So, This Happened.

Galley Cover

Just like that. I have a title. And a cover. And a description that is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster in that it’s partially my original story pitch and partly what “they” came up with (whoever “they” are that tinker with these things at the publishing houses).

So, sure, it felt pretty real when I got the deal. And it felt a little more real when I signed the contracts. And then it felt realer still when I got that first advance check.

But, I must say, this sort of hit a new level of “oh my god – this is really happening!” Which is a pretty good level.

And, about the time the actual book cover showed up on my publisher’s website (Forge is part of Macmillan), it showed up for PRE-ORDER on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even popped up on Goodreads!

Oh – and I now have my official release date: January 10, 2017.

So, I’m gonna ride this high until I get my copies of the galley (Advance Reading Copies) and am actually holding a copy of my book in my hands and then I’ll write a post about how that’s the realest real yet! I know. You can hardly wait.

Look at it this way…I’ll probably be a lot cooler on my next go-round. But this time? I’m gonna enjoy every, little, teeny, tiny step. Because it took about 15 years to get here šŸ˜‰

As Yet Untitled.

Insert-Title-Here

For those of you that don’t know – I’m going to give you the five-cent description of my novel. It is, at its heart, a romantic comedy about Kate Shaw, a 30-something starting over as a new lawyer (don’t get carried away drawing author parallels – besides, I’m 40-something). The twist is that, in this slight alternate reality – marriage doesn’t exist. All relationships are based on 7-year contracts which can renew or expire (or, more likely, wind up breached). So, much like there are men in our world who only date married women, this world has similar men who only date women already under contract. These men are called…wait for it…contract killers.Ā Get it? (And yes, I realize women can be contract killers, too.) But, beyond this, it’s about Kate and her funny love life and her even funnier lawyer life.

Okay. Long story short, The Contract Killers was the name of Book 1 of the trilogy. The concern has been raised that this title sounds too thiller-y and might mislead the potential audience. So we need to <gasp> RE-TITLE the book. (Cue the Death Star music.)

While I loved my original title, I definitely see the need to change it. But how? I’ve spit-balled about 30 suggestions at my agent and editor but nothing is hitting home. So, while my manuscript is already in copy-editing and art is working up the cover design – I HAVE NO TITLE. Which is giving me anxiety.

So now – I’m putting it out to you. BecauseĀ youĀ are brilliant and creative, and had the perfect title all along that you didn’t even know you had. And because you want to be sure I include your name in my acknowledgments.

 

 

As Good As It Gets.

I love the movie, “As Good As It Gets.” I’m using the word “love” here, about a movie. And if you love the movie, too, you’ll get that joke. Anyway, it’s a perfect movie about imperfect people without a single wasted line. Including this one:

As Good As It Gets

Remember? He’s trying to get in to see his shrink without an appointment and he turns to the waiting room full of the damaged, anxious and depressed and poses the question, “what if this is as good as it gets?” And there is a collective gasp in the room in response.

So. What if this is as good as it gets?

My mom’s birthday came and went. The anniversary of her death was December 15. The holidays are over. It’s a new year and my catastrophic loss is now 13 months in the rear-view. And I’m haunted by Jack Nicholson’s question.

What if this is as good as it gets?

I mean, it’s not as though I’m sad all the time. But definitely more than I thought I would be 13 months later. And I still think, no less than five times a day, of something I wish I could tell her or show her or ask her. And I still miss her every damn day. And now I’ve racked up a considerable number of days.

I’m sure it will continue to improve with time. But, after 13 months, I can tell you, it moves like molasses. Maybe because you’re trying to watch grass grow because you’re so anxious for it to be green again.

So, I’ll continue to focus on the good – while trying not to dwell on how much better it would be if she were here.

And I know that if this is as good as it gets – I’ve still got it pretty damn good.

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Breakdown.

Well, mini breakdown.

So, here’s the thing. In the beginning, everyone expects you to be a mess.

Then, a few monthsĀ later, everyone understands when you’re a mess.

But nine months in – people seem a little caught off guard when you’re a mess.

So, by nine months, you’ve got this internalization thing going where you save most of your tears for bedtime and you’ve mastered having quiet, undetectable mini meltdowns.

And it’s all well and good except that with all this internalization comes detachment. You wind up feeling removed, distant, isolated (and a fan of synonyms, apparently). You feel less and care less because you’re watching everything from a distance.

I have a problem with this because I typically care about freaking everything. What people think. How people feel.

But now? Meh.

But I’m sure it’s just a phase and I’ll get back to my normal, overly-excitable, impassioned self. Eventually.

