Friday, April 30, 2010

I have a guest blog up at Emma Lai writes. You can check it out here:
http://emmalaiwrites.blogspot.com/2010/04/writing-rituals-with-pembroke-sinclair.html#comment-form

As promised, here is the rest of my story.

At Wit's End
(Continued)

Officer Pelos showed up the next morning at 7:30. Lydia was surprised to see Stephen awake and dressed when she unlocked the door. He was sitting on the edge of his bed wide-eyed and pale. She furrowed her brow and glanced out the window. For a brief second, she thought she saw a face in the glass. It was faint but she could see the wrinkles around the man’s eyes and the crooked yellow teeth behind his smile. She shivered. She asked if he had slept all right, and he answered her with a soft, “Fine,” before making his way downstairs. He took a seat on the couch and stared at Pelos with indifference. Lydia offered some coffee before pouring her own cup and taking a seat next to her son; Robert stood behind them. Pelos sat in a recliner across from them. He leaned back and folded his hands over his stomach.

“So, tell me, Stephen, when is the last time you saw or spoke to Lou or Sam.”

Stephen shrugged. “The night I was arrested. My mom took my phone away.” He stared at her out of the corner of his eye.

Pelos directed his attention to her. “And you, Lydia, Robert, have they tried to contact you?”

She furrowed her brow. “No. Why would they?”

Pelos reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out two photos. He handed the first one to Lydia. “Have you ever seen this man?”

She looked at the photo but didn’t recognize the wrinkled face with the beak-like nose and tousled white hair. She shook her head and handed the picture back to her husband. Robert, also, had never seen the man.

“Perhaps you would recognize him like this.” Pelos handed over the other photo.

Lydia’s stomach flip-flopped as she looked at the same man, but this time one eye was swollen shut, his nose was kinked to the left with trails of blood running out of each nostril, and his lips were twice their normal size. She swallowed down the bile and handed the picture to Robert. Was it possible her son could do something like that to another human being?

“No, we haven’t seen him. Who is he?” Robert asked.

“That is the man who was beaten by your son and his friends. He has left the hospital under mysterious circumstances, and both Lou and Sam are missing. We suspect he might be looking for revenge.”

Lydia furrowed her brow and stared at the officer in disbelief. “How could that be? It’s only been two, three days since the incident. Is it possible he could be up and walking?”

Pelos shrugged and placed the pictures back into his pocket. “Who knows? All we know is that two boys are missing and Stephen might be in danger. If you see or hear anything out of the ordinary, please give us a call right away.” He stood from his chair. “Thanks for your help.”

After he left, Lydia turned back to her son sitting on the couch. “You see what you’ve done? I hope it was worth it.”

Stephen rolled his eyes and stood from the couch. Lydia expected him to stomp his way up the stairs and slam his bedroom door, but instead, he went into Ben’s room and started reading him a book. Lydia turned to Robert. He had watched his son retreat to the second floor and was staring blankly into space, his hand on his chin in deep contemplation. Lydia placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Robert? Are you all right?”

He turned to face her, his eyes glassy with tears. “I think I might have cursed our son.”

Lydia removed her hand and pushed her eyebrows together. “What are you talking about?”

“I know that man in the picture.” He whispered.

Robert explained that he had gone to the bar a few weeks earlier, right after Stephen had been caught with the alcohol at school. He needed to go somewhere and think, figure out where he had gone wrong as a parent and how he could fix it. He and this other man were the only two in the place, so they started a conversation. The man said his name was Straf, which Robert thought was odd but didn’t question it. Robert told Straf about Stephen and how he had been acting out lately. He explained that Stephen had fallen in with a bad crowd and started doing things he wouldn’t normally do. He reminisced about the good old days when Stephen was a little boy, when the worst thing he did was flush a toy down the toilet. Robert told Straf that he was at wit’s end, that he didn’t know what to do with his son, and that he blamed everything on Lou and Sam. He told Straf that he wished something bad would happen to those two. He didn’t want Stephen hurt, but he wanted him to witness it so he would be scared back into being the good boy he used to be.

