Monday, December 31, 2012

Things I'm Looking Forward to in 2013

Earlier this week, I saw the post Dahlia Adler did over at her blog, The Daily Dahlia, about the list of things she's looking forward to in 2013. Rather than do resolutions this year, I'm going to copy her format (with her permission).

So here's my list.

  1. I'm greatly looking forward to working with my editor, Sarah Dotts Barley at Harper Teen as we prepare Sing to the Wind for flight in 2014. It's all new, so it's all exciting, daunting, terrifying and amazing.
  2. I'm looking forward to getting to know the community of debut authors at OneFourKidLit (@onefourkidlit) as we buzz into authordom.
  3. My fall writing retreat with critique partners from places as far flung as Vermont and possibly Texas who are coming to my neck of the woods for fun and communion.
  4. A longer summer because of a change in our school's calendar.
  5. My advance check! I'm redoing my bathroom and some other things around the house that have been on the back burner for forever. My splurge is going to be an Ipad Mini and paying a horse trainer to start my two youngsters. (see last year's resolutions post)
  6. My parent's 50th wedding anniversary which we're celebrating on an Arizona dude ranch.
  7. A trip with sweetie to Savannah for research on the WIP.
  8. Exciting news I'm sure's going to come for writer friends on sub and in the query trenches.
  9. Losing the final 17 pounds from my goal of 30 pounds and being back within the normal weight range for my height.
  10. Reading more great books!

I'm sure there's more, but 10 seems like a nice even number. What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snarking about Snark for Snark's Sake

Okay, I am raising my hand and testifying that, yes, I am susceptible to snark. I've enjoyed it, laughed at it, rolled my eyes over it, even dished it out.

But here's the thing. Sometimes snark is bullying.

I think of Regina George and her now-famous Burn Book. Left on its own, in her tiny little brain, okay I guess, no harm done. But put it out there for the world to see and blammo. Bully.

Why the hell is she snarking about snark? I hear you asking this, I do.

Well, yet another twitter account got started this week trying to be pithy and clever - supposedly from an industry professional - but in reality it's mean and nasty snark meant to belittle aspiring writers.

Okay - sure, you can do your research and find out quickly that you should never ever call your book the next great thing or compare yourself to J.K. Rowling - but people, writers only know where they are when they're there.

Who here hasn't sent something out too soon, too raw, too rough?

And that's why it pisses me off when I see secret agent and editor accounts that are set up for nothing more than to PUBLICLY blow off steam and snark about writers.

Grow up.

If I, as a teacher, were to set up an account like this to bitch about my students, and I were discovered, I'd be fired faster than you can say, "Beyotch."

And there's my two cents on the subject. As if. LOL. OMG. FWIW.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Hi Jinx - Those Crazy Traditions

This year is a stay on the farm Christmas which means a mellow Christmas Eve and a big friends gathering, for a meal on Christmas day.

What I won't be doing is gathering at my Mom's house for the Christmas Eve gala wherein everyone exchanges gifts and inevitably, my Uncle Milton shakes every gift, no matter the size, and proclaims loudly -

"Right. I got it. Let's see. I know. *finger tests the wind* It's a fifth of whiskey!"

Tie box, enormous box, tiny jewelry box, fifth of whiskey sized box. Does not matter. If Milton doesn't say it. It's not Christmas. And what's weirder, everyone in these photos is Jewish. We were the Jewish family that celebrated Christmas (I was raised Episcopal but my Mom's family was Jewish - Milton married a Catholic girl but his kids were raised in the temple.)

Do you have a family character? A funny tradition that makes Christmas uniquely yours? I'd love to hear about it, and in the meantime, may you have a blessed holiday with family and friends.
My grandmother, Uncle Milton, and my aunt, circa '70's Christmas Eve

My uncle with a fifth of whiskey box in his hand, that's me on the left, I'm guessing about 15 years old. 

Uncle Milton, circa now. :0)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Wish For the World

We're on the eve of the day that's been predicted as predicted by the Mayans to be the end of the world. I'm pretty certain it's a load of rubbish, but it's still fun to think about,

What if Saturday is a brand new world?

What if something could be different?

My wish is simple.

