Hello my friends! Last weekend I went to SCBWI 2014 conference, a first for me. It promised to be a spectacular weekend and – hot damn – it totally lived up to my expectations! My journey…
I started the weekend in one of my favorite t-shirts, which, if you can believe it, caused me some trouble. My dear friend and roomy for the weekend, Kimberly Sabatini, YA author of Touching The Surface, @KimSabatini, and I got down to the City Friday night and after three tries we finally got a room with two beds! I’m not sure why they were trying to get Kim and I to sleep together, but we weren’t havin’ it!
We met a bunch of Kim’s friends, all awesome people, that I now get to call my friends too, Score! I ate a twenty dollar burger and had a fourteen dollar glass of wine. I know, right! But hey, it’s NYC, and I saved up for this event. After a few hours of getting to know everyone it was time to call it a night. This is where the t-shirt comes in. We’re on our way to the elevators, chattin’ like girls do, when this guy shoulders checks me off my feet into a column! Totally not kidding. So I yell, “Woe, buddy!” Not gonna lie, I would normally have yelled some other things, but I didn’t want to give the wrong impression to my new friends. Well, this guy was drunk off his arse. The dialog from here went like this:
“Fuckin’ woe yourself honey!” Girlfriend drags drunk by the hand. I stand with mouth hanging open and respond, “What is wrong with you?”
Now, trying to question a drunk is like trying to wrestle a pig. It just gets ugly.
“Fuck you!” Hand gestures went with this riveting bit. “What’s wrong with you? I’ll fuck you up!” Yeah, he was proficient in his use of the “F”word. Right there in the Hyatt. I mean it’s not like we were in a HoJo. Anyway, I had to respond, I just couldn’t help it. “Really dude? You’re gonna throw down with a girl? Really?”
“That’s right! I’ll throw down with a girl. Come on. Right now. Bring it!” Girlfriend is still dragging fool…it’s a big lobby. I shook my head in disbelief to which another round of “F”words came. And here’s the part where the shirt comes in…”Fuck you. Go back to fuckin’ England!”
Now, although I love England, I’m from Connecticut. You may have heard of it. It’s a state here in the USA…ASSHOLE.
Then the conference begins! This is Tomie dePaola and Lin Oliver signing their book, Little Poems for Tiny Ears for me. Lin was kinda runnin’ things up on stage along with Stephen Mooser, who I don’t have a picture of 😦
The first keynote speaker was author Jack Gantos…LOVE him! This is him signing his book for me, Dead End In Norvelt. He was hilariously entertaining. One of the things he said was, “To be a great writer, you have to be a great reader.” He also said, “Whatever you write, not everyone will share the same experiences but we all share the same emotions. You have to reach people on an emotional level with the characters you write about. People have to care about what happens to them. At the end of the story you have to solve the problem and bring in empathy.” Did I mention I love him? Onward to:
A panel on the future of authorship.
Abbi Glines, author, got turned down fifty-five times. She self-published five books before she got an agent. She attributes social media to her success, and she is super successful! (and very sweet)
Jean Feiwel, SVP Publishing Director Macmillan Children’s Books, said, “Distopian and Paranormal genres are NOT waning.” I was super excited to hear that, since one of my manuscripts is a Contemporary Paranormal!
Paul Aiken, Executive Director, The Author’s Guild, said “Be really careful when you’re paying for editing. Look for proof that the editor has succeeded at it.” He also said, “We’ve lost 60-70% of shelf space for books. The opportunity is still there, but we have to adapt.” He was speaking of ebooks and other electronic avenues.
After that I was off to my breakout workshop; “Getting and Working With an Agent” led by Dan Lazar, Agent Writers House.
That’s me and Dan. Okay, so I look a little stiff, but I didn’t want to go grabbin’ Dan, all creepy-stranger-like! I just met the guy five seconds before the photo. Dan had the whole room laughing, it was a ball! He spoke about the query letter, one page, written in the writer’s voice, not the voice of the main character. He also named a few pet peeves:
Do not address: To whom it may concern. Agents are real people.
Be specific, not vague.
There is no “fiction novel”, just novel.
Then he read a really funny query letter which made him ask the author to send the manuscript. Now, the funny part is that the letter used a few F-bombs. I thought an older woman sitting in front of me was going to have a heart attack and I can only imagine how many queries Dan has gotten this week peppered with the “F” word! I will not stoop to such fucking levels when I submit to him.
My afternoon breakout workshop; Writing Paranormal, Sci Fi and Thrillers, was with Kate Sullivan, Editor, Little, Brown Books.
Kate said that Genre Fiction is all about strong pacing and tension. She also echoed what Jack Gantos said, “The reader has to identify with your characters.” She went over world building, languages of your characters, and NOT dumping large sections of information in dialog. Kate was very cool and knew her stuff. I also just read she’s going to be at the New England SCBWI coming up in May for anyone who didn’t get a chance to hear her.
The afternoon keynote speakers were Elizabeth Wein, author, on Authorial Responsibility. She spoke about taking responsibility for your own actions and conducting yourself with grace.
