Monday, August 31, 2009
I received a rejection letter last night that really hurt.
Not that rejection is anything new; as my husband says, it means I'm sending my stuff out there, right?
But this agent admitted that she sat on my query because she liked it. She was intrigued. She liked my credentials, and she loves mermaids. She can't wait to read the story in print.
Ow. Ow. Ow.
I want to write back and tell her she'll get to read it much sooner if she would be my agent. But I can't do that. I need to just send a polite thank you note, right? Aaaauuuuurrrrrghhhh!
Two rejections within the week. And no Ben & Jerry's in the freezer. What is my world coming to?
On the bright side, school starts next week for us here on the Cape. The backpacks I ordered online arrived. I just got out the lunchboxes and washed them with bleach this morning. I bought a bunch of new school supplies yesterday... still need to buy sneakers and cleats for oldest son, and colored binders for middle son (which no one seems to have this year.)
Life goes on.
I just need to wipe the pie off my face.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Going through the checklist in my head of all the things we wanted to do on this vacation in the mountains, I feel satisfied that the kids and I accomplished all our goals.
Hike a mountain? check. Work on the farm? check. Go horseback riding? check. Blueberry picking? check. Going to Swimming Holes? check. Boating? check, check. Relax? hmmm.....
I guess I forgot something after all.
Do you ever head home from "vacation" more tired than when you started the week? Or is that just me? Perhaps I forgot to add that "relaxation" thing to the master list at the beginning. We've been busy driving around from one fun thing to another (almost 300 miles of driving Since Arriving...) At least the kids have been sleeping late in the mornings, and falling into bed at night. And I did get that break from routine I'd been craving earlier in the month.
So it's all good. Perhaps sometimes that's the point of vacation more than the relaxation. It's the break from the everyday. Giving us something new and different to do, see, and experience. A chance to do new things together, as a family, where the teenagers don't automatically strike a bored pose and give you that 13-year-old "been there, done that" attitude. I mean, he got in there and enjoyed picking blueberries more than the little one did, something that wouldn't happen at home where his friends might see him. Real smiles are a great thing to see.
Mission: Vacation was successful after all. Now back to reality.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
My sister works on an organic farm in northern Vermont. She's the farm manager, and has been for the last four years. Valley Dream Farm is part of the Deep Root Farm Collective, which means that a bunch of small organic farms have banded together to sell their produce into the big stores, as if they were a big company-type farm.
Today the kids and I went to help pick parsley for an order that may end up at a Whole Foods Store near you. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look at parsley quite the same again after spending three hours bent over the farm rows picking bunches in the rain and trying to help my son figure out how to work the wet and slippery twist ties (a really bright kid, he just couldn't grasp the concept. go figure.)
The parsley we bunched was fresh, big, bushy and green. Beautiful. Fragrant. My hands still smell of fresh parsley as I type this. But the kids and I (and my sister and the farmhands) were soaked to the bone in the rain. Cold rain dripping down my face into my eyes as I searched for more curly stems ready to bunch. The stuff had to get picked and bunched and boxed before the Deep Root sales guy got there with the truck, so rain or no it had to get done this morning.
When I'm in the supermarket, I just don't think about that stuff. Like who picked the veggies. Whether it was raining, or the farm worker's girlfriend had just left him after ten years, or whether it was someone's birthday but they had to get the order filled before they could go celebrate.
If we thought more about where our food has been and where it comes from, maybe we wouldn't mind paying that extra fifty cents or dollar for the organic, hand-picked veggies that don't come from a factory farm and aren't picked by migrant workers or illegal aliens who aren't being paid enough to live on. When I return home, I know I'll pause in the produce aisle and try to picture the farm and farmers who grew my food.
And hope they keep up the good work, even in the rain.
Monday, August 24, 2009
This picture is from a few summers ago, when the kids and I came up to work on my sister's farm. (Since I forgot to bring the cord to download the photos from my camera, there won't be any new pictures to share until I get back to the Cape.)
