novel critique group

Say, what dog?

Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve reached a milestone birthday. Many thanks to the well-wishers, card senders, and gift givers! As I mentioned on Twitter, Husband FINALLY got me a card – by himself – and he did well. The one he chose had a giggly, red octopus inside holding wine glasses. I don’t think octopuses drink though…

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Slightly before that, we got a new (geriatric) dog. Welcome to our home, Kobe!

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And no, I’m not a woman who is going to knit sweaters for her animals, but when Kobe was rescued, he came with a skin condition and they had shaved him. (Naked dogs are just as attractive as naked cats – hence pet sweaters and vests until his hair comes back.)

The search for an agent continues. In the absence of one, I’ve been tossing out ideas to my writer friends about which book to pursue next. I keep circling back to Lettie – and changing everything I’ve written so far. I was jotting down notes while I was trying to go to bed Tuesday night and I’m taking that as a good sign. While I’d love to sit down and just start with the rewrite, I’m holding back because of Niece’s wedding in Lincoln, New Hampshire, and my upcoming trip to Duncannon, PA.

I just glanced over at my calendar and I’m exhausted. There are so many things to do this month, including the West Falls-Colden Library book sale on the 21st. It’s my turn to host the novel critique group on the 24th. There are multiple appointments and meetings, too. What I’m saying is that the second post this month might be delayed by a week as I sort out all the thoughts, feelings, happenings, and events. (Yes, I do have the best problems.)

Oh, Nina and I went to see Viet Thanh Nguyen at Kleinhans on the 23rd and on the 20th of April, we’re slated to see Junot Diaz. I have to say I’ve enjoyed this experience so much. Many thanks to Nina for suggesting we get season tickets, Just Buffalo Literary Center for creating the Babel series and Barbara Cole for her knowledge, warmth, and grace as moderator.

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Fierce winds took down a tree yesterday and it missed the lawn tractor, so I’m grateful for that. A few other limbs came down so the spring cleanup we were planning to do became a little more daunting. Ah, the life of a homeowner near a creek in western New York…there’s always something to do!

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(And look forward to!)

Thanks for stopping by and for the read!

 

 

 

*These are my Creekside Reflections; yours should vary.

 

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Honey, I swear! The caviar was for research purposes only!

Yesterday was my turn to host the novel critique group. Spoiler alert: Early in Near Eden, New York, Pete brings caviar to Tara’s house to win over her cat. Anyways, at the previous novel critique meeting, Mary had said she hadn’t eaten caviar but thought it was salty and maybe the cat wouldn’t like it. Then, New Year’s Eve arrived and listening to NPR that morning, I heard Scott Simon interview Susan Stamberg. She described a dish called Caviar Pie. On the off chance they did, I asked a guy at Wegman’s if they sold caviar. They did, and some of it was reasonably priced.

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Obviously, not hosting the Christmas shindig created a groundswell of decorating and celebratory angst that needed to be expressed and I’m happy Gina Detwiler and Mary Akers made the drive to put up with it.

My cat didn’t like the caviar cold, but cleaned the stick that held 10 or so fish eggs later that night, just before I left to attend SGI’s French Honor Society induction ceremony. Valerie Brown was making crepes after, but I was quite full by then. When I got home, I received a call from my friend/line editor in California. He wants me to stop querying until we go over the book at least one more time. I don’t want to, though. I probably will, but I’m going to be pouty about it. I think Near Eden, New York is good, and he agreed, but he wants it even closer to perfection. He also hates my query letter because it makes it sound too much like a lighthearted story. I tried to convince him it’s just a romance. He says it’s so much more. I love fights like this and am so grateful these are the problems I have.

And, oh yeah, it’s official, I was duly sworn in and it was on Facebook so it has to be true. I’m a Board of Education Member! Photo courtesy of Colleen Mahoney and the Springville Journal.

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Thanks for stopping by!

*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.

 

Weather Dictation

In theory, I should be headed to Lockport for the novel critique group meeting at Mary’s house. The threat of 2-3 feet of lake effect snow negated that trip so I was able to get farther along in the Pete and Tara book.  I’m so close to the end and I’m excited—in a tempered way. I’m trying desperately to not think about the next steps. I’ve been editing as I go, so that isn’t the problem, it’s the thought of another round of that fun game I call “Agent Hunt.” Hell, I’m still waiting on responses from the last round for the last book…

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Prize for “First Christmas Card to Arrive” this year goes to a dear friend in Kentucky. Poor thing thinks she’s behind a letter to me. Sorry Natalie, that’s me. I’m the one who owes you two letters now. I’m sure I owe other people letters, too. I get caught up with writing and then assume that social media will fill in the gaps, but the people that I write to and write to me are often not on social media. I need to be better disciplined about such things. I think I’ve said that before. It sounds familiar somehow.