“He offered to teach the boys a lesson.” Tears dripped onto Robert’s face. “He told me that he had had problems with Lou and Sam in the past. Apparently, he caught them breaking into a neighbor’s house. Of course, he reported it to the authorities. You remember last year when the boys were arrested? Anyway, a few weeks later, he got a call from one of them saying that they knew it was him who called the cops. They had taken his dog, and, to teach him a lesson, broke two of its legs. Believe me, if I had known something like this would have happened, I would never have agreed to let him do it.”

Lydia’s eyes grew wide and she glanced up the stairs, checking to see if anyone was listening. She ushered Robert into the kitchen and sat him at the table. She pulled a chair next to him and whispered.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this?”

“I didn’t think I could.”

Lydia pursed her lips. “Even after last night? I sat in that bar and pretty much told you that I felt exactly the same way you did. You could have said something then. What exactly did Straf tell you he was going to do?”

Robert wiped the tears from his face and sniffed. “He didn’t. And I didn’t want to know...but I think it went terribly wrong. I think he might have underestimated what Lou and Sam are capable of.”

“Did he take any money? Is there anything that will tie him back to us?”

Robert shook his head.

“Then I suggest you never mention this to anyone else. No one will blame you if anything happens to Lou and Sam. God knows they’ve done enough to deserve whatever they get. I think we need to find out from Stephen exactly what happened that night.”

They called their son into the kitchen, and he flopped himself into a chair at the far end of the table. He stared at them with a blank expression.

“Stephen, we want you to tell us what happened the night you were arrested.” Lydia folded her hands on the table to keep them from shaking.

Stephen hesitated for a moment, then explained that he, Lou, and Sam had been hanging out at the park. They had discovered that the lock on one of the maintenance sheds was broken, so they went inside to drink and smoke dope. While they were in there, some homeless guy thought he could come in and get warm too. They told him to leave, but he took a seat on the floor in front of the door and smiled. Stephen shivered slightly as he spoke.

“It was the creepiest smile I’ve ever seen,” Stephen explained.

They decided to leave, and when they headed for the door, the old man grabbed Lou by the ankle. He flipped and both he and Sam began to beat the old man. When they realized what they had done, they took off.

“I was frozen,” Stephen said, “I couldn’t move from the back of the shed. They tried to get me to go with them, but I couldn’t.” He lowered his head. “I can just imagine the names they called me later that night.” He took a deep breath and looked at his parents. “I couldn’t leave the guy there, so I started dragging him through the park to find help. I got him about twenty feet from the shed when a cop spotted me. He started yelling at me, and I got scared, so I dropped the old man. I thought he was unconscious, but as I turned to leave, he grabbed the back of my coat. I freaked. I tried to get him to let go, and I might have kicked him a couple of times. I don’t know. You know the rest.”

“Do you think he’s coming after your friends?” Robert asked.

Wouldn’t you?”

Lydia and Robert looked at one another and back at their son. His head was hanging low and he was picking at his fingernails. He looked back up at them and asked if he could leave. They nodded and he disappeared upstairs.

* * *

Two days later the bodies of Lou and Sam were found. Lou had taken sanctuary at a cousin’s house ten miles outside of town. He had been living in the basement and was found in front of the TV, an Xbox controller in his hand. Sam had been hiding at his grandmother’s house, just a few blocks from where Lydia and Robert lived. He was found at the kitchen table, a full bowl of cereal sat in front of him on the table. Both of the kids’ skulls had been removed and were placed next to them. Pelos explained that they had been painted in some tribal fashion, and that there wasn’t a drop of blood at the scene.

Lydia stared at him in confusion. “You mean their heads were removed. Not their skulls.”

Pelos shook his head. “No, I mean their skulls were removed. Their heads were still attached to their bodies. Whoever did this was very meticulous and had a lot of time on their hands. I suggest you don’t let Stephen out of your sight.”

Lydia thought that Stephen handled the news of the death of his friends rather well. He had been in the backyard with Ben, pushing him on the swing, and after Lydia told him, he just quietly stepped away and began to build a snowman. He was silent and sullen until after the funerals.