I want people to act out of love, not fear.

 I want us each to remember that every person on the planet has hopes, dreams, needs, desires and beliefs. Just because we believe one way doesn't make the other wrong. But we've got to stop trying to take others over and insert our will where it's not wanted or needed.

One of my favorite moments in Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible is when democracy is introduced in the Congo and tribespeople are faced with the concept of voting. The elder villager speaks to the fact that before the vote was brought, they would have big campfire talks until everyone, even if not happy about the outcome of a decision, was at least satisfied they'd been heard. With democracy, he explained, almost half the people aren't happy. That passage has always been so profound to me.

I realize our earth is too large for campfire meetings and that politics is a vast sticky spiral of webs, but this is about wishes. And this is mine.

Care to join our blog hop and post your own wish for a brand new world? Sign up below and we'll hop on by!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What's Your Wish for A Brand New World? - Blog Hop.

Thanks to Lisa Ann O'Kane for creating a blog badge. Grab it for yours!
Last night I was thinking about the Mayan calendar and the whole thing about the world ending on Friday. This got me thinking.

If the world ends on Friday......

Then on Saturday.....

We wake up to a brand new world!

I know I'm not the only one out there with IDEAS on what they'd like this brand new world to look like. So here's your opportunity to go deep, be profound, maybe silly, whatever your style. So go ahead and sign up now, but between Thursday and Saturday, come back and hop around and envision a brand new world. Writer style.

And feel free to steal the blog badge!

Okay, cool! See you tomorrow and more!!!.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Things That Are Wrong

I'm sitting here looking at a class of fifteen tenth through twelfth graders.

What's wrong is even having the worry that one might be a shooter.
I worry that a shooter might get to them.

I shouldn't have to worry about this.
They shouldn't have to worry about each other.

I shouldn't have to re-lock my doors when I come in so that if I must slam them shut and locked, they stay that way.

I shouldn't have to imagine which door a gun-wielding maniac might barge into.

I shouldn't.
You shouldn't.
We shouldn't.

Let the shooters slip through the cracks.

I don't understand.
I'm sure you don't either.

I love you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When IRL Friends Find Out You Sold A Book

What is it when people find out you’ve sold a book?
I’m not talking about the aspiring writers I know who are studying the art of the query, researching agents, working with crit partners and writing groups. (Y'all get it. Completely)

I’m talking about childhood friends and acquaintances IRL (in real life).

Camp 1: Oh wow, you’re awesome, that’s great. I can say I knew you before you’re famous and all J.K. Rowling and shit. (ermmm, yeah, right, may I remind you she has a theme park?)

Camp 2: Oh. *blinks twice, takes a breath, looks at a passing car* So did you hear about the new fitness center they’re opening in town? (Hello, friend, this is like my life dream here, can I have a hell yeah?)

Camp 3: You wrote a book? I always figured I’d write a book.

Camp 3 is the one that has been fascinating. Here are two examples. 

One is a great friend since 6th grade. She fell firmly into a combination of Camp 1 and Camp 3 - acknowledging her awareness of how cool this is for me but also declaring she’d always hoped to write a book, but was waiting for her kids to graduate from high school. It was easy to say - don’t delay, write the book, you’re a genius. (and she is, and funny, and savvy, and amazing.)

The other is a doctor in my community who is also a smart, savvy, wonderful woman. But her response fell into a different sort of Camp 3. First it was questions, well how did you do this. How did you get published? And it was strange because for some reason it seemed like my success was a reflection to her of her own failure. (excuse me, you have a MEDICAL degree!) How could a lowly public school teacher accomplish something that was monumental on her own personal scale. I think it would be safe to say she was visibly jealous.

