Monday, January 30, 2006

Perfect timing and feeling stupid

Yesterday I was slotted to sing a solo in church. Our minister is on study break so an elder was doing the sermon. He is a fantastic preacher by the way. So the idea is when he says this quote from Ephesians, the pianist will softly play my song through once. By the end, he'll be done and I'll come in. And he wants me to sit right in the choir pew, with a mic. Very low key. More about the sound rather than the visual performance (which is absolutely fine with me, LOL).

Sounds good, right? Pianist's 2 yr old daughter is sitting with me since dad and big sisters are home. During the sermon the pianist sits with us. Then her daughter gets a foot caught in her blanket. I try to free it - and succeed in actually pulling the blanket out from underneath her, she goes down smack on her bottom, and whacks her head on the back of the pew.

Bottom lip quivers, face scrunches up, and she starts to cry just as the preachers says...you guessed it...."Ephesians".

I have to admit the pianist and I shared an "oh crap" look. But I snuggled her daughter, kissed her head, and stroked her hair while her mom started playing the song. If I stopped rubbing, she'd whimper so I just kept my hand busy while holding the mic in the opposite hand. And we got through the song just fine.

I did feel rather stupid though since it was all my fault. :-(

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Life Lessons I've Learned from Critiques

Sometimes when things don't go my way, when it seems I've been at this forever, my husband will ask why I do this when it doesn't seem like I get anything out of it.

I usually reply with the standard, "but it makes me happy", "it's my creative outlet", yada yada yada. But yesterday I learned something else about myself that is good and a direct product of writing and more specifically of getting feedback.

I can be objective. I can be in situations where I do not take things personally. I am a better observer. I can focus on getting the job done without STUFF getting in the way.

This might seem a little strange after my post about self-doubt and all. But the lesson to remember from the self-doubt thing is that I always get to a point where I put in into perspective. It's NOT personal. And I have faith in both my cp's that they are trying to help me get published. What's important is that I learn.

Ok, this is all fine and good, but specifics would probably be good here.

In my PT job I have 4 coworkers. We had an incident involving one and the supervisor. Unfortunately both got emotional about it. We had a meeting yesterday and for the most part I sat back and watched, saying nothing (which is a miracle in itself since I ALWAYS have 2 cents to put in). And when my opinion was asked for, I tried to be fair and objective.

I'm also on a committee where something difficult is occuring. We're a small group and there is a real potential for things to get ugly. Did I let myself get embroiled in the politics and emotion of it? Nope. My comment was to consider this like a business. Everyone has a job to do. If someone isn't doing their job and it's threatening the entire committee's existence, then we need to fix it plain and simple. I have gained the ability to sit back, observe, and evaluate. To see all sides. To be practical. At the last meeting in December I felt like I had a bulls-eye painted on my head, but I knew where it was coming from and refused to engage. I am there to do a job. Not get caught up in personality issues.

This might not seem big to many of you, but those of you who have known me for a long time know what giant strides these are. It's a development I quite like in myself and I feel like I've actually grown up a bit.

And I believe it's all due to writing, getting countless rejections, getting feedback both good and bad. WHo would have thought it would have such a profound change?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

You Are 31 Years Old


30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

Mr. Self Doubt and his cousin, Mr. Why Do I Bother

Yes, that old demon Mr. Self Doubt has visited again. Yesterday was an interesting day.

When I get negative feedback, I have a process that I have to go through. One of my CP's is relatively new, so I don't think she's seen me go through this process before. SHe probably thinks I am nuts.

First, I get hurt and upset and perhaps even cry a little bit. I might even get a little angry and I definitely get frustrated. What is needed is for me to put the comments in perspective, but that takes time sometimes. After frustration I get depressed. As in "I Suck." or better yet, "Why do I punish myself? Why do I continually beat my head against a wall when (back to the beginning, say it together now) I SUCK." LOL

Eventually, I'll look at the critique again, work through it, get some ideas. Then I'll get determined. And suddenly I find I'm back to the beginning again where I refuse to quit and I soldier on.

