Tuesday, December 29, 2009

resolutions for 2010 part 2

Amazing that I forgot my own health! I just don't want to diet, and I don't want to exercise. But I really must do both. At least exercise. That's the important component. I don't binge. My appetite is not very large. I have a small plate that is set aside for MY meals (so that I avoid the "man-sized" servings that my hubby and son like to load up for me when it's their turns to make dinners). But, like it or not, I really must--for my own sake--lose about 20 lbs. Thirty pounds would be better, but I'm not likely to maintain that, even if I do achieve it. I won't go to Weight Watchers, because lectures don't help. I probably won't go back to Jenny Craig because it's too expensive. I could eat the Lean Cuisine dinners and Smart Ones, but they are very high in sodium and that won't help my high blood pressure. Losing weight is not easy! Exercise is something I can do (even just going for a daily 30-minute walk), whether I like it or not. If I don't want to do it every day, I must do it a minimum of 3 days a week. I must do it.

resolutions for 2010

This is a follow-up to two previous blogs: the one about reviewing 2009 and how I blew those resolutions, and the one with advice from the Guide to Literary Agents blogs.
So, dealing with the resolutions I couldn't keep this past year, how can I revive them in such a way as to make them more achievable? (After all, they must be worthwhile, if I tried to commit to them last year.) First: music--Maybe practising the organ every day is unreasonable. But maybe I can try to do a little once a week? How about a weekend "date" with the organ, either Saturday or Sunday or, if I miss those then any other day to make up for it? Let's try that. Second: reading--I wanted to track my reading, ie, take notes on titles and authors and other comments on each book I read. Rather off-putting, isn't it? How about just plain reading. Maybe I could note title and author of the books I especially want to remember. Last year I read the last two books in the Harry Potter series, and reread Anne of Green Gables, and a book by kc dyer titled Ms Zephyr's Notebook, and...some others...including at least one Anne Perry mystery. So, just because I didn't track them doesn't mean I didn't read anything worthwhile. The ones mentioned here were definitely all worthwhile. I could make plans to read particular books next year, but I'd rather not commit to that. Besides the books I've mentioned, I also do quite a lot of research reading. They do get tracked in my bibliography lists for whatever I'm planning to write. The third resolution has to do with writing, which, curiously, was not in last year's resolutions! One of the accomplishments was being a "winner" in NANOWRIMO. It would be nice to do that again! Resolution? No--just "would be nice to do that again". I also had a story published, and that wasn't even a resolution. It was a short story in an anthology: "The Fire" in Below the Canopy published by Polar Bear Expressions. But my middle-grade historical novel, Angels in the Flames, was rejected by two publishers: TouchWood Editions and Moose Enterprise. Can't send it out again until January (ie, a few days away), so I'm going through the manuscript to tweek it a little more. So, for 2010? Obviously, I'd like to get that PUBLISHED. And I should have one (or two) books to go to publishers before December 31, 2010. And some articles published. I wonder if I can have a web page by then? Good goal to strive for. And I think that's enough.

travel count down week 5

Five weeks? Really? What happened to week 6? Anyway, today is Tuesday, and it is 34 more sleeps until we leave. I'm still working on Hebrew and Italian every evening. My hubby has read a book about archaeology of Bible lands, and is rereading James Mitchener's The Source. We have to make sure we have enough "meds" to last the six weeks we'll be away. The recent "Christmas Day" foiled attempt to blow up a plane has caused lots of increased rules and regulations about what may and may not go on the plane as carry-on. If they make it any more stringent, they'll have to ban passengers!

literary agent blog

One of the blogs I follow is the Guide to Literary Agents. Looking at it today, I read Chuck Sambuchino's entry which asks the question (and answers it): "What is an Author's Platform?" It's something I was hoping my own blogs here would help me build for myself, but I still have a way to go to even get started with a "web presence", which is one plank of the platform. Chuck (as he identifies himself) gives credit to a book he's reading: Get Known Before the Book Deal, by Christina Katz.
Chuck answers the questions: "What is it?" (author's platform, that is) and "Why is it important?" The answer to the first question is: A platform is all of the ways that you are visible and appealing to your future and potential or actual readership. It is comprised of a web presence, any public speaking and teaching you do, the media contacts you have and your publications (especially articles). It is any means you make your name/book known to a viable readership. Chris challenges us to answer "3 key questions": "Who are you known as in the world as a writer now? How do others see you now? Who would you like to be known as in one year?" He warns us not to exaggerate or be unrealistic--especially in setting a goal for the one year frame in question #3.
I find these questions difficult, because I don't know how others see me. How am I known in the world? I'm not. How do others see me? I'd have to ask--and the trouble with that is that you never know if your friends are trying to be nice or trying to be helpful! And asking friends puts them on the spot. Asking relatives is more or less useless, unless there are other writers in the family. As for #3, "who would I like to be...in 1 year?" --That calls for another New Year's Resolution. The most important thing to remember for this is, to be realistic.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 in review, sort of

