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Friday, December 31, 2010

Adios 2010!

"We'll take a cup of kindness yet/ For auld lang syne."

Does this song congure up the memory of the Bailey family in the final scene of "It's a Wonderful Life" for everyone, or is it just me? I had to include this song for my New Year's Eve post, so here it is.

When I was growing up, I remember hearing adults say how the older you get, the quicker the years go by, and I have to admit that it does seem to be true. This year has flown by, and now we are entering 2011. That seems very strange to me.

Yesterday my second Willow Ryan novel, "Promises", became available for download at Barnes & Noble, and I'm really hoping that this coming year will bring me better luck on the publishing front than 2010 did. It was really a dud of a year in that respect! Anyway, I am renewing my efforts to get a literary agent and become published in print, I will continue writing poetry, in the very near future I will start working on my fourth Willow book, and I am going to seriously try to get some articles published as well. Getting published is not my New Year's resolution, because people either break those on January 2 or never work on them in the first place. Instead, these goals are something that I want to do, aspire to do, NEED to do, so they will get done. I just hope that my goals for 2012 are not the same ones I just wrote about today! Happy New Year everybody!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let It Snow!

"Oh the weather outside is frightful/ But the fire is so delightful/ And since we've no place to go/ Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"

I wish I had no place to go today! As I look out my window, there is a light dusting of snow covering the grass, rooftops, and cars, it is 31 degrees, and the snow is still falling. Absolutely beautiful. Today would be the best day to stay home, watch "Christmas in Connecticut" and "It's a Wonderful Life", and curl up under a warm blanket. Especially since I have a bad cold. Unfortunately, I have to go to work. At least the girls are no longer sick, as they have been for the last week or two. Apparently this is a very hard virus to shake, and after getting coughed and sneezed on for days on end, I caught it. Lucky me.

At least I have a nice view to cheer me up a little!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Peace on Earth

"Every child must be made aware/ Every child must be made to care/ Care enough for his fellow man/ To give all the love that he can/ I pray my wish will come true/ For my child and your child too." - "Peace on Earth" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie

When I picked Alana up from school today, she was very upset because her best friend said that she didn't want to be her friend anymore, then snatched some markers out of Alana's hand. How do you explain to a four-year-old that kids are just mean sometimes without trivializing the situation? I tried to comfort her and tell her that hopefully things will be better tomorrow and her friend was probably just in a bad mood, but I felt that no matter what I said, it wouldn't have been good enough because I can't make people be nice to Alana and Riley. I also told her that I was proud of her for doing the right thing by continuing to be nice, even though she wasn't being treated the right way. She really is a good kid.

So, even though I can't teach every child how to care about their classmates and treat people with love and respect, at least I can take pride in knowing that I am doing a good job showing Alana the correct way to treat people. I guess I'm doing something right!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pine Trees

"Ooh that smell/ Can't you smell that smell?" - "That Smell" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Pine trees are DEFINITELY not what Lynyrd Skynyrd was talking about in the song, but these lyrics work for this post. When I walked into work today, I knew right away that Riley and Alana had gotten a Christmas tree over the weekend. As I breathed in the strong, sharp scent of their beautiful pine tree, I was instantly taken back to Christmas when I was a child and we used to get a real tree. I remember going to the tree lot and trying to talk my dad into getting the biggest tree they had, even though there was no way it would have fit in our house. A girl can dream though, right?

We now only decorate artificial trees and Yankee Candle's Mistletoe scent does give off the aroma of a live evergreen, but nothing can compare to a real Christmas tree. Aahhh...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

"Over the river and through the woods/ Trot fast my dapple grey/ Spring o'er the ground like a hunting hound/ For this is Thanksgiving Day!"

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful day full of good food, loving family and friends, and great memories.

And for all of you who are going shopping tomorrow at the crack of dawn (or before!), have patience, understanding, and most of all, a lot of FUN!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


"Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?/ It took me years to write, will you take a look?" - "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles

It finally happened...someone bought my book! It has been available for download for a few weeks now, and I was beginning to think that no one would ever even see the page amid the hundreds of thousands of titles on, let alone pay $5.99 to read it, but some wonderful person did! I am so excited, I can't even tell you. I know it's only one Willow Ryan book sold, but it's a start. I wish I knew who bought "Secrets" so I could send them a thank you note. This is so cool!

O Christmas Tree

"O Christmas tree/ O Christmas tree/ You're standing perpendicularly." - version of "O Christmas Tree" sung by Dr. Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) on "Growing Pains"

Does anyone remember that episode of "Growing Pains" where Jason is decorating the tree and is obsessed with getting it just right? No? I guess it's just me. As I'm typing this, I am sitting in my dining room, admiring one of the trees in my house. This one is Victorian and decorated with beautiful angel and doll ornaments, glittery and porcelain ornaments, and white lights that give off a very welcoming glow as you enter the room. The best thing about this tree though, is how much my dog loves it. We have three full-size Christmas trees downstairs, but this is the only one that Scooby will wag his tail at, lay down, and take a nap with his head under the branches. So funny!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'll Never Outgrow the Thrill...

"It's worth the wait the whole year through/ Just to make happy someone like you/ And I'll never outgrow the thrill of Christmas Day." - "Christmas Day" by the Beach Boys

I love this song, and it's so true! Christmas is by far my favorite time of year, and for so many reasons. I love the message of peace and goodwill that the season stands for, the carols and movies, giving gifts, reading holiday books, decorating, and most of all, celebrating the birth of Jesus, God's gift to us all.

In my latest "Willow" novel, one of the characters tells Willow that she turns into a five-year-old at Christmastime. I wrote that in because that's how I feel every year. There is just something about this season that brings out the child in me, and I think I might have even more fun than the kids I teach during these festive months. Whether I'm making a gift, shopping, playing Christmas music on the piano, or watching Ralphie Parker in his quest to get "an official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle" in "A Christmas Story", I will be enjoying every minute of the holiday season. No matter how old I get (but I'm not really aging anymore, remember?), "I'll never outgrow the thrill of Christmas Day".

Friday, November 5, 2010

High Heels and Sneakers

"She wears high heels/ I wear sneakers/ She's cheer captain/ And I'm on the bleachers." - "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift

Alana, the four-year-old I teach, is both of the girls described in this song. Over the weekend she had been climbing a tree and fell out, hitting her face on a fence on the way down. Ouch! Luckily she was fine, except for a big bruise on her cheek. I wasn't there to see it, but her parents told me about the accident while Alana looked on, wearing a princess dress, plastic high heels, and applying pretend make-up. If it were up to her, she would be outside climbing trees and making mudpies while wearing the frilliest dress possible (it has to twirl!) and fancy high heels. She is a girly-girl-tomboy, and when we heard this song on the radio on the way home from school today, she shouted, "Hey, that singer is singing about me!" Too funny!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Woo Hoo!