This process can take a few hours, a few weeks or a few days. But invariably it happens. Yesterday was one of those days. But my CP was online and it sped up my process a lot being able to work through it in real time.

Last night I revised chapter one. I'm having a considerable amount of performance anxiety now. I took a hot bubble bath with Il Divo playing in the background. Had a wee bit of a cry (yes, I'm self-indulgent, sue me). Slept on it and woke up feeling almost normal.

While in the bath last night I came to two brilliant conclusions. One is that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. (I can hear you all laughing now. Yes, you've probably known that forever, ha ha.) Not to the point that every word in my ms has to be perfect. But more the type that when I want something, I go after it until I get it. And you know what? I usually get it. Thinking quickly I cannot remember a time when I didn't get something I really wanted...until now. It's taking SO long.

The other thing I realized is that I am an artist. Perhaps not a very good one but in my heart and soul I am an artist. I feel things deeply. I see things with a different point of view. Music has the ability to touch my soul; performing brings me joy. I could stop writing but I wouldn't stop being an artist.

And so I carry on.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Great Spelling Debacle

First of all a quick note - I got a short story rejection yesterday. I'm on a roll! Wonder what news I'll hear today? :-)

My eldest had her practice spelling bee on Wednesday. Only she didn't get to participate because she didn't make it through the written test part from the day before. She was crushed, and I was shocked. I know it may sound like I don't think she can do anything wrong, but this is SPELLING. In the last year and a half she's missed ONE WORD on all her spelling tests combined. The written part was easy...so I couldn't believe others got through and she didn't.

I was on supervision on the playground and she was crying her little eyes out, so we had a chat, and her coach came over to talk to us. She thought it was a bit strange as well so she said she would check right after lunch and if there had been an error she'd correct it. I told my daughter that if there wasn't, that sometimes things just don't go our way, but that it's worth looking into.

Turns out one of the teachers who'd marked them hadn't turned in 6 tests - and hers was one. She had a perfect score. So as a result she gets to participate in the final bee today, on the stage in the gym. She's very nervous and excited! The teacher that forgot to hand them in apologized all over herself yesterday but it was an honest mistake and it all turned out, I think she felt bad because my daughter was so upset about it. My daughter puts way too much pressure on herself....I'm constantly having to remind her to obsess less and have more fun! Which is a bit weird, I'll admit.

So today's motto is "go and have fun". We'll see how that turns out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

News

After urging from one of my cp's, I called Avalon again.

Apparently my 17 month sub was rejected - only they didn't send me the letter. LOL

I can laugh because that was my 4th manuscript. I am on my 10th. I know how much my writing has grown in the 2 years since I wrote it. It probably deserved that R. And they have a brand spanking new full on their desks now that is so much better. So this R doesn't upset me - I'm just glad to know one way or the other.

Carol, if you're out there, you might want to check on your long sub. Maybe your letter go lost in the shuffle too???? Or maybe they're saving it up for your second sale?

Editors and spelling bees

After visiting subcare on e-harl this morning, I am sure that editors are tackling the new year with renewed vigor. At least 4 rejections this week, and it's only Wednesday morning! Meanwhile, all is quiet on the Donna front. Too quiet. Dammit.

My eldest, who is 7, has a spelling bee today. The National Can-Spell contest is only for grades 3-6, but the school has allowed grade one and two students to participate.

However I do not believe they gave different words to the lower grades. Because my daughter who is in grade 2, came home with words that my husband can't even spell. Words that I, a writer, actually had to look up in the dictionary. Words with 5 and 6 syllables.

My husband wasn't happy....he said that they were SO hard that it was a sure fire way to discourage kids and destroy their morale. Give them a task they have no chance of succeeding at. There's challenging (like the top 1/3 of the sheet, which she aced) and then there's just insurmountable - like the word eccentricity. Or phlegmatic. There were probably 50 words of that difficulty on a sheet of 110.

Funny enough, though, she got perambulating on the first try. LOL She is very good at breaking down words into syllables and going from there.

