Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sailing lessons,Thunderstorms, and Writing

Cape Cod Weather Today: Fog. The pea soup kind. I'm hoping it burns off and reveals that elusive yellow orb in the sky...

It's officially tourist season. I mean, Summer.

We've had our first neighborhood cocktail party this weekend. And the kids have started sailing lessons and swimming lessons.

But the weather isn't cooperating. The party ended in a thunderstorm. And the kids sailed in the rain yesterday.

And somehow I haven't been able to write since that last rejection came into my inbox. I need to get over myself, I guess, but the rejection thing is wearing me down.

On the other hand, Cape Women Online is keeping me busy. Inquiries from authors, edits to submissions, reformatting event submissions, editorial meetings... I'm enjoying being the Editor. We even have a college student who wants to be our intern. I need to send her an email today. And send out some queries about the stories I'd like to write for the next few issues...

So is writing articles the same as working on revising my novels or writing book 2 of the mermaid series? Well, not really. But it is exercising my writing muscles, keeping my fingers nimble on the keyboard, until I'm ready to tackle the world of my manuscripts once again.

In between sailing lessons and thunderstorms.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Oxymorons of Rejection

Cape Cod Weather Today: Started out iffy, but turned into a nice afternoon. Should be a nice sunset...

I received a really nice rejection letter today on my mermaid book. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?

"Really nice" and "Rejection." Talking about the same letter. Oxymoron.

Chris Richman from Firebrand had requested a full near the beginning of the month, and I've had my fingers crossed ever since. Tightly. Painfully.

Alas, although he says I'm a "strong writer" and the story had a "really nice pace"... and despite the fact that he admitted reading the whole thing to find out how it ended for the characters, even after he'd decided not to offer representation, ...it's still a No. He made great suggestions, though, which I hope to get cracking on pretty soon.

Really soon, since he says he has a client also working on a mermaid manuscript, and I just found another mermaid story at the library (albeit from 2005, that I previously missed.)

Soon. As soon as I stop feeling the disappointment so acutely.

The query process itself is laden with oxymorons, and would be a great blog topic. For a day I'm not feeling so deflated, perhaps.

On the bright side, I finished reading Marissa Doyle's fabulous Bewitching Season last night. It's her debut YA novel, and the second follow-up book is out in September. She tells the story of 18-year-old twin sisters in England during the early reign of Queen Victoria; a historical romance where the main characters also practice magic. Neat twist. Very nice writing.

And today, Marissa was the first author to respond to my call for Cape Cod authors on the New England Chapter loop of the Romance Writers of America. I'm a member, although I haven't been to a meeting in a year. The meetings are in Wellesley, for goodness sake. It's a long drive, and over The Bridge on a Sunday. Not fun. But I keep up by lurking via the group loop.

So I'm busy and uber-responsible with my magazine Editor position. Not so much with my career as a famous novelist. But I'll get there.

One oxymoron at a time.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ghosts of Summer Vacations Past

Cape Cod Weather Today: Rain. Again. Don't want to talk about it.

Remember being a kid, and finally being old enough to still be on the beach at sunset? Finishing up a clambake party, or going for a walk after dinner, or waiting for the fireworks to start?

Lots of memories turn golden with age. The further back they are, the warmer and fuzzier they are in our minds.

Sunsets on the beach are one of those things that feel special while they are happening - like the sun is melting into a whole ocean of liquid gold.

It's one of my favorite things about summer. Looking forward to lots of sunsets this year.
What are you looking forward to?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cape Women Online Summer Issue is Here!

It's finally here!

Please take a few minutes to check out our revamped and relaunched CapeWomenOnline !

Just click on the headline of this post, or the magazine title or the link below...and go straight to the magazine website at www.capewomenonline.com

(3 links to the same place? isn't that overkill? can you tell I'm overly excited????!!!)

I'm very excited to say it's up and running, even with the few technical glitches we're still experiencing. The Web Princess assures us this is all normal.

In response to reader comments received over the last year, there's a new "Feedback" form, to fill out and send easily with a click of a button. The site is also more user-friendly in terms of navigation: You can jump from one section to another with the click of a button. Of course, all this user-friendliness is what drove our Web Princess up a wall. I don't think any kittens were killed, but it came close once or twice.

As the new Editor, I'm eager to hear what you think of the site! So, check it out and send feedback... or send me an email... or leave a comment here on the blog. Tell me what you think!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Making your Editor Cry is a Bad Thing.

