Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the computer

Well, I logged in and read my email. Oh, and what funny email I get. There was the usual spam (your email address has been chosen to win an unspecified amount in our unspecified lottery so send us your specified bank account number for direct deposit at an unspecified time) and the usual spam (my loving, dear, trusted darling: I got a new email, organ, chain letter, or guerilla warfare threatening to drive me from my country - could you send a specified amount of money to this fellow in Nigeria who wants to use my bank account to send me unspecified amounts of money) and even more spam (Dear Michelle, I am inter-).

Hold up! That last one was not spam. It was an actual letter to me. Wow! How did that get past the spam filters? Huh? So I read the rest of it . . . HOLY COW! AN AGENT REQUESTED A PARTIAL OF MY MANUSCRIPT!

Sorry. I did not mean to shout. Yes, I got a request for a partial based on the query letter alone and you have no idea how much hair I have ripped out trying to get the letter right - my anathema - my nemesis. I had to read my original email to see which version worked. It was query #4b in my files. This will be the first request I have ever gotten. I had sent out one letter using this query, and I got a RESPONSE. We have found a winner! Send Michelle unspecified amounts of money!

I know I should not get excited like this. The agent could read the partial and decide to pass on the project. Still, even getting over these little hurdles are gigantic victories in my life. They bring a smile to my face especially since I rarely have anything to smile about these days. So I savored the request, gave myself a hug in congratulations, ignored the people in the room who talked with each other on how much unspecified time I had before they would evict me from the rat’s nest where I live now, and prepared to send out the material. I opened the story file, got the first few chapters ready to send, and then I hit the save button.

Yes, you heard right. I needed to send out the first few chapters. I hit the save button when I had only those chapters on the screen. This means that the rest of the manuscript had disappeared into a limbo world, i.e., they got accidently deleted.

If you want to punch me in the head now, could you please remove the brass knuckles first. And put down the tire iron. And let that poor cow go; he does not deserve this treatment.

Ha-ha! Don’t worry. I ALWAYS have a clean backup copy of my manuscript on my notebook computer and TWO backup copies saved on external flash drives: one kept near my laptop and the other locked in my safe. I am very thoughtful (anal) about such things when it comes to my writing.

So I wrote a short letter thanking the agent and attached the file. I was about to hit the “Send” button when I noticed that (yes - you can punch me in the head again) I had attached the WRONG FILE TO THE EMAIL.

No, I am not making up any of this story. I wrote out the short letter, checked my spelling, saved it, then I copy/pasted the file into the email application. Afterward, I attached the file for the SHORT LETTER that was the same letter in the email box.

What? No. This does not deserve two punches. I said NO! I do not want you breaking your hand before I get to the other parts where I deserve more physical abuse. Be patient.

Well, by this point I was getting really suspicious that I would mess up something - and rightly so. I checked the attached file, discovered my mistake, and attached the right file to the email. Then I saved the email, rechecked EVERYTHING, and then finally hit the “Send” button.

I logged off and hurried back into my sanctuary (a.k.a. my bedroom) as the people I lived with went into the adjoining room, placed their lips against the wall, and mumbled to themselves in strange voices about how much they hated me. I turned on my old laptop and opened the manuscript file. My eyes glanced at the story that I have revised and polished and revised for the past three months.

Wait for it . . . wait for it . . .

Um, hey, yanno . . . right there in that paragraph . . . yes, right there . . . that sentence changed tense. It should be fine though. The first part dealt with someone talking in the past. I had put in the correct tense shift right after that so it seemed like I quoted text even though technically it was not quoted text but it seemed that way.

Third punch. Go ahead. I know you want to do it.

Oh, hey, right there. This crazy old notebook has been acting peculiar lately. Sometimes when the internal fan switched on, it paused the system whenever I typed. So, sometimes, the word does not get placed on the screen because the system paused for that split nano second although my mind knew that I typed in the word and my fingers knew I typed in the word. Yet I was typing so fast that I did not have a chance to go back and double-check. Then when I did reread the section, my mind still thought the word was there as it consulted with my fingers who assured everyone that they typed the word. So both of them tricked my lazy eyes into believing the word was there.

