Liverpool FC vs My Book

LiverpoolFCI have two weaknesses. Gummy bears and Liverpool FC. The worst the gummy bears do is expand my aging waist. I can live with that and I can keep writing. In fact, the sugary goodness of the little bears can push me through hard endeavors like a query or a synopsis. Oh how I despise writing a synopsis.

LiverpoolWomenLiverpool FC, however, can distract me to the point that my book languishes in the background. How I wish they had a proper women’s team when I was coming along. I would have left school to play for them. How I envy these young women.

For years and years and then some more years, for the greater part of my life, Liverpool has not performed so well. It is only recently that Liverpool has begun to show its fans hope. I do believe that this winning streak that Liverpool is on is why I will be querying a book in early 2019.  Although, short of my obsession, perhaps the book would have been ready last summer. Ah well. It is what it is.

LFCLogoIn years past, when they would lose, I would languish for days. It was so heartbreaking. Now, I get that way if they draw, but as long as they keep winning, my writing will flourish. The bit where my characters keep earning the names of various Liverpool players, well, that is not something I can control. Obsession being what it is. I love that football club. So if you know any Liverpool players or staff, tell them to keep winning. My writing career depends on it.

In fact, if Liverpool wins the Premiere League, I will tattoo their logo onto my back on the right- in a great place of honor next to my Tolkien tat.

Pug Corner – Query Workshop

img_1304Frankie thinks the writer might be broken. It’s probably because of that stupid cat in the story she keeps reading to Frankie. If the writer would simply kill the cat, everything would be back on track and Frankie could be lazy again. As it now stands, the writer has spent a week crying about something called a query.

Ok, Frankie understands. Point me to the query and the pug will beat it up so that the writer can relax again. This simply must stop. The writer thinks the query is as a bad as a cat and has employed a “workshop” to fix it.img_1306

The Liverpool game is over and the writer’s team won. The workshop is over, but the writer still cries and bleats. There are a lot more of these games with the ball and the humans kicking the ball around to watch.

Humans do not know how to play with a ball, not at all. And yet, the writer has abandoned the couch and is back at her desk. The workshop is over, the writer said. Frankie does not understand any of this.

img_1309The writer says there is not any more time left to be lazy. What is wrong with her? It is raining. It is cold. The writer is here with Frankie. She should get on the couch and get with the program. Not all this gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.

Frankie is pretty sure that the writer’s query was not so bad that the writer will be hated by everyone.  The writer says her hopes and dreams are riding on this query. That’s plain silly. She has a pug. And if the query is that bad, Frankie will make it better. Everyone loves a pug. And they will love the writer because she is Frankie’s human. And now Frankie is exhausted and requires a nap. Until next time.



Cups of Coffee – Do Not Disturb

img_1163Sorry, I can’t talk, blog, chat, or do anything right now. I am coffee deprived and 395 pages of line edits away from final read through before hitting the query trenches. Leave me be. Go away. It is not safe to be near me. I am sort of freaking out. What if I never finish this thing? What if everybody hates me?

Well, I guess that would be the same old, same old…



Cups of Coffee on the Edge

img_1162Today I sip coffee from the cup I got when my daughter and I visited The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, South Carolina right before she flew the coop and moved to New York.

The cup is teetering on the edge of oblivion just like my current book. I am doing line edits now, a last round of them, and it is going so sloooooowwww.  Reign rain rein – which one has to do with pulling a horse back? Ugh! Can imperial be used instead of draconian?

Coffee is not doing its job. I best not break the cup. It has sentimental value as much as anything does to me. Taking another sip. It’s after 5 PM. Shouldn’t I be changing over to tea? Ah well, so my esteemed colleagues at work will have to get on without heads tomorrow. Best press onward. There’s no going back now.

I wish I could go back to the Grove Park Inn. My daughter and I had a lovely time at the spa, but I have already recounted those adventures in this past blog post, Clothing Optional

Angels and Demons – Lucifer

TheDevilMadeMeDoItMost find Lucifer’s story to be the most compelling in angel and demon lore. He rebelled against God (stupid) and for his trouble, he and a third of the angels were expelled from Heaven. Oops.

