Too Busy Not to Pray

Hi friends!

The last twenty-four hours have been spent with a significant chunk of time devoted to prayer and thoughts on prayer. Part of this has to do with the fact that our small group will begin a discussion on that very subject (using Bill Hybels' book Too Busy Not to Pray) this Sunday evening. The other part has to do with my own inclinations to pursue what I want from life, even as I try to discover what it is that God desires for me.

If I'm being honest here, it's a battle for me every single day. I am equipped with the Spirit of the Living God, which means I have direct access to His power and His guidance. But I am also human and flawed by nature. So when I think I might have the right answer...is it really God's? I'm almost certain this is a question that has been asked millions of times, and my asking it makes no difference on how it will be answered.

So last night I prayed about this very subject. I approached the Lord (isn't it incredible to have the ability to do so? We don't have to wait for a mediator) and talked with Him about the two things I've been wrestling with the most, as of late: my job and my finances.

I've been working at a university for (approaching) three years. It was my first post-college job, and it's been a wonderful learning experience on everything from employee relationships, business standards, management, leadership, punctuality, organization, and communication. I was able to get married because I had a full-time position, with benefits that have been tremendous, and I've met some wonderful people along the way.

I've also learned that I have little patience for those who want the rewards of an education without making the effort. It's been an adjustment getting used to sitting at a desk all day and answering many of the same questions year after year. I've realized throughout this process that, while this job has been good for me, it's just that. A job. It's not my life and to treat it as such is to deny what other opportunities God might have in store for me, as well to deny myself a life that it grounded in the pursuit of Jesus over things of this world.

And so I asked Him to take away everything in my life that is prohibiting me from hearing His voice and responding to His will. I want to be obedient, and I want to be used wherever He needs me. If that's where I am, then alright. But I don't think it is...

The point here is that I don't know exactly what God has prepared for me, but I do know that He has blessed me with a talent: writing. And, as a follower, I will be asked to use that talent in order to bring glory to His name. Too often, it's easy for us to just say "What is God's will for my life?" But where's the excitement in knowing everything? The beauty is found in the mystery of His intricate plan, and in our obedience to Him. I don't need to know what will happen in order to trust that God will take care of me. He's proven His faithfulness to me time and again. And so I must be faithful in return. My purpose in asking God to take away what inhibits my obedience is two-fold: first, I know that I love Him and I love to write. I am filled with joy for these things, and I pray that God will use them together so that I can further serve Him...what I don't know is how; second, my finances are directly connected to my work status, but I rely on that far too much.

Let me explain a little more about that...

I have student loans, and so does Husband. In essence, two undergraduate degree and a master's underway are going to result in a balance that nears the price of a small home (here in the South, anyway). We've been as responsible as we can about all three of them, but a loan is debt, regardless of how careful one is about it. We also have a car payment (almost paid off, though! One more year!), credit cards, rent, utilities, phones, etc...We recently paid off one card, as well as my orthodontist bills, which will help out a good deal. And I have a 401(k), but it's not very much and I won't have access to those funds for thirty years. So Husband and I really want to focus our efforts on cutting back and spending less in order to eliminate our debt.

The Bible says that we should not be indebted to any man (Proverbs 22:7) and, while I don't think having credit cards is a sin (obviously...plus, it helps to create a good credit score if you use them wisely), we are not happy that much of our income goes straight back out to pay for our debt as soon as the direct deposits are made. I have no doubt that the Lord will provide, and Husband and I have been blessed to see the fruit of our consistent (and very recent) tithing efforts. That one has been particularly tough because it's a full 10% of our income every month, but since I know that what I have is given to me by God...why would I not offer it back to Him? It's a small way to thank Him for His provision in our lives, and another way to do that is to be more dedicated to getting ourselves back in the black. Having large amounts of debt, I believe, is not honorable to God. I like to think of my student loans as an investment in my future but, really, I want to be a writer...unless I become a NY Times Bestseller (which is definitely on my to-do list, but never a certainty!), there is small chance that I will make very much more than I do now. Which would not be problem...except for all our debt. You see how this works?

