Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A nod to poet Rachel Field

Cape Cod Weather Today: Overcast and 37 degrees. The weatherman promised sunny and mid-50s. Did he only mean Boston? I need a real Cape Cod weatherman, who'll pay attention in the off-season, too...

The wild geese are returning.

Though the fields of sea grass may still be golden, the wind is whispering "spring."


Looking forward to a day of yardwork. If and when the sun comes out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

On being a Yahoo...

More wisdom from Editorial Anonymous:

"...So if you've been looking at my injunction to prove "what a yahoo you are not" and thinking, "Crap, I think maybe I am a bit of a yahoo," that's OK.

It's not that I don't expect authors to be weird. Only to be high-functioning enough to recognize gradations of weird (eg that their collection of images of people sticking their tongues out is less "weird" than the collection of pickled roadkill in their basement), and socially-adjusted enough to know at what point in a relationship to reveal each weirdness."

Okay, I'm feeling a little better now. It's not hiding my yahoo-ness forever.

Just until you get to know me better. ;-)

Just around the corner...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Wet. Overcast. Mid 40s. Not a nice day, but better than yesterday, and getting better all the time.

I found crocuses blooming in my next door neighbor's yard! Somehow the bunnies missed this group of purple lovelies, or at least they were still there yesterday when I snapped this photo. Bright, cheerful, warm, inviting....

Yeah, spring!

If it was the least bit sunny, I'd be outside raking the lawn and doing some yard work. But it's not. Maybe tomorrow.

The landscapers arrived back in the neighborhood last week, raking, blowing, mulching and mowing... so all the empty houses are now sitting at attention, ready for their summer occupants to return. Alas, the weather isn't cooperating. I was just told that next weekend is predicted to be just as gloomy as this past one was.

The small business owner who said this to me on the phone this morning was a little depressed; when the forecasters predict rain and fog for Cape Cod, visitors make other plans. Especially in the current economy. But he was optimistic for the summer, hoping people choose to stay close to home for vacations and spend money locally in small shops such as his, the Dennisport General Store. He and his wife have a cool mixture of clothing, jewelry, crafty Cape items and kitchen accessories - I bought my husband a fancy new martini shaker for Father's Day last year. Neat stuff! You can visit them (and even buy stuff) online at:


Or if you're on the Cape, they're down the road on Route 28, Main Street in Dennisport.

Joe and Colleen are both wonderful, and very helpful. Joe went to school out in western Massachusetts with one of my best friends, but has been on the Cape a while now. He can talk your ear off about anything - today it was container gardens, and growing summer squash here on Cape Cod (hard to do, apparently.)

They're looking forward to summer as much as I am.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Query advice from other bloggers

From the Editorial Anonymous blog :

"...As I have said before, every query, every cover letter, every submission, is really just trying to get across two big things: (1) How great your manuscript is. (2) What a yahoo you are not."

It sounds so easy. Why can't I do this effectively?

Random Rambling

Cape Cod Weather Today: Drizzle. Fog. Wet. But Warmer... already 41 degrees out there. There's hope for spring... and the landscapers are back in the neighborhood, a sure sign of things to come...

It's been a busy week in many ways, except for my writing. I've barely put any new words on any pages, except my Facebook page. Not a good sign. I did however, clean a bunch of boxes out of my attic that have been there for three years, a few of which were labeled "Open Now." There was one that my sarcastic little sister wrote on with "Store Forever because I never should have moved it in the first place." Hmmm. Will need to talk to her about that at the next family holiday.

It felt good to get that pile of stuff out from over my head, literally, although it hasn't moved all that far yet. It's now piled in the garage. Just the fact that it's out of the attic helps me a lot, as strange as that might sound. I may actually get some writing accomplished today. Yea.

I'm also feeling out of sorts that I didn't sign up for the writer's conference this weekend in Framingham. I should have. I should have waited to send the manuscript to my editor, and taken it to the conference to pitch to other agents and editors. And met the publisher of the house that's printing my first book, because I read she's going to be in town for this meeting. Oh well; even though writing is my job, it still isn't my priority. I have so many things on the schedule... so again I say "Maybe next year."

On the bright side, I'll be spending Sunday in Boston with an old friend while my son goes to see the Harlem Globetrotters with his aunt, a belated birthday/Christmas gift he's been eagerly anticpating. I'm looking forward to shopping and gossip.

And next week we'll start on the gardening, my other favorite form of procrastination. Keep the fingers crossed for good weather!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mister Monday

Cape Cod Weather Today: Bright sunshine, partly cloudy, although the thermometer says it's only 31 degrees out there. There is a layer of ice on the pool cover again, and the wind whips through occasionally rattling the windows... and don't get me started about tomorrow's predicted snow showers... ! Spring? Hello? Where are you?

