Randomness #3- Black and Yellow, Black and Yellow

Today, it’s officially Spring.  Most people associate Spring with everything being fresh and green.  In Alabama, we know Spring is here when the world is yellow.  I wish I was exaggerating.  Pollen. Covers. Everything.  Cars, clothes, pets, tables, chairs, hair, hands, shoes, patios, hammocks, pavement, grills, tools, mailboxes, porches, porch swings, kid’s toys, and on and on.  The black asphalt parking lot at work is covered with a layer of yellow plant sperm.  I don’t dare touch my car, or anything really, while in work clothes.  Yesterday, I had a yellow smudge on my thigh that would not come off.  My husband and I almost ate dinner outside last night, then we realized by the time we cleaned off the table or found a table cloth, the food would be cold.  I’m surprised we can breathe at all there’s so much of it in the air, or that trees aren’t sprouting in all of our lungs.  (At least I’m not allergic!)

I love Spring.  We bought a house late last Summer, so we’re seeing our yard come alive for the first time.  It’s like the world woke up overnight.  It’s lovely.  If only I could enjoy it without being covered in pollen.  Regardlesss, the hubby and I have had fun these warm nights playing with the dog in the yard, frolicking in the new life around us.  Until last night that is.

My husband has one big fear.  He’s actually been working on overcoming it, and making progress, but last night was a bit of a setback.  He was in the yard throwing the ball with Atticus and I was watching the end of “Smash” (what can I say, I like musicals).  All of a sudden the back door crashed open and Hubby ushered Atticus in.  Hubby was nervous and his voice was a little higher.  “Kill it,” he said.  “Sarah, kill it.”  I paused the show and slipped on my flip-flops.  “What is it?”  I asked.  “An evil thing.  Where I usually sit.”  (It took me a while to grasp he meant some rocks surrounding a tree right off the porch.  He also frequently sits on the grass and on the porch so “usually” wasn’t quite descriptive enough.) I was about to remove a shoe to smash the spider when he stopped me.  “You can’t take off your shoe.  It’s a black widow.”  “Okay, then give me your shoe.”  He glanced at his feet then back to me.  “But it’s a black widow,” he said, like it had the exoskeleton of an armadillo or something.  “Okay,” I said, “then get me a boot.”  “How about a fly swatter?”  He grabbed one from under the sink and thrust it into my hand.

Armed with floppy red plastic, I charged onto the porch.  “Where is it?”  I asked, scanning the stones.  “Right there.”  Yeah, he’s great with descriptors.  I walked down the steps, still not seeing the venomous little beast.  Hubby was right behind me, pointing at the ground.  I saw it, and sure enough it was a black widow, red hourglass on its abdomen and all.  Not really that uncommon around here, but still a bit unnerving, even for me, and I don’t mind spiders.  I whapped at it with the swatter until it was good and dead, then showed Hubby as proof.  (Me woman, me kill spider!)  We climbed back on the porch and Hubby stopped dead.  “There’s another one.”  He pointed to where the porch meets the house.  I didn’t get a good look at this spider’s abdomen because my husband’s next biggest fear was right next to it.  “Flying bugs” as he calls them.  Basically anything with wings and a stinger.  So I got the wasp/hornet spray and murdered a couple, killed a nest, and squished two more spiders.  (I am all that is woman!)

Now my husband is paranoid because black widows frequent ivy, where our dog likes to sleep, and because they were so close to the house.  I did all sorts of research and showed their bites are seldom fatal except to children, elderly, infirm, and small pets, and pointed out the dog had been sleeping there since we got him with no troubles.  Hubby wasn’t satisfied, so today I have to call the exterminator.

So, yay Spring!  Pollen, spiders, wasps, yellow jackets, bumblebees, and hornets!  But also flowers and soft grass and sweet smells and warm weather!  You have to take the bad with the good.  I keep telling myself that, today especially.  See, today is also the next round cut in ABNA.  I’ve been anxiously, nervously, obsessively refreshing the site, praying for the results to be posted and my name to be on the list.  Of course the odds are still very much against me, and the competition is getting stiffer so I’m sure I didn’t make it (but maybe…).  If I didn’t though, it’s just one thing.  Like a couple of black widows in my back yard.  I’ll get over it, move on, and enjoy the rest of Spring.

(On another note, every time I see the cloud of pollen that seems to have overtaken the air, I can’t help but think there’s a story in that.  Or last night’s escapades, there’s a story there too.  Maybe a shiny new idea will develop out of it and give me something to focus on if/when I get cut from ABNA!)

