Killing Off Your Beloved Main Character and Other Ways to Piss Me Off.

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I have a bone to pick with you, Veronica Roth. I just finished reading the Divergent trilogy in about four days. Clearly, I was riveted. Couldn’t put it down. So after investing hours and hours and approximately 1,500 pages (**Spoiler Alert**) you killed the heroine!  Now, I don’t use exclamation points lightly, so clearly I was caught off guard by your betrayal.

Okay, okay.  Was it meaningful and poignant?  Yes. Was it profound? For sure. Was it moving, yet devoid of any Nicholas-Sparksian (remind me to add that term to Urban Dictionary later) saccharine contrivance? Sigh. Definitely. Was I a 41-year-old woman feeling relieved that her husband and teenage daughter were not home to see her crying through the last 30 minutes of the book? You betcha. Do I understand, deep down, why you felt like you needed to kill her? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t only read happy, little novels with endings that could be played by Meg Ryan. A Tale of Two Cities is my very favorite novel, I didn’t curse Edith Wharton’s name after House of Mirth left me a sobbing mess for an hour, and don’t even get me started on my love for Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Maybe, in this case, I had lulled myself into a false sense of security because these novels are considered “young adult” fiction and so I expected a kinder, gentler ending for your characters (which, I’ll admit, was fairly naïve given the overall brutality of the story).

Bottom line? It was sort of the literary equivalent of someone fighting long and hard to battle cancer, overcoming it, and then getting killed in a car accident (if the car accident was representative of sacrificing your life to save those you love and thousands more…so I guess it isn’t the same thing at all). Admittedly, Veronica, I loved the books, but I’m pissed at you for depriving me of my well-earned happy ending. Now go take a time out and think about what you’ve done, Missy (killing Tris, I mean, not the whole becoming-an-incredibly-successful-bestselling-author thing…I’m guessing you’ve already given that sufficient thought).

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I’m a Huge Fan of Stereotypes.

So I showed my husband my new blog and he laughed when he saw my banner photo.  “Um.  I’m not sure what you’re trying to tell people when they go to your blog.”  I said, “what?  I love that picture.  I took that from one foot away on the Louisiana swamp.”  He replied, “yeah, I know where you took it. I was there.”  True story.  He was sitting next to me.  We were in a six-seater airboat on the swamp and our guide was feeding marshmallows to the alligators.  And this little guy apparently really likes marshmallows because he came right up to the side of the boat and posed for this picture.  Or it could have been the weird distressed-baby-alligator sounds the guide was making in his throat since, apparently, big alligators think baby alligators are very tasty.  Either way, I guess he was looking for a snack.

Okay.  I’m off-topic.  Why the alligator?  Because I’m a lawyer and I didn’t have a cool, close-up photo of a shark.

“I’m So Happy For You!” and Other Lies We Tell to Avoid Looking Like a Petty, Jealous Asshole.

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I say “I’m so happy for you!” constantly.  The good, selfless part of me means it implicitly.  The other 90% of me, however, probably only means it if it was something I didn’t want, anyway.

“You’re pregnant?  I’m so happy for you!”  Totally genuine.  Thank God it’s not me.  “You’ve decided to go to law school?  I’m so happy for you!”  Having doubts about your intelligence, but still, mostly genuine (even more so if I don’t really like you and I know that you will be hating yourself and the world in general for the next three to four years).  “You’ve decided to give up drinking?  I’m so happy for you!”  Genuine (and we likely won’t be hanging out any time soon).

“You’re being published?  I’m so happy for you!”  Basically waiting for lightening to strike me down in the middle of my kitchen.  Like I said, 10% of me?  Actually pleased for your good fortune.  90% of me?  Petty, jealous asshole.  Who wants it to be me, not you.  Who wants to know how someone could have picked you over me. Who, thankfully, is a skilled actress who can pretend the shit out of being happy for you.  Cause 10% of me is. (Yes, yes, I know.  I really need to work on my asshole ratio.  It’s on my to-do list.)

Top 10 Things *Not* to Include In Your Query Letter.

10.  That you dream of being as talented as Nicholas Sparks.  (Yes, this is personal bias.  I hate him.)

9.   That you’ve wallpapered the guest bedroom with rejection letters.  (It’s possible I’ve done this – but I’m not going to tell them.)

8.   That your mom thinks you’re an amazing writer.

7.   That you feel certain all 10 ladies in your Bunko group will run out and buy your book.

6.   That between your 35 Twitter followers and 275 Facebook friends, you’ve got a solid marketing platform.

5.   That your college roommate’s cousin (who you met 10 years ago) babysat Stephanie Meyer’s kid – so you’ve totally got connections.  (FYI – Stephanie Meyer is that Mormon chick that had a dream about a vampire in a meadow and now is a gazillionaire.  Seriously.)

4.   That your characters are really “right now” and that “there’s nothing else out there like it.”  (Okay – this has nothing to do with writing, but there is a show called “Men at Work” (on…TBS maybe?) that ran promos where the actors talked about what was so *great* about the show and the a-hole in glasses says, “all the characters are so right now and I don’t think there’s anything else like that on TV.”  Right now??  Are you effing kidding me?  That promo gives me rage.  I can barely handle the promos for the stupid show – let alone sitting through an episode.  But I digress.  Don’t say that about your book.  Period.)

3.   That this is a “limited time offer.”  A limited time offer till what?  You decide to go the highly-successful, incredibly lucrative self-publishing route?  Please.  When Mary-Jo from Po-Dunk Literary Agency in Beaver, Iowa, asks to read your manuscript, you’ll send it off to her and pop the champagne you bought on sale at Wal-Mart for just this occasion. (Disclaimer: no offense to the approximately 48 residents of Beaver, Iowa.  I’m sure it’s a lovely town.  I’m an attorney.  I should be writing a book called “CYA.”)

2.   This is a guaranteed best-seller!  A) Never guarantee shit; B) Best-sellers are like The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver or The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks…meaning either you’d never be able to write something that good or you’d never want to create something so God-awful…respectively; C) I made no secret of my feelings toward Nicholas Sparks…and seriously?  The Poisonwood Bible?  She has one character smarter than I’ll ever be and I’m fairly certain I can’t write a character smarter than me.  Unless I’ve had at least three glasses of wine.

1.   That you look forward to hearing from them.  Cause you won’t.  Unless it’s one of the agencies that answer everyone, in which case, you will get that delightful “thanks, but no thanks” letter, which, I will say, makes excellent wallpaper.