Have you been there? There’s a sign in the conference room (remember those?)that says when a meeting is over all chairs should be pushed in and clean the wipe board. Your boss finishes a meeting, you start to tidy up and he says, ‘leave it, we have the planning meeting to get to’. What just happened? A kid watches his father take two free samples of buffalo flavored peanuts, when the sign says, “one per family”. The star athlete, the star dancer, the star drummer, the star brainiac, the star, starts a conversation with, “did you see what that girl was wearing?” What is going on here? Someone down the line is faced with a choice. Will that employee heed the boss’ instructions to not make the effort to put the room in order? The boss said it’s okay, isn’t that enough? My dad is a good guy, if he says it’s no big deal to swipe two samples then it must be okay right? If my idol at school makes fun of the quirky kid, then I should laugh right? When leaders take the easy way, make excuses, they give license to all those below them. They confuse those who know the behavior is incongruent with the authority they represent. But how far does that license go? Only as far as the next person allows, chooses, hiding behind the fault of one higher and disclaiming their own choice in their shadow. Or, they prove themselves to be the true leader. The one who faces each crossroad without looking up but looking side to side. How will my actions impact those next to me, with me, far up the road from me. Explore that thought when developing your characters. A character can be the one who stands out, does it right, or the one who doesn’t and learns later the consequences and is inspired to change (this happens at least once to every parent) or goes on blithely unconcerned.
The sun in glorious orange pink, rises in my rear view mirror. I’m driving into darkness, with the promise of day, behind me. I know it’s there, but I must have courage, to go forward even though, I can’t see every pothole, every crack, the depth of the curve. Soon, one will pass the other, and while I think on this, the pink of light has spread, an arch, behind, to the sides, until light meets light, and the night is gone.
It is true, everything in my childhood is not pleasant to talk about but that is not the focus of this post. On the contrary, let me tell you about the joys of my childhood.
The joy of swimming for hours on end in the neighbor’s pool. They didn’t have any kids which makes sense since they were two men. They maintained that pool just for us. We pestered Mom into bringing us to the pool after working the night shift. She sat there baking in the sun, watching us. When our fingers were pickled by chlorine water and our lips turned blue, she had to make us landlubbers again though we thought we could turn into dolphins and swim away.
The joy of sleigh riding down the neighbor’s hill (different neighbor). Every kid in the neighborhood slid down that hill. A retired couple lived there. I have no idea if they cared or not. They never yelled at us. We would stay out until our feet were frost bit and could only warm up in cold water.
The joy of neighborhood games like the Little Rascals, no adults supervising, we organized and played with not one parent in sight. Buildings forts in the woods. Scrap lumber and sheets of siding were never hanging around for long because some kid was going to haul it off and create a fort. We used to spend all day building, ‘furnishing’ and then sitting in our forts. Wild strawberries from the field, and gooseberries, blackberries, apples, frost plums plucked from trees. Ice skating on the frozen pond a couple of miles away and yes, we walked there alone, as children and joined the mob of kids already there. Everyone knew if there was water in sight, don’t go on the ice, stay on the edge where the ice was white. No one died. Bushels of peaches that my mother bought from the farmer’s market and we could feast on as we liked, we liked them a lot! Can’t forget all things Christmas; decorating, Christmas songs blasting through the house, all the glittery, shiny decorations, the lights, the crafts at school (phone book angels that were spray painted gold!), Christmas Eve, stockings stuffed with goodies. Cookies, cookies, did I mention the cookies?
I could go on and on. With all this good, you would think I could say, I had a great childhood. But that’s not my story, only part of it and I’m deeply grateful for that part. So what’s the writing connection? Writers are always counseled to keep the action, conflict, tension and terror coming on in good measure. It makes for a page turner or what I like to call ‘a book devour’. Even so, in the midst of the trauma and constant impending doom, there needs to be some moments of good. A quick thought of love, enjoyment of a favorite food, cup of coffee, blue sky, something that gives character and reader an endorphin break. The key is to keep it short and sweet so it is only a pause in the momentum instead of a bunny snooze trail. Write on people!
