Monday, February 26, 2007

My First

So, I'm back and had mixed feelings about my inbox when I returned. First, I was a bit...ahem...irritated that my soon-to-be-ex agent didn't bother to reply. I'm getting the feeling I've been too nice and way too patient. I've written an email to the owner of the agency...yes, I'm procrastinating picking up the phone. Why can't people just do what they say they're going to do?

BUT, on a happier note--I was also very, very excited to find one of my short stories has been accepted by Crimson Highway ( and will appear in their April issue. It will be my first short story published. It's a "for the love" deal, but so what? A writing credit is a writing credit!

This makes me happy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Agent 00Nothing

So, in talking to a new writer friend who I had the pleasure of being a reader for...and who landed an agent and an offer within a short amount of time, and who I believe deserves both--I came to the conclusion that I needed to shake up my situation a bit. I find myself enjoying change this year, like letting go of things in my life that aren't working (ex: The Mothercode). So, I have also decided to end my relationship with my agent. Scary, be agentless once again when it took so long to get through the slush and get her to begin with, not to mention the hundreds of query letters, postage costs, the tic from hitting the refresh button on my email over and over...ah, those were the days.

But, as my friend pointed out--you can't get the right one until you toss out the wrong one. I like this. So, I took a leap of faith and ended it, asking only that she send me a list of editors that have passed on the manuscript because this is one of the things that I have been upset with her about. Yes, I do want to hear about the rejections. Yes, I would like a submission history for future reference. So, guess what? That was two days ago and she hasn't responded yet. She usually answers my emails within the hour. I'm beginning to wonder if she has even EVER put it in front of an editor. I mean, I certainly would tell a client about the rejections, if nothing else, to let them know I was at least trying. When I've asked her in the past who is passing, she has said "be patient, these things take awhile." Refer to friend above--obviously not that long.

Have I hurt her feelings? I doubt it, she's been in the business for thirty years. Surely, she's lost other clients.

Did she secretly hate my book and take it on just to keep it off the market? I'm beginning to think so.

I suppose I'll eventually have to call her if she doesn't respond. That will not make me happy.

If I look at the upside, which is what I'm trying to do, I have to say that I think the book I'm working on now will be easier to sell and will appeal to a broader population. I would rather it be my first published. Or, who knows, maybe the one I write after this one will be "the one." Someday I'll get there.

Anyway, I will be leaving for the mountains tomorrow. Fun and tubing with friends for a few days. Hopefully when I get back this situation will have resolved itself.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Missed My Ride Again

I thought I'd take a break from writing about writing and share one of my smaller obsessions. Unexplained phenomena. This is a picture taken by Charles Miller of a UFO cruising the NC skies. (I realize it's hard to see cuz my background is black, too)Darn, why wasn't I looking up? Gotta get my nose out of books once in awhile.

I'm not sure if this is the same UFO, but a few weeks ago, the news here played some 911 recordings for our amusement where people were calling in from all over NC freaked out by a ball of light arching across the sky. A former military pilot was quoted as saying the colors weren't right and it was moving too slow to be a comet.

Now, no one that was interviewed would actually say they believed it was an actual UFO or aliens or anything of the sort. Wimps. Maybe they've heard too many abduction stories and are afraid of the retaliating probe. Me? When I let my mind venture in the direction of us being the only life to pop up in the whole universe, I feel--not special--but lonely, insignificant and destitute. If we are the only life forms then are we just a random mistake? A virus that got out of control on the surface of one insignificant rock? Then what happens when our sun burns itself out or we blow ourselves up or a comet wipes out all life, etc??? Then life just doesn't exist anywhere? Ever? Nope, I can't buy it.

I've seen a UFO myself. Two, actually. It was about ten years ago when I lived in Ft. Lauderdale on the Fourth of July. Oh, you saw fireworks after one too many margaritas. Well, yes...there were fireworks and margaritas involved BUT I was not hallucinating. It was a clear night, warm, perfect as only a Florida night can be, I was alternating watching the fireworks in the sky and the reflection off the lake when something higher caught my eye. It was one light zig zagging at high speed at first and then another popped up joining it in what looked like a game of chase. I turned to the person beside me and said "do you see that?" "Hah," they said thoughtfully following the lights, "they must of come to see the fireworks." I looked around at the crowd and no one seemed to be bothered by the high speed game going on in the sky...I couldn't even tell if anyone else noticed. I'd say it lasted no more than a minute then they just blinked out.

My parents also had their own close encounter. In high school, they were at a picnic and said a long cigar shaped UFO joined the party. Everyone got scared and took off. My parents, who are very straight laced and not prone to stories or exaggerations, swear the thing followed them home. My mother even said the neighbor got a picture of it but the lady had died and she wasn't sure what ever happened to the picture.

I wish there was some way to know for sure if these things were true. But, I have to wonder, even if one landed in the middle of Times Square and aliens took a leisurely stroll down Broadway...would we even believe then?

I'd put my money on no.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Are You Ready?

Winter. Not my favorite season. The only way I can escape the cold is to move inward. Here's a question I found lurking there: Are you really ready to a published writer? If your agent called you today and said "so-and-so-big-shot-publisher loves your novel--would you be ready to say "my dream has finally come true, I'm so happy!" (And really mean that?) I didn't like the answer I found.

No. I'm not ready.