**Update** I didn’t make the ABNA cut, but I’m okay with it.  This isn’t the end for this manuscript, and even if I exhaust all my options without it going anywhere, I’ll still be alright.  I’ll just write another.  Congrats to all who made it!!

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Nervous Wreck

*UPDATE* I made the first round cut of the Amazon contest!  I’m so excited!!  Excerpts will go up and the next round cut will be announced on March 20.  Yay!!

*UPDATE #2*  I got a request from the Cupid contest!  Double yay!

Today is D-Day.  I’ve currently got novels in two contests.  Cupid’s Literary Connection Blind Speed Dating, and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know all about Cupid’s contest.  So far, 26 entries out of 70 have had partials requested (4 entries were added after my last blog post on the subject).  The number was 27, but one of the entries was withdrawn.  Today is the day for fulls.  Every agent but one has used at least some arrows.  In case you’re curious, of the requested entries, I gave 11 a yes (12 if you count the withdrawn entry), 7 a no, and was split on 8.

So far, my little manuscript hasn’t had any requests (whomp, whomp), but there’s still a lot of day left so my fingers and toes and every other crossable appendages are crossed!  (And I’ve been praying pretty much non-stop that someone wants me.  In my head, I sound like Sally Field when she won her Best Actress Oscar.  Except it’s more “like me, please just like me!” but for some reason it’s in Sally Field’s voice).  The final results are posted tomorrow, but since today is the last day for requests, I’ll know by this evening whether my entry was successful.

As for ABNA, the first cut results are posted today.  Not sure when, since stupid Amazon is on the stupid west coast, with a stupid time zone difference, but I’m hoping at least by lunch.  I don’t think I stand much of a chance of getting through, but you never know!  I’ve written about the contest once before, here, but I didn’t go into much detail as to how it works.

They take 5,000 entries in two categories, General Fiction, and Young Adult (10,000 total).  The first round, Amazon editors review your pitch only and knock it from 5,000 to 1,000.  So there’s a 20% chance of making it through the first round (basically 1 in 4).  The second round, Vine Reviewers (still not entirely sure who they are) read 3,000-5,000 word excerpts of each manuscript and cut from 1,000 to 250 (25% chance).  Then Publisher’s Weekly reviewers read the full manuscript and cut from 250 to 50 (20% chance).  During the next round, Penguin’s editors read the full manuscripts and scores from the prior rounds and cut from 50 to 3 (.6% chance–yes, that says point 6).  The final 3 from each category have excerpts posted on Amazon and Amazon customers vote on the winner (33% chance).  I’ve got a .02% chance of winning.  But, someone has to win and I stand just as good a chance as everyone else.

Suffice it to say, I’ll be completely unproductive today as I continually refresh both Cupid and Amazon’s pages.  To all who read this blog who are entered in either, or both, good luck!  Let me know if you get through!

Bullet, Consider Yourself Bitten

I have just entered my first real writing contest, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA).  You have no idea how nerve racking clicking that submit button was!  I spent the last week editing my manuscript one last time, then I spent this past Saturday on final revisions.  I think there will always be things I want to change or add, but I reached the point where I had to stop fiddling with it.  I can make edits up until February 5, or until they receive 5,000 submissions, but I refuse to look at it anymore.  I’ve checked (and re-checked) formatting, making sure my chapter numbers are all in order and all line up and the spacing didn’t get off, until my poor little fingers are worn out from typing.  I’ve read the thing so many times I could almost recite it verbatim.  Now, I can only wait.

The first round cuts will be announced on February 24, my birthday.  Until then, I’m going to put this manuscript out of my head and focus on my next.  Okay, mostly out of my head.  I still have a couple of partials with agents and I’m going through a final round of betas.  If I don’t make it to the next round of the ABNA I’m considering taking this manuscript to the Backspace Conference in New York in May.  I figured one more round of betas reading my revisions wouldn’t hurt.  Yes, I know I just contradicted my prior statement that I’m leaving it alone.  I’m mostly leaving it alone, that counts right?

To be honest, the most difficult part of the submission was the personal information.  I never know what to write in a bio or “personal anecdote”.  On the whole, most writer’s are fairly self-deprecating, so trying to come up with statements to sell myself is especially hard.  At least it’s over!  On to the next story.  Sally forth.  Tally ho!

Just a note: I’m not really expecting to get that far in the contest (see aforementioned self-deprecating comment), I’m just proud I talked myself into submitting my work.  I’ll keep you posted though.  Does anyone else have experience with ABNA?  I’d love to hear if you’ve submitted in the past and how it went, or if you submitted this year (if so, good luck!).