In short, what I'm trying to say is that I prayed for God to first put me in the position to hear what it is that He wants me to do next in my profession (either through reading the Word, quiet time with Him, or help from wise friends and family) and then to help me trust that, by doing so, our finances will be stable. I cannot be afraid that moving on to a lower-paying job, or quitting work altogether in order to volunteer my services elsewhere, will result in more debt and a frightening financial situation. I believe that God wants me to get rid of my debt, for precisely the reasons I mentioned earlier, and so I must also believe that Husband and I will be taken care of if we honor God's leading.

Taking these issues to the Lord in prayer was really risking exposure to how little faith I often have in Him. I found myself pausing, and it took me a full minute to actually say aloud "Lord, I ask that you take away anything in my life that does not allow me to hear what You have to say", and then to further request that He provide a place for me where I can be used to serve Him best. But once I said it, I was filled with the peace that doing so was the right thing. We should never be fearful of God, especially if what we're asking is for the chance to honor His will. That doesn't mean it shouldn't stretch us a bit (I know it did me!) or even mean risking it all for His sake, but that's entirely the point.

Until next time,

Wendi

Author Misa Rush to Visit in June!

Author Misa Rush
Photo credit: Amazon
Hi friends!

Good news! I've added a fourth author to the list of upcoming guests here on ABC. I'll be reviewing Misa Rush's women's fiction debut Family Pieces in June, and she'll visit the blog shortly before that's posted. It's been so much fun getting to know other authors, and it won't be long before you guys will get to share in the fun with me.

Thanks for your loyal readership (whoever you are!) and keep checking back for more updates!

That's all for now,

Wendi

I Now Present...(drumroll please!)

Hello friends,

It's here! It's here! My first book has officially arrived, and it's lying in front of me on my desk as I write this post. Total bliss, I tell ya.


Happiness is a published book!

I have probably overloaded my Facebook friends with pictures and statuses regarding my newfound excitement (and for those of you who are sick of my photograph showing up on your news feed, I apologize!), but I am thrilled to finally get to see the product of all our months of hard work.

This will most likely resemble an Academy Award speech, but it needs to be done:

A HUGE thanks to Mr. Phillip Bellury for hiring me and giving me the chance to write my first book. It was a long, difficult journey, but I had tons of fun getting to know you, Deb, Mike, Sue, and Meredith (not to mention meeting the other Sue and Mr. Scottie Mayfield), and it means so much that you believed in my talent. I learned more than I can say here about publishing and the process of creating a finished book, and it was a blessing to work at The Storyline Group (SLG). Thank you for everything! *And a big round of applause to the rest of our team members who designed, edited, managed, and operated the whole she-bang from Round One* Good luck with future SLG endeavours!

As a side note (you know how I like these): I wish I had more copies to share with friends and family, but that just means I'll have to take a trip to Braselton here in the next few months and go on a tour of the Mayfield visitor center and gift shop. Woot woot!

Thank you, Husband. You were (and still are) my rock through those crazy/busy nine months. I would not have been able to complete my internship (or stay sane for that matter) if hadn't been for your encouragement, late-night dinners, follow-up on my perpetual domestic failures, prayer, and occassional kick in the ass. I adore you.

Thank you friends and family (you know who you are!) for all the phone calls, messages, support, laughter, food, prayer, and sweet tea. You are the best people in this world and I often wonder what I'd do without you.

And, finally, I have to say that I serve a glorious King. His provision is so fufilling, and my spirit overflows with His love. I had some dark moments when stress, fatigue, frustration, and disappointment clouded my vision, and in those moments Jesus spoke soft words to my heart. I am only capable because of who He is and what He has already done in my world, and I rejoice at the sound of His voice.

Until next time,

Wendi

Don't be a bandwagoner...

Hi friends!

Last night I went to the Hawks game with my hubby. It was sad. Why?

Because more than half of the arena was there to cheer on the Chicago Bulls. I would say the decibel level only rose to a hearty pitch to either jeer at our team (yes, my fellow Atlantans...that team with the Hawks emblem is ours) or to cheer when Joakim Noah scored yet another three-pointer. He's an impressive player, no doubt about it. But he's not our player. There is nothing I hate more than citizens of Atlanta cheering for another team simply because they're popular. Get with it, people, or get out. I'll help you move, in fact, if you promise to learn what the word "loyalty" means, mmk?


This is not a bovine. Go take biology if you're confused!

There, I'm done.

