Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Day of Pee

9:00 a.m. - The three-year old, henceforth known as Bugbug wakes up screaming. Because her diaper is wet. I change her diaper, and discover that the bed is also wet.

10:00 a.m. - Bugbug drinks some apple-juice. The 10-month old brother, herein known as Pickle, wakes up. Also in a puddle. I wonder if the excess humidity was somehow absorbed through their skin.

11:13 a.m. - Bugbug says "Mommy, I think I'm going to have an accident!"

11:14 a.m.- Mommy carefully explains the difference between "going to have" and "already had".

11:15 a.m. - Mommy finishes cleaning the floor.

11:48 a.m. - The Pickle loaded up in the Pickletank manages somehow to ram the training toilet that the Bugbug had just used despite it being tucked in the furthest possible corner.

11:53 a.m. - The toilet, floor, and the couch are all clean again.

12:23 p.m. - Pickle needs a diaper change. There is a tiny poop, of the sort that I have named the "Cork".

1:03 p.m. - The Pickle needs another diaper change, of a far more voluminous sort.

1:29 p.m. - BugBug gets a glass of ginger ale for going pee in the potty.  She didn't quite manage to get her dress out of the way.  Mommy does not discover this until after she picks up the soaking wet Bugbug who requested a hug.

1:47 p.m. - Mommy and the Bugbug are out of the shower and dressed again. The floor is Swiffered. Mommy has resolved to steam-mop the floor again tomorrow.

2:23 p.m. - Bugbug again informs Mommy that she thinks she's going to have an accident. Mommy, wise to the misuse of tense, checks the butt and discovers that indeed the panties are wet. Upon inquiring where she already had an accident, the Bugbug says, after some careful thought, "In Mommy's room!"

3:05 p.m. - Mommy's room is now clean, and Mommy is throwing laundry in the washer.

3:06 p.m. - Bugbug wanders up.

"I'm not having a good peepee day, Mommy."
 "No, you're not," agrees Mommy. "You've had two accidents."
"Three accidents." says the Bugbug, who is very good at counting.

3:17 p.m. - Mommy breaks open the Mike's Hard Lemonade.

4:23 p.m. - All known pee puddles have been identified and cleaned. Including the footprints going up the hallway and into the kitchen.

5:02 p.m. - Mommy tries to go pee. Pickle knocks over the Bugbug's milk cup, as reported by the Bugbug at the top of her lungs. Mommy decides that it's just because the Pickle is trying to help by denying fluids to his leaky sister, and tells her to chill out and Mommy will fix it after she's done going potty.

"Hang on Mommy! I'll clean it!"  Mommy gets her pants back on in record time, but still not fast enough.

5:03 p.m. - Bugbug tries to help clean up the milk. By taking the cloth that Mommy carelessly left within reach after the last pee puddle, and using it. On the Pickle. Mommy resolves to get another cleaning rag bucket - with a lid and a padlock.

5:58 p.m. - The Pickle has been re-cleaned. The Pickletank has been re-cleaned. The floor has been re-cleaned. Mommy is out of Mike's Hard Lemonade. Luckily, Mommy still has tequila.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I'm Too Desperate to take a Bad Deal.

I finished my novel. I read and researched. I read the entire Ms. Snark archives. I read the entire Query Shark/Janet Reid archives. Multiple times. I have read the entire Rejectionist, the Editor Anonymous, Victoria Strauss' Writer Beware, and various agent blogs around the internet. I painstakingly researched agents and shopped my novel. A couple partial requests from blog contests, and one shiny "You Don't Suck" button from Liz Norris' Pay It Forward contest, but otherwise, nothing. I joined Twitter. I am an introvert. I hate Twitter. But that's where agents and editors live, so I joined. I made Twitter friends.

I joined Sisters in Crime, and made good friends. One of those friends recommended I submit my novel to a small press. I did, and they accepted it.

I was elated. I got validation that someone thought my work was commercially viable!

They sent me a sample contract. I also read Chuck Wendig, and John Scalzi, and I bought Mark Levine's How to Negotiate a Book Contract book. I spent four hours writing a changes requested letter.

The entire time, my heart was in my throat, because I was afraid that I would offend them. But I was more afraid that they would refuse the changes I considered non-negotiable for me based on all the advice I had read. I dithered, I fretted, I cried once or twice out of sheer helplessness. I asked my friend what she did. She had accepted the contract as was because she wanted to be published. But she also has a successful career to "fall back" on if the writing doesn't pan out. I don't.

While I was waiting, I stumbled across Kris Rusch's business blog. I started reading, and I didn't stop. Because here for the first time that I had found on the internet was a prolific, recognized writer saying that any writer who didn't take responsibility for their writing career was asking to be screwed financially, ethically, and artistically. That even if you have an agent, you STILL need to be in charge of managing your business. You can't just go be a sheltered artist in a delicate cave of writer happiness protected by your agent. I'm sure others have said it, but this was the first time I found it.

She made a painfully-accurate point about deciding whether you wanted to have a book published, or if you wanted to have a writing career. Because if all you want is a book published, then you can take whatever horrors are called a contract. But if you want to have a writing career, then you can't afford to take a bad deal. And you can't wring your hands and blame your agent or your editor or even the publisher. They have their own businesses to care for, and if you don't take care of yours, that's your fault. Not theirs.

