Hello my darlings, I’ve known for some time I would have to write this post, but it’s not something I’ve been chomping at the bit to do. The other day, I posted something that was a way to help me process the horror in Orlando, and I was almost instantly called out for my “allyship.” And it was put in quotation marks just like that. Aside from the fact I didn’t think it was a particularly approriate time to try and pick fights with people who were trying to sort through a fuckton of grief, the lady was super not hip to facts. See, what happened was this woman had seen a Tweet, and jumped to eleven thousand conclusions based on that single Tweet. To her, I wasn’t a part of the QUILTBAG+ community, so I had no right to be commenting on anything. Except I was very clear in an accompanying Tweet, in the same thread, even, that I am, in fact, queer. This isn’t a secret, and hasn’t ever been. I even reached out to apologize to the woman who went high holy roller on my Tweet, accusing me of fetishizing the QUILTBAG+ community, hoping she would see that there was a lot more accompanying the single Tweet she’d called out, if she’d kept reading. But she didn’t reply. She kept Tweeting about the bullshit “allyship” but never acknowledged the apology I’m not entirely sure I was due to give, but I saw her point through the eyes of the isolated Tweet and wanted to make amends. My reality did not match her narrative. She had a point to make, and no amount of pesky facts was going to alter that. I see this a lot on social media. A LOT. Over the last two years, it’s become the new hip thing to pounce on literally anything anyone says ever with the sole purpose of being the expert in something to get all the reTweets and fist-pumps of being more outraged than everyone else, and being the person to call all the...
Hello my darlings! Today I bring you an interview I’ve been dying to post for ages with one of my very most favorite people in the world, literary agent, (one of mine, to be specific!) Brent Taylor of TriadaUS Literary Agency! The first time I worked with Brent, he was a wee intern and was a huge help during the Hook, Line, and Sinker contest back in 2012. When I signed with Uwe Stender and Brent, at the time, Brent was brand new to agenting. I remember saying to friends, “With Brent, it’s not ever a question of if he will sell. It’s when.” and he certainly didn’t disappoint. He’s been kicking ass for his clients and it’s been a pleasure to watch, and be among them. Let me step aside and let the sir speak for his own awesome self. 1. First off, how long have you been an agent? What made you want to dive into this wacky business in the first place? I’ve been an agent since September 2014. I’m terrible at all math that isn’t “how much money does this publisher owe me,” so I think that’s roughly a year and a half. I’ve known that I wanted to be an agent since my first internship in 2011. There’s something so magical about shepherding books into the world that would’ve changed your life as a reader. 2. What genres do you represent? How important is the genre, or will you take on something different just because it gives you the feelings? My taste is eclectic, but I tell people that I represent upmarket fiction across all age categories: middle grade, young adult, and adult. I’m also very interested in illustrated fiction and other unique formats (like novels-in-verse). Even if something doesn’t feel like an obvious fit, I’ll always give it the benefit of the doubt, because writing is the most important to me. I’m not an obvious fit for SFF, but there are two MG/YA SFF projects on my list that I just couldn’t say no to—the writing was phenomenal. 3....
Hello my darlings! I’ve dreamt for years about writing this post. Or at the least, having the opportunity to write it. A few years back, the big thrill was writing my “ZOMG I HAVE AN AGENT!” post. I didn’t write one when I signed with my second set of agents. I super wanted to, it’s a great story, but also, I felt weird about it. Like I was demanding a second baby shower or something. Which is stupid, honestly. I love, LOVE reading posts about people signing with new agents, no matter how many they’ve had before. Please never stop posting about your wins, folks. They give me life. Hell, I love going to second/third/infinity baby showers, as well. But I’m super weird about feeling like I’m flailing my arms begging for some level of attention. Despite that absurdity, I’m going to share a little of my tale today. I went to my first writer’s conference when I was 12. It was an RWA con in Indianapolis at a big hotel. My mom drove me and a friend and dropped us off for the day. It was apparently so odd for someone so young to be there, a freaking news crew came. Seriously. I was on the Channel 8 news and an agent was all, I AM HERE FOR THIS KID AND HER BOOK. It was very bizarre. My mom still has a VHS recording of this somewhere. At the time, I also had an offer from an acting agent, and I figured I could always come back to writing, but acting was more time sensitive, so I went with that. Cut to my long and tortuous path to finding an agent as an adult. 12yo me didn’t realize how swell she’d had it. I had two books on sub with my first agent. I had some trips to acquisitions, but neither sold for various reasons. And then all manner of lunacy happened. Had a heart attack, left my first agent, dealt with some mild brain damage that made writing quite difficult, husband was...