It was seven at night and Lydia was following Stephen to his room when he stopped abruptly in his doorway. He stood staring into the darkness for several moments before speaking softly.

“Mom, do you believe in the supernatural?”

Lydia furrowed her brow and tried to look at his face. “You mean like ghosts?”

“No. Like demons.”

She grimaced. “I don’t know. Why?”

“No reason.” He stepped into his room, and laid down on his bed.

Lydia closed the door slowly and pushed the padlock closed.

An hour later, she was still bothered by what her son had said, so she decided to go talk to him. She pulled the key out of her pocket and slid it into the lock. The shackle popped open and she placed both the key and the lock into her pocket. Lydia pushed the door open and noticed Stephen sitting on his bed facing her. Her breath caught in her throat when she realized he wasn’t alone. Straf stood next to him with a hand on his throat and the top of his head. She squeaked out a cry and in response to her voice, Robert pounded his way up the stairs. Both he and Lydia stood in the doorway, waiting for what would happen next. Straf’s mouth pulled into a smile that revealed crooked yellow teeth. His face was no longer covered in cuts and bruises, and the wrinkles around his eyes became more defined the wider his grin became. He glanced from the pair at the door to Stephen.

“I do believe that you won’t have anything else to worry about with Stephen. But if you do, just remember I’m a wish away.”

Straf’s body became translucent and drifted toward the window. The last thing they saw was his face as it faded into the glass. Everyone was frozen for several moments. When they finally regained their composure, both Robert and Lydia grabbed Stephen and Ben and hurried out of the house. They went to the neighbors and called the cops.

Pelos and the other officers went through every inch of the house and canvassed a three-block radius. They found no trace of Straf. They couldn’t even figure out how he had gotten into the house; Stephen’s window was still nailed shut and there was no sign of forced entry on any of the other window or doors. But Stephen knew, Robert had his suspicions, and Lydia refused to believe. Pelos glanced at Robert and Lydia when he discovered the lock and nails, but he didn’t say a word.

As the night wore on, Robert decided it would be best for them to get a hotel room. They checked into the cheapest place they could find and settled down for the night. Lydia sat on the bed across from her sons and stared at them while they slept. She rubbed her hands slowly on her thighs for a few moments before sliding under the covers. She clicked off the light, and got the best night’s sleep she had had in years.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I received a request for a partial yesterday, but other than that, all I have is depressing news. So, for a change, I thought I would post a short story. This was published by NVF in March of last year. The title is very fitting, but the story has nothing to do with my current situation. I will post part of it today and part of it tomorrow. Enjoy!

AT WIT’S END
(For Mom)


Lydia sat in the rocking chair and stared out the window onto the dark snow-packed streets. Gray wisps of snow swirled on the asphalt, and the wind howled around the house. She rubbed her hands on her thighs, and rocked slowly. Headlights appeared in the distance, Lydia leaned forward. The car rounded the corner in front of the house and continued up the street. She sat back and began rubbing her thighs again.

“Stephen still not home yet?” The voice came from across the room, and Lydia turned to look at the silhouette of her husband, Robert, in the doorway.

“No.” She answered and turned her stare back out the window. “This is the third night this week he’s broken curfew. I don’t know what we’re going to do with him.”

“Have you tried his cell phone?”

“Of course,” she spoke. “It goes straight to voice mail.”

Robert leaned against the doorframe and sighed. They were both silent for several minutes before they were interrupted by a ringing phone. Lydia sat upright in the chair as Robert rounded the corner to answer it. His muffled voice drifted into the room, and the few minutes he was gone seemed like an eternity. She saw Stephen’s body lying in a ditch, right next to the crumpled metal that had once been the car. He was face-down in the snow with his arm twisted at a ninety-degree angle the wrong way behind his back, and one leg was twenty feet from the rest of his body. Lydia just knew it was the hospital calling to see if they could come and identify a body. Robert came back to the doorway.

“That was Officer Pelos,” he said.

Lydia sucked in a deep breath and felt the sting of tears in her eyes.

