A Credit Line With God

Note: I wrote the first half of this several months ago and saved it back because I didn’t feel it was complete. I could expound on this even more, but something in me just wanted to leave it the way it was. It’s just a thought I had one day that came back to me again recently. 

As an apartment manager who sees people’s credit scores on a daily basis, it seems like I’m always using this to assess people, to lay bare their strengths and weaknesses as if payments and monetary assessment is the best way of seeing them for what they truly are. There are those that have rough credit history that aren’t bad, fickle, irresponsible, undependable types. I’ve taken chances on people who have had amazing rental and job history but no credit history to speak of. They continued to pay their rent perfectly on time and I continue to stand by them and do everything I can to keep them as residents.

Maybe they were married to that type of person. Maybe they just had a rough go of it for a while with their health, their vehicle or their life. Regardless… not all these people are bad, and not all people that pass my credit checks with flying colors are infallible. I deny people on a weekly basis that I want to give a second chance to. I approve people on a weekly basis that my gut tells me are going to not only trash their apartment, but also skip out on their lease.

Single mothers are my Achilles heel. I always want to feel bad for them because my mother was at one time in the same boat. I remember one day, after I got off the bus from school, I came into her bedroom and sat down next to her on her bed. Her face was red and swollen from crying all day. She had been in bed for days. Depressed. Downtrodden. I had heard her on the phone earlier that morning talking to someone. She said she only had $10 to her name. As a 10 year old I was afraid and I didn’t realize the weight of my care, the burden of my existence. I put my hand on her shoulder, “Mama, are we gonna die?” I asked her. This of course made her cry all the more. She grabbed me and pulled me under the covers with her. She looked at me as if I were absurd and comforted me with words I knew she didn’t believe, “Oh, we’ll be fine. Of course we won’t die.”  Every time a single mother comes in desperately seeking a new refuge for her and her children, my brain has to keep my heart from wandering back to that afternoon with my mother.This is my half vulcan half betazoid struggle.

As all of this swirls around in my brain it makes me think What if? What if we are all building a line of credit with God? What if every scrap of goodness or badness added to or took away from our line of credit with him? Based on what I have, though I am still considered young, would I have enough credit to buy anything he has in store for me?Let me clarify one thing about my beliefs: I do not, in any way, believe that the only reward for goodness is getting to go to heaven. I don’t want to go to heaven, I just don’t want to die. If you think about it, that is the underlying fear for the entire human race: Nonexistence. Nor do I believe anyone will be burned forever in some imaginary lake of fire that some sadistic God keeps stoking 24-7 in an attempt to scare us into obedience to Him. I’m sorry, but an imperfect human being is not capable of this level of sadism, how could a perfect one be? I DO very much believe in a creator that made us. Apparently, I just give Him a lot more credit than most.

Someone asked me recently, when I was taking a chance on someone with a recent behavioral pattern that had been undependable and shaky, whether or not this person really deserved what I was doing for them. Did they deserve the kindness, the effort, the risk I was taking on them? In that moment, the very audacity of that question gave me pause to reflect on its arrogance. I have asked this sort of thing so many times to myself and others in the past. Does this person DESERVE the kindness that is being given to them? If they squander it, will it have all been for nothing? Will it have been a waste of time on the giver’s end?

I didn’t help this person because they have always been a good person. Quite the contrary, more often than not, this person has treated me coldly when I have reached out for their affection or friendship. This person has made bad decisions that have hurt me and my family repeatedly. So why would I yet again help a person who has the potential to disappoint and fail us all? I have asked myself this question not only regarding this person, but as regards many people I have tried to help in the past. The only answer I can come up with is that I didn’t help them because they deserved  it, I helped them because it was within my power to do so and because it made me happy to be of that much use in the pursuit of  someone else’s happiness and well being. Helping people without expecting payment or good karma or being protected from any sort of badness that might befall me because of my good deed is the only way I want to help people.

I loathe the thought of being the kind of “tit for tat” person that would only help someone else if they owed me something in return or if they got something tangible out of it. That cowardly spirit of interaction with others is based solely on fear and selfishness and I don’t want to be any part of it. I would rather have my heart broken and my kindness mistaken for weakness a thousand times, than be the sort of person who closes off to the possibility of doing anything that does not directly benefit them in some way. If I think about myself being that cold and uncaring, it literally makes me shudder. This is what humanity is, we are not simply moist robots. We have the capacity to be so much more. So what on earth are we so afraid of?