In addition to hanging out and picking beans in the field, we took the kids horseback riding this summer. They all loved it, and are talking about wanting to take lessons when we get home. We'll see. I'm not sure I can fit many more lessons into the taxi schedule...
This summer, we're here with my parents, my Aunt Kate from Virginia, and my other sister as well. My parents rented a big house where we're all staying. My oldest is psyched because the kids' room is downstairs, next to the game room with a big pool table. My daughter is in heaven because she gets to sleep in the top bunk.
Simple pleasures of vacation.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I got stung by a bee today. While I was driving in my husband's pickup truck. It flew in the open window and stung my shoulder. An actual bee. It hurt. Like a hot knife being plunged into my shoulder blade, again and again as the venom sack pumped and I tried not to swerve off the road. I almost cried.
When was the last time you got stung by a bee? When we were kids, it happened all the time to someone or other, right? But lately? Not so much.
There aren't as many bees around as there used to be. No, really. This is documented. Bees are on the decline. And as my sister the farmer keeps saying, No Bees, No Food. (or is it No Farms, No Food? Oh, I think it might be both!)
Well, that particular bee is dead now. Smushed onto my beige tee shirt that I may never wear again. Although, the little guy was a goner the minute he decided to sting me anyway. It wasn't his fault, I guess. I had the windows open to catch a little breeze in this godawful heat, and he was sucked right into the truck's cab. He probably was as scared as I would be to be sucked into an alien vessel, while I was just trying to do my job. It's hard enough for the bees to stay alive with all the pesticides out there these days...
This afternoon, my magazine publisher and I attended a local farmer's market to gather some fresh images for the fall issue. There was a local bee farmer there, with all kinds of wonderful candles, and jars of honey, and honey-lotion skin products.
All I could think of was the sting, still throbbing at my shoulder, and how this poor farmer now had one less worker on his farm.
What can we do to alleviate the plight of the bees? Less pesticides in our gardens, please. Less chemicals in our yards. And try to patronize our local farmers markets and our local farmers.
Especially the ones who keep bees.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Cape Cod Weather Today: It was another hot one today, in the 80s and sunny. The dark clouds on the horizon never got close enough to blot out the sunshine. It was finally cool enough to mow the lawn around 5 pm...
Summer is almost over. Well, actually the kids don't go back to school for more than two weeks, but I'm so done with their summer vacation. I'll be the guy in the Staples commercial singing Christmas Carols as I dance down the aisle buying pencils and notebooks...
What is it about routine? I like having a weekly schedule and a daily to-do list, but after a while I long for a change. Something different to break the monotony.
And then I just start getting cranky about it all.
I feel like I'm a creature of habit, and yet every few months I need a new habit. Is that normal? I really don't mind all the taxi driving I end up doing; in summer, I'm driving over to the yacht club ever day for someone's lessons, to Hyannis once a week for middle child's guitar practice, and this summer to the Community Center every other day for Basketball Camp. It's a schedule I can memorize and live with... and I did and I have.... and now I'm done.
I'm ready for Back-to-School and a new routine. New morning rituals, bus schedules, making lunches, and after-school lessons and soccer, to all be rescheduled in September to create a new Fall routine. Which will be in effect until the end of soccer season and the onset of Winter/Holiday.
Maybe it's not all my fault. Perhaps we've adapted ourselves to need the changeability of the seasons. The new sports seasons. The new sessions of lessons, etc. The new semesters at school. The new television seasons. Most importantly, the changing of Mother Nature's seasonal colors outside our windows.
Perhaps THAT's why this year's lack of early summer bothered me (and a lot of you, I'll bet) so deeply. We NEED the change of season. We look for it, and our psyche is adjusted for it. When it doesn't come, then what? We all get cranky.
"To every thing there is a season..." a concept that dates back to the Bible (I used to think it originated in a rock-n-roll song, but my 9th grade English teacher corrected me)
I'm ready for the season to change.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
My new cover art has arrived! I'm excited, because it's just in time to be included in our fall issue of Cape Women Online. Our literary page for this upcoming issue has stories by three different authors on our paths to publication, and I wanted to include my beautiful cover art with my story. And here it is!
