Monday, September 15, 2014

The problem with the plains

I live in a state that has been scientifically proven to be flatter than a pancake. No joke! It was in Time Magazine. Anyway, this has proven to be a problem when the book I wrote takes place in the mountains.

For the most part, life everywhere is the same. I lived in Hawaii as a teenager and people tend to think it was all surfing and days at the beach. Yeah, we went to the beach a lot but I also spent six hours a day in school, had homework, swim team, baby sitting, my mom still had to grocery shop... normal stuff. Yes, we had wonderful weather and lots of sand but life was much the same as it is in the Midwest- school, work, housework, cooking, repeat. My book doesn't deal with life in the wilderness or anything "outdoorsy" that might take place in the woods but I need to picture the town and country in which it takes place.

That can be hard when I so removed from landforms and big, tall, old trees. I rely on Pinterest a lot for inspiration. I doodle what the inside of the castle looks like and how the town is laid out. One of the nice things about inventing a whole country is that I can completely invent how I want it to look and don't have to rely on pre-existing city plans. But I do need to, say, obey the laws of nature and create a realistic city layout. Where I live, everything is flat and modern, since the town really started to grow in the 1960's. The country I invented in much older, so houses wouldn't be laid out in the perfect suburban plan.

It's an interesting quandary but one I'm having fun with!

Friday, September 12, 2014

On the Deck: What We're Reading (9/12/14)

(Please note that all links to Amazon are Amazon affiliate links. If you order through the link, I will get a small kick back.)

Me: Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

BigBrother (age ten): The Serpents Shadow

Princess (age 8.5): She's reading The Lilac Tunnel for the second time to choose a new story! In school, she has a book called The Night Fairy at her desk.

PuddinPie and Bear (5  and 4): The Eve of the Emperor Penguin, a Magic treehouse book. We've also read several books about cows and sheep!


 I found this book hilarious! I thought it might be a bit morbid but it isn't. It's a great
YA mystery with a touch of romance.

Monday, September 8, 2014


A (very) (okay, not so very but it sometimes seems like it) long time ago, I tried to get published. This was the days before the internet, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and everything was done via snail mail and the Pony Express. (I kid, I kid. I never used snails. Too slimey.) In my opinion, it was harder to search for agents and even harder to find out what they wanted.

Now, it's super easy to find agents and what they want. I like being able to e-mail them queries; it makes modifying and personalizing my query so much easier! Plus, I can keep track of who I sent stuff to and when, so I know to check if my query was lost in internet space or it's still in the "give us 2 weeks" time frame.

Now, back in the Pony Express days, rejection hurt a lot more. I mean, who doesn't love getting mail and having it be a "maybe" for your novel? THE EXCITEMENT! Then to have it be... a rejection! Noooo. Plus, I was younger too. Things seemed more personal then.

I'm not a sunshiny, positive person naturally; I've worked hard to be more optimistic. It would be easy to get upset and depressed and think my novel COMPLETELY SUCKS or HOW DARE THEY REJECT MY GENUIS! But now that I'm (cough) older, I see things in a different light. I'm happy that the two agents who sent me rejection notes actually seemed to read my work. My novel isn't right for them but, hey, they at least considered it! That's something! Plus, this is not the hardest thing I have ever done. Sure, making sure my book, query letter and everything is beyond perfect can be annoying. It can be frustrating. But mind-numbing, life altering hard? Psssst. Nope.

So what do I do when I get a rejection notice? I take a sip of my water/tea/coffee/pumpkin spice latte and say, "Bummer, dude." When I have a moment, I look over my query letter and first 5-10 pages of my novel to see where I can make them better (the letter) or if I missed a stupid little mistake (the novel). Then I turn to my spreadsheet, cross off the agents that sent me a rejection notice, send out one or two new queries, maybe look for more agents who are accepting new authors and then get back to *insert household task here.*

Okay, I'm lying about the last part. I go back to Facebook to "network" or find cool stuff on Pinterest.

The bottom line? I don't dwell. I'm doing something I promised myself I would do with my writing: I'm trying. I am actively trying to see an agent for my work. And trying feels really, really awesome.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Query Letter

Since my novel is done (again), edited (again) and edited (againandagainandagain) AND because I'm shoving my anal, type-a side out the window for a moment, I am now querying agents to see if someone wants to loooove me.

