Saturday, July 19, 2014

Naamah



This is Naamah. We met in Jerusalem, where she worked in our hotel. Each morning, I looked for her. She'd fill my coffee cup and I'd say thank you in Arabic. She would help me with my pronunciation. It sounds something like "shoo-kron." Then she would say you're welcome and help me repeat her word. That one sounds like "af-wan."

This is all we said to each other. Thank you. You're welcome.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Currently: Poppies in July



Current Books: I'm reading The Group by Mary McCarthy. It's just the pace I need right now. Everything in me is speeding in circles and it is a nice walk through the lives of a group of young women in the 30s. I recently finished Feathers, What Happens Next, and Harmless. All were good reads.

Current Playlist: Fighting for Nothing by Meg & Dia, Sleep to Dream by Fiona Apple, Criminal by Fiona Apple, and comedy on Pandora.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Spending WAY too much time refreshing my email.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The No Connection Rejection



This is a hard one for writers. We feel like we were so close. The agent/editor liked our book enough to keep reading, but then rejects us for a lack of "connection." It used to drive me crazy.

Now I get it.

I think a lot about agents, researching them and deciding who I want to query. I know they receive a ton of queries daily, and I try to put myself in their shoes. I try to imagine reading all of those pitches and selecting what interests me.

That made me think of all the times I've gone to the library or book store, wanting something new to read but not knowing exactly what. I pick up books, reading the back cover or the inside flap. I scan a lot of blurbs, reshelving book after book after book. Later, someone may suggest one of those same books and I may fall in love with it. But, based on the blurb, I'm not hooked, so I put it back. It's really hard to know a book based on a pitch. After a while, even the most unique concept can fade into the sludge of stories.

I think about all the books I read. I might rate a book 5-stars and never think about it again. It was good, but I didn't feel the need to call my friends and tell them to read it. I didn't rave all over Twitter about its amazingness. It was a good book. The end.

That's what an agent means when he or she doesn't connect.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Query Grade: D



I've returned to the world of querying agents. In an effort to prove to myself just how far I have come, I sorted through queries from previous projects. First, there was that way-too-autobiographical book about a girl named Jane. I sent it out when Haydn was a toddler. The flat-out rejection of it discouraged me from fiction for a long time. In hindsight, the query was awful. I haven't looked at the book again. Maybe it's savable. The book itself was never read by any agent because my query was too terrible to get their attention.

Then came Sanna of Sarai, a book I wrote as a gift for my stepdaughter. Please tell me, someone, why I thought an entire page of me explaining WHY I wrote the book would make anyone want to read it? It did get one request, so some agent had pity on me. I'm pretty sure I can publish that little kids' book one day, after some revision. However, for the sake of learning, I'm going to show you that query. The second draft of that query, not the one that goes into minute detail about my stepdaughter and why I wrote her a book for her birthday. Oy.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Little Girls and Grown Up Girls and Me

Another wedding weekend. These are a few of my girls, all grown up. One of my favorite parts of being married to a youth minister? I get to watch girls grow into women and know I sometimes play a tiny part in who they become. It's both ego-boosting and incredibly humbling.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Currently: the month of June trembled like a butterfly

Current Books: I have been working through a writing book by Jessica Bell, alongside Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (a reread). I'm finally reading The Alchemyst, about Nic Flamel. I recently finished Harmless by Dana Reinhardt. In the car, the boys and I are listening to Loser by Jerry Spinelli and I have Melissa Joan Hart's memoir playing off and on.

Current Playlist: I downloaded the Regina Spektor song from the opening of Orange is the New Black. I also keep returning to "Fighting for Nothing" by Meg & Dia.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Staying at a friend's house for multiple nights when I really need to be finishing up some school stuff with the kiddos.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Beautiful

In honor of Mandy and Will tying the knot today, I'm posting the poem I wrote for them. And a photo of Mandy and me, snapped at her rehearsal dinner.

I've known both Mandy and Will since they were in high school.  I'm amazed by them. They bless each other and bring joy. Having walked alongside Mandy through some heavy stuff, I know Will is good for her, because he makes her shine. He brought a lightness to her spirit that has been absent in previous relationships.

I love you two.

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