Monthly Archives: January 2015

Lots of fish in the (American) sea

It has occurred to me that while it may be helpful to have a spreadsheet tracking your agent submissions, it may be even more helpful to know where to get the contact details to populate the said spreadsheet.

For me, it was quite the process. At first, I have applied to, and was rejected by, a number of Australian agents. It got me thinking about who could potentially be interested in my novel. While I believe in casting the net wide, it also makes sense to cast it where the fish…er, agents are likely to hang out. Since my novel is set in the US and would most likely appeal to the US audiences, it would make sense to seek representation from the US agents. This was actually the general sentiment I got from all the Australian agents who bothered to send me a rejection letter.

Having figured that much out, the next logical step for me was to find those American agents. I thought I’d have to spend hours Googling them, but luckily some wonderfully smart, hard-working, generous, and undoubtedly good-looking people have already done that for me!


The site contains literally hundreds upon hundreds of American literary agents’ contacts, including website links, types of manuscripts they seek, and even submission guidelines. On the first glance, it’s overwhelming. I’ve read somewhere that there are over 1,000 literary agencies in the US, a number which fills my heart with stupid, unwarranted hope.

So, the next logical step is to narrow down this enormous playing field to a reasonable number, let’s say 100. You can choose your own target, depending on how much sleep you need on an average night.

But how exactly do you do that? Is there a magical algorithm that can troll through the list and spit out the list of agents most likely to read your query or the sample chapters? If there is, please email it to me! Because what I had to do was to look at each agency’s website. There are good reasons to do that – you get to see which books they’ve recently published, and agents often write in their bios about which books they love to read. All that would help you figure out if there’s a chance they will read yours or at least a sample of it. There’s no point in sending your romance novel to a high-brow literary firm, and vice versa.

Another good reason to visit the agency’s website is that things change – agents come and go, submission guidelines change, some agents may be temporarily closed for queries. So don’t rely on the master list above alone, a bit of due diligence will save you a lot of time in applying and hopefully the heartbreak of reading more than a fair share of rejection letters.

Once you’ve got your list, the next step is to start firing off the submissions. There are two schools of thought on this. Some recommend sending your submission to one agent at a time. Muahaha! Seriously, not in this age of social media and the ever-increasing speed of change. The other camp mass-produces applications, often not slowing down enough to check that the agent’s name is correctly spelled, or that Mr. or Ms. is used correctly. Don’t be that guy!

My personal method consists of the following steps:

1. Send out a wave of submissions until I get tired, or bored, or both. Usually five or so. Or ten, depending on how much caffeine is circulating through my system.
2. Fantasize about getting “discovered” and signing books for adoring fans.
3. Read rejection letters.
4. Work a bit on the submission package (more on that later), until I start thinking something like “well, this just can’t get any better!”
5. Repeat steps 1-4 ad nauseum.

There you go – now go fish!

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Bridezilla in the making

I am a reasonable person. A rational one, perfectly capable of living within my means, making wise spending decisions and investing for the future. While growing up in the Soviet Union now seems like an old black-and-white movie, it has instilled in me the basics of saving for the rainy day, being (reasonably) frugal, and not coveting my neighbor’s anything. With the exception of a penchant for collecting dresses, I am far from a big spender – I don’t even have a car! I scoff at Christmas frenzy and even my first wedding was an elopement at the mayor’s office, followed by a small party put together entirely by the well-meaning family members.

So when my now-fiance surprised me with a proposal and a silver gemstone ring, I assumed that the ring was “it”. Josh was quick to explain that the ring was a “placeholder” for the one I would pick myself.

“That makes no sense,” I said. “How can I pick a ring if you are paying for it? That makes me feel bad…unless I pick whatever I want and also pay?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said simply. “You are not paying for your own ring!”

I agreed, but the uncomfortable feeling did not go away. Josh has a mortgage of his own, major repairs, plus in addition to all of the upcoming engagement and wedding costs, he is about to join the fire brigade – a dream that would see him risk his life for a drastically smaller salary. He can hardly wait, which is a fascinating paradox for another post.