Anyway she is sure she's going to suck at the bee today at lunch time. And she's probably right if those are the words that are going around....however I told her the most important thing is to participate and to see what a spelling bee is all about so she has some idea for next year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What's up and Pics



The WIP is going well, ticking along at a nice pace, and when my recent chapters have come back from my CP, there are only tweaks and not "OMG you took a wrong turn" comments. So I'm fairly happy with that.

What is it about some publishers though? I feel the need to vent. I understand editors are busy, but when I e-mailed Mills and Boon last week, I got a quick response within hours. Over a week ago I e-mailed the editor that has my ms's at Avalon. No response. So then I called and unfortunately got voice mail, and I did leave a message. No response.

My FULL manuscript has been there since September of 2004. I don't think it's unreasonable to wonder what's going on, and I don't need a long response...but SOME would be nice.

Back to previously scheduled happy thoughts.

On that note, I have a couple more pics I found of my next hero. Very thudworthy me thinks.



AND

Monday, January 16, 2006

And tagged yet again....

Tagged my Michelle Styles this time....but FUN!

Seven things to do before I die
1. See Europe
2. Skydive
3. Fire a handgun
4. Sing onstage
5. Be published (should that have been first???)
6. See my kids grow up
7. Live on the water

Seven things that first attracted me to my DH
1 His eyes
2 His gray hair
3 His job
4 His car (high standards, n'est pas?)
5 His romantic heart
6 His overall hotness
7 His wacky sense of humour

Seven books I love most
1 Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher
2 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
3 Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
4 The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
5 Rilla of Ingleside by Lucy Maud Montgomery
6 Years by LaVyrle Spencer
7 Daniel Deronda by George Eliot

Seven Movies I love most -- no order
1 Serendipity
2 The Sound of Music
3 An Affair to Remember
4 Gentleman's Agreement
5 Band of Brothers miniseries
6 Top Gun
7 Love Actually


Seven things I can't do
1 crochet
2 Lie
3 walk by a bookshop with peeking in
4 relax at the dentist
5 drink herbal tea
6 make jello
7 golf worth a darn

Seven words or phrases I say most often
1 What is going on here?
2 Has anyone seen my keys?
3 I love you
4 Excuse me?
5 Five more minutes
6 Hey! (as in hello)
7 I can do that.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Glimmer of Excitement Dashed

I have recently become an Il Divo fan. Since Christmas I've bought 2 cd's, picked of the members as my next hero "model", and just been all around silly about them. Last night I mentioned at dinner that they were going to be in Toronto on Feb. 6, but (jokingly) added it was a little far to go for a concert. It's 4 hours by AIR.

Dh says, "How much are tickets? You should go."

I just about choked. "Really?" I practically squealed. In record time I've got ticketmaster up, showing me the best available seats....for less than we paid for our Josh Groban tickets. My mind is racing. My dh works for an airline which means I can fly standby dirt cheap. I am already thinking of asking a friend to come to Toronto to meet me, and we can share a hotel room.

THEN, reality.

Oh yes. I have a job now. How could I have forgotten? And the thing about working for the school board is that you are actually expected to BE there when school is in. Granted I'm only part time, but I also know we don't have a spare to fill in for me when I'm gone. I can't help it if I have to take a sick day, but I can't really in all conscience ask for 2 days off to gallivant to see four body-meltingly handsome men sing, and sing, and sing... If only they were playing Toronto 2 weeks later - during Teacher's Convention!

Ah well, it was exciting while the thought lasted. And the fact that dh was willing to let me go, well that was just TOOO cool.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Status of my Manuscript


I've heard.

Not that it's earth shattering news, but I can stop accosting my mail lady for a few weeks.

The editor that has my ms is swamped- no shock there. But she has said she will get to it within the next few weeks and that if I haven't heard anything within four weeks to e-mail back again.

If I can somehow subliminally implant thoughts in her brain, I'll be getting a request for revisions. Fingers crossed that I can be even a little clairvoyant. :-)

I haven't heard anything back from Avalon, but that's no shock. I see a phone call on Monday. See? I CAN predict the future!