An amazing panel, Joan Bertin, Exec. Director, National Coalation against Censorship; Ellen Hopkins, Author, Susanna Reich, Chair, Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee, Pen American Center. These ladies were fab-u-lous! This is my opinion, and I guess I stand in good company with these women, banning books is WRONG! Books, like the ones Ellen Hopkins writes, deal with tough contemporary issues. Not every kid has a fairytale life. She writes about addiction and abuse. I wish we didn’t need books like these, but we do. There are kids suffering in situations and it’s good for them to see they are not alone and there is a way out. As a writer, a parent, and a teacher, I feel that books with strong topics gives us a chance to open up a dialog about tough issues with young people. Ignorance does not equal innocence. We can only learn by what we know. We can only teach by what we can show. And words, even unpleasant ones, paint that picture in which to teach from.
Me and Ellen Hopkins. I admire her so much!
After that it was off to dinner…mashed potato bar! Sorry I don’t have a photo, but take my word, it was too cool!
On the last day of the conference I had the immense pleasure of hearing the lovely Kate Massner. Her soul came sparkling through her words that dripped with encouragement and brought me to tears. She was funny and humble, smooth and eloquent and…OH MY GOD! KATE MESSNER!!
Alright, a little star struck by this literary giant, but who wouldn’t be? In her speech she talked about failure. Just what every aspiring author wants to hear, right? HA! But it was exactly what I needed to hear. I have patience for everyone else but me. I strive to hit perfection coming out of the gate. I guess that’s not a terrible thing, but it’s not realistic, especially as a writer. Kate said, “We learn by failing. You have to fail before you succeed. Be okay with imperfection. Good ideas come when we show up to do our work.” Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t know how close they were to success before giving up.” She ended with, “Make mistakes, learn from them. Be courageous. Be brave. Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail fast, fail often…in your first drafts and revisions, everyone doesn’t have to watch you fail, but in failing you will succeed!”
After Kate we had a panel of artists moderated by Arthur Levine, Vice President and Publisher of Arthur A. Levine Books, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc….also the dude who edited the Harry Potter books. Literary Royalty. This is Marla Frazee, Illustrator of God got a dog, that’s my copy she’s signing 🙂
The last keynote speaker was to be Sharon Draper, Author. But she could not make it so Nikki Grimes took her place. WOW. Nikki Grimes is a word ninja. A verse lyricist. An amazing story teller. I was not familiar with her work but I am now! I ran out of money at the conference book store so as soon as I got home, I purchased Planet Middle School, her newest book. She spoke about her work not being a black thing, or a white or Asian thing, but a human thing. I love that. I believe that. I want my work to reach all people, race, gender, religion. I want my work to be a human thing. She said, “Just keep writing, you’ll figure it out. You won’t always know where your story is going. It’s okay. Just keep writing.” The other advice I took to heart was, “When you have a great idea, don’t write it until you’re able, equipped, good enough to do it justice. Take the time to write your classic well.” She was speaking of her book, Bronx Mascaraed. She had the idea long before she actually wrote it, until she was good enough. It’s hard to hold yourself back, believe me, I know. But, all through the conference I heard, send only your best work. Do a hundred drafts before you submit, more if needed. Polish that manuscript until it shines. Until it’s a work you can be proud of.
This was an amazing experience. I came home and wrote eight pages of a new chapter book! Talk about inspiration. If you are a children’s writer, picture books, chapter books, MG, YA, NA, join SCBWI. I have never met a more encouraging group of people in my life. I was an interior designer for almost twenty years, yes I started when I was five but that’s not the point! The point is, I’ve never met another community of professionals so willing to help each other succeed. I’m so grateful to be a part of it. I aspire to be one of these greats I saw at this conference.
Till next time my brothers and sistas, PEACE…
Except for the F-bombing pusher in the lobby. Note: Real men don’t push, hit, or abuse women. You made yourself look stupid and I used your drunken behavior as writing material, a punch line. Thank you. We writer’s love fools like you.
Hi all. Frickin’ snow. ‘Nuff said. SCBWI NYC Conference *squeee*…Holy Cow, my first!! So excited. So nervous, but that’s just how I roll. I figured out, approaching this conference, that I could use my flaws to help me. There is so much going on in my life and with people I care about that my nuttiness went into overdrive this week. Then yesterday, instead fighting it, I dove in, over the mountains of fear, past the sea of nervousness, through the vise grip of anxiety, above the clouds of perceived impending rejection to a place where I could breathe… and think…and write. I wrote this Adult Contemporary Fiction about a year ago but put it aside for the YA Paranormal Contemporary I’m just now querying. This is exactly what I needed…to laugh out loud! I hope it makes you LOL too… PEACE OUT!
BODY BAGS/ ADULT CONTEMPORARY/HUMOROUS
As the rain pelted my face, I wondered why I took this job. Oh, now I remember, because I wanna eat and have somewhere to live. No work equaled no food, no apartment, no cable, no phone, no gas, no nada. I sat with my back against the second floor as lightning cut across the sky and thunder shook my perch on the porch roof. It’s August in Cos Cob, a small town in Connecticut. It had been 98 degrees today, humid to the point of not being able to breathe in the shade, and my long auburn curly hair was showing every bit of it, in frizzy protest. Purple bloated clouds churned in the sky as a storm rolled in and darkness settled quickly around me. When I arrived, I had climbed a tree that overhung the back porch roof and waited in a tight squat position for about an hour for my mark, a cheating husband. My ass was throbbing and my left foot fell asleep about twenty minutes ago.
