Thursday, September 29, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-Simultaneous Submissions

This topic has been boxed around a lot. However, it's an issue that I started dealing with from the first time I sent out work. I still hear it discussed by writers, at conferences and on blog posts. There are uncertainties and pitfall, so it's best that we find out all we can about this submitting process. After all we're trying to look and behave like professional writers.

Here are two of the best sites I've found about submission. In Writer Unboxed, Chuck Sambuchino lays out a submission plan that makes so much sense. Don't query 50 and risk the chance of having all of them turn you down. Test the waters with 6-8. Find out if your query is working. If it isn't, get help, then fix it, and then send out to another selected group of agents.

For some real nitty gritty Wowpaloozie stuff on all things Submissions take a look at Author!Author::Anne Mini's Blog. There's enough information about all things submission to give you the confidence to hit the query trail just right. Here's a small sample.
  • WHAT IF MORE THAN ONE AGENT ASKS TO SEE MY MANUSCRIPT? AND WHAT IF THE FIRST REQUEST IS FOR AN EXCLUSIVE? (Wowzer. Dilema, yes. But you can avoid this with some homework. See how.)
 Now on to do a bit of research, write my next bang up go get 'em query, and check in with my WriteCampaign groups.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Really

My muse dropped in yesterday. I was so pleased she had four legs this time around. Maybe she'll help me polish the story the way it should be polished. Of course, she's young, but what she lacks in experience she makes up for in charm and beauty, doesn't she?

I'm in a Crazy Halloween Cake Bake Off with the 2009 Debs who are totally mad and who I adore. This should be fun. Wish I knew how to bake. Betty Crocker, here I come. Hope you'll stop by in October to see what I come up with. Or . . . you could come over and lend a hand.

Rain came to us today and that's good and bad. Good because I always love rain, but my tomatoes haven't been harvested and my green beans are still setting and my last squash isn't quite ready. Then there's the outdoor furniture that's wet, not stored, and  . . . . Never mind. I will not panic. Fall comes every year and this year is no exception. I will do just fine.

Of course, I am now faced with the next Write Campaign Challenge! What? And this one's a doozie with all kinds of brilliant writers participating. Come on Muse! I need a boost by Thursday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-Brahms

I believe all creative people come to a point where they doubt their ability. Some come to believe they can't go forward with their art one more day. They're quitting. Yes, the big Q word.

Been there?

I certainly have.
Well here are a few of quotes that I keep on the wall by my desk.  I want to share them with those who have the Q word in their heads right now or may have in the future.

~1887, the Musical Courrier: "Brahms evidently lacks the breadth and power of invention eminently necessary for the production of truly great symphonic works."

~ Confucius: "It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. "

~ Unknown: "When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, 'Try it one more time.'"

~Harold Gould Henderson's translation of the Master Essa's "Snail, ever so slowly . . ."
  "Snail, my little man, slowly, oh, very slowly climb up Fujisan!"

Any quotes that keep you going? Hope so. If not, take mine. I'm off to find Fujisan . . . and some fellow #writecampaign people at RACH WRITES.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Special--When Comes What Darkly Thieves

I'm skipping my Monday Miscellany this week to focus on a special book--one that really captured my eye and my imagination. Just look at BEN RUBIN'S art work.  To me it's highly evocative and totally irresistible. His story is as well, and it may be in picture book format, but it appeals to all age groups with its tale of gypsies, and fears and those dreams that catch at us in the night. Here's how that tale begins.

     Imagine this, you have always been afraid of gypsies, and for
     good reason too. After all, you’ve been told all your life that
     gypsies carry children away in sacks, that they take them
     away from their families, away from everything they’ve ever
     loved and everything they’ve ever known.

So two of you wonderful followers of the Write Game can get a free pdf copy by leaving a comment and spreading the word about WHEN COMES WHAT DARKLY THIEVES.

I want to support this writer/illustrator for several reasons: I love his work. He's taken a risk by writing and drawing something that is new and different. 10% of any of his sales, he donates to charitable causes. Very lovely combination of reason, wouldn't you say?

So if you'd like this gorgeous, unique book delivered to your computer, tell me so. Give Ben some promotion on Twitter and fb and wherever you hang out, then let me know the links so I can tell him. Offer expires Friday, Sept. 23.

It would be very nice if you'd also visit his WEBSITE and buy a hardcopy of his book. When you do you also get a sharable pdf. Think Christmas and think "very collectible book." I've already got mine!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-Write Campaign Challenge #1

 I love challenges, and this 200 word challenge has been fun. Here's my offer. In fact, I got so carried away, I posted two, and even though I'm too late to compete for the PRIZE, I'd love it if you'd tell me which one of my entries you like best.

I've gone to several blogs and read their posts. None are alike and all of them are great. Kudos to  all the #writecampaign people.

