Runway & Heartbreak

Haaaaappy Monday! Well, you know, not really. But it’s the thought that counts, right? I hope you all had amazing weekends! Mine started off with a bang and then eased into glorious lazydom. It was very nice, and super fun. And also a little bit heartbreaking. Which, granted, are things that don’t generally seem like they should be plausibly connected, but you will see what I mean in just a bit, I pwomise.

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So Friday night kicked off with me meeting the loverly Anne P. in downtown DC! Anne invited me to go with her to this LivingSocial/Rent the Runway mash up event. I love fashion, and I love Anne (uh, duh), so I was totally down!

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For those of you who are unfamiliar, Rent the Runway is an online service where you can rent expensive designer gowns for a fraction of the price they actually cost. So, for someone who didn’t want to shell out hundreds on a new dress for your second cousin Delia’s wedding, you can shell out like, $50 instead and get the dress for 4 days (there’s also an 8-day option). This particular event was a kind of pop-up Rent the Runway studio, where you could go and try on an offering of the dresses that the company offers on their website. Very cool, actually, since ordering things sight unseen is always kind of a risk.

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Since Anne had gotten invited as “press” (heh, a term I use loosely as a blogger, admittedly) we also got access to the press room where we were served adorable miniature pies, as well as champagne (win!). We chatted with some of the Rent the Runway folks for a little while, and then it was time to go get our dress-up on!

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I had a lot of fun fawning over and pawing at the various dresses that were there. They had dresses of all lengths and fanciness there–from long, floor-sweeping ballgowns to cute cocktail attire. I tried on a super cute Kate Spade number that I would easily have bought then and there, had it been for sale (thank goodness they only do rentals, haha!) as well as an absolutely GORGEOUS Rebecca Taylor strapless evening gown. I mean when else am I going to get the opportunity to try on a ballgown for funsies, eh?

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Just pretend my bra is part of the dress, mmkay? But seriously, if I had an extra $925 laying around, I would buy that dress in a heartbeat and just keep it hidden in my closet until someday I had an opportunity to wear it (you know, when I’m accepting my Oscar or something). It was soooo beautiful, and it skimmed over my curves in all the right ways and a bunch of complete strangers even told me how amazing it looked on me. *Sigh*

Somewhat disappointingly, the largest size that I came across was 12 (that I saw, at any rate), which luckily happens to be my size now. But considering me wearing this size is only a relatively recent occurrence, I do wish they had offered larger sizes than that. I mean, I don’t know if maybe they specified what the sample sizes were on the LivingSocial deal or something, but I just hate to think of someone buying a ticket to go to that event and then not even being able to try anything on. I know that a lot of high-end designers only make up to a certain size anyway (and a lot of times they’re not even gracious enough to go up to 12!), but still. Ah well, at least there were a zillion things for gorgeous Anne to try on! πŸ™‚

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Anne and I did manage to get one blurry picture together at the event, haha. They were offering a 20% discount if you rented something at the event, but since I, sadly, do not have any debutante balls or inaugural dinners to attend in the next week, I didn’t end up renting anything. But I actually think I have a Rent the Runway credit thing I got in one of my Birchboxes (or maybe my sister gave it to me, I can’t remember), so now that I know the quality of the dresses, I absolutely think I’ll give it a try! Maybe for a wedding or something? Man, what I wouldn’t give to have a long evening gown-appropriate event to attend…

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So after we left the event, the two of us headed deeper into Chinatown and ended up at Matchbox for dinner. I was super excited, because I’d actually never been before, and had always heard such wonderful things about it. It did not disappoint!

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I’d had two little pies (one was this, like, pico de gallo-filled pie, and the other was chocolate pecan, haha. Balanced?) at the event, so I wasn’t crazy hungry. I ended up opting for a soup & salad combo–definitely one of my more brilliant ideas.

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The salad had mixed greens, pears, blue cheese, and candied pecans. Droooool. The soup was a cream of crab with soooo much crabmeat I was in Heaven. Om nom nom. Anne got a different salad that looked equally scrumptious, and a tuna tartare dish to go with it. I hear Matchbox is particularly famous for their pizzas though, so I definitely need to go back!

