living in New York, like, 30% of the time. So. I had a job, I had an apartment, I had my best friend right there with me in the city, but everything was new, cold, and a little bit “what now?”

Then Joanna emailed me and I told her about AUT and she asked for the full and then offered me representation. Boom! I remember walking to Cambria’s apartment with her from the train and saying, “If Joanna offers me representation, this could change my life.” And it did! Three much needed revisions of AUT later and we’d sold it in a two-book deal, in a pre-empt, to Francoise Bui at Delacorte! It was a very exciting moment for me, and when I think about how unmoored and listless I felt last year at this time, I’m so grateful for (and amazed by) what happened this year.

2008 held all kinds of wonderful surprises. I made way more awesome friends in New York, including most of my coworkers who are angels sent from the Lord above, I introduced one of my California best friends to one of my New York best friends and they started seriously dating, two of my good California friends got engaged (not to each other, to their respective boyfriends), Kim and Jenny came to visit (Jenny, the girl half of the aforementioned couple, came three times this year!), Carmen and Tim (one of the aforementioned engaged couples) came this year, my mother came several times, my sister was here for three weeks for a film camp and I got to see her a bunch, my aunt Kika and cousin Emma came, my aunt Irene and cousin Michelle came, and I’m sure I’m missing visitors and other fun things, but my brain is not capable of remembering how great this year was in one fell swoop. I have to do it in chunks.

I read 72 books. That’s 8 below my goal, but maybe next year.

Professionally (aside from the book deal), I finished MB (well, the first draft anyway) and joined the Tenners, which is such a great community I can’t even begin to tell you (holla!). In my day job, I got a little promotion, which was grand.
I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m proud of myself, I’m still excited about writing and reading, I’m still addicted to the Internet and Gossip Girl (and GG on the Internet). I think I only had the two fake boyfriends (Rob Pattinson and Ed Westwick) and one fake husband (That James McAvoy) this year, which means I’m starting to settle down!

You know how I celebrated the New Year? I mean, before going to Jenny’s NYE party? I SENT THE FINISHED AUT MANUSCRIPT TO MY EDITOR. Sure, it was New Year’s Eve and she wasn’t in the office, but it said December 31 on my contract, so I sent the manuscript in on December 31. I hope it’s finished. I won’t be upset to do more revisions, but I always like to make the best effort possible so I hope that at least the manuscript accomplishes what I wanted it to accomplish (it’s the new sections that make me a little bit nervous; other than that I think the MS is fine). We’ll see later in January. Until then, the rest of my MB revisions so I can send that manuscript to my editor. And THEN I can start working on new stuff! New stuff! I can’t believe it! I have a feeling it’ll involve proposals, but still!

I hope everybody’s having a great New Year’s Day morning (my brother’s had better, but I’m fine, if probably more tired than I feel). I think maybe later I’ll head back to Jenny’s to help clean up and then up to Cambria’s dad’s house to watch the Rose Bowl? We’ll see if I can tear myself away from my bed.