MOTIVATION TO MARKET

This past two weeks I have spent most of my time sitting in front of this computer. I have working on submitting manuscripts for publication. At the top of my agenda are three books I’d love to see published. Books that have been in the writing in various forms for many years—one is a biography of architect Mary Colter for middle school children, a picture book of Mary Colter for lower grades, and a chapter book telling the story of a young girl living on a farm during World War II.

All three of these books have been through several revisions and critiqued by my writing group and edited again. But I have let them sit quietly in my computer. Yes, I did send them out once or twice and received a rejection. No, I don’t like to receive rejections, but they don’t discourage me from writing. I’ve even received encouraging rejections, such as: “I love the story, but it is not right for us.”

How to find that one agent or editor who says, “I love the story, here’s a contract?”

Nothing submitted. Nothing published. I know this.
So this is my New Year’s resolution:
I will submit at least one story to an agent or editor every week.

Perhaps having written this for all to see, I will work to keep my resolution.

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BACK TO SCHOOL SALES

As a ten-year-old, a “Back to School Sale” excited me. It meant that school would soon be starting. I loved school. The first day of school meant a new dress, a pencil box with unsharpened pencils, a red square eraser, a six-inch ruler, possibly a image0compass for drawing circles, and a protractor for which I had no use, A new shiny lunch box, complete with thermos, was also a necessity in my view.  I looked forward to Labor Day and the beginning of a new school year.

All these necessities would often be purchased at a store in the nearby small village in upstate New York, or if Mom thought it necessary, Dad took us to Binghamton with its Montgomery Ward, Sears Roebuck, and big department stores. For me shopping in the city was  exciting. We would have lunch at Woolworth’s counter where the menu was displayed in bright pictures over the mirror facing the counter. This was a big deal.  My dad was a very patient man. He had little to do with our shopping. Instead, he leaned against the outside of the building and waited for the packages that he would trundle back to the truck while Mom and I continued shopping.

Now with the big box stores, and huge shopping centers that begin advertising “Back to School” sales the week school closes for the summer, I doubt that the signs have the same effect. Although my five-year-old grandson asked his mother when they going to buy the list of supplies that he brought home on the last day of school in June, my older grandson groaned at the thought of returning to school the first week of summer vacation.

Now sales signs and Labor Day seem to harbor the coming winter. I don’t find either exciting.

WHAT TO DO? REVISIONS!

I’m more than willing to revise my picture book. However…

I’ve now written a half dozen revisions. Some bits of each of them are pretty good, some are not so good, some may be awful, some may be just right. Figuring out how to choose those bits and eliminate the rest has become my dilemma.

This is what I’m going to try. I will put each revision in the same document, but each will have its own color. Then I will cut and paste bits of the different colored versions that are related to one another.

My hope is that when I see the opening page in all the different colors, I can meld the best words and phrases together.

Maybe it will work. May not. If not? Try again!

REVISE, REVISE, REVIS

REVISE, REVISE, REVISE

This morning a note from an editor gave me the news that she can’t accept my picture book of Mary Colter as it is. She recognized that I have done extensive research and closed with the hope that I will consider revising it.

I will definitely consider revision. Now comes the hard part. How to put another person’s life in a form that is interesting and helps you know that person. Colter wrote almost nothing about herself. Her correspondence dealt with her work as an architect. Some quotes about her from other people give us an insight into her personality. Her interests and personality also come through in her buildings. OK. Now I have those insights and personality traits into words –words that children will understand.

I’m thinking along the lines of buildings that tell stories. It will be a while before I try to commit this idea to paper, but I am making notes as I think of them.

When I am in a project , writing is an all-consuming task whether or not anything is put on paper.

WHAT IF?

This morning I asked my daughter, “What if I hadn’t said you couldn’t be a nurse when you were ten, because you fainted when having your finger pricked? Would you have become a nurse sooner?”

Her answer, “I don’t know.”

Her question, “What if you hadn’t told me I was adopted all my life, how would I have reacted when I was older and you told me? I might have been angry, but knowing, it was just part of life, I didn’t think about it.”

There have been so many times I could ask myself, “What if…?”

No one can answer the question. To spend time lamenting my choice is to deny my life as it is. My choices have given me life now. The question I need to answer is not what if, but what am I going to do with my life now?

I could mourn all the choices I didn’t make. What would that get me? A sad life.

I can look for opportunities to help someone have a better life, to learn something new, to understand another part of the world I live in, to write stories to share with children and adults.