Hello, my darlings! Today, I am very excited to bring you a chat with literary agent, and all around badass, Jim McCarthy of Dystel and Goderich Literary Agency. Jim is a faboo agent who has had a hand in escorting some genuinely amazing books down the publishing path. Let’s dive right in, shall we? 1. First off, how long have you been an agent? What made you want to dive into this wacky business in the first place? I landed at Dystel & Goderich as an intern 17 years ago, the summer after my first year of college. When I graduated, a full time job had just opened up. And I signed my first client way back in 2003. I’d love to say that I chose to work in publishing for noble reasons, but when I started part time, the main reason was that of the 50 resumes I had sent out, the first call, interview, and offer was here. I fell in love with the job, but those early days, I did wonder if I should have held out longer because other people started calling. “I could have been a ticket taker at Radio City,” I complained. But let’s just say it all worked out. And I’m here 17 years later for a host of reasons. 2. What genres do you represent? How important is the genre, or will you take on something different just because it gives you the feelings? I’m willing to represent just about anything (other than poetry where I’m at a loss. That said, I’m best known for doing YA, fantasy, romance, and mystery. Because those have been my most successful areas, they’re where I’m most comfortable and where I see the most submissions. But I’m always looking to push myself. 3. Tell us a little bit about how writers go about snagging a magnificent agent such as yourself? Aside from slush, you’ve had some amazing success with online contests as well! I have done well with pitch contests! In the most recent Pitch Wars, I signed Laura Creedle...
Hello my darlings,
As per my general luck, I’ve had an interesting year, health-wise. I was diagnosed by with a severe autoimmune disease back in March, and things have been a trip since. (That’s a blog post all on its own, but I’ll get to that another day.)
By the way, after the skin cancer scare a few years back, I made damn diggity sure on this diagnosis and went to four specialists to get confirmation. FOUR.
So, the treatment for this disease is taking chemo every week. I do this on Tuesdays at 4pm, and spend the next 24 hours curled up in a little ball of misery.
Every month or so, they adjust the dose of the chemo, going higher and higher until we can find a level that actually stifles the symptoms.
As with many diseases, you can’t really see what’s going on most of the time.
A weird bonus of this particular ailment is it causes rashes on my elbows, head, ankles, knees, etc. that can last six weeks or so. My elbows are the most common breakout spot. That, combined with deep ridges in my nails are a visible sign of the disease, and whether or not treatment is effective.
At my last appointment, I was told that the chemo should be stopping the rash, and they upped the dose to the highest level for the type of chemo I’m taking. The goal was this should stop the symptoms, and I was to watch for another rash outbreak, and should one occur, let the doc know immediately, and we would switch to a different, injectable form of chemo.
So, a month ago, when the rash popped back on my elbows, I knew I needed to call the doc.
But, like, I super very much hate needles and I put it off.
On Monday, I bit the proverbial bullet and ovaried up, calling the doc. They told me to come in first thing on Tuesday to talk about moving to the injectable version.
And that’s what I did.
I’ve had good experiences with my rheumatologist. She can be a little cold and clinical, but she takes things seriously and listens well.
That’s how the beginning of the appointment went. Discussion as usual, exam as per the norm, and so on. She saw the rash on my arms, and seemed disheartened to see it’s spread much farther than before which is a bummer.
One of the symptoms of this fabulous clusterfuck of a disease is depression, so she asked if I’d been feeling anything in the depressive area.
I said that yeah, sometimes, but not to where I’d say I was having regular episodes, or anything out of the norm, and that I dealt more with anxiety than anything else.
She was confused. Anxiety wasn’t a typical symptom.
“Oh, yeah, no. I have severe OCD,” I explained. “I’ve been dealing with anxiety since I was about 8.”
Dude. I swear to god it was like a switch flipped. Her entire demeanor visibly shifted.
“Have you tried meditation?” she asked. “Yoga? Hot baths?”
I remember sort of blinking at her for awhile. Why, yes. In the last 27 years, I had tried all those things and more to wrangle anxiety. And I explained that I have a pretty solid hold on things, but I was just letting her know it was something I dealt with. And was, in fact, a yoga addict, which I’d mentioned to her at every appointment when she discussed how wild my range of motion is.
Yeah. I’m bendy. What’s up.
She stood up, closed her laptop, and told me I needed to get into see a counselor or therapist. I explained I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was a kid. And that I’d actually canceled an appointment that afternoon with my other doc to talk about a medication shift and therapy.
She started to walk out of the room, and I stopped her asking, “Wait, I thought I was called in because we were changing chemos?”
Y’all. She turned around and said in the most condescending voice I’ve ever heard, “I really think you should just get into see someone and do more yoga. We can reevaluate changing chemo later.”
I realized I’d stopped being an autoimmune patient and become just a crazy person.