"Congratulations, you got a good deal/ Congratulations, how good you must feel." - "Congratulations" by the Traveling Wilburys

Yes, I am congratulating myself today because my first novel is now available for download as an ebook on! I am so excited by this, not because I think it will make me rich and famous (I am a realist after all and know not to get my hopes up about anything), but because I am finally getting somewhere and doing something to accomplish my goal of becoming a published writer. And look, I did it! True, I'm not published in the traditional form, but I am electronically published, which is pretty thrilling for me. I ran into some problems getting my book uploaded, so it's a relief to know that everything worked out okay... so far. I'm excited, but hey, I'm still a glass half empty kind of girl.

Now, I just hope that someone will see my ebook, think it looks interesting, and be willing to pay $5.99 to download it. If you want to check out my novel on, search either Shannon Higgins or Secrets: A Willow Ryan Novel and it should come up. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 1, 2010

I've Got the Barnes and Noble Blues

"Well now what's the use in dreamin'/ You got better things to do/ Dreams never did work for me anyway/ Even when they did come true." - "I Feel a Change Comin' On" by Bob Dylan

How's that for a nice pessimistic song? That is the attitude I had for the last few days about my latest venture into... e-publishing. After trying the traditional publishing route for over a year, I have decided that I need to try something different. Barnes and Noble is starting a new program where writers can upload their work and sell it on as a ebook! Sounds great right? After tons of editing, I tried to upload my book last week to no avail. I tried so many times I considered throwing my computer out the window and adding B&N's PubIt! to my long list of things that didn't work out publishing-wise.

But today, I got some helpful advice and had my mom try it from her computer at work, and surprise surprise, it worked! My first "Willow Ryan" book is now processing and HOPEFULLY will be available for download from later this week. It sounds too good to be true, so I hope the pessimist in my head is wrong in thinking that it probably is.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tossin' and Turnin'

"Well, I was tossin' and turnin'/ Turnin' and tossin'/ Tossin' and turnin' all night." - "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis

Tossing and turning is what Alana has been doing at naptime. The entire naptime. This is the child who slept 2-3 hours every afternoon all summer without fail, but as soon as school started, she thinks she no longer needs to take a nap. Well, she does. Why won't children just go to sleep when they need to?

Okay, okay, once upon a time I was one of those sleepless children. I didn't take naps past the age of two and have never slept well at night. From birth, I just haven't required as much sleep as normal people. If I get three hours I'm good to go for the day, and I have gotten by on less many times. I guess I can understand where Alana is coming from with not wanting to sleep, but this kid needs her rest! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that today she will take a nice, long nap and wake up in a good mood for a change. We're supposed to go to the zoo on Friday (no school), and she knows that might not happen if she doesn't sleep. Maybe that will do the trick!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Write the Next Line

"Why do I find it so hard to write the next line?" - "True" by Spandau Ballet

I just completed a massive edit on my first Willow novel and am now seven chapters into the second one. For the most part it has gone very well, but there have been a few lines that have just tripped me up. For one reason or another they just didn't read right to me, so I ended up changing them over and over again until I either had to take a break from frustration or I was finally satisfied with the results. I know that editing is a major part of writing, but it's my least favorite part - by far!

I'm hoping that this work will pay off though. Barnes and Noble is starting a very exciting e-publishing program that I will talk more about in the near future when I am ready to dive into this head first. Now, back to editing! Ugh.

Friday, October 15, 2010


"You say it's your birthday/ It's my birthday too yeah/ They say it's your birthday/ We're gonna have a good time/ I'm glad it's your birthday/ Happy birthday to you!" - "Birthday" by The Beatles

Happy birthday to me! It's been a nice, quiet day, and I have to say, I'm sorry it's over. I have decided that I am no longer getting older because that is a depressing thought, but having a day to celebrate me is fantastic! Now I just have to wait 365 more days until October 15, 2011.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Song Lyrics

"I write the songs that make the whole world sing/ I write the songs of love and special things." - "I Write the Songs" by Bruce Johnston, sung by Barry Manilow

I wish! If I wrote the songs, my life as an aspiring writer would be MUCH easier. I probably should have known this from the beginning, but for some reason, I did not. Using song lyrics in a novel is extremely tricky and risky business! I knew that my publisher would need to get permission from the copyright holders (if I ever get a publisher!), but I recently found out that there are miles and miles of red tape involved. So...after a lot of thought, I have decided to cut all song lyrics from my novels (sigh) and just mention the artists and titles, which are fair game. I have a lot of editing to do, but hopefully this will give me a fresh start. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Very Merry Unbirthday to Me

"A very merry unbirthday to me/ To who?/ To me/ Oh you!" - "The Unbirthday Song" from Disney's "Alice in Wonderland"

Today is my unbirthday! Or rather, I am celebrating my birthday today even though my real birthday is next Friday. Yea me! Cool presents, great food, even better family. Who could ask for more than that?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Soon it Will be Christmas Day!

"Silver bells, silver bells/ It's Christmastime in the city/ Ring-a-ling, hear them ring/ Soon it will be Christmas day!" - "Silver Bells"

It's time to start Christmas shopping! At least for me. Today is Hallmark's Ornament Debut, and as a holiday nut, I have to be there. Do I need more ornaments? Probably not. Do I want them? Oh yeah! Then after that, Barnes and Noble is doing their semiannual educators' appreciation week, so I get 25% off every book in the store. I can't pass that up! With five kids to buy for (Riley, Alana, and my nieces and nephew), I have to take the deals where I can get them. I have a massive list of fun items to buy, and I'm feeling very Christmasy!

It's time to break out the holiday CDs (okay, I never put them away from last year!) and sing along as Rudolph guides Santa sleigh, Frosty the Snowman comes to life, and St. Nick himself comes to town. Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Wish I Had a River...

"But it don't snow here/ It stays pretty green/ I'm going to make a lot of money/ Then I'm going to quit this crazy scene/ Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on." - "River" by Joni Mitchell

I love snow. Unfortunately, it rarely snows in this part of the country. Bummer for me! As the temperatures have slowly gone down over the last couple of weeks, I have been wishing for winter more and more. I just love those crisp, blustery days when the sky is dark and there is the smell of snow in the air. I can't wait!

