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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chasing a Dream

"She had a dream/ And boy it was a good one/ So she chased after her dream/ With much desire." - "Paper and Fire" by John Mellencamp

Over the weekend I finished rereading book one in my Willow Ryan series for what seems like the millionth time - not that I minded. I enjoyed getting back to where Willow started, and I am so happy with the revisions I made to chapter one. I just hope that the agent(s) are too! I'm chasing this dream and I feel that I'm now one step closer to making it happen with my new and improved manuscript.

So now I'm back to writing book four. I'm approximately halfway done with it, and my goal for the week is to complete chapter 13. When I returned to book four yesterday, it amazed me to see just how much Willow's character has grown over the series. In book one she started out as a scared teenager who, although independent and mature, was still a kid in so many ways. Now she has a much more solid foundation and is more sure of herself and her place in the world. She is so much like a real person. Just think of how much you changed in the few years after graduating high school...

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Schrodinger's Cat Paradox...For Writing

"Well now our old fears and failures/ Baby, they do linger." - "All the Way Home" by Bruce Springsteen

After spending a few days thinking about how I wanted to improve chapter one of my first Willow Ryan book and taking the entire weekend to rewrite, I am really happy with the finished product. I used all of the advice I got from the agent who sponsored the pitch contest, and I have to say, it made a huge difference! I emailed him my query and the first three chapters this morning, so now I'm just waiting to hear back.

Now the reason for the title of this post. Schrodinger was a physicist who did an experiment where he locked a cat in a box with a vial of poison that would open at some time in the future. Since no one knew exactly when the cat would come into contact with the poison, the cat could be thought of as both dead and alive. Disturbing right? A classic paradox. That's how I feel about sending out this latest query. Since my revised work is now in the hands of an agent, I can look at it as the next rejection or the first step to publication. Since this agent gave me advice on how to fix the beginning of my novel, I feel like a lot more is riding on this query than any other one I sent out. Will he like the changes I made? Did I do too much telling instead of showing? Did I totally screw something up? Does the rest of the chapter match the quality of the first three lines which he actually described as skillfully written (so beyond exciting!)?

Like Schrodinger's Cat, I too am in a paradox, although it's not one that could kill me. It may drive me insane, but that's another story! I just hope that when I do hear back from this agent, it's good news and not another "Thanks for allowing me to read your pages, however..."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Critique is in!

"Yeah, running down a dream/ That never would come to me/ We're working on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads/ Running down a dream." - "Running Down a Dream" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Literary agent Michael Carr already got back to me with the critique of the first page of my manuscript, and I have to say that I'm really pleased with his comments. He liked the way it started out with a little suspense, then he suggested that I draw that out a little, which I think is a great idea. He also said that instead of telling the information, I need to show it unfolding. I can do that! All in all, it seemed like he thought I was off to a really good start.

I have been running down this dream of seeing something come of this book, and I feel that I'm finally getting somewhere. I'm going to take these tips and rewrite the first chapter, and I'll see where it leads me. Hopefully I will have a much better product in the end that will grab the attention of a great agent.

So, my goal for this week is to get the revisions going on chapter one of Secrets. I already know a few things I want to change, so I think it will be a fairly easy process. For the first time, I'm actually excited about doing some editing! Now the work begins...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Contest Results Continued...

"It's a beautiful day/ Don't let it get away/ It's a beautiful day." -
"Beautiful Day" by U2

Yes, it's still a beautiful day! It occured to me after I had posted the last message about the Twitter Pitch Contest results (still smiling about third place!) that I should tell you what my entry was. I had to give a pitch in under 140 characters (like a Twitter message, hence the title of the contest), as well as the first three lines of my novel, Secrets. Here's what I submitted:

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

Three Sentences: Willow 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. She danced at the prom and marched across the football field at graduation with the rest of the class of 1986.

Just thought you might like to see what my entry was. Sorry I forgot to include it earlier!

Contest Results

"It's a beautiful morning, ahh/ I think I'll go outside for a while/ And just smile!" - "It's a Beautiful Morning" by The Rascals

Remember last week I talked about a Twitter Pitch Contest on Chanelle Gray's blog, "Beyond Words", hosted by agent Michael Carr with Veritas Literary? Well, the results were posted yesterday and I am one of the lucky winners! That's why my song of the day is so upbeat and perky (so not me!). Now my first three chapters of Secrets are off to Michael and I will be receiving a professional critique of the first page. This is such an amazing opportunity, I can hardly believe that I was one of the chosen ones. Go me!