I'm feeling pretty lousy today with a stuffy head and not enough sleep, although the sore throat is gone. I'm afraid my oldest has the same thing, and hoping with fingers crossed that my husband didn't catch it too as his alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. to catch four different flights today for a meeting in Kentucky...

So after the kids got on the bus I curled up to finish Book One of Garth Nix's "Keys to the Kingdom" series. My middle child read it last week and put it on my desk. "Read this next," he said.

So I did.

What great world building Nix has wrought. I've never read any of his books before, but I'll definitely head out to find the rest of this series soon. I recommend it highly.

I'd hoped the book would inspire me to keep going with my own young adult book, but my head is feeling too stuffed up to sit here and write for very long. Besides, I just sent off the last manuscript on Friday. Perhaps I should take a break and catch up on other things. Like the laundry. And the vacuuming. And digging the Easter decorations out of the scary attic.

Now there's a story in the making... the scary attic.... hmmm...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome Spring....

Cape Cod Weather Today: Mostly cloudy, but I think the rain is done for the moment (the dogs hope so too, as they didn't get to the beach yesterday.) It's only 36 degrees outside, but it doesn't feel cold (how ironic, that two weeks ago mid-40s still felt chilly) There is, however, a chance of ocean-effect flurries this weekend - aaarrrgggh! Spring? Hello? Spring?

Happy First Day Of Spring!

It's ironic that when I'm on a roll with my writing, I don't blog as much. That's probably the case with everyone, though, so I won't worry about it too much. I didn't even make it to writing class last night, because I got so caught up with my writing during the day I wasn't prepared ... oh, I had a chapter to bring to class, but I wasn't prepared with the kids' dinners, or the husband's dinner... I guess I've bought pizza the last few Thursdays... oh well.

I did finish the rewrite of "Finding Blue." It's down to a lean 80,000 words, and I'm thinking it's pretty tight, but I do need to read through it once more before sending it off to my editor.
*hopefully* she likes it, too. We'll see.

Need to get the kids ready for school now - Enjoy the first day of Spring!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Small Ch-ch-ch-anges

Cape Cod Weather today: Theoretically (according to the weather update on my computer screen) "Sunny and 34 degrees" although the sun hasn't risen all the way yet, and it looks kind of overcast out there to me... but the television weatherman said high of 43 for today, and in the 50s tomorrow *yea* but it should be a nice day for St. Patrick's Day today *double yea*

I just read several articles about increasing an author's web presence, and how important it is for authors to have and maintain more than one place on the internet. Blogging is good, and having it linked to a static home page (as I do, at www.katie-osulllivan.com) can increase the appeal of a more traditional website (because there's always something new to read when you go to visit the page...)

They suggest Facebook as a good place to humanize yourself - readers want to know who you are and what you are like outside of the books you've written. I'm on Facebook, along with about 300 other Katie O'Sullivans, mostly in the U.K. I'm the only KatieO on Cape Cod, if you're trying to find me ;-) Friend me!

The newest thing - and "most important" according to at least one editor as well as the "Girl Geek" weekend seminar one of my friends recently attended.... the most important new thing is to Tweet. (TIME magazine just had a story on this, if you need to read more) People use Twitter to let everyone know their thoughts and actions in 140 character bursts of wisdom.

Now, I signed up for Twitter to specifically follow a contest I'd entered in January (Firebrand's Query Holiday, sadly no request was forthcoming) and it seems like cool technology... but I don't have a blackberry or iphone, so Tweeting isn't so different for me than blogging, just shorter. I have an account, follow me @ "OkatieO" but I don't really Tweet, so there isn't much to read. Maybe someday (thus the account...)

The other two nuggets of wisdom I just gathered were 1. Friend everyone who asks you on Facebook (something I had also just read in Real Simple magazine) and 2. Turn off comment moderation of any type on your blogs. Let everyone who wants to leave a comment as easily as possible. If it's objectionable or spam, delete it later.

So that's my change for today. Go ahead and leave a comment. No moderation. It should appear magically as soon as you finish typing. Try it out, and let me know if it works.

Also let me know what you think about Web Presence, Twitter, and friending everyone on Facebook. Are these good and important ideas? Or random musings we should ignore?

And HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY to each and every one of you!!! Enjoy the day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Signs of Spring

Cape Cod Weather Today: Kind of cloudy and 37 degrees. It never got really warm yesterday, but somehow that spring feeling is still in the air...

So I never did walk the neighborhood to look for signs of spring. At least, not with my camera. I'm still walking the dogs and seeing the signs, but not documenting them. I need to.