Dressed in an army green rain poncho I gathered up my bag loaded with my camera, recorder, pepper spray, and stun gun, tucking it underneath me to keep it dry. The camera had night vision capability and the recorder could pick up a dog fart a mile away. The other stuff I kept just in case. Just in case the person I was watching got a hold of me and decided he didn’t want to fess up to what I captured on tape or camera. I’m not a hero or a cop. I’m a private investigator with long legs that I use to run like the wind when necessary. The stun gun or spray would give me a chance to run like hell and call the cops, the real heroes. I had no idea that I would ever be a private investigator. Not to take anything away from the cops, hell I come from a long list of them, but my heroes growing up were Walt Disney, father Mac at our family parish, and whoever wrote the song “Tomorrow” from Little Orphan Annie. Walt Disney created Tinker Bell and I wanted to fly. That put Walt at the top of my list, plain and simple. Unfortunately when I tried to fly off a swing set at age five I broke my arm. I didn’t hold that against good old Walt, but it did put the ki-bosh on the whole flying thing. Father Mac, a Catholic priest, taught me that all Catholics have a get out of jail free card called ‘reconciliation’. Basically whatever you do wrong during the week can be swept away at confession on Saturday afternoon. Of course the catch is you have to be really sorry, and I always am, burdened with a conscience the size of Texas and a strong aversion to the fires of hell. Then there’s the guy who wrote the song ‘Tomorrow’, well that was pretty much my motto, what ever happens today, as crappy as it may be, the sun will come out tomorrow. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that doesn’t always happen, because, shit happens, but I’m always hopeful. Most days I’m just a private investigator trying to be like Walt Disney, spreading smiles everywhere, but usually ending up in confession prayin’ for another tomorrow.
A crack of lightening lit the sky and the rain came down harder. I pulled back trying to become one with the siding and get some cover from the gutter above. The wife on this particular case had contacted my boss, Josephine Carlucci, owner of Carlucci Investigations, last week to set this up. Being a PI was not my life’s ambition. After high school I took some classes at a community college and bounced around in a few dead end jobs not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life. Seriously, who the hell knows at eighteen what they wanna do? So, at twenty-six I sort of fell into private investigating. Jo was hiring, I needed money, and it seemed like a good fit. Jo’s in her forties, five-feet tall, two hundred pounds of robust woman, with a lot of black curly hair and a Minnie Mouse voice. She carries a .38 revolver in her purse that she’s not afraid to use. She’s a pretty good shot, too, unlike myself who carries a .22 handgun and is not so great a shot. If I’m shooting at you, I’ll be aiming for your leg, but more than likely it’s gonna end up in your ass. If you happen to be unlucky enough to be facing me instead of running away, well, you could probably kiss your balls goodbye. I’m working on my marksmanship. I carry a .22 because I don’t actually want to kill anyone, I don’t need your dead soul friggin’ up my karma – thank you very much- but wounding I’m okay with. I’m still not very good at this PI thing but what I don’t have in experience I make up for with common sense and my mother’s temper. The rest? I’m learning as I go and hopefully I won’t get killed in the process.
I checked my watch. One hour and forty-five minutes waiting for this douchbag like a jackass in the rain. PJ Benedillo, the husband in question, was possibly doin’ the neighbor, a college senior with a great body and, if she was doing anything with PJ, not too many smarts. He of course denied any thing was going on, he’d been down this road a bunch of times before. I went to school with most of the people in Cos Cob, including PJ and his wife Nelly who are two years older than me. Nelly’s a simple, no frills kind of gal. Back in the day she was prom-queen beautiful; now, not so much. Not that she was ugly, she looked beaten down, a little overweight, wore no make-up, and hid behind shoulder length blondish brown hair. Everyone knows her husband’s a cheat, but she needs proof. Glad that she finally asked, I jumped at the chance to show her what scum PJ is. Another burst of thunder exploded in the sky and shook my heart in my chest.
“Oh the hell with this.”
I inched up the screen to an open window behind me and climbed in. Nelly had told her husband she had to go away over night for work. She was actually with Jo at the office waiting to hear from me. I was soaked, a puddle instantly formed at my feet as I closed the screen. I pulled off my hood, hefted my bag on my shoulder and started to walk down the hallway looking for the stairs down to the first floor, my sneakers squishing as I went. Soft moaning came from someplace in front of me. Damn, how’d I miss them coming in? Cool. Not cool that PJ was the scumbag I thought him to be, but maybe tonight wasn’t a waste of time after all and the sooner Nelly knew the quicker she could kick his ass to the curb and get on with her life. Quietly, I located my camera and looped it over my head. Next I turned on the recorder inside my bag. The house was pitch black. Looking out the front windows I could see all the houses and streetlights were dark. Power outage. The night vision camera looked like binoculars and helped me find my way. I followed the noises that now sounded more like stifled whimpering. A new feeling of apprehension prickled and settled at the back of my neck. My instincts, my ‘oh no you fuckin don’t’ attitude, told me something was wrong. A man’s voice, I recognized as PJ’s, started to get louder. It was coming from my right, the door ajar about an inch.