The door swings in and I’m not ready. I’ll never be ready for this. Who would be?
There he perches high above me just as I’d imagined, but smiling, not as I imagined at all.
“You’re late.”
His grin unsettles me more than I am already.
“Shall we begin?”
Like I have a choice? I’d say this, but I know better.
“How do see all of this playing out?”
Again, he’s put me off balance. I wasn’t ready to answer questions.
“Surely you’ve thought about it.”
When I don’t answer, he says, “Hmm. Too bad. I usually give choices. In your case, I guess it will be a surprise.”
“Can I ask when . . . to expect the . . . surprise?”
He doesn’t answer.
My leg jiggles, an old tick from childhood.
“That’s part of the surprise. You know that.”
“Do I get a warning?”
“You don’t want a warning. Warnings only make humans edgy.” He strokes his bony chin and the sleeve of the cloak slips back so his whiteness glows under the light.
I clench my fists, and a thin drizzle of cold sweat slides down my spine.
“Bye. Bye,” he says. “See you soon.”
Death’s door swings closed behind me.

AND #2 Just because #1 was so coated in drear. 

The door swings in and the chill fingers of this October night curl over her skin.
When the thud, thud, thud of knuckles against the wood summoned her, when she grasped the knob, when she twisted it and the latch clicked free, the cautioning voice in her head said, “Don’t open that door.” Still she ignored the warning, and now she must deal with the consequences.

This is her own fault. She knew this was coming and still she hadn’t prepared, hadn’t thought what she’d do once confronted with these ghosts coming at her through the dark, their eyes unblinking, their demands unwavering.

There are three this time, but more hovering just out of that cone of yellow that thwarts the insects, but fails to protect her against these spirits. What does she have in her storehouse that might appease them and send them away?

“Nothing.” That inner voice is talking to her again.

If she quickly slams the door, locks it and turns off all the lights, will they vanish? Will she be able to climb between her sheets, knowing she’s escaped their vengeance?

“Not on your life.”

Damn that voice.

“Trick or treat,” the first ghost sing songs.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Full Moon Harvest

Here Come the Squash
A successful crop to harvest has everything to do with the Moon. That's what my grandmother said. She planted her root and vine crops during certain phases of the Moon, her potatoes she dug in at set times, and then the clearing and hoeing she did at others. I still go along with the formula, and even though I live in a much less accommodating climate now than I did when I tagged after Grandma, I'm pretty successful.

And More Squash
This formula didn't start with my grandmother, but I didn't understand that. I also didn't understand that this formula applied to so many more areas of our lives than planting and tilling until later when I read such notables as Hippocrates.

He described the effects of the Moon's arc overhead on each part of the human body, believing that you should avoid any medical treatment of the head when the Moon is in Aries; when the heart's in Leo, tell the physician you'll pass on that bypass. If you plan to over indulge in a harvest meal, keep an eye on the calendar and be sure the Moon isn't passing through Cancer, the ruler of the liver.

The mystery of lunar cycles and those of women are closely connected. Even the word menstruation comes from the Latin word, mensis, meaning month or Moon. Between 1949 and 1975 a Dr. W. Menaker kept a record of New York City's births. Guess what? ". . . the majority of babies are born during the two days preceding and the two days following the full Moon, with a high point occurring on the night of the full Moon."

Nonsense? Superstition? Maybe.

The Snake Charmer, Rousseau (1907)

One thing for sure is that the Moon has given us a lot of art, poetry and more werewolf tales than we'll ever be able to read. You can't have a werewolf howling at a so-so Moon, can you? Doesn't it have to be at a full blown lunatic-provoking stage to bring those guys out?

Guess what we had last night?
Since this is about Miscellany, I have to add a thanks to the RACHWRITES and all the CAMPAIGNERS who are stopping by to say hi. See you at your blogs this week.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-Harvest Memories

Her name was Lillian and she was the rock I stood on in a very shifty and uncertain stream called childhood. While I was growing up she was just Gram, the person who was always there. Hers was the warm lap for the times I was scared or sick. Hers were the arms that hugged me close after a nightmare. Hers were the footsteps I walked in right up to the time she left.

In earlier posts I wrote about how I learned to can fruit and vegetables because my gram was a canning whirlwind come September. This was only one of her legacies that she passed to me from her grandmother, but it's one that I value greatly. I know my love of the harvest is mostly about my memories of her that come with the season--the rich smell of ripe tomatoes on the vine, the crunch of apples just out of reach, but dangling overhead and ready to pick, the even rows of carrots, lettuce, and onions--that's September, the month that Gram returns to me.

So out come her aprons and her tools that I store on the shelves high and at the back. Out come the recipes that I know by heart, but that must attend this ritual if it's to be complete. 