Sure, I feel like I've struggled with my writing for a long time, I've put in the work, the effort...I have the drive, the passion...I could definitely appreciate being paid for my writing, or at least have my vision validated by being accepted by others. So, why am I not ready?

Here's an exercise for you. Think back five years ago. Where were you? What were your dreams or goals? What "if only" were you banking your happiness on? "I would be happy "if only" I were out of debt? "If only" I had a good relationship..."if only" I could loose ten pounds?

My "if only" from five years ago has happened. So, am I happy? Well, no, not really. I have a real problem with moving on to the next goal without being grateful for reaching the first one. Yes, I do think this is part of human nature. We are not satisfied with where we are in life because we have the ability to visualize our future. We need to strive, to improve ourselves and our situations. The problem with this is when we live for the next goal, the "down the road", we are not living in the now. We are not appreciating the now. The now is our future five years ago.

This is why I don't feel I'm ready. This goal is so important to me, I don't want it fulfilled until I can truly appreciate it. I want to be able to embrace it, experience it and be grateful in that moment without immediately replacing it with "now I have to worry about writing another one". The only way I can think of to do this is to start appreciating where I am immediately. What is there to appreciate as an unpublished writer?

Lots, really. Just being able to write, to do what I love to do. No pressure. Just write. It's a beautiful feeling. True happiness. Appreciating the now.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I have been tagged with a book meme by blogger extraordinaire Christian and yes, I had to look up the word meme cuz I'm that much of a geek. I was pleasantly surprised at its meaning, too. It's apparently a word made up by none other than Richard Dawkins which refers to a "unit of cultural information transferable from one mind to another". How cool is that??? So, here goes my transference (you may want to have a cigarette handy :-)

Hardback, trade paperback, or mass-market paperback? I like hardbacks...durable, weighty, substantial. But paperbacks are easier to carry and some of them can be quite luscious. Oryx and Crake, for example is high quality in every aspect. I actually make people feel the soft pages, they're almost like cloth. (To this my hubby replied, "Have you always been this odd?" Geez, you think he'd know the answer to that question by now.)

Amazon or brick-and-mortar? Going into a bookstore is all part of the happy experience. One of three pleasures I will never give up for the sake of saving time.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Barnes & Noble is only five minutes away, Borders is twenty. Before we had our twins, Borders was a great Friday night of browsing and sitting in the cafe getting caffeinated while watching whatever local band or poet was there. Now we go to B&N cuz of the closeness and the fact we can fit a twin stroller through their aisles.

Bookmark or dogear? Dogear=sacrilege. I seriously cannot bring myself to do this. I have this really pretty beaded bookmark but I've usually got about five books going at a time so anything goes--receipts, envelopes, pictures, etc. You think I'd just get some more bookmarks, right?

Alphabetize by author, by title, or random? When I was a kid I arranged my books on the shelf by size, quite to my parent's amusement which they still make fun of me for. Now I like the eclectic, messy looking bookshelf, and I realize size is not the best way to categorize important things in one's life.

Keep, throw away or sell? Throw away? Never. The only books that leave my possession are the ones I am moved to give to people who I think would be inspired by them.

Keep dust jacket or toss it? Keep it, put it back on when the book goes back on the shelf.

Read with the dust jacket or remove it? Dust jackets are annoyingly formal. Plus, have you ever worn a shirt that is constantly slipping off your shoulder and you have to keep adjusting it all the time? uggg. This is the book jacket to me.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Silly question. It's like asking an alcoholic how much they drink. "All of it." Like I said, I'll read anything.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? I like the name "Lemony Snicket". It's great fun to say. I've read a few of my daughter's Potter books and I don't get all the controversy? Is it just because there is magic involved? Or is just because I'm in the south?

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Because of my limited time, I read when I can and stop when I have to.

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? OOO..dark and stormy night...YES.

Buy or borrow? Own...possess...treasure...

New or used? Love them all. Do try to buy new whenever possible to support writers.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations or browse? Browse for pure pleasure, but I usually have a "must read" list with me when I go.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger? Oh, pleeeeeeze don't leave me hanging. This is why I never got the appeal of Soap Opera's.

When do you read: morning, afternoon or night? yes. yes. yes.

Standalone or series? I do like it when a character is continued through different books, like Preston & Childs' Agent Pendergast character. But, all of my favorite books have been stand alone.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? I'm going to say Backbeat: A novel of Physics just because I don't think the author, J. Frederick Arment, has written anything else yet. It was a great story. Or how about, Dogs Who Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home? Heard of that one? It was enlightening.

Favorite books read last year? I can almost always find something to love about a book, but I guess if I have to narrow it down: Oryx and Crake, Ghost Dancer, Second Genesis, and Calculating God.

Favorite books of all time? Oryx and Crake, Atlas Shrugged, Les Miserables, Count of Monte Cristo, The Dancing Wu Li Masters

Short story or novel? Novel. I like to live with the characters for awhile, get to know them. And I'm a big fan of description...give me pages and pages of it...which is hard to do in a short story.

So, that's it. And considering I have no idea if anyone else reads this blog, I guess I'll just say, "If you read this, consider yourself tagged." (Besides Christian, of course.) Thanks Christian, it was fun!

Pearl of Wisdom

Once in a while I come across another writer's thoughts that just make me feel so connected to that individual even though they may be no longer with us. Sharing what we sort out about the human condition is one of our greatest gifts to each, I'm passing it on.

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To him...

a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create--so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
-Pearl S. Buck