But for now – I’m Pluto. Downgraded, distant and disenfranchised.

pluto-new-horizons-july-2015

Anyone else think it’s interesting that Pluto has a big ol’ heart on it? Makes you feel kinda bad for downgrading it to a dwarf planet, huh? Because Planet Dwarfism is no laughing matter. Icy Dwarf Planets need love too.

I Find the World a Very Confusing Place These Days.

I can’t be the only one who feels like shit is more than a little out of control…like we’re just one terrorist attack – or one viral outbreak – or one economic collapse away from utter chaos.

And I am confused by my emotions. Because I simultaneously loathe society but find myself inspired by people. IĀ detest all the hate-speech onĀ social media but I love the connectedness it provides. I am disgusted by the large news outlets but I crave understanding.

So I have one very real question. When did it become okay toĀ not validate anyone’s opinionĀ because itĀ is different from yours?

The divisiveness in this country has reached a fever pitch. And it’s pissing me off. We’re buying the rhetoric and it’s tearing us apart.

The news. Facebook. Twitter. All you see and hear is how it’s the whites against the blacks. The Christians against the gays. The Democrats vs. the Republicans. The rich vs. the poor. The Americans vs. the world. Pro life vs. pro choice. The gun owners against the gun control advocates.

It’s rhetoric. It’s being put into our water like fluoride and we’re drinking it. But if we could stop and think…really think. We are always moreĀ alike than we are different. The divide between belief systems is not the chasm we’ve been led to believe.

But back to my question.

One of my oldest friends is incredibly liberal and I’m a moderate conservative. She and I have some of the most enlightening discussions because we listen to each other. We don’t change each other’sĀ minds or positions but I know that, for me anyway, I come away with a betterĀ understanding ofĀ her beliefs. I thought understanding was the goal? Something to strive for? When did we abandon that ideal?

I try to stay a-political because I’m never willing to fight the militants who simply want to beat you into submission (as though yelling atĀ me over social media is going to change my beliefs), but I’m going toĀ break that rule today.

I am a Republican whoĀ supports gay marriage. I have Mormon family members whoĀ do not. But I respect their viewpoint. Why is it so hard to understand that people who fundamentally believe in the bible will struggle with this? They have a beliefĀ every bit as sacred to them as a gay person’s belief that they should be able to marry. That doesn’t make them evil for opposing it. (And for the record, I actually believe the government has no business marrying anyone. Separation of church and state, my ass. This whole fight was over religious ideologies. The government should only grant civil unions which confer legal rights relating to taxes, insurance, property and the like. “Marriage” should have been left to the churches. Then religions that opposed it could refuseĀ to grant them,Ā but there would always be churches that would approve. This had no place on the political stage.)

Moving on. I’m a gun-owner who understands the argument for gun-control. This is a very difficult topic without simple solutions. But the anger people fling at each other on social media for having an opinion is ridiculous. Just because you have guns and want to keep them doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about the very real problem in this country.

I am pro-life but believe in exceptions, first and foremost being the health of the mother. And I also know dozens of women who have had abortions. And I don’t judge them. The belief about when life begins is something so deeply ingrained in a person that we can all talk until we’re blue in the face and not change a single opinion. (If you’ve never read the case of Roe v. Wade, you should. It is actually a wonderfully written opinion about a very difficult subject. I read it in law school and was surprised – it wasn’t what I thought it was after hearing the case name thrown around in all the pro-life/pro-choice debates.) Point being, those beliefs go deep.Ā I may not agree with them, but I understand them.

Bottom line. Not all ChristiansĀ are against gay marriage. Not all bigots are white. Not all gun-owners are rednecks. Not all republicans areĀ religious. Not all cops are racist. The overgeneralization is out of control.

You’re not enlightened if you are shutting down opposing viewpoints. Aren’t the wisest people the ones that can see from all sides?

If people opened their minds again – they would realize that the chasm is not that wide – we aren’t that different. If more people moved toward the aisle, we might actually get a moderate president instead of the extremist options we have who feel the need to pander to their right and left wing bases. The base should be closer to the middle – where you actually have a 360 degree view.

I know. I’m being naĆÆve. But a girl can dream.

Until then, this will continue to be my moment of zen.

Leaving Earth

The True Meaning of “Every Day.”

I feel like “every day” is an overused expression. As in, “I could eat pizza every day.” Or “I’m pretty sure I’m gaining weight every day.” Or “he gets on my nerves every day.” We don’t really mean every day. We mean a lot of days. Enough days to be significant. But not literally “every” day.

The reason this has occurred to me is because there is one instance when it is entirely accurate but its overuse has sort of watered-down the phrase. Because when you lose one of the most important people in your world and you say that you miss them every day, you mean every. day.