Now, if I, a fallible, imperfect human being, am capable of this, then surely a perfect, all-knowing, all encompassing creator is capable of so much more. If we aren’t simply looking for where we stand to benefit by obeying Him and instead look at our lives, our relationships with our Creator and with our peers, as something MORE than a way to gain something for ourselves, only then can we be free of the slavery to the notion that all actions MUST have an equal reaction or that all good deeds must be rewarded by an equal payment. The satisfaction of being useful should be enough. Being needed IS being loved. I can’t state it more plainly than that. So obviously, doing things for others is a way of fulfilling their needs and thus gaining love. They don’t have to verbalize that love, it is implied by offsetting their need. Seeing someone else breathe easier knowing that they won’t have to continue to deal with a certain hardship should be enough for us, shouldn’t it?

Everything I am saying finds its origins in the pages of the Bible, so obviously none of what I am saying is new or in any way original. Sometimes we are so bombarded with thinking and actions that are opposite of the absolute perfect truths the Bible lays down, that we need a refresher course. I’m not trying to beat anyone over the head with this, it is only in an effort to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over again and questioning why you feel so empty. It is a simple fact: there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. The spirit of the world is teaching us the opposite of this and it is making us empty and unsatisfied to the point that we need to be doped up in order for us not to strongly consider ending our lives out of despair.

To be a whole person that doesn’t live in constant fear and sadness, in emptiness, you must find a way to love and be loved. That means letting yourself give and opening yourself up to others without expecting anything in return, without expecting perfectly equal compensation. Better yet, it means expecting no compensation at all.

Just a thought.

 

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A Warning to Animal Lovers with faint hearts and/or small bank accounts

I have a LOT of pets. Inside ones. Outside ones. In the past year it seems like I have taken almost every single one of them to the vet for SOMETHING. It’s weird, when I was growing up we had lots of dogs and a few cats and I never remember them being taken to the vet for anything, but then again, they never lived very long because they got hit by cars and shot by neighborhood juvenile delinquents (who shall remain nameless) and mauled by large neighborhood dogs or died during pregnancy complications. Good grief, that childhood pets health question just kind of answered itself! We didn’t taken them to the vet because they all either disappeared or died violently. Ah, such warm childhood memories.

I’m groggy this morning due to a midnight trip to the emergency vet with one of our cats. He was blocked, just as the other one had been less than a month ago. We spent over $1k on that blockage, and now with this one they are saying it is possibly not only a blockage, but kidney problems as well. It’s worse for me this time because I actually like this cat. His name is George. I finally broke down and applied for a Pet Care credit card so I don’t keep having to drain our bank account to pay for vet expenses. Good grief, I don’t think I can take much more of this. The best news I’ve gotten was about the Care Credit Card, if we pay our balance off in 6 months then we don’t get charged interest! OH JOY! All I keep thinking is, how in the world can these things keep happening? We feed our pets high quality food, we monitor their health and give them supplements as needed, we don’t let them run around all over tar nation getting killed and disappearing. Something’s got to give!

Since November of last year, we have had TWELVE vet visits due to catastrophes. That doesn’t include multiple litters of kittens we had to buy supplies for, wean and adopt out over craigslist, bag after bag of expensive healthy food, dose after dose of flea medications and multiple groomer appointments at $30- $40 per dog each time. That’s just if they’re HEALTHY!

Nov 2010: Kitty, our Pomeranian pooch. Impacted anal glands. They gave me medicine, one of which had multiple doses in a large syringe. I promptly took her home and a few days later proceeded to overdose her with that poorly packaged medication which required a trip to the emergency vet and an $80 call to the animal poison control hotline, because OF COURSE, it was on a Saturday. That’s TWO and that’s just the beginning.