I just checked the forecast, and it appears that a warm front is coming through next week. That's just great. I want autumn temperatures, not Indian summer. Ugh. I also checked the forecast for Barrow, AK. Why would I do that you ask? Because I have a weird obsession with the northernmost town in America. They get a lot of snow. In fact, it's 25 degrees there and snowing as I type away at my computer. I can't help but feel a little jealous. Until the day when I see snow again, I will just dream about it, along with the frozen river to skate on, just like Joni.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monster Mash

"He did the mash, he did the monster mash/ It was a graveyard smash/ He did the mash, it caught on in a flash/ He did the mash, he did the monster mash." - Bobby Boris Pickett

Halloween is only about a month away, and I am making a CD for Riley and Alana of spooky, fun, and Halloween themed songs. Here's what I have so far:

"The Monster Mash" by Bobby Boris Pickett
"Witchy Woman" by The Eagles
"Witch Doctor" by Alvin and the Chipmunks
"Spooky" by The Classics IV
"Boris the Spider" by The Who
"Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley
"The Addams Family" TV theme song
"Bad Moon" by CCR
"Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon

If any of you have more ideas, I would love to hear them! The girls are into Halloween more than ever this year, so I know they will get a lot of use out of this CD. Plus, as an added bonus for me, I will enjoy listening to these songs too as I drive them all over town. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rain Fallin' On My Shoes

"And I was standin' on the side of the road/ Rain fallin' on my shoes/ Heading out for the East Coast/ Lord knows I've paid some dues gettin' through/ Tangled up in blue." - Bob Dylan

It has been raining for two days and the worst is yet to come. We are supposed to get 5-8 inches before we see the sun again. Now normally I prefer dark, stormy days over bright, sunny ones, but this is ridiculous. By the time I walked into work this morning my shoes were filled with water, leaving my socks soaking wet, which I can't stand. To make matters worse, my right sock was wetter than my left one, which made me feel very uneven. I think my OCD is escalating.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Manic Monday

"It's just another manic Monday/ I wish it was Sunday/ 'Cause that's my funday/ My I don't have to runday/ It's just another manic Monday." - "Manic Monday" by The Bangles

Yep, it's Monday. Ugh. I just got a text from the girls' mom saying that Alana didn't nap all weekend and had a very rough morning. This child has issues with her hair, and apparently she wasn't happy with it this morning, which led to a huge tantrum. Alana only likes wearing her hair in a low ponytail and if it isn't just exactly so, she let's us know about it. Especially if she's tired. Now I know that a lot of four-year-olds don't need naps anymore, but Ally isn't one of them. All summer long this kid slept for 2-3 hours every afternoon, but once school started that all changed. We'll see what happens this afternoon...

So yeah, this is going to be a manic Monday for sure. To top it off, it's a rainy day and I pick Riley up late from school because she had field hockey until 4:15, which means we will probably get stuck in traffic on our way home. I have no patience for traffic. At all. If I hear "Monday, Monday" on the radio (NOT "so good to me") I may scream. Cover your ears!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Hope They're A-Changin'

"Come writers and critics/ Who prophesize with your pen/ And keep your eyes wide/ The chance won't come again/ And don't speak too soon/ For the wheel's still in spin/ And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'/ For the loser now will be later to win/ For the times they are a-changin'." - Bob Dylan

Well, the writer is here, and I would be thrilled to find a critic to review my work! The wheels are always spinning in my head - always - and there is no telling what will come out of my crazy thoughts. As I have been editing my latest manuscript this week, I keep coming across lines that surprise me and I have no idea where they came from. Sometimes my imagination runs wild, and in my opinion, that's when my writing is best. When I zone out, develop tunnel vision, lose all sense of time and space, and stop overanalyzing every little word, magic happens. At least in my eyes.

As for the last part of these ingenius lyrics, I don't consider myself a loser by any means, no matter how many rejection letters I get or how many weeks go by without hearing a word from the agents that I am putting so much faith in, which is more than a little difficult for me. Nope, I'm not a loser for the simple fact that I am writing and trying to fulfill my dream - my destiny. Eventually I will win, and then I can say, "Things have changed."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Come and Get It

"If you want it, here it is/ Come and get it/ Make your mind up fast/ If you want it anytime I can give it/ But you better hurry 'cause it may not last." - "Come and Get It" by The Beatles

Yesterday I finished my third "Willow Ryan" novel three weeks ahead of schedule! Yea for me! The lyrics above are directed at all of the literary agents out there. Come and get it! I sent in a query letter with two sample chapters today and was rejected ten minutes later. I'm sure she didn't even read any of my pages. It's hard to stay positive with results like that, but I'm not giving up. I guess I'm just too stubborn, or maybe just stubborn enough. I don't know. Someday I will see my name in print!

Anyway, I am still celebrating a victory. Finishing three novels in 18 months, along with working at my "normal" job and dealing with everything else in my life is pretty great. Congratulations to me!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Do It Again

"You go back, Jack, do it again/ Wheel turning round and round/ You go back, Jack, do it again." - Steely Dan

Wow, two posts in one day. I'm on a roll! In case you haven't guessed, these lyrics are referring to me sending out another query letter. This one was sent to an agency that I think would be a really good fit for me and by "Willow" novels, and I was happy that they allowed me to submit a synopsis and the first three chapters of my book instead of just a letter. I mean, come on. How can you get a good idea of what a book is about or how a person writes solely from a one page query?

So now I have my fingers crossed once again, just wishing and hoping that I receive a positive response from the Prospect Agency. I know the right agency is out there to represent me, and maybe this time I've found it!


"Saturday night's alright for fighting/ Get a little action in." - Elton John

I am reworking the lyrics to this song. My version will be "Saturday night's alright for writing/ Get a little fiction in." What do you think? Too cheesy? You're probably right, but I couldn't resist. I am so boring, I would rather spend my Saturday typing away at my computer than doing pretty much anything else, but what can I say, I'm obsessed!

I am currently on page 308 of my third "Willow Ryan" novel, making my running total of pages written in the last year and a half to be 1,000. I can hardly believe it! When I mentioned this to my dad last night he said he hopes it pays off. Even though I have yet to be published, I can honestly say that my writing has already paid off. Completing a book, chapter, page, even a sentence, gives me such great joy, stress relief, and sense of satisfaction, that I can't even put a price on it. True, a nice big advance or royalty check would be VERY nice, but that isn't what writing is about to me. I don't write because I want to make money, I write because I need to, just like I need to eat, drink, and breathe. To me, there's no difference.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's a Wonder I Can Think at All

"When I think back/ On all the crap I learned in high school/ It's a wonder/ I can think at all/ And though my lack of education/ Hasn't hurt me none/ I can read the writing on the wall." - "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon

Like "Reelin' in the Years", this is also one of my songs. To give you an example of how I identify with "Kodachrome", when I drove by my old high school today, the sign out front read "Welcome back student 2011". There was no gaping hole where the letter "s" had been left off of the word students, just "Welcome back student 2011". Also, the last time I checked, it's still 2010. Brilliant! After spending four years at that school, it's amazing that I retained the ability to think. Luckily, my previous educational career had been in California where the standards and expectations are much higher than they are in the South, and I am happy to say I am not a product of my Virginia education, just a parolee after a four year term.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yellow Brick Road

"Back to the howling old owl in the woods/ Hunting the horny back toad/ Oh, I've finally decided my future lies/ Beyond the Yellow Brick Road." - "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John