Well, I'm off my soapbox, anyway.

Moving on to more important things: I have updates on upcoming blog tours and such. Jessica Chambers, author of Voices on the Waves (set on the coast of Cornwall...I think I'm in love already!), will be stopping by on Monday, May 2nd for a guest post here on ABC to talk about her journey into e-book publishing. Please make her feel welcome with lots of lovely comments! I'll be posting my review of Cassandra O'Sullivan's Little Miss Teacher on June 24th, and I'm working with Samantha over at Chick Lit Plus to schedule guest posts with both the former and Chantel Simmons. Be on the lookout for those! I promise to post a final schedule of those once I receive it.

Secondly, and perhaps not quite as exciting, I received my fifth query rejection today! That's just one step closer to a book request, my friends. I've really got high hopes for the last one I sent out this morning...

Until next time,

Wendi

Think Happy Thoughts!

Hi friends!

I don't have much for you today except for this:

1. Giving up sweet tea and soda for Lent is not quite as excrutiating as I thought, but it's still hard to get over the bitterness of unsweetened tea!


Just looking at this picture is practically torture!

2. I'm now up to 4 rejections for my query, but they're getting easier (and nicer, too!) every time. Just this morning I got a rejection only because the agent was not taking on any more fiction projects for the time being...maybe the next one will be a resounding YES!

3. I can't change anyone's heart...or mind. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

4. Francis Chan is a cool dude. And he's a great writer.

5. My hubby told me I look like I'm going on an African safari today. I'm going to take this as a compliment!

Until next time,

Wendi

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Hi friends!

Hope you've got your green on (I don't!). I'm heading down tonight to Savannah for the St. Paddy's celebration on River Street with my cousin, Brittany. We've never taken a trip alone together (even a short 3-hour one to a city we've both lived in/near and LOVE) because, growing up, it was either with our parents or, as adults, we were too busy and lived on opposite sides of the state. I know I've been looking forward to this trip for months (and even though my hubby and I have no idea where we'll be living when we move next weekend, I'm sure that God will provide what we need!), and Brittany has come up with a excellent road-trip mix for the two of us, celebrating some of our all-time (old-school 90s) favorites:

Backstreet Boys
'Nsync
No Doubt
Amy Grant
KC & JoJo
Journey
Mariah Carey...and many more!

I'm just so darn excited, I have a severe case of want-to-leave-work-itis (is there another less confusing name for that?). Unfortunately, on my lunch break I have to post three assignments to Blackboard, call Promove about the townhomes we're looking at, and squeeze in some time with Love Struck (oh yeah, and eat lunch!). It's all for the sake of going on a mini-vacation with one of my most favorite cousins.

Anyway...

I got the official word a few hours ago that the Mayfield book shipment has finally arrived! I get my copies next week (as soon as I find a moment between packing, filling out application fees, working, and homework). Be prepared for tons of pictures and happy smiles!

More good news: Jordan Christy posted on her blog about her interview here with ABC! It's from January (I have no idea how I missed it since I subscribe to her blog), but here it is if you want to check it out! It's short and sweet, but a mention nonetheless and I am stoked about it! Thanks Jordan for sharing the love!

Have a wonderful, safe St. Patrick's Day weekend. Drink a mug of green beer and (don't) pinch someone!

XOXO,
Wendi

It's a perfect day with nothing standin' in my way

Hi friends!

Yesterday was a good day.

At times, work gets me down. I try to find meaning in the smallest things because I know that I am blessed to have a full-time job when so many others have nothing (or they're working multiple part-time positions, which is exhausting and stressful), but it can be a daunting task. I have always believed there is honor in doing your job well, and having integrity even if others (and especially those above you) do not. But, as I said, sometimes it can be much easier to get frustrated, vent, sigh, and half-ass the work day. On days like this it's tough to go home, even though it's all I want to do (!), because then I feel like I am wasting what I've been given.

