Waking Up With Lisa Rinna Lips
Friday, April 13, 2012

This morning, as soon as my eyes fluttered open, I thought: What. The. Hell. 

This is not my usual first thought in waking. Most of the time, it's: Crap! I fell asleep with my makeup on during Andy Cohen and missed the Jackhole of the Day, AGAIN! Large pores, here I come. 

And I did fall asleep during Andy's let's-pretend-we're-sneaking-beer-and-hanging-out-in-my-parents'-basement fabulous late night talk show, but this morning, bigger things took precedence. 

As in my lip. 

My fat lip. 

I felt like I'd been in a bar fight and some roller derby queen had punched me in the mouth. 

But as far as I know, I wasn't in any pubs last night quaffing down boilermakers with roller derby queens. 

I don't take Ambien, so I'm pretty positive on this. 

My lip was just slightly swollen, but it tingled and felt a little bruised, so of course I knew I was dying. 

I wandered around the house all morning muttering, "This is so weird. Why does my lip feel like Lisa Rinna's?"

And when I say muttering, I mean I followed my family around, obsessing to anyone who would listen. 

Oh, who am I kidding! No one listens to me in this house. Except for the dogs. It's why I love them best. 

I googled tingling mouth, which is not something you want to google before you've had your coffee. Trust me on this.  

And I welled up a little when I realized I had either Hypocalcemia, Hypoparathyroidism, Guillain-Barre syndrome, oral cancer, Elephantitis or The Jumping Frenchman disorder. 

Or, in fact, all of them. Probably all of them. 

By the time I realized God had appointed me the modern day Job, my husband was the only one left in the house to ignore my hypochondriac hysteria. And that's when it hit me. 

Dear God. It was a brown recluse spider. 

See, the brown recluse is as common here as the Great White Shark is to Australia. And they're both serious hit men, like Luca Brasi sticking a horse head in your bed, serious. 

We have had our fair share of brown recluse bites in our family involving trips to the ER, skin grafts and a dog that almost died. So, clearly these murderers know where we live. And guess where brown recluses are most likely to attack? That's right. In your bed. While you're sleeping. 

Just like Luca Brasi. 

So, I was all, "FORGET WORK, HUSBAND! YOU NEED TO TAKE ME TO THE E.R. BEFORE THE VENOM REACHES MY HEART. But hang on, let me go blow dry my hair first."

And as I went racing off to my hair products, my hubs said, "Or you know, maybe the tv remote might have hit you. You know. In the face. Or something, I don't know, something like that."

And I was like, "Um, what?"

And he shrugged sheepishly, like he does when I sit in a wet spot on the toilet seat lid and I scream, (in a loving way) asking him if he, perchance, forgot to lift the lid. 

He said, "You know the remote is always in the bed because you never put it on the nightstand, so maybe it hit you."

And I was like, "Well duh, that's because I was watching Andy Cohen. And what? Were you trying to teach me a lesson? 'She never puts the remote on the nightstand, so I'm gonna bash her in the face with it. That'll show her.' Is that it, Chris Brown?" 

And he said, "No. I felt something under me when I was trying to sleep. I pulled it out, saw it was the remote and I just kind of tossed it over my shoulder and that's when it may or may not have hit you."

And I said, pursing my Lisa Rinna lips, "And just how do you know this?"

He'd been reading the paper when he confessed to battering me and he hid behind it then, as he said, "You might have sat up in bed and yelled, 'What the &@# hell? You just *!# hit me in my #@! mouth with the mother *&#, $#*  remote, you mother#@#*!' But then you just lay back down, so I figured you were talking in your sleep again."

Or more like cussing a river in my sleep. 

My husband gave me a fat lip. I will never let him live this one down. 

And one more thing. 


An update for all of you on my querying. As you've probably noticed, I haven't been around much lately. It's because I've been writing and revising and reviewing and revising and pretty much riding this crazy roller coaster of trying to make a dream come true. 

On my first query go-round, I sent out four queries. This isn't a lot by query standards, but I'm the type who dips my toes in first and then slowwwwly eases into the pool. I'm not a cannonball jumper, by any means. That type of rambunctious nonsense totally trashes a good hair day. 

I sent these four queries to my dream agents, the cool girls, the ones who I would die to be invited to sit at their lunch table. 

Two days later, one of those agents requested my full manuscript. 

