Monday, January 26, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Cape Cod Weather today: Cold and getting colder. But *they* say it won't snow again until Wednesday....
My oldest son made honor roll at his middle school again today... my youngest daughter played in her first "home game" with her basketball team (and her team won)... my middle child's karate teacher just didn't show up to open the studio today, (no note on the door, no nothing) which is fine because he was still worn out from his rock concert yesterday (playing in it not attending it).... and I found a piece of sky blue seaglass in amongst the slipper snail shells as I walked the dogs along the beach at lunchtime.

blue magic...

o I took myself home and sat down at the computer with the various lists of information I collected last week, and sent off another query letter to one of the agents I found in my research. Yea, me! *Keep fingers crossed!*

I don't like writing queries, but I guess it's part of the job of being an author. I've read some funny blogs about query letters in my morning procrastinations, including Editorial Anonymous who has a funny post today about whether a query really needs to be typed... even I know that. The answer, if you don't know already, is YES. Everything needs to be typed. This isn't meant to be exclusive or mean, but if you think about it, those poor agents and editorial assistants and interns spend all day reading queries and partials. The least we can do is type our submissions, unless of course we want to be paying for their vision plan. I don't even Have a "vision plan" with our current insurance... (umm, President Obama? Can we have Universal Vision with our Universal Health?)

Send positive vibes my way, that I'll soon be an agented author....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Try try again...

Cape Cod Weather today: Warmer than it's been, but still not warm enough for me....

I received the first rejection on my middle grade fantasy yesterday... which hit me harder than I thought it would. I love this story, and really thought everyone else would love it too. Now granted, I guess the agent I sent my query to doesn't have a lot of fantasy in her roster.

And that's probably most of my problem.

I need to do a better job of investigating before I hit the send button. It doesn't matter that I've been reading this agent's blog, and love the way she writes about life and publishing. She's not that into fantasy. So I spent today - all day - doing research. There are lots and lots of agents out there. Lots.

And some of them even enjoy middle-grade fantasy books.

So I'll just have to try to hook one of them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Moment in History

My neighbor and best friend Nicola Burnell is down in Washington D.C. for the festivities.
You can read her blog and see her photos from Sunday's concert at

The eyes of the world are on D.C. right now. Let's hope everything goes well, everyone stays safe, and everyone is renewed with hope for the future of our country, and our world.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Cape Cod Weather today: Cold and cloudy, but not the bitter cold we've had. It was relatively *warm* at 32 degrees... but grey and wet. Now it's late, so it's dark grey, to the point of black.

At the beach this afternoon, the gulls were funny. All along the shoreline, they were sitting on the rock jetties. Not swimming, not whirling and reeling overhead. Just sitting. Waiting.

Waiting for what?

Waiting for summer? Waiting for the tourists to return with their picnic lunches and bags of easy-to-steal potato chips? Waiting for the fishermen to return to the river jetty with their bait containers left open for the pickings? Waiting for tomorrow, when we as a country will witness a historic moment as Barack Obama takes the oath of office???

Or... Maybe they are as tired of this cold weather as I am. As we all are. The Arctic blast has chilled me to the bone, and I am so ready for it to be gone from the East coast. It's not that I'm ready for summer, or even spring. Certainly not ready yet for the rush of the tourist season...

I enjoy the quiet solitude of the winter season at the beach. The emptiness of the sandy stretch of land near my home. The quiet paths through the conservation lands in town. The nearly empty roadways and parking lots everywhere you go. And I enjoy bundling up in sweaters, and turtlenecks, breaking out the L.L.Bean gear and brewing hot chocolate for the kids in the mornings, to brace ourselves for the wait at the bus stop.

But it's been too cold this month. I am so done with January. Done, I tell you. Bring on the Thaw.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How Can You Resist?

Cape Cod Weather Today: Passing snow showers and grey skies, interspersed with periods of glorious sunshine. But it's cold out - only 29....

Meet Madison. She was a birthday gift from my husband a year and a half ago. Our 14 year old shepherd had just died earlier in the summer, and the black Lab and I were a little heartbroken.

But neither of us wanted a puppy.

Or so we thought.

Okay, so he was right and we were wrong. Montana (the Lab) and I have both grown to love this crazy puppy quite a lot in the year that she's been in our faces and at our heels, and slobbering us all with kisses. My dog walking friend says Madison is one of the dumbest dogs she's ever met, but also one of the sweetest. I'm not convinced she's quite that dumb... but she'll never win any medals for smarts. But oh, is she sweet.

