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Saturday, April 30, 2011

All the Pages Are My Days

"In the book of love's own dreams/ Where all the print is blood/ Where all the pages are my days/ And all my lights grow old." - "Attics of my Life" by The Grateful Dead

Aren't those beautiful words? So poetic and so true. When I read the words I have written in my own books, they are so reflective of all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into each and every page. For me, writing is not just something I do, but a way in which I am able to live. It allows me to be expressive, to dream, to create something that otherwise would not exist. I have been writing the Willow Ryan series for two years now, and those pages really are my days since the idea for Willow's character first came to me in a flood of inspiration that honestly still blows my mind whenever I think about it.

That's kind of what led me to the deicision I made today. As many of you know, for the past few months I have had older versions of my first two books (I have since done some editing that I am so happy with!)available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon in the form of ebooks. Overall it has been a good experience, but I have decided to really renew my efforts to get an agent, and I don't want anything jeopardizing my chances at representation. So, I have taken my ebooks off sale. Hopefully at some point in the future (not too long in the future!), the Willow Ryan series will be available in traditional book form, which is what I have wanted all along. I know that these books are marketable, entertaining, relevant, and, not to toot my horn, well-written, so it's just a matter of finding the right agent who will agree with me on these points. Sigh...

To all of you who downloaded Secrets and Promises, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. I know that some people are leary of paying to read an unknown author's novel, but I really appreciate those of you who gave me a chance. I am going to work my hardest to make sure that my books are sitting on the bookstore shelves someday, where they belong.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Way Over Yonder

"I know when I get there, the first thing I'll see/ Is the sun shining golden, shining right down on me/ Then trouble's gonna lose me, worry leave me behind/ And I'll stand up proudly in true peace of mind." - "Way Over Yonder" by Carole King

Hello again! I have gotten behind on my blogging lately, but I'll try to do a better job at posting regularly. Side note to Rebecca, thanks for the nice comment on my last post. I really appreciate the compliment!

Okay, so there are two reasons that "Way Over Yonder" is my song of the day. First of all, tonight is Carole King night on American Idol, and I absolutely love her music. Her songwriting is beautiful, emotional, and timeless, and I just hope that the contestants do her lyrics justice.

Second, the lyrics I included above remind me of Santa Elena, the fictional town my Willow Ryan series is set in. It's the kind of place that automatically makes a person feel welcome, and it's so serene that some of your troubles may actually float away. I hope that when people read my books they get a sense of this peaceful, easy feeling (had to throw in another song reference!) and are able to escape the stress and worries of their real lives for a little mini vacation in Santa Elena, CA with Willow and all of her friends. If I have succeeded in that goal, then I feel that I have accomplished something great with my writing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Summer's Creeping In

"I feel summer creepin' in/ And I'm tired of this town again." - "Mary Jane's Last Dance" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I'm starting to get that panicky feeling that I get every spring when I realize that it's only a matter of time - days, weeks if I'm lucky - that the horrible, stifling heat and humidity of summer will overtake the area and stepping outside will feel like suffocating in a sauna. Nice, huh.

With the realization that summer is almost here, I am hard at work trying to get some writing business done before the girls' school year ends and my work week goes from 30-35 hours to 50-55 hours. Don't get me wrong, I'm really looking forward to my extra time with them and have been busy getting my lesson plans together, but the extra nanny/homeschool hours will severly cut into my writing time. I am about 225 pages into my fourth Willow book and am hoping to finish it by June. If not, no big deal, but wouldn't it be nice? I have queried several potential agents and am keeping my fingers crossed that I will get a positive response from at least one of them.

So, with shopping around my first manuscript, trying to complete my fourth novel, writing lesson plans for an entire summer that will challenge two extremely brilliant young children, and still working hard at my regular school-year nanny duties, I've been a little busy. I know it will only get more hectic as summer continues to creep in, but hopefully the hot weather and long days will bring some good news of future success in the literary world...

Friday, April 15, 2011

No Negative Words!

"Was a sunny day/ Not a cloud was in the sky/ Not a negative word was heard/ From the peoples passing by." - "Was a Sunny Day" by Paul Simon

Wow, two days in one year that I don't mind the sunshine. Who would've thought? I, the eternal lover of dark, cold, winter days, am actually enjoying the sunny weather and look forward to spending the afternoon outside with the girls. Did I undergo a lobotomy without my knowledge?

