A Day In The Life Of An Introvert (aka Me)

I was reading about Emily Dickinson and her personal life today, because she was a redhead, and she’ll be making an appearance in the book I’m writing about redheads. And as I was reading about her — specifically about how she was an “extreme introvert” who rarely left her father’s house and only corresponded with people through letters — I kept thinking, YEAH, that sounds awesome.

emilydickinson

Because I spent the last week working from home, only having to interact with my cat and husband and leaving once a day to forage for food, and I feel so good. Recharged. Less tense. Happier. (Though, to be fair, I also didn’t have to wear pants or a bra, which is happiness in and of itself.)

Being an introvert is hard to explain to people who are not introverts. I like people. I don’t hate people at all. I’m not shy either, though people often mistake shyness for introversion. I just get physically drained from crowds, and from being around more than one or two other people at a time. Like, I can last an hour or two in a big group, but then I have to go home and sit quietly so my brain can function again. It sounds kind of insane as I type this, but I’ve noticed it’s a bit like a formula for me.

Me + Husband + Cat = A+

Me + BFF = A+

Me + Handful of Close Friends = A-

Me + Big Group of Close Friends = B-

Me + New Person I Barely Know = C-

Me + Several Random People I Don’t Know = F-, sad face emoticon, Whyyyyy

Like, tonight I was invited to a friend’s birthday party. I got the email invite and  ignored it, as I do with a lot of social invites. I ignore because to think of it actually happening gives me a little anxiety. But then today I got the reminder saying, “THIS IS A REMINDER: PARTY TONIGHT,” and now all my thoughts have looked something like this:

  1. There’s a party tonight.
  2. A birthday party. Marking someone’s life. An important night. And I was invited.
  3. I should go. I’m their friend, and I’m going.
  4. ::: deep, heavy sigh :::
  5. I will know two people there. Maybe three. And if I get there early I’ll have to make small talk with people I don’t know.
  6. This is going to be a problem.
  7. Am I getting sick? I just coughed, so maybe I’m getting sick.
  8. No, I’m not sick. I’m just trying to come up with excuses to not go to this fucking party.
  9. I can psych myself up for this. I’ll stay home all day reading, and knitting, and watching TV, so I’ll be mentally ready.
  10. Just stop thinking about it. You’re going. It would be dickish to not go.
  11. …And I can just go for an hour. Maybe half an hour. They won’t know how long I stayed.
  12. Maybe I’ll just say I was there, and that I didn’t see them. Can I do that? I can’t… can I?

Again, I don’t actually hate people. I just don’t like surprises (very standard introvert quality), and I know there will be more people that I don’t know than I do at this party. Which means I’ll need to make small talk, and think of funny things to say, and try to be “on” the whole time. It just depletes me. And being depleted is OK, just a little exhausting too.

A year ago, I would’ve just tapped out of this party. Used one of my life-lines and said I had an eyelash emergency, or made up some other excuse.

But this year I’m trying to address being an introvert in a more proactive way. Mainly in that I’m trying hard to fight against my introvert impulses when I can, and be better to the people in my life who occasionally want to see me.

Do I secretly want to pull an Emily Dickinson, move into my father’s house, and live out my days in a room? Yes. But I’m not going to do that, because it wouldn’t turn me into a genius poet, and I’m pretty sure my cat and husband wouldn’t be into it either.

So I’m fighting back tonight and I’m going to this party. I know it’ll be fun in the end. I’ll be tired at the end of the night, but I’ll also have fun (even though my introvert anxiety tries to convince me it won’t be fun). But this is pretty much the cycle I go through on a regular basis, and I’m trying to make sure that this year I’m less prone to caving into it. (Bear with me though, and just know that I really do like you. A lot. Keep inviting me to things, and I’ll actually come this time. xo)

It’s Been A Month Since Eoghan and I Got Married…

wedding

A month ago to the day, Eoghan and I got married. [Insert standing ovation here.]

We had a really amazing and small family wedding in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Eoghan grew up. It was an overcast Valentine’s Day, a chill 40 something degrees out, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Like, here’s my handsome husband. Who wouldn’t marry this guy?!

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.27.02 AM

We had a fantastic photographer, Lissa Chandler, who captured some truly fun moments, like when I opened a gift basket my friends put together. It was stuffed with Cat Cookies from Trader Joe’s (damnit, I love those so much), gummy bears, whiskey, and cards wishing me a happy wedding day. It also included this BuzzFeed list from my friend Tom, which was amazing and made me cry and laugh.
Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.18.38 AM

She also snagged a shot of me getting my makeup done while eating a burger and drinking champagne at 10 a.m. Naturally.Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.17.52 AM

My dress was from Rent The Runway. It was a Badgley Mishka gown and I’m obsessed with it.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.22.04 AM

Here were our programs, which weren’t totally traditional, but exceptionally more fun.Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.23.36 AM

And our amazing wedding party that included my BFF4Lyfe, Elisa, Eoghan’s BFF, Jim, and his other BFF, Trevor, who served as our officiant. His wedding speech for us was hysterical. And he’s available for weddings now… for a price.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.26.27 AM

I love this photo of me looking at my Dad right before he walks me down the aisle. I was so nervous, and he seemed oddly calm. He calmed me right down.Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.27.33 AM

I’d be remiss if I didn’t show our dessert table. We had two cakes: one chocolate, and the other lemon. They both had cream cheese frosting, so hard to go wrong there.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.29.55 AM

Eoghan’s mom, Gayle, gave a really touching speech. She made me cry, and I love this photo of Eoghan hugging her afterward. (My dad also gave a speech, and he and I were both sobbing by the end of it. La Rosas are nothing if not a family who cries together.)

