A Moment Like This

Hello my loves,

When I was 12-years-old, I went to my first writers conference. My middle school English teacher had seen me ignoring all things not my notebook during class and knew I’d gotten the word fever. He gave me the conference info, and I don’t actually recall the process that led to me going, I just remember my mom driving me down to a hotel in Indianapolis in the wee hours of the morning, and being slightly concerned about getting around well enough while there since I’d recently broken my leg and had a cast on up to my hip.

It didn’t occur to me until halfway through the day that this was a Romance Writers of America conference. Boy howdy was I rocking some red cheeks that afternoon.

It was such an oddity at the time, the conference had a news crew come and do a story on this wee tot sitting there with her legal pads and pile of pencils.

Somewhere there exists a VHS tape of that newscast.

Please just assume that if you watch it, the consequences will be similar to those in The Ring.

I didn’t attend another conference until 2012. I only knew about this one because a new friend on Twitter, Dee Romito, had seen me lamenting the lack of resources in Indiana and 30 seconds of Google served her well enough to guide me to the Midwest Writers Workshop.

By then, I was a SaHM of two tiny kiddos, one of whom was still nursing, and a bucket of anxiety. My OCD had gotten the better of me as an adult and I thrived on my schedules and hadn’t been anywhere away from home by myself in…well, quite a long ass time. I’d been writing forever, and really taken it up seriously again a few years leading up to this, and had not been having super great luck with querying my YA fantasy at the time.

It’s worth noting here that I’d had such terrible luck with the YA that I was ready to chuck it all in and delete my Twitter and crawl in a hole somewhere and accept that I didn’t have what it took to be a writer. That I was going to have to deal with letting go of the dream I’d had since I was a tiny Fizz. That someday my children would find out I’d worked so very hard and for so very long on a dream only to fail miserably at it.

A single conversation with the magnanimous Brenda Drake through Twitter DMs stopped that existential crisis. It’s because of her I shelved my YA and reminded myself that the place I was most comfortable, most happy writing, was comedic Women’s Fic. Because of that conversation, I dusted off an old manuscript and got to work polishing the hell out of it so it would be ready to live-pitch to an agent.

As for the conference, therapist and my husband pushed me to do the thing. In the months leading up to it, I both was desperate to go but also periodically had raging panic attacks and begging everyone to not make me go.

My mom even sent me shopping to buy suitable clothing as I was only in possession of yoga pants and nursing bras.

While I was there, I Tweeted to my like, 50 followers that I needed a backpack to carry my laptop in and WHY WERE THERE ONLY BACK TO SCHOOL THINGS because I didn’t want to go to my first conference in 20+ years with a Dora the Explorer bag.

I posted a picture of this brightly colored owl bag and said I was gonna do the thing so GEE I hope that’s professional enough.

I can’t even explain how scared I was. I almost turned the car around half a dozen times on the drive there. I called my mom and sobbed when I got lost and ended up driving amongst cornfields. (Not a rarity in Indiana, tbh.)

When I got to the conference site, I walked in the door, head down and terrified and a very kindly woman welcomed me from behind the registration desk saying she knew who I was because she’d seen me talking about the owl backpack I was carrying on the Twitters.

I didn’t even realize until the third day that she was the conference director, Jama Kehoe Bigger.

When I walked into the main room, I said hi to a woman walking by and asked if it was her first time at the conference, too. She looked at me funny and said she was part of the faculty. I realized I was talking to Jane freaking Friedman and felt like an ass.

Sitting at a table up front, a good hour before anyone else even arrived because I was so afraid of being late I ended up being the first person in the joint, I was eventually joined by a few people at the table as the place filled up. One was a gal I’d been introduced to online by the same lovely lady who had informed me of the conference to begin with.

After the opening ceremony stuff, everyone cleared out for the night, and I looked over and saw this guy standing by the agent table and I recognized him as this newbie agent from Twitter who’d just sold his first book. I told my new pals I was going to go say hi, and omg, you’d have thought I said I was going to go do a naked can-can dance on the main stage.

In that moment, I was all me again. I was confident and happy and wanting to make new friends.

“Guys,” I said and grabbed my new friend by the wrist, pulling her with me, “they are just agents. They are still people.”

That weekend had…amazing results.

It ended with me winning an award for Best Tweet of the Conference and full requests from every agent in attendance.

The first time Dee and I talked on the phone was the last night of MWW when she asked for an update and I couldn’t even feel my fingers enough to explain and had to do a call to explain my SQUEE. I don’t think I took a single breath that entire conversation. I was too excited to breathe.

A few days ago, I sat at a table at the most recent Midwest Writers Workshop. A conference I’m now on the planning committee of. I sat there as people came up to me with early released copies of my debut novel, asking if I’d sign them.

To my right was Jane. Freaking. Friedman. To my left was Dee Romito and Brenda Drake, all part of this year’s faculty. All signing their own books. My editor, my brilliant, magnificent editor, Lauren Smulski, also faculty this year, was standing in front of us, snapping pictures and being a proud editor mama.

There was a very specific moment when I looked up and there stood Brooks Sherman, that wee baby agent I said hi to at MWW in 2012, now holding a copy of this silly little book of mine. I looked down the table at his clients, Becky Albertalli and Angie Thomas, both *incredible* successes and yep, you guessed it, current faculty.

I thought back to the first time I spoke to Brooks. How very brand new we both were. And how he’s quite the big deal now (If he tries to tell you he’s not, just know he’s wrong.) with this incredible list of amazing authors and bestsellers and general badassness.

And I was four days away from the official release of my debut book. A book I’d spent 24 years working to see realized.

A book he held out for me to sign.

Y’all. I cried. I cried a lot.

I am crying right now.

It was this moment, this surreal, impossible moment where everything came full circle and all the people who were involved with getting me to that moment in 2012 were standing right there beside me.

Lauren at one point realized that nearly everyone I gave sobbing love to in my acknowledgments was actually RIGHT THERE at MWW this year and now she had faces for all the names.

I can’t think of this moment, let alone talk about it, without tearing up like a fool. I kind of hope that never stops.

Today is the official launch date of my book, THE AWKWARD PATH TO GETTING LUCKY. That is pretty freaking amazing, I won’t lie.

And sure, I hope the book does well, and that all of you who might read it enjoy it, or at the very least, find yourself laughing once or twice while reading. I hope I get the chance to see many more book babies launched out into the world.

But no matter what, 12-year-old me is sitting here freaking out and squealing with joy and thinking that I’ve done something she would have been proud of.

Hell, 36-year-old me is doing those things. And still lip wibbling over getting to share such an amazing experience with some of her most favorite people at her very most favorite conference.

I’m going to be a weepy ball of gratitude for a WHILE, and I want to take this opportunity to thank every single one of you who has read this blog at one point or another over the last 5-10 years or so. I’ve read every blog comment and private message. I’ve laughed at your hilarious responses and cried when you all came together to support our family in times of horrible need. I’ve felt my heart grow three sizes when you’ve shared your own tales with me on here.

Thank you, dear readers. Thank you for every second of it. You are cherished and valued and I am forever humbled that you’ve ever stopped by this tiny corner of the internet to say hello.

Until next time, my darling loves,

Peace, Love, and ZOMG I HAVE A BOOK OUT TODAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

END NOTE: If, by chance, you should feel inclined to purchase said book, I shall casually drop links below and then scurry away sheepishly. okayiloveyoubye.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

IndieBound

Target

Books-a-Million

Walmart

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