“Look, I’m going to take the gag off, but no more yelling. Okay?”
I waited holding my breath. Next I heard a woman; a very pissed off woman on the verge of hysteria.
“You mother fucker! Untie me right fucking now!!”
PJ made a tsking sound and continued in a condescending voice.
“Now look here, you’re in no position to be making demands. You can’t tease me like that and then change your mind.”
“The hell I can’t! I never promised you anything! You said you were taking me to dinner. Dinner!” She spit the words out angrily but her voice shook with fear. The thunder crashed and rain hammered against the windows masking the sound of my opening the door a little more. A dim battery-operated lantern was set on the dresser. A young woman was tied to the four-poster bed in only her black bra and underwear. She had a bruise on her left cheek and her eyes were red, brimming with tears yet to fall. I backed up a bit and sent a text to Jo, 911-0. 911 Was for help; the zero meant come in quietly. I didn’t want to spook PJ with sirens blaring and have this situation get any worse. PJ had obviously lost his friggin’ mind. This wasn’t just cheating. I moved back into position at the door and clicked a few pictures.
“You knew this was going to happen between us-
“No I didn’t, you fucking pervert!”
“-you were sending me all the signs, wearing short shorts and low cut tops.”
“That’s not an invitation, you asshole!”
“Then when you stopped at my table last week…
“I was just trying to be friendly, nut bag!”
“-well then I knew you wanted it too,” PJ moaned.
Oh, yeah, PJ had definitely left the reservation and was currently residing in crazy-town. As he paced back and forth at the foot of the bed I realized he was standing in black tight underwear with the words ‘THE MAN’ written in white across his ass. I almost laughed. He was a little pudgy guy with way too much hair, especially by his crotch. The hair escaped in puffs out the leg holes and over the top of the waistband. Vomit came up the back of my throat. He took a few steps towards the bed and I hoped like hell Jo was on the way with the boys in blue. I opened the door a little more and took a few pictures for the cops and Nelly.
“Now look, this can be easy or it can be hard.” He took a moment to stroke himself at the word hard.
Eewah! A shiver of disgust rolled up from my toes and I swallow back the bile that rose in my throat again.
“The choice is yours. But this is gonna happen,” he moaned in a low rasp that was meant to be seductive but sounded just creepy as all hell. The next thing I knew I got a face full of ass as PJ bent at the waist and slid his underwear off to the floor. He straightened and stood with his feet braced apart and his hands on his hips. It was the weirdest thing. He had absolutely no hair on his back or butt. He definitely waxed back there. I took more pictures, afraid no one would believe me.
“I’ll call the cops you freakin sicko!”
“Ahem,” I cleared my throat from where I stood. “That won’t be necessary, they’re on the way,” I said and opened the door the rest of the way. “You probably should get dressed, PJ.”
He turned around to face me. “Oh, hi Jessica, how are you?” He said like he wasn’t standing there bare ass with a woman tied up behind him. Koo-koo! I tried so hard not to look but I couldn’t help it. In the middle of his wild afro-like pubic bush was a tiny uncircumcised penis that looked like a thumb. I squeezed my eyes tight trying to remove the image. Oh, God! It was seared into my brain; I’ll be scared for life.
“Now isn’t really a good time. My girl and I were in the middle of making love.”
“Oh make me gag! That is sooo not what’s going on, lady,” the neighbor said to me.
“Yeah, I know, just sit tight,” I said back to her around PJ’s shoulder.
“Jessica, I don’t know what you think you heard but I can assure you this was a consensual adult act.”
“Bullshit!! You hit me and tied me up!!”
“Come on now, it was just a little foreplay and you loved it.”
Woe. Could he be any crazier?
“PJ?” A small uncertain voice came from behind me.
“Sweet heart! This slut took total advantage of me,” he pointed an accusing finger.
I could not believe the balls on this guy, nor could I see them for that matter.
“Oh puleeze! Will someone untie me?”
“Oh yeah, sorry,” I said and walked over to the bed. I dropped my bag at the foot of the bed and started undoing knots tied with panty hose that held her captive.
“How could you?” Nelly said in a small defeated voice and sank to the floor at PJ’s feet.
“Baby, I promise it’s not what you think,” he said bending at the waist putting a hand on her shoulder. Ugh, again I got an eyeful of some crap I did not want to see. Ever.
“Yes it is, Mrs. Benedillo, he’s a total perv!!”
“Shut up, you whore!” PJ, still naked, took an authoritative stance and tried to explain.
Jo yelled from down stairs, “Cops are on the way, Hun.”
“Good to know, thanks, Jo,” I yelled back and continued untying.
