Thursday, February 24, 2011

Suggestions Please

Well, my month off is coming to an end! And wow, will I be busy with queries, writing, blogging and my family.  Abigail has no dance competitions in March, but we have her school’s spring fair and I am the room mother for the 1st grade.  This means I have to help out a lot.  Also, my writers’ group is planning our second conference and I have volunteered to help with the website. (I know nothing about starting a website.) Just looking at all I have to do stresses me out.  I hope my husband skips this post; I don’t want him knowing our house will probably not be as clean as normal or that takeout will be replacing my cooking.  I kid, I kid (kind of). That is the point of this blog: to show how I balance it all.  March will be a true test of my abilities. 

So I need help!  The first of my interviews with fellow writers who are trying to balance motherhood and their dreams will debut March 1st.  But I do not know what to call the post.  I want to have the same name every month regarding the interview.  I want something cute and short and that ties in the premise of my blog.  So I beg you all, please comment below with suggestions!  Please!  Don't forget to vote on the poll, if you haven't already, it closes at the end of the month. Oh, and I am still looking for suggestions on what my next poll should be too. If you have any ideas, give examples!

 I can’t wait to hear your suggestions on the poll and the title! And I thank you all in advance for the help!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My month off! HA!

So much for not focusing on my writing this month.  By restricting myself from not working on my next book, I made myself focus on the blog.  I am actively trying to get more followers on my blog.  I googled my own name and my blog title.  Nothing came up, which makes getting followers pretty hard. One of my obsessions during my non-writing month was to figure out how to get more traffic to my blog. I found a very helpful article to help me make my blog more search-engine friendly.  After using the skills I learned in this article, I googled my name and then the title of my blog again. Both times I found it on the first page.  This was a proud moment for me since I am not computer-savvy at all!
My next obsession for my non-writing month was searching for agents I can query in March.  And when writers find agents we want to query, we don’t just send them a query.  We research them.  We start off by going to their websites, then their blogs and any interviews they have done.  We also look up who they represent and what deals they have made.  This ensures we are querying the right agent to possibly represent our book.  We check out any books, articles and websites that these agents have ever mentioned in an interview or on their blogs.  We even obsess over their tweets to try to read their personality.  We take a lot of time preparing for the query process.  We have all done numerous drafts of our manuscript, knowing we could keep revising but forcing ourselves to put it down instead.  Then we agonize over our query letters and synopses, knowing if these aren’t amazing, there is no chance of an agent seeing our manuscript (that we just know they will love if only they have a chance to read it).  All of this effort makes getting that rejection a million times worse.  It’s not just a no; it makes us question everything, we try not to take it personal.  To think we put all that time in and we get a form R! But we will continue to do this, because there is an agent out there that will love our work almost as much as we do. More to come on this process next month.

Here are some writer articles that I have come across this month.  Check them out.

YA Fantasy Guide (this entire website is helpful)
Casey L McCormick - The Call (I pray I need to use this one day)
Writers Digest Conference (official notes from NYC – see what I learned)

Hope the links help my fellow writers.  To my non writers I hope you gain some insight on the process.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time Machine Please

A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
This classic novel exposes the volatile world of male adolescence with an engrossing tale of love, hate, war, and peace. Gene and Phineas share a room at Devon, an exclusive New England prep school, in the summer prior to World War II and form a complex bond of friendship that draws out both the best and worst characteristics of each boy and leads ultimately to violence, a confession, and the betrayal of trust. Narrator Scott Snively's ability to switch seamlessly from the perspective of a teenager tormented by feelings he doesn't want to understand to the reflective musing of a man looking back at the formative experience of his youth provide both the story and the setting with an immediacy that quickly engages readers. Not only does Snively give a distinctive voice to each of the main characters, he also delineates the mannerisms and personalities of the other boys and the teachers surrounding them. A Separate Peace is an intense, mesmerizing, and compelling rendition of a classic coming-of-age tale.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Small-town Alabama in the 1930s is the setting for one of the best-loved classics of all time, which showcases a child’s brutal introduction to racial prejudice and adult injustice. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the story unfolds through a series of incidents that expose the evil side of human nature—most notably the guilty verdict in the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man charged with the rape of a white girl, and the vengefulness of Bob Ewell, the father of the girl who was raped. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much. In the end, Scout embraces her father’s advice to practice sympathy and understanding, and then demonstrates that her experiences with hatred and prejudice will not allow her faith in human goodness to be tarnished.