I picked this song for two reasons. One, there is a very annoying frog ribbiting outside of my dining room window right now that is very distracting, and two, because last night I dreamed that I was walking down the Yellow Brick Road toward Oz. Instead of looking for a wizard, I was looking for my manuscript which had mysteriously vanished. I'm not making this up! It was very frustrating because I kept getting lost and I was sure that all of my hard work was gone forever. I didn't meet any unfortunate souls along the way who lacked heart, brains, or courage, and I woke up before I found my book, so I'm not sure what would have happened in this crazy dream if I could sleep through the night like a normal person. Any thoughts?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Working for a Living

"Hundred dollar car note, five hundred rent/ I get a check on Friday but it's already spent/ Working for a living/ Working for a living/ I'm working for a living, living and working/ Taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a living." - "Working For a Living" by Huey Lewis and the News

Okay, my job is pretty terrific so I shouldn't complain, but working really hard for money that is gone WAY before you get it gets pretty old. I dream about a day where I don't have to work Monday through Friday, but instead get to spend my time writing, creating magical strings of words that tell stories which people all over the world will remember for years to come. I know it sounds too good to be true, which probably means it is, but I can still hope.

Snapping back to reality, this has been an extremely productive long weekend for me. I wrote over 50 pages in my third "Willow Ryan" novel, which is more than I thought I would be able to accomplish. Surprise, surprise! I am around 240 pages into it now, approximately 2/3 of the way done. It's hard to believe, as I just started writing the first book 18 months ago. That should be a sign to me and everyone else that I am a born writer, because most people would have given up after seeing nothing in print after that long. Not me though! I'm much too stubborn for that! Instead, I will query a couple more agents this week that were holding submissions until after Labor Day, cross my fingers, hold my breath, and pray hard!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Get Over It

"You say you haven't been the same since you had your little crash/ But you might feel better if they gave you some cash/... You don't want to work, you want to live like a king/ But the big, bad world doesn't owe you a thing/ Get over it/ Get over it/ If you don't want to play than you might as well split/ Get over it!" - "Get Over It" by The Eagles

I'm feeling a little bit combative this morning. Now, it's not like I'm a saint or anything, I have done my fair share of whining and complaining over the years (okay, okay, maybe more than my share), but I'm really tired of hearing everyone else do it. Why don't we try this: Just for today, let's all try to get over it and give it a rest!

Alright, that feels a little better! There is a great line from "Gilmore Girls" that says something to the effect of, "People are particularly stupid today. I can't talk to anymore of them." Wise words!

My next post will be more upbeat - I promise!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Who'll Stop the Rain

"I went down Virginia seeking shelter from the storm/ Caught up in the fable I watched the tower grow/ Five year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains/ And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the rain." - "Who'll Stop the Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Virginia might not be the best place to seek shelter from Hurricane Earl, but I have to say, I'm disappointed in his lack of oomph. For days The Weather Channel and our local news stations have been stressing that Earl would bring tropical storm force winds, heavy rain, etc. etc. etc. to our area, but, as always, I had my doubts. It's breezy and rainy, but honestly, we see worse conditions with your garden variety thunderstorms at least twice a week all summer. I was hoping for more from you Hurricane Earl! I know it's weird, but I have always liked crazy weather. I kind of thrive on the excitement.

As I sit here writing, a common quote from the old Peanuts comics comes to mind. I picture Snoopy sitting on top of his little red doghouse, pounding out the words, "It was a dark and stormy night..." on his big, clunky typewriter. Snoopy serves as my inspiration for the day.

Query letter update - out of the nine I sent out last week, I have so far received three rejections. They just keep coming, don't they?

Friday, August 27, 2010

One of My Songs

"Are you reelin' in the years/ Stowin' away the time/ Are you gatherin' up the tears/ Have you had enough of mine?" - "Reelin' in the Years" by Steely Dan

Oops, I forgot to write about one of the songs that describes me in my last post, so I'll do it now. I have several songs that fit me in some way, but "Reelin' in the Years" is the ultimate Shannon song. Here are a few lyrics that are especially meaningful to me.

"Well you wouldn't even know a diamond if you held it in your hand/ The things you think are precious I can't understand." I have no idea why some people give things such high value, like money for instance. Yes, it's useful and I certainly wish I had more of it, but I don't get when people become so consumed with making money, and make it more important than anything else in their lives. After all, money is just pieces of paper, and you can't take it with you!

"You've been telling me you were a genius since you were seventeen/ In all the time I've known you, I still don't know what you mean/ The weekend at the college didn't turn out like you planned/ The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand." This is my main verse. First of all, I am a genius, although I started voicing that fact before I turned seventeen (not in a cocky way though!). Second, I did college backwards, not at all like I planned. My plan was to go to Old Dominion University and complete the five year Master's program, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies. Yeah, that didn't happen. For the year I went to ODU, I worked part-time in their preschool, and fell in love with the kids, the job, everything. I realized that I didn't want to teach Kindergarten, but infants or toddlers instead. So, I left ODU, enrolled in community college (off and on), and a few years later I completed my degree in Early Childhood Instruction. Not conventional, I know, but it worked for me. Finally, the last part of this verse really speaks to me, because I have learned SO MUCH more on my own time and from experience in the world than I ever did sitting in a classroom being "instructed". Sometimes "the things that pass for knowledge" really make no sense at all.

"The things you think are useless I can't understand." In my opinion, everything can be useful and has a purpose, you just have to be creative and see the beauty in ordinary objects. I can turn a fallen leaf into a great art project, an empty Coke bottle into a cute vase, and I can cut up a pair of old, ripped jeans and use the pieces to make pillows, parts of textured blankets, etc. etc. etc. The list could go on forever.

So, as you can see from this extremely long post, "Reelin' in the Years" is totally my song. Thanks Donald Fagen and Walter Becker for the great lyrics!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Here I Go Again

"Here I go again on my own/ Going down the only road I've ever known/ Like a drifter I was born to walk alone/ And I've made up my mind/ I ain't wasting no more time/ But here I go again." - "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake

Yep, here I go again. My last round of query letters went nowhere, so I have my new list and will start sending out emails today. I have reworked my letter for the millionth time, and hopefully it now has the spark or hook that it was apparently missing before.

I have edited my first manuscript more times than I can count, and I truly believe that I have the best possible version of "Willow Ryan" that I can write. I just need someone with clout in the publishing world to agree with me. In the meantime, I keep praying, I keep my fingers crossed, and I just keep trying!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Willow's Song

"Bend little Willow/ Wind's gonna blow you/ Hard and cold tonight/ Life as it happens/ Nobody warns you/ Willow, hold on tight." - "Little Willow" by Paul McCartney

This would be the perfect song to go with my "Willow Ryan" books except for one thing. This song wasn't released until 1997, and my novels take place in the 80s. Bummer! One of the things Willow has always wanted was a song that describes her in some way, or makes her feel like the artist wrote it just for her. I am nearly halfway through book three and I still don't have a definitive song for Willow. Does anyone have any suggestions? She is determined, loving, intelligent, and independent, as well as slightly sarcastic and kind of hard on herself. Any and all ideas would be very much appreciated! Just remember, the song has to be
pre-1986. Thanks a bunch!