Of course, the first time I thought of the camera this week and DIDN'T bring it along, we saw a baby seal up on our beach. Just sitting there, up by the dune, sunning itself. It's fur was still the color of sand, with a few dark mottled spots, and it looked no larger than our dogs (okay, the dogs are pushing 100 pounds, so it wasn't tiny by any stretch. Big enough to take care of itself.) Maybe he was looking for a little spring sunshine to bask in as well... do the sea creatures get as tired of winter as we humans do?

The dogs found it and woke it up. We were lagging behind, talking about his work and my latest hassle with my Brownie troop (not with the girls but with their mothers)... and we realized the dogs not talking to another dog on the beach but a sea creature.

There had been a large, fully grown, very dead seal on our beach last March. And the November before, a youngish seal had beached itself on our beach and the stranding network had to be called. Another time last spring when we were walking further down the shoreline (not on our beach) the dogs surprised an adult seal who was sunning itself... it took off at a surprisingly fast clip, barking all the way to the water.

This was our first encounter with a seal this young. And I didn't have my camera.

It must have come out of the water at high tide, because it was way up the beach, near the dunes. Madison and the seal went nose to nose, sniffing each other for a while - I mean, in the stop-action-frame-by-frame of the moment, it seemed like forever, but it was probably more like a minute that they were actually in each other's faces. Long enough for my husband and I to catch up and watch the scene unfold.

When the baby woke up enough, or maybe recognized "Hey, you don't smell right, you're not a seal," the baby gave a final "huff" and started pulling itself down the beach toward the water's edge, through the seaweed and shells. Madison followed at a discreet distance, as if not sure why this creature didn't get up and run on legs (the seals have powerful front flippers, but no rear legs only its tail.) Montana stayed behind, sniffing in the spot where the seal had been lying. As soon as the baby reached the water it smoothly submerged and didn't resurface until it was a good mile from shore.

Today I'll bring the camera. Maybe I'll get lucky and the curious baby will come back. Or maybe I'll just photograph some other signs of spring. Either way, I guess it really is right around the corner.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another Friday the 13th...!

Cape Cod Weather Today: Partly cloudy, only 26 degrees. No visible wind blowing around but it has that still, cold look... and there's ice on the top of the pool cover again....

A quick post to welcome another Friday the 13th! The first one seemed unique and fun... this one is eh? ...an also ran... oh well.

I'm busy wishing for warmer weather, gentle summer breezes and sunshine. Lots of it. Thus the photo I chose for this post, of the Swan River last spring. That's what I'm longing for now. Green Grass and Blue Skies. If it warms up a little more, I may take the camera out today to look for signs of spring in my neighborhood. Or maybe I should just sit here and get some writing done.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you take advantage of another Lucky Day. Close your eyes and make a good wish.

Don't let Lucky 13 go to waste.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March keeps rushing along...

Cape Cod Weather today: The sun is still rising, and it says 35 degrees on the thermometer, but yesterday's wind has dissipated, and the outlook is sunshine for the next several days. A marked improvement from yesterday's wind and sleet. Will this winter weather never go away???

Last week I wrote like gangbusters. I was glued to my computer.

Then came a few rejections, and this week I'm having trouble making myself sit down. Granted, there are things I've had to do for my Brownie troop's upcoming sock hop, and volcanoes to erupt left over from Thinking Day, and Girl Scout cookie time to wrap up, and the annual neighborhood dues to collect and tally, track shoes to purchase for the son starting spring sports next week, play rehersals to drive to for same son, karate classes, basketball games, meals to cook, let's not even mention vacuuming or laundry ... I mean, there are things I need to be doing outside of writing. But as I've been told before by *real* writers, nothing should be more important than writing.

Do those writers have kids? Or Brownie Troops? Or hungry families?

Rush, rush, rush. (And I don't mean Limbaugh.)

I feel like I'm always in a rush these days, but each child is only involved in one or two activities (not overscheduled) and I'm only taking one writing class at the moment (no art or yoga, boo hiss) And there isn't any gardening to be done... so why can't I feel satisfied with the amount of writing I'm able to do?

I'm whining, sorry. I'll stop. In fact, I should spend this time writing on one of my manuscripts in progress (MSS for "manuscripts" or WIP for "work in progress")... on which I have two interesting bits of info to share, which might help to motivate me a little.

One: I mentioned my contemporary romance WIP to my editor at the Lotus Circle. While mine is the first Lotus Circle book she's edited (I mentioned that it's a fairly new imprint) she's done lots of novels for Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press, and was eager to read the new MSS.