 And while I pick, then peel, then stir the bubbling pots in lazy eights--just the way she taught me, I thank Lillian for her gifts. Love. Family skills from another time. Patience which comes with any careful process, and memories of childhood harvests that often help me through the shifty and uncertain stream called adulthood.

What are your rituals or traditions? Where they handed down? Are you handing any down to your children? Do you write about them in your stories?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Special--Tag! You're It!

Nothing in the rules says you can't have fun while writing books Yay! So Shelly Koon over at Dark Writes is passing the fun around with a game of TAG.  Writer's Platform Building Campaign people, here I come.

Here's how it works: I bore you with 10 exciting, tantalizing . . . okay, boring things about ME! Then I run around to a few blogs and pounce on them with my, "You're it!" No obligation, of course. Just do it if it feels right for you.

1. I'm a real sissy about heights. Glass elevators are the worst.

2. When I was ten I was in an orchestra, playing (really) a violin.

3. I'm basically lazy and I'll procrastinate doing something until I absolutely have to. (Shhh. This is a secret.)

4. I so hate circuses.

5. When it comes to sharing, I'm not good at it. Ask my sister.

6. Once I ate an ant. (Okay, I was five. I was curious. I'm not curious anymore.) Sorry ant.

7. I was sure I was going to be an archeologist when I grew up. Didn't happen.

8. Since I have an ocean a few miles from me, I still body surf, but not like I did when I lived in San Diego.

9. I can eat three lobsters at one sitting. My stomach prefers I don't do that.

10. Blogging doesn't come naturally to me. (This is a huge surprise, right?)

Now on to my Tag Buddies:

Rachael, I know you're a busy lady, but if you have a moment, go tag somebody!

Carrie Butler. She's a great Campaigner. Your it!

Rebecca Enzo: Another one who has a natural talent for blogging.

Meredith Mansfield. Wanna play?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Planting, Harvesting, Preserving

[[[[Thanks to all of the visitors from the Campaign. I'll be around this week to say hello and offer support for your blogs and say thanks to RACH WRITES for her great idea.]]]]

I'm picking tomatoes this week. They are waaaay late, but while the rest of the country is either having heat waves or hurricanes, California's weather has been remarkably dull. 70's, 80's with a rare 90 day. Maybe this month will bring more heat, which is exactly what those night shade plants love.

So far this all I have for my winter soups and stews and sauces. Beans have been the best this year along with the squash, cucumbers and onions. 
All of this planting, harvesting and preserving has brought on the need to connect my love of the written word with my love of good fresh food. I found this Haiku and thought, "Yes. That is what is in my heart when I plant, then harvest my crops, then store them away for that winter time, when days are short and cold."

                                the packet of seeds
                                asking, are you still alive?
                                            Kiyoko Tokutomi

When he wrote this poem, he explained that he was saving seeds, with thoughts of planting them in a future time.  He writes, "My logical mind says 'foolish' but something deep within makes me do it  . . . It is . . . symbolic of the human yearning to keep a connection to Nature, to reaffirm the fragile sacredness of life: to simply plant a seed and watch it grow into green--renewal and trust in Nature . . . It's also symbolic of trust in the future, that the seeds of life remain, for Nature is wiser and will outlast us." 

I suppose I could extrapolate from that and say that taking the "seed" of a story, investing the time and effort to grow it into a piece of work is another way I have of showing my trust in the future. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Special-#writecampaign

So far I've visited some great blogs and been so fortunate to have many of them visit here. The Campaign may have boosted the Write Game's visibility, but  it also has connected me with exciting and wonderful bloggers that I might neve have met.

Hurray for the Campaign. Now I'm off to visit more bloggers.

Have a great weekend, Campaigners.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-End of Summer

The Last Apple 2011.
The light hasn't shifted into that special autumn yellow, but there's a crispness in the air at night that tells me summer's close to being over.  And that's all right. I love summer with it's sandal-toed freedom and long days, but the harvesting of fruits and vegetables and the closing down of the garden is a ritual I enjoy. It brings me back to the days when my grandmother was here and we'd put bright, freshly picked  cucumbers into the brine, or she'd pull up the stool so I could stir the apples into sauce.

Applesauce and Dilly Green Beans 2011
I still can't bring myself to part with those canning jars, even when most of my friends shake their heads as my kitchen counter fills with pints of applesauce, dilled green beans, and jalepeno jam--all ready to squirrel away for the winter when the apple trees are bare and the green bean and pepper plants are only in the warm memories of July.

I get comments like, "We have grocery stores that are open in December, you know." My answer: "They don't have my grandma's pickles on their shelves. And none of my friends turn down an offer of a jar of anything I put up.

So just as I warned in an earlier post I'm heading into my Harvest Series Mode when food has to come together with my love of the written word--especially Grandma's recipes where her precise hand has set down the ingredients and the process that she learned at her grandmother's harvest time.