I think one reason for my good mood is that I am getting back into the submissions game. I have sent queries to a handful of agents that I think would be a good fit for my newly revised manuscript. It feels good to be doing something proactive! Hopefully this time around I will find the agent who was meant to represent me and my work.

I'm not holding my breath though, because I have been going through this long enough to be jaded by the process. I received two form rejections already (surprise, surprise), but that doesn't mean I won't get a better response tomorrow. I'm hoping I don't hear any negative words though. I can accept that my novel is not for everyone. After all, what book is? No matter what, I'll keep on truckin' though. I know, I know, but I just couldn't resist sneaking in another song reference!

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Three Songs

"Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you/ Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama." - "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys

After dropping the girls off at school this morning, I was flipping through radio stations in their way cool minivan (I drive that thing four times as much as my Mustang, which actually is cool!) and came across three songs that instantly transported me back to the eighties. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I was wearing my purple Converse All-Stars, bicycle shorts (c'mon, it was the times!) tons of plastic jelly bracelets, and rocking a side ponytail with a day-glow scrunchie.

First up, "Kokomo". Man, I loved that song! I think I spent most of 1989 singing it, including recording my own versions on my portable tape player. Yeah, I know exactly how awesome I was. This song was summer, the beach, and best of all, was sung by The Beach Boys and John Stamos (Uncle Jesse!) on "Full House", my favorite show as a kid. What could be better?

I am a constant flipper of radio stations, so as soon as "Kokomo" ended, I hit the next button and started singing along to Paula Abdul's "Straight Up". What little girl didn't love Paula back in the 80s? She had catchy songs that were fun to dance to, even if I thought my choreography might have been just a little better than hers. I was a very confident, if not deluded child.

Paula gave way to some stupid song I didn't care to hear, so I changed the station and, I'm seriously not making this up, I heard the song stylings of New Kids on the Block, singing "Hangin' Tough"! I don't think I've heard that song on the radio in about twenty years (boy do I feel old!), but there it was, in all of its 80s glory. Wow. I will admit, the New Kids were one of my very first obsessions. I was the six-year-old with the t-shirts, cassettes, VHS music video, even a beach towel featuring the New Kids. Joey McIntyre was by far my favorite. Now, I find their music absolutely hilarious, but back then, I sang loud and proud. Today, I started singing but then just burst out laughing.

So, those are the three songs I heard today that reminded me of my childhood. What a blast from the past!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Great Feedback!

"My friend said take her with you/ To leave her here would be a crime/ But let's get outta Santa Cruz/ All I got is a Canadian dime." - "The Trip To Pirate's Cove" by Tom Petty

I heard back from the last agent I queried for Secrets (the one who judged the pitch contest I came in third on), and for the first time, I really am okay with getting a rejection letter. Honestly, I expected it since women's fiction isn't exactly his area of interest, but the feedback he gave me was terrific!

Not only did he think that the changes I made to chapter one were great, but he said that he understood Willow's reasons for wanting to move back to California because he felt that way as a teenager too, having left a small town in CA when he was a young child just like her. It's so wonderful to hear that I have conveyed the emotional reasons for her choice to return to her first home so effectively. I must be doing something right!

The fictional town of Santa Elena that I created for the Willow Ryan series is based in part on Santa Cruz, CA, a cool little hippie beach town in Central California that time forgot. I lived there from the ages of 9-13 and grew to appreciate it's unique charm and appeal as I got older. I wanted to give Willow a safe place that wouldn't judge her and would fully accept her and all of her baggage, and I think of Santa Cruz as a place like that. I also incorporated memories and stories of Santa Monica and Covina, CA into Santa Elena for other reasons, but Santa Cruz was my main inspiration. I'm so glad that my descriptions are accurately painting a picture for people who are reading my work.

Now, on to the next agents. I will be going over my list once again and selecting a handful of literary agents who I fell would be a perfect fit for my book, and I'll keep my fingers crossed as I hit the send button and stick the stamps on the envelopes.

Remember when you had to lick stamps? Are there any children of the 80's out there who recall being warned not to accept stamps from strangers because they could be laced with LSD? That was pretty freaky! I have a very clear memory of that conversation from first grade in Covina, CA. The first grader I teach doesn't even know that drugs exist! Ah, to be so uninformed and innocent...

Anyway, I have a good feeling about this next round of submissions, but I'll stop there before I jinx myself!