I received a long and involved email from my editor today. She sent it to all of her authors (not just me, thank goodness!) summarizing the plethora of mistakes and head-thumpers she's received in her inbox lately. Asking us nicely not to repeat these same mistakes.

The tone was fairly business-like until I reached the end.

"...You know that God kills a kitten every time you make your editor cry, right?..."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Giving Birth to a Magazine

Cape Cod Weather Today: It's supposed to rain all day, but I woke up to sunshine. The clouds are creeping in as I type... but the landscapers are out in full force....

It's almost there.

When my friend and neighbor Nicola Burnell asked me to join her in relaunching CapeWomenOnline magazine, I admit to some hesitation. I mean, a big part of me wanted to see my name on the masthead, and be more than a contributor. I wanted to be editor.

But...It's not always a good idea to work for a friend. So I hesitated.

Then I said yes.

The last two months have been a roller coaster of emotions as we try to get this magazine live. Nicola has referred to it several times as a birthing process. Where she almost died giving birth to her second son, it seemed a risky metaphor to use. But perhaps apt.

I have no regrets in choosing to work with Nicola. Things are going well, and we seem to be on the same page (LOL) most of the time. We're able to respectfully disagree and come to acceptable alternatives, and when we can't do that I defer to her judgement. It does say "publisher" after her name on the masthead. She gets final say.

What I didn't plan for was how much time each little thing would take. I have renewed respect for people who work in the mainstream online media. Having spent hours upon hours clicking each link and reading through each article every time things get reformatted...my eyes are tired. I think we've done a kick-a** job of reworking the former magazine into one that will appeal to a broader spectrum and have a positive impact on those who read it. But I didn't realize I was signing up for so much time and effort. Whew!

*Hopefully* the magazine will be going live by the end of this week. Is that tomorrow already? Uh oh. Keep your fingers crossed. I'll post a link here and on my FaceBook page as soon as we've got it up, and I urge everyone to go check it out.

Where do we go next? Hopefully (again with the hope!) the fall issue will be easier to produce, as all the templates will be in place. We've already started receiving calls and emails with ideas for the next issue, so we will need to have an editorial meeting soon to make decisions. But first we need to get this baby out the door!

Keep your fingers crossed.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Writing or Life?

Cape Cod weather Today: Grey. But yesterday cleared up, so maybe today will too?

It seems that I am not as good of a multi-tasker as I'd like to think. So, either I can write - sit down and focus and write quite a bit, living inside my computer screen - or I can live in the real world and go on field trips and attend concerts and watch my son graduate from fifth grade. And maybe even mow the lawn or vacuum the living room.

Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to integrate my real-worl life and virtual life very well. This does not bode well for summer vacation, when kids will be here most of the time.

I'm back to the question, how do real writers do it all? They have kids and families and lives, don't they?

When I have a deadline, or a WIP I'm deep into, I can focus. I've been a reporter on deadline, I've worked as an editor with writers on deadline and know how to turn around a project. I had no problem turning around each round of edits that showed up in my inbox for Unfolding the Shadows. But...with no deadline looming and only an ouline and 40 pages written on my current WIP (work-in-progress) I don't feel the same urgency.

So I'm back to needing a schedule, I guess. Which may be easier when the kids are out of school and only at sailing lessons from 8-12. There's my writing schedule.

Monday, June 15, 2009

NonCompliant Rocks Cape Cod

Cape Cod Weather Today: Grey. Overcast. 54 degrees. C'mon, really? Again?

The Audacity of Planning an Outdoor Concert this Spring....

This is my son's band, NONCOMPLIANT. They're a rock band, 8 through 11-years-old. Three guitarists, a bass player, drummer, and vocalist. They play a variety of music, from the Rolling Stones and Chicago to Green Day and Paramore.

The Mode 4 Music studio's spring concert is always an outdoor affair, usually a safe bet for mid-June on the Cape. Not such a sure thing this year, however. The weather was awful all last week, and iffy all weekend. In fact, it was Pouring when we woke up in the morning. Studio owner Tony Bonelli must have been a little stressed out...

There was no rain date. There was no plan for inclement weather. There were merely the prayers of many young musicians and their families.