Two: I read a few articles on having "Beta readers" and while my middle son has read my mermaid story from the get-go (and helped inspire it) I thought I should try someone outside the family. Since my older son is in 7th grade, I asked him to find a friend or two willing to read a few chapters to see if it was interesting to the YA demographic. He came home with 2 girl's names, so I printed 2 copies of the first 3 chapters. The chapters have since been passed on to more of their friends, and one girl is begging my son for more to read. I printed out the next 30 pages and sent him to school with it this morning. I guess I should get back to that and keep reworking it, since it's going over pretty well as YA.

So there it is, my busy week. Hope you are doing better at organizing and balancing your life!

Try not to rush.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A smile for a rainy Friday morning...

Cape Cod weather today: Overcast and windy, but finally warmer. The skies threaten rain, but the weatherman on the radio insists is getting brighter out there....

Just a short post today, as my middle son handed me a rainbow on the way to school and I thought I'd share.

Me: "Isn't it dress-up day at school today?"

11-year-old: "Yeah."

Me: "Aren't you supposed to be dressed as your favorite book character?"

11-year-old: "Yeah."

Me: "So who are you supposed to be?"

11-year-old: "I'm Shea Maguire, from the book you're writing. I'm reading the manuscript again, remember?"

Me: (smiling) "I wrote your favorite character? Really?"

11-year-old: "Yeah. It's so much better now. I love it."

Me: (speechless)

11-year-old: "Bsides, it's easy cuz he looks just like me already."

Me: (laughs) "So that's the real reason."

11-year-old: "No. I really really like it. And it'll be fun to explain that my mom WROTE me."

(car reaches the elementary school)

11-year-old: "Bye mom."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reading all night...

Cape Cod Weather Today: The sun is still rising, but it looks like it will be bright out. After last week's warmth and the weekend's White Weather, this week has seemed bitterly cold and an unfair step backward into winter... it's 19 degrees right now, and I ran laundry before 6 a.m. to keep the machine from freezing...

Last week I went to the library, because I just HAD to read Cassandra Clare's second book in her series, City of Ashes. While there I picked up two other YA books I'd heard buzz on: Kristin Cashore's Graceling and Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games. You see all these book titles in my sidebar list, the list of books I'm reading and highly recommending to anyone who reads this or listens to me jabber on about books.

And let me just say, Oh. My. God.

I know I went to the library especially for Clare's book, and I read that first on Friday, but the other two have left me simply breathless. Breathless. Really.

A little of it is envy, especially for Cashore's debut novel and all the accolades it's currently receiving. But also from lack of sleep... I devoured The Hunger Games in 4 hours, last night, not even picking it up until I got frustrated with my own writing close to 11 p.m. And then I couldn't go to sleep without finishing it.

When I worry about the pace of my own stories, worry that the stakes I set for my characters aren't high enough, worry that my characters aren't compelling enough...

I guess I have reason to worry.

It was after finishing Cashore's book on Sunday that I decided to go back and strip the Middle Grade aspects from my own young book, and rebuild it as a YA offering, making the characters slightly older, giving the villain more screen time and more evil. More mwa-ha-ha, as Editorial Anonymous would say.

My beta reader loves it. I was happier with it, until I read The Hunger Games. Now I want what Collins wrote. A book that keeps you up because you HAVE to know what happens. After three hours of sleep, this is all that seems important at the moment. And all that seems unattainable.

Maybe things will look brighter after a nap...

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like A Lion...

Cape Cod Weather Today: Snow. Sleet. Freezing Rain. Howling Wind. Hello March.

March certainly came in like a lion yesterday. We woke to snow falling in large clumpy flakes, which soon tuned to rain and back to snow and back to rain... well, you get the idea. There was a slight pause in the wind and precipitation around four in the afternoon, so we took the stir-crazy dogs to the beach for a quick run.

The ocean looked steely grey, mirroring the cloudy sky. The water was abnormally still, the waters taking a break from their winter pounding. The silence was eerie, and by the time we were tromping back up the boardwalk toward home, the wind began to pick up and the surf began to stir behind us. My cheeks were frozen when I finally got home.

The weather today is worse, though not as bad as it sounds off-Cape. The wind blows the icy mixture of precipitation against the side of my house making a constant rattle in the background, to accompany the insipid music of the Wii. The snow falls sideways with the strong gusty winds, leaving icy chunks stuck to the windows. Because of course it's a snow day and the kids have no school. The roads are too icy for safe travel - at least my dentist appointment was also cancelled. And I assume my daughter's evening basketball game will have to be rescheduled as well.

So maybe I won't get much writing done today, with the cacophony of electronic games and "I'm hungry" interruptions, but at least I know they're all safe and warm. It's a blizzard out there.