Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Through the Looking Glass: Have you been to see Chihuly?

A few days ago, I traveled into Boston with my mom and my oldest son to visit the Museum of Fine Arts. We went specifically to see an exhibit of works by Dale Chihuly. My mom was excited. My son had seen a video of the installation in his high school art class earlier this spring and was looking forward to it.

I had no idea what to expect.

I was blown away.

Dale Chihuly is from Washington State, and his exhibitions travel all over the U.S. According to my mother, he often shows his works at botanical gardens or in other natural settings - which makes sense as you look at the organic flow of his glass work.

The MFA flyer says Chihuly has "revolutionized the art of blown glass." The exhibit on display in Boston through August 7 represents his creative vision over the last four decades. On the Museum's website is a video of his work and the display set to music by Passion Pit - - go to http://www.mfa.org/chihuly-music/ to watch it.

I took so many more photographs and images that I can't post them all here. (and, btw, I was totally allowed to take pictures in the museum, as long as I didn't use a flash. Allowed and encouraged!)

If you're near Boston this summer, make a stop at the MFA. Admission is only $20 for nonmembers $18 for seniors and students over 18, and kids under 18 are free all summer long. If you can't make it here, remember the name of the artist - Chihuly - and look for his next exhibition near you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NonCompliant Rocks Hyannis

I may have mentioned before (once or twice) that my kids are in rock bands. There's a great studio in Hyannis called Mode4Music where they not only take regular guitar lessons, but also "rock band class" - my son has been in the same band for 4 years now, and he's just 13.

Over Father's Day weekend, the studio took over the stage at the Hyannis Green, and put on a free concert on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My daughter's band, Blonde Persuasion, performed two songs in the first set and my son's band, NonCompliant played four songs in the second set and dominated the show (okay, I know I'm the mom but really, they did!)

It was great to see so many kids on stage performing in groups or doing their solo thing. Kind of like a live American Idol thing but much more real. NonCompliant had a few technical difficulties with my favorite Lifehouse song, All In, but they worked through it like the seasoned pros that they already are, not missing a beat.

Afterward, we went out with my parents for a lobster dinner - first lobsters of the season! - and toasted both Father's Day and my talented kids for a great performance.

If you missed this show, you still have another chance to catch NonCompliant this summer when they play at the annual Barnstable Kids Day, sponsored by the police and fire departments. I blogged about last year's event which you can read by clicking here.

Did you do anything special for Father's Day weekend?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Old Friends, New Conversations

Last night the kids and I drove up to my parents' house for dessert. They had old friends visiting, from my New Jersey childhood. The kids had fun breaking in Grandma's new firepit by making s'mores, and I had fun catching up on the news of what their kids are up to these days.

Their son Jeff was my best friend in elementary school, mostly because he lived right across the street but also because we got along so well... at least until the other boys told him he shouldn't play with girls because he'd catch cooties or something. Silly boys. Jeff just got married last weekend and while they didn't have wedding pictures to share just yet, they did have photos of the happy couple, and of their older son's children - their grandchildren.

It was a fun visit, and my oldest son (who had been grumbling on the entire drive north) told me "Well, they're really nice people. I'm glad we came."

I think my son was expecting a lot of "Remember when..." and stories about me as a kid. He was expecting to feel left out.

Instead, the conversation stayed current, and they asked the kids lots of questions about themselves and school and sports and the upcoming concert this weekend... there was a little reminiscing and comparing my middle son's running ability to their middle son's running ability (and he ended up with a Cross Country scholarship to college and is now a doctor...) But the conversation was mostly in the present.

It seems like I've been getting back in touch with lots of old friends lately, some in person some via social media. One of my college roommates and I "hooked up" via LinkedIn recently. She came to the Cape during her vacation last week, and we got together for a long walk on the beach followed by lunch at an outdoor restaurant overlooking one of Harwich's five harbors.

I hadn't seen her in 24 years, and yet after an initial awkward period, we were chatting and catching up like the old friends that we are, talking about jobs and houses and kids. We talked very little about our shared history - we were both there, after all. I was more interested in what's happened to her since the last time I saw her.

I'm not saying there isn't a time and place to relive the glory days. But sometimes it's fun to stay in the present and just catch up.

When you get together with old friends, do you spend more time reminiscing or swapping stories of current events?

Who is the one person from your past that you'd like to catch up with today?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Non-Rejection Rejection

Still riding the Query-Go-Round....

Have you noticed that there is an alarming trend among agents these days? I know it's not a "new" new thing, but it seems to be spreading. It's the non-rejection Rejection.

I guess it's always been the case that writers aren't supposed to call literary agents, or try to follow-up on a query they've submitted. It is preferred that we wait patiently for the agent to get back to us. Which is fine. After all, there's only one of them at their desk, and potentially thousands of us writers clamoring for attention. It makes sense for us to wait for a response.

But what if the response is no response?

I've noticed that a lot of agents now say right on their websites that if they don't respond in 8-12 weeks, it means they aren't interested. So, you could wait 2-3 months and not hear anything and then that lack of response is your rejection.

Seems like a cop-out.

I'm not suggesting that agents aren't busy people, with their own clients to worry about and books to sell. Heck, when I land an agent, I want him or her to be working their hardest for me. On the other hand, if an agent is open to queries, wouldn't you like to know that someone is reading them?