“Stephen is all right, but we need to pick him up at the station.”

As the breath escaped from her body, all the worry and heartache drained with it, only to be replaced with an overwhelming sense of anger.
“If you want,” Robert said softly, “I can go get him.”

“No,” she snapped. “I’ll go.”

She stood from the chair and walked toward the stairs. Robert grabbed her gently by the arm. She turned abruptly and stared into his brown eyes.

“Why don’t we both go. I’ll call Ed and see if he can sit with Ben until we get back. You go get dressed and we’ll go together.”

Lydia nodded and headed to the bedroom for her clothes.

* * *

It was 2:30 a.m. by the time Lydia and Robert left the police station. She noticed that Stephen was pale and his coat was torn, but she was so angry she didn’t want to know what had happened. She was using all of her power to stay calm and not scream in his face. Or worse yet, choke the life out of him. When they got into the car, Stephen kept silent and stared out the window. Lydia sat in the passenger seat and flipped down the visor so she could stare at him through the mirror.

“I hope you realize how much trouble you’re in, young man.” It was the only thing she could say without raising her voice.

Stephen shrugged and made a small grunting noise.

Lydia felt the anger rise in her chest and turned in her seat. “This is the third time,” she held up three fingers. “The third time this week that you’ve broken curfew. And now, you might have criminal charges brought against you for assault. Do you know what that means? You could go to juvie.”

Stephen whipped his head around and Lydia saw anger flash through his eyes. “I didn’t do anything.”

She grabbed the edge of her seat and squeezed for several seconds before turning around and facing forward. “That’s what you always say.”

“I didn’t. It was Lou and Sam. They’re the ones who beat the guy. I tried to stop them.”

Lydia huffed. “It’s always their fault isn’t it? I told you not to hang out with them. I told you they were a bad crowd.” She had lost all control and started yelling. “You’re the one who got arrested. Not Lou and Sam. You’re the one who’s going to pay the price.”

Stephen slammed his fist against the window, and yelled back. “I was trying to help the guy!”
Robert slammed on the brakes, and the car tentatively slid to a stop. He turned to face his son and pointed a finger in his direction. “We got the report from the police. We know what your statement is.” He glanced from Stephen to Lydia. “We’ll just have to wait and see what the prosecutor wants to do. Until then, shouting is not helping.”

Stephen averted his gaze back out the window, and Lydia folded her arms across her chest. Robert turned back to the steering wheel and put the car in drive. The rest of the trip home was silent.

* * *

Lydia was sitting at the kitchen table thumbing through the phone book when Stephen woke the next day at two in the afternoon.

“Why did you put a lock on my door?” he asked.

“Oh, good, you’re up.” She grabbed the toolbox that had been sitting at her feet and headed to his room.

He followed and watched in horror as she started nailing his window shut.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Lydia stopped pounding and turned to him. “I’ve tried everything else, and nothing seems to work. I’ve taken away your TV, your computer, and your stereo, and you still insist on disobeying me. I figure if I lock you in your room, there’s no way you can break curfew again.”

Stephen smirked and folded his hands across his chest. “What happens if there’s a fire?”

She pounded in the last few nails, gathered up her tools, and headed out the door. She turned to face him before going down the steps. “Well, I guess you had better hope I can get the key in the lock fast enough.”

* * *

Stephen was locked in his room that night at seven. Lydia began to have second thoughts about putting the lock on his door. What if there was a fire? What if he had to go to the bathroom? It was difficult for her to sit still after dinner, and Robert noticed her pacing the house, so he offered to take her out to calm her nerves. They found a sitter for Ben and headed to a bar. Robert ordered them a scotch and water, and they found a table in the far corner. They sat silently through the first round of drinks, and by the second, Lydia had dug a faded picture out of her wallet. Robert leaned over to see what she was staring so intently at: it was Stephen when he was two. He took the photo from her and smiled as he thought about what a sweet little boy he had been.

“Where did we go wrong?” Lydia whispered. “What did we do to push our son away?”

Robert sighed and handed the picture back. “We didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just a phase.”