EoghansMom

And as a gift to our friends and family, we wrote everyone Valentine’s Day cards expressing why we were happy to have them with us. This photo is of my grandparents reading their cards. It’s such a sweet one.

wed

9 Steps To Landing A Book Agent

So, recently this amazing thing happened where I sold a book:MyEditor

I wept, openly and freely, because as any writer knows the dream is to sell a book. The crazy thing is that THE BIG REDHEAD BOOK, which is the book I just sold, is now officially going to be my second book. I’m currently finishing up the draft for my first book, Womanskills. 2015 was quite a year.

But onto the important stuff: How does one get an agent so that you can then sell a book? I didn’t have an agent for Womanskills (pre-order the book here), as that was a writer-for-hire situation. So I’ll focus on how I got my agent, the incredible Kristyn Keene at ICM, in the hopes that you can get one too (if you’re so inclined).

And because I’m a big fan of steps, lists, and everything easy to read, I’ll try to make this a step-by-step guide.

Step 1:

Get an idea for a book you want to write. OK, that one’s pretty obvious, but it’s literally the first thing you need to do to even consider an agent. You need a great idea, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, and you need to make sure it’s great.

Step 2:

Get to writing. Most nonfiction doesn’t require you write an entire book before you sell it, and this is also the case for some fiction as well (particularly YA fiction). But you will need a really great query letter, which will be the thing you send to an agent before they even consider reading your work. And at minimum a proposal that you can send to an agent when they ask for more materials. Your proposal should include a fully written sample chapter, information about your “platform,” about you as a writer, and a whole host of other things that I’ll cover in another post.

  •  But query letters are a little simpler, so what’s in a query letter? A query letter is what hooks an agent in. It’s what will get you a foot in the door, and it’s extremely important.
  • Since I had never written a query letter, (or a proposal), I did a ton of research online. I saw a lot of “How to write a query letter” articles, and samples you can look through. In the end, I wound up investing in editing services and used a writer who’s been published and clearly knows a thing or two about selling a book. This was a really important book idea to me, so I wanted to make sure I did everything correctly.
  • What I learned from the query process is this: It should be a page in length max, and it needs to have all of the juiciest information you got (your social media stats, why this book is important, and how the hell you’re going to make it a bestseller).
Step 3:

Research agents and agencies. I spent a lot of time doing this. Crazy amounts. And it was hard. The two biggest tips I can give are 1) Look at books that are similar to yours, 2) Google search who repped those books (something like, “Agent for Zombie Survival Guide” is all you need) and 3) Get a subscription to Publisher’s Marketplace so you can look up those agents.

So, for example, when I looked up Kristyn Keene on Publisher’s Marketplace, I saw that she was a noted agent for a lot of the categories my Big Redhead Book fell into. (OK, I don’t know if I’ll be including any diet tips for redheads, but for sure it’ll be chock-full of humor and all the pop culture you can stand.)

kristyn

Step 4:

Email out your query letter and wait. Wait a long time.

Step 5:

Just know you will get rejections. So prepare yourself emotionally for that, and maybe come up with a little ritual to go with each rejection. (My ritual was any time I got a rejection, I went to get an ice cream. I ate loads of ice cream.)

Step 6:

If the universe is good, you’ll get positive responses from an agent and they’ll usually ask to see your material. Send it over! Then you wait. My big advice here is not to pester or poke that agent unless you absolutely need to (aka another agent is interested). If they asked to see your stuff, they’ll read it, and it will all be fine.

Step 7:

They want to talk to you. OMFG, first of all do a happy dance, because THAT’S EXCITING. It’s been my experience, from talking to others and from my own stuff, that if an agent wants to talk to you, they’d like to rep you. So unless you totally blow the whole thing, you’ve got an agent. All it takes is one agent to try and sell your book, so one agent is an amazing thing!

  • Hop on the phone with them and ask a lot of questions! Things like, “Where do you see this book landing?” “What would be your selling strategy?” “What changes would you make to the proposal?”
  • Treat this chat exactly as you would a job interview. You’re interviewing them to be your potential rep, and they’re likewise interviewing you to see if they’d like to work with you.
  • Feel free to ask if you can speak to some of their other clients to get a sense of how they are as an agent. I did this with Kristyn, and it was super helpful to hear her clients gush about her.
  • If you’re talking to multiple agents, it’s customary to not have an answer for them right away. You can say, “I’m talking to multiple agents, and I’ll get back to you within a week with my decision.”
Step 8:

Make your decision. Smaller agencies might ask you to sign an agency agreement, and those agreements can be LONG. So if you get one, look it over carefully and make sure you aren’t signing your entire creative life away. ICM had me sign an agreement for this book which was all of a paragraph.

Step 9:

TREAT YOURSELF to something very nice — a personal large pizza and wine, for example — because while this whole process can be incredibly stressful, getting an agent means you’re on your way to book town.

Also, it’s important to note that while getting an agent is one of the best ways to sell a book, it’s not the only way. If you spoke with one agent, and you didn’t get a great vibe from them, then don’t agree to let them manage your book. This is your baby, and you can peddle your book idea to smaller publishers to get the result you actually want.