(Note: I am shoving my type-a personality out the window because, if I didn't, the novel and query would NEVER BE PERFECT ENOUGH to send out. So. I am reminding myself that it IS good enough to send out now and, besides, if I don't, the Engineer would strangle me.)

I've Googled the google out of "how to write a query letter" and spoken to other authors about this. I've sent it to them, gotten feedback and sent it off to agents. I'm not expecting a response anytime soon, as most websites and people have told me AT LEAST 2-3 weeks. No problem... in that respect. But writing the letter? PROBLEM.

I actually am NOT having an abnormal amount of trouble with the blurb and summary of my book. But the about me section? UGH. I HATE trying to summarize myself because I sound LAME. I mean, nothing screams "publish me" like "overweight housewife and mother of four who writes YA romance while her children are at TKD, cello and speech therapy!" Oh yeah. Living the life.

I kinda want to write something like this:

Laura is an ex-Catholic school English/literature teacher, wife, and mother of four. She has a BSE from UNIVERISTY and has published many super-awesome articles about parenting, which makes her sound like she knows what she's doing. (Spoiler: she doesn't.) She will read anything with print on it, especially if it means she can put off folding laundry. She considers Facebook "networking" and Pinterest "menu planning." Her daily goals include drinking a pot of coffee, embarrassing her kids by car dancing in the car pool line, threatening to sell the dog, cooking meals no one will eat and writing young adult novels while waiting at speech therapy/tkd/cello lessons. She can be found on-line at Slaying Dragons, WaldenMommy and her writing blog.... or hiding in the laundry room away from the kids.

Instead, I'm super professional, or try to be, which makes Type-A me worrying that I am giving them what they way but am not STANDING OUT enough. And I should STAND OUT. Ugh. See, this is what happens when I go out of my comfort zone... I don't feel comfortable!

Oh, well, on ward and upward!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Go "like" Jane Lebak

A few winters ago, I reviewed a wonderful book on my other blog.  Jane Lebak wrote The Boys Upstairs, a sweet novel about a priest who takes care of homeless boys. It's a lovely book, although not without its share of complex characters and events. Still, it made me want to curl up in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and read.

Anyway, Ms. Lebak now has a Facebook page! Go "like" it not only because she is an awesome writer and a likeable lady, but to show the newbie to the FB world some love!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Um, I'd like Word please.

A year ago, I got a new to me computer that was a complete and utter lemon. I couldn't even make lemonade out of that sucker. I asked DH for a new one because a writer's gotta have her Microsoft Word and internet connection. (And no way was I fighting with my kids for their computer. I think he keys are glued down with a substance NASA would have liked to have gotten ahold of.) Engineer Husband ponied up for my birthday and I have a lurvley new computer with a fancy touch screen. It's so lightweight, which is perfect because I do much of my writing on the go. (I'm beginning to feel like a commercial here. I digress.)

Of course, since it is brand spankin' new it doesn't have Word on it. I mean, I have trial software but it expired. DH sent me the info to update it but that didn't work. We were going to do it over Labor Day weekend but our entire household was felled by a cold/sinus thing. As of this writing, I still don't have Word fully installed AND I am getting awful close to querying agents. As in, I'm refining my query letter. EK!

This had better get done this week or I am in deep trouble...

Monday, September 1, 2014

I should but I won't

If you follow my parenting blog, WaldenMommy, you may remember that my son and niece were both born prematurely. As a result, our families walk in the March for Babies, volunteer with various NICU organizations and my husband and I take Thanksgiving dinner to our NICU every year.

When people hear our story, and then learn that I like to write, I often get, "You should write a book about it!" I smile and nod and say, "Yes, I should," because I should. But I won't.

Not now.

You see, writing a book about my son's NICU journey and the impact it has had on our lives would require me to go back there. Not the NICU, physically, but there, that place, that place I was in when my son was born. It required me to revisit the feelings I had when I learned he would come early, when I saw him in the NICU, that Christmas season when we struggled to get him to eat and grow. It would require me revisiting the year after his birth, being pregnant with my fourth child and then the realization that our preemie has developmental delays.

And you know what? I don't want to go there.

The nice thing about being an author is that, to some degree, I can choose what to write about. I have written about the NICU but I don't want to, right now, dive into the experience and turn it into a full length book. Perhaps one day I will but, for now, people will have to be content with the articles I have on-line about prematurity, the NICU and beyond.

Maybe someday I will write that book. But not now.