Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Quarter Life Crisis

Okay, so there's really not a quarter life crisis.

But I've been joking about it all month - I couldn't resist putting it in here too.

Maybe it's just a family joke: If you know me well, sooner or later, I'll tell you that I'm going to live to be a hundred. I sound like I'm joking, but I'm really joking the way that Karou jokes with her art school classmates in
Daughter of Smoke & Bone. As in, the tone is right, but the words are true.

I seriously am shooting for a hundred. A century sounds awesome. I'll be like Beverly Cleary (95), sharp as a tack - no, sharp as a freaking samurai sword, and lording over her legacy with deft skill of master-craftswoman. *daydreams*

What?! It could happen! Three of my great-grandmothers lived well into their nineties.

If you look up centenarian on Wikipedia, this is the picture that comes up.

I'm seriously not kidding about that. Her name was Muriel Duckworth. She was Canadian. I hope, on my 100th birthday in 2086, I remember to wear a color that brings out my eyes.

WOW, what a tangent.

I turned twenty-five this week. Hence, the Quarter Life Crisis joke.

(Sadly, jokes are never as funny if you have to explain them, which I have done above. Le sigh.)

But okay, I am still halfway to thirty. - Well, as my friend's fiance pointed out, it's technically halfway to fifty. But I'm not going to think about that.

If I wasn't happy about things, I could have had a mid-twenties crisis. I could whine about how I'm not doing anything with my life. How I'm not where I want to be. How I really want to be doing X, Y, and Z. I could be miserable.

But as you'll notice, I'm not.

I'm actually really grateful. Instead of feeling anxious on my twenty-fifth birthday, I felt all giggly. I'm talking little girl giddiness. Like Christmas Day, how-fast-can-I-open-these-presents joy.

You know what Sandra Cisneros says in her short story, "Eleven," about birthdays?

What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you don't feel eleven at all. You feel like you're still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.
I've talked about being a writer since I was five.

Five-year-old Shelby and twenty-year-old Shelby, thirteen, and twelve, and eleven year old Shelby, and all of the other Shelbys underneath -- they're all rather pleased with twenty-five-year old Shelby. Proud of me even.

Because all of them know that by the time I reach twenty-six, I will be able to hold my book in my hand. And turn the pages. And give it to people. And put it on a shelf in my house and see my own name facing out at me - every single day.

(Wow, apparently I'm kinda proud of twenty-five-year-old Shelby too. :-P)

Anyway, I spend a fair amount of time in panic, freak-out mode. Like - OMG, revision deadline! OMG, synopsis time! OMG, copyedits!!! Copyedits in the three days!!!! There's stress in this business, most of it self-inflicted.

But despite how I feel sometimes, I'm exactly where I wanted to be. This is what I've dreamed about for pretty much as long as I could remember. If I could go back in time and meet my younger self, the five-year-old Shelby would think I was cool. How many people can say that?

According to five-year-old Shelby, I'm a success. And that's actually not such a bad measure of success.

I think I'll keep it around for the day I turn thirty.

Of course, I thought a lot of things were cool circa age 5. I present exhibit A:

This may actually be four year old Shelby.
But it's clear from this pic that I've always been a lady of taste.
Tigger, for instance, TOTALLY goes with this outfit.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THREE AWESOME THINGS!!!! (And one not-so-awesome)

Hello, my friends!

I've been away for a while, I know. Long enough to have a bunch of announcements.

Are you ready for them????????

(I don't know if you're ready for them. I don't know if you can handle the SQUEEEEEE. *throws down gauntlet* :-P)

First, and most awesomely, I need to thank Kathleen Ortiz, Joanna Volpe, and Thananchai Pandey for THIS:
Thai rights to Shelby Bach's middle grade debut EVER AFTERS: Of Fire and Ice, to Amarin, at auction, by Thananchai Pandey at Tuttle-Mori Thailand, in association with Kathleen Ortiz at Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation on behalf of Joanna Volpe.

Thank you so much, Kathleen, Jo, Thananchai Pandey, and of course, all the fantastic people at Amarin! I am so thrilled!!

(On a random note, did you know that the ms mentions Thailand in the second chapter? It's just a passing comment in an convo between the main character and her dad, but still, it made me extra giggly to see it there when I was going over the copy-edits this weekend.)

Technically, I found out about this about two weeks ago -- one Monday evening, when I was making dinner. A totally unexpected email! I didn't even realize that this was going on in the far off realm of NYC, and even farther off place of Thailand, so I was totally blown away by the good news.