“Uh,” I said, trying to not lose my shit, “I’ve seen a lot of therapists in my life, and not one of them has ever been able to make psoriasis disappear from my body. OCD did not cause the rash on my arms. It didn’t cause the ridges in my nails. It doesn’t cause the swelling in my joints which you just felt. It doesn’t cause the heightened inflammation results in my blood tests. And I only came in today because you called me in. You said the rash was a bad sign. You said I’d have to switch drugs because it meant the chemo wasn’t working properly. You are the one who rushed me in here. I stay on top of my OCD. I am on medication for anxiety which you have been aware of since the moment I first saw you and gave you my medicine list. You review it with me every single visit.”
She literally laughed at me.
“Just start meditating, and try to get in to see someone.”
And she left.
She just fucking walked right out the room.
I was supposed to start the new chemo at 4 yesterday afternoon, and she changed her mind after finding out I had OCD.
The nurse, who had been a good pal the entire time I’ve gone to this doctor, came in and tearfully told me she was being shifted over to the hospital, so I wouldn’t see her at this office anymore. She gave me a big hug goodbye.
When I zombie-walked out to the check out counter, I was informed the doc didn’t want to see me again for four months. I gaped. “I thought I had to be seen every three months to do blood work to make sure the chemo isn’t harming my liver and kidneys…?”
The receptionist looked confused. “You’re right. We do schedule like that. I wonder why she put you down for four?”
So the receptionist assumed it was a mistake, and put me in for one month out since we didn’t do blood work yesterday.
I went to my car and say in total shock. A minute later, the doc’s office number showed up on my phone.
It was her nurse. “The doctor just saw you didn’t schedule four months out. Why didn’t you do that?”
I started to explain what the receptionist had told me, but quickly lost my cool. “I didn’t schedule out because the I’m supposed to get blood tests every three months and since she didn’t take any today, I kept the appointment in a few weeks. And you know what? I came in today because the doctor told me to. Because she said I had to switch chemo meds, and I was scared to death to do that because I hate shots more than is reasonable, but I was told that was what I needed. And suddenly none of that matters because I have OCD? I scheduled a month out because that’s what I was told I needed before the doctor decided a hot bath will cure all my ills.”
The nurse, the same one who had just hugged me and said how much she’d miss me said with a sharp tone, “I’ll leave a note for the doc and get back to you.”
I’m not going to lie, I sat in my car and cried for a bit.
I’d been OCD-shamed.
I’ve been fat-shamed, mommy-shamed, money-shamed, appearance-shamed, religion-shamed, and a million other forms of judgment. These things happen fairly regularly.
I hadn’t been OCD-shamed since I was 12 and got the official diagnosis and the doctor told my parents girls didn’t need treatment for OCD since they were just naturally dramatic.
When the nurse called back a few hours later, when I was already in the middle of my regular chemo, sipping ginger ale and trying not to utilize my weekly puke bucket, and this is exactly what she said to me:
“We called in the new injectable chemo. If that’s what you really want to do, now you can.”
I literally gasped. “Uh, I don’t want to get stabbed full of poison, I only came in today because she’d been telling me for the last three months that this was the next step and that I needed it. The DOCTOR said I needed to change to it. If it’s not the right treatment, I want to know that. I just don’t understand how it was the right treatment at the beginning of the appointment and for the last few months, but as soon as I said OCD, all I needed was to meditate on regular chemo.”
“Well, it’s there now.”
And then she hung up on me.
I don’t have a happy ending here. I don’t have any words of wisdom.
All I can think is that I wish I could go back and take back the honest words of informing her I have OCD. To have lied and pretended to be sane and level so that our doctor/patient relationship could have carried on in peace and productivity as it has for the last 6 months.
And then I cried again because it felt like the only way to get proper medical care was to lie about myself.
I’m not sure what my next step will be. Whether I’ll look for another rheumatologist, or maybe chalk it up to her having a shitty day and taking it out on me in that way and give her another shot, I don’t know.
When I was first diagnosed with this dick of a disease, I remember silently being so happy there were visible symptoms, no matter how small. Sometimes I look at the rash on my elbows or the deep lines on my fingernails and take a deep breath knowing the pain I feel is real. The days where the flare-ups are so strong I can’t walk to the bathroom because my joints are so ravaged, I look at my elbows and nails and remind myself this is real. It’s real.
I’ve spent a lifetime of hearing doctors tell my parents that sure, I have OCD, but it’s no big deal because girls are dramatic. Or that my back pain was all in my head until a decade later, an x-ray was finally done and showed spina bifida. Or that the pain I felt in my knees probably wasn’t really arthritis, it was just because I was fat.
And so I sit here, rubbing my finger over the ridges in my nails, still nauseous from yesterday’s chemo treatment, and the resulting Wednesday migraine that comes with Chemo Tuesdays, trying to push the look on my doctor’s face, the sound of her laughter, out of my head.
I love you all dearly, and I hope you’re all having a fantastic week.
Peace, Love, and It’s real. It’s real. It’s real.Read More