A whole big heaping pile of OMG.

Okay, if you follow me on Twitter or have friended me on Facebook (*ahem* –>), then you may have already heard I sold my novel to K Teen (the new YA imprint of Kensington Books) this week.

I am over the moon.

Over. The. Moon.

I almost can’t think straight.

First off, the book sold at auction. Let me tell you, if you’re ever trying to sell a novel, let it be at auction. Because that is the absolute most fun I’ve ever had in my whole entire life.

Wait. Sorry, honey.

It’s in the top five, okay?

My editor is Alicia Condon, and we had a conversation the other day, and I feel like I’ve known her my entire life. She’s amazing, and I feel like she gets me. I’m so excited to be working with her.

But really, it didn’t feel real until I saw the listing on Publisher’s Marketplace. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s where book deals are announced. Here’s what mine said:

February 2, 2011
Young Adult

Brigid Kemmerer’s ELEMENTAL, in which a girl becomes entangled with four brothers who control the elements and their battle with those who want them dead, to Alicia Condon at K Teen, in a three-book deal, at auction, by Tamar Rydzinski at the Laura Dail Literary Agency (World English). 

That’s my book. Can you believe it? THAT’S MY BOOK.

This has been so amazing.

But you know what? No one writes a book alone. Sure, I put some words on the page, but there are a lot of people who made them better:

Michael Kemmerer: My best friend, my confidant, my hero, my husband, you are the most amazing person I could ever want to spend my life with. I am so lucky to have you. Now get ready for the house to be an effing mess for six months, because I have a sequel to write.

Tamar Rydzinski: My absolutely fantastic agent. I’m so lucky to have her in my corner. I totally couldn’t have done this without her help. I’ll never forget messing up my partial manuscript way back when I was querying. (She asked for the first 50 pages. I sent 30 double spaced and 20 single spaced. What kind of idiot does that? Especially after reading an agent’s blog THAT VERY MORNING about making careless mistakes? *sheepishly raises hand*) But now, look where it’s gotten me.

Bobbie Goettler: You, lady, have been with me since way, way, way back. You remember when the four brothers were vampires, living in a totally different story. You remember when my first novel was 135,000 words long. You have read every word at least six times (sometimes seven), and you’ve been patient and encouraging and insightful and there’s no WAY this book would be succeeding without you. You helped me through marriage, pregnancy, childbirth, parenting….you’re amazing. You have been my closest friend forever now, and you’ve been so much more than a critique partner. You’ve been a friend, a mother, a sister, and I can’t imagine going through this without you.

Sarah Maas: My agency sister!! (You know how they say brother-from-another-mother? They need one for girls. Sister-from-another-mister? That sounds…sick. But you know where I’m going with this.) I’m so glad we found each other, and I’m so lucky to be going through this whole publication journey with you. You’re an amazing cheerleader, and an awesome friend, and I can’t believe you put up with my bazillion texts. Seriously. A bazillion. You are a rock star.

Alison Kemper Beard: Alison! I can’t believe I lucked out when you sent me the first few pages of your manuscript! And then I forgot to read them, and you had to remind me! (Look people, you might not find true love on the internet, but you can totally find badass friends.) Alison, I’m so lucky we’ve become friends and critique partners, because it’s been so much fun going through this journey with you. I think you and Bobbie deserve a medal for reading my entire MS over the course of one weekend. With critiques! Now go send some more queries!!

There are like sixteen hundred other people who helped me along the way (Nanci, Gordon, Jenny, Tina, Christina, Renee, Kathy, Michelle, Stevie, Kit, Ally, my Twitter friends, my Facebook friends who are sick of my status updates about writing, every single person reading this post … OMG, I’m totally going to forget someone, and you can punch me later…)

My dream is starting to come true, and you’re all a part of it. All of you.

Thank you. So much. 

~

Men at War: Redux

This is a repeat, sort of. I first published the latter half of this back in July, so if you’ve been with me for a while, you’ve seen some of it already.

With Christmas coming, I’ve been thinking a lot about the soldiers stationed all over the world. I have sons, and I have a brother, and I wonder what it would be like to not see them for the holidays, to know they’re out there, in combat, and they might not make it home.

I might not make it to the end of this post without crying.

If you’re related to a soldier, or if you know a soldier, tell them thank you, from me.

Here’s the repeat part:

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen the video of the American soldiers who did a spoof video of Lady Gaga’s hit song, “Telephone.”

In case you haven’t, here it is:

Slightly less popular (but not really), is the version of Israeli soldiers doing their own video to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.”