 

 

Next one was in the spring of this year. We heard a crazy ruckus on our back porch at two a.m. so I fled to the sliding door and saw two giant dogs attacking my cat Stella, who I’d had for about 10 years and who had NEVER had any real health problems other than being a little overweight. They had mauled her pretty badly. At first I saw nothing and was relieved because I thought both my outside cats had gotten to safety before the two brutes hurt them. She was black and so blended in with the night. I finally saw her, lying there and crying faintly. I brought her inside, hoping she would be ok. She died in my arms about 6 hours later and we had to take her to my vet to be cremated that morning because her body had stiffened and started to decompose. I gave her to the vet in a  cardboard box, wrapped in one of our blue towels. As I handed the lady the box I broke down in tears and we both left and took the whole day off. It was the only time I ever saw my husband cry. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” played on the radio as I bawled all the way home and to this day, whenever I hear that song, that horrible morning, handing my sweet little Stella’s body wrapped in a blue towel and placed in a box to my vet, paying the bill and then running out to my car. The sadness and tragedy of it all, comes screaming back to me. It’s a pity because it really is too beautiful a song to be marred by such vivid sadness. I loved that little cat so much. She was given to me by a new best friend, who is now my oldest best friend. I gave her to my sister and then traded back for her a few years later due to my sister’s boyfriend’s cat allergies. She stayed with us all of our marriage up to this point. Rest in peace Poopie cat. That’s THREE.

 

 

Next comes a litter of 3 kittens. Two of them had very bad (and very disgusting might I add) eye infections when we found them. Their eyelids were literally turning inside out and completely swollen. I felt unprepared to deal with it so I took them to the “inhumane society” where I was informed that the moment they took them in, they would put the two little sick ones to sleep to keep down any risk of their infections spreading to the other cats. So I gave the stone hearted hag at the desk a “the HELL you WILL!” death glare and took them home in a huff. I stopped at my pet store and got a small tube of ointment for about $20 and over the next week I washed their eyes and put that magical goop on them twice a day. They were completely healed and ended up all finding very good homes. OH, I did take them to my vet before I took them to the humane society, but they couldn’t really do anything other than charge us for a litter wellness exam, which they would have had to set up for another day. They weren’t really open due to training clinics being held that day and I wasn’t about to pay for that yet and I wasn’t patient enough to wait, so I declined at the time. BUT, I still took them in, so that bloody well counts! That’s FOUR.

 

Next was in June. The General, my youngest and most evil of cats, got a UTI and had to be taken to the vet and prescribed antibiotics. In August he had to be taken in again and treated for another UTI. Same protocol as before but different antibiotics this time. That was on a Monday. At the end of that week we had to take him to the emergency vet at 5:45 pm because my vet closes at 5:30 pm. We got home and he was acting crazy, walking around freaking out, hissing and attacking his crotch with unbridled fury. We didn’t have a referral slip from our vet so we had to pay an emergency charge at the emergency clinic. That time they said he was blocked and needed to be catheterized and kept at the clinic for a few days. THAT’S SEVEN!

In between those visits I adopted out YET ANOTHER litter of kittens from the feral mommy cat we’d been feeding and had finally had enough. I contacted SAAF house and got her fixed after catching her in a live animal trap and listening to her attack the cage and his at me all the way to the stupid clinic! She is now putting on weight and we only still call her mommy out of habit. No more babies for you, cat hooker!! That’s EIGHT!

In October we had a beautiful Saturday and we all spent the day outside playing with the dogs and working on yard work, clearing out a tree that had fallen in the yard. Our dog Boo overexerted himself and messed up his back. We thought he was just sore but his stiffness and inability to climb stairs or get up on the bed continued for 3 weeks so we had to take him to the vet where they told us one of the discs in his back is messed up and prescribed him lots of pain meds. We will be taking him back for another check up and possible med refills next week. That’s TEN!

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, the visit I first described is what prompted this post. We had to take George in to the emergency vet last night, which we paid nearly $500 for, and now, today, we took him in to our regular vet to continue treatment and diagnosis and God only knows what that is going to cost. OH, and he may have kidney disease which will probably be either insanely expensive to treat or KILL HIM. Yay for free cats…. And That’s TWELVE!

I am tired of writing this now and badly in need of curling up n a ball and sucking my thumb for the rest of the day so I will sum myself up as quickly as I can by saying this: The next time you get offered a FREE pet, don’t be an IDIOT and think it’s actually free. Even if you feed the poor thing crappy walmart junk pet food and never take it to the vet, it will cost you money and break your heart. And if you take care of it properly, it will cost you TONS of money. If you have to adopt a cat, get a female and get her fixed ASAP. They have less health problems than males do. And whatever you do, don’t keep your animals outside so they can get lime disease or mauled to death by some moron’s escaped giant dog that breaks into your yard in the middle of the night!