My mom died 238 days ago. And I have missed her every. day.

Some days its more like several glancing blows throughout the day and you just keep moving. Other days it settles in to your bones and you wear it like a lead cloak throughout the day.

But the point is that it is every day. No days off for good behavior. Every day. Not a lot of days or enough days to be significant. Every. Fucking. Day. For 238 days and counting.

Oh, and by the way, don’t give me that dirty look for posting something sad on a Monday. It’s Monday. It was going to suck anyway.

ā¤

For Jenny (and Rory, Too).

This post is for Jenny Lawson. If you follow her blog, it will make perfect sense. If you don’t, go there, get caught up on the last few years, and then come back.

furiously-happyDear Jenny,

I was reading your post last night about taking Rory to visit fun and exotic places and I thought, Hey! He can visit my blog. Sure, it’s no sandy beach, but we do have beer and we won’t mind if he sheds.

So I’ve been following you for some time and wanted to share with you my own furiously happy story.

I’ve had some dark and twisty times in my life but I had come out the other side and I think I was legitimately furiously happy. You know, more than anyone has a right to be. And then about 7 months ago, my mama died…and she was kind of my everything.

And then I wasn’t furiously happy anymore.

I’ve been anxious and moody. Furiously sad at times. And sometimes just furious (because when your mom just turned 67 and is the picture of health, you’re allowed to be angry when her heart suddenly stops for no good reason).

And I read all of your posts and I realized that your own roller coaster ride has been giving you more downs than ups lately, and I can relate. And we seem to be on this journey to be whole.

But, you know what?Ā I’m not whole and I never will be again. Because, basically, I’m a three-legged dog.

But I realized…I’ve seen some pretty fucking happy three-legged dogs. I can’t tell if they forgot they had a leg there, or if they remember but are just so stoked to still have enough legs to allow them to run and chase balls that they are willing to overlook what’s missing.

Baron

This is a picture of my friend’s three-legged dog (used without permission – sorry, Mike). Anyway, pretty sure he’s my spirit animal.

Either way, they seem furiously happy. And that’s my goal: To be a furiously happy, three-legged dog.

And thanks for leading this merry band of misfits. ā¤

You Can Lead a Horse to Wine, but You Can’t Make Him Write a Novel.

Lead a Horse to WaterI’ve been thinking about motivation and the thought occurred to me that perhaps if I only allowed myself wine *when I was writing* – I’d get this next book knocked out PDQ. (That means “pretty damn quick,” for you laymen out there.)Ā But, then again, that would require discipline. And self-control. And saying no to wine. Plus, I have about another 40,000 words to go. And that might be a lot of wine.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I googled “wine” and “horses” (don’t act like you’ve never done that) and I got thatĀ dandyĀ pictureĀ above. But I also found this:

Horse bottle holderWhichĀ seemsĀ kind ofĀ inappropriate. But, I actually have this bottle holder except that mine is a moose. Now, I’m not sureĀ if it isĀ the horse that makes it look pornographic, or if I’ve been in denial about the fact that my moose appears to be getting raped by a wine bottle, too. And maybe Steve wasn’t being a pervert when he told me what it lookedĀ like my moose was up to.

I linked the picture to a store where you can buy your very ownĀ so that if you felt like the only thing missing from your life was a horse deep-throating a bottle of wine – your life can now be complete.

From Hell’s Heart, I Stab at Thee…Fed Loan Servicing.

Khan I would like to claim I knew that line was from Moby Dick…but I just knew it from Star Trek: TheĀ Wrath of Khan. But, in my defense, The Wrath of Khan was way better than Moby Dick.

But that’s beside the point. My current source of wrathĀ is myĀ law school student loans.

It could be that theyĀ are more thanĀ six figures.

It could be that I’m paying over 7% interest on them. (Thanks, Government! We love your commitment to higher learning! Even though my student loan interest rate is nearly double my mortgage interest rate, you assholes.)

But, truly, the current source of my furyĀ is the Morlocks working for Fed Loan Servicing.

So, here’s the thing.

I signed up for automatic withdrawal for my student loans (so I could save that *amazing* 1/4% interest rate!). They say “keep making your payments – it could take a couple of months for this to get set up. We’ll let you know.” Total lies. They do NOT let you know.

Consequently, I made my NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE DOLLAR student loan payment on MAY 29. But guess what?? They set up my automatic withdrawal (without telling me!) and so on JUNE 4 (6 DAYS LATER), they took ANOTHER $935. Seriously.Ā Six days later. Oopsie. Bastards.

So, I called. They said “Sorry.” Then they said, “How about we credit this toward July?” Grrr, but ok.

