Green means GO!

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I have been keeping myself busy with ideas for a new book while I have been anxiously awaiting my first book review from my nephew.  I had to keep reminding myself that it IS summer and he IS a 14-year old boy with other interests besides reading so I have cut him, and my nervous mind, some slack.

It is difficult to quiet a cacophony in a mind that is continually feeding on its negative thoughts.  Like an inferno that is started with one tiny spark, my mind became the spark and my stress was the oxygen that fueled the fire of my doubt.  The longer I went without any sort of feedback, the more I convinced myself that the book was terrible and my nephew didn’t know how to tell me that it was a flop.  Self-doubt is a vicious thing.

I silenced my doubts this morning as I prepared my meals for this week based on my new plant-based diet.  Being in the kitchen always allows me some escape from my reality.  After creating my meals, I ran into town and stopped at The Apothecary Shop for a few things.  I decided to use the blood pressure cuff to see if my change in diet had made a significant difference to my blood pressure.  While I was in mid-check, my nephew had seen my car and come into the Apothecary to find me.  The sight of him must have unnerved me because my blood pressure reading was ridiculous!

I couldn’t imagine what was going to come out of his mouth but I began to tug my arm out of the cuff before it had finished deflating.  He stood beside me with an apologetic smile.  He promised to finish the book before the weekend and that was all he said.  I said one word that seemed to hover in the small space between us….

“And………..”, I asked.

“It’s REALLY good”, he replied.

So now I sit, comfortably ensconced in my living room with words churning in my brain for my second book.   I have always loved the phrase ‘green means go’ and I feel like I have just been given the green light to continue my writing journey.  I’m already excited about this next book and can’t wait to dive in!  See you on the flip side.

 

 

Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield….

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I must have had a sixth-sense about how my day was going to go when I woke up yesterday morning.  There are not many days that I lie in bed and feel that I should remain under the covers instead of getting up but yesterday was certainly one of those days.

Without getting into specifics, my mood plummeted moments after I entered the door to work and the day ended with gathering all of our guests to find shelter in a basement due to the impending storm and tornado warnings in the area.

I decidedly felt that I had begun the day as the bug.  Things went pear-shaped from the moment I walked through the door to the moment we were gathering our guests to take them to safety.  But after I left work and headed home to my dog, I realized that I had been the windshield the whole time.  We worked through the problems of the day, as we always do, everyone was safe from a storm that could have been much worse and I was home, comforted by the oasis of my quiet living room and my four-legged child.

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If I were the bug, yesterday would have had a much more tragic outcome.   Instead, I realized that I had always been the windshield.  Sure, things slammed into me that seemed overwhelming at first but I merely turned on the wipers, cleared off the crap and kept going.

 

 

 

 

And just like that, it was out of my hands…..

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I saw the corners of his mouth turn into a smile as I handed it over.   One hundred and eighty-two pages of eight and a half by eleven paper covered by eighty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty words of a story I crafted were turned over to my fourteen year old nephew so he could be the first person, besides myself, to read the book in its entirety.

My nephew, like me, loves to read and even though his calendar age may prove that he is only fourteen, he reads far beyond his age.   I could think of nobody more suited for the role of first reader than him and I was happy to hand the pages over to him.

My dad was a voracious reader as well.  Although the premise of my story may not have been something my dad would have eagerly pulled from the book shelf, he would have been my biggest fan.  It is bitter-sweet knowing how proud he would have been of my accomplishment but knowing that I can never hear those words come from him.  I know he is up there somewhere giving me a thumbs up and doing his best to encourage a literary agent to take a chance on me.

As much as I sit here, nervously awaiting the outcome of the first read-through, I anxiously anticipate feedback on the story.  I’m sure Dean Koontz or Stephen King never batted a thousand on their first at-bats so I’m expecting to take many more swings before I knock it out of the park.  I just want to make sure I stay in the game!

The positives in a negative

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My foray into finding a literary agent did not begin without some sage advice from some wonderful people I have met through this blog.  Thankfully their wisdom from having pounded this same pavement on which I now find myself more than prepared me for the long road ahead.

After sending out my first query letters on Sunday, I received my first (anticipated) rejection letter on Monday.  I thought I would feel more disheartened but his response was so much more positive than I thought it would be.

My story is not what he is currently seeking – understandable (although his bio included mystery and suspense in the genres he looks for).  His decision was also based on his current workload and the nature of the material he is presently representing.  He did not say my idea wasn’t worth selling.  He did not say he was not impressed by the first chapter.  And he did not say this book will never see the shelves of a book store.

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What he did say was “I absolutely think you should keep looking for representation” and he ended with “Very best of luck”.   For a rejection letter, it scored high in marks for encouragement and affirmation.

This is my first step in a journey of at least a thousand steps.  I am mentally prepared for the thumbs down from several agencies, it’s the nature of the business.  And while I truly wish to publish traditionally, there is always the route of self-publishing if push comes to shove.