Next post: The song that describes me the most!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maybe We Ain't That Young Anymore

"So you're scared and you're thinking/ That maybe we ain't that young anymore." - "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen

Yesterday my little sister, Jenna, turned 25. A quarter of a century. Man, that makes me feel really old. I was told last year by then four-year-old Riley that I was almost 30 (I was 26 at the time), and both Riley and Alana have asked me if I am as old as their mother and grandma, which I quickly assure them I am not. They think I'm about 100 years old. Nice, huh?

So, that is a scary thought, being old enough to be considered 100 by preschoolers. I know I have to consider the source, but if Jenna is 25, I must be old. I feel old, but then again, I always have. There's a line in "It's a Wonderful Life" when George Bailey's father tells George, the eldest son, that he was just born older. That's me. I was just born older.

But still, I refuse to get old. Not in a creepy Peter Pan, Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch way, but in an endearing Lucille Ball kind of way. In one episode, Lucy said that she was turning 29, which she had done for so many years that she had forgotten how old she actually was! With my memory and my obsession over numbers I'm sure I won't have the gift of forgetting, but it's still a nice thought. I will just stay 29 forever, but right now I'm still 27! Not 30, not 100, just 27. Right now that feels old enough to me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dance, Dance, Dance

"I gotta dance, dance dance now the beat's really hot/ Dance, dance, dance right there on the spot." - "Dance Dance Dance" by The Beach Boys

This week I am teaching the girls about Asia. With each continent, I have the girls pick a country that they would like to focus on, and Alana picked India for this week, which is great because it's a country I can work with. For South America she picked Uruguay, which was next to impossible to find information on that was suitable for a three-year-old. What? Most American three-year-olds have never heard of Uruguay? Huh!

Anyway, I have been showing the girls You Tube clips of Bollywood dancing, courtesy of the talented contestants on "So You Think You Can Dance". They LOVED the routines! They both immediately jumped up and started "dancing Bollywood", which was more entertaining than I can even put into words. Alana incorporated her gymnastics into the dance, and Riley stomped her feet and waved her arms with all her might, trying to keep up with the "computer dancers", as Alana called them. I really do have a great job, don't I?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back Cover Blurb

"They say you gotta stay hungry/ Hey baby, I'm just about starving tonight/ I'm dying for some action/ I'm sick of sitting around here trying to write this book." - "Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen

Writing the book isn't the problem, it's all the stuff that comes afterwards. "I'm dying for some action" in the publishing sense, and am getting ready to send out more letters to agents. A few agents I have queried in the past ask for a blurb to go on the back cover of the book (if and when it's ever published), and I would love some feedback on what I have written:

It’s the summer of 1986, and small town girl Willow Ryan is going to have a baby, something she never imagined would happen to her. Unable to disclose her secret, and unwilling to give up her baby, Willow leaves her Midwestern home for charming Santa Elena, California, where she lands a job working for a quirky Southern belle named Peggy, who has a knack for finding trouble where you would least expect it. Willow’s new neighbor, a friendly surfer dude named Denny, quickly becomes someone she can count on for anything, but could there be something more to their relationship than Willow sees?

Willow Ryan will take you on a journey with this independent, determined young woman as she grows up quickly, becomes a mother, and deals with a catastrophic event that turns her world upside down and ultimately makes all of her secrets come to light.

So what do you think? Would you buy the book if you read that summary at Barnes and Noble?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Taking Care of Business

"And I'll be taking care of business, every day/ Taking care of business, every way/ I'll be taking care of business, it's all mine/ Taking care of business and working overtime." - "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive

That will be me this week. My vacation is over and it's back to normal tomorrow, which isn't entirely bad because I love the girls and I know they are looking forward to seeing me bright and early Monday morning. I'm excited to hear about all the adventures they had while they were camping and get to spend the last week and a half of summer vacation with them, but I have to admit, I will miss having an endless amount of hours to write, read, and edit my latest "Willow" novel.

I have completed roughly 65 pages during my time off, which makes me so happy, relieved, fulfilled, at peace, etc., that it is perfectly clear that I need to be writing. I may have some time while the girls are napping/resting in the afternoons, otherwise I will be staying up way too late every night, trying to find a good stopping point in my writing, which never happens because I never reach a point where I want to stop. Maybe I am obsessed? Hmm, that gives me an idea for another story...

Friday, August 13, 2010


"Thunder only happens when it's raining." - "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac

Not true Stevie Nicks. Right now it is thundering (causing my dog to run and hide under the dining room table where I am working) and overcast, but not a drop of rain has fallen. Maybe if it did, it wouldn't be so unbearably hot. On second thought, it would still be hot, only more humid. Sounds lovely, right? Yeah...

As I stated in a previous post, my goal was to write at least 50 pages in my third novel during my week off. Well, I did it! I am currently at 53 new pages for the week and counting. I just wanted to share before I get busy, hopefully making it up to 60 or 70 pages before I have to return to my normal job on Monday. Now I will go continue writing about the lives of Willow and the always interesting people of a little town called Santa Elena, CA.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Forever Young

"May God bless and keep you always/ May your wishes all come true/ May you always do for others/ And let others do for you/ May you build a ladder to the stars/ And climb on every rung/ May you stay forever young."

Isn't it incredible that Bob Dylan has been writing and recording for half a century and his words still hold as much power today as they did in the 60s? Man, was I born in the wrong generation!

In my quest to write something every single day, I am writing this post for my nieces and nephew, who I had the privilege of spending the day with. Technically I am not their aunt since their mother is my cousin, but it doesn't matter. To them I am Auntie Shannon, a title that I am very proud of. These children are sweet, brilliant, hilarious, and so full of love and life that at times, it seems like it just comes bursting out of them.

So, for Brenna, Aiden, and Caitlyn, I hope that your wishes come true, you grow up to be giving, successful, courageous, strong, and with joyful hearts, just like the song says.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Get Up and Do It Again, Amen

"And when the morning light comes streaming in/ I'll get up and do it again/ Amen/ Say it again/ Amen." - "The Pretender" by Jackson Browne

This is another one of my new anthems, although I am a real writer, not a pretender. Now if only I could convince an agent of that! Anyway, I keep reading in books, magazines, and websites devoted to the art of writing, that one of the most important things to do every single day is write, no matter what it is. I am embracing this advice.

True, I would love nothing more than to have hours upon hours to devote to working on my third novel, but unfortunately, I have a full-time job that complicates the situation.

