So, this afternoon, I finished tying up loose ends and making sure I didn't have any unfinished scenes and saved the completed manuscript. It tallies in at 130,111 words, 325 single-spaced pages and I wish it were longer so I could put more personality into certain minor characters, but ding-dong, the witch is dead and all that!
Now comes the official nightmare of looking for an agent/publisher/someone to not laugh their guts out at my expense. I'm told I'll probably have to cut 1/4 of it, but that's for later. For now, I'm leaving it alone for 3 days. On the fourth day, I will open that file again and read it all the way through to see if I still like it.
In the meantime, first draft of acknowledgments. For the sake of privacy, I'll go by initials, but you should be able to figure out who you are if you're in here:
The dedication goes to my first acknowledgee, H. who is not only the aunt of the "original" Ella Mack, but who is the gorgeous blonde in those pictures from Philadelphia. She let me haul her around a perfectly good tourist city in hunt of things like a course selection guide and pictures of random street corners on 16th Street. She also was the first person who gushed about my story to someone else, which was a huge thing for me.
She goes hand-in-hand with K. K. is the first one I told about my pneumonia-induced nightmare about the Crossmen. She kept track of what I'd mentioned in passing, corrected my continuity and fed me too often to be ignored, whether it was discussing our plot bunnies over spaghetti with peanut sauce or inviting me out to Demae. She even let me borrow her second laptop for a night when I desperately needed to escape my apartment. And she introduced me to the addictive parkour videos.
L-A., A.F. and D. are the unholy trinity of muses. D. was the person I based Julie off of originally when I wrote my very first draft of the opening scene that is now three chapters into the book. By the time I got through chapter 13, I figured out that she more resembled L-A. But Julie still has D.'s taste in music, crafty abilities and natural sense of friendship. A.F. was unexpected, since I started writing his namesake well before I met him and was contemplating changing that character's name when I decided to base him off of A.F.
R.H. gets a nod for coming up with a really cool name for a character--Kendra Tenbura--and harassing me a lot to keep me on my toes about other character names.
R.R. gets the cheerleader award for introducing me to everyone as "Ish--do you know she's written ___________ words on a fantastically interesting novel?"
I can't forget M., my sister-in-law, of course. She was always the one who called me for word wars and only occasionally complained that I was writing too fast. She is getting to read it before everyone else, if her husband successfully delivers the file to her when he gets back from a business trip.
Thanks go to the unnamed helpful people at Central High School and Our Mother of Consolation who put up with more than the usual amount of questions and gave darn good answers.
And finally, thanks go to Google, Wikipedia and Babynames.com for their often-instructive search results. Thanks go to a former customer who cemented my choice in names for the main character.