The last three weeks have been tough: tired each day from little sleep, grumpy from being tired, and not quite as on top of things as normal. I've been attempting to go at each day as though I need no one else, as though the Holy Spirit is just hanging out in my chest cavity, like a parrot in a cage, mocking my complaints and offering no real advice. This sentiment could not be further from the truth...and I have been acting as though turning to the Lord is an obligation, another task to check off the list. When I stop to realize how much time I waste trying to do everything on my own strength, I am ashamed of myself! I am equipped with the Spirit of the Living God! I am, literally, capable of anything...but only through Him. The days when I get up and read the Word, sipping on a sweet cup of coffee before going to work, are always my best days. And that is certainly no coincidence. So why is it so hard to do that every day when I have NO DOUBT that it's worth my effort?

Because I'm sleepy, that's why. It's a perpetual cycle and it will only stop once I break it. I have full faith that I will operate better when I am offering up my day to the Lord and allowing Him to move me. I'll probably get things done more efficiently, which means a better schedule, a better sleeping pattern, and, TA-DA! no hitting the snooze button four times in a row.

So now that I've gotten all that out of the way, let me tell you why I had such a good day yesterday.

I decided to stay a bit late to help a co-worker with a presentation that is coming up this weekend (ah, the life of a manager!), and it felt really good to be able to encourage her about the work she's doing. We've had a few little issues, which I was afraid had kind of shoved a wedge between us, but after going over all her questions yesterday, I felt like God had really prepared our hearts to hear one another. It was such a blessing to feel appreciated, and I'm sure she felt the same. I went home with a smile on my face, even after leaving more than an hour later than normal, and the rest of my night followed suit.

The hubby had gone grocery shopping while I was at work and he bought some of my favorite things. I love to eat, and I love food, so I'm not hard to please and he always knows what will make me smile (like peach cobbler, for example, or two boxes of Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese...heaven!). I watched him unpack the groceries, displaying his purchases for me like a little kid in art class, and I fell in love with him again. I love the simple, easy moments we have together, and our silly adoration for domesticity.

After show-and-tell, I made myself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner and went to work ripping apart two packages I had received in the mail. The first contained a hand-written letter from author Shannon Hart, thanking me for reading her book and telling me where I can go online to post any reviews I might like to add. I recently won her novel Until the End of Forever in the Chick Lit Plus Challenge, so I thought this was a very sweet treat (and a smart move on the part of a new author trying to promote her work and garner new fans). The second package was my copy of Love Struck, which I'll be reviewing for author Chantel Simmons in May. Mrs. Simmons had also included a hand-written note with her book, thanking me for hosting her on the blog tour. I was giddy! Not least because I love to receive snail mail (with real penmanship and super-adorable stationary!), but also because I was holding letters from two published authors. It made me feel like I was truly a part of their community, and I am so grateful to them for including me.

And to top off my wonderful day, I got a full eight hours of sleep...and it shows. It's incredible what a good night's rest will do for your face!

XOXO,
Wendi

Kiss Me! I'm Scottish!

Hi friends!

I just finished reading Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware, and I have to say it: it's probably one of the best books I have ever read. It's a historical romance about Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon, who is famous in the Scottish history books, though no biography has ever been written about her. I suppose, even though it is a novel, Island of the Swans is as close as one can get.



Jane Maxwell was quite a character. She lived in Scotland, growing up in Edinburgh just before the American Revolution. There's a wonderful amount of historical detail in the book, and it gives the reader a British point of view; more importantly, it reveals the tension between the Scots and the English, which was something I was unaware of until I read this book. The Scottish were (are) intense people, extremely proud and, in the 18th century, what some might call unsophisticated; I prefer to use the term "independent". They fought for no one but themselves, and it was this pride that got Jane, her friend Thomas, and their loved ones in quite a bit of trouble.

Jane was fiercely independent- beautiful, but decidedly non-traditional, and she spent her childhood playing outside, racing pigs in the streets of Hyndford's Close, with her best friend Thomas Fraser. The novel covers more than thirty years of her life, and you can't help but form a deeply emotional attachment to the relationship between the two of them. Jane gets in an accident at a young age, where her right forefinger is cut off, and Thomas takes her home to see that she's taken care of. Unfortunately, Jane's mother wants to see Jane's friendship with Thomas come to an end, as does Thomas' godfather, Simon, who wants to see his young charge reclaim the Fraser lands and, with them, his family's noble titles.

