Saturday, July 19, 2014


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.

But always with big smiles.

Naamah has joy in her heart and it spills out of her face. When she wasn't there, I felt pouty. I wanted to bring her home with me.

It was impossible to be unhappy when Naamah was present.

On our last morning, I asked her to take a photo with me. Naamah tried to take the camera. She thought I was asking her to snap a photo for me and my husband. In hand motions and bits of language, we explained, and there was that smile, that gorgeous smile on her face.

I woke this morning with Naamah on my heart. She is one of many beautiful souls we met on our journey through Israel/Palestine.

My heart is breaking.

The only way I truly felt I could show you the pain I feel for the Middle East was to show you the joy I felt when I was there.

And Naamah is the best picture of joy I can ever share with you.

*Incidentally, the name Naamah means "pleasant, sweet, delightful, beautiful."

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.

Current Colors: Bright summer shades.

Current Food: I eat Taco Bell when I'm stressed. It's a problem.

Current Drink: Yeah, so, Taco Bell now carries apple soda, which I am addicted to. I used to buy it at my favorite Texaco, but that Texaco was demolished by the tornado. So... Taco Bell again. Don't judge me.

Current Favorite Favorite: I made a new writer friend on a forum and some new writer friends via Twitter, and they make me feel less crazy, so they are my favorite favorites this month.

Current Wishlist: A certain Kate Spade bag (it's on clearance even), a certain kind of email or phone call to happen, Haydn's school schedule to arrive and not be a hassle I need to fix.

Current Needs: We are well cared for at Casa Truett. Haydn gets braces next week, so I could use prayer for surviving the whining that will ensue.

Current Triumph: Jumping back on the metaphorical horse.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: My own impatience and self-doubt.

Current Indulgence: Too much time online.

Current Mood: Mostly good. A bit stressed, but so much better than this time last week.

Current Outfit: Lucky jeans, green fitted tee, lemon Jamberry wraps on my fingers and galaxy wraps on my toes.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband, as always. Y'all, I was able to do some revisions in two weeks because he is so supportive. Not every man can deal with his wife locking herself in the bedroom with a laptop and the house falling apart at the seams.

Current Quote“On her way back, she scoops up forgiveness like a bouquet, sniffs it deep and arranges it in a vase. She sets forgiveness down, shining in the middle of everything.” 
― Colleen ClaytonWhat Happens Next

Current Link: I'm on the Middle Places blog today, talking about bathing suit shopping.

Current Photo:

Title taken from a Sylvia Plath poem

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.

And I'm okay with that. I am, actually, thankful for their honesty. Years ago, I wanted an agent so desperately; I didn't understand this. Now, I know having an agent isn't the answer to all my struggles.

Having the right agent matters.

For my first novel, Tornado Year, the agent I signed with WAS the right agent. He was wonderful, and he loved my book. He loved it as much as I did. That was evident in our conversations. He championed me. And because he loved my book, it was easy to accept his criticism and editorial advice. We were on the same page.

I want that for this book.

I want an agent who reads my book and then calls all their friends. I want them to rave about it on Twitter. I want an agent who loves my book as much as I have loved A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, What Happens Next, The Girl with Glass Feet, and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and so many others.

Don't get me wrong, the No Connection Rejection isn't fun to receive. No rejection ever will be. But I get it now, and that makes things just the tiniest bit easier.

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