Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bright Spots

Cape Cod Weather Today: Overcast and *warm* - okay, it's 40 degrees, but it feels like a heat wave after the last several days in the teens and twenties. Yesterday was bright and sunny, but only 21 degrees with a chill wind. Today feels balmy and springlike, but like it's gonna rain any minute...

I should be busy working on my revisions - I told my editor I'd have them back to her by the end of the week - but I'm taking a few minutes to chat, especially since my dad says he checks my blog every day for new posts.

Hi Dad!

I received yet another rejection today on my middle grade fantasy, but it was a *really* nice one, urging me to seek another opinion, hopefully from someone with room on his/her roster. My "work certainly has merit, it simply isn't right for his list."

Right after getting home from the post office with that in hand, I read Janet Reid's blog, about going to a book reading and signing, where the author recognized her name. She had rejected his manuscript, saying it had merit, but she didn't know how to sell it. Another agent obviously did. And sold it to a great editor at a big publishing house. And here the author was, signing books for a standing-room only crowd in NYC.

The other "bright spots" in my week were actually in my eyes.

Tuesday night, I had an "occular episode" where I saw a halo of prisms surrounding my vision. It only occured in my left eye, not my right, but the effect was amazing - the rainbow sparkles and distortion of light were fascinating to watch, like when a child squints at the nightlight after bedtime and makes the light sparkle between their eyelashes... it was kinda fun, until the rainbows wouldn't go away.

Then I started to worry.

The sparkling lights lasted for almost twenty whole minutes, before disappearing a suddenly as they arrived. Needless to say I was a little freaked out by it all. I was left with normal vision, but a dull headache, which continued all day yesterday as an unsettled, headachey, oh-no-not-the-flu-again feeling.

I called my doctor. She told me to call an eye doctor Immediately for an Emergency appointment. I got scared.

I looked online for possibilities. Stroke... Hemmorage... Tumor... Retinal Tearing... Retinal Detachment... Surgery... Loss of Eyesight...

Scary. With great trepidation I drove myself to the doctor's office, wondering the whole time if I should even be driving with all the horrible possibilities that could be going on inside my head. Also nagging at me were the revisions sitting on my computer, which hurt to look at. Would I be able to write again? Today? Ever?

Turns out, I'm fine.

According to the eye doctor, what I experienced was an "occular migraine." Not common, but not all that uncommon. There was even a pamphlet about it in the waiting room. They thoroughly checked my vision and the muscles around my eyes for damage, but there was none. I'm fine. My vision is fine. It may happen again, it may not. Should it happen again, I'll know what it is, but they say I should still get it checked out next time, too.

But first I'll enjoy the rainbows, knowing they're not harbingers of doom. Only sparkling lights.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back to Work

Cape Cod Weather Today: Sunny and brisk, 21 degrees, with cotton ball clouds floating by. The sun is rising brightly, and I have high hopes that by the time I need to walk the dogs it'll be warm out there... but that's what I thought yesterday too, not accounting for the chilling wind... brrr... c'mon springtime...

The edits finally came back at the end of last week, during school vacation, so they are still languishing on my computer, waiting for me to open the document and read through what the editor has changed this time around. (I had to get the kids back to school first, before I could think about actual writing work.)

The process is at times painful, but they are minor little pains, not as bad as paper cuts.... a phrase here, a small scene there, add and expand this part... her notes say that I "fixed"most everything in the last round of edits, and this time it's a matter of repeated words or overused adjectives...

But hopefully I'm nearing the end of the path on this process. As my first time through it all, everything seems to take longer than I had imagined. Just like when I finish a manuscript and say "Okay, I'm ready for someone to love this!" and then the rejections start trickling in, slowly chipping away at my sense of self.

For anyone reading this who has experienced this kind of rejection, there's a great website for inspiration called the Write Attitude, at . There are quotes from famous authors and stats on how many times award winning books were rejected before someone finally saw the potential. Plus there are great photos and inspiring music. So if you start getting down on yourself and thinking about quitting, check it out. Or join a writing group to encourage you - everything's easier when you can share your pain.

Winter is hard enough without a big dose of rejection on the side. With the warmer weather approaching, hope springs eternal. Whatever that means.

