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I have the most wonderful husband in the world, and Garlic Jim’s has the tastiest gluten-free pizza. Yesterday, after a long day at work and a fun-filled Tin Pencil meeting, the question of what to fix for dinner hung in the air on the car ride home. It was after 8:30pm already, and I asked my husband, David, if I should fix nachos.

“No, I don’t really feel like nachos tonight,” he said to the windshield.

David has never turned down nachos before and it caught me by surprise. But no matter. Then, when we got home and I was finally able to give him a proper hello, I noticed something else strange.

“Did you have garlic for lunch?” I asked, pulling away. Earlier that day, he had told me he’d had fast food.

“No,” David said, giving me a confused look. He started test-smelling his shirt and then turned his nose toward me. “Maybe it’s your hair.”

I laughed doubtfully and went to the kitchen, my bat senses tingling. The final three clues came in quick succession. I started looking in the fridge and searching the cupboards when David interrupted me.

“Let’s go get in comfy clothes,” he said.

“Aren’t you hungry?” I asked, baffled that Mr. Hollow Legs would delay an already late dinner a moment longer than necessary.

“I really want to go change,” he insisted.

I made my way to our bedroom and then realized he wasn’t with me. Clue one.

“Where did you go?” I hollered.

“Be right there!”

And then I heard it. The beep of the kitchen timer being set. Clue two. When he appeared by my side a moment later, I eyed him suspiciously.

“What did you do?” I asked with a grin. “Is there something in the oven?”

“No!” he said, unconvincingly.

“What did you make?” I was jumping up and down now, a childish tendency that I can’t seem to suppress when David is around.

“I didn’t make anything,” he said. This time I knew he was telling the truth and that this was the third clue.

I didn’t dare hope. Could it be pizza? I was afraid to ask but did anyway and he told me to go look in the oven. It wasn’t just gluten-free pizza, it was THE BEST gluten-free (non-homemade) pizza I’ve ever tasted (and have only ever had once before). Garlic Jim’s! David had gone there for lunch as part of a work thing and brought a pizza home for dinner. What a guy! Honestly, I wonder how I ever got so lucky.

By the way, for anyone who’d like to spread the pizzawesomeness, Garlic Jim’s is a franchise. Please, someone open one in Spokane (the closest one is nearly an hour away)!


Since I was a kid I’ve written New Year’s resolutions, and for the last, oh, ten years there has been at least one resolution regarding writing. Sometimes it pertains to setting aside more time to write, a couple times my publishing aspirations surfaced with the resolution to “get novel published!” when it should have read “make novel publishable.” This year I was much more specific.

1. Distribute Reader Copies of Novel By the Second Week of January.

As the holidays approached, I was also nearing the completion of my novel — for REAL this time. The outline had taken me a year, the first draft another year, and for the next five years the story alternated between the shelf and the editing block, moving to the back burner as my focus shifted to The Wizard Rockumentary. But after several consequent drafts and a complete rewrite of the first six chapters, I felt that the story was finally ready to set out into the world. But querying agents is a big deal and I didn’t want to mess it up. So I set deadlines for myself. I resolved to read through the novel twice more and make any necessary changes and then distribute reader copies for outside critique.

Everyone knows how difficult it is to wait… waiting to hear from my friends and family what they thought of my novel (some had read a previous version years ago, others had never read it at all) was, I think, even harder than the waiting I’m doing now: waiting to hear back from agents. But I’ll never forget how much easier my friend Kate made things for me. She sent me an email after reading each chapter to tell me what parts she liked and if there were areas that needed more attention. For about a week, I got a handful of emails a day (and the occasional phone call). It was delightful to get to share in her excitement and hear her theories of what was going to happen next, while chuckling to myself over how surprised she would be.

2. Compile List of Agents and Start Sending Out Query Letters the First Week of February.

I’ve been a longtime fan of several agents’ blogs and they are, obviously, great resources for finding out what agents are looking for in a query. At least as far as what information to include, their prefered format and submission guides, etc. But even if you were to do everything right with your query letter, it still gets down to whether they connect with your story. Scary! No one likes rejection, but luckily I’m a Gryffindor and I don’t scare that easily.

My query letter went through a few rounds of peer review and editing, and I am so glad that I didn’t skip this step. It was incredible the varied feedback I received, and since I had never met any of these folks I would be querying it seemed like I should take all strong reactions into account. When I had thought the letter was polished, I sent it to another member of my writing group for a last look-over, and she asked me out to coffee so she could gently tell me that the letter hadn’t excited her in the slightest. I was so grateful! (Thanks, Sue!) I went back and rewrote it again and was amazed by how much more I liked it too. The greatest challenge in writing the query was that, for me, each detail I included about the story represented a much bigger picture, and it was difficult to remember that all the agent would see was that one detail.

So now I get to wait and see what happens, and as a bonus I’ve actually kept my New Year’s resolutions this year, if you don’t count the resolution to get up early each morning and stretch out before work. That one only lasted about a week.

Mallory Battista’s Blog

Notes from an aspiring author, artist, and occasional gluten-free cook.

Storytelling isn’t just a thing to do, it is a way of seeing the world.

I am a storyteller. I live as though I am a hero on a quest and I strive to treat every person that crosses my path as the main character of an equally complex and exciting story. I find joy when their paths overlap with mine, and though some encounters are fleeting and others last a lifetime, I see the importance of each one to the continuation of Life's plot. I am grateful for the adversity that is set before me, as it makes me a more well-rounded character and adds challenge and excitement to my journey. And I always, ALWAYS have faith in happy endings.

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