The $1000 advance glittered in my dreams. I wanted it so badly. But it came on a hook that I couldn't swallow. All of my requested changes were rejected, and with condescension and lack of sensible explanations that told me exactly where I stood with the people who were supposed to be a business partner with me. I'm too desperate to take a bad deal.

For me, the deal was the wrong choice. If I took the deal, I wouldn't see the first book in my mystery series until 2016. I write fast, and I will have finished the next four books by then. They would all have to wait for the first one. And then what. They come out two years apart? I'd end up sitting on a pile of unpublished manuscripts all delicately waiting their turn, while they slowly either sold or faded away.

Or I can self-publish the books myself. And the first one will be out this month. The next one will be out around Christmas if I can get my editing done by then. By the time that first book would have been published, I'll have received royalties on several books for three years.

I did the math. To make more than that $1000 advance, my break-even numbers are smaller than the numbers of my Facebook friends, while maintaining all my rights, and publishing sooner so as to start ticking royalties up sooner. This is the right choice for me. I'm willing to shoulder the belief in the quality of my own work and take the risks.

Two years ago, if you'd told me I'd be turning down my first book deal, I'd have laughed hysterically. Now, I only regret that I didn't start this process two years ago.

I'm not afraid any more.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Three Week Plan for Going to the Movies...

Recently a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go see a movie. I stared blankly at her, and she said, "It's not that hard a question."

Oh yes. Yes it is. Let me explain.


"Want to go to a movie?"
"Sure. Let me see if Husbosaurus is working and wants to go."


Movies must be discussed by both spouses for a sufficient time to determine whether both people want to see it badly enough to make it the monthly movie date.  (We go once a month because once you have kids, you have no money. We can afford it once a month.)  In the event of there being two different movies both parties want to see, negotiations which may or may not include fisticuffs, whining, bribery, or sexual favors will commence. Once negotiations are concluded, usually with one person throwing up their hands and yelling, "FINE! We'll go see _____ if you want to see it so badly!", then the planning stages begin.

Planning Stage 1:  (At least three weeks away from movie release date.)

A) Pick a date. This will be the first available day that the husband is not working, and the wife is not already pre-committed to another activity.  You have five available days a month for this.

B) Check the date with the babysitter.

C) When the first babysitter isn't available, check with the second baby sitter.

In the event that both babysitters are unavailable, go back to step A. Repeat until a single day appears to be compatible with all schedules.

Planning Stage 2:  (One week out from chosen date.)

A) Check supplies of diapers, wipes, baby food, toddler kibble, butt paste, and other miscellaneous items required to keep children alive and acceptably clean for three hours.

B) If supplies are low, go to store specifically to obtain said items.

C) Make sure said supplies are carefully stocked in the respective changing tables / cupboards.

D) Confirm again with all parties that this date is still good.

Planning Stage 3: (Three days out from chosen date.)

A) Monitor carefully at all times for any sign of illness, up to and including the use of the phrases, "Mommy, I don't feel good."  "My tummy hurts." "My toe hurts."  "I want to cuddle."  "Mommy, pick me up."  "WAAAAAAHHHH"
"Mommy, I want to cuddle." = "I want to puke all down your back."
Twenty minutes later. Do not trust the sad pathetic limp thing or the happy jumping on the couch thing. 

B) If children spike a fever, start Tylenol regimen and put the babysitter on standby.  If any puke, diarrhea, or major mood instability appears, cancel the movie date and go back to Stage 1. If you have a two-year old, major mood instability must meet the "purple face" criteria.

Planning Stage 4:  (One day out from movie date.)

A) Children still healthy? Good. Check that there are clean clothes available for when they inevitably blow poop up to their necks to demonstrate their colon health to the babysitter. Double check supplies of wipes, food, diapers, bottles, and toys.

B) Make a milk bottle. Moo.

C) Spend four hours cleaning up so the babysitter doesn't report you to Children's Services because her shoes are stuck to the floor. Clean up again after the toddler drops her bowl of cereal all over the floor you just mopped.

D) Call the babysitter to double confirm they're still willing to babysit your spawn. Try not to mention the cereal incident.

Planning Stage 5: (MOVIE DAY)

A) Screw with children's schedules to try and arrange nap time to fall during the three hour block. Succeed only in irritating children.

B) Feed children so they can demonstrate Poop-Bomb for the babysitter.

C) Deprive children of favorite toys so they'll play with them extra-long for the baby sitter.

D) Clean again, because apparently yogurt for breakfast means "Mommy wants to see about painting the wall Blueberry-Banana. Try to smear evenly on the furniture as well so I can see if it coordinates."

E) Take a shower and get dressed at the speed of light. Save thirty seconds of hot water for your spouse so they can luxuriate while you chase the baby in the tank around the house to try and change its diaper.

You'll never take me alive!
Ramming speed! Your ankles are forfeit!

F) Spend the last two minutes worrying that the babysitter is going to be hit by a truck on the way over.

G) The babysitter arrives. Run. RUN YOU FOOL.

H) Enjoy movie. Try not to twitch every time someone's phone buzzes.