“A phase my ass. It’s those other boys, Lou and Sam.” She picked up her glass and finished the drink. “Sometimes I wish something bad would happen to those two. Something that would take them out of his life forever.” She stared at her husband. “Does that make me a bad person?”

Robert averted his gaze to his glass and stared at the tan liquid. “No,” he spoke softly, “it makes you human.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I've found a new way to piss off a cat. Not that I was looking, it just kind of fell into my lap. Are you ready? Here it is: put it in a baby onsie. You have to put it upside down, so their butt and tail poke out of the neck hole and their back legs go through the arms, but it is guaranteed to make your cat walk funny.

Now, before you get upset and think that I enjoy torturing kitties, there is a reason I was putting the cat in a onsie. She has a tumor on her leg that has lost all its fur and is infected. (It's really gross, too. You know how a bone looks when the marrow is still inside? The white outer layer with deep red in the circle. That's what her leg looks like.) The onsie was supposed to keep her from licking, but, like the crafty creature she is, she found a way to wiggle out of it. I don't want to put the cat in baby clothes, but the only other option is a cone, which I think would be even worse. With a cone on her head, she won't be able to get through her cat door. I feel so bad that it has come to this, but I'm trying to make things more bearable for her. My poor, poor baby. Not only does she have to wear clothes, but the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes. It's only a matter of time now, and I'm very distressed. If anyone has any suggestions of how to cover her lump and still keep her happy, I'd really appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

OK, as promised, I will update you on my query numbers (as I'm sure none of you have had depressing news today!). I sent out two additional queries because somehow they got lost in the shuffle, so I have a total of 66 queries. Soooo, here are the new numbers:

34 have said no
20 had no response (luckily the two I sent out were kind enough to send actual "nos")
9 I'm still waiting to hear from
3 still have partials.

I'm going to send a couple of nudges today. I checked some sites, and they said that if I haven't heard by a certain amount of time, I should send an inquiry to find out what happened to my query. Believe me, I'm going to do it. I'm ready for this to be over. The sooner I get my rejections, the sooner I can go forward with my life!

Other than that, nothing exciting to report. I need to start working on my ag articles, so I will do that in the next couple of days. Yeah.

Monday, April 26, 2010

We took the 3 year old to see How to Train Your Dragon yesterday. He was a little scared at first. We got there a little late, so the theater was dark and the previews were already playing. There were a TON of people there (I was very surprised, especially since the movie has been out for a while), and it was his first movie. In between the previews and the movie he tells me, "I want to go home!" Luckily, he warmed up and really enjoyed the movie. We really enjoyed the movie, too. It was very cute. We're hoping to take him to the next Shrek movie.

I watched the movie Tron last night. I haven't seen that movie in probably over 20 years. And there is a very good reason for it. Good corndog that movie is NOT very good. I had to watch it, though, so I know what's going on when the new one comes out. I really, really hope the new one is better!

Received another rejection today, but I was expecting this one. I sent an inquiry to find out the status of my partial, and she sent back a rejection. It is such a Catch-22 when it comes to queries. I know that the agents are busy, but if you don't give them a nudge, you might never hear from them. One of my friends has a partial with an agent, and he's had it for a year! A year! How does it take a year to read 30-50 pages? But then when you do nudge them, you annoy them, so they reject you outright. I'm getting really tired of this game. I'll update you tomorrow on the numbers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I was reading an article yesterday (or one of my social sites, I don't remember which!), and it was talking about a new book that is coming out. The publisher was listed, so I decided to check out their site (I always do this. I like to keep my options open for potential publishers). It was a very nice site with a lot of helpful information. I was kind of surprised at their submission page, though. It said that they accepted unsolicited submissions, but suggested that an agent would be the best route. They had another page that explained the correct way to query an agent, and the way it was worded made it sound like it was the simplest process in the world. It was very amusing, even though that wasn't the intention. If I had been a new writer, I probably would have read that and gotten excited. Ooo, this is all I have to do to query an agent? How simple! But, I'm a seasoned author hardened by a multitude of rejections. I didn't get excited, I scoffed. All in all, though, I think they are really trying to help writers out. Perhaps some day I will send them my query.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Does anyone else have this issue: if there is a computer around, you have to be on it? I do. It's very difficult for me to NOT be on the computer. I have to check my emails and my social sites, sometimes more than once in a short amount of time. If I'm not doing that, I'll play games on Facebook. I'm pretty sure I have a disease. It's a compulsion for me to be on the Internet. So, lately, I've been trying to break myself of the habit. It's a slow process.