When the American revolution begins, Thomas, who promises to marry Jane upon his return, is sent off to fight in the colonies. Months later, Jane finds out that he's been killed. The Duke of Gordon- Alexander- begins to try and court her, and it's easy to see how they might make a good match. Alex had once loved another girl, who bore him a child and then died, and so he understood Jane's heartache. Just weeks after the wedding, Thomas, whom everyone thought had died at the hands of the American natives, returns home to Scotland and to Jane.

These few scenes were heartwrenching because I had watched Jane mourn and slowly open her heart again, only to realize that Thomas was alive all along while she had married another man. Though much of the book is rooted in fact, I was so happy to discover that this part of the story was actually true (even though I can't imagine experiencing something so difficult). In both the novel and real life, Jane was on her honeymoon tour when she received a letter from Thomas, telling her that he was coming home. She fled, shocked with grief, and Alexander found her on a bench, nearly incoherent. Some even thought she had gone mad. She basically had to mourn for Thomas all over again. Alexander who, unlike so many dukes in other novels of this period, is actually a good man, and he adores Jane. But as much as I rooted for him, even after he falls victim to his insane jealousy, and cheered for Jane when she fought to stay faithful to him, I wanted nothing more than to see her with Thomas.

Over the course of more than three decades, Jane builds a family with Alex, who never gets over his envy of Thomas, and thrives in the arenas of politics, military recruitment, and business, despite being a female in the 18th century. She was a strong woman, and what I loved about Ciji Ware is that she made her characters authentic in the sense that they were multi-faceted. In literature, it can be easy to create flat characters for the sake of using them to propel the plot forward. Jane's marriage to Alexander could have been one-dimensional, the type that readers practically scream for her to leave without ever looking back. But fate threw Jane, Alex, and Thomas together in a way that was cruel and twisted, and I wanted to see each of them happy. Of course, with a story that complicated, we know that happiness is probably not in the cards...especially if you did your research as you read the novel and found out certain facts about Jane's later life (*guilty!). But Ware created a beautiful ending to a beautiful story, and, as I said yesterday, I went back and re-read the entire final chapter just so I wouldn't have to be finished with Jane.

As a bit of a digression (but on a somewhat related note) I'm Scottish and I've been trying to find out more information about my 4th great-grandfather for the last three years. I know a pretty good amount regarding his son, John Gillian Barclay, who was born in 1829 and was the first in my paternal line to come to America. He came to New York and moved to Alabama, where he was married three times (widowed twice; my family comes from his third wife who, I've been told, was the daughter of black woman and a white man and worked as a nurse). He's buried near Rome, GA, and I've been to his grave. Strangely, he isn't buried with any other family, and that strikes me as odd. He had six children! It could be for a variety of different reasons, but there is a great deal of mystery surrounding his life in the States. I've heard he was involved with the mob in NY and fled to Alabama, and I've also heard that he was enlisted in the Union army and captured here in the south, where he stayed after the war. One thing is for sure: John Gillian's father never left Scotland, and I want to find out if he had any other children. If he did, that means I probably have (fairly close) relatives in Scotland. It's a good thing Scots have some of the best genealogical records in the world! I'm desperate to know more about my Scottish heritage. Who knows? Maybe I'm related to Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon!

XOXO,
Wendi

'Cause I May Be Bad, But I'm Perfectly Good At It!

Hello friends!

Please tell me you got out this weekend (if you live around Atlanta) and enjoyed this beautiful spring weather! My cousin, Brittany, and my husband and I went house hunting on Saturday. It wasn't quite the success we'd hoped it would be (and we're moving in two weeks with no place to live yet!), but it was still a lovely day.

Just to clarify, the title of this post is a tongue-in-cheek response to how good I'm getting at being rejected. The last few weeks have presented me with the highs and lows of trying to turn my writing into a profession, and it feels appropriate for what I've experienced recently.

On the one hand, I now have three author interviews lined up (provided I first complete my reviews here on ABC), and I'm still very happy to say that I have a completed novel sitting on my desk at home. I'm proud of myself for what I have accomplished in such a short span of time...

But on the other hand, I've received a total of three rejections for my query letter (the last of which was from the Query Shark herself, and was actually so polite and encouraging that I have read it four times to remind myself just how capable I am), and I'm still waiting on five others. It's been two weeks, and I have four weeks left until I can officially assume that "no response means 'no'".