After much back and forth and musing over the whole “two months’ salary” myth, I convinced him that at least the ring does not have to be a diamond.

“I want an aquamarine,” I said, “like your beautiful blue eyes.”

He agreed. I am really good at constructing convincing arguments, which are even more powerful when delivered in bed, preferably in the nude.

“You have to love it,” he warned me. “You’re going to look at it for a very long time. I’m not cheaping out on this.”

So it was with this profound feeling of being a reasonable person, unaffected by De Beers advertising campaigns and well-meaning old ladies, that I decided to pop into a jewellery store on my way to the gym.

“Do you have any aquamarine engagement rings?” I asked the attendant.

Not the kind of question a “diamond specialist” wants to hear, but I was wearing one of my overpriced business dresses, so she was more than willing to bring few rings over.

“I’m looking for a simple little number,” I said, waving away Princess Diana-like clusters of huge stones surrounded by halos of diamonds.

She showed me one, an aquamarine oval with two small diamonds on each side. I snickered at the diamonds and their potentially bloody past and slipped the ring on.

The next few seconds I remember as if in a slow motion. The diamonds caught rays of sunshine streaming through the windows and bounced them onto the blue stone, lighting it up as if from within. I stared at my hand for what must have been ages, until the sales woman’s voice snapped me from my reverie.

“Beautiful, isn’t it,” she smiled, sensing a sale.

“How much?” I asked breathlessly.

“Just $2,200”, she said.

I hate when sales people of any kind put “just” in front of the price. I don’t care if it’s a cup of coffee or a car, that’s my money and the separation from it hurts. In this case, it was Josh’s money and it hurt even worse.

I thanked her and left, certain that the temporary insanity I felt while looking at sparkling stones of questionable value was indeed temporary. I went to the gym and almost forgot about the ring, until it beckoned me from the window on the way back. I snapped a photo and sent it to my sister.

“It’s not you,” was her instant reply. “You are more square.”

She was right, of course, everything in my apartment is square, from the layout to dinner plates. She suggested more shopping and I agreed. What a great excuse for some sisterly bonding. Nothing at all to do with putting more sparklies on my fingers.

At least for now, I will spare you the weeks of insanity that followed. Each of the jewellery store visits was worthy of a short story by itself. True to form, I had to start a spreadsheet just to keep up with the number of jewelers and wholesalers, the specs, the designs, and of course – the costs. I am baffled as to how it happened, but somehow the aquamarine got upgraded to a sapphire, and the two side diamonds into a whole halo of them. I managed to resist the urge to stick more diamonds on the band. Such restraint…

I’m afraid of this inner Bridezilla…I have not even taken her shopping for a wedding dress yet. Something tells me it will not be a “simple little number”.

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“Insert comment here”

The hardest thing about writing a novel is not knowing if my target audience, or anyone at all, would actually find it amusing. Originally I was going to self-publish Shizzle, Inc on this blog one chapter at a time, but not while I am hoping against all odds to get it traditionally published. In a desperate attempt to get feedback from someone other than friends and family, I even paid a professional at Writers Victoria to review the draft. To my surprise and delight, the anonymous reviewer found it funny. They also sandwiched in some constructive criticism, but that will be material for another post.

For now, I’d like to share with you a short story that started as a character development exercise for Shizzle, Inc. The story is set about five years before the novel starts and it introduces Isa and her family’s dynamics. I’d love to know what you think about it.


“Isabella? Is that you?”

I freeze, unable to say anything, or even think. Instead, I stare at his bedroom door, waiting for the door handle to turn.

“Isabella?” he says again. His voice is weak, but it resonates in the dead quiet of the house. “I need your help.”

I take a deep breath, let it out slowly, then turn the handle.

It’s dark, because the curtains have not been opened for days, and the last rays of daylight produce only a faint glow around the edges of old-fashioned heavy velvet. I shuffle towards the middle of the room, towards the greenish light of an alarm clock. I hold out my arms in hope of avoiding anything that could poke out an eye and, of course, bang my shin into the edge of the bed.