If you've been following my blog, you've probably heard the story about how my original imprint, The Lotus Circle, was folded earlier this year. Before my book was even line-edited. But one of the publisher's other imprint, Cerridwen Press, picked up the novel for one of their lines. SO I still have a release date for October 1st.
And now I have an official new cover. *Yea!*
Monday, August 17, 2009
Cape Cod Weather Today: Hot and sunny. They say it's going up into the 90s in Boston today...
My (younger) sister took me to see Tony Bennett in concert last night at the Cape Cod Melody Tent. I predict two immediate, visceral and opposing reactions to this statement.
The first reaction would be: "Oh cool! Tony Bennett! I love him!"
The other would be "Eww, Why? Why Tony Bennett? Is he still alive?"
Honestly, I don't know what possessed her to buy the tickets. She even joined the Gold Member Circle club to buy them early because the show sells out every year in a day or two. (He's played there every summer for the last 29 years, and is one of the most popular shows each year.)
The man is close to a million years old, or 83, one or the other, and yet his voice still sounds like it does on his records (if you remember what records are.) Strong. Melodious. Right on key.
He danced around the grand piano on stage, did his trademark salute to the audience at least once every song (probably so people could get pictures of it) and didn't act at all his age.
The audience, however, was elderly. My sister and I brought down the crowd average by a good 20 or 30 years. Lots of canes. Lots of wheelchairs. And yet, the crowd rose to its feet on several occasions - there were at least four standing ovations throughout the hour and a half performance.
It was actually kinda cool.
He's been singing on stage for sixty plus years. He told stories about the old days (and I do mean old days) and how he was the first American Idol, winning a contest to get his shot on stage in Pearl Bailey's review. Bob Hope apparently discovered him there, and gave him his stage name. There were other stories about Frank Sinatra and the old gang, and stories about the old songs and who wrote them and the first time he sang them.
If you get a chance to see him on stage, you won't be disappointed. At least, I wasn't.
Now if I can figure out a way to use this in my next novel...
Saturday, August 15, 2009
She talked non-stop for the first two and a half hours in the car, in the stop-and-start traffic of a busy Friday evening. And then talked her way through an hour of dinner at a Chinese restaurant on Route 20, where they stopped to wait out the worst of the traffic. And she polished off an inordinate amount of hot and sour soup, lo mein and general gao's chicken.. and then decided to nap for the rest of the trip home.
I missed all of that, as my eldest had the final tournament of his summer basketball league at the exact same time as camp pickup. My husband and I flipped a coin, and he won camp pickup and I won basketball tournament. My son won in the semis, and we went out to dinner at Dairy Queen with some of his teammates and some of the losing team members... and then headed back to the gym for the finals.
It was a close and hard-fought game, and my son fouled out early in the second half. The refs let him back into the game when one of his teammates injured his knee and had to sit out with an ice pack. Our team had only 6 members for a 5-man game, so the bench wasn't very deep. The opposing team had at least 4 extra players, and voiced a strategy of purposely fouling my son out. Then they focused on the next guy.
It was a long day all around.
But my daughter is home again, and life is back to normal.
Cape Cod Weather today: Sunny (finally) and supposed to be hot today. Can't tell as the windows are all fogged up from the a/c... not a good sign....
There was a link in one of my chat groups to the statistics I've reposted below. The charts show that the growth of epublishing in the last year has been explosive. In a good way. Like, really making money. While the graphs may initially look the same in shape, take a look at the numbers running up the left side. Big difference.
My book will initially be epublished, with the paperback release to follow if the sales are strong enough and the reviews good. These charts bolster my confidence in selling ebooks. People are buying them. Buying a lot of them!
Hopefully, they keep buying them straight through fall! Especially around October 1st.
(from the IDFP website)
The International Digital Publishing Forum collects quarterly US trade retail eBook sales in conjunction with the Association of American Publishers (AAP). For details on the AAP's statistics program, please refer to the AAP website. The IDPF has aggregated quarterly statistics from the AAP's program and earlier IDPF statistics program represented in the graph below. Please also see important notes below on the data.
