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Showing posts from May, 2010

Empty Nest Syndrome

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It’s difficult to comprehend that I’ve spent three years on this manuscript. I’ve never taken that long to write a single novel before. Of course, there were a couple of interruptions in the process, including Mom’s multiple hip surgeries and extensive recovery, and coordinating the 2009 Pennwriters Conference.

But on Friday, the status of my manuscript changed from WIP (work in progress) to “Under Submission.” I’ve sent the fruits of my labor out into the world. And now the waiting begins.

On Saturday, with no revisions and no edits on my to-do list, I cleaned house. Egads, it needed it! Camping, writing, and conferencing had taken up all my time for the last three or four weeks. Hubby and I could leave notes to each other in the dust.

Sunday, I took a day off. Crashed on the couch with the newspaper. Went on a “hot date” with Hubby to Cabela’s followed by a belated anniversary dinner out.

I’m not used to being lazy. It was kind of fun.

But a little of that stuff goes a long way. Now I’m …

Photo Friday: Mountain Stream

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We spent last weekend at our camp in Confluence, which is becoming known as my writing hideaway. Between rain showers, we took a bike ride. I snapped this shot of a rain-swollen stream with my little Kodak Easy Share. (While I love, love, LOVE my Nikon, it weighs a ton when lugging it around in a backpack on a bike.)

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I'm coming up for air momentarily to post over at Working Stiffs today. It's a re-run of sorts, brought up because one of a recent arrest in one of the cases.

I've been hard at work on edits to my manuscript thanks to the glut of information I received at the Pennwriters Conference. It's close to being ready to send off... VERY close. More later...

Pennwriters Conference in Pictures: Conclusion

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The Masquerade Party

The Saturday night party at any Pennwriters Conference is always a good time. Possibly because the bulk of the stress of agent/editor appointments is over and everyone lets their hair down. Attendees come and either toast their successes or drown their sorrows.

This year, the theme was Heroes and Villains. I didn’t get the memo. If I had, I’d have brought a bandanna to cover my face and claimed to be an outlaw. Instead, I donned a combination of my own stuff and my hubby’s garb to be a cowgirl.
In truth, this was more ME than the business-suited version conference goers see.

Here are some of the other heroes and villains.




Janet Reid brought her pet octopus, who got into the spirit with—well—spirits.

Octopus also tried on my hat.


The musician was fabulous.


But the big hit of the evening was fellow Working Stiff and friend, Paula Matter, who came as a victim of the Query Shark.

Someone offered to buy Paula a drink if she strolled through the prom that was going on in the co…

Pennwriters Conference in Pictures: Part Two

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I kept raving about my room. Here are a few shots of the suite I shared with roomie Joyce Tremel at the conference.

This is the living room. We had to vacate the premises during the day so Pennwriters could use this room for agent/editor appointments. The rest of the time, this was Joyce's abode.

The kitchen area shared the hallway with a pair of sinks in a marble counter. Refrigerator, microwave, lots of counter and cabinet space.

My favorite part of the room was this shower. It's not really leaning. That's the drawback of using a wide angle lense in tight spaces. Although truthfully, it wasn't all that tight. I contemplated chiseling out that shower and taking it home with me.

Then there was the master bedroom. Nice. The hotel provided turn down service and chocolate coins each night. I could get used to this!


Now, to pick up where I left off. I attended the open read and critique session only briefly Friday night. Exhaustion reared its ugly head, so I called it a night.

S…

Pennwriters Conference in Pictures: Part One

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I know I sort of dropped off the radar blogwise in mid conference. Sorry. But I was busy having fun, so I’m not really all THAT sorry. But as a way of making up, I have photographic evidence of the event. LOTS of photographic evidence.

Let’s start with Thursday. Here is Tim Esaias teaching the day long fiction intensive. Fantastic class. I always learn something new from Tim.

Here's Friday's Networking Lunch held in the Courtyard of the Eden Resort. It was a beautiful space.

Friday's keynote dinner is the big "dress up" event of the weekend. My fellow Sisters in Crime looking smashing.

Even I cleaned up pretty good. Check out the pearls, an early anniversary gift from my dear Hubby.

Our keynote speaker was the multi talented, multi published James Rollins. Here he is with our conference coordinator, the lovely Ayleen Stellhorn.



To be continued...

Report from the Conference: Friday

I enjoyed a lovely breakfast this morning with my roommate, Joyce, and Lisa Kastner, outgoing Pennwriters president. With my agent pitch looming and not enough sleep, I struggled to stay calm while ODing on caffeine.

First up was CJ Lyons’s workshop on pitching, which didn’t do a whole lot to settle my nerves. It gave me lots of material for my NEXT pitch, but this one was too ingrained in my faulty memory to make any huge alterations.

As soon as the workshop ended, I headed upstairs to the room where my appointment was scheduled. BREATHE, I reminded myself. BREATHE the timekeeper echoed. I stood at the door, took one more big breath, and plunged in.

It was great. We chatted about my story. The ten minutes was up before I knew it. I left with her card and a request for the full manuscript.

That’s the best I could hope for. If she reads it and doesn’t like it, fine. At least it had a chance.

Afterwards, I discovered that I’d locked my key in my room. The whole getting-a-replacement thing to…

Report from the Conference: Thursday

This will be a very short post. I’m exhausted after a very long day. I made the mistake of going to the fitness center this morning and walking on the treadmill for a half hour or so. That energy I expended would be nice to have right now.

The workshop with Tim Esaias was fabulous as I knew it would be. It started at 9AM and ran until 4PM with a lunch break and a couple of coffee breaks thrown in. I took lots of notes to share with the gang back home.