October, please end already.

It’s been over two weeks since my last confession… oh wait, I’m not Catholic. Let me try again.

 

A lot has been going on here lately. I’ve been riding steadily about 3 times a week and it is helping me more than I ever dreamed it could. I feel like I am getting back to a part of myself that was lost for so long. Despite several stressful situations in my life, I actually feel happy. It’s an odd sensation. I actually walk out my door in the mornings and in the place of what I used to smell, things like dew and fresh cut grass, now I just smell horses. In spite of the fact that I live 10 minutes away from where I ride, he always seems to be with me. Or rather, they all are. The very essence of them courses through me until my heartbeat sounds like hoof beats and every over grown field of grass I pass makes me sick with the absence of them there in and the waste of grass and perfectly good pasture, all that precious life source murdered by the blades of a mower.

 

Watching people and animals I love deal with sickness and strife has sort of been the theme for this month. Two of my cats have urinary tract infections, one of which has cost us over $1000 this month alone. Good grief, it’s hard just typing that. Needless to say our bank account is running low and we are all feeling the pinch. My poor husband has been monitoring everything the cat eats and drinks and the three meds they have given us to put him on. The vet looks at us with these eyes that say “You’re a gold mine.” All while saying things like, “Once a male cat has been blocked, he will probably keep getting blocked frequently for the rest of his life unless you buy him high priced food, which will really only lessen his vet trips, not eliminate them all together.” I don’t even like cats.

 

My dog, Boo, has a new ailment where his whole body stiffens up as hard as a board and he cant get up on the bed or climb any stairs and just isn’t himself. It makes us so sad to see him. He played a little more than usual on Saturday so we are trying to chalk it up to soreness from that. I’m still praying that’s what it is. Also, our cute little Kitty dog is losing her hair and we don’t understand why. The only possible diagnosis I have found online is called Adrenal Sex Hormone Responsive Dermatosis. Yeah, I know. It’s not fatal; it happens mainly in Spitz breeds and basically just means that she is losing hair around her neck, the base of her tail, her hind legs and chest. It’s heartbreaking to see her but she seems perfectly healthy, as if she doesn’t even have a clue she’s losing her hair. Because of the stupid cat’s UTIs, we don’t have money to take the two animals I actually love (yes, I said it, let’s not lie to ourselves) to the vet for their own ailments.

 

My husband has been dealing with his blood disorder and the horrible pain and exhaustion that come from it. His doctors say he shouldn’t be in pain from it. That answer is getting tired and annoying because they don’t see him in pain every single night and weekend like I do. They don’t see his eyes red and sagging from exhaustion and pain as he tries to feign health all for the purpose of remaining a good employee for our company. I wish they could live with what he lives with for just one week and then tell me that what he’s feeling has no correlation with his red blood cell count or size. He recently saw yet another new doctor who may have him do a sleep study. She was very surprised at the lack of oxygen in his blood and didn’t understand why the ingrates that saw him before tried to say he has arthritis. He’s not 50 years old, morons. Get a clue!

 

My father’s car broke down and so now his visits have shortened to only once a week because he’s driving his truck now and can’t afford the gas money. He has bummed money from me and my little brother a couple times already. I can hear the depression in his voice since he has been stranded at home and it breaks my heart. I am grateful not to have him surprising me at work every other day, but sad too because I know he really needs someone to love him. He has run off all the women in his life by being intolerable and my sister and I are pretty much all he has left. I still feel sorry for him though, no one should have to deal with old age all by their self. It just seems wrong.

 

To top all this off, I never get to see my mother and I miss her terribly every single day.

 

I haven’t written anything since I started riding and I don’t really know if I want to either. I have a few stories that are unfinished but the telling of them seems boring when I could be out riding. I don’t want to continue with the writing of my landlord story because quite frankly, I often have to get into cranky mode to make it as funny as it should be, and I don’t have the energy to be cranky for long enough periods of time to make anything come of it. I get interrupted constantly at work so as it turns out that is also not the ideal place for me to write. I know, how dare my work try to interrupt me by making me work! The audacity! The nerve!