The IDPF has collected additional eBook statistics from various sources below. The IDPF was not involved in collecting these statistics, however, and only includes them as a convenience.
US Trade Wholesale Electronic Book Sales
Compare against Q4 08 chart below
Friday, August 14, 2009
Cape Cod Weather today: Grey again. Not raining, but forecast is for clouds all day.
My sister is a farmer. She lives in Northern Vermont, and manages an organic farm.
Recently, she sent me a bumpersticker in the mail that reads "No Farms, No Food." It's put out by an organization called American Farmland Trust, at www.farmland.org.
I was writing an article this morning for Cape Women Online, listing 10 local farms and vineyards where the public can visit to pick their own produce, learn about medicinal herbs, find a pumpkin for Halloween, tour vineyards and taste local wines... even on little ol' Cape Cod, there are working farms where you can visit and explore.
According to the website, my sister in the sticks of rural Vermont is not in the majority of farmers. They say 86% of America's fruits and vegetables are grown near metro regions, where they are in the path of development. Every hour, we lose 125 acres of farm and ranch lands in this country. That's why supporting local farms is more important than ever.
The website lists 7 ways we can all help to save local farms - here
The website also has a spot to send away for a bumpersticker like the one my sister sent to me, if you click on this link here.
Some are easy ideas - like sharing this information with friends. Like I am now.
Buy fresh, Buy local. As often as possible. Remember, No Farms, No Food.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I got my first letter from Girl Scout camp in the mail today! The envelope was covered with enough stickers that it probably took longer to decorate than write. She apparently wrote it on "Monday - day 2" as it's labeled at the top of the page. I'll include all original spelling mistakes as I share:
Hi Mom I'm having aSo I guess things are going well at Camp. I was hoping for more... but being realistic, I'm thrilled to get anything! Enjoy the rest of your day - I know I'll have a smile on my face!
great time we are
having a barbicue on
Wednseday. I don't know when
but somtime we are going
to weve baskets. At
there is going to be wolves.
(she) chortled in (her) joy."
For some reason, when I signed on today and saw that my blog list was back - all by itself, with no help from me - this line from Jabberwocky (a poem by Lewis Carroll) came to mind. No good reason. I had memorized it in 7th or 8th grade for a project, and it pops out of my head at odd moments.
Since I plan to spend the next 15 minutes catching up on all that I've been missing in the blogger community, I won't have time to write my usual insightful (snort) post. So I'll leave you with the full poem, to confuse you for the rest of the morning. Maybe it'll get stuck in your head, too.
Lewis Carroll(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The sky is an ugly shade of steely grey. It matches my mood at the moment.
I just signed up for the Networked Blogs application this morning on FaceBook. A blogger friend sent me an invitation to follow her blog on FB, and I thought I'd sign mine up as well.
Now something is wrong with my Blogger account. All of the other blogs that I've been following have somehow been deleted from my homepage. Gone. Vanished. Not there.
How does this happen? Over the last year, I've discovered so many wonderful, helpful blogs by fellow writers, literary agents, and others in the publishing community. I faithfully check them each day or each week for their wisdom. They add to my sense of community, as writing is really such a solitary pursuit so much of the time.
And now they're all gone. Any suggestions? Besides starting from scratch to re-compile my list?
Maybe it's a sign from the writing muses that I need to stop reading... and start writing again.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I'm spending a lot of time wondering what my daughter is doing at summer camp. Hoping she's having fun and making friends.
I'm also spending a lot of time reminiscing in my own head about my days at Girl Scout camp, way back when. I grew up in Northern New Jersey, and our council's camps were across the border in rural New York State. Camp Golden Knot was were I went as a Brownie, and Camp Glen Spey was were I went when I was a little older.
My sister and I always went to camp in August, since our family spent July down the shore in Normandy Beach, on Barnagate Bay. The Jersey Shore is a fabulous place to spend summers, almost as nice as Cape Cod (LOL). Sandy beaches, early morning sailing lessons, day camp on the bayside, water skiing behind dad's boat, visits to the boardwalks in Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights on weekends. Stock car races in Wall once a summer.
