Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow Day

Its been snowing outside. The weather forecast was throwing around scary words - "historic," "power outages" and  "national guard." My husband is traveling, so I put in a few extra supplies, made sure we had batteries in the flashlights and extra water just in case, and my son and the dogs and I hunkered down. Then we only got 7 inches.

I'm used to snow. I grew up north of Boston, and we used to have some amazing snow storms. We lived in a big house (big enough to accommodate the ten of us) on High Street, and we all had shoveling duties in those days before the snowblower.

A great blog by Gordon Harris includes an article and photos of the historic storm of 1978 -- it was crazy, although my biggest memories are of people cross country skiing down the middle of the unplowed streets, and of Governor Dukakis in his winter sweaters on tv.

One day, after another, less historic storm, one of my sisters wanted to make cookies but we were lacking ingredients. The sun was shining, the streets had been plowed, and since the A&P was just a half mile from the house, I volunteered to go. My big sister Ginger tied a scarf around my neck and warned me to stay off of the road itself.

I headed out, bundled warmly and began my trek trough the drifts on the sides of the road. Now the drifts were enormous by my standards, and with each step I sunk in above my boots. It was slow going, and in no time I was weaving a story, having to do with Heidi and bringing supplies to my poor grandfather stuck in the cabin up on the mountain. I purchased my milk and eggs and headed back out into my daydream, completely immersed in my story of heroics.

Imagine my surprise, halfway home, when I heard my name called out. It was not Grandfather, of course, it was Ginger, and she had called several times before I came out of my reverie. She was in the road, and I was carefully picking my way through the drifts as high as my middle.

She was not pleased. "We were so worried about you, what on earth took you so long?"

I looked at her in surprise. "You said not to walk in the road!"

I think she still feels guilty, but I had a wonderful time.

Friday, January 23, 2015


I've started on my journey to publication with my middle-grades book, and so far I am taking the responses in stride: 

Unfortunately, I don't believe that we are the appropriate agents to represent this material

In this very competitive market, we are simply not enthusiastic enough about our ability to sell this work to offer you representation

We’re afraid your project does not seem right for our list

They are all very nice about it, and wish me luck as they send me out into the wilderness, and I am determinedly not taking it personally. After all, J.K. Rowling is said to have been rejected by 12 publishers (who are all very sad today) and C.S. Lewis was reportedly rejected over 800 times before he got something published! Beatrix Potter finally self-published. Meg Cabot collected rejections for three years before The Princess Diaries finally clicked with a publisher. 

I've only received four rejections so far (six if you count the two who haven't responded). I have taken them to heart, though, and return to my first pages again and again to try to read them through someone else's eyes. I've looked more deeply at the openings of other books in the genre, and made some adjustments. I keep track of queries and responses and keep researching agents. Thank goodness there are a lot!

My optimism ultimately does not come from statistics or anecdotes, though. It is the memory of my 11-year-old friend, Eleanor, who asked to be excused early from dinner so she could finish the last twenty pages of my manuscript. That told me all I need to know. I'll keep sending it until a grown-up agent or editor has that same feeling.