Obviously, a very fun (and girly, heeee) way to kick off the weekend. The rest of the weekend was pretty much made up of somewhat lazy hangouttery (Sean and I saw Django Unchained, which was AWESOME) and tears. Lemme ‘splain.

While I was writing Terra I put myself on a bit of a self-imposed reading ban. At least insofar as young adult novels went. But now that I’ve actually gone ahead and written a book of my own, I’m finally allowing myself to go through the giant pile of books I had been purposefully putting aside. And I’m not kidding when I say it’s a big pile.

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Plus add three four seven more books that I have loaded onto my Kindle. (Also, publishers, STOP PRICING KINDLE BOOKS AS HIGH AS HARDCOVERS. Seriously. My bookshelves are already too full.

I didn’t want to be unduly influenced by other works, and since the books I love to read tend to fall into a similar (if not the same) genre as the book I wrote, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. So I’ve been plowing through my ridiculous to-read pile at a pretty good rate (already crossed Delirium off my list and am like 25% of the way through Uglies), and my latest accomplishment was…

THIS BOOK OF UTTER AND EPIC BEAUTY. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. God, I loved it so much, I just, I just, I just…

AUUUUGH IT WAS SO GOOD AND HEARTBREAKING. (Sidenote: Community comes back next month! HUZZAH!)

I mean, right off the bat (from the blurb on the inside cover, mind you, so no blaming me for spoilers) you know it’s a book about teenagers with cancer, so the fact that it’s a tearjerker should come as a surprise to no one. But, my God, is it beautiful. I loved everything about it: the writing, the teenaged characters who talk more like they’re forty and are so ridiculously witty and well-read it’s, well, ridiculous… even the I-can’t-even-call-this-bittersweet-it’s-too-sad storyline. I hate myself for waiting so long to read it. I finished it in 10 hours. Actually it was more like 6, since 4 of the hours in the middle were spent sleeping, but I swear, I was THISCLOSE to taping my eyelids open so I could keep reading straight through the night. As it was, I gave up just before 3 and started reading again around 7. Hours 8 and 9 were pretty much just spent sobbing.

Sooooo anyway, yes, I spent a good deal of yesterday morning in tears, but they were the good kind, even though they’re also the sad kind. Surely you must know what I mean.

And, thus, my weekend was.

I know, most profound ending to a blog post ever. You are welcome.

Twinsies

You know that person? That one friend who is so eerily similar to you, it’s a little bit frightening? I like to think that most people have someone like that in their lives. And for me, that person is my good friend Aileen.

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Our friendship story has either been in the works for a very long time, or it’s still pretty new–I can’t really decide which. In the grand scheme of life, we haven’t actually known each other that long, but I think we all know that time isn’t everything. Aileen is the sister of Joanna, my freshman year college roommate. I’d heard about this mystery sister quite a bit that year, but we didn’t actually meet until many years later. Joanna and I reconnected after we graduated from college (go Dukes!) due to the amazingness that is social media, and it was at this point that I connected with Aileen as well.

And thank goodness for that.

See, Aileen and I are basically twins. Which hopefully Joanna won’t get mad at me for saying, since she and Aileen are ACTUAL twins. Like, born-60-seconds-apart, shared-the-same-womb twins. (…as opposed to the other kind? Hahahahaha.) But there is just so MUCH that Aileen and I share: a tendency to stray toward the melodramatic, lifelong battles with the neuroses that actually make us totally awesome and super good listmakers, and a deep, unyielding love of Harry Potter, cheese, and American Musical Theatre. Oh yeah, and there’s this:

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That’s right, in case you hadn’t already pieced it together from the numerous mentions I’ve made of her before, Aileen is my glorious, patient, wonderful book editor as well. In fact, check out this interview article where Aileen talks about what the painstaking editing process for Terra was like, or her own blog post on it!