I would rather receive at least a form rejection than not hear anything at all, because at least then you're sure your query was received. That someone at least took the time to click it open and read the few short paragraphs that you've agonized and scrutinized and taken the time to perfect.

What do you think? Is the silent rejection a valid business model? D you query those agents anyway, and just make note of the stated response times? How do you deal with silence?

Make sure to click on the link over on the top left of my page to head over to Penny Watson's Celebrate New England blogfest - she has a slew of great paperbacks and ebooks she's giving away, donated by some wonderful New England authors! Just click over and leave a comment to be entered to win!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Procrastination Nation...

Summer is nearly upon us here on Cape Cod...

Don't you love this windowbox? I applauded my sister-in-law's innovation and she shrugged, saying, "I took so long getting around to planting it last year that the ferns planted themselves."

Sometimes procrastination can be a good thing. But here it is, almost summer, and I didn't finish either of the WIPs I wanted to have done by now.

Most people think that Memorial Day marks the official start of Summer, and that may be true. But the real, heavy-duty tourist season doesn't begin until after the schools get out. So we technically have a few more weeks until the Summer People invade. I'm pretending it's not happening until the very last minute, when I can finally procrastinate no longer because they'll all be here... on the Cape...

Invasion of the Summer People. Maybe that would be a good book to write... would it be an adventure novel or a horror show? I guess it depends on how hot the weather gets...

Honestly, I haven't been writing for a few weeks now. Talk about Procrastination! I did a-a-a-all that yard work and was finally ready to sit down to write again when the rejection slammed into my inbox. Stalled the writing engine yet again. Making my mind wander to other things...

Like summer plans. I finally put the check in the mail (better late than never) for sailing lessons for the kids, and the camps are all lined up - got the doctor appointments squeezed in for the all-important camp physicals. The pool is all set, the neighborhood cocktail parties are scheduled, friends have "booked" our guest room for various weekends...

Bring on the summer fun!

What are you looking forward to this summer? Big trips? Annual getaways? Something special? Go ahead, share your plans and help me get my mind off my lack of writing motivation ;-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

So Glad that Monday is Over...

The week didn't start out so well, and I'm left feeling like a bad mom and a bad writer. Bad all around.

The agent that had requested my full ... got back to me with a rejection. "...While there was much about your story that I liked and admired..." yada yada yada.... "not the best representative for your work"...yada yada yada... "I know another agent will feel differently."


Okay, that's not the bad mom part. And actually, I'm still pretty conflicted about whether I should feel bad about this or not.

Adam Sandler is filming a movie this summer on Cape Cod. My kids are so excited and made me take them to sign up to be extras. Fine. July and August. Fine. The casting agent talked me into adding "And Boston" to their call sheets. They've already called twice for my son to go up north of Boston 3 days this week. He's still in school. He still has finals to do. He has a field trip today.

I said no.

The second woman who called from California tried to argue with me, and promised they would have a tutor on the set since it's a school day and all.

I still said no. I told her school gets out on June 22.

Besides the fact that my husband is traveling this week and I have 2 other kids with activities and bus pickups... The Girl Scout Bridging ceremony is tonight. The High School spring sports awards ceremony is tonight for my older son's first Varsity letter. My daughter has band rehearsal tomorrow night that she can't miss because the concert is less than 2 weeks away. My dad's 70th birthday is today...

None of that matters to my son, of course.

One of his friend's has a mom who is taking her kid out of school tomorrow to drive up there and be in the scene. My son is so upset with me that his friend gets to go and he doesn't. I tried to tell him it's not like Adam Sandler is going to be there, they're shooting the flashback scenes and will have a "younger" version of Adam on set.

Watch now, I'll be wrong and his friend will come back with movie star stories.

What would you have done? Let him get out of school and take him to the movie shoot? Rearrange your life for a Hollywood schedule?

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty depressed over the rejection letter, but I can always send out more queries. What do I do about disappointing my child?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Catching Up

I've been MIA lately because Spring finally arrived on Cape Cod. My yard was in pitiful shape after a long winter and longer soggy non-Spring. But the blooms have been beautiful...

I've been edging beds, spreading mulch, clearing dead leaves, mowing and weed-whacking, trimming bushes and dead tree branches, replacing broken fences... you name it, I've been doing it. More like re-landscaping than yard work.

And while I work outside, my mind keeps turning over story details so that by next week, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to sit down and crank on the WIP I was stuck in the middle of.

Do you ever find that when you're stuck on a plot point, or stuck on where a story is going, it's better to put it down completely and focus on something else entirely? I tried banging my head against it, but it was like a brick wall that I couldn't break through. Now I'm feeling re-energized by my time away from the story, and eager to get back and just plow through it, like I'm doing with my yard.

What works best for you when you get "stuck" ?

Query Update on MERMAID BLOOD:

Queries sent: 6, as of last week (I told you I was going to be selective)
Form rejections: 1
Requests for more: 1 request for a full manuscript (that came the same day!) (*quiet yea*)

Thanks to everyone who has commented on my posted query. I guess I need to refine Shea's goals more - the antagonists goals are clear: world domination. What does Shea want? answers? family? to belong? I have several more names on my "selective" list that I've already researched, so maybe I'll send some more queries out next week in addition to writing.

Have a great weekend!