My wonderful sister gave me these necklaces for Christmas. Can there be a gift that says BOOK GEEK more loudly? I love these necklaces more than I should. No, really. My sister knows me SO WELL. And Pride and Prejudice is one of those "sister things" that stretches back to our teen years. So not only do the necklaces reflect my bookish self to the Nth degree, but also they represent my relationship with my sister.
She is an incredible gift-giver.
You may or may not have read my mini-story on Twitter on Christmas Eve. The planned-forever visit from my sister and her family almost didn't happen, you see. Their cat, who recently had a leg amputated, became suddenly ill on the 23rd--he couldn't move at all. That night, while Mr. A and I were out on a Very Christmasy Date, my sister called me in tears.
"We're not coming."
It was a moment of stunning denial. I couldn't accept that all the planning, all the special touches, all the anticipation would come to nothing. I hadn't seen her on Christmas since 1999, and now a cat was going to usurp our plans?
But I kept my voice calm and asked her to call me in the morning after they'd seen the vet.
Mr. A asked me if I'd rather cut our date short and go home, but what would have been the point of that? To go home and sulk? So we stayed out and had a lovely evening. Every time I remembered my sister, though, an emptiness yawned inside me like a bottomless hole. I wanted to be with my sister for Christmas--such a simple thing, really--and I couldn't bear the thought of Christmas without her.
My sister, of course, had lamented on Facebook about the plight of the cat and the ruined plans. When I checked Facebook on the morning of the 24th, I noticed a comment from one of my sister's local friends: "We will take care of the cat."
My heart leaped--but my sister hadn't seen the comment yet. So I gave it a "like" and went along with my Christmas Eve Morning (which consists of making gingerbread people). A couple hours later, my sister texted me: "Pray! Got an offer." Then, minutes later, "Never mind. It won't work." The reason? They had to get the cat back to the vet the day after Christmas, early in the morning.
And yet this Selfless Person wasn't daunted. She had no problem taking the cat to the vet at 8:00 am the morning after Christmas. No problem caring for a paralyzed cat around the clock during a major holiday.
My sister texted, "Who the heck would offer to squeeze someone else's cat's bladder?"
And I laughed--the first laughter since her teary call from the night before. So it was settled, and this amazing person I've never met saved our Christmas celebration. When I messaged her to express my thanks, this was her reply:
It is our pleasure to do this. It is not a sacrifice for us at all. (M) and I do not have family, so we stay home. To enable another family to spend Christmas together is a joy. It's going to end up being our blessing!
To her, it was nothing. A trifle. No sweat. To us, it was everything. It was this Christmas's greatest gift.
The NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE in my house (who knew a not-quite-2-year-old could be THAT loud?) was so worth it. And the ringing silence in the aftermath simply reminds me of the joy of their presence over the last few days.
That, and I have these amazing necklaces. :)
So. That's my story. And now, as the year draws to a close, here is what you can expect from MSFV during 2014:
SECRET AGENT CONTESTS
I have decided to cut back. The Secret Agent Contests will take place during the following months:
BAKER'S DOZEN AGENT AUCTION
This will follow its regular schedule, with logline critiques beginning in October, submissions in November, and the actual auction in December.
Someone recently commented on the blog that the original intention of this blog--the critique to better our writing--continues to be met. And I want this original spirit to continue to shine throughout this coming year. We don't need contests and hooplah to grow as writers; we need hard work and the honest critique of our colleagues. And we need a safe venue for this critique, which is what I've always wanted this place to be. So during the off-months, we're going to be having plenty of opportunities for feedback on our writing. The thing that's REALLY GREAT about this is that, since there aren't agents or editors involved in our in-house critique sessions, we can include WIPs as well as completed manuscripts. So those of you who aren't quite ready to query yet can still receive valuable critique on your work. And I feel like this is really important.
Right now, I'm thinking MORE critique rounds with FEWER entries per round, to tone down the overwhelm factor. And I want to hear your feedback on this, so please do leave your thoughts below!
CRITIQUE PARTNER DATING SERVICE
Yes, I'm going to do another one this year, TBA. But the last one I held (several months ago) was way down on numbers, so I'm going to keep this to once a year. If you're looking for critique partners and you're not subscribed to the blog, please subscribe so that you don't miss this (it will occur during a non-Secret Agent month).
Because the 3-page edits I offered to entrants in the Baker's Dozen turned out to be a wonderful (and time effective) way to offer feedback to story openings, I have decided to extend this offer to everyone. Here are the details:
I am offering a 3-page line edit and editorial letter for $18, payable through paypal. I'll take a look at all genres except erotica. If you're interested in hiring me, please email me at authoress.edits(at)gmail.com. (Please DO NOT email me at my facelesswords account!)
And that's that! I feel like this schedule gives me a better handle on running the blog (which admittedly feels like a heavier burden when I'm in the midst of revisions), and I hope it works for you, too. Thank you again for reading, and for being a part of this community. I remain honored to be one of the voices in your writerly journeys.
Happy New Year!