The venue, the Heritage Gardens and Museum in Sandwich, allowed the studio to move the whole shebang into the Carousel Museum, where there is a stage, apparently. All the equipment was moved from the outdoor stage across the map to the indoor stage. And then, somehow, the fire alarm was triggered. And they couldn't turn it off.

At this point the sun began to peek out, so they decided to schlep all the equipment back to the outdoor stage, ten minutes before the performance was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. So the start time was pushed back. Which was a good thing, because the traffic going off-Cape was so backed up that a lot of the performers were late arriving (our carload included), having been stuck in traffic behind all the Connecticut license plates fleeing the grey day.

There were several solo performers to start the show. NonCompliant was the first band to take the stage. There were a few sound issues due to loose cables from all the transitions and inadequate time for sound checks, but the kids rocked. They were awesome, and the audience loved them. When they started off with "Play that Funky Music White Boy," the audience let out a cheer and started clapping along with the rhythm. The first song segued straight into "Are you Gonna Go My Way," another crowd pleaser. When the applause died down, the vocalist introduced the band, who then started into their version of Paramore's "Crush, Crush."

And the rain held off. And the sun came out. And Mother Nature smiled down upon these kids and teens who've all worked so hard preparing for this performance. The giant beach ball came out and a true outdoor concert experience was enjoyed.

Great job, one and all.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Cape Cod Weather Today: Oh why even talk about it. It's grey again, chance of rain all day.

I want this guy's job. Buoy lawn jockey.

Stand around in the back yard, holding useless things. Just look ornamental. Don't have to drive anyone to anywhere. Don't have to rush to any appointments. Don't have to sit through a tedious neighborhood board meeting to argue about how much money to spend on seaweed removal. Don't have to try to finagle your way into the vet's office to get stitches for your dog's leg. I mean, the buoy jockey's got it made, right?


Although...I guess life would get a little boring. And my arm would probably get tired.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Whispers of Summer

Cape Cod Weather Today: Rain. More rain. Mid-60s, a little windy, and more rain.

ON the one hand, a rainy day is good for sitting down at the computer and writing. Not as many distractions, right? Can't be gardening or mowing the lawn when it's pouring outside.

ON the other hand, is this what the summer is going to look like? April showers should be long gone, and yet they linger. At this point, there are mushrooms growing on my front lawn, which is in "full sun" (when there is sun to be had, that is.)

The thunderstorm yesterday was different at least. Directly overhead and loud enough for my deaf dog to hear the booms. At first I think she thought someone was at the door, and was barking. When she felt the house shake and realized it was a thunderstorm, she finally got scared. She used to hate thunder as a puppy - a tree next to our house once got hit by lightning, and you could feel the electricity all through the house. The crack of immediate thunder was also quite impressive. She's been scared of thunder ever since. Except now, at fourteen, she's mostly deaf and can't hear it.

Perhaps it was weather like this that inspired Stephenie Meyers to write her first Twilight book. The misty, grey cloudiness of the Seattle coast. Perhaps I could use the Cape's own foggy greyness to my creative advantage, and write something pensive...or suspenseful...or tragic. With brilliant flashes of color amongst the clouds, and all the greenness that results from so much rain. Or perhaps some magic mushrooms that will spring up in my lawn.

Oh wait, they're already there. Hmmm.....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Third grade field trips...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Thunderstorms. One rolled through at 5:30, another rolled through between 9 and 10 a.m. I've just turned the computer back on to sit down and write... until the rumbling starts again....

My daughter's third grade traveled to the uppermost edge of Cape Cod yesterday to learn about the Cape Cod Canal, that man-made body of water that turned the Cape into an island almost a hundred years ago. The Pilgrims first envisioned cutting a canal to join the two rivers that almost bisected the land (the Scusset and the Manomet Rivers.) August Belmont built the original canal in 1917, hoping to make a boat-load of money, no pun intended. (or maybe it was intended...) But Belmont didn't make the canal deep enough (only 25 feet) or wide enough to allow big ships to pass through easily. So they gave up and kept traveling around the tip of the Cape instead, adding 100-150 miles to their trips...

The Canal is currently run by the Army Corp of Engineers and has been since 1928 when they took it over. Our group of 8 and 9 year olds was instructed by no less than five different park ranger guys and gals, in full Ranger Rick gear including funny hats, and all of them tried to drill the same information into the kids...and seemed to get annoyed when the kids couldn't remember the numbers or dates from one lecture to the next. The canal is now 32 feet deep, except for the part that's 40 feet deep. The canal is 17 and a half miles long, but only a small portion of that cuts through land, the rest of the canal is more of a channel out through the shallow water to the deeper ocean. The canal is a little more than 500 feet wide in most places, but each Ranger gave the kids a slightly different version of the width so I don't blame them for not remembering exactly.

