Please note that Martha has graciously offered up her pad.
7 pm. as usual. Check in-boxes for directions.
Looking forward to seeing the writerlies tomorrow!
Please note that Martha has graciously offered up her pad.
7 pm. as usual. Check in-boxes for directions.
Yes, it's true. My dream literary agent is reading my full manuscript & yes, I have 2 partials out there as well!!!
Not only that, but:
On Tuesday, I got a message from my dream agent that made me happy dance for 24 hours...of course, NOW I'M GOING BATSHIT CRAZY!
To top it off, on Tuesday night, Lynn Coady, a CAPE BRETONER!! won the Giller prize. She is such an inspiration & so deserving. I totally recommend you listen to the podcast of her interview with Jian Ghomeshi if you haven't already. (oh, and BUY her books!!)
But, back to my novel and the DREAM AGENT. Here's the first lesson I learned:
1. Dream BIG & work HARD.
If you do these 2 simple things, you'll increase your chances of landing that dream agent significantly. (at least I hope so)
Before continuing, I should explain something to all my non-writer friends:
1. What the heck IS a literary agent, you ask?
Seriously...agents are well-connected professionals in the publishing world who (if they represent you) will pitch your book to editors and publishers, negotiate contracts, ensure payment of royalties, etc. etc.
Canadian agents, particularly, are about as easy to find as fruit flies in the frozen tundra.
(Aside: my latest novel is sort of like that kid still living at home after 30...you get the idea...)
The thing is this:
Large publishing companies like RandomPenguin, HarperCollins, and others don't look at manuscripts from non-agented authors.
2. So what's the big deal about having agents reading your partial or full manuscript? (it's not like you have a publishing contract)
Allow me to share a few stats from one agent with you:
(who incidentally works at one of the agencies that requested my partial)
Average queries agent received/week:
(That's whopping 5200 queries/year!!!)
Request for partials/full manuscripts requested:
Approximately 3 partials and I full
Of those 4, only 1 gets representation.
Them's the chances of landing her:
Knowing this is enough to make any writer give up, commit suicide, or self-publish.
One highly respected agent recommends maybe to give up after 100 and go back to the drawing board and revise manuscript or start another one.
I laughed in an "I can relate sort of way" to one response I read on this advice:
"Give up after 100? My plan was to give up when the zombie apocalpyse had rendered all agents and editors interested only in braaaaaaaaains, and I'm not talking literary brilliance."
I haven't reached the 100 mark yet, but I did send out 10 queries this year.
Of those 10, 5 requested more pages or a partial, and 1 requested the full. The stats last year were bleaker, but I did get some very valuable feedback.
Now back to the most important lessons I learned:
2. Do query widely, at first....
...but be patient, wait and if you're lucky enough to get feedback, consider it carefully and then revise as appropriate before you send queries to your dream agents (I made a list of 3).
3. Never, never, NEVER let one rejection get you down.
Publishing my novel PAPILLON (butterfly, in English) has never been a question of if, it's a question of when. I will publish it when it's soul is ready to fly & when it has that one right person who will take it to the right place.
Till then, I'll keep banging away at the keys on my other 2 novels-in-progress.
And still looking mostly like this:
So, that's my story & I'm stickin' to it!!
Thanks to all of you for the support you've given me during the ups & downs of my writerly life.
Some day, I hope to return the favour.
(this could be in the form of ONE DAMN FINE PARTY!!!)
Here's to y'all,
“So if I punch a cop at a child slavery protest, that cause is somehow no longer just?
You have some flawed logic...”
– WhyKay (CBC commentator handle)
Oh, thank you, thank you ‘WhyKay’: I was about to impale myself on the nearest sharp object when you pointed out this obtuseness.
Ashleigh Brilliant once remarked, "I have abandoned the search for truth, and am now looking for a good fantasy."
This quote came back to me time and time again as I read through the 3481 (and growing) comments to the CBC story and some of the comments on my Facebook page.