After a month at the shore, camp always seemed extra-green, the tall trees perpetually casting shade and shadows. The lake was so different from the Atlantic, in so many ways. The all-girl atmosphere, hiking, crafting, swimming, row boating, and the daily challenges the counselors would throw at us made Girl Scout camp one of the highlights of my summer and my year, every year. I met a great group of girls from all over New Jersey, and we'd plan to sign up for the same session each year, the only two weeks most of us would see each other since we went to different schools.
On my last summer camping at Glen Spey, my now teen-aged camp friends and I decided to sign up for the Primitive Camping experience, not really knowing what we were signing up for, just that it would be more challenging than previous summers. We wanted something special for what we agreed would be our last summer as Girl Scouts together.
On arrival day, we Primitive Unit campers followed our counselors on a long hike, carrying all our gear, at least a mile "out" of camp. It must have still been part of Glen Spey, but we'd never been to this neck of the woods. They led us to an empty clearing.
"This is your campsite," they told us. We looked around. Nothing. No tents, no fire pit...no latrine. "Your sleeping units were delivered, so we won't have to carry them the whole way from camp." We followed the counselors up another path through the woods, that spilled onto a dirt camp road. On the side of the road were long, heavy boxes with pictures of tepees on the sides.
We read the instructions, and built tepees. They were large enough to sleep 4 or 5 girls, but we were a little cramped inside the space. We were told that was okay, because we were going to be too busy to spend much time inside except to sleep. The counselors were right.
We gathered large stones and built a fire pit. We dug a pit and lashed saplings between trees to build a latrine. We found a spot next to a rocky outcropping where we could rig up a bucket high enough to build a shower (which we didn't get fully functional until almost the last day.) We rigged our food on pulleys in the trees to keep the critters out. We put on war paint and raided other campsites (only counselor tents) for extra food and treats (looking back, I think that might have been prearranged between the counselors.) We hiked back into the main camp and swam in the lake a lot, but our primitive unit was still nicknamed PU, because, yes, we all smelled pretty bad after a week in the woods.
For two weeks, we kept building and improving until our campsite was just as fully functional as any of the "regular" campsites at Glen Spey. And then we had to take it all down at the end, to Leave No Trace. It was the best two weeks at camp I ever had.
My daughter is eight. She is not primitive camping this summer, but someday, maybe, she'll want to do something similar. One of the camp choices she looked at for this year was "Camp Survivor," based on the popular t.v. reality show. She decided she wasn't ready for that quite yet. "Maybe next year," she said.
I hope she's having fun.
Monday, August 10, 2009
We left our daughter at Girl Scout camp yesterday. She's there for the week. By herself. She's 8 years old. She couldn't wait for us to leave, running ahead down the path to get to her unit.
I can't stop thinking about her, wondering what she's up to. I can't wait to hear all her camp stories on Friday when I go to pick her up.
As a parent, we want our kids to exhibit independence, strike out on their own, have their own thoughts and desires. Except, when the reality of independence arrives, it's sometimes hard for the parents to swallow. Harder for me, at least.
Did I want her to get teary when she hugged me good-bye? Well, no, not really. But I wasn't fully prepared for how very casual she was in waving us off. Not waving good-bye, looking at us. But waving us off as she joined in the next activity.
"Bye, mom. Bye dad," she called casually over her shoulder as she sat down at the picnic table and chose through the markers to find her favorite colors. She wanted her nametag to look cool.
I had to settle for a kiss on the top of her head, because she'd already moved on. Which is good.
I can't wait to hear all about it.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I've been a bad blogger this summer. Too much company, too many obligations.
What's worse, I've been a bad novel writer as well. I've only worked sporadically on the 3 WIPs I have seriously going, and not a lick on the 2 manuscripts I outline this spring and wrote a page or two for. I've written magazine articles for CWO, and researched a bunch of other stuff and assigned articles to other writers, and edited their finished pieces.... so I am working with my words and my keyboard.