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
In this tale of passion and revenge on the Yorkshire moors, we learn of Catherine and Heathcliff, tempestuous and ill-fated lovers. Their story is told by Lockwood, a newcomer to the area, as an entry in his diary. Lockwood recounts records that are told to him by Nelly, a servant who has grown up with Catherine.
There is a thin line between love and hate, and once Heathcliff crosses it, we see a grand, passionate, and absorbingly interesting man turn into a fearsome thug. Thwarted in his love for his childhood soulmate, Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff turns his devastation outward, becoming a hateful—and hated—person all across the bleak moors that surround his Yorkshire village.
Heathcliff courts and marries the sister of the man whom Catherine chose over Heathcliff, only to torture his wife emotionally as a way of getting even with her brother. Meanwhile, Catherine slowly wastes away as she pines for Heathcliff—for although she once rejected him, she eventually realizes that she has made an irredeemable error and can never be happy.
Wuthering Heights is a grand and glorious novel that dramatically illustrates the power of love, for good and ill. But more importantly, it teaches us that the only path to happiness is to be true to one's heart, rather than one's head. Had Catherine honored her bond with Heathcliff and refused to succumb to the social mores of her day, not only would the two of them have been much happier, but all of the many people whose lives they stumbled into would have been much better off as well.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed doing these summaries, and I only wish I had this passion back in high school; I would have gotten more out of my English classes.  I must admit that I remembered all of the details but needed help to write summaries.  I searched online to read examples.  One site I found,, is a site I would have definitely used when I was younger.  It is hard to believe that there was a time that I just didn’t like to read.  My lack of enjoyment made book reports and English papers extremely hard to complete.  I never did exceptionally well on those papers, and after reading the SparkNotes I realized why.  They give a very matter-of-fact explanation of the books, but what is lacking is the passion and intensity I remembered about all of these stories.  I had to get the books out, and I picked pages at random to jog my memory. By only reading a few pages, I still felt the distinctiveness of the many characters and was immediately taken to the places the authors describe so beautifully.  Where can I get in a time machine and tell High School Jessica to embrace these books and all the other wonderful ones she disregarded? Grownup Jessica feels cheated by her own literary injustice!

Hope these summaries help anyone who hasn’t read these novels not only vote in my poll, but possibly pick up one and read!  The next poll will be up March 1st. Let me know of any suggestions, that you would like me to address, in the comments.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

A little insight.... More to come...

Today is a special day!  It is Valentine’s Day, but there is another reason why today is so special to me.  For Christmas my husband surprised me with tickets to see Celtic Woman.  I know it doesn’t sound very fun to many people.  But this wonderful singing group from Ireland gave me such inspiration for my novel, Flight.  The enchanting music would transport me to the magical place I dreamed of called Draichota, which is where part of my story takes place.  So today’s post will be brief, because I have to get ready for my date tonight!

 I am going to post two of the summaries that I have done for the poll.  Hope these get you to start reading one of these wonderful classics!