“Mother…!” I manage to catch myself just in time, finishing with a whisper of “Could I turn on a bedlight?”

He mumbles something that sounds like “If you must”.

I hold onto the edge of the mattress for reference and shuffle around it until I bang into the bedside table. This time I manage to keep quiet and pat the table until I find the lamp cord and the switch.

The light is weak, but he moans and turns his head away. I look down at him, waiting, but he does not move or say anything. He looks pale, like the sheets, and his matted hair is stuck to his forehead and temples. The room smells like sickness and old age. I try not to breathe.

Finally, he turns his head and looks at me. A weak smile is playing at the corners of his mouth.


“Yes, Dad. You said you need help?”

The smile fades. “Yes, but I’m afraid you can’t help me.”

“Oh,” I say. I hate to admit it, but I’m relieved. The fear that I will have to help him walk to the bathroom and wait outside the door, like yesterday, subsides.

“I’d like some water,” he says.

There is a full glass on the bedside table next to him. I pick it up and hand it over, but he just looks at me with that faint, pained smile, until I bring the glass to his lips and help him lift off the pillows. He drinks greedily, most of the water spilling down his chin, then falls back onto the pillows, exhausted. There is another moment of uncomfortable silence.

“Okay,” I finally say. “If that’s all, then I will get going. I will be back in a couple of hours…“

“Where are you going?” he asks, his voice quite a bit stronger. He must have really needed that water.

“Just to the movies, with girls,” I lie. I can’t quite tell him that I’m going on a date. Dad still thinks that dating should be reserved for college. I disagree, of course, and so does my older sister, who has never been to college and yet is currently in a hospital, trying to push out a couple of babies.

“The movies?” he asks and pauses for an effect. “You are leaving me here alone?”

“I thought you were asleep,” I lie again. “You need your rest, and I will only be a couple of…“

“I’m starving!” Dad announces. The illness has not affected his appetite, and ever since Mom practically moved into my sister’s hospital room, I’ve been required to serve full breakfasts, lunches and dinners, most of them in bed.

“But you just had pasta…“

“That was hardly a balanced meal,” he says, covering his eyes with a plump hand. “I need protein to repair tissues and help sustain my bodily functions.”

“It had cheese…“

He peeks at me from behind the hand, his gaze permeated with hurt feelings. “What I really need right now is chicken protein, preferably in a form of a chicken soup with vegetables! The vegetables would provide the antioxidants I so desperately need to support my immune system.”

“No problem!” I say, trying to sound helpful and feeling guilty as hell. “I have a can of Campbell’s…“

“A can!” he says and lets the hand fall onto the pillow. His gaze directed to the ceiling, he asks nobody in particular, “Perhaps I have a bowel cancer, too? It must be the BPA levels in canned soup that left me unable to pass a stool since yesterday…“

“Okay!” I say and back out of the room. “I can make some soup from scratch, that’s no problem!”

In the kitchen, I empty two cans of Campbell’s chicken and vegetable soup into a pot, add a chunk of butter, and light up the stove. I open and close cupboards and bang pots and pans, as I dial Brad’s number. My hands are shaking. We’ve only been going out for a couple of weeks and tonight was going to be the third date, making it officially okay to let him put his hands under my shirt. Brad is the hottest guy on the football team, which makes him the hottest guy in school, and me the luckiest girl in the entire universe. I put the phone to my ear and listen to the beeps and the pounding of blood in my ears.

“Hello there,” he answers and I nearly burst into desperate tears.

“I’m so sorry,” I say. “I can’t go out tonight. My Dad is sick, and I thought I could sneak out, but he heard me, and he wants soup, but not from a can, and my sister is in a hospital, she is having twins, and Mom is with her, and I can’t go out. I’m so sorry!”

He doesn’t say anything for a second. “Brad?” I ask and take a breath, ready to explain the whole thing again.

“That’s okay,” he says.

“Really?” I nearly burst into tears again, the relieved kind.