There were three highlights of the trip: the barge in the photo above, being towed by a tugboat. Big boat. Cool. You can see it coming under the railroad bridge, with the Bourne Bridge in the background of the picture.

The second was a family of geese who live on the bank in front of the Radar station. Even the adults took lots of pictures of the baby goslings. The kids all know the word "goslings" now, if they didn't before.

The third was the enormous amount of goose poop that was all over the entire area and the kids kept stepping in it, warning each other not to step in it, laughing at the adults who had inevitable stepped in it, and checking the bottoms of their sneakers to see if they'd stepped in it yet. There was a lot of goose poop. A lot. And it's fun to say "goose poop." Especially if you're 8.

These are third graders. This is the level of their fascination with this stuff. And the school does this trip every year. You would think the Army Corp of Engineers would gear their information to the age group a bit more, or add some pizazz somehow to make the kids interested. I thought it was kinda cool, but I'm a grown up (most of the time.)

At least there was goose poop.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hooray for Children's Librarians!

Cape Cod Weather Today: Well, the sun is still trying to rise so it's unfair to call it overcast, but I'm afraid that's the direction we're heading. Temps up into the 60 and chance of rain later, but now it's a dull grey dawn, with glimmers of pink on the horizon...

Hooray for the children's librarian at my local public library! Because of her efforts, my daughter found three (3!) new series of books she enjoyed - devoured! - over the weekend. I am now tasked with finding more-of-the-same ! Except of course that due to town budget cuts, our library was closed Sunday and again today, Monday... but tomorrow I'll be right there!

To share: The first series - and my daughter read it first in one night - was Babymouse: Queen of the World, a graphic novel by Jennifer and Matthew Holm. I had my doubts about letting her even take it out, but she loved it. Who am I to argue with success

The second two series are more traditional chapter books: Judy Moody, by Megan McDonald, and Ivy & Bean, book 5 (the only one currently on the shelf), by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall.

Of the three books, my daughter likes Judy Moody the best. I think it's the closest she can get to her beloved Junie B. in a more age-appropriate book. I'm okay with that, except that when I went to Borders over the weekend, the only option for buying more was to buy a rather large boxed set. I choked on the price. She can just as happily take them out of the library.

There is something special about library books, beyond the stickers on the binding and the plastic dust covers. Something about taking extra care of it because you've borrowed it. Because it belongs to that nice lady at the library who smiles a lot and runs such fun craft classes on the weekends. Because my daughter gets to have a fancy "credit" card with her signature on it that lets her use the self-checkout laser beam thingee all by herself...

I haven't read any of these books, which also feels weird to me. With my first child, I read everything before he did (does anyone else do that?) I wanted to be able to understand when he talked about what he read. I don't have the same compulsion (obsession?) anymore, and know that I won't be able to read everything to preview it for her. I have to trust.

And luckily, I have a librarian on my side!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Graveyard Book

Cape Cod Weather Today: Rain. Again. 'Nuff said.

I took my daughter to the library yesterday to try and finds a few new chapter books that will hold her interest. I don't know why she's so finicky, but she is. I went through this phase with both boys at some stage, but the answers were different for each kid. So I went to the expert. The children's librarian.

My daughter wanted something funny and fast-paced like her beloved Junie B. Jones books, but I wanted something a little more challenging to her third grade reading level. She's tried (and not enjoyed) the Magic Treehouse series, the Mermaid SOS series, the color fairy series, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, the A to Z mysteries.... the list goes on of what she doesn't like. The librarian was able to steer us to a few new series choices that will *hopefully* work. We'll see.

But while we were sauntering down an aisle, I saw a poster for "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman, reminding me of all the wonderful things I've read about it while trolling the internet when I'm supposed to be writing. And I remembered Elana's recent blog at "Mindless Musings" about reading someone else's work to take a writing break and clear your mind and all those other procrastination excuses...

I inquired, and was told the book resided in the teen section because of it's scary content. Since it starts with a triple homicide and all. (After reading it, I'm not really sure which section it ought to be in, but it certainly isn't gory-scary like some of the other fantasy stuff in that section. or in the middle grade section, even.)