See, the way it works is: You query an agent. If they like what they see, they usually ask for a partial manuscript or about three chapters. If they like that, they ask for a full. This agent bypassed that partial and asked me for a full. 

I couldn't believe it. I'd heard the stories, how hard this was supposed to be, how 98% of writers get rejected, how many famous writers toiled forever before anyone sat up and took notice. 

I sent off my manuscript, elated. In the meantime, two of those agents sent me rejections. But no matter, an agent of my dreams had my full manuscript in her hands. 

And then I went to Pebble Beach for a vacation and as I sat at breakfast one morning, I got an email from my number one dream agent, asking me to send her a partial manuscript. 

Oh, I tell you, I was in heaven, aspiring author heaven. 

We toasted with champagne and I emailed all my writer friends to tell them the big news. 

I floated home from that vacation, dreaming about book tours and NY Times lists and Isla Fisher playing my main character, Kel, in the blockbuster movie. 

In the meantime, I got back to work because those two rejections were getting under my skin. Because I always want everyone to love me. And those two rejections told me there was always room for improvement. 

I sent out four more queries while I waited. But this time, the news wasn't so good. I got one rejection and the other three didn't respond. Many agencies will say if you don't hear from them, it's a no. So I figured I got a no, no, no and no on that go-round. 

Still, two agents were reading my words. So I worked and I polished and I revised. 

And I stalked those two agents—reading their blogs, buying their client's books, following them on Twitter. 

It was a Sunday, when I saw a tweet from the agent who had my full, stating she had big news on her blog. 

I raced right over to see what was going down. 

And that's when I found out she was quitting the agency. In fact, she was quitting agenting altogether. For a big job, the job of her dreams. 

I sent her an email, congratulating her and politely asking about my manuscript. She didn't answer. I spent the next few days, crying, eating all of the chocolate chip cookie dough from my daughter's fundraiser and commiserating with all of my darling, darling writer friends. 

Not too shortly after that jolt, the agent of my dreams who had my partial sent me a very kind email, telling me that although my writing was lovely, she didn't think my novel was right for her. 

I started on the Keebler Elfwiches. 

A few days later I got an email from the agency of the agent who had quit, telling me they were still considering my manuscript. 

And I was all, "Yay! Yay!"

And then yesterday, the newest agent at that agency sent me an email, saying that although she was drawn in by my premise and my entertaining and well drawn cast of characters, she wasn't as pulled in as she would have liked to be. 

And so . . . 

I begin again. And again. And again. If that's what it takes. 

Yesterday, it was Costco's chocolate fudge cake that helped me through. And as always, as always, as always, my so patient, talented and kind critique partner, A.B. Keuser. 

I was sad yesterday. But I'm back to fighting mode today. 

I am polishing and tightening and revising. And next week, a whole handful of new agents will have me knocking on their query door. 

And a little over a month from now, I will be attending my first writer's conference. I am excited and shaking in my boots. I've signed up to pitch an agent my novel, which essentially means I have ten minutes of one-on-one time with an agent where I have to try and sell her my work and not babble inanely like I usually do. So, on top of revising and eating cake, I now have to craft a pitch that will knock this agent out of her chair. Figuratively, that is. I hope I don't literally knock her out of the chair. Who knows, I get extra klutzy when I'm nervous. 

But the best thing about this writer's conference is my lovely, oh so awesome, writer friend, Ash of Shades of Blue and Green is coming with me. We'll hold hands and brave our first writer's conference together and because of that, I know it will all go as smoothly as peaches and cream. 

And so, please forgive me if I'm not around. But this writing gig? It's everything to me. I'll blog here in my usual sporadic way, but know that I'm always thinking of all of you lovely people I consider my friends. Your love and kind comments and support have bolstered me indubitably through this writing journey. 

Today's Definite Download: No download today. A very special link instead. When I got the news yesterday, after I emailed A.B., cried and ate cake, I googled rejections. And that's when I stumbled upon Kathryn Stockett's story. Kathryn Stockett is the author of The Help, the novel that spent over 100 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List and was made into an Oscar nominated blockbuster movie. 

Kathryn Stockett wrote about her journey to publishing, her obsession with her manuscript, her constant writing, foregoing everything else in her life to get it right and her 60, that's right, 60 rejections before she got a yes. 

Her words spoke to my bruised writer's heart yesterday and it was the perfect balm. Her amazing tale, only a few paragraphs long, is right here. 