So, whether it be a blog post, some notes is one of my many, many notebooks for a future novel or short story, a poem, or actual pages written for my current novel, "Willow Ryan: Surprises", I will be getting up and doing it again tomorrow, amen.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


"Vacation all I ever wanted/ Vacation had to get away." - "Vacation" by the Go-Gos

Ahh, a week off! Sounds nice doesn't it? I have worked a lot of extra hours this summer, and, although it's been great being with the girls every day, I am ready for a break. So next week will be spent relaxing, writing, and playing with my nieces and nephews. Hey, wait a minute! I'm on vacation from taking care of children, and I am going to spend my time with more children? I think that along with writing, taking care of children is something I am just destined to do. Children bring so much laughter and joy to the people around them, why wouldn't I want to spend as much time as possible with the kids in my life?

As far as my writing plans go, I am hoping to write an article to submit to a parenting magazine I found online the other day, and complete at least 50 pages in my third "Willow Ryan" novel. It may be a little ambitious, but I'm aiming for the stars here. Until tomorrow...

Monday, August 2, 2010


"And bad mistakes/ I've made a few." - "We Are the Champions" by Queen

This weekend I got my 2011 "Guide to Literary Agents", which I flipped through and already found a few potential agents to submit to. With this next round of submissions being my third or fourth, I have figured a thing or two out; namely, what doesn't work. Here are a few hints, hopefully helpful, of what not to do when querying agents. I have, unfortunately, made each of these mistakes myself.

1. Catch all the typos! I have to reread my letter three times, because if I don't, I will inevitably miss some stupid typo that will surely make the agent toss my letter into the recycling bin or delete my email in an instant.

2. Double check the agent's name. On one unfortunate night when I was working on sending out my first query letters, I accidentally transposed the name of the agent I was writing to with the next name on my list, from a completely different agency. Oops! Needless to say, I never heard back from that agent. Ugh.

3. Don't get your hopes up. I know this sounds jaded, but trust me, it's good advice. It's so exciting when an agent asks for sample chapters and shows an interest in your work, but don't read into this too much because you are just setting yourself up for heartbreak if and when the rejection letter comes. Celebrate yes, but do it quietly and don't get caught up in what might happen. Stay focused and level-headed, and you will be better off for it in the end.

4. Don't approach agents too soon! I can't stress this one enough. I have to admit, I started querying as soon as I completed my first novel, before I had even done any editing! Huge mistake! Looking back, I can't believe that I thought my work was ready to be taken seriously, or myself for that matter. After carefully fine-tuning my manuscript and taking the time (a lot of time!) to learn about the publishing business, I can honestly say that both "Willow Ryan" and I are ready for the big time!

5. Whatever you do, don't give up! I have been told this by family, friends, and literary agents who, for whatever reason, chose to pass on my novel. I know I can write, and I know my story is worthy of being on the bookstore shelves, so I just have to keep at it. It's hard when the rejections just keep coming, but after a year of trying to find representation, I finally understand that this is a very fickle business, but the right agent is out there to take on me and my work.

I may not be a champion yet, but someday...

Friday, July 30, 2010

She Sings the Songs

"Looking on she sings the songs/ The words she knows, the tunes she hums."

This is another favorite of the three year old I teach. I started singing her Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" after she began ballet classes over a year ago, and it stuck. She can name that tune just by hearing the first couple of notes on the radio, and she does, in fact, know the words and hum the tune. As we were driving back from the art museum today, I was belting out the lyrics to this song with a three and five year old, making me feel like I was starring in my own G-rated version of "Almost Famous", my favorite movie. Minus the totally cool 70s rock band. And the Band-Aids (except for the Hello Kitty one on Riley's foot). And the writing that the lead character actually got paid for! But I digress.

Before our karaoke session in the minivan, the girls and I had a great time at the museum. All of my reservations about taking a very active and spirited preschooler to the museum were proven unnecessary. She was in awe at the size of the massive oil paintings, and was clearly impressed at the extensive collection of Tiffany glass, especially the chandeliers, which she wanted to buy. What can I say, she has expensive taste! The entire field trip lasted less than two hours, but they were filled with culture, education, and the look of wonder on children's faces that can only be described as priceless.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Splatter Painting

"I see a red door and I want to paint it black." - "Paint it Black" by The Rolling Stones

Today was splatter painting day! The girls love this art project, even though we have to do it outside in the blistering heat, which is not my favorite thing, believe me. I guess it's not too bad for them though, since they paint in their bathing suits, then rinse off in a wading pool. Why do they have to rinse off, you ask? Because by the time they have flung what is easily an entire cup of paint across the yard (with plastic spoons!) onto two very large sheets of poster paper, they are COVERED head to toe in a sea of rainbow tempera paint. It's wild, crazy, free, and they always have a blast painting the paper, and ultimately, each other. The clean up of the yard and children is a little time-consuming, but how can I say no to splatter painting when I see how happy it makes the girls? They will only be little like this for a short time, so I try to encourage their uninhibited creativity as often as possible, even if it's at the expense of my sanity! What will we do tomorrow? I am going to tackle the Chrysler Museum of Art with a three year old and a five year old. Have I completely lost my mind? I guess we'll find out tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

"If you wake up and don't want to smile/ If it takes just a little while/ Open your eyes and look at the day/ You'll see things in a different way/ Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow/ Don't stop it'll soon be here/ It'll be, better than before/ Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone." - "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac

I am trying to make these lyrics my anthem toward my as of yet nonexistent writing career. I recently came to the realization that when I started contacting agents last year, I was nowhere near ready, and neither was my work, to jump into the literary world. After months of rejections from agents and revisions on my own part, I can honestly say that both "Willow Ryan" and I are ready to be taken seriously. This past year of learning about the business, how agents work, and who I am as a writer has really been eye-opening, and now since yesterday's gone, I'm thinking about tomorrow. I have more agents to query, more research and learning to do, and much, much more writing ahead of me. I am now seeing things in a different way, and I have faith that tomorrow will be better than yesterday for my writing. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Christmas in July

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas/ Soon the bells will start/ And the thing that will make them ring/ Is the carol that you sing/ Right within your heart."

Merry Christmas in July everybody! As you may have read in my profile, I am a Christmas nut. I have been known to enjoy holiday music and movies year-round, and the children I have taught over the years have always loved my brightly colored Christmas socks that I wear all the time.

Christmas is a season of hope, joy, and love, so why only celebrate it in December? I will leave you tonight with these parting words from the book of Luke, which I feel should be remembered and honored every day of the year:

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Weekend

"I need a big weekend/ Kick up the dust/ Yeah a big weekend/ If you don't run, you rust."

You and me both, Tom Petty. For some reason, this has been the longest week in the history of the world. I have been feeling very stuck, and there is something very appealing about the idea of taking off, hitting the road, and just escaping for a while. Nothing but driving, listening to road trip songs, and total freedom.

Hey, wait a minute! I don't have a spontaneous bone in my body! I would have to spend weeks making plans, lists, packing... the list goes on. I guess there would just be too much work involved for me to be carefree for a whole weekend. Oh well.