I read the book last night, after the kids went to bed. 300 pages, including the illustrations, so finished it in about two hours. And the verdict?

I enjoyed it. It's very fresh and different. A premise I hadn't ever read or considered before. Plus, it seemed to bend and break a lot of what I thought were "rules" about writing, but did it all in a way that seemed okay. Definitely worth the time spent reading, and a good choice for summer reading lists.

One question I had after reading was - - if someone else wrote this book, would it have been published? If an unknown author broke this many rules, would an agent have been interested, or figured it was unpublishable?

I think my 11-year-old would enjoy this story a lot - quite a lot - but know my 13-year-old would not. He'd hate it. "YA" is such a wide range of ages and styles that it's hard to think of it as a single category. Theoretically, both sons fall into the YA category with their ages and reading abilities, but each has his own taste and opinions. The older loved the Twilight series, and the younger loved all the Scott Westerfeld books. The each have adult books they've enjoyed a lot, as well. (The older son read "Pillars of the Earth" at least twice so far, the younger ones "Jurassic Park.")

What is my point?

Write the book you want to write. There are so many readers out there that enjoy such an awesome variety of books. If the writing is good enough, your story will find an audience.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself ;-)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Feeling a little Wednesday...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Sunny at the moment, going up to the 60s, but thunderstorms are predicted for later. Hard to believe the weatherman these days...

I spent most of yesterday obsessing over the missing Air France plane. I scrolled through the online stories on all the various news outlets, looking for concrete information. There was a whole lot of "we really don't know."

This is not the t.v. series LOST. This is not a blockbuster movie. This is real life. Planes are not supposed to disappear off the radar and leave no trace.

Why was I so obsessed? I told myself it's research for Book 2 of the mermaid series, where a plane does go down and strand the main characters on an island to await rescue. I wanted to research the various things that are known about what makes a modern plane crash, and how you go about surviving the crash.

But I kept coming back to the fact that this Air France plane went MISSING and there was NO INFORMATION for hours. Days. Maybe when Amelia Ehrhart when down that was normal, given the lack of sophisticated radar and imaging and satellites... how does it happen in 2009?

Or maybe I was subconsciously obsessing because my husband flies around in an airplane on business all the time. He's in Phoenix now, and then off to the other coast for the rest of the week. Air travel is safer than driving, but...how does a plane go missing? He didn't seem as concerned about the whole thing - but maybe that's self-preservation. Fear is paralyzing.

Today fear is paralyzing my writing efforts. Now that I'm done obsessing over the plane wreck (maybe because they have started to find debris) I'm trying to work on Book 2, and having a hard time with it. Book 1 hasn't yet hooked an agent. Is it the height of hubris for me to be working on the second book in the series if there may never be a series? Or should I trust in the Universe and keep going?

I've sent 4 new queries on the revised manuscript since participating in the Secret Agent contest over at "Miss Snark's First Victim" blog. I've already received my first rejection back. Three to go. I need to research a few more agents and send more queries to better my odds.

Research and query? Or write fresh fiction? At least I have the choice. Ah, The Joys of being a writer...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dashing into June

Cape Cod Weather Today: Sunny. Blue Skies. Beautiful. Only 53 degrees but getting warmer.

Actual conversation at 6:53 a.m. this morning:

"Only 14 and a half days left of school," says Mom, pulling covers off son.

"We still have three weeks left?" whines boy, falling dramatically back onto his bed.

"You have three field trips, a field day, and step-up day at the middle school," Mom reminds him. "And your sister has three field trips and a field day and your brother has a field trip and field day.There's not a lot of 'school' left in the school year. Just a lot of trips and fun stuff."

"But we still have to get up and go," whines boy, covering head with pillow.

"Yes. Yes, you do." Mom smiles. "So let's go."

Did everyone have a similar scene this morning? Only three weeks left and not over soon enough? Ah, June. Not quite the lazy days of summer, but certainly the crazy days. Field trips, field days, bring a bag lunch, eat a special lunch, having a ceremony at Brownies, having a special trip after school, finding appropriate teacher gifts, having a spring concert, hosting a pool party, neighborhood board meetings, signing up for camp, getting the boat ready for sailing lessons...

It'll all be over soon. Enjoy the craziness while it lasts.