 

The only thing really getting me through this is getting to see my little sister fall in love with horses, see my husband crack a smile now and again and give me wonderful hugs, and of course, our amazing October weather. October has always been my favorite month just because of the weather and in that regard, it has not failed me. I am just writing today to say that I’m still here and I am trying to hang on until all this drama passes. Someday again soon, after all the stress of current predicaments subsides, I may find the energy to continue writing. Today’s post is just an awkward update. Sorry for that. I’m hoping things get better very soon.

30 Minute Book Challenge (New and Improved)

This was supposed to be a 30-day book challenge, but sufferer of ADHD that I am, I don’t want to write about that for thirty days in a row. So, I have given myself the somewhat brisk challenge of writing it in 30 minutes instead. It is 6:23 right now… and GO!

 

 

Day 1: Favourite book: 

The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende… hands down. “Atreyuuuuuuu!!!!” The guy that wrote this book was a psychology major, as with his father before him so it is more complex than the movie would suggest. Just read it. The Chapter illustrations alone are worth it. I want Falcor AND Artax AND Grogoman (not in the movies). Currently trying to read another one of his called Momo.

 

Day 2: Least favourite book

Twilight “Gaga” by Stephani “Dunderbutt” Meyers. No, I didn’t read all of it, only like a chapter cause my sister was obsessed with it. The only thing worse than the subject matter is the writing. Double bleh. You notice the only people reading this are teenage girls and middle aged divorced women. Correlation? Members of both groups have unrealistic expectations of men and romance. Now I will prove my point. The only way they could make a man to satisfy these two groups was to make him sparkly with god-like good looks, so incredibly old that he’s independently wealthy by default, never needs to eat food or sleep, is so obsessed with them that he actually stays awake and watches them sleep (creeper MUCH!), Super strong, doesn’t die, and can practically fly (run fast)… OH, and he has the ability to read minds, which with these groups, any man would HAVE to be able to do in order to satisfy them. THUS is the basis of his appeal. And now I will have hate mail catapulted at me by the tons accompanied by sacks of flaming cat poo… you know, from all the cat ladies. Ahahahahaaa!!!

 

Day 3: Book that makes you laugh out loud

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut… he introduces himself to his alter ego Kilgore Trout. He tells him that he is the “Creator” of Kilgore’s world and that even though there may be a different creator in the world he is from, that He, Kurt, is the creator of that world. Kilgore Trout kinda freaks out on him. Genius.

 

Day 4: Book that makes you cry

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins… wretched thing made me cry like 12 times. Don’t even ask. I don’t wanna talk about it. Sigh.

Day 5: Book you wish you could live in

Utopia by Sir Thomas Moore… I have faith that the world will be that perfect one day. It is the dream at the very core of my being.

Day 6: Favorite young adult book

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Yes I know it’s uber popular, that would be because it’s bloody EPIC.

Day 7: Book that you can quote/recite

The Bible… yup, and there is not a more quoted or quotable book in existence either.

Day 8: Book that scares you

The Giver by Lois Lowry… Dystopian fiction is always frightening though. This was my first real experience with it.

Day 9: Book that makes you sick

Deerskin by Robin McKinley…. Oh dear lord… just read it. She is wronged and she gets revenge… and finds true love too.

Day 10: Book that changed your life

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It’s just an amazing book. I love Mr. Rochester. My mom actually got me this hardback copy as a gift! It is one of my most treasured posessions. 🙂 I love my mom.


Day 11: Book from your favorite author

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley… she’s as close to a favorite as I have. It’s the sequel to The Hero and the Crown. Oh, by the way, the chick in this book name is Harry. 🙂 She’s an rugged horsewoman and wields the blue sword… not to mention capturing the love of a king.

Day 12: Book that is most like your life

Reveries of a Solitary Walker by Jean Jacques Rousseau… his thought are my thoughts. His outlook on the world is the way I hope mine will fully be when I get older and wiser. It always blows my mind. I got a glorified excerpt by penguin classics at a garage sale for 25 cents and then spent forever searching out the full book. It was worth it.

Author NOTE: Alright… I had to go somewhere at this point but I am stopping at 6:38! I will take it back up when I get back!

OK, I’m back, it’s 9:52… I will finish now! I have 14 minutes!