Chanelle's Blog:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Auntie Robin's Etsy Store

"Well East Coast girls are hip/ I really dig those styles they wear." - "California Girls" by The Beach Boys

If you have a daughter or a little girl in your life that you shop for, I have found the greatest place to order from! While browsing through the crafters and artist website, I came across Auntie Robin's store, and it is fantastic! She makes the most gorgeous skirts for little girls, many of which are inspired by classic fairy tales or story books. I bought some for the girls I nanny for, and they totally blew me away. The quality is amazing, every seam is finished (no rough or scratchy edges to irritate sensitive skin), the cotton fabric is beautiful, and best of all, the girls are so in love with these skirts that they don't want to take them off.

Every skirt is one-of-a-kind, making them all the more special. My personal favorites are the Wizard of Oz Dorothy skirt (red shoes on the pockets!) and the Thumbelina skirt (reminds me an English garden). I'm telling you, I know kids, and every little girl out there would love to have an Auntie Robin original in her closet.

The designer also quilts and has several stroller size (and larger) hand-quilted blankets for boys and girls. These little quilts look so soft and snuggly that I am tempted to buy one for myself - the Smores snowman quilt is adorable!

So, to sum it up, check out Auntie Robin's Etsy store at You won't be sorry!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Hope You're Having Fun!

"And the first one said to the second one there/ "I hope you're having fun!" - "Band on the Run" by Paul McCartney and Wings

This is my 100th blog post! I hope all of you out there have been enjoying what I have had to say all these months about my writing aspirations and my adventures in nannying, and I'll keep the posts coming as long as people will read them.

I read somewhere that when Paul McCartney started the band Wings, they played for gas money. I realized yesterday that if I'm lucky enough to sell a book a day, that will basically buy me a tank of gas and a couple of drinks at Starbucks. That's not much, so it's a good thing I'm having fun! I love to write and even if I never make any money at it, I'll never stop and I'll never give up trying to make a career out of this. Being a writer is not something I do, but something that I am, as I'm sure most writers can relate to.

So here's to the 100 posts I've written, the heartfelt poems that I may decide to share with the world one day, the articles taken from my years of experience working with children, and my three completed Willow Ryan novels. I hope there are many more to come!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get Back

"Get back, get back/ Get back to where you once belonged/ Get back, JoJo!" -
"Get Back" by The Beatles

I'm back to writing! Whew! Today is the first day in nearly two weeks that my head has been clear enough to write. I am still fighting the virus that won't quit, but at least I feel human again. The girls are skiing, so I have a long weekend, and I was able to write seven pages in my current novel this morning. The more I write about Willow and the rest of the people of Santa Elena, the more I like them. They're just so real, with hopes, dreams, fears, imperfections, and situations that so many of us can relate to. If only I could write full-time (and get a full-time paycheck for it!), I would probably have a dozen books in this series by now, instead of three and a third.

Since I am home today and not writing during nap time at work, I have my dog, Scooby, to keep me company. When I'm alone, I read my work out loud after I have written it, and doesn't Scooby look excited to hear about the latest happenings in Willow's world? On second thought, don't listen to him. He thinks garbage trucks and opossums are a thrill a minute.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Inspiration for My New Goal

"You know that we are living in a material world/ And I am a material girl."
- "Material Girl" by Madonna

I took the girls to the park today, and I had a total 80's flashback. Alana was dressed in this drop-waist dress with a tutu-type ruffle on the bottom, and she was wearing black stretchy leggings with lace trim. It was so 80's I couldn't believe it. I started singing "Material Girl" to her, but since this child has no idea who Madonna is, the song was completely lost on her. Oh well. I saw another little girl with striped leg warmers, a boy with a pastel Izod polo shirt, and a kid with the same purple Chuck Taylor All-Stars that I had when I was in preschool. What year is this?!

Just as I was thinking that I had taken some bad cold medicine and entered some kind of time warp, I heard a dad telling some other parents how he made his son this delicious gluten-free pasta from scratch the other day, and little Aiden loved it with homegrown eggplant and a little parmasean cheese. That's when I realized that it is in fact 2011, because if I had tripped back to 1987, the parents (most likely only moms) would have been discussing what types of Lunchables their kids, Tiffany, Jennifer, and Michael, liked and which flavor of fruit roll-up was best.

That brings me to my new goal. I haven't done anything this week because I'm still sick and have been too miserable to write, but today I was inspired. My goal is to write an article, at least 500 words, comparing parents of the 80's to parents of today. I'm thinking it will be a little out there and hopefully funny. I know I have plenty of material to go off of!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stop and Read a Book

"People disagreeing everywhere you look/ Makes you want to stop and read a book." - "Watching the River Flow" by Bob Dylan

What makes you stop and think, 'Hey, that's a book I'd like to read'? I think the descriptions I have for my first two Willow books are inviting, interesting, and well-written, but is there more I could do? What do you think?


It is the summer of 1986, and recent high school graduate 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 a new life in charming Santa Elena, California, where she lands a job working for a quirky 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 someone she can count on for anything, but could there be more to their relationship than Willow sees?