Just not "writing."
What's up with that?
It could be simply that I'm too distracted to focus on manuscripts. I don't have a few hours strung together to fully immerse myself in anything. The alternating-days-at-sailing worked well for the kids, but not for the mom/taxi driver. I'm actually glad my son took a month off from karate, as the schedule on Tuesdays was just too tight. And July was non-stop company, starting with 4th of July weekend, through the visitors who left August 4th. I actually called and cancelled my friend who was coming today through Tuesday. (hope I didn't cancel the friendship!) July wore me out.
I also think I'm a little paralyzed with fear about my upcoming debut novel. What if it gets panned? What if I have more than one entry to send to that blog, "The Wost Review Ever." (which can be hysterical and bittersweet and philosophically uplifting. Visit it here)
My writing plan for August:
1. Finish re-polishing the mermaid story (with rewrites suggested by nice-yet-rejecting agent), so it's ready to send out in September.
2. Take hard look at MS#1, to determine if it's worth the effort to salvage in an earlier iteration than what I submitted to my editor. All her main plot and character problems were things I'd changed in response to various rejection and crit group feedback.
3. Find a new critique group. Check if the one at the library has changed members at all. (like, that annoyingly snarky guy who didn't take off his sunglasses the whole time, is he gone yet?)
4. Finish outlining second book of Jillian's story, including character and plot twists.
Okay, overly ambitious considering I've done very little this last month and the magazine has a September first release date. (if you haven't gone to read through our summer issue, take a couple minutes to click through it. the link is here)
But better to have goals than not. Oh yeah, and my other goal is to relax. Now that I have no company for the next two weeks, and a week in Vermont to look forward to, I need to unwind a little. My jaw has been clenched a little too tightly. Not that I don't like the sharp-cheekbone look. But I need to smile more. There's a goal right there.
What are your goals for the rest of the summer?
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Cape Cod Weather Today: Overcast and extremely humid. The clouds might just be fog, but the humidity must be around 80%. The thermometer says it's 73 degrees out there at 7 a.m...
August on Cape Cod.
If you're here, you've probably already had your fill of lobster for the summer. And ice cream. And mini golf. And sand in your bathing suit.
Sailing lessons are getting old. Bicycling is boring by now. Fishing from shore is impossible at this time of year, until the fish swing through again in the fall.
So what's left to do? Well...
You can visit the guy in the picture above. He's 160 years old and lives in the tank at George's Fish Market on Route 28 in Harwich. He's not for sale. They're holding a contest to name him, collecting money for cancer research. The winner will get to go out on the boat with the fishermen to throw the old coot back into the ocean (you also win a clambake for your friends and family.)
You can check out the race car track, also on Route 28 in Harwich...
It's one of those horribly touristy places that always has a long line when it's cloudy. But it's not too expensive, and it's fun.
You can also get yourself ready for the annual Provincetown Carnival Week, this year from Augut 16-23. The theme this year is the Summer of Love: Peace, Love & Go Go Boots." My friend Charlie, who is one of the owners at Ptown Pedicab, is already working on turning the pedicabs into floats... can't give away his ideas, though.... The parade is Thursday. We took the kids a few years ago when the theme was Heroes and Villians...lots of questions to answer when you go to a gay parade...
If you live on the Cape, August is usually the month to "Get out of Dodge." Most people we know take a week and go somewhere ELSE where they can be the tourists for a change. Often somewhere green and mountainous, but sometimes it's as simple as goingto a different stretch of the Atlantic shoreline (say, NH or NJ. Not usually CT as it seems too similar) Why take a beach vacation when you LIVE at the shore? 'Cuz it's just not the same to walk down the street to the beach as it is to be on VACATION.
Whatever you decide to do with your August, I'm going to try to find a "vacation frame of mind" to enjoy some of my month. Because soon enough it'll be September and the school year frenzy will start all over again. In the meantime, let's dig out the sun lotion and those beach books and relax by the pool. It's August. Enjoy it.