“Yeah, I can wait,” he says. “I wouldn’t wait for anyone else, you know. But you are hot, babe.”

He’s never called me hot, or babe, before and my heart stops for a full second.

“Thanks,” I say. “Babe.”

I carry the pot of soup into Dad’s bedroom. He looks suspiciously at me as I ladle a bowl for him. I help prop him up with pillows and watch as he brings a shaky spoon up to his mouth.

“This is good,” he says approvingly. “Not like that canned crap.”

He asks for a second helping and then I carry the pot and bowl back into the kitchen. I dial Mom’s number, but it goes to voicemail. I think for a second, shrug, and dial Felicity’s number. It goes to voicemail, too, which is to be expected, I guess. She is probably all drugged up on an epidural or something, anyway.

I turn on the TV, but there is nothing even half-decent, which is really off-pissing on a Saturday night. Whoever comes up with a TV schedule must assume that people either have plans or paid channels. I, of course, have neither. Mindlessly flipping through ancient movies and infomercials, I wonder how long I can bear being alone with Dad and his mystery illness. It came on gradually over many months, starting around the time my sister announced that she is pregnant. It was right before her graduation, but when it turned out that her highschool sweetheart Mark knocked her up, Dad didn’t have the strength to kill him, despite many earlier promises to do so. Dad went to the graduation, but complained a lot more than usual, although I’m not sure if others noticed. Felicity was too happy to notice anything, glowing from either the pregnancy hormones or the wedding plans. She married Mark, despite Dad’s rumbles of “over my dead body”. He didn’t die, but started growing weaker every day, missed work, had trouble walking up the stairs and often paused to grasp at the left side of his chest. When Felicity told us that she was having twins, Dad announced that his pulmonary artery was on the verge of collapsing. Mom begged him to go to a hospital, but he refused, on the grounds that doctors are charlatans and hospitals are hotbeds of new and deadly bacteria.

Eventually Mom stopped begging, probably because she was too distracted by the excitement of getting not one, but two grandchildren, and by the constant need to remind Felicity of what to eat and what to do. When Felicity checked into the hospital at around the eighth month of the pregnancy, it was probably to get away from Mom, rather than to have her blood pressure monitored. Of course it didn’t work, because Mom never left her hospital room. Upon hearing of that development, Dad announced that his liver has joined the ranks of the defiant organs. He explained over and over again, usually during dinner, how the toxic waste accumulating in his blood stream was slowly destroying him from inside out, and what his liver probably looked like at that stage. Then finally, when Felicity went into labour three days ago, Dad refused to get out of the bed.

I was alone with him, and also alone with the crazy thought that maybe he was faking it. I could not say it to anyone, leave alone constantly weeping Mom, but it was there, in the back of my mind. It was in fleeting moments of anger at being involved in his bodily functions, in long stretches of wishful thinking that he will be okay, that my sister and her yet unborn twins will be okay, and in constant selfish wishes that I will be okay. It was all too much at the time when adolescent depression was ready to sink its claws into my teenage body.

A raspy cough interrupts my thoughts. Dad is in the doorway, leaning heavily on the frame and blinking at the light.

“Dad!” I jump up from the couch. “What are you doing up?”

“I tried to call for you,” he whispers. “I guess you didn’t hear me over the TV.”

I help him back into bed, choking with guilt over my previous thoughts. He looks old and defeated, not at all his usual fieldmarshal self. I can’t believe I could ever think that he is faking it, he probably is dying. I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes, and I swallow to hide them. They taste like remorse with a touch of love.

When I’m finished re-arranging the pillows and refilling his water glass, he pats the side of the bed for me to sit down. I perch on the edge, feeling very uncomfortable and using all my psychic powers to will Mom into coming back and relieving me from this duty.

“Isabella,” he says. He started calling me by my full name lately, which is not a good sign. When things are good, I’m usually “Isa”. “Isabella” is reserved for lecturing me about my poor grades, or attitude, or lack of common sense, and I honestly have not done anything wrong lately, except maybe dating Brad behind Dad’s back.