When I was about seven, my dad gave me a t-shirt that read “The Devil Made Me Do It”.  I thought it was a funny sort of thing because no one could make me do anything. Not even the devil. I misbehaved often because being good seemed intolerably boring when it involved sitting down and asking no questions. A time or two at school, when in trouble, I would tell Sister Mary Margaret, “It wasn’t me. It was the devil.” It went over like a ton of bricks.

LuciferFallI once read that an angel is pure love, even a fallen angel like Lucifer. The Light Bearer, once the most beautiful of all the angels or so the poets have us believe, was cast from Heaven and scattered into a billion pieces. Nothing can put him back together so here is a thing of great love utterly broken. Isn’t that what we all are? Broken creatures of great love?

I don’t think we would recognize the devil if we met him in the street. Like Simon in “Lord of the Flies”, I worry that maybe he is just us. And that’s a terrifying thought. Lucifer_GaimenAlthough, the idea that we are cosmic puppets whose strings are being pulled by divine and demonic beings we can’t see is even scarier.

I wish Neil Gaiman had the right of it. Angels and demons are charming English people and quite fun to have tea with. His version of Lucifer is far more palpable than the force that spilled its guts and corrupted all of creation.

I suspect Tolkien hit closer to the truth with his Sauron, a force of absolute power and oppression. Yes, that seems more likely than a nightclub owning playboy in LA.  And seems the devil is alive and well and wreaking havoc in this world we must share, dividing us, scattering us like leaves in winter.

Angels and Demons – Gabriel

GabrielAs a small child, there was a tiny picture at my bedside of the angel Gabriel speaking to the Virgin Mary. This was very early in my life before I knew or thought much about angels. I knew Gabriel because of my Catholic upbringing. And Michael. If felt like the majority of little boys I knew were named for him, and not a one of them seemed much like an angel to me.

It was in this very innocent time, I had my first dream of angels. Perhaps, it was more of a night terror. It had to be the early 70s, perhaps 1975 at the time. If I cared, I could research the old microfiche of the local newspaper to find the exact date of this nightmare/dream/vision – whatever it was.

I woke in the middle of the night to one of those heavy rain storms that come in the summer in the South. I was frightened so I went to turn on my night light, but the power was out. I hated being alone in the dark and for whatever reason, the dog was not sleeping with me that night. I would have been fine if the dog had been there.

So I wondered out into the hall, intent on finding my parents, but outside the door of my room, there was nothing. The hall was gone. The bathroom was gone, and the door to the front of the house was gone. It was only darkness so I retreated back into my room.

EeyoreI thought, perhaps, my parents had gone to visit their friends. They did that sometimes. So I crawled out my front window into the rain in my Eeyore nightshirt holding my picture of Gabriel in my little hand.

I ran down our hill to the street and followed it to the corner. I turned and left my quiet neighborhood, well out of bounds from where I was allowed to wander. I found the main road utterly deserted. No traffic lights (I do not think there were any back in that time), no cars, no street lights, no house lights. Just a dark-paved road with a yellow line running down its middle and rain. Loads of rain. I was lost alone in the dark. And the wet. And I was getting cold.

I turned and could see nothing. For a terrifying moment, I believed I had been struck blind or something. I wanted to go home and a voice cried out.

“Run and hide, little one.”

A light shone from the picture I held in my hand. I suppose that is when I woke up. My mother was in my room as the first light of dawn came through my open window. She was cursing that I had knocked out the screen again. I did that a lot. It was much later before I really saw much difference between doors and windows. My mother fussed at me as she packed a bag, sometimes sniffing a shirt that I failed to throw in the laundry closet, giving me the “when will you ever learn” glare.

“You and your brother are going to stay with your grandmother,” she said.


“Your father and I are taking a little trip. Don’t worry. It will be fine.”

I heard a siren outside. It caused my mother to jump and me to run to the window. Children so love flashing lights, and there were two police cars, sirens blaring, blue lights spinning, racing down our little country street.  I looked to my mother for an explanation, but her attention was elsewhere.

“Child, you’ve removed Gabriel from his frame again.” My mother was very angry about that. I made her angry a lot. “Why do you do that?”

“To keep me safe,” I told my mother in a small voice.