“Now this is ridiculous,” PJ started to say, his hands back on his hips. “Involving the police is totally unnecessary. It’s just all a big misunder eeek!” PJ jerked around, screamed in a high pitch voice, his eyes rolled to the back of his head and down he went in a loud thump on the hardwood floor. I froze. With her hands free, the girl went to the task of freeing her ankles. Nelly stood with my stun gun still in her hands and looked down at the crumpled pile that was her piece of shit husband.
“I’m sorry, what did you say, dear, I couldn’t hear you past all the lies!!” Nelly screamed and she zapped him again right in the crop, which caught on fire revealing he had balls under there after all. His nuts instantly swelled to the size of grapefruits and the fire singed itself out. The room smelt of burnt hair and ball sack. Ugh.
“Oh yeah! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” The young woman leapt from the bed. “You piece of shit! I hope you like it up the ass in prison!” She yelled and kicked him on her way past, grabbing her clothes off the floor and running out the door. I took the stun gun from Nelly.
“I’ve been so stupid,” she said her eyes filling with shameful tears.
“Not stupid, maybe just a little blind.”
She took a deep breath. “Well no more. That ends today.” She brushed the front of her dress off and headed out the door to join the others down stairs.
I’m Jessica Marco, and that right there, is a typical Wednesday night in my life as of late.
Toxic chemicals ( Draino, Rat Poisin) when ingested will kill you.
Toxic Gas (Carbon Monoxide) when breathed will kill you.
Toxic Material (Acid) will kill you when handled improperly.
We know these things and most of us will take precautions not to end up dead. You bastards slipping it to people because they cheated on you or whatever… my advice is simple. Success and happiness are the best revenge, your soul stays intact and you don’t have to go to jail. Jail is bad. Living is good. Go get some “revenge”.
But what about the toxins that mascaraed as medicine; prescription pills, street drugs, and booze? I include street drugs and booze because that’s self medicating. It’s so easy to get lured into “feeling better or good”. Who doesn’t want to feel good, right? But at what cost?
Philip Seymour Hoffman, God rest his soul, died too soon at age 46. I look at this brilliant actor and think how could he let this happen to himself? From the outside he seemed to have everything, a loving family, three beautiful children, a successful career gaining him oodles of money and yet he’s gone now like so many before him. I guess he was far from having a charmed life with demons only he knew. I pray for his family and the long hard road ahead of them.
Addiction shows no prejudice. The lure of “feeling good” does not take age, race, gender, religion, financial status or geographic location into consideration and once it’s got you, it is a fierce lover, driving itself into and in between everything in your life. It may start off slowly or full blown but the end result is the same. Death to everything.
Death to the life absorbed with it and death to all the lives connected to the addict in some shape or form. The addict thinks of only one thing: the next fix. The people around the addict have many thoughts mostly in the form of worry, sadness, anger, and helplessness.
“Cut all toxic people out of your life.”
I’ve heard this, hell I’ve said this, but it’s not so easy if the toxic person is a family member. “You should cut him or her off, tough love style.” It sounds so easy but to actually slam the door, figuratively or literally, in the face of a loved one is far from easy. Some people would argue cutting off their own arm would be easier. So what do you do?
Talk to the person? You’ve done that like a million times giving ultimatums and pleading speeches.
Intervention? You’ve done that too and maybe it even resulted in a period of sobriety…until sobriety slips away and the ugly clawed monster of addiction is back.
For the people who are stuck watching the addict go down, because there is no up in addiction, it is horrendous, and that description doesn’t even begin to do it justice. It is days and nights filled with frustration, anger and an impending funeral.
For the addict? It’s a lonely, secretive, horrible life intertwined with a vicious beast that has its teeth clenched around their neck waiting to deliver the final blow. Sounds like fun, right?
Of course, these are not the people who get help. These are not the people who claw their way back to life. Because, thank God, or whoever you believe in, that those people do exist. But the ADDICT has to WANT to do this. The people on the sidelines, no matter how much they want to FIX it, and I totally get it, I’m a fixer, a doer, but the ADDICT has to want it.
The other kind of people are the lost ones, the ones who were gone years before you actually attended the funeral. The addicts, that for what ever reason, chose to stay sick. And then there are the people connected to them like a root to a tree, who were forced into a life of addiction even though they were not the addict and it was never their choice. It sucks on both sides of that fence. No one wins in that life.
Don’t ever give up on your loved ones but you don’t have to end up in the ground next to them. Realize that you only have control over yourself, you can ONLY change you. Set up boundaries and protect yourself. Learn how to handle the toxic addict properly. Seek advice from professionals; counselors and doctors. Be very careful in your own life. Pain that equals pain pills, booze or street drugs can very easily turn into addiction. Peace my friends.
This poem is for a lost one.
I’ll Miss You
I miss the person you used to be, the one who loved life so much.
I miss the person who kissed all the boo-boos away.
I miss the person who made scrambled eggs and toast for anyone who was sick.
I miss the person who was strong and protective.
I miss the person who helped make me what I am today.
I’ll miss you when you’re gone.
I’ll miss the conversations that we have.
I’ll miss my children never really knowing the real you.
I’ll miss your laugh.
I’ll miss the support shown brightly in your eyes.