AND, I finally found pics of my upcoming hero. Normally not my type, but I have a basic plot in mind. You see this is going to be a ModX, which means more steamy. More flirty. And a great line jumped out at me one day....something about bad boys getting all the action.

My hero is a graphic designer with an advertising firm...and he's damned good at his job. But he doesn't get a lot of notice. He's a nice guy. Sort of a "behind-the-scenes" type person. It takes a friend...a good friend...to point out that he needs to revamp his image a bit to get some action. Little does she know that she's letting a tiger out of the cage.....

ANYWAY, here is my favorite pic so far.... Urs Buhler. God bless the Swiss is all I can say.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Romances Get Bad Rep



Trish, you should be proud of me.

If ever there were an article appropriate for the Pink Heart Society, this is it. Pink Hearts, unite!

Why am I procrastinating with Chapter Nine?



I don't know. Perhaps because it's that I haven't written on this ms since October. Maybe I just have to really get going again, get a rhythm, fall in love. Although I am still quite silly over my hero. I lurve him. So why oh why am I procrastinating?

Part of me wants to skip over the next few chapters so I can get to the really exciting part....we have a huge emotional moment coming and even, yes, you're hearing it here first...a tornado. Had THAT little brainstorm 2 nights ago. But I have to set it all up first, with TENSION ON EVERY PAGE. Say it together people, TENSION ON EVERY PAGE. So, I have hard work to do first.

Partly I am procrastinating because I am the QUEEN of sagging middles, and this is about 2/3 of the way through the book. If I can get through the next 2 chapters I'm in the home stretch.

Or, here's a revolutionary idea. I could just stop making excuses and write the damn thing.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Pink Heart Society



This was started by one of my CP's, Trish Wylie, so click on the link to read all about it.

I'm Pink and I'm Proud.

Yes...it is....it's a writing-based post!

I'm sitting at my desk. YAY ME! I know I have the best job in the world (even if it is as of yet unpaid) because I was so excited to get back to it that I could hardly sleep last night! And when I did sleep I had outrageous dreams. One being that I received a request for revisions today. LOL. It's 7 a.m. and so far I've checked my messages, sent back a crit to one of my cp's, and e-mailed both M&B and Avalon on the status of my submissions. I sent my full to M&B in late August and Avalon, well, they've had one full since September of 2004 and the other I sent Dec. 12.

My ms is waiting for me, but before I get to it I have to say what a pleasure it was for me to crit the novel I did yesterday. My cp is multi-pubbed but wrote this one for a different line and it was amazing. At times I laughed out loud...lots and lots of times. And twice I damn near cried. How does she do that? I think she was also worried about the sensuality level as well...but she did just fine. More than fine. The sex was great. I thought I was going to need a cigarette.

Now. Now I have to go back to my own WIP and I know for the first bit I'm just going to think that everything is flat. Damn you! Damn you to hell!

Aw, you know I don't mean it. :-)

I do have a sad P.S. to add today though. I found out yesterday that another one of our students at the school has died. Also in grade one but in a different homeroom. He was in a car accident on the way to celebrate Christmas with family. I didn't know him personally but I know OF him and I know his dayhome provider. This lady loves her kids terribly, she's got to be completely devastated.

So if you could, send out a little prayer for his family too who must miss him so very much.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Yes, I'm still alive

It's been busy, and I don't get much pc time when my husband is home, so this is just a fly-by posting. Getting lots of odd jobs and stuff done this week though, which is good because next week, boy, I'm hitting the WIP with a vengeance.

I got Donald Maass's WRiting the Breakout Novel workbook in the mail a few days ago. I loved the book and ordered the workbook on my cp's advice. I also got a great cd which is gearing up to be the soundtrack for my next WIP. I can hardly wait to get back at it.

Had a great New Year's too. Visited friends, ate mexican and played darts. Enjoyed it so much that we went out and bought a dart board and the husband is routinely kicking my ass. All junk food is out of the house and we're back to eating normally and working out, and I'm feeling better already.

But I really, REALLY can't wait to get working again.