“Isabella,” he says again and takes my hand. This is excruciating. He is not a touchy-feely person and I can’t remember the last time I got a hug from him. This holding-hands-on-a-deathbed is worse than even waiting for him outside the bathroom door.

“I have to tell you something,” he croaks. I can’t help but brighten up. I’ve always hoped that I have some kind of a birth secret, like I’m actually related to royalty and will one day be shipped overseas to take my rightful place on the throne. The deathbed is a perfect place to spring that kind of news on a teenage girl.

“Your maternal grandfather,” he begins, and I nearly faint. This is it! I always knew I was special, not the learning-disabled kind, but the psychic, or magical, or at least royal blood sort. I grip Dad’s hand, and he takes it as a sign of encouragement.

“He didn’t like me from the start, you know? I was too young, too poor, and too skinny for his Princess.”

His voice sounds as if from afar. My head is swimming with royal images: kings and princes staring at me with admiration; walking through an endless cathedral isle, with an equally endless train behind me; a heavy crown being placed on my chastely bowed head.

“He said that I would never amount to anything. ‘Over my dead body’ is what he said when I asked for your mother’s hand in marriage. Thankfully, your mother had a lot more sense than him, although lately I’m not so sure. ‘Over my dead body’! I showed him, of course. I am a well-respected historian, as you know, and he always was, and remained to the last day, a car mechanic.”

The images in my head disappear, as if blown aside by a cold gust of reality.


“That’s right, a car mechanic! Sure, he maybe owned the shop and made a lot of money, but it didn’t change the fact that his nature, his very essence was that of a tinkerer! He tinkered with car parts, which required no original thought, no analysis or theory! In a way he was like one of those doctors your mother insists on, the simpletons barely able to look up symptoms in a reference manual!”

A heavy cloud fogs up my brain, as I realise that this is no deathbed revelation, that this is the same story I’ve heard at least a hundred times. I can’t tell him that, of course, just in case he is dying and this is the last time I’m hearing it. The combination of disappointment and guilt is overwhelming and I look down in hopes that he will not see it in my eyes. He doesn’t, of course, and keeps going on and on about Grandpa.

Thankfully, the phone rings in my pocket and I answer it despite Dad’s protests. It’s Mom and she is crying. For a second another image, of my dead sister, enters my head, but then Mom starts screaming, “Boys! Boys!”

“What?” My first thought is that she somehow found out about my dating, although I’m dating only one boy. Mom explains that Felicity just had two boys and that I’m now a fifteen-year old auntie.

“Wow,” is all I can manage to say, over and over. I mouth “two boys” to Dad, who seems to be either pouting or smiling that sad smile again. Mom passes the phone to Felicity, who sounds tired and groggy, just like I’d imagined.

“Congratulations!” I exclaim and inwardly congratulate myself on coming up with something appropriate to say.

“Thanks,” she says. “Boy, I’m glad it’s two of them, because I’m never doing this again!”

I laugh hysterically and she asks when I’m coming to see them.

“I don’t know, Dad has taken a turn for the worse,” I say and Dad nods in approval. “Maybe when Mom is back home?” I look at Dad and he nods again.

“When is he coming to see them?” Felicity asks and suddenly she doesn’t sound groggy at all.

“I don’t know, talk to him,” I say and pass the phone to Dad, who looks at it as if it’s a bomb, but takes it and holds it to his ear.

Dad starts saying his version of congratulations into the phone, but Felicity cuts him off. I can’t hear what she is saying, other than it sounds like barking. Whatever it is, it has a magical healing effect on Dad. Color returns to his cheeks and he even sits up in bed.

“I’m not…“ he says, but the barking does not stop. I can only hear his side of the conversation, and it sounds like a defendant trying to appease Judge Judy. The color in his cheeks turns from peachy pink to beetroot red.

“You don’t understand…“

“The symptoms…“

“Of course I do!”

“Please don’t!”

Finally the barking stops. Dad takes the phone away from his ear and looks at it for a moment, then pushes a button and hands it back to me. I stare at him.