Maybe, just maybe, I will have a big weekend. I might, dare I say it, have a chance to write! I know, I know, it sounds very boring, but I haven't worked on my third book in weeks, and it would feel great to get some writing accomplished. It may not be what Tom Petty had in mind when he wrote the song, but right now it sounds pretty good to me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Hunk"leberry Finn and Surfer Joe

"He went down to Huntington Beach one week/ For the annual surfers' convention meet/ He was hanging five, and walking the nose/ And when the meet was over, the trophy was Joe's."

I have given the girls I teach an appreciation for classic surf rock by the greats like The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, and The Surfaris, who sing the girls' latest favorite, "Surfer Joe". While on our way to drop Riley off at the bus stop for camp this morning, both girls were singing the song and Alana said that she wanted to go to the beach with Surfer Joe. That started an argument between the girls over who "Joe" would have more fun surfing with. They are three and five! All I could do was shake my head and try not to laugh at them.

In a couple of weeks, the girls are going camping with their family. Alana very animatedly told me that they were going berry picking and would make a pie with blueberries and "hunk"leberries! When I told her that they were actually called huckleberries, she very seriously told me that, no, they were called hunkleberries and she was going to find a very hunky one to take home! I just burst out laughing, and she rolled her eyes at me and walked away. Out of the mouths of babes...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Classic Cars and Movie Screens

"And I always dreamed/ Of classic cars and movie screens."
- "Old White Lincoln" by The Gaslight Anthem

Warm summer nights bring back fond memories for me of drive-in movies and driving home in the middle of the night across the High Desert of Southern California with thousands of glittering lights shining in the distance. I also flash back to classic car shows full of my favorites like Mustangs, Camaros, Chevelles, and GTOs. Isn't it sad that kids today have no clue what a drive-in movie is, and very few realize how totally cool a muscle car can be?

Hey, wait a minute! I was born in the 80s! I shouldn't have memories of drive-ins and muscle cars, but I do. I was fortunate enough to live in and visit places as a kid that still have some of the country's few remaining drive-in theaters, and I grew up in a family where classic cars (the louder and faster the better!) were the norm over the latest fully-loaded model.

If only I was sitting in a '65 Candy Apple Red Mustang right now, eating popcorn and laughing at some funny movie with an old metal speaker hanging on the car door...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Seals and Sting Rays and Sharks, Oh My!

"Can't you feel 'em closin' in, honey?/ Can't you feel 'em schoolin' around?/ You got fins to the left, fins to the right/ And you're the only girl in town."

Today I took the girls on a field trip to the aquarium in Virginia Beach. It was quite an adventure! Riley loved the seals and sharks, and Alana happily announced to the whole restaurant while we were eating lunch that her favorite things were the sting rays, bathrooms (don't ask!), and... the gift shop! It was pretty funny. I told the girls they could each pick out something small as a gift from me, and they both picked out stuffed seals, which, to my relief, were under $10 a piece. Whew!

It might not have been quite as fun as eating a "Cheeseburger in Paradise" or being "wasted away again in Margaritaville", but the girls had a great time and I enjoyed watching them explore the wonderful world of our oceans and bays. Our next adventure in a couple of weeks will be to the local art museum while we are studying the continent of Europe. Have any of you ever taken a three year old to an art museum? Any advice?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Town

"Hot town, summer in the city/ Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty/ Been down, isn't it a pity/ Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city/ All around, people looking half dead/ Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head."

It's 99 degrees, overcast, and humid. In other words, it's absolutely miserable. I spent an hour and a half this morning sitting poolside with a three year old while her sister had swim team practice. There was no breeze, no relief, just unbearable heat. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

While I was sitting in a very uncomfortable plastic chair, willing myself not to sweat, willing the wind to blow, and willing a preschooler not to start whining, "Can we go yet?", I thought of how "The Christmas Song" came to be. Apparently Mel Torme and Bob Wells came up with the song out of thin air on a hot summer day in 1944. In an effort to cool down, they started thinking of Christmas and wintry things, and "The Christmas Song" was born. I will leave you with these cool parting words.

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire/ Jack Frost nipping at your nose/ Yuletide carols being sung by a choir/ And folks dressed up like Eskimos." Feel better? I do!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rock On

"Still lookin' for that blue jean, baby queen/ Prettiest girl I ever seen/ See her shake on the movie screen, Jimmy Dean/ James Dean."

That is Alana's song. She is the three-year-old I teach. Today, the girls and I went bowling, and we heard David Essex's "Rock On" on the radio on the way there. At one point, Alana bowled a spare, and she pumped her little fists in the air, did a little dance, and yelled, "Hey kids, rock and roll! Rock on!" I burst out laughing, as did all of the adults in our area. It was too funny! She is so spirited and hilarious, and that song fits her to a tee. I wonder how many other preschoolers recognize that song (and many other classic rock songs) by the first few notes? More of Alana's favorites: "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams, "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John, and "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones. As she would say, what a "totally awesome" kid!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Query Letter

"Deliver the letter/ The sooner the better."

As promised, here is a sample of my query letter where I describe the basic plot of my novel, "Willow Ryan". A query letter is sent out by an author to potential literary agents, in the hope that they will see the brilliance of your work and offer you a contract on the spot. Sounds too good to be true, right? Right... Anyway, here it is:

What would you do if you were seventeen, pregnant, and could not tell a soul? That is the position that Willow Ryan finds herself in during the summer of 1986. Unable to disclose her secret, and unwilling to give up her baby, this small town girl moves away from her Indiana home and creates a new life for herself in Santa Elena, CA. After arriving in the quaint coastal town, Willow gets a job at a boutique owned by a quirky former Southern belle named Peggy, who has a knack for finding trouble in the most unlikely places. Willow’s new neighbor, a friendly surfer dude named Denny, quickly becomes a trusted confidant, but could there be something more to their relationship than Willow sees?

Okay, what do you think? I feel that this paragraph does a pretty good job in explaining the storyline, and hopefully leaves the reader wanting more. There are more technical details of the query that I didn't include here, but that's the gist of it. What do you think? Any comments? Bring 'em on!

Silence is Golden

"Silence is golden, golden/ But my eyes still see."

Aah, naptime. It's been a busy day and I am more than ready for a break. The girls have been overly argumentative, prompting me to say things I never I thought I would say, including, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all", "I don't like arguing", "Be nice your sister or you'll go in time out", and the ever popular, "Because I said so". I don't know what the problem was, aside from being tired, but the girls were at each other's throats, and mine.

This morning, I was told by a five-year-old that I was driving too fast and I didn't know where the library was. Seriously? I was not pleased. Then while at the library, the three-year-old informed me that I am too old to check out books, so I should just wait in the car. I informed her that adults could check out books too, and 27 is not old. That was met with an eye roll by both girls. Wow.