I’ll miss your fingers gently playing with my hair.
I’ll miss the fights that only you and I have.
I’ll miss the cups of coffee that we share.
I’ll miss you when you’re gone.
I’ll miss your voice on the phone, but never in the morning.
I’ll miss your pretend stories to the kids.
I’ll miss your outrageous outfits, gold shoes and all.
I’ll miss you when you’re gone.
I’m angry that you’ll leave me too soon.
I’m disappointed in myself that I can’t make you stay.
I’m sad that there won’t ever be an intervention that will work.
I’m sorry that you won’t change.
I’m sorry for the pain that brought you to this place and then stole your will to come back.
I wish I could help you but this is not up to me.
I will never give up on you but I will protect myself and mine.
I love you so much, and I’ll miss you, with all my heart, when you’re gone.
So far this week, in my neck of the woods up North, we’ve had two snow storms that closed our schools and some businesses. I am NOT a huge fan of winter. Okay, that’s an understatement, I actually think winter sucks the big one. I’m okay with snow November and December but then, enough already, it’s just not cute after that. If I was an adjuster (character from my book who controls the weather in the fifth dimension) I would keep it seventy-five and sunny, rain when necessary. Unfortunately my book is fiction and I have no such dial. *sigh*
After pissing and moaning, much to my family’s dismay, I closed myself in my office and decided to get some writing done. I accomplished soooo much in these last few days, I can’t even believe it! I’ve been dreading writing a synopsis for the book I’m querying to agents. I found some great help at publishingcrawl.com, a synopsis guide written by Susan Dennard. It was just what I needed! THANK YOU!! All my writing people out there know only too well about the synopsis and how much it sucks! After that I finished researching the agents I’m interested in and compiled my list.
Then I started thinking. This crappy weather enabled me to get a bunch of work done that otherwise I would still be laboring over, stealing an hour here and an hour there. And if I had just looked at my situation from a positive point of view I wouldn’t have wasted any time being angry. I think that happens a lot to us, that maybe we’re put in a negative situation but for a positive reason. And if you’re like me, if you don’t look for it, you’ll miss it. I’m glad I didn’t just sit on the sofa eating chips all day, cause that’s where I was headed! (Probably still gonna do a bit of that *hehehe*)
What negative situation are looking at from the wrong angle? Could it actually be for a positive outcome?
Until next time…PEACE my fellow humans!
I’m sitting at the computer waiting for the words to come but they don’t because ten inches of snow fell last night and I have a perpetual twitch in my left eye. I’m not sure if the twitch belongs to the snow or the contest I’ve entered at #sunvssnow on twitter.
The snow gives me anxiety that is connected to my aversion to shoveling. The contest gives me a different kind of anxiety that, if truth be told, I’ve begun to crave like a junkie. You don’t know me so I’ll fill you in. I am NOT a thrill seeker. I crave things like dark chocolate, Sicilian pizza from a tiny place where I grew up, good coffee, time snuggled on the sofa with my love watching a movie, a good run outdoors when the weather is nice and ice cream sundaes; I will plan an entire day around a sundae! I don’t jump out of planes. I don’t do drugs. I don’t dive off bridges with a rubber band attached to my ankles. I don’t cling to the side of a mountain trying to reach the top…or do I?
Now, let’s be forreals, I am not packing a parachute any time soon, I can tell ya that right now. But I have become a different kind of thrill seeker despite my anxiety and fear. My mountain is a mass of words and thoughts trying to get out on the page faster than I can type. It’s researching the agents I think will be a good fit for me and then praying I don’t get a rejection because quite frankly, rejection sucks. It’s another round of edits while getting the new story started a sentence at a time and working a day job. It’s throwing myself into these contests even though it makes me want to throw up. So what’s happened?
Not gonna lie, not really sure how it happened. It wasn’t like I set forth a plan and then executed it one step at a time. But I say to myself ALL the time; what’s the worst thing that can happen? And the answer is usually not that bad. I do a lot of deep breathing, and I talk myself down from the ledge. In doing that, I have found such an encouraging group of peeps!
Last month when I did the #Pitchwars twitter contest, @brendadrake, I did not get a mentor. BUT one of the mentors I submitted to sent me an email with some great feedback. Michelle Painchaud did not have to do that. I am so grateful that she did. THANK YOU!! There is an unwritten code among the authors I have met about paying-it-forward. I LOVE this! Can you imagine a world where everyone lived by this rule? It would be a huge pot of “awesome sauce!” This is where my new-found junkie-ness comes in.
I crave to be part of this community! I stalk the twitter feed. I follow the blogs. I read the bio’s of all the authors and agents who have committed themselves to the task of reading all the entries in the contest. They don’t have to do this. The pool in which to fish for a new, talented author is unending. But they do it because they have stood in my shoes and walked a mile in this, sometimes, heartbreaking process. Maybe not with the anxiety and major freakouts I have, but still.
So when my friend, @myinnermg, told me about #sunvssnow hosted by authors, Michelle Hauck @Michelle4Laughs and Amy Trueblood @atrueblood5, which I had already been quietly stalking, I of course dove in. It’s kinda like falling in love the first time; I love it! I hate it. It’s awesome! It sucks. I’m thrilled! I’m nauseous. I’m high as a kite! I’m kicking and screaming on the floor. What, your first love wasn’t like that?