Enough rambling. I need to get to work.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February Vacation

Cape Cod Weather Today: Partly Cloudy and 30 degrees, but those clouds are still spitting flakes of the white stuff down onto my neighborhood... we got a few inches overnight, enough to blanket the trees and grass, but not enough to really build a snowman...

Is the phrase "February Vacation" an oxymoron or just a cruel joke?

At the very least, it's a misnomer for parents everywhere. Kids home, none of the regular activities, extra-special activities to organize... yeah, no vacation for the parents. But a well-needed break for the kids. Well, I guess my alarm isn't going off at 5:30 a.m. either, so a break for me too. In a way.

I did have things planned, but then the stomach flu which was ravaging the elementary school found its way into my home and devastated not only my Valentine's Day, but ruined my Girl Scout Skating Day and destroyed my Museum of Science Day with my sisters and kids. The flu stinks. Figuratively as well as literally.

The worst part about a vacation week at home is having the kids in your face all day long. The best part about a vacation week at home is spending time with your kids. Go figure. I really enjoy the time we have to walk on the beach together and talk, to catch up on not only what's going on in school but what's going on in their heads. I'm always surprised by how much is twirling around in their inner universes.

Yesterday I dragged my eldest to the mall with me to return a microwave oven (don't ask) but the car ride and the time spent sitting in the food court were really nice - even if we were eating awful mall food. He relaxed, smiled, told jokes... I really like my kids as people, which is amazing to me. Maybe it shouldn't be, but it always is.

At the end of the week we'll go on a trip to give them something to talk about when they get back to school and have to write the inevitable essay on "What I did over vacation." In the mean time, I think I'll just enjoy hanging out with them, playing games and talking about whatever pops into their little heads. Which is a lot more than you would ever imagine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

triskaidekaphobia is my friend...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Mostly Cloudy, 38 degrees, the gusty winds are mostly gone but it still feels like spring is trying to break into February....


The fear of the number 13.

As in, today is Friday the 13th.

But... as a graduate of Colgate University in upstate New York, the number 13 is now my lucky number. As the legend goes, Colgate was founded by 13 men with 13 dollars in 1819 (okay, they were 6 years late for a real trifecta...) My brother-in-law's birthday is today, right on Friday the 13th. My husband was also born on the 13th of another month, although his mother says she doesn't remember if it was a Friday or not...

So this Friday the 13th should bring luck, and good things. It's at least bringing Valentine parties to my children in their classrooms. And it's bringing my husband home from a week long business trip (only 4 days long, not 13) So maybe it will bring happy portends on other fronts as well. I'm still waiting to hear om a number of agents to see whether they want to read more of my story (maybe there are 13 of them on that list? I should check!) And another wonderful surprise arrived last night while I was at my writing class (only 4 of us showed up, not the usual 13 people) - - my father sent me flowers for Valentine's Day - a baker's dozen bouquet of pink and red tulips (and we all know a bakers count up to lucky 13...)

So get over your fear of Friday the 13th.

It's just a number, people.

And some consider it lucky.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sunshine in the shadows of my mind...

Cape Cod Weather today: Partly cloudy and 43 degrees, with severe wind warnings for gusts up to 55 mph... but it feels like Spring is in the air. Maybe the gusty wind will blow Spring to the Cape from wherever the warm weather has been hiding for the winter...

Maybe the groundhog was wrong.

Maybe Spring will come soon.

The dogs and I hope so. The cold is getting tiring. Our old dog held on through one more winter somehow. I think she's just waiting now to go swimming a few more times - she's a black lab. It's what she lives for. The cold weather has made her arthritic legs stiff, but the sunshine is streaming in through the window on her bed right now. She's smiling in her sleep, dreaming of chasing sea birds in the ocean waves.

The harsh winter took its toll on my editor... she's been out sick with pneumonia and just now getting back to her desk, where things have piled up, including my debut novel. Hopefully she's able to wade through her inbox and get all her projects - mine included - back on track.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping busy writing something new as well as trying to find an agent who's interested in my middle-grade fantasy. It's a rough time in the publishing world right now... along with the rest of the economy in the U.S. ... and the world at large. The news is dark. People are nervous about losing their jobs. Losing their homes. Putting food on the table. Finding an agent and getting my books published seem like trivial problems to have at the moment, but this is my job. This is what I'm focused on. (Although I did take a break yesterday to finally vacuum, and bake valentine cookies with the kids.)

And walk the dogs on the beach.

