Progress Captured

amaryllisI’ve mentioned before that I think waiting might be the hardest thing about writing — or more specifically publishing. As writers, we control a lot – we control the actual writing, of course. But once that’s done? It depends on your craft… But there is bound to be waiting involved.

You’ve polished a short story? Great! Check out duotrope, find a place to submit, and then… wait. Oh wow, look at that – an acceptance! For four months from now! Cool, more waiting!

Oh, what’s that? You’ve got an awesome novel manuscript? Fantastic. Why don’t you go ahead and query a few agents? And then, guess what? Yes, grab a cup of coffee. Start a new hobby. Because you’re going to be doing some waiting. How long, you ask? It depends. (That, it turns out, is always the answer to that question when we’re talking about the publishing industry as a whole.) I’ve had agents respond within hours. I’ve had agents never respond at all. I’ve had agents excitedly call to ask for a full manuscript and then never call again. You may notice that I do not, currently, have an agent. So yeah, I’m waiting.

Hey, a novella? That’s great! Why don’t you query a few of the digital publishers around these days that are focusing on shorter work? (There are a few — including imprints of the big 6. This is a growing area for writers… that’s another post). And then you can, oh yeah, you can wait. However, like all things in the internet realm, these guys tend to move a teensy bit faster. So you don’t wait as long, perhaps.

So anyway, since the acceptance of my novella by Swoon, I’ve been waiting on the blurb to hit the site, my author bio and photo to go up, and of course, the editing process to begin. It is supposed to pub in June, so that may not even roll until March. I’m just… yeah… waiting.

And since then, I’ve pitched a series to Swoon… and so until recently, I was – ding, ding, ding! You got it! – Waiting. And now my wait is over. They made an offer… and I have work to do!

I thought a publishing contract was the end all be all of my journey as a writer. But that isn’t the case at all. There’s serious thinking to be done, people to get in your corner to champion your work before and after it comes out… and there’s always more writing. And in today’s world, unless you’re John Grisham I’d guess, a publishing contract doesn’t mean that you can quit your day job. At least not right away. But maybe down the road… it’s a step in the right direction.

Anyway, with all this waiting I’ve been doing, I’ve needed something to feed my need for instant gratification. I recently posted a couple photos of my Christmas Amaryllis bulb and it’s startling progress here  and here … I’m now calling it a Valentine’s Amaryllis. And LOOK at it now!!

It Grows…

The weather this weekend was sunny and warm, which was appreciated since the forecast for this week has highs reaching the mid-twenties! Too cold for this California girl. Anyway, the preview of springtime, coupled with the removal of the very last of our holiday ornaments, had me longing for warm days in the yard. I even miss mowing the lawn…

That’s why the startling steady growth of my Amaryllis has been so gratifying! I know you were just forced to hear about this and look at a tiny picture of a little green shoot sprouting up… and that was just a few days ago. But that is exactly why I must foist another photo on you. LOOK at THIS!! The thing has grown like six inches in five days!

plant

I know… it’s crazy. I’m still waiting on so many other things… it’s nice to have this showing such steady progress.

And isn’t that the cutest cookie jar? I know what you’re thinking: “but Delancey, you said you put away all of the holiday stuff.” Right you are. He’s not a holiday snowman. He’s just a snowman. Ignore those ornaments he’s holding. (This is what I tell my husband when he complains that I still have Christmas decorations out.) Once the holidays are over, if it’s still going to be cold… I need SOMETHING to enjoy! (Maybe I should start decorating the house for some of the lesser holidays…Hmm.)

Happy MLK day and have a great week, everyone. Here’s to good news arriving for us all this week!

Nothing. Everything.

I am not a patient woman. This makes many things about choosing to be a writer difficult for the likes of me. For one thing, the second I hit “submit” I want an answer. “Did you like it?” “Do you want it?” “Am I good enough?” Lately, personal validation has come largely in the form of email. I check my email obsessively lately. To the point where I’m pretty sure its a problem that I should seek care for. I’ve got a new full over at Swoon, and I’m dying to hear their thoughts. (Even if their thoughts are, “no thanks.”) Because then I’ll KNOW. And then I’ll be free to skip on to the next potential opportunity. But if their thoughts are “yes,” that’d be great, too. But then I’ll have to wait for terms. And signatures. And lawyers. And edits. And so many other things that are so exciting and wonderful. But that don’t happen instantly.

I have what feels like millions of other stories out in other places. I’ve been putting myself out there. So there’s always the potential for a nice ego boosting email to arrive. There’s a greater potential for a soul-shattering rejection to arrive. But I can’t think about that. I live in hope.