But . . . um . . . that sentence is missing a word there.

Someone put me out of my misery. One good knockout punch to the chin. Let me tie on the blindfold first. Okay. I’m ready.



  1. Okay, take three deep breaths now!
    Don't worry about the missing word and the wrong tense. They will publish your manuscript, it will be a bestseller and when you are in Groningen to sign your book(s) I will stand in line for my own signed copy! Now, stay calm.
    Here...a big hug!

  2. Michelle, yo are so funny!;) Maybe you should send this post to the publisher as well, so they can understamd how much agony this has caused you.;)

    Honestly, I do not think one missing word wil make a difference, the style of your writing is there and the point will not get lost. So relax and stop beating yourself up over it (and stop asking us to.;))

    Now a BIG congratulation is in order; I knew you were talented and it was only a matter of time before this happened.
    I hope this is a beginning of something great and beautiful!;))

  3. Congratulations!!! And what a funny retelling of the process! Thank goodness nothing too horrible happened. I was a little nervous at the first three chapter part. :)

    I am sure you will have even more fabulous news to share soon!

  4. Yay on the back-up, smart woman! And MEGA CONGRATS on the partial request. I'm not gonna hit ya or kick your bahonkus with my pointy cowboy boots. I'm sure you'll beat yourself up enough. :) Don't angst. What's meant to happen will, with or without a typo!

  5. Thanks everyone!

    Like I mentioned, I'm not going to go all out and celebrate on a simple exclusive partial request since the agent might end up hating the story. But it would be really cool if I got this person as an agent. Their agency handles my type of genre and they give the overall sense that they care about their writers and their works without having to say it.

  6. First, congratulations. I know there's a long way to go, but lots of folks don't even get the invite.

    Second, you had me feeling it in the pit of my stomach when you started telling about only having the first couple of chapters. I've lost blog postings and been mightily upset. I can't imagine how hideous I'd feel if I lost an actual book. Thank God you had the back-up.

    Third, God bless and the most wonderful of luck. You know I'll be saying a prayer for your success in this endeavor.

  7. I'm a little shocked you're /not/ published yet, so all I can say is this agent has to be one smart cookie!!

  8. Congratulations!

    I do hope it works out for you. :)

    And thanks for sharing your tale - it's nice to know I'm not the only one who can proofread my own text and be firmly convinced it's perfect even when there is a typo right in front of my eyes. :)

  9. Good stuff, Michelle. And shame on you for scaring us like that! I'm happy for you and hope that this leads to better things.

    And for goodness quit leaving words of your sentences. It can very confusing. ;)

  10. LOl


    Let us know how it goes.

  11. It's only a matter of time before talent is discovered. Good luck!

  12. I ALWAYS have a clean backup copy of my manuscript on my notebook computer and TWO backup copies saved on external flash drives: one kept near my laptop and the other locked in my safe. I am very thoughtful (anal) about such things when it comes to my writing.

    Yup. "Jesus Saves" and so does anyone and everyone who's used a computer for longer than say... five minutes.

    All that said: CONGRATS! COOLNESS!

    (and I'm not in the habit of hitting women, ya know. Or anyone else, for that matter...) ;-)

  13. Ha! Congratulations Michelle! I knew it was just a matter of time. I've always believed in you, right from the beginning! A big hug to you my friend!

  14. Congrats on the request and don't sweat every last thing. We all do it but in the end that's not what lands you an agent or makes one say no.

  15. Hey, the longest journey starts with the first step. Congrats on the request. More of a response than a lot of people get. I am confident that when the time comes, you will be ready and knock it out of the park.
    Great job,

  16. Congrats!! yes, an agent asking for a partial is WONDERFUL news in of itself - enjoy the feeling.

    As for the error, they'll over look small errors like that, but I know what you mean about going ARGHH!!!

  17. Thank you again, everyone! Your words of encouragement are, er, encouraging!

    *to my new readers - thanks for stopping by and reading my blog*

  18. Ha! YOu should totally get excited over a partial request! That is TOO cool! Congrats :-) And don't sweat the small stuff. If the agent likes the story, that stuff won't matter.

  19. grats hon... hope the contract's a good'un :D


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