“We are going to the hospital,” he says finally.

“Oh my God!” I freak out with realisation that the news must have pushed his liver over the edge. “I can’t drive! We have to call you an ambulance! Can you wait for an ambulance?”

“Not for me,” he waves me off and pushes the comforter away. “Let’s go see the babies.”

“But…what about your condition?”

He ignores me and swings his legs down, searching for slippers with his feet. His face is contorted in a deep thought.

“I still can’t drive…we can call a taxi, I guess…”

“I’m not paying for a taxi,” he says and shuffles towards the wardrobe.

I don’t know what to say, so I say nothing, just follow his lead. When fifteen minutes later we get into the station wagon, the color in his face is back to peachy pink and he almost looks healthy. We drive through the dark streets in complete silence.

“Grandpa,” he says.

Not again. “I know, he was a car mechanic and he didn’t want you to marry Mom…“

“No, I mean me. I’m a grandpa. A bit early, if you ask me.”

I laugh from surprise and relief. “Tell me about it. I’m an auntie at fifteen! I’ve never even babysat! I’m probably going to drop one of the boys and Felicity will have to kill me…”

“Nah,” he says, and smiles. This one is good, a hearty full smile. “You’ll be great.”

“Really? You think so?”

“For sure. You are good at so many things.” He doesn’t say what they are and I hope that he is not thinking that lying is one of them. Still, it makes me feel warm inside, for the first time in weeks, if not months.

“Thanks,” I say. “You’ll be a great grandpa. I mean, you will be great at being a grandpa, not that you will be a great grandpa. I mean, one day, you will live to be a great grandpa. I hope.” I look at him, dreading his response, but he doesn’t look back. Only the hearty full smile is still there.

“For sure,” he says and we keep on driving through the dark.

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Spreadsheets are the writer’s best friends

Well, maybe they are just this writer’s. Somehow, no matter what problem or challenge I’m facing, my first thought always turns to Excel. (Hmm, “Excel”…subliminal messaging? Or truth in advertising?)

Maybe it’s that whole idea of breaking a major problem into its component parts and tackling them one at a time. Maybe it’s tapping into the brain’s reward system, as I did last year, when watching the trend line of “actual words written” motivated me to finish the first draft of Shizzle, Inc. Or, most likely, it’s the fact that without a spreadsheet, or at least a to-do list, I would completely forget what I’m supposed to do or what I’ve already done…

Wait…what was I talking about?

To illustrate, here’s one of my “writer’s little helpers”, the word count tracking spreadsheet:

Shizzle word count log

You can see that the “actual” line is a bit jagged, and occasionally dips below the target, but all is well that ends well – and in this case I got what I wanted exactly when I wanted it – the draft was finished on the day the spreadsheet predicted that it would be.

The latest one is helping me track my progress towards landing a literary agent. Oh, I forgot to mention in my last post that in addition to everything else going wrong, my agent and I parted ways in a sort of messy divorce. So I’m back to square one in terms of plans on how to publish Shizzle, Inc. A depressing thought that only a tracking spreadsheet can fix. So here it is:

Selling Shizzle

It’s really simple. Paradoxically for a die-hard optimist, I expect to be rejected by agents. A lot. Let’s say 99 times out of 100. A simple logic would then dictate that in order to get one agent to believe into a future success of my totally rad first attempt at writing a novel, I will have to submit it to at least 100 agents.

As the spreadsheet shows, so far I’m up to 34 actual submissions. As an easy visualisation tool, the light grey shaded cells show all the agents to whom I’ve sent a query, and the more depressing dark grey ones, with strikethrough font, show the ones that sent a rejection letter or ignored me long enough to indicate a “no cigar” outcome.

So far my spreadsheets got me what I wanted, when I wanted it – 85,000 words in less than three months, and an apartment in about the same time frame. I will be very, very surprised if after 100 submissions I will not hook a single fish…er, agent. I’m not worried, though – if that happens, Miss Fix-it will make a spreadsheet on how to self-publish her “widely rejected” and “ignored by the best” debut.