My dream is to have my book published and, one way or another, I’m going to make that happen.

 

 

You can’t win if you don’t play

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While this subject line generally makes me think of the lottery pool, it has taken on a much bigger meaning for me today.  I’m sure I have made you all painfully aware of the fact that I finally finished writing my first novel.  Book number two is in the works and the idea for number three is a shimmering light in the distance.

I thought that the actual writing of the book was going to be the hardest part.  And while it was a painstaking process, never having attempted to write a book before, the writing itself was a reward.  The hardest part is convincing yourself that someone else may find your words exciting enough to take you on as a client and help to get you published.

I spent my day off today, a beautiful, sunny day, bound to my couch to finish editing my book for grammatical oversights and story continuity.  I was just as excited to read the ending as if I were a first time reader and that got me even more excited.  I was excited enough to send my first two query emails to potential agents…..and now I feel nauseous.

But like that lottery pool, you can’t win if you don’t play.  I will never get published if I don’t try, and according to Yoda, there is no try, only do.  So I did.

Now I can only hope that some unsuspecting agent finds an email from a small town Canadian girl with big ideas and gets just as excited to read it as I was to write it.

Life is about a lot of things

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Today began as nothing special.  But  my nothing special day changed drastically when my car made the familiar turn onto my road after doing some shopping on my day off and I casually glanced along the macadam leading to my house.  What I saw on the road made me do a double-take and tears instantly appeared in the corners of my eyes.

A random woman, a stranger, was walking her two small dogs, one black and one white, down my road and for a split second I could have sworn it was my mother.  When she was still alive, my mother chose to park her car in my driveway and walk her two small dogs, one black and one white, on my road because it was a manageable, quiet street.  When I came home from work, I would see the silhouette of my mother and her two sidekicks as they simultaneously pulled her in a myriad number of directions.  It was a struggle for her but she walked those little dogs until she could walk them no more.

Before I realized it, I had come to a complete stop and simply watched this woman walk away from me.  I don’t know how many minutes passed before the fading contour of her shadow turned onto the side road and disappeared.  The clock of my nothing special day stopped and I couldn’t move.  I could barely breathe.

The hopeful part of me anticipated that the woman would turn around and come back.  The stubborn part of me was willing to sit in the middle of the road until she did because the child in me thought for a split second that my mother would be the one to round that corner on her way back.

Eventually I collected myself and pulled my car into my driveway.  I was already on the verge of an ugly cry so I stood in front of the Birch sapling I planted three years ago in her memory and nothing could stop that surge of emotion from escaping.  But the cry was much shorter than I anticipated.  As I looked at that Birch tree, now almost double the size it once was, I realized that life does go on.  We endure many hardships, we suffer through tough times, but beauty always has a way of sneaking back into our lives, even when we think the best things in our lives have been taken.

mom's tree

(this photo was taken in 2014, shortly after it was planted)

Life evolves.  Life is about birth, growth, love and death.  But life is also about remembering, cherishing, holding on to memories and carrying on.  Life is about chance encounters, reconnecting with friends, deja vu and finding new things to love.  And life is about knowing that you were once able love something so much that it physically hurts when you keep remembering that it is gone forever.

Life is about a lot of things but, good or bad, life still happens every day.  I am just thankful that I am able to wake up each morning, engage with the people I still have in my life and spend time remembering those who have been able to emerge from their eternal cocoon and spread their wings in a new reality.

Life is about a lot of things.  But most of all, life is about finding some happiness in the saddest part of your day.

The feeling came rushing back

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Last year, I made the courageous decision to let two of the guests at the lodge read the first three chapters of my novel.  It was a large hurdle for me to jump, to trust my writing enough let them read it and, as I sat waiting to hear back from them, I was concerned that their critique may destroy the hope I had for my book.  I was dead wrong and I wrote about it here.

That same couple checked back into the lodge yesterday for their annual “Shammy” vacation.  I was delighted to see them again and we embraced like we have known each other for decades.  We had been corresponding by email over the winter and they were two of the people at the top of my list to share my news once I had finished writing the book.

As she began to leaf through the 8 1/2 by 11 pages, I watched her brow furrow.  She agreed with the changes that I had made in red ink but I sensed there was an underlying urge in her to be wielding the same red pen she had used last year.  Instead, she set the pages down on her lap and seemed so overjoyed that I had finished my work in progress.  She was thrilled and her joy seeped into me.  I was elated.  The excitement I had felt after finishing the writing now came flooding back and the two of us acted like we had just won the lottery.

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I have been dutifully editing my novel for egregious grammatical oversights as well as making the story flow as well as it should so the reader is not lost at the beginning of any of the chapters.  I plan to spend all of my free time over the next week finishing the revisions and beginning the hunt for an agent.  Game on!