Sumner (wearing AWESOME boots and striped socks, wish you could see), Random Blue-Haired Chick, and Paula (sans diamond-encrusted gourmet chef's hat)
Aren't we cute??? This picture was taken last weekend during a very special celebration dinner. Paula and Sumner are two of my sharpest, smartest Writing Weapons. In other words, they are my readers.
My Early Readers.
A good Early Reader should never be taken for granted. Not only will she tell you all the wonderful things about your novel, comments that make you feel tingly and sparkly inside (and praise is truly necessary to keep going, I don't say that lightly), but she ALSO has to be unflinchingly honest. Someone willing to say things like:
"I'm just not loving your main character right now."
"That's cheesy. Cut it."
"Huh? I don't get it."
"I don't believe this part."
"Why? No, seriously, WHY?"
Paula and Sumner say these things. Often. Frequently. And THANK GOODNESS they do! I am a much, much better writer thanks to their questions, thanks to our lunchtime meet-ups to brainstorm what the HECK is going on with my plot, and thanks to their encouraging emails which move me forward, which give me the energy to FINISH.
If you are a writer, I sincerely hope you have such wonderful writer-friends as I do.
So, the celebration!
After my happy happy agent news, I was lucky to have many celebrations last month. January was an endless stream of phone calls, emails, cards, flowers, plants, a gorgeous and meaningful necklace (Thanks, Lauren!), carrot cake cupcakes, and a really really really awesome pizza party (YUM! Thank you, Tai & Staci!).
My friends and family are incredible. It was overwhelming to be surrounded by such support and happiness, and I am grateful. (And I can't wait to celebrate all of THEIR future accomplishments.)
But last weekend's celebration was something extra special. Because without Paula and Sumner's help, I wouldn't even have a completed novel. So I certainly wouldn't have an agent. It was as much their celebration as it was mine!
They surprised me with a stunning French gourmet dinner, made all the more impressive because my friends are vegetarian, and French food is soooo meat-intensive. For them to go out of their way to find the right recipes and cook such an amazing meal, so we could celebrate in the true French fashion (if you recall, my novel is set in Paris), was . . . well. I'm teary thinking about it.
Thank you. You ladies are the BEST.
My only wish is that some day Laini Taylor, my other Early Reader, will be able to join us! Laini is an AMAZING feedbacker, a relentless plot-fixer and plot-tightener and plot-thinker, wielder of pretty pink pens and smart questions and lots and lots and lots of very welcome smiley faces and hearts.
Ha! Swiped from her blog. (She's the one on the right.)
Laini also writes killer-funny emails, and has the supernatural power of always knowing exactly the perfect thing to say at all times. But she is also LAME because she lives in PORTLAND which is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY.
Which makes coffee dates very difficult.
She also just shared with me the first installment of her work-in-progress, and -- holyfriggingcrap, you guys -- it's AMAAAAZING! And I can't say anything about it, other than the world will wet their collective pants when they discover how supremely perfect and exciting and romantic and wondrous it is.
I love it. LOVE. IT!
And speaking of writer-friends, I have a *new* acquaintance who also just shared her latest. Kiersten White! I had the honor of reading Paranormalcy, and let's just say I'm kinda freaking out. She wrote it in three weeks, you guys. Three. WEEKS! And it's funny and exciting, and it's got a great hook and a Very Cute Boy. Teens and adults will snarf this thing up. Big big big congratulations, Kiersten.
(This, I should mention, is the other fantastic thing about writer-friends. Getting to read THEIR work before everyone else! Ha!)
Of course, there is one more person who needs mentioning here. One more Early Reader. My First Reader.
Every author has a First Reader, the one whose opinion means everything to them. The one who without that encouraging smile, without those words of excitement, it's not worth going on. Mine?
Jarrod. Of course!
Last weekend, Jarrod sat on the floor of my writing room and went through the last third of my novel -- scene by scene, sentence by sentence. This took HOURS. He talked me through each action, helped me figure out what-should-go-where, and together we restructured it until it clicked. Had I attempted this alone, I would still be sorting through the pages of notes and outlines and brainstorms.
And my end result wouldn't be nearly so clean or smart.
Thanks for being my First Reader, love. For always being my First Reader.