I was hoping to feel better today, but my 3 year old didn't sleep for crap last night, so I reverted. I've been blowing my nose like it's going out of style, and I have a headache. I'm pretty sure I'll have to spend another night in front of the TV.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It has been a very lazy week this week. My kids decided to share their germs, so I've been sick. I'm feeling better now, but I didn't want to do a damn thing for the last couple of days. I've been spending my evenings on the couch getting caught up on my TV. It's been so nice. I figure I'll give myself a couple more days before I attempt to write something again.

I received another lovely rejection the other day. This agent said she really enjoyed my writing but they were booked with readings right now. She said that in 6 months if I haven't found an agent I could send my stuff and they would try to fit me in their schedule. It was a wonderful gesture.

I've been reading World War Z for our book club. It's very interesting. Max Brooks is the author who got me interested in zombie fiction in the first place (Romero got me interested in zombie films!). I read his Zombie Survival Guide, and that inspired me to write my zombie novel. I really enjoy his books. It is helping fuel my confidence to get my butt back to work. I'm a writer. I like to write. No matter how crappy I feel, that will never change. Just because they don't get published doesn't mean I'm going to stop. My head is too thick for that!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm having a crisis of writing. It's like a crisis of faith, but there aren't any gods involved. I keep starting new projects, but haven't finished any of them. Part of the reason is because there is going to be life-changing events occurring in the next couple of weeks and I have a lot on my mind. The other part of the reason is because I've lost my confidence.

Rejections in and of themselves don't bother me. They're part of the game. But after receiving so many over a length of time, they start to wear on you. Everyone always says that publishing is subjective, but after 49 (I received a rejection on Friday) agents telling you NO, you start to wonder if maybe it's you. You scrutinize your writing, wondering what you could have done better. You blame the market and think that any day now fiction will make a comeback. You think that maybe if you quit, no one will miss you anyway. You start getting a little depressed.

I went through the same thing with my first novel, and I'll bounce back, but I think I need to take a little time off.

On a completely unrelated note: I was watching Destination Truth last week, and I was so excited to see that Josh carries a machete! I always worried that he didn't have any protection against the REAL threats in the places he went, but now I know. I slept like a baby!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I was on agentquery.com yesterday gathering some information. As I was going through the list of agents, it hit me: I'm done. I have reached my saturation level of rejections. I looked back at my history of queries. I have been sending out letters for the past 7 months. In total, I have sent 64 queries. Granted, in the scheme of things, that might not be very many, but I just can't stomach it anymore. Here is a breakdown of the responses I've received.

28 agents said no
20 had no response, which is an implied no
12 I'm still waiting to hear from
4 have requested partials--I'm still waiting to hear from them, too

Normally in this stage of the game, I would take the story and revise it...AGAIN. But those agents who have declined it say that the story is fine, they just don't LOVE it, and they have to LOVE it to sell it. After I get my rejections from the other agents, I'll just put it away for a while. No sense in continuously beating the same dead horse (although, some days it makes me feel a lot better!)

Got some writing done last night. I'm almost finished with the first chapter of the story I'm writing for my boys. *Sigh* I'm glad I've almost accomplished something!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The spouse and I went to see Clash of the Titans this weekend. I loved it, but I also own the original version. The new one basically follows the same story, but they changed things a bit. We had to see it in 3D, but I don't recommend it. It was silly and pointless to put it in 3D. The movie would have been just fine if they left it in 2D (which, for some places, they did). I'm sure it will be wonderful on Bluray.