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This novel paints the perfect portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess. Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. Daisy’s cousin Nick Carraway narrates Gatsby’s rise to glory and his eventful fall from grace.
Jay Gatsby is a self-made millionaire who embodies obsessions of money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. Gatsby has built an illegal empire to win the love of Daisy Buchanan.  He buys a mansion across from Daisy's address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold tragically and the characters are inevitably led on a collision course that exposes the hypocrisy of the rich and the falsity of an undeserving love.
This novel is about the American Dream, and how pursuing that dream for all the wrong reasons will ultimately lead to destruction. It is all woven together by a beautiful love story, danger, suspense, tales of true devotion and friendship, and a wonderful, thought-provoking commentary on American society in the aftermath of World War I, a time of excess and confusion. It is a classic tale that provides vibrancy and texture to a bygone era.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is one of the most cherished love stories of all time, told through an intelligent comedy of manners played out in early 19th-century English society. We are shown a world in which men held virtually all the power and women were required to negotiate minefields of social status, respectability, wealth and love in order to marry both to their own liking and to the advantage of their family.
The struggle for love is largely seen through the eyes of second daughter Elizabeth, who possesses a razor-sharp wit and rich sense of humor—and who finds herself hindered by her own eccentric mother, her sister Jane's hopeless love for the wealthy Mr. Bingley, and her sister Lydia's penchant for scandal . . . not to mention the high-born, formidable, and outrageously proud Mr. Darcy, who seems determined to trump her every card. But the game of love proves more surprising than either Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy can imagine, and sometimes a seemingly weak hand proves a winning one when all cards are on the table.
Pride and Prejudice suggests that true love is a force separate from society and that even in the most difficult of circumstances, love will conquer all.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I am very excited about the blogs direction.  And have been working a lot on mapping out what I want to do with it. My husband keeps reminding me, that I took February off from writing but I know that come March I will start the query process again and I will be starting book two for Flight.  That is why I want to be as ready as I can by researching the agents I want to query, outlining book two and organizing this blog.  The more prepared I am will help with time management allowing me to still do all of my mommy and wifely duties. 

I added a poll on the blog and the poll will change every month.  It will be writer or mom related.  The poll will close at the end of every month and then I will post the results and what I think of that outcome. I am interested and excited to see what everyone thinks about the different topics.

This month's poll is about the classics.  Most of the novels are required reading in high school.  But I am sure there are many people, me included, that didn't appreciate these novels like they should have.  Which made me want to reread these classics.  It was fun digging through boxes to uncover the books I discarded years ago.  I had all but, A Separate Peace. Of course I had to get it, yesterday after dropping my daughter at dancing I went, in the rain, and picked up a copy. 

I understand that not everyone will want to reread these and some people may have never read these books.  That is why I am going to post a summary of each classic from my poll through out the month.  I can remember bits and pieces of these novels. I don't have time to reread all this month so I will do some research online too, to come up with a short summary.  I am hoping that maybe the description will entice some to pick up one of these beloved classics to read.  So even if you haven't read the novels in the poll you can wait until I have posted all of the summaries and you can vote on which you would like to read. 

And if anyone feels they would like to do a summary I would love to post that. Leave a comment if interested and then message me. I am also open to suggestions for future polls.  Let me know what you think in the comment section. Happy reading everyone!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Direction

I have decided to take this blog up a couple of notches.  I think the journey I am on is a hard and confusing journey for people to understand.  Writers don’t go to an office and clock in but we are always working.  Most writers have other jobs and families to balance, which makes fulfilling our dream more complicated.
I want this blog to be a place for other writers, or anyone trying to balance real life with accomplishing their dream, to go for inspiration.  I want this to be a place writer’s use as a resource.  Links to articles, other websites and interviews with other people just like me. 
Starting March 1st I will post an interview with a writer/mom.  I will have many questions ranging from: What are they working on, to guilty pleasure, best websites, etc.  This blog will be about my journey but include other journeys about my fellow writers.  Hopefully I can do follow up interviews when a writer gets signed or published. 
I haven’t come up with the title of my Q&A/Interview posts.  If anyone has any suggestions leave in comments below.  Also if you have any ideas for questions I should ask, also, leave that in the comment section.  I can’t wait to get this going.  I hope everyone continues to enjoy my journey and embraces the new journey’s that are soon to come!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Low key

I know I am off this month, and thank goodness! With New York at the end of January and two dance competitions in February I thought I would do a low key birthday for Abigail. 
I thought four 7yr olds spending the night would be low key.  I must have forgotten about how sleepovers went as a child.  They are anything but low key! I can sum up the night quickly; the girls played games, made an art project, ate sweets, danced and sang.  Oh wait that doesn’t sound bad, but I must add; all those things had fighting, screaming and crying through out all activities!  Of course there was lots of laughing and fun, but wow how girls stay friends is a mystery!
I believe that parents today, including me, spoil our kids.  So I blame myself, but I have no solution!  I simply love my kids and I will always try to do what is best for them and our family.

I am very busy this month but I always find time to check my email.  I know the agent told me 4 to 6 weeks response time.  I just keep checking, habit I guess. It still eats at me about the other agents who requested some material and replied so quickly with form rejections.  Luckily, a blog I follow written by an agent intern had some thoughts on agent responses.  It helped.  Check it out!