Here’s what she didn’t know or ask.
  1. For the past four years, I’ve risen between 4:30 and 5:15 am almost every week day to write before my day job.
  2. I’ve written three manuscripts prior to the one that sold during this time. Six prior total. Every one of those manuscripts I thought was the one. When you’re writing, you’re only as good as where you are. And you might not be there yet. But what really sucks, is you don't know it. But then I guess that's good, because you have HOPE.
  3. I’ve read books on craft, blog posts on craft, websites on craft. I’ve interacted with other writer’s in my genre. I’ve critiqued and been critiqued. I’ve taken classes and gone to conferences.
  4. I’ve given stuff up, like a favorite volunteer gig at the Humane Society. I never go to my non-author Facebook page anymore, which is where a lot of my IRL local friends hang out, my house...forget about it, and my manic horseback riding days seem to be waning the more I write. I rarely travel, I don’t go out at night, I’m in essence, a bit of a hermit and a slave to my words.
  5. If you look at my advance, totally generous for a contemporary novel, it’s not enough to quit my day job and feel secure. And if I were to divide out the amount by the time spent plugging away at this dream, hah, maybe a penny an hour. Or less?

Anyway, the point of this post is that selling a book didn’t just happen. I’m not an overnight success. It doesn’t make me special.

All it means is that I didn’t quit. And I wrote. I put my butt in the chair and let words flow. That’s how you get a novel published. That, a modicum of talent and a whole lot of luck.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How cool is that?

This morning when I got to school, there was already a student in my room. Don't know how or why the door was unlocked and all lights blazing, but sometimes it happens that way. Anyway, this girl had picked up artwork that had fallen in the hallway over night and was dutifully re-taping it to hang again. She's a cool kid. One of my faves and is in the know about my alter ego writer life.

I was excited about a passage I'd written before leaving for work and asked her if I could read it to her. The passage in question was my MC's first in-depth observation of the boy who's entered her world. I really liked it.

When I'd finished reading not only the one, but a second passage, my student got a big grin on her face.

"How cool is that," she said.


"You know, to be able to make up romantic scenarios and have people care about what happens."

Me, "Like in the book?"

"Yeah, and like, you know, when people finish it they're going to have real emotions. Like some of them are going to hate it and some of them are going to love it, but they're going to have, you know, FEELINGS, about this stuff you made up in your head."

She turned back to taping and proceeded to tell me all about how the boy I'd described was a lot like her brother and then asked me loads more questions about him, about the story, about the girl, and when she was done all I could think was,

How cool was that?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Are You Standing on the Precipice?

I've been thinking a lot the last couple of months about this dream of becoming a published writer. The thinking got amped up when I actually had the dream materialize.

Suddenly, here I was, the girl who'd been dreaming, who'd been dashed, who stood up again to chase the kite tail of an impossible dream, only to finally catch the damn thing. Exhilarating. Yes, indeed. And I won't lie, it's been all the awesome you would think it would be. The absolute pinnacle.

Yet, at the same time, it's brought other things. Guilt. Yes, you read that right, guilt. What the hell do you have to be guilty about, you might ask. It's you guys. The ones still out there plugging. The ones whose writing is every bit as lovely as mine, but for what ever reason, the right eyes haven't seen it, the right gust of wind hasn't brought that kite string blowing your way.

And so, I wanted to share two blog posts that I found inspiring at different times. The first is written by a writing friend of mine, Megan Shepherd. A few years ago, Megan and I were in a workshop course together, and I had the privilege of reading and critting a few chapters of her soon-to-be-published, The Madman's Daughter. Megan had a real fairy tale of a publishing story and I'll admit it, I had a few human moments of "why can't that be me....we were in the same class...I want that to be me." But the thing is, it wasn't my time yet. It wasn't my moment. The right eyes hadn't seen the work on the right day. And I hadn't written THE manuscript yet. But Megan wrote this post. And it's brilliant.

Then recently, I stopped in at the blog of aspiring writer, Kelsey Macke. And she'd also written a brilliant post about how writers need to support each other at every stage. And I thought it was so lovely and so insightful, that I wanted to share it, too.

And in conclusion, I'll leave you with my own thought. Years ago, I read a Henry Miller book (yes, I was obsessed with Henry Miller and Anais Nin in my twenties). One line that has stuck with me forever is this, and I paraphrase because I couldn't find the quote, "You don't need to be making to be an artist, you must only have the soul of an artist." For years, that idea stuck with me. In my moments of not making, whether it was physical artwork or writing, I could remind myself that I do indeed have the soul of an artist. It carried me through.

I hope some of this will carry you through, too. The journey is the destination, right? And, you are awesome.