Now look. I’m the last person to talk about politics, foreign policy, and whether we should have soldiers in Afghanistan or anywhere else. Seriously, the last. I don’t like to debate politics, and I don’t like when people (hi, mom!) force me to listen to their position ad nauseum. That’s not what this is about. Feel free to rant about politics and the injustices of war in the comments, just don’t expect me to participate.

But I keep thinking about these two videos. A lot. Really, they both feature young men being silly. Men from completely different countries, completely different continents, hell, completely different belief systems.

Doing the exact same thing.

I know we’re not at war with the Israelis. It’s not like the Christmas Truce, which I’ll never forget reading about in middle school, when soldiers from opposing sides laid down their weapons on Christmas Day.

But it’s a very subtle reminder that we’re all human at our core. That people everywhere like to be silly, and goof off, and have fun. That young people don’t always make the best choices — like posting crazy videos on the internet. As recently as twenty years ago, it was easy to think of opposing forces in simple terms: us versus them. They’re weird on the other side of the world, we’d think. Right? We don’t understand them. They aren’t like us. It makes it easier to accept what’s happening over there.

This one is going to sit with me for a while. We can talk about Osama bin Laden and WMD’s and terrorism and airport security until we’re blue in the face. But that just removes the human element from it all. The people fighting these wars are really just boys who love playing sports and roughhousing and getting a new high score on the newest release of Call of Duty. Boys who miss their wives and their kids and their moms, boys who have cried on shoulders and thrown sticks and built forts and swam in rivers and made spoof videos of pop songs.

And I’m not just talking about our boys. Our American boys.

I’m talking about their boys too.

~

Here’s my tale of thanks…

I found out I was pregnant in the fall of 2006.

I was married, of course. Michael and I had tied the knot in May, and we knew we wanted to get pregnant right away. Actually, we’d been planning to wait until the following spring, but at dinner a few nights before the wedding, Mike said, “Let’s not wait until spring. Let’s just do it.”

So we just did it.

I’m not a hypochondriac, and I’m not one of these women who obsesses over everything she eats during her pregnancy. I just don’t have that kind of temperament. But by February, I started thinking there might be something wrong. I was having terrible headaches, and I couldn’t sleep. I went to my doctor, and he told me everything was fine, I just needed to relax.

At the end of February, Michael and I went to Orlando for a week with some friends. We saw the Daytona 500 (a miserable experience for me, since the weather was 40 degrees and windy, and I only had Capri pants and a sweatshirt) and went to Disney World. I’m a good traveler — I went around to all the rides and got express passes so the others could ride the big roller coasters. Then I would sit on warm benches and read books while they were riding the rides. We had a really nice time.

I was also working full time during that period, and because my team had changed firms, I was extremely busy, and under a tremendous amount of stress. I was pulling 60 hour weeks, and I’d come home and crash.

I still knew something was wrong with my pregnancy. I kept having headaches, and I kept going to the doctor, and he kept telling me I was fine. It was in my head. He said my mother, who is a nurse, was telling me things to make me nervous. My due date was placed at June 18, 2007.

My headaches got worse. I was so swollen, people at work were starting to comment on how bad I looked. I had a baby shower in mid-April, and no one could believe how swollen my feet and hands were. Speculations were made whether I’d need to cut my rings off.

When we left that baby shower, I asked my mom to drive us home, because my headaches were tremendous. She drove — straight to her house, where she went in to get her blood pressure cuff.

My blood pressure was 175/100, very, very high for a pregnant woman.

My mom and my husband rushed me to the ER. This was mid-April, so I was only about 32 weeks pregnant. At the ER, they diagnosed preeclampsia, and they decided they would induce labor, but they were calling my doctor to have him come in.

He did come in. He came in and yelled at me, ordered them to stop inducing labor, and sent me home. I’d been in the hospital all night, with numerous professionals telling me I had preeclampsia, and then he comes in and says it’s all in my head, and my mom was just making me nervous. He told me to come see him in the office the next day.

So I did. Mom went with me. We watched the girl take my blood pressure. The girl said, “Absolutely fine. 120 over 80.” As soon as the girl left, mom said, “She lied.”

I knew she’d lied, too. Growing up with a nurse for a mother, I also knew how to read the dial on a blood pressure cuff.

The doctor still insisted everything was fine. We smiled and nodded and went home. I started researching preeclampsia, and found an incredible support network on www.preeclampsia.org. With everyone there telling me my doctor might be nuts, I went with my gut instinct and called a high-risk OB in Annapolis and asked for an appointment. The girl said, “Well, for pregnancy, we’re scheduled out for 12 weeks.”