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Aileen has been such a HUGELY integral part of Terra being as awesome and kickass as it is (in my, y’know, totally unbiased opinion, hahaha), and last night we finally got to celebrate the book’s launch together… and in the best possible way. With a homemade meal, mini bottles of champagne, and pumpkin-spice rice krispie ball pops (!!) that Aileen brought over.

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Being the good sport that she is, she happily (?) helped make my garlicky dreams come true by helping me whip up my delectable Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic recipe.

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We also had roasted Brussels sprouts (uh, duh) and I found this particularly huge B-sprouts stalk at the grocery store… which reminded me that while it really does look cool, but it’s such an extra pain in the patooty. Which I guess is why I’m lucky that Aileen was willing to shuck the stalk, hahahaha.

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Aaaanyway, the two of us got down to business in the kitchen, chopping and dicing and drinking champagne–as all truly great chefs do, I’m sure–whilst simultaneously taaaaalkingtalkingtalkingtalkingtalking because we’re really, really good at that.

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Also, we peeled so much garlic that my hands still smell like garlic as I type this. I keep vacillating between whether that’s a good or bad thing.

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PEEL ALL THE GARLIC.

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Ultimately, garlicky-fingers or not, we ended up with a feast fit for kings. Er, queens. Er, modern day self-proclaimed princesses. We also made the recipe for Celebrations Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Spiced Pecans that was served at Anne’s wedding.

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I have been sitting on this recipe since Anne sent it to me and now I do not even understand why I waited. It. Was. Phenomenal. Seriously, make it, make it now. SO easy and SO delicious. I don’t even love quinoa that much, and I’m still saying it.

ANYWAY. Basically, it was kind of a perfect Tuesday evening. Which is actually awesome, because I make no attempts to hide my general hatred for Tuesdays. They are typically the very worst day of the week, after all. But not this one! There was delicious homemade food, booze, baked goods, and my amazing friend. Also, schnauzers in Christmas sweaters. Win-win-win…win.

(Also, I know I linked to it way at the top, but it bears mentioning again that Aileen’s blog, Army Pants and Flip Flops, is amazing. It’s seriously fracking funny, and you should read it. Her writing is legitimately laugh-out-loud hilarious and there are many, many, MANY references to cheese. And Harry Potter. And basically all things awesome. Okay, I’m done now.)

Happy Wednesday! My sister flies into town tonight and is going to be here through Christmas, and I’m SO EXCITED!! And scared, because I haven’t seen her in over a month and I really have no idea what to expect with regard to her super-preggo-baby-belly situation. If you feel like winning a bet tonight, I suggest you put money down on me crying.

Bracing Myself

So in case you hadn’t noticed it from the heartfelt announcement last week, or the 80,000 references I’ve made since, I wrote a book. And I published that book, effectively marking the single most exciting event of my life to date. (Yes, even eclipsing both my Harry Potter birthday party and that time that I spoke to Daniel Radcliffe.)

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Everyone who’s offered feedback on the book so far has been amazingly positive and encouraging! Terra even has 11 5-star reviews on Amazon so far, which is seriously amazing (thank you to those of you who have already read and reviewed the book!) — like, mindbogglingly so. Of course, I know that this ego-inflating love will only last so long. Eventually, somebody is going to pick up Terra and decide it’s really not their cup of tea. They will dislike it–maybe even hate it–and that’s okay! No book is for everyone, and I even know people that (gasp!) don’t like Harry Potter or really didn’t like The Hunger Games, and they are totally entitled to that opinion. Regardless of how misguided it may be. πŸ˜‰

So ultimately, someone is going to dislike my book enough that they feel compelled to leave a negative review on Amazon or Goodreads or their blog or whatever. And maybe it’ll be really thoughtful and well-articulated and make some very valid points that I can use to improve my writing/the story in future books. Or, maybe it’ll be an all-caps trollfest of a comment that’s like, “THIS BOOK TOTALLY SUCKS FOR SOME UNSPECIFIED REASON! DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME! THIS AUTHOR IS THE WORST WRITER EVER, AND SHE’S UGLY, AND I WANT THOSE HOURS OF MY LIFE BACK!” And if it is, well, it is. I’ll have to learn how to deal with that.