My friend Joyce Tremel arrived around 4:30 and is as impressed with this room as I am. I’ll post pictures at some point when I’m conscious enough to upload them to the computer.

The rest of the evening was taken up with a Pennwriters Board of Directors meeting. By the time that wrapped up and I headed to help in the Hospitality Suite, all the work had been done.

So, one day down. Three more to go. Tomorrow is the big one. I have my pitch session in the morning. After that, I can relax and enjoy the workshops.

Conference Countdown at Working Stiffs

I've moved my Conference Countdown over to Working Stiffs today. One thing I didn't cover over there is Skye. She knows something's up. Suitcases on the bed are never a good sign. She does NOT like being left home with "the Dad." So she's become my shadow and sometimes my Siamese twin. As I write this, she's on my lap. Hopefully, she and Hubby will get along without me for a few days.

Conference Countdown: Tuesday

Tomorrow is my travel day. I’ll be kissing Hubby and Skye kitty good-bye (and hoping they can tolerate each other for a few days without me refereeing them) and hitting the road to Lancaster and the conference.

So this is my last full day of preparation. On the other hand, it’s also my last full day of anxiety over packing. What to take? EVERYTHING. This is not the time to try to travel light. Two business suits, my little black dress for the keynote dinner, a couple of casual outfits for Thursday’s daylong workshop and for Sunday, which is another travel day and therefore the equivalent of “casual Friday.” Then there’s an outfit for Saturday’s costume party. Shoes and boots to match. Assorted other sundry items.

Plus laptop, camera (I’m official photographer), some Avon stuff (just in case someone forgot to pack lip gloss or wants to purchase some Skin So Soft).

Oh, and there’s the basket for the auction.

My poor car.

I’m beyond the panic mode of this past weekend. The pitch is ready. Or,…

Conference Countdown: Monday

Progress Report:

The main thing is I’m not insane yet.

Yet.

Sunday I managed to calm down. It helped that a couple of my friends have offered excellent suggestions for my query letter. It takes a village.

It also helped that I managed to find some quiet time and hammered out a pitch that I think will work for me. In other words: it’s simple enough, even I can remember it.

Today I presented my final two chapters to my face-to-face critique group. I have a couple of minor things to fix, but overall, they liked how I wrapped it all up.

I have my materials packed for the Thursday Intensive.

Still to do: Figure out what I will wear. Pack the selected outfits. Revise the manuscript. (Aw, who am I kidding? I’ll be working on revisions in my hotel room at the conference. Revisions are NEVER done.) Practice the pitch. (Yeah, I’ll be doing that in my hotel room, too.) Load the car.

You know, I might just make it.

Conference Countdown: Saturday

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My to-do list for today was quite simple: Work on my pitch/query.

And laundry. It would be good to have clean clothes to pack.

Of course, distraction and procrastination popped into the equation in the form of Fred and Ethel. And Lucy and Ricky. No, I wasn’t watching classic TV. Fred and Ethel are a pair of geese that nest along our creek every year. Lucy and Ricky nest on the neighboring farm. Sometimes they visit and get into a squawking contest. Such was the case this morning, so I grabbed my camera and snapped some photos from my backyard.








Don’t ask me who is whom. And don’t ask me how I know they’re the same geese year after year. I don’t know. I just always say, “Fred and Ethel are back!”

After I retreated back inside my cave, I spent the bulk of the day writing a short synopsis. Short. As in half a page. From that I hoped to pull out bits and pieces to make a query letter and my pitch. But after staring at it for hours, I have nothing but contempt for it. Time to call it a day. Wit…

No Photo Friday

I got nothin’. If you checked out Working Stiffs on Wednesday, you’ve seen all my photography for the week. All that was worth posting, at least.

So instead of Photo Friday, I’m beginning the countdown to the conference.

The Pennwriters Conference is next week. Technically, it’s Friday through Sunday, but I’m leaving Wednesday so I can attend Tim Esaias’ daylong intensive fiction workshop on Thursday. And I’m not at all sucking up to the teacher by offering him a ride to Lancaster.

Last year, as you may (or may not) recall, I was conference coordinator. This year, my sole duty, beyond that of conference Yoda (I sit in my cave in my swamp and offer guidance), is that of photographer. But I think I’m almost as stressed as I was a year ago.

This year, I am pitching.

The last time I pitched was in 2006. I signed with my agent back then. I un-signed with her this January. So I’m back in pitching practice.

No, I’m not ready. Not even close.

I have to confess…there was a moment or two yesterday whe…

Working Stiffs Wednesday

Monday was the annual Festival of Mystery in Oakmont PA and I once again volunteered. Check out my report from the Festival at Working Stiffs today.

Weekend Escape and Forgotten Underwear

By Friday I was pretty well convinced my head was going to explode. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy selling Avon. And I’m now mentoring some new Avon sales reps…a task I enjoy almost more than selling it. But with an unemployed husband lurking about, the pressure to bring income into the house has created the kind of tension I prefer to experience only on the written page.

So the plan to head to our camp in Confluence took on a sense of urgency. Get out of my way; I’m going CAMPING.

However, first things first. I had to take my mom grocery shopping Friday morning. Along the way, I handed out Avon brochures and spoke to a couple of potential new sales reps. But once I’d emptied my purse of the brochures I always carry these days, I figured I was off the clock. The Avon hat came off and I dusted off the writer’s hat, which had a few cobwebs collecting on it.

As soon as I dropped Mom at her house and returned home, I tossed my groceries into the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. Our duf…