I'm not a bad writer. In fact, there are times I'm sure my regard for my own skill is higher than it probably should be, but that's what I'm supposed to do! I'm supposed to behave as though my writing is important somehow, and that it's going to positively influence others when it's finally published. In the meantime, I'm happy to say that I'm perfectly good at being bad, which is to imply that I'm okay with the rejections...for now...

This week I'm back to reading a ton for my classes, but we're nearing the end of the semester. Four classes down and six to go! By spring of next year I will have my Master's in Liberal Studies and thousands more in student loans...hooray! In addition, I've got to finish three novels (one I purchased, another I won in the Chick Lit Plus Challenge, and one for my author interview), so things are pretty busy at the moment. But I'm happy! Tomorrow I'm going to write a review for a historical romance I just finished reading called Island of the Swans by Ciji Ware. I'm literally in LOVE with that book. I re-read the whole last chapter just so I wouldn't have to be finished with it!

Until then,

Wendi

Blog Tour Dates Announced!

Hi friends!

I've got some updates for you guys regarding blog tour dates and the authors I'll be hosting here on ABC! As I mentioned a few weeks back, I'll soon be reviewing Chantel Simmons' Love Struck and, in turn, she has agreed to do an interview or guest post here. I've just learned from Samantha over at Chick Lit Plus that Jess Chambers, author of Voices on the Waves, has some free dates in May as well, and I'll be posting my review for her that month. Similarly, Ms. Chambers will also be visiting ABC as a favor for my review. Isn't this exciting? I can't wait to learn more about these women and what writing has been like for them. Plus, I get a chance to read more books...and you'll never hear me complain about that!

These are the review dates (I'll have the interview/guest post dates up soon!):

May 8- Jess Chambers' Voices on the Waves

May 18th- Chantel Simmons' Love Struck



I want to say a quick thanks to Samantha for consistently reaching out to me with these opportunities. She does a great job connecting with her readership and I appreciate her efforts to help me do the same! Also, I'd like to tell my own readers how awesome I think y'all are; it's amazing to wake up each day with the chance to write about something I love, and it means so much to have fans who follow along! Love you guys!

That's all for now...gotta get back to my iced caramel coffee.

XOXO,
Wendi


Last Night at Chateau Marmont: A Review



Read the first chapter for free at Lauren
Weisberger's official website:
http://www.laurenweisberger.com/
 

 Hello friends!

It's that time again. We're counting down the months for the Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge for 2011 and today I'm offering up book number three, Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger, as my favorite thus far. Weisberger already holds a dear place in my heart for her agonizingly funny portrayal of Andrea Sachs as assistant to Runway fashion magazine icon Anna Wintour- ahem, I'm sorry, I mean Miranda Priestly- in The Devil Wears Prada. I read Weisberger's debut novel when I was in college and I laughed all the way through it. She has a voice that is entertaining, fresh, and fun, but she is also adept at capturing the essence of an emotional, personal, or professional challenge (in Andy's case, the boss from hell, which pretty much turned her entire life into a mess) and making her audience empathize deeply with the character.

Last Night was no different. So here we go...

Last Night at Chateau Marmont: My 100 Word Summary

Brooke first met Julien while she was out on a blind date- with someone else- at a bar in NYC. Coincidentally, she had already heard him belting out a pretty little tune at another bar months before and was quite the fan. Now they've been married for five years and Julien's career is taking off. He's finally got a record deal, a publicist, and a manager. It seems like their dreams are coming true...until Brooke finds herself face to face with tabloid photos and screaming headlines nearly every other day. The voyeuristic presence of photographers and fans invades their sweet, private existence and turns everything inside out and upside down.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont: What I Think

Lauren Weisberger's novel is timely...we are a society obsessed with celebrities! We can't get enough of them, even though we say things like "They're just people like you and me". In this novel, Weisberger shows us the reality behind the fame and fortune, and I did not envy Brooke or Julien. They were a loving couple, and as their world began to spiral out of control I felt my heart breaking as if I were Brooke, watching my sweet, down-to-earth husband transform into an a narcissistic ego-maniac who lets everyone else control him as if he were a marionette doll.

