Monday, May 25, 2009


Like many Americans, I was looking forward to Memorial Day weekend. I thought of warm weather, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, of relaxing and maybe doing a little yard work - if I felt like it. I thought of fragrant flowers blooming, flags waving, kids playing. But most importantly, I thought about those who served our country and died so that we can have the peace and wonderful lives we have today. On this day in particular, I feel so proud of our country and of the brave men and women who sacrificed themselves to make a better world for future generations - for our generation.

Every night our family thinks about and prays for the soldiers fighting in Iraq (my 4-year-old prays, Dear God, Please watch over the whole entire Iraq and make sure the soldiers come home safely and watch over yourself and Jesus...I hope you have a good time together...). But on this special day, our family will pay homage to those 'forgotten' souls buried in the graveyard near our house. At the same time, we will think about our own lost loved ones lying far away in deep soil too far away for us to reach. It is time we pull them nearer with our thoughts.

On this day, strangers to us will become new acquaintances. We don't know much about the people buried in this small, family graveyard, but we can say thank you to them - for clearing this land, for planting those glorious lilacs, for digging up all those Granite State rocks. Thank you for this wonderful place. And we will offer our companionship to them in return. We will give them the gift of the sound of young voices and of exuberant life and of remembering.

And while there will probably be one or two spirits who would wish we'd just go away and leave them to their peace and quiet, I imagine the rest will enjoy experiencing something a little different. Something that reminds them of what was, so they can do their own remembering. So they can be alive if only for a moment.

Memorial Day is for Memories. This year, make your memories good and positive ones so that you can carry them with you throughout the year, a sort of talisman against further war, further death and violence, and as a reminder that there's more to this world than what we can see, that you can be a part of the healing.

In remembering, we acknowledge what we were and where we came from, and in doing so, shall never be lost.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Agent, Where Art Thou?

I am looking for an agent...that elusive species, which, if found, could bring joy and happiness (at the very least, a book deal) to my life. Those of you who have gone through the process, or are in it right now, know that it's a tough road to travel. Not only is it hard to find agents interested in _______ (enter your genre here), it's hard to make yourself stand out amongst all the other people searching for an agent who specializes in _______ (enter your genre here).

The worst part, though?

Well, the rejections, of course. But after that, it's the waiting. I know agents are busy, I know they gets lots and lots of email and snail mail and have to spend time trudging through submissions and on selling the manuscripts they actually do accept to publishers, not to mention that they need to eat and sleep, but I'm telling you, waiting a minimum of 4-6 weeks to hear back can be painful. Mainly because at the end of the wait, chances are, you're going to get a rejection.

Here are some of the rejections you might receive:

"Thank you for your submission. While your work shows promise, we don't feel that it fits our needs right now." Or... "I need to be sufficiently excited about a book to try and sell it and I'm just not feeling that about yours." Or... "Go away." I haven't actually received that last one, but I imagine it's only a matter of time...

On this long and perilous journey, I'm trying to stay positive. I'm trying to make my query letter sing, trying to follow all the different agency rules/regulations/orders down to the last little detail (which is never little to the agent, let me tell you). I suggest you do the same. No sense biting the hand that might someday feed you.

I wonder if agents know the power they have over us writers? Do they feel it? Do they get annoyed with our neediness and seek to punish us by throwing us into the Slush pile? I imagine some revel in their power - I suppose the rest are just plain tired and overworked and wished they only got what they wanted/requested instead of pink personalized stationery laden with hearts and lots of typos in a five-page query letter that talks about how much your hubbykins loves your book, but never says much about the book itself. Hint: Don't do this.

Author wannabes, you're not alone in this long, lonely, difficult process. It can be scary, disheartening, and depressing. But it can also be a great learning and growing experience (I hope). Maybe someday I (and you, too) will finally find that person who believes in us. Maybe someday (soon - life, I'm finding as I age, is incredibly short), I will meet the agent of my dreams. I imagine us sharing lunch - laughing, crying, singing Kumbaya together. It'll be great. Though, really, I'd just settle for help getting my book published and a nice working relationship, and maybe the occasional box of chocolates.

In the meantime, I will keep writing and honing my craft and marketing my other book and crying into my pillow late at night. What else is a person to do, but keep trying?

Wait...Don't answer that.

Just keep trying.

Oh, and listen to Jem's song...It's Amazing

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Mermaid of Muses

It's been a while since I've posted any blogs - sorry to those of you who follow me, who wait for my posting with an almost mad, feverish anticipation. Please forgive me. Once I tell you what happened, I'm sure you will find it in your heart to bestow mercy. You see, my blogging muse drowned in a terrible editing accident. Four different manuscripts to edit was just too much for her. I've only just now been able to revive her, poor thing.

Thank goodness my Mermaid of Muses had got good lungs.

The good news is that I've finished editing all of the manuscripts (for the moment, that is). The better news is that I also sent off one of those manuscripts to an agent and am hoping for an interested bite, chomp, ruthless devouring.

I worked pretty hard writing that query letter (which I've never been very good at doing), edited my manuscript tons of times, had my readers read it (four of them, two at a time with an editing between each pair), read and re-read everything myself, then I sent all of it off to an agent that I felt really good about, really excited about.

My heart was actually pounding when my finger readied itself to press the send button (this was obviously an e-mail inquiry and not a Star-Trek episode), but I took the leap and pushed! I'd done it!

The rest is up to fate, I told myself. My muse concurred.

Then I realized something - I forgot to run a simple spelling and grammar check. Of all the stupid things to forget! And of course, I found a typo in the small bit of manuscript that I sent. Being that books are what agents and their staff do for a living, I have a feeling my mistake is going to stand out like a Minnesotan in New York City.

I am now experiencing what I believe is called post-test anxiety.

"I know I got number 12 wrong!"
"And number 25, too, and that's worth 10 points in itself!"
"I totally blew it!"
"I'm going to fail!"
"I'm going to die!"

Sigh. I thought those overachieving, high anxiety days were over. Guess not. But I am left with the hope that the reader took a sip of her mocha latte during that bit. It's all I've got.

The best thing I can get from this experience? If they reject me, I can blame it on the typo. Woohoo!

Feel free to do the same...