Remember to shop local! I stopped in at Herbs & Things last Saturday and found gifts for the few I’m buying for this year plus a gift for me at Kellie Shanley’s shop. I’m loving the scent diffuser I bought there—far more lovely and useful than a lava lamp.

All right, it’s short this time, but I do want to say that I am so ecstatic that the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts accepted “Meeting Notes”— one of the original Pete and Tara stories (which didn’t make it into the book but became the genesis for it). THANK YOU RANDALL BROWN!!!! In the funniest bit of irony, that story is set at a school board meeting and today, the questions that are going to be asked of the candidates at Monday’s board meeting arrived in my inbox this morning. I’m going to have to start writing historical fiction so things like this will stop occurring.

Thanks for stopping by!

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*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.

April flowers including my first hyacinths!

With the recent temperature fluctuations, I was happy to see a few of the daffodils managed to bloom.

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The hyacinths are getting there.

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As well as these roadside tulips.

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This afternoon, thundershowers are predicted, and since it’s April it finally sounds like the weather is on the right track. If the electric goes out, I’ll be catching up on my reading for r.kv.r.y. and Literary Orphans. Oh, the Audrey issue of LO dropped yesterday if you’re looking for amazing writing to peruse, plus there’s an excellent interview by Sanjeev Sethi with Scott Waldyn at The Review Review.

Most of my writing is out. On the Submittable queue, I have 21 listings and 14 of them are marked as “in-progress.” Waiting is such a drag, so I’ll be doing Pilates after I post this. I also need to write more pages in “Dreaming Lettie” to send to the novel critique group. We had been on hiatus and I’m glad that’s over. The support is amazing and I always come away from our meetings energized.

After my “physical” yesterday, I’m convinced our “nurse practioner” is doing drugs. Either that or she’s completely inept. I need to start looking for a new doctor before she kills Husband and me, but I hate searching for doctors. We had the best one ~ Dr. Chow ~ but he left to do research. We finally found another adequate provider, but he moved. Since then, we signed up for another doctor, yet neither one of us has actually seen her – just this “nurse practioner” person. I suppose it’s my own fault for having an appointment after 4:20 on 4/20.

Anyway! I’m looking forward to the weekend. Friday is another meeting of the Hamburg Writer’s Group at the Comfort Zone. Saturday, I’ll be doing my shift at the West Falls-Colden Community Library and then Husband and I are going to travel to see awesome Niece from Boston for at least a few hours. Sunday, it’s an early mad dash home to attend the Taste of the Southtowns, so if you see me at any of those places, say hi – and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

(*These are merely my own Creekside Reflections. If you were here, I’d expect you to see things differently.)

Swift-Tuttle, Tuttle’s and a frog

Last night, I stretched out on the ground and watched the sky for half an hour or so and saw at least ten falling stars–one with a trail that remained for a second or two, and I was grateful. It was supposed to be the peak of the Swift-Tuttle meteoroids and uncharacteristically, we had a new moon and there were no clouds so I could actually see them. I thought about people who are no longer on the earth and some that still are, the beauty of the stars themselves, and distant planets.

It was nice to think of things that didn’t involve characters.

I’ve been engaged in the rewrite of L&C. Once inside Gail’s “head” I’ve found it hard to get out. I need to get through this revision and on to Lettie’s POV in the new book. I only managed five pages in the new book over the last month, so I sent the first 20 of the revision to the novel critique group this month.

“Prudence,” a story I wrote is long-listed on MASH stories and you can vote on it–and the other 46 stories there.

Literary Orphans got a fantastic shout out as being listed as one of the top 20 places for flash fiction (We’re No. 8! We’re No. 8!) Plus another one in Ploughshares. Scott gave me the go ahead to contact Karen Stefano about doing an interview, so I’m ecstatic about that. Over at r.kv.r.y. I spotted Andrew Stancek’s story long-listed on the Raymond Carver Story Contest and Joan Hanna’s poetry book The Miracle of Mercury is available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press. Go Joan! I love and appreciate working with such talented people.