I said, “Well, I’m due in 7 weeks, here’s the situation, I really need a second opinion.”

She could have brushed me off. But she put me on hold, spoke to a doctor, and fit me in for an appointment the next day. I didn’t tell anyone I made this appointment.

That night, I went to dinner with my husband, and we talked about everything that was going on. My husband, who is a wonderful man, said, very gently, “Hon, do you think maybe everything is in your head?”

I said no, that I knew something was going on. I couldn’t keep anything from him, so I broke down and told him that I’d made an appointment with another doctor for the next day. I said I wasn’t going to give the doctor my history, that I was just going to have him look at hard data (blood pressure, urine, etc) and see what he thought.

When I went to the office, I found out that I’d been scheduled with one of the head OB’s in the practice, and he’d actually postponed leaving for vacation so he could fit me in. When I sat down with his nurse, she took my blood pressure. It was 180/105, and I’ll never forget her frowning and saying, “I think I need to get another cuff. This is reading really high.”

The other cuff got the same reading, of course.

They tested my urine, which immediately came up as 3+, which means there’s a lot of protein, one of the key indicators of preeclampsia. The doctor did an ultrasound, and said that the baby’s head measured as 34 weeks, right on target, but the body only measured as 30 weeks. He said that was also indicative of preeclampsia, because the body starts sending all the nutrients to form the baby’s brain, because the placenta is starting to fail.

The doctor said his opinion was to admit me immediately, run some more tests, and induce labor the next day.

It was a new hospital, a new doctor, and a new labor unit. But I agreed. What was I going to do, go back to the doctor who said it was all in my head?

I’ll never forget calling my husband from the hallway outside the doctor’s office, telling him they were admitting me. It took the admissions nurse six tries to start an IV because I was so swollen. I weighed 236 pounds at admission, and a huge percentage of that was fluid. After they induced labor and they wanted to start an epidural (which is a needle that goes beside your spine), the anesthesiologist said, “I have to warn you, because you’re so swollen, there’s a possibility the needle could cause paralysis.”

Because I was 6 weeks early, they wanted to try for a normal delivery, to force the fluid from the baby’s lungs. I agreed to the risk, because he said it was better than injecting me with Ketamine, because that could cause more difficulties for the baby. Unfortunately, once they induced labor, the fetal heartbeat started to plummet. Fetal distress, I think they called it. So they rushed me in for a C-Section. The epidural hadn’t had time to take effect. They injected Ketamine anyway, and they pulled the baby out.

Nicholas Parker Kemmerer was born at 12:14am, May 4, 2007.

I didn’t learn until later that his APGAR score at birth was a 1. I didn’t get to hold him. He was immediately rushed to the NICU, and I was stitched up and sent to recovery. I was told I couldn’t see my son until I calmed down and my blood pressure went down. So I held back on my tears and sent my husband to the NICU just about every five minutes.

I finally got to hold Nicholas that night, almost 24 hours after he’d been born. He weighed five pounds, and he had wires everywhere, including a feeding tube that went down his nose.

I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything strenuous, what with the 20 staples across my abdomen, but the NICU was on a separate floor from Labor & Delivery, so I made numerous trips up and down the stairs. I brought books to read, and I’d sit in the rocking chair next to his incubator and read. It was right before Mothers Day, so there were dozens of commercials on television, and every single one would make me sob.

They told me Nick might be in the NICU for six weeks.

He’s a strong kid. They released him after 8 days.

Nick is three-and-a-half now, and I love him to pieces.

But I owe my thanks to all the the people on those message boards, and all the doctors and nurses at Annapolis OB/GYN and Annapolis Medical Center, most especially, Dr. Fred Guckes, the amazing doctor who saw me and made the initial decision to admit me, and Dr. Pablo Argeles, the amazing physician who ultimately delivered Nicholas. Both these doctors saved Nick’s life and mine.

I will never forget them, and I owe them more thanks than I could ever express.

Thanks, guys. You are all amazing.

Prince Charming

My husband, Michael, proposed on a Thursday evening, on the couch in our apartment. He was totally slick about it too. We’d occasionally talked about getting married, and we’d started looking at houses, but nothing really serious at that point. Thursday nights had always been our “date night.” (Even still, I try to be home on Thursdays so we can crash on the couch and watch TV together.)

So we’re sitting there, and I think I was in my sweats, and he makes some offhand comment like, “So how would you want the proposal to go? Would you want a lot of fanfare or something?”

And I remember tilting my head back to look at the ceiling and saying something like, “No, I don’t think there needs to be a lot of fanfare. I think it’s about the moment, and the people. That’s what really matters in a relationship.”