Friday, February 4, 2011


Everyone likes to hear “great job” or “nice work” every once in a while.  It keeps people going.  If you only heard the negative it would make a person question if what they are doing, is working.  I think this is especially hard on writers, in fact, stay at home moms too. 

As a stay at home mom we are expected to do it all.  There is very little praise; there is no pay raise, or an evaluation yearly to tell you what you have done right or what you can improve on.  There is however mother’s day, birthday’s, valentines and Christmas where you get gifts and cards.  These lift our spirits and keep us going.  Reminding us why we do it.  No not for the cards or gifts. But for the people that give us those cards and gifts.  We love our family and we want to do whatever we can to make them happy, which in return makes us “stay at home” moms happy!

Now, as a writer the same applies, minus the holidays.  Writers spend hours, alone, writing. Many of us don’t make any money from this passion, making it hard to justify if you are good at it.  I write novels and of course I get praise from family and friends about my work.  But, I know they are supposed to say those nice and encouraging words.  I still love hearing them, so friends don’t stop!  And as a writer our novel is our baby.  We put ourselves out there when we send our query letters out to agents.  We are summarizing something we have put years of hard work into; it is our passion and we love it.  And to get emails after emails of agents telling you they do not love it, is hard.  It hurts.  But we keep going because we still do love writing, even if nobody ever reads it.

I sent out 5 query letters last Thursday, January 27th, four of which were requested by the agents at the conference and one was an agent I wanted to pitch to but didn’t have time.  By Saturday, January 29th, I had gotten back three form rejection emails, one was from the one agent that requested a full.  Crushing, but with each one I was getting stronger.  I still had hope, but in the back of my head I started to doubt myself.  Is my story good? Should I just throw in the towel?  Maybe this is an unreachable goal?  But I suppressed that, I haven’t given enough time for my dream to come true, and there is no way I am giving up anytime soon.  I was checking my email almost every two minutes, and nothing.  Abigail’s seventh birthday was getting closer and that day would be seven days exactly since I sent my queries out.  I knew I would be getting another form rejection that day. 

Around two o’clock, on February 3rd, I checked my email for the thousandth time.  There it was staring back at me in bold black font the reply from the last agent that had requested a query at the conference (she is also the one that asked for a synopsis).  My heart raced, we were about to go to the movies, did I want to open it and ruin my time with my family?  No, I didn’t, but I knew it would eat at me if I didn’t causing me to not enjoy the movies.   I took a deep breath and read:

Dear Jessica,
Thanks so much. It was great to meet you too. I enjoy your writing and think FLIGHT is a great story. Please feel free to send the full manuscript as an attachment. Thanks again!

I cried and danced around.  I know it isn’t representation but it was a little flicker of hope.  It was my mother’s day card, so to speak, showing that what I love to do and have worked so hard on is GREAT!  I sent the manuscript to her immediately and she replied with a thank you and that she would get back with me in four to six weeks.  The time line will allow me to not email watch for the month of February, which is good since I am taking the month off!
I will continue to query in March and I know I will get more rejection but I also know that there is an agent out there that will love my story and be as passionate as I am to get it published! 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February = busy!

I have been focused on writing the last couple of months, so much, that I have almost forgotten about the other things in my life.  It is a constant brain tug (my own term) each morning trying to decide what I should do.  Clean the house, cook dinner, do laundry, etc. I could go on for pages of all the things I should be doing.  But then I think of my dream and how badly I want it, I feel like I have put it on the back burner for so many years that I am scared if I do that again, the dream will be gone. 

What I have decided.  February is an extremely busy month.  Abigail turns 7 this week plus she has two dance competitions this month, which means tons more dance practices.  Needless to say February must be devoted to her, and my whole family.  So I will be taking February off, sort of. 

I am going to enter the Writer’s Digest your story contest.
It is due February 10th so I will work on it sparingly until then, making sure it isn’t taking too much of my time.  I actually started it on the flight home from NYC.  I know exactly what I want to do.  After I enter the contest I will post the short story here.

I need to go get my daughter’s 7th birthday present! (Tear, they grow up too fast!) Back to my mothering duties, for now!