The Zen Test (or: Karma's a Beyotch) By Lisa

If you've been following along lately, you know I'm doing the whole "zen" thing. I've become a yogi (OMMMM and all), ditched gluten (after a ferocious two-week battle, I've accepted my fate) and write my daily affirmations requests to the Universe. In a nutshell, I'm trying to be freakin' positive!

So why am I attracting so many "angries" a.k.a. angry people? You'd think in my new rose-colored, glass is half-full state of mind, the the only folks who'd approach me would be presenting flowers or offerings of peace and good fortune. Not spewing profanities and giving me the universal sign for f**k  you!

I believe in karma. And when they say it's a bitch, I believe 'em. (Whoever they are.) So I can only think that back in my angrier days (and there were MANY of them) I went a little too far. And now maybe I'm getting my payback... But even though I've been there (believe me- giving up gluten can make you want to go on a rampage taking out every wheat eater in your path) I still have to ask, what the hell are people so damn angry about? You angries are really testin' my zen!

Incident #1 happened at Whole Foods. Whole. Foods. You know, the organic, healthy store full of everything from yoga mats to things I'd never heard of until two months ago, like kale? I mean you can hardly push your cart two feet without running into a book on meditation or  some beautiful fresh flowers.  Call me crazy, but shouldn't the shoppers fit the store? Here's the 411:

The angry perp: She was blonde and beautiful. Upon first glance, you'd think she was a former JCrew model. But when she opened her mouth, she became the ugliest person on the planet.

Let's call her Angry Annie.

I started to back out of my parking space, but upon further consideration, pulled back in and shoved it into park. I needed to program my beloved Gabby GPS. I heard a honk. I glanced over my shoulder to see Angry Annie behind the wheel of her SUV. I went back to my GPS figuring she'd move along to one of the FIFTEEN SPACES just next to me. When I finally started to back out, there she was, walking toward me. "Just back the f**k up, lady!" she screamed. Well, I did what any self-respecting person in a parking lot war would do. I rolled my window down and in my sweetest voice asked her, "May I ask what's wrong?"

"I waited for you to back out and you never did!!!!"

Staring at her in disbelief, I was half-amazed at how wildly unattractive she became in the span of five seconds and the other part amazed that someone could be so mad about a parking space. But as I stared into her black eyes, we both knew it wasn't about the space. It never is.

I told her I was programming my GPS and she scoffed, "Yeah right!" (What did she think I was doing, Facebooking? Um, it's been known to happen, but not that day!) And then she stormed off.

I rolled down my other window and called after her, "I sincerely hope you find peace in your life." And I actually really meant it. Either that, or I hoped she'd get an enema and then have someone pull the broom stick out of her ass.

Incident #2 happened while I was pulling out of the gym. And I'm embarrassed to admit, again involved poor Gabby GPS.

Here's the 411: I was leaving a yoga class and turning right onto a busy street. There was a long stream of cars coming my way so I took the opportunity to program Gabby. A few seconds later, I heard honking so I promptly pulled out onto the road. Suddenly, a car swerves around me and cuts me off, blaring the horn all the way. When I saw the car pulling into the gas station, I couldn't help it, I broke into an evil smile. Looked like we had the same destination.

The angry perp: He was in his mid-thirties and actually pretty cute. But just like Annie, as soon as he opened his mouth, looked like The Mask.

Let's call him Mad Max (or Mask)

"You need to get off your f*****g cell phone!" He screamed at me as I stepped out of the car.

I was suddenly frozen in place. To his right, appeared his four-year-old son. And when Mad Max opened the back door of the car, I heard wailing screams from his two-year-old strapped in the car seat.

"You should be ashamed of yourself" I heard myself say. "Driving like that with kids in the car."

"Whatever!" he scoffed.

Later, I ran into him and his two sons after they got their car washed and were shopping for snacks. (So, um, Mad Max, you were in such a fervent rush to get some TWIZZLERS?) So, I dug deep and pulled out something nice to say to the man who had clearly taken his bad day out on me. "I sincerely hope your day gets better." And I meant it. No one, not even Mad Max, should be that mad.

I was on my way to an acupuncture appointment when the Mad Max incident happened. As she stuck needles in my body, I asked my acupuncturist why, with everything I've been doing, I'm attracting this type of negativity. She simply said, "It's not about you."

And I know she's right. But it's hard not to let stranger anger get to me. It's so much easier said than done to, like it says in THE POWER OF NOW, not let the negativity go through me. But I'm working on it. And in the spirit of good will and staying present and not letting my ego take over and all that jazz, I say to angry people like Max and Annie who feel the need to attack perfect strangers to feel better, I hope you find happiness. Or at the very least, a better way to release your frustration. Might I suggest getting laid?