"Secrets" 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 makes all of her secrets come to light.


It's now 1987 in the small coastal town of Santa Elena, California. Willow Ryan has a beautiful baby, a good job at a children's boutique, great friends, and Denny, her neighbor and boyfriend who she is growing closer to by the day. After more than a year's worth of secrets and lies, Willow's relationship with her parents is on the mend as well, leading her to believe that all of the pieces of her life are finally falling into place. To top it off, Willow's sassy Southern boss and fairy godmother in disguise, Peggy, proposes an exciting new business venture that could mean big things for both of them. Working at Two Peas in a Pod is always fun, and now it could possibly get even better!

But just when Willow thinks that things are picture perfect, her world is turned upside down when Denny drops a bombshell that could change everything. Will their relationship survive this latest challenge, or will Willow lose the one person that has been there for her through every step of her rocky journey?

Follow Willow as she continues to grow, learn, and navigate through her wonderful, crazy, difficult, blessed life in "Promises".

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Faces of Tomorrow

"We don't own this place though we act as though we did/ It belongs to the children of our children's kids/ The actual owners haven't even been born yet." - "We Can Run" sung by The Grateful Dead

I had gotten way behind on my writing goals this week due to taking care of a sick child and being sick myself, so I have been trying to catch up this weekend. In the book I have been getting exercises from, A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves, the prompt for yesterday was "The Face of Tomorrow". There are no set rules assigned to these writing prompts, just to write whatever comes to mind. I thought I would share what I wrote for this passage. I would love to hear what you think!

I see two little faces every day that are growing up so quickly right before my eyes. They are the faces of tomorrow, the future of our world.

One face embodies so much drive, determination, and intelligence, that it just seeps from her pores. She always has goals and plans to make them happen. Her expressions, like her actions, are guided by a balance of practiced logic and intense emotion. She says what she means and means what she says. This child is sure to do great things in the years to come.

The other face, the one that is lit up with an electrifying blend of energy, natural humor, and pure sass, is the yin to her sister's yang. She is a wild spark of fire, a brilliant leader who commands attention as soon as she steps into a room. Not domineering, just magnetic. Her wheels are always turning, looking for solutions, answers, ways to explain the complexities of life. And she's only four years old.

If these girls decide to team up in the future, the world better wake up and take notice, because big things are going to happen. Will they find a cure for cancer, become leaders of the free world, host their own television cooking show? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure. I'll be in the front row cheering them on when they do it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Write It and Carve to it a Tune

"Write it and carve to it a tune/ To sing beneath a silver studded moon." -"The Wind Blows High" by Robert Hunter/The Grateful Dead

The idea for the Willow Ryan series came to me like a flood. In five minutes time, I knew every character, had dreamed up the plot for Secrets, and felt like I had lived in Santa Elena all my life. I also knew that music would play a big part in Willow's story, just like it does in mine. I have been writing off and on since I was in second grade and was encouraged to reach for the stars by Patty Dye, the best teacher in the entire world, but I had never experienced such a wave of inspiration as I did that night.

The funny thing is, that a random writing contest ad in the mail addressed to my mom gave me the push to start writing again. I didn't win the contest, but I found my passion. It was a much better reward than whatever that contest had been offering.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pitch Contest

My song of the day remains the same (see previous post).

This is a special message telling all of my fellow writers out there about a great contest I came across while browsing the Absolute Write Water Cooler. Check out for all of the rules and stipulations. Basically, if you have a great pitch for your novel, here is a chance to get a legitimate literary agent to take a look! I'm going to give it a try. Wish me luck!

I'm Sick

"I'm sick, my head hurts/ Whatcha got in your purse?" - "Roseanne" by The Grateful Dead

I. Am. Sick. And I have nothing in my purse to make me feel better. I wonder what Jerry and the guys were alluding too...?

Getting sick is an occupational hazard for anyone working within coughing distance of a child. And when said child is coughing, sneezing, and breathing all over her caring, doting, understanding nanny who doesn't even flinch when she gets sneezed on right in the face, it's pretty much useless to hope that you will stay healthy. So now I'm sick and spending ten hours a day taking care of a sick kid too. We are just two miserable peas in a pod.

Hey, I just realized that my song of the day on Monday was also a Dead song. I'll keep this trend up, and hopefully the lyrics will be more upbeat tomorrow.

As for my goal this week, it's not looking good. I haven't written anything since Monday because I have felt too exhausted to pick up a pen or type out even a few sentences. I am hoping that I can catch up this weekend and finish my current chapter in Book Four (I still haven't decided on a title), as well as complete my writing prompts for the days I missed. I hate being sick. I get nothing done, I have no energy, I want to sleep (completely abnormal for me!), and I feel like dying. Ugh. I also tend to be a little dramatic. Can you tell?