She won me over with her sheer persistence. Always happy, great with the kids, always eager to walk or play or eat or cuddle... always eager period, I guess! And how can you resist that face, when she looks at you and seems to be asking "Walk? Walk Now? Time to go to the Beach??" In addition to the big eyes, she has a large vocabulary - growls and woo-woo-woos and elongated vowels that almost seem to be words. She definitely thinks she is talking to us just like we talk to her. My middle child actually encouraged this, deciding he would teach her how to say simple words like "food" and "walk" and "out"... so she still tries to talk to us. Whole sentences. Not quite Scooby Doo, but close.

And right now, she's saying "Walk? Walk Now? Now - ow- ow - ow..." so I'd better sign off and go. Need to listen when the dogs are talking.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Peeking out from the tumbleweeds...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Slushy. Yesterday's overcast turned to overnight rain, turned to morning ice and slush, and school delays. Ugh.

I've finished the latest round of edits on the book and emailed them off to my editor. Yea!

Now, as I look at my dusty desk piled high with (other) paperwork and the scattering of Christmas ornaments still lingering around my living room (and the mountain of laundry surrounding the washing machine) I realize I need to get back to "real life."

So how to "real" authors do this? How do they successfully make writing their life, without their life falling apart around them? How can you be creative and free when the carpet has enough dog hair sticking to it to actually look brown instead of its normal shade? Do published authors all have cleaning people and paperwork people and perfect children who clean up after themselves? Or do they stick with cats and dogs, who still have needs but not nearly the amount of stuff... and cleaning people for vacuuming up the hair...

I guess I need to come up with a writing schedule for myself, to go along with the sports schedules and school schedules. Like, from 9:00 to noon, I have to sit here and write, and if there's a deadline add more time. If the kids make the bus, the dogs get a morning walk. If not, the dogs will have to wait until lunchtime (or like today, they have to wait to see if the slush stops falling from the sky.) I've already relegated Facebook and Blogger surfing to before 7 am or after 7 pm... (that whole procrastination lecture I gave myself sunk in, I guess.)

Hopefully, I can catch up with the mountains of laundry and tumbleweeds of dog hair before they overwhelm me completely. And some of that paperwork could probably go straight into the circular file in the kitchen...

If you have any advice, please share it. I can obviously use all the help I can get !

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Some Dr. Seuss to start 2009....

A friend posted this, and it made me laugh. I thought I'd share...

It has often been said
there's so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

That's why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader's relief is.

– Dr. Seuss

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Bright New Year

Cape Cod Weather Today: A bright grey overcast sky, hovering in the 20s still, although the weatherman promised it would rise up over freezing today...

The new year dawned clear and cold on Cape Cod. I took this photo yesterday, on our walk to the beach with the dogs. The wind whipped through the holes in the knees of my jeans, and the drifted snow snuck down into our boots to chill our toes. The dogs did not venture out into the ocean to chase the gulls floating near the shoreline. Even they knew better, for a change.

Does anyone make New Year's Resolutions anymore? We had friends over for New Year's Eve, and it didn't even come up. No one talked about making any... and yet I'm still wondering if there are things I want to Resolve to do in the new year. Like less procrastination. More actual writing time. These would be good resolutions, but not sure how to make it work. Maybe that's why resolutions don't last. You come up with the result you want, but not the strategy for producing it. I need to develop my Writing Strategy, the one where I can be most prolific and get the result I want. Being published, that is. I know I have one novel that will be published, but another manuscript recently came back to me like a prodigal child, rejected once again. And my middle grade fiction needs to be finished. I really wanted to finish that by the end of 2008, and yet it still sits on my hard drive, the conflict unresolved. The King's life was saved, but the hero still needs to vanquish the evil Prince. And forgive the mother who abandoned him. (oh the cliche of it all...)

So my immediate goal for 2009 is to finish the current rewrites on Unfolding the Shadows and return them to my editor by Monday, when she is back at her desk. My second goal is to finish the first draft of The Summer People by the end of January, and go through a polishing process before mailing out queries to agents. I want an agent to help guide this middle grade novel through the currently stormy and uncertain publishing waters. Besides that, I just want an agent. And after I get that manuscript out the door, I can go back to my prodigal child and revise it once again... perhaps with all the editing knowledge I'm gleaning through the current process with the other book, I'll be better suited to making Finding Blue ready for prime time.

These are my resolutions and I'm sticking to 'em.

Oh, and I need to eat less chocolate and do less yelling at my kids. We'll see how long that lasts.