Weisberger puts us in the middle of the action, where we can finally understand, in the most realistic way possible without actually being famous, what it must be like to have zero privacy or control over your own life. Brooke was smart, witty, and intelligent, with her own dreams and her own career, which I loved. She didn't do what so many popular characters have done when faced with an on-going problem, which is to say that she didn't continually put off confronting the issue in order to get to the author's required word count. And Julien was the kind of guy I imagine so many musicians to be before they let the glitz go to their heads: faithful, genuine, and unpretentious.

I really enjoyed the fact that Weisberger showed us how these two people fell in love because it gave us solid footing to rely on, even when their marriage appeared to be on the rocks. I was a little surprised how she worked it all out in the end because it seemed so simple and easy, but the struggle to get there was long and arduous. One key scene to keep in mind is near the end of the novel, when Brooke gets fired from her job just as she's preparing to walk down the red carpet at the Grammys, and Julien confronts her with some painful news. It's not pretty, but it's probably the most powerful scene in the book.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont is chick lit at its finest; as readers we want to feel like characters are our friends, or that we are them in some way, and Weisberger brings us face to face with celebrities and makes us feel what they probably feel on a daily basis. It's funny, and charming, and well-written, and I can't wait to read what she comes out with next!

XOXO,

Wendi

Two in One

Hello friends!

After I posted yesterday, I received a second (short) email from a second agent...and a second rejection. Two in one day! I'm sure it's not the record, but it certainly made me feel important.

I did a little thinking and I discovered that my query letter is just not cutting it. I would say that it's perfect, but it's also boring. If I were an agent and I were trying to read hundreds of letters a day to find that one little gem, I don't believe I would have acted very different (notice I said "very", and by that I mean I would have at least written their first and last name). My husband and I were laughing about it all, and he said to imagine the agent receiving my email on her Blackberry...she's scrolling through, looking for something to just pop off the page and, when it doesn't, she simply types a short message and moves on to the next one. When I thought it about the situation from that perspective, it changed the way I felt. It's just business, and I get it. It's completely subjective, and some days it depends on whether or not that particular agent has had his morning coffee, or if she fought with her spouse, or what the market is doing, or if the query really did just suck.

In my case, I don't think my letter sucks. In fact, I'm pretty sure that it follows the guidelines for a query letter perfectly...but that just might be the problem. It's boring. And my story is not...not by any stretch of the imagination. So I need to take a chance and get a little risky (more so than entrusting a year's work to agents you've never met) because no one is going to believe it's a great story unless I do.

XOXO,
Wendi

The First Cut is the Deepest

Hi friends!

Well.

It happened.

I got rejected.

And, no, not a form rejection letter. I couldn't even be granted the simple pleasure of reading something along the lines of "Dear Wendi, thank you for your submission, but at present we are not able to blah blah I've stopped reading at this point blah blah blah..."

I got the one-liner. I didn't even get a "Dear Wendi".

First things first: let me explain that I was not expecting to receive an immediate request for my manuscript. I have prepared myself for this moment, kowing that some of my favorite authors were rejected multiple, perhaps dozens of times, before they were published. I was fully aware that rejections would probably fill my inbox before a request would find its way through the millions of pages of code between my Gmail account and a potential agent's. I have worked in publishing. I've researched and studied and read until my eyes stung with the effort to keep them open. I've edited my query letter, according to the generally-approved standards of the literary agents at large (thank you, Query Shark and the gone-but-not-forgotten Miss Snark) more than thirteen times to get it just right. And even through all my efforts this is what I saw when I opened my email this afternoon.


This is going in a frame!
Ouch.

It stung quite a bit, but not because it was a rejection. It was the way the rejection was delivered. Writers work extremely hard, braving weight gain and restless husbands, in order to perfect a story that literally breathes inside of them like an entity unto itself. But I am no idiot. My writing will not suit everyone, and it does not bother me in the slightest because I know that all it takes is one person, the right person, to love it the way I do.

But if you're going to reject me, at least have the courtesy to write my name in the email. I sought you out and addressed you personally, per your request, so I would appreciate the same treatment. Perhaps this is a good sign. It's toughened me up so that the form rejections will not hurt as much, and maybe I'm lucky that this agent actually felt it was appropriate to reply in a less than formal fashion. The first cut is the deepest, they always say...

I'm in no way shape or form discouraged. In fact, I'm convinced that my rejected query is just what I needed to keep going. Until next time!

XOXO,
Wendi