I will leave you with these words from her: "The point is, I can't tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, dance moves, (insert passion here)—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won't take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession, instead."

I'll see you soon. A manuscript is calling to me. 


Unknown said...

Wow, joann, I feel like you've been super successful so far with the querying. I'm so proud of you. I know you're two inches away from success, and if you can just hang in there and eat more chocolate...KEL WILL PREVAIL!

Gigi said...

Yeah, my husband has *battered* me in my sleep too (while he was dreaming he was in a fight). I'm thinking of moving him to the guest room.

Keep on querying and following your passion. I believe in you.

TesoriTrovati said...

Amen to that last quote! Remember what you told me... "I finally figured out what I'd like my pendant to say: To Believe. It took me a long time to believe in myself and my writing, so this can be my reminder." And if you need a nudge, go re-read that post I wrote of you last fall. http://treasures-found.blogspot.com/2011/09/dream-believe-live-it.html You are a write. Dream it. Believe it. Live it. We believe in you Miss Joann!
Enjoy the day!

Funny in My Mind said...

That happened to me once except my husband elbowed me in the face and blackened my eye whist I slept. Glad you came up for air to make us giggle.

Not a Perfect Mom said...

rejection blows...I'm sorry..
but junk for rules! so yeah!

and knee your hubs in the balls while he sleeps tonight, you know, on accident...

middle child said...

You have much to be proud of! Best of luck at the conference.

Ash said...

I cannot wait to hold your hand. I might absolutely suck as a writer right now, but, if I do say myself, I'm a smokin hot cheerleader - go you!!! Seriously. can't. wait. XO

Ash said...

I cannot wait to hold your hand. I might absolutely suck as a writer right now, but, if I do say myself, I'm a smokin hot cheerleader - go you!!! Seriously. can't. wait. XO

Heather said...

Oh I can't wait to read your book. And come to your book signings. And watch you on the Today Show and The View.

Every post you write stirs up some emotion.

And this one - the story about the remote made me laugh out loud - LOVE!

Christine Macdonald said...

Atta girl. xxoo

Vicki/Jake said...

I've been away from my google reader for way too long...

Love that you're moving ahead with your rejections. What do they know anyway...

I'll watch for you on the big screen. And hang tight to my remote:)

karen said...

Yay you! I love the quote. So give in to your obsession and don't give up. Have fun at the conference, and do us proud. Sounds like you have a good friend and cheerleader to go with you.

granny1947.wordpress.com said...

If your book is anything like your posts I will be first in line to buy it. I love the way you write!

Rainyday said...

Looking forward to the day when I see your book on Amazon. Because I know I will!

And sorry about the fat lip. Hubby gave me a black eye in our sleep last summer. The security alarm went off and we both jumped up out of bed, still mostly asleep. It wasn't until after we got everything settled - picked the painting up of the floor after it's ride down the stairs, triggering the alarm - that I realized my eye hurt. Damn bony elbow.

Kimbelry said...

Rejections smejections...nope...not a word...just made it up.
I love that you're all "Eff you. I'm doing this."
And you so are.
I'll be the first one to buy it too. Only if you pucker up them lips and kiss the cover :)
I'd buy it without it.

Anonymous said...

OJ - you are a great storyteller and I will continue to look forward to a book from you.

Sherry from TX

My Inner Chick said...

---FabuLOUS, InSPiring Post.

I am excited to see where your manuscript leads you, J.

What is your book about? Non-Fiction?

btw, I know a writer who has wall-papered her office w/ her rejection slips, and I'm like, WTH,
you are awesome...cuz I usually CRY and Pout.

Blessings <3 Xx

Cupcake Murphy said...

It's in your bones. Keep moving forward. I cannot wait to read your book.

sandra, your favorite strudel strutter said...

I just know that your book will be a big success, you are such a gifted and talented writer and I am one of the many that cannot wait to have your book in my hands. As much as I hate not having you blog more I understand that you have to focus on your dream and that it will be so worth it in the end. So good luck at the conference, I know you will charm everyone!

Jessica {Team Rasler} said...

Things I cannot believe: that your husband let you wander around bemoaning your lip for so long before 'fessing up, that he tossed the remote in your direction in the first place, how much rejection writers seem to go through before ever getting published, and finally...

that anyone wouldn't absolutely LOVE your writing.

Keep on, we're all excited to read your book!

Dawn in D.C. said...