See, I am a self-proclaimed wimp when it comes to criticism. I have skin like vellum, I’m super sensitive, I take EVERYTHING personally (seriously, just ask my family). Or, at least, that’s how I used to be. I really do think that writing this blog has helped toughen me up a little bit. Even though I’ve never really experienced the brunt of an internet movement’s backlash, or even had too many vocal haters on GOMI, there are definitely people out there who don’t like my blog, or don’t think I’m doing a good job with my weight loss/food choices/general attempts to grow up, or simply just don’t like me, period. And that’s valid too, because everyone has the right to their own opinion. Plus, there are definitely people out there that I don’t particularly adore, so how could I possibly expect myself to be immune from the same feelings? So, yes, despite my all-encompassing desire to have everyone ever in the whole wide world be in love with me, I really am finally starting to get to a place where I’m okay with knowing there are people out there who won’t.

So, while, yes, it is nice to bask in the glow of rave reviews from my wonderful readers thus far, in the back of my mind there’s always a little spark–like the pilot light of my self-protection gas fireplace–reminding me not to get too swept away. Because when I do get that first 1-star review, or stumble across that scathing blog post, and my family finds me cradling myself in the fetal position in the corner of my living room, I’m going to need to find the wherewithal to eventually pick myself back up again. Because even after I burst into tears and declare to the Twittersphere world that I’m never going to write again, that is not the truth. I will keep writing. Of course I will.

I always knew that even if this book only sold a dozen copies to people that are related to me by blood, I would keep going. Finish the story, finish the series, continue to try. Because nothing that was ever worth having ever came easy… or something like that. And because this is what I want to do. Like, really do, you know? And I know this post is starting to creep into the borders of Cheesyland, but I don’t care. πŸ™‚

ANYWAY. The bottom line is that I’m really trying very hard to keep a level head now, so that when I do have to face the inevitable bad review music, I don’t go tailspinning into the doldrums so hard that I can’t pull myself back out again. Of course, this is a lot easier said now than I’m sure it will be to actually handle later. As The Oatmeal so brilliantly put it:

How I feel after reading 1,000 insightful, positive comments about my work: The whole internet loves me.
How I feel after reading 1,000 insightful, positive comments about my work and ONE negative one: The whole internet hates me. πŸ™

Do you consider yourself to be someone with a thick skin? Or are you a super sensitive special snowflake like me? Ahahahaha. πŸ˜€

Winner, and Still Champion!

So in yesterday’s awesome, bubbleriffic excitement over my book release, I totally spaced on the fact that I was also supposed to pick the winners for the Blue Diamond Almonds special seasonal flavors giveaway! Sorry!

So, without further adieu, here are the winners!

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Congratulations Heather and Sarah!

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Email me at [email protected] with your mailing addresses, and I’ll ensure the goods get sent your way!

Have an awesome Vampire Diaries Day Thursday, everyone! And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Terra, hehe. πŸ˜‰

Holy Crap. I Wrote a Book.

I seriously searched for like half an hour, just trying to find ONE gif or ONE Youtube clip that showed Leslie Knope on Parks & Recreation in the episode “Win, Lose, or Draw” when she goes to vote for herself on the City Councilman ballot. You know, that moment she goes and fulfills her lifelong dream, no big deal.

Unfortunately, the internet failed me and I came up short. So if you’re seen the episode, you’ll just have to reimagine the heartwarming-to-the-point-of-tears moment in your mind. And if you’re not familiar with the show, well, this analogy is probably lost on you (a fate you deserve for not watching this amazing show, I might add). That said, I think you probably still get the gist. Today, honestly and without fail, feels like one of the most significant days of my life. Granted, I know I’ve only been walking this earth for 24.5 years, but still. That’s some meaningful ish.

Today is the official launch day of Terra.
The book that I wrote.

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I wrote a book.
A REAL book.
Like, with pages (real and digital) and words that form sentences and an “About the Author” section that pays homage to my obsession with my dogs.
This is so flippin’ weird. In the best POSSIBLE way, of course.