The world is full of possibilities. I have no time for “what if.” I’m busy with “now.”

DADS AND DAUGHTERS

DAUGHTER AND DAD
DAUGHTER AND DAD

A Long, Long Summer is set in 1943. Jeanne is sent against her will to her uncle’s farm for the summer because her dad is a Navy doctor and her mother is working the swing shift. Jeanne worries about her father overseas. She struggles with her fears of animals and trying new things as she knows her father wants her to do. It is her father’s words from before joining the Navy that return to help her gain confidence in herself. It is Dad and Daughter bond.

The first week our adopted daughter (22 months) was part of our family, all was well. Her father, a pastor, was in and out of the house often during the day. Then came the day he had a day-long meeting an hour or more away. He had been gone for an hour or two, when our daughter said, “I go home now.” She’d decided her visit was over. For the next eight or nine hours she insisted, “I go home now,” pleading and crying. I, too, wanted to cry. Just before dinner, her daddy walked in the front door. All was well!

One night around the campfire he held her. When it was time for bed, she appeared to be sound to sleep, but as he stood to carry her to bed, she opened her eyes. “Fooled you, didn’t I?”

This special bond stayed intact the rest of her father’s life. They shared the same sense of humor and bad jokes, the joy of the preposterous, and understanding of one another.

This dad and daughter bond is one I experienced as a child, too. Where Dad went, I went. He never told me I couldn’t do something. Instead, he said, “I don’t think you can, but you can try.” He was usually right that I was not big or strong enough. One day I asked to back the tractor from the barn and nearly went over a high stone ramp. The first thing he said was, “Don’t tell your mother.” The second thing was, “Keep your foot off the clutch.” Third, “Get on the tractor.” Dad got on with me. I have never left my foot on the clutch again.

In my writing I want children to feel that bond between Jeanne and her father, even when they are separated by time and distance.

PATTY AND BROWNIE

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In my nearly finished novel, A Long, Long Summer, the children are surprised when a pony arrives on the farm. The novel is fiction but the setting and the pony were real in the Summer of 1943.

An excerpt:

Everyone watched Uncle John and the driver disappear into the dark truck. It seemed like a long time before they tugged and pulled the new cow down the ramp. Once she was off the truck, Uncle John led her into the barnyard where he untied the rope to let her go, and refastened the gate. Chum, now at Uncle John’s side, studied his new charge.
On the porch the children turned away when the driver said, “Where’s the other one go?”
What other one? Instantly, all eyes went back to the truck, but they couldn’t see inside it.
“We’ll put her in the barn,” Uncle John said.
The driver went into the truck and came out leading a black pony.
Sally stood unbelieving. “It’s a pony!”
“For us?” Johnny looked at his mother.
She nodded.
The pony was also reluctant to walk down the ramp, but Uncle John patted her head, took hold of the pony’s halter and led her slowly off the truck to the front of the barn.
The driver disappeared into the truck again. He came out and tossed a saddle and bridle onto the grass. He lifted the tailgate, slammed it closed, and locked it in place. He hopped into the driver’s seat and waved as he drove off.
The three children and Aunt Belle hurried down the bank. Uncle John led the pony back to the grass where she dropped her head a grab a mouthful of it.
Jeanne, fearing to get close, stayed back of everyone else.
Sally reached out to rub the pony’s forehead. Johnny patted its shoulder. Aunt Belle took a carrot from her pocket and offered it to her in the palm of her hand. Jeanne held her breath, sure the pony would bite Aunt Belle. Instead the pony took the carrot between her soft gray lips. She nodded her head as she chewed it up.

The picture is of my pony, Patty.
Many kids grow up wishing for a horse. Why? As I remember Patty, it was a bit of freedom to get on her back and have her respond to my commands–fun to trot or gallop across a field. Perhaps, it’s like the first time one gets to drive a car or any vehicle–a sense of being in charge.
As an adult, I had little chance to ride for many years. Then for a few years a close neighbor had Brownie. He was a stubborn animal and often had his own idea where he wanted to go. It took the same stubbornness to persuade him that in the saddle I was boss, and he was the horse.
I’d been well prepared. Patty had also been stubborn. She and I had that same conversation more than once. She would not go on the road.
My father hated to shoe her because as soon as he picked up one of her hind feet, she rested her body on his back. It wasn’t easy to hold her weight.
She would do anything for my mother, especially if rewarded with a licorice gumdrop, probably because my mother gave her daily attention. She grew to be an old lady on the farm.