No writing yesterday. Spent the day getting caught up on other things. It was nice, though. This week should be a pretty quiet week. I'm not expecting to hear from any agents, and the other stuff has been rejected, so I'm going to bask in the silence...and enjoy it!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I got a little bit of writing done this weekend. Three pages, I think. That's pretty good considering my children were here and I was busy doing family stuff. Hopefully I can get some more done today, too.

I don't have any other news to report. Oh, wait. I received a rejection for two short stories yesterday (they go together, yet can stand alone). Got me thinking about how I can rework them, which I will probably do later. If I only had time to get everything done. I need one day, just one, where I have no distractions and I can just write. I need to figure out how to work that into my and my spouse's schedule.

I'm also trying to figure out how to get ahead on my articles, although I'm not really sure why I'm wasting my time. Maybe this will be the month, but don't hold your breath!

Friday, April 9, 2010

If I had the time (you know, no job, no kids), I would love to be a book reviewer. I would schedule my day around writing in the morning, reading in the afternoon, and having a writer's workshop in the evening. How cool would that be? I could surround myself with nothing but writing!

I received a lovely rejection from an agent yesterday. It was one of those "Nos" that you don't mind getting. Even though she passed on the project, she still had very nice things to say about it. I was flattered. I also sent an email to the agent who requested the rewrite to see if she had received my story (it has been three weeks so I just wanted to make sure--not that I expected her to have read it, heavens no), and I found out she had switched agencies. Of course, I only found out because her email address had changed, so I was a little weirded out. I had to find out when that happened. I know she's busy and is probably like, "I don't have time for this. Rejection!" but it's kind of an important transition. Especially since I just sent the new agency a query last week. How was I supposed to know she was working there? Hopefully she will understand (and answer my email!).

I finished my articles yesterday. Woo-hoo! And you didn't think I'd get them done. Oh, ye of little faith! I have also been working on another story, along with my dragon story. This is an homage to my children. Hopefully they will appreciate it when the get bigger (I know they'll like it when they are young, who doesn't like to hear a story with their name in it?). Not when they're teens, I'm sure, but later. I'll keep you informed of my progress!

UPDATE: I received word this afternoon from the agent who requested the rewrite. She decided to pass, but she is referring me to some other agents. I knew that she was going to say no, but I appreciate her effort in sending me to other agents. We shall see how it plays out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I woke up this morning to two inches of new snow. My spirits sank. I've lived here my entire life, you'd think I'd be used to the weather, but I'm not. I keep hoping spring is going to be here any day, and I keep getting disappointed. Makes it very hard to be motivated to do anything. Plus, it doesn't help that my children don't sleep at night. Well, not both my kids, just the 3 year old, who happens to wake up the 14 month old. I don't know what his problem is, but he has NEVER been one to sleep.

I would like to report that I've made progress on my book, but I haven't. I've been really tired and unmotivated, so I just stare at the computer, give up, and watch TV. I have part of the story worked out in my head, but that doesn't help. I need to be able to hook a computer up to my brain so I can "write" while I do other things. That would definitely streamline the process.

Still no word from agents or publishers. I've come to the conclusion that I'm obsessed with sending queries, though. I have a writer friend who sends queries in batches. She'll send out maybe 10 at a time, wait for rejections on half of them, then send out another 10. Me, I send them out when the mood strikes me. I try to batch them, but I find it tedious tailoring emails (or letters) to every agent, so I can only do two or three at a time. I'll send 10 in a month, but not in a batch. Most of the time, I don't even wait for a rejection before I send more out. I do keep track of them, though. I have a table that I made in Word. Very organized. Very exciting! Of course, in my response column, I'd like something more than red writing that says: "NO" and the date. Some day, some day. Although I doubt it'll be soon!

OK, I have to post something happy now. Betty always says that I post doom and gloom, so here were go. I received word from my promotions agency that I am booked to do five blogs this month. Woo-hoo! I will let you know when I'm up and where you can find me.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Phew! What a crazy weekend! We had a great Easter, though, so that was nice. The family went to a ranch that is about an hour drive, and we ate a TON of food! Afterwards, we got to go on a tour (it's a bison ranch so they have a little train that takes you around), and the boys got to feed the bison. The 3 year old thought it was the coolest thing ever! They were so well behaved, too. It was fabulous!