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Because I didn’t “just” write a book. I wrote it, and then I sought out the help and expertise I needed to craft it into something amazing. Something I honestly could not be more proud of. Something I truly believe others will enjoy, definitely like, and maybe even love. And then I went on to publish it, to make some sordid attempts to market it, and here we are. Right here, right now. And yes, that is a High School Musical 3 song reference. You’re welcome.

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If you creep on my writing blog, you might have seen that I actually soft-launched the book yesterday, to ensure that everything was up and functional in time for today. And even though I got a lot of awesome encouragement from the few people who picked up an early copy yesterday, I knew that things wouldn’t feel REAL until today. Until I wrote this post. Until I made all the announcements, did my happy/disbelief dance, and got to say offically–OFFICIALLY–that my book is published. And that I am an author.

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See, I’m not what you’d call a finisher. Oh, sure, I’m a great starter. I’ve got ideas and ambitions and things I want to try coming out the wazoo. I want to do and be EVERYTHING: painter, singer, public speaker, successful entrepreneur, photographer, blogger, writer, fashion model, makeup artist. The list goes on and on… and on. But all most of those things have ever amounted to is entirely too much money wasted on supplies/equipment I no longer use, and many, many, MANY unfinished projects. That’s just how I’ve always been. A kickstarter with no follow-through. I’ve got ALL THE HOBBIES, I’ve been in and out of jobs since I graduated from college–I even switched majors halfway through… To be honest, writing this blog is the only endeavor I’ve actually taken on that I’ve stuck with for any significant length of time. So I guess credit where credit’s due, because evidently along with all my self-awareness and self-reflection and general musings up in here, I’ve also learned a little bit about perseverance. Go figure.

This is my book’s launch day. THIS, finally, is a deadline that I have met. For maybe the first time in my entire life, I did something I said I was going to do. I said I would write & publish a book by December 2012, and I did. I actually did it. And that, right there, is an amazing thing. Regardless of whether tons of people end up buying my book, regardless of whether anyone even likes it, I did what I set out to do. And I literally have never been more proud of myself. Not when I lost those first pounds, not when I got under 200-pounds for the first time since high school, not when I ran a relay across Massachusetts. No, this.

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I feel like I’ve been sprinting towards this very day for the past 6 months (not to mention the whole 24 years prior to that), so to say that I’m having some difficulties in processing the fact that the book is ACTUALLY PUBLISHED… well, it’s putting it lightly. Well, perhaps difficulty isn’t the right word to use, but I kind of used up all of my words when I spent 83,512 on my novel (yep, that’s the final word count. Crazy, right?) so you’ll have to forgive me. Really, the only thing that’s difficult about what is pretty much single-handedly the most exciting time of my life, is that I keep bursting into tears at random intervals as I write this post, and it’s making it rather hard to keep my train of thought on track.

Don’t worry, they’re happy tears. The happiest, really. The I-can’t-believe-I-made-it kind. The kind that make you literally pinch yourself–because even though you know it’s just an old cliched saying, you think, just this once, maybe you really are dreaming and you just don’t know it.

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Thank you, to everyone who helped me make this a reality. In particular, thanks goes out to my editor and general muse, Aileen, without whom Terra would be a completely different kind of beast. (Seriously, you guys would have been retching from the amount of sappy, saccharine cheesiness in the book, haha. What can I say? I love me some cheese!) And to my brother and sister, for whom I think the dedication above speaks well enough. (Click on the picture for a larger image if you can’t read it, and prepare to “aww.”) But also, just thank YOU. You, my blog readers, who have been endlessly supportive with regard to so many different aspects of my life. This would not be happening if it weren’t for you.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Terra, just click here to see a list of all the places it’s currently available, or follow one of these links:

Kindle
Nook
Kobo
Paperback

It’s $9.99 for the paperback, and at a special price of $4.99 right now for the eBook! Support for iBooks and Google Books will be following, hopefully soon! Oh, and the paperback version hasn’t been linked to Amazon yet, but word is that will be happening shortly as well. So again, thank you. For your support, for your encouragement, and just for coming along for the ride.

<3,
Gretchen