He said, “Good. Because I bought a ring…”

What was the first thing I did? I put some clothes on and ran to the nail salon. Then he took me to dinner at Famous Daves, and then to Borders to buy some wedding books and magazines. What? I like ribs and I like bookstores.

We Kemmerers are practical people.

I remember reading somewhere that your relationship with your spouse has to come before your relationship with anyone else. Even before your children. Because one day your kids are going to be grown and out the door, and you’re going to be looking at someone you haven’t talked to in 20 years. I think about that a lot.

We’ve been hit with some bad karma in the Kemmerer house lately. Both cars broke down. (Mine isn’t even very old.) Our AC went up. We discovered a leak under our kitchen sink that was caused by a broken garbage disposal. The leak had been going on for some time, and the entire cabinet base had been destroyed, not to mention needing to replace the disposal itself. Our entire basement flooded, destroying the carpet and most of Nick’s toys, and insurance wouldn’t pick up a dime. Last Thursday, Mike was driving into his office parking lot, and a construction truck backed right into his car.

So yeah. It’s been a crappy six weeks.

But you know what? I feel closer to my husband than I ever have. When we discovered the basement had flooded, it was a really low point for us. We weren’t sure how to clean up a mess of that magnitude (especially considering we have a three year old running around). We weren’t sure what we were going to do financially. But we talked each other off the proverbial ledge, then we rolled up our sleeves and dealt with it.

Together.

Now the basement looks badass awesome, by the way. (Let me give a little shout-out to Empire Today.)

People make a big deal out of the fanfare, and that’s okay. A guy in my office set up this huge, elaborate proposal for the woman who is now his wife. He wanted to make it snow in July, so he put fake snow on the ceiling fan, and set up a Christmas tree, and dressed up in a suit, then woke up early in the morning…hell, I don’t remember it all. But I think he actually had a list. He loves his wife, and it’s special that he put so much effort into it.

But that’s not really where you find the true love.

When I was in my 20’s, a doctor put me on a Holter Monitor. If you’ve never seen one of these, it’s basically a small machine that’s about the size of a paperback, with long wires that attach to your chest so it can track your heart rhythms for 24 hours. You can’t shower or take it off while you’re wearing it. I remember coming home from the doctor’s office, getting changed for bed, then going out to sit on the couch with Mike. I was feeling really low: I was worried about my heart, and I looked like this freakish cyborg. I didn’t even say anything about it, but as soon as I sat down, Mike looked at me and said, “You’re so beautiful.”

That’s a moment. That’s where you find the true love.

~

(See, honey? I don’t just write about old boyfriends. So suck it.)

Wild and crazy

When I was in high school, I was best friends for a while with this girl named Chrissy. We were opposites in a lot of ways. Her parents were divorced, mine were not. She and her mom lived with her grandfather and didn’t have two nickels to rub together. (That might be a bit of an exaggeration since we both went to a private girls’ school, but I do recall the lack of money being a theme of conversation in that house.) I lived in a massive house on an acre of land and was given my own car when I was sixteen.

She was hot.

I was not.

She was into music and television and boys. She knew about makeup and hair and how to look gorgeous. I remember going to Ocean City with her one summer. I wore an old one piece bathing suit that I’d grabbed off the rack because it fit comfortably. I didn’t plan to meet boys — I planned to read a book on the beach. She wore a tiny bikini, daisy duke shorts, and a plaid button down shirt knotted under her breasts. I was with her when she bought those shorts on the boardwalk, and I’ll never forget her wearing them as we walked along the wood planks, and she kept asking me, “Are you sure these aren’t too short? Are you sure they look okay?” Over and over again.

A college guy walking a few feet in front of us turned around, gave her a pretty clear up-and-down, and then gave her a thumbs up. She giggled and blushed.

I was so jealous.

But we were best friends. I wasn’t really jealous of her. I was jealous of what I didn’t have.

That sounds ridiculous now, especially after you read that first paragraph. I had so much. But she had the looks, the body, the boys drooling after her. Not only didn’t I have it, I didn’t know how to get it.

When I was sixteen, my parents took in a foster kid. His name was Randy, and I don’t know his full story. I don’t even remember his last name. I do know he was a friend of my brothers, and a year younger than me. My parents took him in because he told them he was being abused in his first foster home or something like that. He was good looking, in that dangerous, devil-may-care kind of way. Hair a little too long, a piercing or two, eyes that had seen way too much.

Wait. Don’t get excited. I just realized where this sounds like it’s going. Nothing ever happened between Randy and me.