Over the weekend, Husband and I attended a graduation party. He played croquet; I played volleyball. We had a great time at the Tuttle’s. It was great to see Jim and Julie, Mitzi and Paul, and Eric and Denise again. When we first got there, Jim introduced me as an award-winning author. I looked at him and he said, “Try and deny it.” It’s kind of cool that I couldn’t. The Gover Prize win was too fresh.

Husband and I are back on a District School Facilities Review Committee. The first meeting was last night. Oh, how I have not missed a few of those people, but it was great to see Joan and Linda again. There was a cute exchange with the Interim Superintendent where we were impressed with the other–she that I could write and me that she taught math.

This is a close-up of one of the frogs in my frog pond. He’s very loud.

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I guess that’s it, like I said, I’ve been in Gail’s head. I’m over the halfway mark, so wish me luck in getting it done this weekend.

Thanks for checking in!

(These are my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Critiquing, reading, and the first snow

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Husband is driving me insane at the moment. I went to my novel critique group tonight and by the time I got home, he either developed a urinary tract infection or some man peeing problem. If that’s too much for you, imagine how I feel. I can’t do a thing to help him and I’m annoyed. I thought I’d have a few minutes to look over the notes from tonight and let them inform my re-write and/or my next twenty pages I need to have sent to the group by the 17th of December. Instead, he’s up, down, in the bathroom, drinking water…poor thing. 

So, other than that…I’m behind in my NaNoWriMo word count, hence writing this blog post the night before I post it. With a bit of luck, I’ll be able to get up early tomorrow and write enough words to get where I need to be if I’m going to “win” this thing.

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Oh good, Husband listened to me, put a bathrobe on and that “fixed” his problem. Marriage is an interesting concept. I can’t imagine what he’d write about me if he had a blog. Probably how I am the bitch who brings in wood, keeps the fire going, the dishes washed, the laundry taken care of, meals prepared. Yeah. It’s worth noting that he is the most awesome guy and he fixes all the broken appliances, cleans the chimney, builds me things, plows the driveway. We take care of each other out of love, concern, and respect. 

But some days…I bet we’re both ready to kill each other and make it look like an “accident.”

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I got slammed with three rejections on Monday, by mail, email, and Submittable, oh yeah. Trifecta from hell. My reaction? I sent out four submissions on Wednesday and I plan to get out another four by the end of Thursday. *Sigh.*

Being a writer is a crazy. It’s gumption and sauce, talent and desire, and in the end so sad. I mean it is insane that some critically acclaimed writers had success but ended up offing themselves while mediocre ones are eating up people’s time and money. I know it’s always been this way, but as I get closer to being a “product,” the more I wonder about the parameters and which one I want to be…loved while I’m here or after I’m gone.

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Yes, I do love the problems I have. And where I live.

Thanks for checking in.

 

(These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experiences may vary)   

Happiness is a Warm Pen

Or laptop. So, hello. I just reached 12125 words in NaNoWriMo this morning. Last night I was working on a synopsis for the novel I wrote during NaNo 2010. I’ve since rewritten it and polished it and it’s been seen by so many first readers–all of whom I appreciate for their help: Chyo, Natalie Condor, Betty Brown, Teresa Tucker, Shirley Reeves, Jim Wood, and Dr. Scott Greene. Each one of you has helped me get the manuscript to here–where an Agent has requested to see thefifty pages. I’m so excited! THANK YOU ALL!!!

And if my mind has forgotten a reader, please let me know so I can add you. All I’ve been doing is reading and writing lately, so it’s possible I’ve forgotten someone. I was asked to join a novel critique group and as I’m joining later in the process, I had eighty pages of their work to read before they sent the new 20 pages for critiquing. Yeah, that’s quite a few words to cover in addition to the stories that have been submitted to r.kv.r.y.

Never before has “writing is my life” been more true. I’m off to post this then talk to Chyo about tweaking the synopsis to Ellie’s Elephants. Then I’ll reread the first fifty pages, print it out and tonight, my Aunt is in Hawaii for a Sweet Adeline’s competition that’s being broadcast at 11:55 p.m. Tomorrow night is Jeff Schober’s book launch at Danny’s South for Boneshaker and Saturday is my normal shift at the West Falls-Colden Community Library.

I am immersed in literature and I love it.

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(These are just my Creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)