I got chapter 1 of my new story done. I think it's turning out a lot better. It's shorter than I would like, so I'll have to expand it later. I'm trying to get everything down right now, then I'll go back. Revision, revision, revision. My favorite!

I received a rejection on Friday. Other than that, still waiting to hear. I've been keeping busy so I'm not overly anxious about anything (for a change!). I've got deadlines looming and only one article done, so I have to get my butt in gear. You know how I said I was going to get ahead? Yeah, it didn't happen. I tried, but no one would answer my emails requesting information. Oh, well. Not much I can do about that!

Dang it! I just received an email that says the anthology I had two stories accepted in has been cut. I kind of wondered about that. I don't think they got the interest they were hoping for. Shoot! I'll have to shop those stories around...

Friday, April 2, 2010

I forgot to mention, I am a guest blogger on Cheeky Reads. You can check it out at:
http://cheekyreads.blogspot.com/
I'm hoping I sounded like I knew what I was talking about yesterday. Really, I have no clue what agents/publishers are looking for in a YA novel. I'm just hoping it's what I've written! Although, I do have my reservations about whether or not someone will pick me up. Remember, the market is pretty flimsy right now, and they have to ensure that the book is going to sell...a lot. Why else would they waste their time? I still have a feeling that a certain vampire novel might be influencing what publishers are looking for, and my novel is nowhere near that vein. Plus, I don't know how popular zombies are among the younger crowd.

I'm having a negative day today. I received a rejection from the agency that was on my radar. It doesn't upset me; I was kind of expecting it. They don't normally do horror, so when they requested to see some sample pages, I was very shocked. No, the real reason for being grumpy is the snow. We had almost gotten rid of it, then it dumped like 3 inches yesterday. Today, it's windy and miserable. *Sigh* Normally I don't mind winter; it's actually my favorite season. But this year, we've had numerous days below zero, and I hate that. I'm ready for spring. I'm ready to quit wearing my coat and hat. I'm ready for the boys to go outside and enjoy the sun. I'm ready to have a few minutes to myself while the boys are enjoying the weather to get some writing done!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I was reading an agent's blog the other day (http://pubrants.blogspot.com/) and she was talking about the things she learned at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. One of the things I found interesting was that YA is still a hot seller. This is good news for me since I just turned my zombie novel into a YA zombie novel, and it got me thinking about YA in general.

When the agent first suggested I turn my book into YA, I scoffed. I didn't think of myself as a YA writer; I'm much grittier than that (well, in my mind I am!). Plus, I didn't really know where to begin writing the genre. I read the stuff like mad when I was a YA (Christopher Pike was and still is one of my favorites), but when I got to college, I didn't have time for it anymore (and, honestly, I thought it was a bit beneath me. English major snob, you know!). I did a little bit of research, and basically everything I found said that YA is the same as adult novels, except the main characters are teens. Although they don't want to see excessive amounts, cussing, drug use, and sex is acceptable. I thought, hell, I can do that! Even though I had to restructure my characters' relationships, I think the book turned out pretty well. Granted, I'm still waiting for that hot contract...

I believe that there is a huge misconception about what should occur in a YA novel. I have a friend who is currently reading my new version of my novel, and his first comment was, "It's still kinda gory." But if you think about readership, 15-19 year olds, gory isn't that bad. How many of you had sleepovers and watched scary movies? It's kind of a rite of passage. Plus, I think back to Christopher Pike books, and they weren't necessarily light and fluffy. He dealt with teen deaths, pregnancy, and vampires. I specifically remember one of his books (though not the title) where the teens are killed one by one in gory fashion. The most memorable: a girl is filling her car with gas and smoking a cigarette and blows up. I think we sometimes forget that the teens we are writing for are going to turn into the adults we are. Teens do know how to make their own choices about what they like and what they want to read. There's a reason book stores are as large as they are: so everyone has a choice.