As I wait patiently *laughs like a loon* for the results to be posted on Michelle4Laughs blog tomorrow I will have bouts of anxiety that pitch me into brownie eating mode, moments of dreaming about the day Ellen will interview me, time spent not throwing up, witty banter on twitter with my fellow writers, plotting the screenplay for the movie that will follow my book. I dream big otherwise what’s the point?
Win or lose tomorrow, I’ll be chasing down my next fix, because at the end of the day, I can’t wait to pay-it-forward!
Until next time, PEACE
Hello! I’m back. Sorry I missed last week but I was doing something called #PitMad. It was an all day twitter event done by Brenda Drake, @brendadrake, where authors pitched their manuscripts in 140 characters to agents searching the feed. Well, let me tell you, it was not an easy task! BUT it was a great experience. I really had to dig deep to tell my 77K story in basically two sentences. It went like this:
Everything Emily knew about this world was a lie. Now she’s torn btwn a life she wants and one that’s imprinted in her genes.
Even though I did not hook up with any particular agent that day, I learned a lot and got a ton of new leads. Super excited!!
But, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed at the end when none of the agents asked to see more of my work.
So that night I settled in with my copy of
January/February edition, and I came across an article labeled “success story”. It was about author, Augusta Scattergood. She started writing a book in 2001 and after nearly ten years of conferences and workshops she met her agent in 2008 at a summer conference and had her first book published January 2012, Glory Be (Scholastic, 2012). And in 2013 that same book received a Crystal Kite Award.
For all non-writers, that’s pretty badass in the world of writing. This wasn’t even the book she pitched that day! It goes to show, you never know what can happen. For more info on Ms. Scattergood please check out her website at http://www.augustascattergood.com, and most definitely check out her books! I was so inspired by her story that the next day I put my big girl pants on and got right back to work writing my next book. *fist pump*
The successful people in the world don’t have magic wands. They have oodles of passion and a boat load of tenacity.
Passion is a crazy thing. It’s the driving force behind my dream that pushes me, every day, one step closer to achieving my goal. Can you imagine if Ms. Scattergood gave up in the winter of 2008? She would have missed fulfilling her dream by just a few months and not even known it. But this is not just about writing. It’s like that with life too. If you give up on something just because it’s hard, you’ll never make anything happen. And if you’re not happening in life, life will happen to you like a leaf blowing in the wind, never in control of where you end up.
Reach out to other people who may be in the same situation as you, whether it’s trying to get into the college you want, going for a new job, struggling to write that first story, learning to play that instrument, getting healthy, whatever it is, don’t give up. Your next NO may be just one step in front of your YES. So even when it’s hard, and believe me I know, don’t give up. The journey to your success is worth the journey.Take a class. Read a bunch of books. Research. Strive for greatness. Don’t settle for less. Do what it takes to make it happen for you. You have what it takes. We all have what it takes inside of us. We just have to dig deep and pull it up to the service. WHO’S WITH ME??
Peace My Friends 🙂
Twas the last night of the year and what do I see?
A pile of rejection letters staring at me.
Oh, woe’s me. I fill up my glass, plop down in front of the fire,
hoping for an idea, a thought, something to inspire.
But the clock is ticking and the kids start to shout,
“Are you done with your writing? It’s time to go out!
I think to myself as I start to smile,
the thoughts that are coming may take a while.
With pen to paper I sit and the words begin to knit.
With any luck it won’t be complete shit.
The fire is popping and I am not stopping.
The main character is talking, her love is walking.
There’s flying and spying and oh God, someone’s dying!
I scribble and scratch to keep up the with cast.
Who knows how long this creative genius will last?
I can barely read what I wrote;
does that say “he grabbed a chicken” or “he dusted a goat?”
It’s not important now. I’ll figure it out.
Maybe the bad guy fights with a trout, or grows a snout, or maybe it’s best for now to just leave him out.
Yes! It’s brilliant! Stupendous! Magnanimously great!
The poetic words are flowing.
All night I keep going.
Now I can show them. Now they’ll see.
THIS work that I’ve done is why they must sign me.
I smile a triumphant smile, a smile of relief.
2013 will NOT end in defeat!
I’ll send the query tonight before the clock strikes twelve.
My new agent will call me with a contract to delve.
She has an editor lined up and ready to buy, and the movie, well, she knows a guy.
The foreign rights? Oh, they’ll sell too.
“Just sit back and collect the money, that’s all you have to do.”
My very own giggle wakes me from sleep.
An empty glass in my hand, pen at my feet.
No words on the page. No agent has called.
No movie. No guy. Oh, for the love of God, WHY?
The horror! The outrage! How can this be?
I raise my fist to the sky but then have to pee.
While nature is doing it’s natural thing, I think to myself
and the words start to sing.
I have them, they’re here, each little pearl.
I haven’t forgot. I go to work with a whirl.
I start with the rejection letters and throw them into the fire, they’ve done their job which of course was to inspire.