You go do what you need to do. We will be here waiting for you. And don't forget to send us all tickets to the Oscars when your book turned movie is nominated.

Shell said...

I was cracking up at you sitting up and cussing out your husband. Oh, my. I love it.

Sorry about the rejections- but keep going, girl. Your writing is fab. xo

Rebecca Grace said...

"Maybe" the remote hit you?!! MAYBE?!! Priceless! Ah, marital bliss!

Hugs and chocolate donuts going out to you, Girlfriend -- the nerve of that agent, quitting the business on you! This is just a little baby pot hole on your road to success. A plot twist for your autobiography. ;-)

Sharon {Grumpy, Sleepy and Bashful} said...

Your first writing conference! Pitching to an agent! YOU are at a tipping point, I"m sure!!

Congrats to you, I hope all goes well!

Galit Breen said...

This writing gig is my passion's everything, too.

You're so inspiring!

Also: Go. For. It.

Can't wait to read your words!


Julie said...

Girl, you got this.
You do.

And while you wait, I've got plenty of Keebler Elfwiches to share.

Except mine are called Dreyer's Slow-Churned Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream.


We gotta get through this somehow, right?

(And we will get through. To the other side. The published side. I know it.)

Love you.

Debbie said...

oh heavens! I read the remote control story and sat here with my hand over my mouth and a big grin on my face. That's what I do when something is really funny - don't know why!
I will totally buy your book when published. And I have no doubt it will be. You have reached the level of where you need to be to get a book published. People requesting your manuscript proves that.

The Lady's Lounge said...

See I went straight for Cold-Sore or Oral Herpes (to make it sound more dramatic) but Cancer? Elephantitis? The Jumping Frenchman Disorder?

Really? You're amazing. I'm in awe and clearly only an amateur in the medical hypochondria department.

Well played.

Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

I woke up to an ugly bruise on my wrist. The one part of my body that is stick thin. I eyed my husband accusingly but he confessed to nothing.

Best of luck to you with the writers conference. You will do fantastic with your humor and gift of gab. I can't wait to read it!

JoAnna said...

What a roller coaster. But, if that amazing writing KAthryn Stockett pushed through 60 rejections before someone woke up and realized the wonder of what she does with words, then I know there must be 60 agents who have now woken up and realized they better jump on something when they know it's good instead of waiting. I feel like you've already had some good ups with this process and that it won't be long now. You heard from 2 of the 4 dream companies! That's 50% and I'm no math whiz! That's pretty great stuff! And I love that the new person who replaced the other person also read it and bothered to contact you. That tells me you've got something there. It's just going to take a few.... Hang in there! I so cannot wait to read it!!!!

Desperate Housemommy said...

Where else can you go for Lisa Rinna lips, brown recluse spiders, and Chris Brown?


That's why you rock. And that's why you will land a publisher. It WILL happen. Gooooo, Joann!

*split jump; spirit fingers*


Meg at the Members Lounge said...

Not only do I admire your writing, I admire your ability to sleep while sustaining a grievous lip injury!

The Bipolar Diva said...

you got requests! how awesome is that??

Nicki said...

Okay...first of all, thanks for making me piss myself about your fat lip. I just cleaned the damn sheets in the bed that I am propped up in while reading your blog! Second of all, I would normally say (as I say every time I comment on your blog) "stop apologizing to us for not blogging! You don't owe us shit!!" But since I have practically abandoned Diaries of a Neurotic Non-Trad and began my new blog...the blog that I am hoping will make me famous some day (I know you understand because you are into the writing a book that turns into a Blockbuster moment), I have decided that you are not off the hook that easily. I totally am profiting off of this! I will forgive you for completely abandoning us loving and devoted followers if you stop check out my new site and promise you will follow me where ever I go because I don't want to lose you!!!! Deal? My blog is "My Life on the N-List" at http://thenlistblog.com.

And by the way...I am super excited about the chance to read your book someday soon! If anyone can do it, you can!!!!!!! Sounds like you had some crappy luck at first but hike up those boot because you are going to do this! I totally can't wait!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

Alexandra said...

Kathryn Stockett's of the world unite!

Right here with you, Joann.

Gearing up for the loneliness to come, the way I can't get the words out of my mind to focus on my kids, the way I'll feel guilty about how much time I"m going to give to this: But if I don't fight for it, NO ONE WILL.

Writer conferences: first on the agenda.

LOVE THIS. Thank you. And love this.

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