On the way home, I once again grew tired of hearing the girls fight, and told them no talking for five minutes. As I glanced back in the mirror of the way cool minivan that I drive at work (VERY different from my Mustang!), I saw the girls sticking their tongues out, making faces, and rolling their eyes at each other, hence the lyrics for this post. What happened to the little angels I know they can be? Maybe they will be back after naptime. One can hope!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Girls in Their Summer Clothes

"The girls in their summer clothes/ In the cool of the evening light/ The girls in their summer clothes, pass me by."

Bruce Springsteen probably didn't have wild little kids on his mind when he wrote those lyrics, but that song always makes me think of the girls I teach. These are the girls who dance instead of walk, sing instead of talk, twirl instead of run, and always have fancy dresses on. As they stampeded toward me in their frilly sundresses this morning when I arrived at their house, I couldn't help but smile. These children are the epitome of "girls in their summer clothes", at least for me.

Yesterday I wrote about an agent who requested the first chapter of my book. Well, I heard back from her already, and it's not good news. Her rejection came so quickly, I have to wonder if she even read my work. Not to sound cocky, but I know my books are good, and I know in my heart and soul that I am meant to be a writer. I will keep at it, and hopefully it will lead to somewhere fantastic...sooner rather than later. query letter for you to comment on. Maybe you could offer me some advice!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Waiting

"The waiting is the hardest part/ Every day you get one more yard/ You take it on faith, you take it to the heart/ The waiting is the hardest part."

You are so right, Tom Petty. I just emailed an agent with the requested first chapter of my novel. I have to have faith that "Willow Ryan" will one day be published, but the waiting really is the hardest part. True, I am more impatient than most people, but still. I could hear back from this agent tomorrow, or it could be two months from now. Either way, I pray it's good news.

I am still in the same place with my third novel, "Surprises: Willow Ryan Book 3", having written absolutely nothing for a couple of weeks now. How terrible! Life just keeps getting in my way, and I can think of nothing better than to hide out for a few weeks, in complete peace and solitude, and write until my imagination runs out of words. I have this fantasy of how it would be to get to write for a living, and that's part of it. I'm not a hermit though, far from it. It's just that there are days (weeks, months, years) when I don't get anything done that I feel like I need to do, and "I wanna leave this world for awhile". Hey, another Tom Petty quote! Can you tell I'm a fan?

I will end this post with the hope that next week proves to be more creative, inspirational, and fulfilling than the last, for me and all of you. Until tomorrow...

Friday, July 9, 2010

I've Always Been a Dreamer

"You know I've always been a dreamer/ (Spent my life running 'round)/ And it's so hard to change/ (Can't seem to settle down)/ But the dreams I've seen lately/ Keep on turning out, and burning out/ And turning out the same/ So put me on a highway/ And show me a sign/ And take it to the limit one more time."

The Eagles kind of sum up my experience with the world of literary agents at this point. I finished my first novel a little over a year ago and have been submitting ever since, hoping against hope that someone will be willing to take on an unpublished writer with big dreams and hopefully equally big potential. I have received a few requests for sample chapters, but nothing has panned out. I got an email from an agent requesting Chapter One yesterday, and I am excited, but with reservations. I am still dreaming... but trying to keep my head out of the clouds.

In the meantime, I am still writing, and am happy to say that in the last 16 months, I have written about 800 pages. I think that's pretty good if I do say so myself! Thanks for listening!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Teach Your Children

"Teach, your children well/ Their father's hell/ Did slowly go by/ And feed them on your dreams/ The one they picked, the one you'll know by/ Don't you ever ask them why?/ If they told you, you would cry/ So just look at them and sigh/ And know they love you."

Ah, the wise words of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I love that song, don't you? I was thinking about that song earlier, especially the line about dreams, while I was eating lunch with the three year old I teach. We were having a very fancy tea party lunch, one of her favorite things, and naturally she wanted to blow out the candles. As the smoke was swirling around in the air, I asked her if she made a wish. She said yes, that she wished that I would win when we play animal bingo later because last time I lost. Her wish was so sweet and selfless, it almost did make me cry. I'm such a sap!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Opening lines

"I want to be a paperback writer/ Paperback writer."

Honestly, I would prefer to debut my first novel in hardcover, but beggars can't be choosers, right? Yesterday I gave you my promo pitch, so here are the first lines of "Willow Ryan":

"She had known for two months. Two long months of going to school, hanging out in the quad at lunch, and working afternoons at the Dairy Queen, pretending everything was fine."

What do you think? Is it catchy? My quest to perfect my writing continues, one line at a time. Comments are welcome!

Summertime Blues

"Sometimes I wonder what I'm a gonna do/ But there ain't no cure for the summertime blues."

Remember when you were a kid and it took forever for summer to arrive, only for it to disappear in a split second? Yeah, summer isn't like that anymore. Now it seems like the heat and humidity attack in full force by May, and the weather doesn't let up until October. Also, there's the business of not having three months off to relax, watch cartoons, and play on the swingset every day. At least I get to live vicariously through the children I take care of.

I am a teacher and nanny for two girls, ages three and five. During the school year, the oldest one goes to school full day, and the younger one goes in the mornings, then afternoons are filled with an abundace of activities that at times make my head spin. But once summer started, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, there are the day camps, swim team, and violin lessons, but for the most part, the kids get to be kids. Yea! When I see the girls swinging on their tire swing, riding their bikes, coloring picture after picture, and reading every book in sight, I flash back to the days when I loved summer and everything it stood for: freedom, relaxation, and fun, fun, fun. What happened to summers like those? I'm glad that they still exist for the kids in my life, even if my carefree summers are over.

Yes, I may have the summertime blues, but thinking about the crisp autumn days that will soon come, crunching leaves beneath my worn tennis shoes, and seeing pumpkin patches on every corner always brings a smile to my face. Anyone up for watching "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown"?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hello World!

Hello world/ here's a song that we're singing/ come on get happy!

No, I'm not a big Partridge Family fan, but I figured that was a good way to say hi for my first post.

Why start a blog? I was inspired in part by the movie Julie & Julia, and in part by my love for writing and talking. After completing two novels, I figured that this was a good venue to get my voice heard. Okay, so maybe you are wondering what my books are about? If so, fantastic! That's what I was hoping for. The series is entitled "Willow Ryan", and here's my pitch.

"Seventeen, pregnant, and on her own. An unwanted crisis, or perhaps an unexpected blessing?"

Interested yet?

While I'm waiting to be discovered and become the next Robin Jones Gunn or Melody Carlson, I work as a home school teacher/nanny. Not exactly a glamorous job, but it's rewarding. Today I discovered that three year olds can be even more insightful than I realized when we came across a dead squirrel. This little girl looked up at me, full of innocence and wonder, and said that she was sad that the squirrel wasn't alive, but happy that it was in Heaven now and not hurting. Amazing, right?

Thanks for listening!