Day 13: Book whose main character is most like you

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen… Elizabeth Bennet… yep, fraid so friends, fraid so. And, yes, I love to hate her too.

Day 14: Book whose main character you want to marry

The Hunger Games (Catching Fire) by Suzanne Collins… Peeta. Oh sweet bread making hotness. I love him for the man he wants to be and for the man he almost is. I love him. I LOVE HIM!

Day 15: First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child

Pounding Hooves by Dorothy Grunbock Johnson… when I was like 9 because I was obsessed with horses. I own it 🙂

Day 16: Longest book you’ve read

When I attempted to read the Count of Monte Cristo… only got through 800 pages. I didn’t make it. Defeated by a fat man with a mustache. Everything I read was good… just too much for my inch long attention span.

Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read

Green Angel by Alice Hoffman, it was excellent. Awesome part illustrations. Very well written. Her writing style is rich and raw. LOVE.

Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like

Sisterhood of the Travelling pants… all four books… oh Good grief. I really liked them all. Good characters are good characters.

Day 19: Book that turned you on

Bread Alone by Judith R. Hendricks… really hot quickie scene in that, little descriptive. I was like WHOAH, where’d that come from??

Day 20: Book you’ve read the most number of times

The Hero and the Crown by Lois Lowry…. something about a dragon fighting red head that’s good with horses and swords. It was the first book I truly loved.

Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood

Pokey little Puppy, had the coloring book and everything.

Day 22: Book you plan to read next

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and she read the whole Never Ending Story, so I think I owe it to her.

Day 23: Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished)

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas… I so want credit for reading that after spending 800 pages on it.

Day 24: Book that contains your favorite scene

Deerskin by Robin McKinley where she gets her vengeance on her father in front of the whole royal court, pretty awesome.

Day 25: Favorite book you read in school

The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien in this one because I’ve said Hero and the Crown way too much already. Hobitt was AMAZING.

Day 26: Favorite nonfiction book

Your Erroneous Zones by Dr Dwayne Dyer… Fascinating book about people’s self destructive habits… go get it and read it asap.

Day 27: Favorite fiction book

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan… it was so incredible. Her writing is….. wow.

Day 28: Last book you read

Messenger by Lois Lowry. Third and final book that wraps up with all the characters in the Giver series. Gathering Blue is the second one, and my personal favorite.

Day 29: Book you’re currently reading

Beauty by Robin McKinley because Karen said she liked it and I’ve had it forever and not read it yet. It’s a retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast. I love fairy tale remakes.

Day 30: Favorite coffee table book

Magic Eye… we just bought it from B & N because my husband taught me how to do it… finally. It’s SO COOL!!

OK, it took me 45 minutes. FINE, I lose!! Oh well, TWAS still fun to do.

Notes From Angela Drake

The First rule about Springfield Writers Guild is “You do not talk about Writer’s Guild!” I originally posted this on the 31st of August but there was much speculation as to whether or not it was classified as plagiarism. Guess what, it’s me reporting verbatim what she said AND giving her credit for it, so it’s NOT. Now that the drama has been swept under the rug, I will continue with my original post.

I didn’t see any rules (for the guild), but I’m sure they do exist. I got there pretty early and was starting to do some critiquing of a burgeoning septuagenarian writer’s latest piece of sci-fi work, but then my co-hort arrived and we went out to the restaurant part of the meeting place and ate lunch instead. Probably not in the spirit of the guild and all, but I was too excited to see my friend and unfortunately, couldn’t care less.

The only real interesting part of the Guild meeting was the speaker, Angela Drake. She talked to us from a 10 point outline about HOW TO GET AN EDITOR AND AN AGENT. I will now relate the particulars of that as I found it thought provoking and useful as I’m sure you will. These are all points that get you ready to make a pitch to a publisher.

1.) HAVE THE BOOK DONE: This is mainly true when writing fiction, nonfiction is a different animal. A lot of publishers aren’t just asking for partials anymore. A partial is essentially the first three chapters of your book and a well written synopsis. They want the whole thing, and they want it NOW. Take the time to write, edit and polish your book completely before setting out to meet with a publisher. Can’t buy the cart before the horse now can you?