Because patience is so difficult to master, I have begun taking joy in the things that do happen quickly enough to suit me. Take a look at this: amaryllis

It’s an Amaryllis. I let it lay dormant in a paper bag out in my garden shed for three months or so through the fall. And then I re-potted it in time for it to bloom at Christmas. And it didn’t. I watched it every single stupid day and it just sat there, it’s green tips taunting me, but definitely not growing. Finally, about to give up on it altogether of almost two months of resolute NOT growing, I moved the pot. I thought it liked being in the window. But it seems that being more interior has made it happy. And since it began growing four days ago, it has grown at least a half inch a day. I kid you not. I can practically WATCH it reaching up. It’s fantastic. Perfect for us instant gratification types (if you don’t count all that waiting while it was dormant or once I’d re-potted it and it wouldn’t grow… don’t count that.) PS. That’s my fish plate. I just re-found it when I was digging through the closet where I store all the things that no one may ever touch because it might get broken.

I wish I was more like these guys. photo(2)

Look at the simple joy they get from being given a mint. All they want in life in this moment? One mint. (The little one would like to eat many, many more mints. He did that recently when I didn’t know about it, eating all 37 mints in the box and then projectile vomiting pink foam all over the back of my car about three hours later. There is a moral – too much of a good thing is not a good thing.)

I am trying to let myself learn from these small people who I’m lucky enough to spend so much time with. They live for the moment completely. Their excitement and disappointments are so immediate and raw. They are good humans. I want to be more like them.

So I keep waiting.

Indies Unlimited Annoucement

Check out the announcement about Through a Dusty Window on Indies Unlimited! They’re also featuring my book as a 2013 Featured Title. Cool!

Indies Unlimited is a great resource for Indie authors. Their mission statement:

It is the mission of Indies Unlimited to celebrate independent authors; to help them build their followings; to provide a platform for members of the independent author community to share and exchange ideas, knowledge, expertise and frustrations; and, for readers and reviewers to become exposed to the amazing depth and array of talent in the indie community.

Find your new favorite Indie author there…

Poetry in Prose

Like most writers (I assume), I read a lot. Usually three or four books at a time, and usually fairly quickly. I’ve got one going now that I keep taking breaks from. And it’s had me thinking more than any book I’ve read lately. I’ve taken breaks from it because I don’t want it to end, and because the content needs time to sit and simmer in some places.

I’m reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. And it’s been a wonderful experience. It’s a book that has changed the way I think about some things. YA literature, specifically. I grew up reading YA classics, but I didn’t know, at that time, that there was any such thing as young adult literature. I read whatever I wanted, and some of the things I read happened to have characters that were more relatable than others. As a writer, of course, the genre is not unfamiliar, especially with the fairly recent successes of the big ones like Rowling and Meyer. And I enjoyed those series very much. And I think the writing in both was just fine. The stories were what kept me reading. But with the Book Thief, it’s different. The language is what’s keeping me reading.

My former experiences with YA had led me to believe that writers who focused that way were looking for one thing – marketability. The quality of the writing didn’t seem to matter quite as much if the story hit all the necessary plot points and kept younger readers engaged. But Markus Zusak has challenged that idea.

I should say, first off, that I have no idea why this book would be construed as YA, if you want the truth. The protagonist is a “tween”, I suppose… but outside of that… the themes are universal, the setting and action are quite adult (although in this day and age, with kids playing ridiculously violent games and watching blood and gore in movies, maybe there’s no line there anymore).

But I’ve gotten off track. My point isn’t to consider the rise of YA literature or find rules for its categorization.

My goal was to basically GUSH over Zusak’s work. I don’t know if he sits down and worries every little sentence to make them read as they do. I’m guessing it’s a bit more natural to him. And I envy that… On every page is a sentence I wish with all my heart I had written. My husband is getting irritated because as I come across these, I tend to read them out loud, several times. So he’s been woken to me saying things like:

“In fact, on April 20 – the Fuhrer’s birthday – when she snatched a book from beneath a steaming pile of ashes, Liesel was a girl made of darkness.”  A GIRL made of DARKNESS. Lovely.

“It was a Monday and they walked on a tightrope to the sun.”

“She wanted none of those days to end, and it was always with disappointment that she watched the darkness stride forward.”

“The tears grappled with her face.”

“Her wrinkles were like slander. Her voice was akin to a beating with a stick.” That one has been in my head since I read it. Her wrinkles were like slander. I adore this idea.

I’ll let you read the rest yourself if you haven’t done so already.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that feels like it was painted with a brush and palette. Thanks, Markus Zusak, for reminding me that literary fiction and YA do not have to be different things.