When it's sunny outside, my heart fills with Hope. Everything seems more possible. It's like the sun shines into the shadows of my mind and brightens up my outlook on life. Maybe with the onset of spring, the gloom shrouding our economy will start to lift as well.

Come on, sunshine.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow Wimps

Cape Cod Weather Today
: Snowy. The flakes are still falling, albeit one at a time... there may be four inches on the ground, since it snowed all day yesterday, but it's light and fluffy ... so why is there a two hour snow delay??

President Obama was right.

And it's not just a D.C. phenomenon (although they perfected it way back in the 70s...)

We've become a nation of Snow Wimps.

My children have a two hour snow delay today, because it snowed all day yesterday. Yesterday they got released an hour early, because it was snowing all day. Is this so they can stay home and play in it? It just seems slightly excessive... the roads seem okay and it was easy to shovel the driveway. Light and fluffy.

Better safe than sorry? Sometimes I agree with that, but this is New England, folks. It snows in the winter. Every winter. Get used to it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Karma Ran Over my Dogma....

Cape Cod Weather today: A mix of snow and rain, falling in the semi-darkness of still early morning. Or maybe the darkness is from the thick cloud cover. It's 35 degrees, after a balmy high of 43 yesterday... the snowflakes are large, thick, and falling fast, and I can't remember if that usually means it'll last a long time or be over quickly...

The Muse. Fate. Karma. God.

Some people like to think we get our inspirations and ideas from a higher power, an all-knowing entity, or from within the fabric of the Universe itself. Bringing us the gifts of knowledge, or ideas, or windfall profits... okay, not so much that last one.

And it's not Preordained or Predestined or Predetermined. It's out there, but you need to listen to your Muse. You need to hear what the Universe is trying to tell you. Listen when the Ghosts start to whisper...

Okay, so what got me on this particular thought wave this morning? My son spilled a glass of orange juice while I was out of the kitchen for half a minute and somehow it covered Everything. The entire kitchen floor was orange (and it wasn't a big glass, really.)

I walked back into the room and saw it, and thought, huh. That little voice told me yesterday to mop the kitchen floor. Actually, the little voice has been saying it for three days straight, and I keep putting it off. I hate to mop. So I thought, now my karma stepped in and tipped my hand, and I have to mop. No way out of it this time.

When the Muse speaks, I need to listen. Even if she only yells at me to mop the kitchen floor. But especially in my writing (since I'm a writer, after all.) Because when I don't listen the first time, she finds a way to make me hear Her.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hello, February!

Cape Cod Weather Today: Cold. Grey. 28 degrees, but damp. Wish we had yesterday's sparkling sunshine back... why don't I appreciate these things more when they are here...

When was the last time you made yourself comfortable at the bookstore? Just plopped down on the floor and looked through titles, thumbing through books and reading first pages? Or random inside pages? Or more than just back covers and book flaps?

I was in the bookstores a lot before Christmas, but always with a purpose. After dropping my son at his guitar lessons I did my errands and still had time to spare. So I went to the local Borders. And plopped myself down amidst the stacks, going through what's on the shelves right now.

There were books I read as a child. Books I know. (I read a lot as a kid, and still do.)

There were also lots of books I've heard of, but haven't read yet. And even more books that I hadn't heard of, that seem to be riding the waves of the Harry Potter, Twilight, Wicked, or Brisingr phenomenons. So... Wizards, Magic, Vampires (too many), Faeries, and Dragons. (The Gossip Girl genre is older than what I'm looking at, so I won't even include them.)

I started to get an uneasy feeling in my stomach about my own Middle Grade novel. Wondering if it's commercial enough. Wondering if it's sale-able. Wondering where it would fit on these shelves.

Later, while I was making dinner, my middle child asked what was wrong. I told him about my experience, summing up by saying "There was nothing like my book in the store."

He told me with serious conviction, "That's because yours isn't published yet."

Those simple words filled me with such joy, I couldn't help but smile, the flicker of hope rekindling within me. He's read my story the whole way along. He likes the story, and the writing. He's a well-read connoisseur of middle grade fiction and above, so I can trust him if it's an honest opinion, and not just because I'm his mommy. So I had to ask, "Really?"

"Really, Mom," he told me. "I'd buy it at the book fair even."

Big praise. I guess I'll keep going with my agent search after all.