If you finish your book and start doing research on publishers (To be discussed in more detail in section 3) and find that they are not willing to take unsolicited material, then the next step is to get thyself to some conferences! These are an excellent way to meet agents and editors and get your personality in there to work for you. Whatever you do, DON’T TAKE YOUR BOOK TO THE CONFERENCE! They have too many people to talk to. If you do get them to agree to read it, go home and email it or if sending by snail mail, do that right away.

If you were at one of these conferences and they asked you to see your book and you only had a partial, you would have to go home, write the rest of the book (which could take 6 months or more) and THEN send it to them. When that much time passes, they forget about you and you will likely lose the 5 minute window you had to show them your work. Keep in mind, these people get inundated with manuscripts every single day, so if you do get a chance to have them read yours, TAKE IT.


2.) KNOW YOUR QUALIFICATIONS: If you go to a job interview, you’ve got your qualifications for it running through your head as you wait for the interview. This is no different. You need to let them know how you are uniquely qualified to write whatever piece of fiction (or non) you are pitching to them.

For example, a nun probably wouldn’t be an ideal candidate for writing a trashy romance novel. Then again, maybe the lack of sex would make her the best romance novelist ever. Wow, that’s a bad example. All right, let me try again. How about this, I am a landlord and one of the books I’m working on is a series of short stories from a landlord’s perspective… I AM uniquely qualified to write this book! 5 years and hundreds of grating and horrible residents worth of qualified!

My friend Kitty just published a book about a young Indian girl and her dog on the Trail of Tears. Kitty is obsessed with native american history and has a deep family heritage rooted in it. Plus, she and her husband own an Indian trade post and make various relics related to that subject. The dog in the story is a Jack Russell Terrier, and Kitty has three of them as well as a not so small obsession with the breed. She is well qualified to write her book. Shameless plug here: Her new book is called Wheezer And The Painted Frog and will be available on Kindle in September 2011 for FREE for a limited time! Check it out!

 

 3.) KNOW THE HOUSE: For heaven’s sake, do some research!If you are aiming to get published by a certain publisher then you need to know who they are, what they have published in the last 6 months, how many new titles and authors they have signed in that time. You could even go and get some of the books from the local library, or buy them if you have the dough, and read them! Remember: These people had what the publisher was looking for. You can find a lot of this info on the publisher’s website.

4.) KNOW THE EDITOR OR AGENT: This one goes hand in hand with #3. Look up the editors that have signed books of authors similar to you! How easy is that? The editor may also have a blog, check it out! Facebook stalk them, Tweet them! Just do some digging and know what they want so you can be prepared to wow them with your knowledge at the pitch!

5.) KNOW YOUR COMPETITORS: I’m thinking points 3, 4 and 5 are a trifecta. This is again just encouraging you to research who you write like and who signed them because these people will most likely be the ones to sign you. Inquiring to agents who publish stuff that is completely different from yours will likely be a waste of time. Check out their books and blogs. Don’t just sample one, sample several different authors from the same house. Another way to do this is by reading their blogs! Many writers now have blogs (refer back to section 2!) and those are an indication of their writing style. Every person has a unique voice that seeps into or takes over their writing. Know what your publisher likes, find who you are comparable to, and use it as a selling point for yourself.

Here is link to a cool widget where you can paste a sample of your writing and find out who your style most resembles. I don’t know if it’s entirely accurate, but it sure is fun!  Check out this post about it by Karen Nelson, one of my current inspirations and a dear friend! I will be putting a link to her blog on mine. She is a fascinating creature… I want to study her habits and migratory patterns! 🙂

I also found this article had a lot to say on this subject and indeed, the entire scope of my article here, even better than I am saying it. Check it out: How I Got My Agent: By Amy Reed

And here’s a thought, start blogging NOW. The more you blog, and the more of a following you get, the more clips of your writing a publisher will have to sample. A following tells them the answer to their main question about you: Will your books sell? YES!

As greedy and unromantic as that seems, it is the reality. Think of every person that follows your blog as someone who will eventually buy your book! That’s right, you are promoting your own book before you even write it! Gain your following now! Be witty, make them laugh, be educational. Be CONSISTENT.

Even though you may be worried that no one will read your blog, you may end up being surprised at how many people on your facebook or twitter friend lists will! There’s a reason these sites are called “Social Networking” sites! They are ideal for marketing yourself and your blog, so do it! It’s easier than you think and even your “boring” life is more interesting than you think. Plus, it’s all just good practice for writing, and we could all use more of that.