Did you see the latest post on EnTylerywords.com? Click the link below and read who Tyler left behind.
Sent out a query letter yesterday. Have you ever done that? After months of relentless writing and editing, refining, cutting swaths of thousands of words, it all comes down to a one page letter. It is easy to do the actual submitting these days with e-forms and email but without having a referral from a conference and delete being as simple as pressing a picture of a trash can, the work and tension of preparing a query submission hardly seems worth it. Therein lies the dilemma. What’s the point of writing a novel, putting heart and soul in it if it doesn’t have the joy of lighting up on a Kindle Paper White or being bound in a book that cracks when you open it? As hard and hopeless as it is there is really no choice but to press on. The march to publication is fraught with trials and tribulations of the worst kind: doubt, weariness, despair, gym class inferiority, running on empty promises to myself, okay so maybe it’s not that terrible. There is the thrill of creating an adventure for characters, the satisfaction of editing and knowing its better with each draft, and really if you’re not a diehard optimist, you better give up now. I’m not giving up. I don’t expect this first query to result in a bite. Yes, I’m setting my expectations low to insulate against rejection but hey, I got the first letter out! Small steps, small rewards. I’ll take it.
This is not the first time I’ve sent out query letters but the first time for this novel that I think is highly marketable. Past experience has been that despite the ease of ‘delete’ all the queries I sent out came back with a polite, supportive response except the one that said no answer should be considered no interest.
Here’s my opening lines to my query for Kill Words :
Kill Words is a fiction, New Adult novel of 77K words that follows Maisey from her innocent action of blog chatting with Tyler Rowan to fighting off those who are ready to sell her naivety as a commodity.
Hi Everyone, just noting a milestone for this blog. In just about four months, fifty bloggers/people have become official followers of ClareGraith.com. I am thankful for each and every one of you. I appreciate also those of you who have chosen not to ‘follow’ but are loyal viewers and ‘likers’.
The blogging community is so diverse and creative, and I’m honored to be part of it and without followers, I would just be writing to myself!
I’m a numbers person. Not math, strings of numbers. It gives me pleasure when a number is assigned to a record by the system and it has order like, 828928, or if I look at the clock and it says:11:11. Don’t get me started on dates. Every month last year, the month plus 20/20 made me want to check a box. I don’t make much of this wacky joy. There are so many things to bring worry and anxiety, why look too deeply into something that puffs a little positivity my way? It’s easy though to get caught up in the numbers game with blogging. How many ‘likes’ on a post, how many followers, how many posts in a month? Keep it light, keep it fun, that’s what I say. I’m preparing a query letter for my current WIP and I really want to get it right. Writing query letters is as strenuous as writing beginnings of novels for me. I revise a thousand times and still go back and read it a week later and want to spit for how terrible it sounds. I can’t even get out of the gate with a few sentences that show case how great the story is if someone reads to at least page fifteen. I’ve tried cutting straight to page fifteen with marginal success. Anyway, off topic. Numbers. In my study on a better query I came across a chart of expected word count for the type of novel I’m pitching. This particular article said it should be 80-90K. Forget the query, I need another fifteen thousand words! If I don’t have the word count right, that could be the end of my query even if I manage to nail the three sentence summary. Adding fifteen thousand words does not make me sick, not at all. I’ve learned that if I carefully read through my story, I will find great big gaps that in my haste to get through to the next scene, I’ve summarized without realizing it. It’s happened so many times that even though I was sure I had the best final draft (before a professional editor gets ahold of it), there are pockets of story missing. Did Tyler and Maisey really just walk up to the car and boom someone came behind them with chloroform saturated clothes? So quick, so easy to get them in the clutches of their enemies. There’s a nugget of five thousand words to push in there. Now if I could just stop cutting words from the beginning, I might one day get it right!
Anyone notice yesterday’s wonderful date? 012121. So nice.