Though once he had a girl over, and they were supposedly playing video games in the basement. Dad sent me down to fetch them for dinner, so I went down there. All the lights were off, and they were under a blanket. You want some real proof of my teenage naivete? I just thought they were cold. I didn’t figure out what they were doing down there until years later.

My dad knew. Randy didn’t live with us long after that.

But once I had Chrissy over, and we were goofing off, getting dressed up in slutty clothes, doing makeup, going through my closet. Randy came up to talk to us. I know now he was probably hitting on Chrissy, but I don’t think that’s relevant to this story. Since Chrissy and I were all tarted up, we decided to play a joke on my brother. Randy was in on it. We told Patrick (my brother) that we were secretly going to downtown Baltimore to meet some guys who could get us into this dance club.

Really, we were going a mile down the road to McDonald’s.

Patrick believed us. Apparently we were a little too convincing, because my little brother got worried.

He told my mother.

Now, this was in the day before everyone over the age of ten had a cell phone. Mom couldn’t just ring us up and say, “Get your butts back to the house.”

For some reason, she didn’t have a car. My dad was out of town, and I think her car was in the shop. So when we left, she had no means of transportation.

Now, in retrospect, if my mom had been thinking clearly, she would have realized there was no possible way I could have been going to downtown Baltimore. I didn’t have the first clue how to get there. I can barely get past the Inner Harbor NOW, and I’m 32 years old. When I was sixteen? You might as well have said we were driving to New York City.

But my mom tends to worry about her one and only daughter, and she had a full blown panic attack. Randy swore he told her that we were only going the McDonald’s, and some part of her brain must have registered a thread of truth, because that’s where she found us. She got a neighbor to drive her.

I will never forget her walking into that McDonald’s, tears streaming down her face. She was sobbing so hard she was barely coherent.

God, I’m going to start crying now thinking about it.

It took hours of apologizing and explaining for her to forgive me.

As a parent, now, I understand her reaction. When I was a teenager, I thought she was a few degrees shy of crazy. Sometimes I wonder if it didn’t happen that way because I secretly wanted it to. If I was just playing a trick on my brother, why wouldn’t I incorporate my mom into the joke?

I heard a study on the radio the other day. It revealed that teenagers are still using tobacco products as much as they were ten years ago. When they interviewed teens, it was revealed that tobacco was viewed as a safe way to rebel.

You won’t go to jail for smoking. It doesn’t impair your judgment. It doesn’t immediately harm you. You can smoke and do just about anything else at the same time, without consequence. (I mean, you can’t flick your ashes into a gas can, but you know what I mean.) Cigarettes are relatively cheap and easy to come by.

It’s a vice, and it’s frowned upon. It’s a “safe” way to rebel.

Kind of like dressing in slutty clothes, ready to party in the city–then just going to McDonald’s to share a milkshake and a large order of fries.

~

Men at war

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen the video of the American soldiers who did a spoof video of Lady Gaga’s hit song, “Telephone.”

In case you haven’t, here it is:

Slightly less popular (but not really), is the version of Israeli soldiers doing their own video to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.”

Now look. I’m the last person to talk about politics, foreign policy, and whether we should have soldiers in Afghanistan or anyone else. Seriously, the last. I don’t like to debate politics, and I don’t like when people (hi, mom!) force me to listen to their position ad nauseum. That’s not what this is about. Feel free to rant about politics and the injustices of war in the comments, just don’t expect me to participate.

But I keep thinking about these two videos. A lot. Really, they both feature young men being silly. Men from completely different countries, completely different continents, hell, completely different belief systems.

Doing the exact same thing.

I know we’re not at war with the Israelis. It’s not like the Christmas Truce, which I’ll never forget reading about in middle school, when soldiers from opposing sides laid down their weapons on Christmas Day.

But it’s a very subtle reminder that we’re all human at our core. That people everywhere like to be silly, and goof off, and have fun. That young people don’t always make the best choices — like posting crazy videos on the internet. As recently as twenty years ago, it was easy to think of opposing forces in simple terms: us versus them. They’re weird on the other side of the world, we’d think. Right? We don’t understand them. They aren’t like us. It makes it easier to accept what’s happening over there.

This one is going to sit with me for a while. We can talk about Osama bin Laden and WMD’s and terrorism and airport security until we’re blue in the face. But that just removes the human element from it all. The people fighting these wars are really just boys who love playing sports and roughhousing and getting a new high score on the newest release of Call of Duty. Boys who miss their wives and their kids and their moms, boys who have cried on shoulders and thrown sticks and built forts and swam in rivers and made spoof videos of pop songs.

And I’m not just talking about our boys. Our American boys.

I’m talking about their boys too.

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