In case you're curious, I celebrated in the following ways:

1) I ran around the house singing and doing a happy dance (all pics of this incident have been destroyed/permanently deleted for the preservation of my supercool reputation :-P).

2) I watched the celebration video Kathleen sent me an obscene number of times. Here, you can watch it too:

KERMIT!!!! (Also, who ELSE is totally psyched for the new Muppet movie?)

3) I checked out what my Title looks like in Thai. I know you totally want to see it too:

หลังจากที่เคย | The Ever Afters
และบริษัทยักษ์ใหญ่ของน้ำแข็ง | Of Giants and Ice

Disclaimer: I don't speak/read Thai. I literally just plugged the title into a website or two and cut and pasted it here.

If you do read Thai and have a better translation, please contact me, and I'll post it and give you all my undying gratitude!

And at the suggestion of the lovely and talented Jenn Rush, I'm also gonna grab some friends and go out for some Thai food. There's a great place called Deejai just up the road.

So, anyway, some of you may have noticed that the deal announcement went up at Publisher's Marketplace last Monday.

Where have I been? you ask.

I've been here:

And here:

And here as well, even though it's just down the hill from the one above:

Pretty, right?

So, it might shock you that I only saw the beach for like seven hours altogether in the six days I was there. I basically found a fun, affordable, tiny one bedroom apartment at Carolina Beach; locked myself inside; stuck my butt in a chair at the kitchen table; and just wrote.

(As you may recall, I did something like this in February as well.)

I didn't take my computer with me. I uninstalled email on my phone. I was serious about having no distractions, and for a couple days in a row, I didn't venture out of the apartment until after the sun set.

My mom is going to paint something like this. (She came for the last two days.)
When I sent her out on Thursday morning so I could write, she headed out here with her disposable camera and shot tons of pics. (I know! Disposable camera! I offered to lend her my digital one, but she said the shadows are better with the disposable one.)

But just FYI, she didn't take that picture. I found it here. It just looked really awesome, with the crooked trees and the water glinting between the trunks - I had to share.
Anyway, that's the reason I was absentee for a week running. I didn't even realize that PM had announced it until I logged into Twitter after!

But I was very productive. I wrote as much that week as I did in the four or five weeks previous. And on the drive back, I had the most marvelous focus - the whole story stretched out shiny and winding, like the Yellow Brick Road glittering in daylight...

Until I stopped at a yellow light approximately ten miles from home, and a red PT Cruiser hit me.

So, yeah, I was in my first wreck on Friday. (Well, the first when I was driving - and the first where I was also all alone.)

You might have seen me squeeing over this little MINI on Twitter, but if not, let me just say: I just got this car on July 30, and I have been so excited that I've probably annoyed some people with all my enthusiasm.

So, the wreck was a double bummer. :-(

But it could have been much much worse. A patrol car was on the cross street of this intersection, so when we pulled off, a policewoman appeared before I even thought to call 911. The PT cruiser's axle was broken, and its driver reminded me of my eighth grade French teacher - very mild-mannered and apologetic. The crash tore a hole in my bumper, and it needs to be replaced. But I could drive home.

(That concludes the not-so-awesome portion of today's program. I'll stop complaining now. :-P)

And guess what else was waiting for me when I got home from the beach and (auto) body shop?


Wasn't that fast? I feel like they came super fast. Almost shockingly and dauntingly fast.

And they were due back to S&S on Tuesday, which meant I had to pass them to the nice UPS man before 6PM on Monday evening. My timing for that little writing retreat could clearly have been better; the deadline was very tight. But with much caffeine, several late nights, and a little green pencil (to contrast the copyeditor's red pen), I MADE IT!!

(And as I was leaving the parking lot, I literally saw the UPS truck pull up to pick up those copyedits and whisk them off to NYC's Rockefeller Center and Courtney B., my wonderful editor. Which entertained me greatly.)

My one regret was that I didn't get to pore over the pages and make sure everything was as it should be as I promised to do here. Sigh. The best laid plans, etc. etc.

But I did enough. And you know, I actually believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe, the copyedits kept me from bemoaning the wreck all weekend long. Maybe, if I had time enough to give each page the time I wanted, I would've gotten nitpicky in a crazy way and screwed up the ms with too many unneeded changes.

Sometimes, you just need to let go. (Ah, the laments of an overachiever.)

Okay, y'all - if you have read all the way to the end, you win about a thousand AWESOME points and my undying love.

And also, a lemon-ginger scone next time I see you. :-)

No, seriously - if I can, I'll make them for you (mine look more like muffins, though).
Also, click through for recipe. :-)