It's Christmas Eve, and quite different from last year! Thank God! No snow this year, so we'll be able to go to Midnight Mass. At 10pm, it's a bit early for Midnight, but that's okay. And today is a bit early to think of the end of the year 2009, by about a week.
I looked at last year's blogs for this time of year and was reminded of having to miss Mass. Also reminded of my resolutions!!! hahaha! (or should that be, hohoho?) I was supposed to practise the organ every day. Don't remember the last time I even touched the organ! Also, I was supposed to track my reading. Didn't do that, either! BUT...I have brought music back into my life, even to the extent of volunteering to sing with the St. Thomas choir at the seniors' home last Sunday. (I had actually given up all singing, and even listening to music, for a couple of years, because it made me cry. Over that now--for the most part.) As for the reading part, I've done more reading this year, I think. But no tracking of it. It might be useful. Anyway, I have a week to think about new New Year's resolutions, and I'm pretty sure they'll be different this year. That organ practice seems like a good idea, though.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

travel count down week 7

Actually week 7 was last Sunday, so we're on our way to week 6. Right now it is, I think, about 40 sleeps until we leave. I've been keeping up with my language study. I'd almost forgotten how to write in Hebrew, even though I hadn't forgotten how to read it. So, I practise reading and writing every evening. I can't speak it, though. I'm trying to build a vocabulary of sorts. It remains to be seen if any of this will be of use when we're in Israel. Unfortunately, I can't read/write a solitary letter of Arabic! I'm sure that would be useful, but I'm not going to tackle that one at this stage. Then there's Italian, of course. I was in Italy in March/April 2008, and used the few words I have while I was there--carrying my phrase book everywhere with me. I'm reviewing my Italian textbook and tapes every evening, too. Luckily there's no cross-over between Italian and Hebrew. I couldn't possibly handle Italian and Spanish at the same time. I mix them up terribly! Can't tell one from the other at all. Good thing I love learning languages. This is fun. For me. I'm told it's not fun for everyone, but then I hate sports and most people love sports. I guess I'm just odd.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

submitting mss again

Having received my most recent rejection for Angels in the Flames, I'm back at the market books again, seeking my next publisher. Coteau wants kidlit from May 1st to August 31st only. Dundurn wants fiction only in spring or fall. Those two were next on my list of Canadian publishers to target. But I don't want this ms sitting around until March! So, it's back to the books to look for the next one, and getting all the hoops in a row so I can jump through them as they come up: mss in Times New Roman, 12 point font; resume up to date; synopsis done; bibliography ready just in case. Seeking Canadian publishers first, as this is a Canadian novel. Keeping positive thought always. I'm so glad we don't do Christmas! :)

submitting mss

Every publisher has a different set of hoops for authors to jump through when submitting mss. On the surface, it looks like they all want the same thing: cover letter, sample chapters, synopsis, and SASE. But some want it by email, others want only hard copies. Some want one chapter, some want two, or three, or "at least three" or the whole thing or definitely not the whole thing. Most want a synopsis (or outline). A few want a resume. Fewer still want a bibliography for non-fiction or historical fiction. Some publishers sound really chatty and seem to encourage authors to tell their whole life story, others want "just the facts" relevant to the ms being submitted. Some won't take simultaneous submissions, some don't mention them and maybe assume that authors will submit to other publishers anyway. Then there's the question about multiple submissions. What are they? Well, I learned recently that some authors are so prolific that they might actually submit more than one manuscript to one publisher. Now, I do have more than one ms that I could submit, but it never occurred to me to submit more than one ms to one publisher. It's hard enough to find a "fit" for one ms at a time, for me anyway.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

disappointment again

Someone once defined golf as a long walk punctuated with disappointments. Well, trying to be an author is a lot like that, too. The manuscript that I've been working so hard on, for quite a few years now, has bounced back to me once again. So, Moose Enterprise publisher sent me back my post card saying that if I had sent an envelope big enough, he would have sent a more complete critique. But, as he didn't like it, I don't know if I really want a more complete critique from him. Seems to me I've already been that route with TouchWood Editions.
Next on my list is The Dundurn Group. I had sent it to Moose first (after the local BC houses) because they respond in one month or less. They were true to their word. Coteau Books is also on my list, but they don't want to see children's lit until after May 1st and only up to August 31st. So, if Dundurn turns it down, it'll go to Coteau after that. I have quite a long list of potential publishers in Canada, before I resort to US markets. (I think the story has a better chance in Canada because it is about a historical event in Vancouver: the 1886 fire.) Time for more positive thoughts! (aka prayers!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

travel count down week 8

Eight weeks from tomorrow, we'll be on our way. Feb. 1st, we board the plane to Tel Aviv, via Heathrow. Two weeks in Jerusalem, staying in a guest house on the Via Dolorosa. Then, we fly to Rome and take the train (probably) to Assisi, where we'll stay with some nuns for one week. From there, we fly back to Heathrow and stay in England for three weeks, two of which weeks we'll have an "English Country Cottage." One week is unscheduled. It's a big trip, and I can hardly wait. Brushing up my Hebrew & Italian. Fifty sleeps, I think, till we go. Coming home March 23rd.