Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week 8 2015 Journal Challenge: Why I wrote Poetry

Baring my soul is one of the hardest things for me to do.

Out loud.

I prefer writing over speaking.  I'd rather write an e-mail/ text or a letter than talk on the phone or in person.

Instead of talking to someone about how I feel, I'll write it instead- I've always been that way.  Poetry used to be my main mode of expression.  I wrote a lot of poetry for about ten years or so as a way to pour my heart out when it ached.  Many of those poems were written for the woman out there somewhere I knew I'd fall in love with, and would fall in love with me.

During my time of writing poetry, I never showed 95% of them to anyone.  Even those I dated, I never shared my poetry with them.  They were no worthy.

Except Jane.

For Jane, I not only shared them, I wrote them into one journal and gave them to her as a gift.  I always thought I'd add to it for her, but I never have (yet).

Writing the kind of poetry I did was my broken heart bleeding onto paper.

Jane was my band-aid.

I didn't know any other way to write poetry, so I stopped writing it.  For a good reason.  Jane's love mended my heart.

I won a poetry/photo contest a few years ago.

This was one of those poems I wrote for Jane before I ever met her.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gut reaction...then reality

I know rejections are part of the game.  I expect to get so many more rejections before getting a 'Yes.'  I don't want to, but I know they'll come.  Just like I know that 'Yes' will come.

But this story is one that I think/thought/think will bring that, 'Yes!'

But not after the latest rejection.  After reading it, my stomach turned.  I felt like I wasted the agent's time.  I felt like I'd been wasting my own time over the past year.  I wanted to give up, to never write a picturebook manuscript again; t.o go back to writing fantasy and self-publishing.  There was no way the story was that bad.

That gut reaction to the rejection was that bad.  I feel it in my stomach again as I write this.

Then reality set in.  I read it to my wife and talked about it.

There were some VERY positive things said about the MS.

The negatives?  They weren't pot shots, but VERY constructive criticism.  This was definitely NOT a form letter.  I now feel like I got a professional critique, because that's what it was.  This agent rejected my MS, BUT, I got me some excellent advice from an insider.

I am waiting to hear from eight more agents on this story (you can read about my agent research here).

So, what do I do?

I take some advice I read here (seriously, read the post on that I plan on following once I get all the responses:

Sort through them all, look for common responses, and revise the story from there. 

Of course, I want one of them to say 'Yes' and follow along with their suggestions, but if not, I have a plan.

How about you?  Have you gotten a rejection that left an immediate gut reaction like mine?  What did you do?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Researching for your work

I'm writing this post having very little knowledge of how writers "do research", but I'm not going to let that stop me.

There's a story in our family about a relative's best friend and her life in WWI.  Without giving too much away, it's a romance set in France, back to America, then tragedy striking in France in WWII.  It's a story I've only heard once, but really struck a cord.  I have a WWI service medal from her husband that I made a shadow box for to honor him, and all veterans, really.

Yesterday, it hit me: it needs to be told.

I've not read a lot at all in this genre (WWI/II and romance) but I'm excited about the prospect of doing the research and attempting this challenge.

This story wants to be written.

It's a definite LOOOOONG term project that is going to take a lot of patience on my part.  I'm going to start off with reading.  I already have a couple books in mind, but I'll be looking for more material to consume over the next year+

I also plan on including museum stops, and interviews with family familiar with the story for any tidbits of information I can gleam.  Once I get more information from them, it'll be back to researching the specific town and what was going on around this town in WWI and WWII.

Even writing this down, putting it out there is exciting!  Nerve wracking, but exciting!

Have you ever done major research for a book?  Do you have any tips?

I've only done a bit here and there, but nothing that took more than an hour, let alone a year or more!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

50 Things That Make me Happy: Week 6

This week's prompt is a simple one: a list of 50 things that make you happy!

  1. M playing soccer
  2. Hearing C play the trumpet
  3. The warmth that emanates from my wife
  4. Coffee
  5. My Tinkerbell mugs
  6. This journal
  7. Writing
  8. A finished manuscript
  9. The Walking Dead (premier tonight!)
  10. Kona snuggled up on my lap
  11. My kids playing
  12. My kids playing together
  13. A clean house
  14. Finishing a ride on the rollers
  15. The Drizzt series by RA Salvatore
  16. Seeing that there is a new podcast to listen to
  17. A good song to sing out loud to!
  18. My Fiat
  19. Traveling
  20. The warmth of the sun
  21. Thinking about running on the trails
  22. A fire in the fireplace
  23. Reading on the grass (ummm...when it's warm)
  24. Getting my head scratched
  25. Sending out a query (but I hate waiting!!!)
  26. Seeing my book in a bookstore
  27. Seeing someone reading my book
  28. Beer and fries for dinner at the Phils game
  29. My mug at the Fleetwood Grille (yes, I have a numbered mug at a bar)
  30. Slightly steamed broccoli
  31. Thumper
  32. The Toy Story Mania ride at Disney
  33. The smell of fresh cut grass
  34. Sea Isle City
  35. Disney
  36. A new book
  37. The recliners at the movie theater
  38. Watching the Eagles
  39. Paris- Roubaix (Spring Classic bike race)
  40. Good family stories
  41. Going to a coffee chop
  42. Going to a bookstore
  43. Going to a USED bookstore
  44. Pens
  45. Sharpie pens and fine point markers
  46. When things click for my students
  47. Grapes
  48. A hot bowl of homemade vegan chili
  49. Clif bars!
  50. Clif mocha gel shots
  51. My La Sportiva Crosslites (trail running shoes- I gotta get my knee able to run!!!)
That's your challenge for this week!  Make a list of 50 (or more) things that make you happy!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Not many people know: 2015 Journal Challenge Week 5

January 31st, 2015, Saturday

What is something not many people know about you?

Well, I fenced in high school (epee), played rugby in college for Kutztown University, did some duathlons (4th place top finish), a few dozen bike races (5th place top finish), a few triathlons (1st in AG top finish), and some running races (5k-50k and 3rd place top finish).  But, if you read my now defunct running blog, you would know those things already.

2010: We were so happy to see Thumper!
Within all those accomplishments, you'd think there were some deep secrets not many people know...and there are.  However, this does not come from there.

What is it?

I have a love for stuffed animals.

Yes, you heard that right!  I really do and I don't know where it began.  I can only think of two that I had growing up- a stuffed Garfield, and a little stuffed dog.  Maybe it came to life when we were building our son's nursery back in 2003-4.  We did a jungle theme and I went to the store without telling jane where I was going.  I ended up at Toys-R-Us and bought several stuffed animals!  An elephant, a jaguar, a tiger (named Hobbes that we still have), a lion and a few monkeys, and possibly even more...I (we) used to play with them often!

But before then, early in our relationship, Jane bought me a Thumper as  joke.  We fought over possession of that rabbit often.  It even led to our possibly greatest Disney moment ever: meeting Thumper!  Even now, I torture our cat, my kids, and my wife with them.  Even my students at school.

Can't Touch This
As I write this, I've got Runner, the black footed Beanie Baby ferret, staring at me from a bookshelf, and Thumper perched on a window sill by our bed.  We've got Wolfie, a wolf puppet, Genghis Khan, a ferret, and my kids have several big eyed Beanie Baby animals around the house (mostly cats) for a constant source of entertainment.  Stupid is probably the best source of laughter, with watching my daughter play poker with them a close 2nd.  I also have a shark Beanie at my desk and another small one I was given by Jane because it reminded her of a character in a PB MS that I hoe to get published someday.

So that's it.
I.  Love.  Stuffed animals.

What's something that not many people know about you?