What an insane week! Here's the rundown:
–First, I voted.
–Then I went to Puerto Rico for a book signing and my publisher's sales conference.
–Then Britney filed for divorce while I was on the plane.
–Then by the time I got off the plane, the Democratic party had won a majority in both houses for the first time in twelve years. This happened because of a margin of only about 10,000 votes between two states. So don't ever say your vote doesn't make a difference, because what happened this past week is proof that it DOES.
–Also, a woman became Speaker of the House for the first time in US history.
–Then Kevin Federline received news, via text message, of Britney's divorcing him.
–Then the Secretary of Defense resigned (these two events—Britney's divorce and Rumsfeld's resignation–are reportedly unrelated, although I will admit the timing IS suspicious).
–Then I had a book signing in San Juan and met some fabulous booksellers, readers, and the daughter of the Governor of Puerto Rico (and the First Lady).
–Then everyone was really bummed out to hear that Ed Bradley of Sixty Minutes had died.
–Then I was one of the judges on the Harper Teen Fan Lit contest.
–Then The Smoking Gun revealed that Kevin Federline requires that venues in which he is performing his “art” (as he calls it) provide a small tray of thinly sliced turkey and ham for him and his guests backstage, along with a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Also two aromatherapy pillar candles. Among other things.
–Then I had too many Megopolitans and ended up singing Wilson Phillips' “Hold On” with certain members of the HarperCollins children's books sales force, even though He Who Shall Not Be Named In This Blog warned me before I got on the plane that it's been a long time since I scored a First in the Indiana State Choral competition, and whatever else happened, I shouldn't sing.
–Then I came home.
–Except for my suitcase, which is still, apparently, in Puerto Rico, singing Wilson-Phillips songs and enjoying a few more Megopolitans.
But who cares, since I had a fabulous time?
I really enjoyed Puerto Rico, where I saw many acres of gorgeous rainforest and pristine beaches, like this one.
My book signing was impressive, too. It was in the number one highest grossing Borders in the WORLD (Puerto Ricans read a LOT, in multiple languages), where I met many Meg Cabot readers, including but not limited to several who claimed to be school teachers but looked about 15.
And then Gabriela, the daughter of the Governor of Puerto Rico (!!!!), showed up with her mother the First Lady. Both of them were very gracious to me and invited me back to the Governor's Mansion. I had many visions of all of us sliding down the stairs on mattresses in our tiaras like in the movie Princess Diaries 2 (which I still haven't actually seen, by the way, but I've heard a lot about it).
Unfortunately, I had a previous commitment, and was forced to decline. Next time I'm Puerto Rico, however, I am so THERE!
I won't even comment on the Megapolitans except to say that they were delicious.
But I WILL comment on the Harper Teen Fan Lit contest: I know there were over two thousand entries, many of which were fantastic (I read quite a few before they were narrowed down to ten, and even rated some).
All the top ten entries were of course great, and the winning entry, The Perils of Persephone, had just the right amount of the elements that clearly many of us were looking for.
But that doesn't mean there weren't other great stories out there, some of which did not make the top ten.
The truth is, publishing isn't fair. So much of it is based on luck—or, as I like to say, “95% preparation, and 5% opportunity.” Basically, crafting the best story you can, and then being prepared to leap at any opportunity that comes along to expose that story to readers any way you can is how “luck” works in publishing.
So, please, please, please, if your story didn't win, do not give up. Chalk it up to bad luck, take what criticism you find helpful, ignore the rest, and keep trying. That's the only way you're going to end up with one of these:
And on a personal note to those of you who didn't win this round of the Harper Teen Fan Lit contest (and to the HarperCollins children's books sales force):
I know this pain
Why do lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don't ever let anyone step all over you
Just open your heart and your mind
Is it really fair to feel this way inside?
Some day somebody's gonna make you want to
Turn around and say goodbye
Until then baby are you going to let them
Hold you down and make you cry?
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Hold on for one more day