It would be years later before I learned why the police had been racing down our street and why my brother and I had been banished to my grandparents that summer. Two doors down from us, two men broke into the house, robbed it, stole the car, and murdered everyone inside; the mother, the father, and their two children. Children I had played with. Little children.

For years, my parents told me the family had moved away while we were staying with my grandparents. They would say little else. I do wonder, now, looking back. Did Gabriel keep me safe that night? The bad men could have chosen any house they wished.

Back then, we did not often lock our doors.

A Yokel in QOTKU’s Court #WD17

So day 2 in New York is day 1 of the Writer’s Digest Conference 2017. The thing I am most looking forward to at the crack of dawn, after bidding my daughter a good day on set, is meeting my queen, Janet Reid.

I make my entrance to the first real day of the conference with an over-priced cup of coffee. Turns out I could have gotten it for free but who knew? The first session I attended was “Pitch Perfect” because as I mentioned in the last post, even though pitching is a tool of the devil, I was doing it.

I had no idea how to pitch my weird-ass fantasy novel. The best I had that morning was Paradise Lost meets Robin Hobb. I would figure it out later, maybe five minutes before walking in the pitch room. I still have beta readers to meander through so I wasn’t worried. I wanted mostly to avoid any terrible pit falls like “don’t stab agents with sharp objects.” I am a writer and ever so slightly psychotic.  I need to be told this.

Then there was the first page seminar. Great openings are a good way to get agents and editors reading. I knew about 90% of the examples given as great openings to several masterpieces. I felt so well read, but again, I have no idea if my weird book has a fantastic opening. Someone gets punched in the face. That is more or less a stock opening, wouldn’t you say? Maybe, I should change it.

Finally, it is time for “Ask the Agents” panel and my queen approaches. Janet Reid is a force of nature as you would expect a shark to be. She, Abby Zidle, and Barbara Poelle should go on the road as a comedy act. They were hysterical and super informative all at once. What a perfect combo, two agents and one editor.

Yes, Janet Reid is a shark. She is probably a very tough negotiator. Also, she is quite direct. She tells it like it is. She is also the most generous person in publishing. The word has gotten out despite all her bluster.

After the session, a huge gaggle of writers flock around her with their questions. I hang back until I can say hello. I agree to try and see her after her last session. She changed my writing life. I want as many other writers as possible to experience that whatever it is that keeps them writing. Already, the conference feels complete.

There is one more panel I am really looking forward to, the fantasy world-building seminar. Will Jeff Somers wear pants? At this point, we don’t know but Janet assures me that there is bail money in case the pants and Jeff are not properly joined.

Turns out fantasy writers simply don’t wear pants once they are all published and stuff. The conference cleverly put a skirt on the table they sat at, and all was well. What a great panel! I even said hi to Jeff and he bore my nervous chattering surprisingly well. He’s nothing like scary as one might expect.

I felt accomplished and now it was time for drink. It’s a writer’s conference, right? My daughter arrives earlier than expected this evening so we can visit somewhat properly. We try leaving the hotel in search of food close by hotel. We are both tired, her even more so than me, and it starts pouring rain. Of course it does. So back to the hotel for bar food and more drinks. The kid is on the verge of a breakdown, and this is when we spot my queen at one of the two bars in the hotel.

I suppose it was a little crazy what I did next considering my daughter and I both looked rather like drowned rats.  I introduce the kid to my queen. She is, of course, gracious and we bow and take our leave across the lobby to the bar with the food. I am happy. I would call that a successful day.

The next morning, I do the pitch slam thing, 3 minutes per agent to get their interest in my book. Yes, food of the devil. Whatever. I pitch to 4 agents, one who I would love to have represent me (based on his client list and the possibility of getting signed books from those authors) I get 4 requests. Excellent. I know, it doesn’t mean anything. I still must prove I can write.

I leave early. I need to go to Brooklyn to spend the rest of the day with the kid. I feel like I have a very marketable concept based on agent reaction so all is right the world, and it is a perfect sunny Saturday in New York.

I have an email from my queen instructing me on the best way to get to Brooklyn via train from Manhattan. I step out of the hotel. A street market has broken out. I take a right turn toward the train station. What could go wrong? Funny you should ask…

To be continued