6.) PREPARE THE PITCH: Write an intro letter to the person you are going to be pitching to. This should consist of all your personal info, but mainly the back copy of your book, which should be roughly two paragraphs, 50 to 75 words total. In order to write a good back copy you may want to visit your local library or book store and check out the back copy of several of your favorite authors who have recently been published, and maybe even some you have never read to give you some scope and variety. Make notes on particulars.

7.) BUSINESS CARDS: These are not your ordinary business cards. They shouldn’t be flashy, especially not tacky, and would be best if you stick to black print on a white background. The simpler the better. The purpose of this business card is only to give them all your contact info. Keep in mind that your card will probably be thrown away after given to a secretary to add to a rolodex, so again, don’t be flashy or tacky, their only purpose is to PROVIDE INFORMATION ABOUT YOU. So, keep them simple.

You will take two of these into your pitch. One of them will have the title of your manuscript, the target line or theme of the book, and the word count written on the back so you can give it to your interviewer. This will set you apart from the numerous others that pitch to them that day. The second card is left blank so after you finish your pitch you can write down the name of your interviewer and any pertinent comments they made in your pitch. You will put this with your manuscript when you send it in for them to read. This makes them remember who you are and again, makes you stand out from the others.

This is important: When you send in your manuscript, make sure you follow their directions precisely! Some of them may give you a code or a few words to include in you headline. Some of them may do something different. This is how they pick your work, that they actually did want to see, out of the barrage of stuff they get sent that they didn’t request to see. If all else fails write “Requested Material from _______” and of course fill in the blank of where and when they requested to see your work. This is a good rule of thumb with requests you get at conferences too. Refer back to #1 for that info.

8.) DRESS APPROPRIATELY: This is important. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one! Remember that this is a business venture for them as well as for you. If you treat it like you are in your lounging attire, meeting a friend for coffee, they will likely think that your goal does not reflect theirs. That goal is to MAKE MONEY. You must convince them that you want to do this for a living, not a hobby.

Business attire is best. For ladies, a suit, dress or skirt. Nothing too flashy. Be conservative. Navy or Black are nice options. No perfume. No gum. Keep the jewlery to a minimum. For gentlemen, same rules, except you probably wouldn’t want to wear a skirt or dress. 🙂 Nice, new, pressed jeans and a blazer may be acceptable for you guys as well.

9.) BE ON TIME: Why not be early?!? 10-15 minutes early is best! WHY?Say the person whose appointment is just ahead of yours freaks out in a nervous spasm and leaves, your appointment just got pushed ahead and if you aren’t there, you may lose your place. Above all: DO NOT BE LATE!

10.) BE COURTEOUS & CONFIDENT: When you sit down to your interview, make sure to shake their hand and thank them for taking the time to do this for you. This is not brown nosing! It is good manners and will, again, set you apart from the person who just went before you by starting the meeting anew.

Regarding being confidence, just remember that you are here! They have chosen to give you 3-5 minutes of their time and that was not by chance. You earned it. Feel good about that. If you are stressed you won’t come off your best. (I made that up, sheer poetry, you’re welcome.) Be at your best and let your personality and passion shine through. Here is a little tidbit that I picked up while working in property management/sales: To be sold on your product, they must first be sold on YOU. Just be at your best. Practice what you are going to say ahead of time, possibly in the mirror, so you can gain confidence in your approach. Hey, it works for my sims, it will work for you too.

Here is another vital thing to remember: They aren’t just hiring you. You are also hiring them to represent your work. A writer’s work is often like their child. That’s right! You are hiring them to see to the well being and proper care and treatment of your child! Also, important: Know who your target audience is. They will ask.

Hope you learned something new, I know I did.

Comments are appreciated!

Here are some additional websites I found while researching this that I thought were pertinent and useful:

Angela Drake’s Blog:  http://angeladrake.blogspot.com/   Hint: She was the speaker at SWG and this is HER outline. You may ask her more questions on her blog.

Writer’s Digest:  www.writersdigest.com

Predators and Editors:  http://pred-ed.com/

If you like the pictures in this post, you can check them out and buy merch on this website: http://www.despair.com/