It is absolutely essential that we, as a society, intellectually and emotionally understand that reality isn't the way we wish it to be, or the way it appears to be, but the way it actually is. History shows us that those individuals and societies who have remained blind to this distinction have found it virtually impossible to make decisions that led to positive results.
Then, and more so now, I believe that many of us inhabit a world of delusions, which obscures reality and creates dangers for ourselves, and others. When I observe the actions and beliefs of those around me and those in the news, what I see and hear reveals to me that many of us are living in a state of waking dreams.
At every turn in history human beings have been called upon to act in order to save or protect themselves. The only difference today is that ‘Joe public court’ seems to determine, at least in part, whether these human beings will tip the scales of what is right or wrong, and find supporters to protect or save what they fear is threatened.
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." - Marcus Aurelius
This is my perspective:
About the whole peaceful versus violence versus what laws have been broken:
A principle is synonymous with a law of nature, not a law of man. Many of our so-called ‘laws’ are nothing more than manmade (yes, “man”made), legalized aggression against the sovereignty of peaceful individuals, and rarely bear any relationship to natural law, reality, or a moral code shared by all Canadians.
[And no, I’m not referring to the whole life/murder thing here…let’s please stray away from that ‘No logic la-la land]
Reality is that the legal system adopted in Canada was not adopted by women, or by aboriginals; it was adopted by white, so-called ‘land-owning’ men.
I only have to look as far as my family tree to see the evidence of ‘systems’ that were adopted and enacted to try to exterminate my blood line.
So, excuse me, if I’m somewhat skeptical of “the law”.
But back to the current situation:
Reality check take 1: Clearly, there is a perceived (I’m not a scientist) serious danger posed by hydraulic fracturing development.
Reality check take 2: In reality, we don’t know what the outcome would have been, but the New Brunswick government’s decision to disallow public consultation begs the question: could this outcome have been different?
Reality check 3: Citizen protest and activism is not breaking moral law when fascist governments don’t listen; it’s our duty.
Long live civil disobedience!
How did the RCMP think they were going to look to people around the world when they started pointing sniper rifles and machine guns at women, children and old people? Social media was the end of their media control. Suck on that Irving,…”
- Fred Flintstone (CBC commentator handle)
I have no immediate vested interest here. I don’t have children, nor will I have grandchildren. And so, I will try to speak for those women who might feel like me, but find themselves too busy raising their children to take this on.
Until we have a true measure of performance of the practice of fracking over a reasonable amount of time and the ability to have independent testing of existing wells, this practice should be put in moratorium.
To ignore this fundamental underpinning of self-preservation of our species is reckless.
I may not have been there when the standoff happened, but I fully understand the protesters' frustration. I share in their frustration.
Where is the law to protect our future generations from absurd, short-sighted (hair-brained) schemes??
I personally don’t condone violence in the service of goals except as a measure of self defense. Our right to defend ourselves is ethical.
I don’t consider the vandalism in this case as an act of violence. And as one CBC commentator accurately pointed out, the fact that violence is never warranted is false anyway.
Reality check 4: The Warsaw Uprising. Those Jews lived longer than the ones who went willingly into the concentration camps. Sometimes violence is justified.
A final note about “these people” or “those people” coming up again & again in the comments I read. That just screams racism. I would like to thank ‘caring canuck’ for pointing out the list of organizations calling for either a ban or a moratorium on fracking. “These people” include:
No one who believes in a peaceful and dignified world for the future of all children can take any position alluding to “those people” seriously.
I will restate my position on this:
Our greatest failure has been and continues to be our repeated dismissal as a society of every child's right to grow up in dignity in an equitable world - a world safe from war and fear. Conversely, our greatest accomplishments are those times we've chosen to uphold and protect those fundamental rights, in creating communities where children can play, and laugh, and learn and grow into their full potential.
Those children grow up. All we have to do is look closely at the adults that surround us to see the complex manifestations of these failures and successes.
These complex manifestations of our shared failures and successes were all evidenced during yesterday’s standoff.