Then I got a notice from Fed Loan Servicing saying, “Your next automatic withdrawal will be July 4.” What? You’re supposed to skip a month.

So I called. They said “Sorry.” Then they said, “No really; we really have it set NOT to take another $935 for July.” Okay. Dubious, but I’ll take the leap of faith.

Then I got a bill saying, “No automatic withdrawal this month so be sure to make your payment!” No. It can’t be. How many Fed Loan Servicing agents does it take to screw up one correction? Turns out, one more than I had talked to.

So I checked my online account.

DELINQUENT.

Rage. White-hot, blinding, whiskey-drinking, rage. I shit you not. They never bothered to apply that extra payment forward – they just suspended the automatic payment for a month.

So I called. They said “Sorry.”

I said, “From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!” Okay. Not really. But I did tell himĀ they were making me crazy. In a very sarcastic, hopefully day-ruining,Ā tone of voice.

P.S.

In case I stumped you on the “Morlocks” thingĀ – I direct youĀ to a photo of the night-dwelling, cannibalistic MorlocksĀ from the 1960 classic, “The Time Machine.” Morlocks And now your life is complete.

Dear Mom.

[Ok – consider yourself warned – this is going to be a sad one. If you aren’t up for it today – move along.]

You died six months ago today. And my whole world changed forever. It’s strange how surreal it still feels when I consider you’re really gone, even six months later. I’ve replayed that day in my head a thousand times and it never ceases to feel like science fiction.

And we’re muddling through the best we can. I wonder if you realize how much everyone relied on you. You were the sun we orbited. You were my sun.

with Mom and DadI never realized how much joy I got from sharing things with you. Things really got their meaning when I told you about them. Now, something exciting or interesting will happen…and it sort of dies on the vine. I think about telling you – and can’t – and I think about telling someone else…and nine times out of ten, I decide it’s not worth it. And I let it go. Even awesome things have been lackluster since I can’t share my excitement with you.

I got a book deal. Everyone assures me you know. Something I’d dreamed of most of my life…happened! And I cried all day. Because your absence was unbearable. You’re the only personĀ who has read every book I’ve ever written. You gave honest, valuable feedback and I relied on your opinion so much. What do I do now? You are truly irreplaceable.

You said you were amazed by my drive…by my fearless pursuit of my dreams. Well, your fearless daughter has developed a new fear. I’m so afraid of ever needing someone againĀ the way I needed you, because losing that person…is a killer. I can hear you telling me that isn’t the answer…that our lives are worth living because of the people in them. And I know that’s true. But I really feel like over the last six months I’ve been testing the theory of whether or not you can die of a broken heart. Because sometimes…oftentimes…it’s devastating.

But you knew this all too well. And I didn’t understand. You can’t understand until it happens to you. But I understand now. I understand that underlying fissure of sadness you had most of my life – that you got from the loss of your fatherĀ who you adored and your mother who was your best friend. Who were both gone by the time you were 38.

And I’m not unique. I realize that. People have lost their most important people, just as young, younger, under all kinds of tragic circumstances. And people survive it. And I will, too. Just like you did.

I may not know precisely what I believe, but I believe that you are at peace. That death is only sad for those left behind. I believe that you are with your parents, who you spent decades missing. I believe that, even if you can see us, our sorrow is not making you sad because you now have that wisdom that assures that we’ll be together again in what will seem like the blink of an eye.

All the goals I had – being a published author – being an attorney. My goal these days is to be able to sayĀ “I miss my mom so much” without crying. It’ll have to be a long-term goal.

Apparently the only thing bigger than your presence in my life was the hole left in it when you died.

People tell me to focus on the good memories, the happy times. But that’s not what we were. We were the constant sharing of every thought and every feeling. Every day. Sure, there were good times – but I don’t miss being able to take a vacation with you. I miss the 20-minute talk on my way to work. And the 20-minutMome talk on my way home. And the phone call I would have made to you when I found outĀ  about my book deal. (The very FIRST phone call I would have made.) And the phone call I would have made to you when I found out about the suicide of a friend from high school. And when I won that motion in court. And when that dog got into my yard and attacked my dogs. And hearing your input on the sequel to my book that I’m working on. And hearing what you thought of the season finale of The Blacklist. Or you showing me how well your apple trees were growing in your yard. How will focusing on the good memories ever be a replacement for the millionĀ things you and I would have told each other about in the last six months? Or the next 20 years?

But I’ll make it through, obviously.Ā I get my toughness from you. And I hope my own fissure of sadness isn’t too big. And I hope that I dream of you. And that after I heal some more, I hopeĀ I’ll believe people when they say “she’ll always be with you.” And I hopeĀ that I make you proud.

I miss you so much.