Search This Blog

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...