But, that doesn’t change the difference between right and wrong.
I’ll give the last word to one of the CBC commentators:
“Violence does not work, but neither does anything else when dealing with opinionated self-righteous thugs who have all the power. So if it were me, I'd go down swinging.”
– nbuf (CBC commentator handle)
1. My family & friends.
My family & friends ROCK! Seriously… I think I may have been born to the most generous & loving parents & met the coolest people ever as friends. EVER. And, that includes my oldest friends (Tanya!), my newest friends & neighbours, and my supportive Wired Monk friends (my writers' group)! Even the ones that aren’t really friends anymore… they have all contributed to my life in such positive ways.
2. Being told to dream big.
Every kid needs to hear those words. Merci Papape!!!
I could write an entire blog on why, but it's for all the reasons I wrote down & stuck in those red balloons I filled our room with for Valentine's Day.
4. '13' & 'Froofie Girl', our kitty cats.
Sharing life with '13' has added immeasurable joy to my life, and adding 'Froofie' to the mix has taught me nothing if not patience:)
This next very important one was added since I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving:
5. My literary agent!! The fact that Carolyn believes in my 2nd novel Papillon…why that's just AWESOME POSSUM!!
6. My creative expression.
I would have said my brain, but I'm still on the fence about that one. Some days I love how much joy I get from the places my brain takes me to, but then there are the other days when the old brain drives me bat shit crazy. What I do LOVE is the fact that my brain has provided me with countless hours of unadulterated joy in creative expression.
7. Books, Music and Art.
The delectable dishes for # 6.
8. My failures.
Really just blessings in disguise, right? So I guess they aren’t really failures.
9. That fact that your still reading this:)
I'm very grateful to all of you who take time to read my blog. THANK YOU!!
10. The realization that "I Am Enough".
Okay, it comes and goes, but intellectually anyways, I do realize this fact. I may not be the perfect mate, the perfect friend, the perfect sister, or the perfect anything, but I am trying to be the best me that I can, and I've developed more compassion towards myself in the face of my failures. After all, we can't control where we came from or the struggles we've faced on our way to where we are at, but what we CAN control is how we react to those opportunities for growth that life throws at us.
Happy Thanksgiving to one & all!
P.S. So because I added Pete & our pets as separate entries & really they're all family, I get to add 2 more: MY HEALTH & MOTHER NATURE!!!!
My Mom is the map of my life, the geography of my heart and the best of every heroine I've ever written about. She is with me every day of my life, especially here in our tree house on the lake, I feel her around me with every rustling of the wind in the trees.
Mom would love it here - she'd love watching the birds flocking to the feeder every morning! She is still the most beautiful woman I've ever had the privilege of knowing & loving.
With ardent love and my deepest respect & admiration,
La P'tite (Dina:)
An excerpt of the obituary I wrote for my extraordinary Mom
Okay, before my neighbours read this & start heading over with shotguns & looking like this:
...let me preface this blog by saying:
I LOVE my neighbours &
I LOVE my street!!!
Last week, however, I left our little oasis (ON A LAKE!! just outside Halifax) & headed downtown to watch films at the film festival. Later in the week, an old neighbour, Eric, from Spring Garden Road came for a visit.
We dreamt up scenarios for movies based on mathematical structures.
Eric used to drop by my old bohemian flat & while I'd write, he'd paint. Some days, he'd ask me to describe aspects of my story and he'd illustrate them.
Below is an example of Eric's work. I was writing a story about 5 women & each woman was like a flower. This particular woman was a snapdragon:
Always thirsty for art & culture & diversity, I like my perspective of the world to be challenged constantly. Other artists, activists and folks that challenge me seem harder to find outside the city.
So, back to my mission.
WANTED: One Funky New Neighbour
There are 3 houses for sale on my tiny street (all fronting a pristine lake).
I naturally gravitate towards artists, and people from other countries, cultures and lifestyles, or just about anyone who challenges the status quo, as well as my perspectives.