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Worst writer’s block and best excuses for it, ever!

I can’t believe that my last post was nearly a year ago! Before you write me off as just another wannabe without stamina and staying power, let me rattle off the reasons why. They are all really good excuses…

Since there are so many of them, and because my mind is warped by years of project management and corporate reporting, I shall present them in this easy to read, unemotional dot-point format:

1. Literally two weeks after my last post, I broke up with a boyfriend of five years. That by itself is a pretty good excuse to forgo writing for a while in favour of drinking cheap wine while wearing pyjamas, eating Cheetos, and watching endless reruns of the “Big Bang Theory”, but then…

2. The next day I turned 41. Turning anything 40+ is pretty traumatic under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you are newly single.

3. And, as it turns out, it’s even worse when you are homeless. In the weeks prior, my home sweet home was repeatedly invaded by swarms of termites, the flying, mating kind. Out of obligation (and disgust), I reported the unwanted subleasers to the landlord. Little did I know that he would return the favour with an official-looking letter requiring me to vacate the premises in 60 days, so that the floors could be torn up and hundreds of litres of poison pumped into the soil below. I had every reason to believe he was the cold-heartedest landlord ever, until…

4. I’ve tried to rent a place with my dog. My adorable, miniature, house trained (sort of) Italian Greyhound. The only houses and apartments available to dog owners were complete dumps, the kind where I was sure to descend into depths of post-partum depression. Then it occurred to me, that at 41 I should shape up and buy a place of my own. Except…

5. I had all of 6 weeks to do it. Well, 10 weeks, after my tear-stained emails convinced the landlord to give me a month’s extension. How hard could it be? Apparently not as hard as…

6. The slap in the face I’ve received at work. My pet project, my baby if you will, was taken away from me with “thanks, we got it from here”. I was effectively demoted, although thankfully without loss of pay, which would have made the point #5 above practically impossible.

Let me pause here for a moment and reflect on where I was last April or so. At the rock bottom, ladies and gentlemen! Agh, the flashbacks! The horror…

Thankfully, this is where my alter ego, Miss Fix-it, stepped in to clean up the mess. Ok, so Miss Fix-it did have an occasional cry about it, but that was not all she did. She also:

1. Viewed over 50 apartments for sale in about a month. I still have the spreadsheet to prove that it was not just a cheap wine-induced nightmare.

2. Bid at three auctions and made two offers, including signing a deposit check with a shaky hand. Got outbid and had the check returned, with a mocking, red-hot “cancelled” stamp across its face.

3. After waiting a respectable 3 months, signed up for online dating. Went on a few dates, but mostly got material for a future book, a chicklit number about how hilarious it is to date in your 40s. It really is, if you drink enough.

4. Applied for jobs, so far six. Went to two interviews, but mostly got material for a future book, maybe something motivational, along the lines of “keep trying, even if you get beat by internal candidates” or whatnot.

I’d like to tell you that all those efforts paid off…that I lived happily ever after…funny enough, I can!

I bought an apartment, not the kind I set out to buy (an older, Art Deco with character, drafts, and leaky plumbing). I got a 2-year old place with a wrap-around balcony, floor to ceiling glass, brand new appliances, heating and cooling. I even pulled up the carpet in the living room and polished the concrete floor underneath, so that my dog can piss anywhere she pleases. It’s small, but it’s oh-so-me.

I also found a new boyfriend. Sorry, fiance – he surprised me right before Christmas! He is also not at all what I expected (a middle-aged man with a couple of kids, baggage and beginnings of a beer belly, who would watch TV and drink stubbies while I made dinner). He is gorgeous, fit, kind, and well-adjusted. He also gets up early every day and makes breakfast. Every single day. He is now in the kitchen, making dinner. Unreal…

The only thing that’s still not completely and utterly perfect is my job. But I’m not worried about it – Miss Fix-it is working on it. She also got a spreadsheet going of all the US agents that have received and will receive “Shizzle, Inc” submissions, but I’ll save it for another post.

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