(Sorry, but the zen will always be tempered with sarcasm and humor.)

xoxo, Lisa

Writing Wednesday- Query Quandary

Some might say climbing Mt. Everest is an accomplishment. Others might argue that a true victory is winning a gold medal or being awarded an Oscar.

And although we salute all the incredible people who fall into those categories and agree that those would be amazing achievements, we're not athletic or skilled enough to join them in those ranks so we'll settle for believing that writing a query for our manuscript The D Word is one of the toughest challenges we've ever faced. (Liz would like it duly noted that she deserves a close second for giving birth- twice!)

And to celebrate not only finishing our query, but making it through the process alive (more on that below), we're giving away two $20 itunes gift cards (because music helps us write) and six autographed books by authors who've inspired us-Sarah Pekkanen (THE OPPOSITE OF ME) and Kristin Hannah (WINTER GARDEN). Just leave a comment (you know the drill--we're fabulous, you love us, love the blog, blah, blah...) and you'll  be entered to win.

So back to the query quandary...Condensing the plot of our novel into two paragraphs was only half the battle. Agreeing on what the content of those two sections should be was the other. And although we feel we have an incredibly successful writing partnership, that doesn't discount the cold hard fact that we're both Type-A control freaks who always want to be right.

Let us take you back to the day we decided that we'd each independently take a stab at the query and then reveal our work to the other. In Southern California, it was an El-Nino-esque rainstorm that included a hurricane. In the Chicago 'burbs, it was eighteen degrees, gloomy and included a "delightful" present from Mother Nature- Eight. Inches. Of. Snow.

Cut to Lisa holed up in her house, wrapped in an afghan blanket, tears of sadness spilling down her cheeks as she cried for the sun (okay, so maybe that's a wee bit of an embellishment- there was no afghan). She put in her ipod headphones and typed away as she imagined she was in Maui as she listened to Bob Marley belt out Don't Worry, Be Happy (alright, so maybe she was actually listening to Party in the U.S.A.- don't judge!). When she finished, she smiled broadly. "This is damn good," she said to her fountain of prosperity in the corner. It was time to send it to Liz who was going to be so pleased!

Open email form, attach query, add self-congratulatory quip to Liz, send. Wait....

Two thousand miles away, Liz stared out at the pouring rain, part of her ecstatic that she finally had an excuse to wear her new Burberry wellies, the other half of her semi-panicked that, as a result of the hurricane in SEAL BEACH, her daughter's school was on lockdown. As Jordan Sparks sang in her ears, she wrote fast and furiously, taking the time to pat herself on the back along the way because she was still able to crank out such great content on such a miserable day. It was time to send it to Lisa who was going to be so pleased!

Open email form, attach query, add self-congratulatory quip to Lisa, send. Wait...

I'm sure you see where this story is going. Well, it's safe to say that neither of us were as in love with our partner's work as we were with our own! Lisa got up on her soapbox and actually said the words, "How do you not LOVE this?" and Liz retaliated with, "Um, because mine is So. Much. Better!" For an hour we debated everything- including the true definition of divorce. There was even a particularly ugly moment when someone threatened that both queries should be sent to an "unbiased" party who would decide which one should "win". Finally, exhaustion took hold and the right-fighters agreed to sleep on it.

The next day, with much-needed perspective, fresh attitudes and plenty of caffeine all around, we decided to merge our work.  Over the next week, we methodically deleted, rearranged and reworked until we were as close to satisfied as we were ever going to get. Then, we were lucky enough to have brilliant authors including Allison Winn Scotch, Laura Dave and Sarah Pekkanen agree to review our query and give us invaluable feedback. Thank you, ladies! We are forever indebted to you!

And now as we write this blog post, our query for The D Word is complete and sitting in the inbox of our dream agent.  And now we wait. And wait. And wait some more. And it will probably be harder than when Lisa waited by the home phone (literally) to find out if she'd made the junior varsity cheerleading squad (she didn't-and they FORGOT to call-long story!) or when Liz waited at her graduation lunch for her date  to show up (he never did- even longer story!). But many moons and hopefully more maturity later, we're all about positive thinking- affirmations, fountains and the whole nine yards. And because of that, we know find the right agent to rep us. (That is, if we don't kill each other trying to perfect our synopsis-but that's a whole other blog!)

xoxo, Liz & Lisa