Never give up. Never stop trying. The only thing to keep me from getting published will be dying.
So another year begins with me typing away, and just as it should be day after day.
I’ll write down the dreamy dreams in my head.
I’ll write about wondrous things I’ve heard said.
You can’t hear them or see them till I put them on a page, but when I do, it will bring you to tears, laughs and rage.
Take heart all my brothers and sisters of the craft,
May you prosper, may you write,
May your 2014 take amazing flight.
Put pen to paper and fingers to keys,
May your words bring tears, laughter and bended knees.
Peace to all, and to all a goodnight!
My lists of dreams and goals used to be distinctly different. I have always been a HUGE list maker. I like to write things down (on paper) and cross them off as they are completed. I get an overwhelming amount of satisfaction from throwing away a list after I’ve crossed everything off. Nerd much? Yeah, I know. It’s alright though, I embrace my nerdiness.
Early in my life my dream list read: Get to Oz,
Preferably, in Glinda’s bubble.
Become a famous actress or singer; doesn’t really matter as long as I get to wear a ball gown or a tutu.
My list of goals were a little different. Goal #1: Do not eat liver for dinner, like EVER. Goal #2: Wear my sister’s stuff without getting caught, and #3: Make it through Jr. High without being sent to a convent.
I was a little rough around the edges as a teenager. Don’t judge.
As I matured so did my dreams. I dreamt of a big-boffin’, beautiful wedding marrying the man I loved, to become a famous author, to be the most sought after interior designer on the planet, and live in a mansion where I could invite everyone I knew (and even those I didn’t)for the holidays, birthdays, and PARTIES! Woo-hoo, par-tay! I’m half Irish, and a party is just another another opportunity to wear a tutu-ish dress in my book. 🙂
The goals at this time in my life were to finish college, buy a house, and marry the man I loved. At this point in life one of my dreams and goals had merged. I thought, hmmm, maybe they’re not so different after all. Maybe dreams are not the unattainable but the spark that creates a goal. Now I realize that my dreams are the catalyst for my goals. So, as I’m heading into 2014 I’m seeing that mu list of dreams and goals are the same.
-Get an amazing agent who is right for me
-Blog my ass off
-Sell 1st YA novel, SUNRISE
-Sell 2nd YA novel, DARKNESS
-Make enough money writing so I don’t have to do anything else. If I become instantly, J.K. Rowling famous, and make oodles of money instead of just enough, so be it!
-Be a better human being . . . this includes not flipping people off on the road *hangs head down in shame*
-Drop the “F” bomb LESS (you hear that little drunken sailor that lives in my mouth!) *hangs head in shame again*
-Spread peace where ever I go, like pixie dust
-Finish our house construction. . . for the love of God and all that’s holy!!
-Be on the Red Carpet wearing an outrageously-puffy-oh-my-God-did-you-see-that-dress, award winning writer. Okay, so this might be on my 2015 list. . . but it starts as a dream!
Off I go into another year.
I’ll face 2014 without any fear.
I’ll write my list, check it twice,
cross it off, it’ll be so nice.
Out on a ledge,
toes over the edge.
Out of my comfort zone,
ready to have my mind blown!
One by one, I’ll get it done,
with perseverance, tenacity, and a bulldog mentality.
Ho Ho Ho Christmas celebrators
What does your 2014 list look like?
** F BOMB** SORRY!
I was on twitter @Forewordlit and there was a contest to write a 6 word poem inspired by the holiday season. I wrote,
“Damn these fuckin’ lights. Damn them!” and won a book! LOL.
I think the first thing I ever wrote at ten years-old was a poem, something along the lines of, “Roses are red, violets are blue, my brother just stepped in dog poo poo.” Cause, well, ten. I’ve evolved so much! All kidding aside, I love real poetry. It is truly an art.
My first favorite poet was/is Dr. Seuss. I give this book as a gift to everyone who graduates. *smiles* This book inspires me still.
Then I moved onto this happy looking chap, Edgar Allan Poe who wrote The Bells. A natural progression from Dr. Seuss. Ha! Yes, his stuff is creepy and yes, I like a little creepy.
And I love (who doesn’t), Maya Angelou’s, Alone.
I mainly write novels but I write poetry when the spirit moves me. I wrote this next poem, PAULIE, in honor of a dear friend’s husband, Paul Kelly, that passed away in August.
Through a man’s eyes you can see how much he loves his wife and children.
Through a man’s words you can hear how much he cares about everyone he knows.
Through a man’s actions you can see his integrity in which he guides all others without words.
Through a man’s composure you feel at ease.
Through a man’s laughter, its sound, its depth, its frequency, you can feel how genuine he is.
Through a man’s spirit, you feel the goodness, the very essence of his soul reach down inside you burning a mark upon your heart. It is at this point, when the spirit is so much bigger than the man’s physical form, so big in fact, it can no longer be contained, that all must step aside.
Through a man’s life, if he has done it right, all who knew him will be forever changed for the better. Forever and after.
For more poetry check out poetryfoundation.org and poets.org.
Happy Hump Day Peeps 🙂