So, here's my wish to the universe (I'm told if you put it out there, the universe may answer you....)
Dear Universe, please send me a funky new neighbour.
Here's how I imagine I'd recognize this funky new neighbour:
S/he might hammer a sign like this on a tree in their yard
Or s/he might have a caravan like this in the yard where they plan to drink absinthe and contemplate the universe.
In an ideal universe, s/he would own this vehicle (and let me roam freely with its contents:)
I suppose I should warn you that, as a writer, these aspects of my personality shouldn't surprise you:
HOWEVER, having said all that, if you come visit when I'm not plagued be the above, I'm sure you'll find that I'm stimulating, mentally flamboyant, exuberant, generous & generally fun to be around:)
Can't wait to meet ya!!!
P.S. if you're trying to decide whether or not moving outside the city is for you here's my links to top 5 things I love out here and top 5 things I miss.
Right. So yesterday, I thought I had it all figured out.
Then, I went to see Spring and Arnaud today, a poetic gem of a documentary about the shared love and acclaimed work of Canadian artists Spring Hurlbut and Arnaud Maggs.
Cinematically gorgeous & masterfully edited.
In 1986, Spring came to Arnaud's 60th birthday, uninvited. He checked her out and found her kind of cute. She was 25 years younger. They went on a date. He thought things were going swell, until the second date when she told him it was all off. Hiding his dismay, he interrupted with a request.
“OK,” he said, “but let’s have a goodbye kiss.”
“I put everything I had ever learned into that kiss,” he says.
“We are both ‘me, me, me’ people," Spring says, "so we cancel each other out. It’s understood that we live for our work.”
I ask myself why any artist would inflict our peculiar brands of madness on anyone else.
Arnaud died in November 2012 during the filming. I wept.
I told the filmmakers that I wanted to believe in reincarnation so that they could reunite in another life.
Now, I'm right back where I started -- as Spring observes in the film: “swinging between the two extremes of how life comes into the world and how we exit the world.”
Why must life be so ironic?
But enough about my angst.
Watch this film if you ever get a chance!
I'll close with one of Arnaud's photographs, a self-portrait of himself as Pierrot
(So worth seeing these on a large screen):
Tonight after reading two equally compelling blogs I decided to share the more positive message as opposed to the one about racism. The world needs more positive messages of hope...and, I need more positive messages of hope.
[I maintain the right, however, to rant about that other story at some point in the future]
For now, the positive:
If you haven't heard of Pop Chassid yet, you're likely not a social media troll.
On September 3rd, Elad Nehorai, author of Pop Chassid posted a blog called:
I Didn't Love My Wife When We Got Married
Link to his inspiring story here
I agree that love's an active choice - rather than a straightforward feeling. Feelings are fickle. Sure, we have the better, the worse, etc., but through all of it, we have to chose to love and to cherish.
Everyday we have the power of choice - to love our spouse or not. Some days I do a better job than others, but ultimately my decision shouldn't be based on how well my spouse loves me.
As John Mayer sings: "when you show me love, I don't need your words...love ain't a thing - love is a verb."
Link to the song here
Thanks again to Elad Nehorai, author of Pop Chassid, for sharing his experience.
Here's to a hopeful week to all,
Title: The Cat's Pajamas Source: www.thegoosesroost.com
I won an editorial critique on Twitter this summer.
My two favourite sentences in the critique of my novel, Papillon:
"The family histories, which span generations, have an inherently epic feel reminiscent of 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE."
"I’m certain if and when you sell it, there will be a readership just clamoring to get their hands on it!"
What Rhoda Belleza, the editor who provided the critique, didn't know is that 100 Years of Solitude is possibly my favourite novel of all time. No doubt Garcia Marquez has hugely influenced my writing, but reminiscent...well, that's just the cat's pajamas!
Her full critique was so inspiring & spot on in the areas that required a nudge.
Belleza also posted a great article on
THE PROCESS OF PLOTTING
which I heartily recommend to fellow writers.
"Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it."Source: rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com
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