Friday, March 6th, 2015 • 2 Comments on February: A month in review (a little late)
Fish in Florida
Well, hey there! Look at that, it’s March 6. You’d never know it by the temperature here in Virginia (a chilly 28º), but February blew by and here we are, wistfully staring off in the distance at spring. It’s coming, right? It must be…
February was a month. Some really, really good stuff, some pretty awful stuff. I’m trying very hard not to dwell on the negative and focus on the positive, but it’s been difficult. I started the month off strong, writing some words, plotting some projects, but things kind of fell apart by the end of the first week of the month. Long story short: I received not one, but two reversion of rights letters for anthologies I had turned in and had been approved. Three anthologies total. In fact, two of those books had been listed on Amazon for pre-order for months, complete with lovely covers. The kicker was that after the first reversion letter for two books I was told that all other contracted books would be published. Flash forward ten days and I received a second letter. Will there be a third? Who knows?
What that basically means is that I now have three completed anthologies with no home. And so, a chunk of February was spent trying to determine whether to cut my losses (and pull out my hair) and let them go despite all the time and effort that went into them (not to mention the forty authors who entrusted me with their words, received acceptance letters and had announced their sales) or to explore the options and see if I might find a new home for them with a different publishing company. I’m a fighter and I have a hard time accepting failure (which is what this feels like, never mind what everyone has been telling me) and so I’m determined to invest a little more time in these books and see if we can get them out into the world.
I’ve been asked who is to blame, why this happened, how a trusted publishing company could seemingly screw people over without conscience. I don’t have any answers. I have read some pretty lousy accounts of things that have happened to other editors/authors and I’m still shaking my head. “It’s just business,” seems to be the go-to phrase, but honestly, for writers it’s always personal. I spent a good chunk of February feeling sick, feeling depressed, feeling helpless. I’ve been angry, disgusted, flat-out infuriated. But to what end? Truth is: they (the powers that be) don’t care about my mental state, my bank balance, my home life or whether I ever write another word. So, it all comes down to me. I have to care. I have to focus on the positive and find a way. I have to keep writing. I have to do right by my authors (yes, I think of them as “my” authors). And so that’s what I’m going to do.
More details as I have them. If any of my authors wants more information about a specific book, please drop me a note. There is a lot more to my experience, but this is a month in review post, not a nightmares in publishing post…
By the pool, not a care in the world
The rest of February was about getting ready for a trip to Florida and the trip itself. We took our first real family vacation (longer than a long weekend, further away that Washington, DC) and took the boys to Walt Disney World. It was wonderful, it was exhausting, it was somewhat relaxing, it was nice to not have to cook a single meal for ten days. I ambitiously brought my laptop, three magazines and three books and managed to read one-third of one book and write a couple of emails. Oh well. I clearly needed the break (from reality?) and I feel refreshed. (And I did find Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot!)
February brought the publication of my first essay for Mommyish.com: Why I Stopped Saying ‘Someday’ When It Came to Having Kids and I’m waiting for my first Washington Post On Parenting essay to be published, hopefully this month. I’m in waiting mode for a few things right now, refreshing my email more often than is healthy. Which is a clear sign I need to get back to writing. This week. Right now. Go, go, go!
February also brought SNOW. Oh, it wasn’t much, and some of it came while we were out of town, but the week before we left was a snowy/icy mess that kept this girl at home. The Florida trip (and hitting the pool on several days) was a good cure for cabin fever, but we returned to more cold temperatures and a dustying of snow last night. I’m over it. Seriously.
I’m over winter, but I did make these pretty ice globes!
March is going to be filled with its own adventures and trials and I’m looking for distractions—books, trips, projects, time with friends and family. In my goal to read at least two novels a month this year, I read Horns by Joe Hill and Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins and I started Precious Thing by Colette McBeth while we were in Florida. I loved both the Hill and Hawkins books and I’m enjoying Precious Thing, as well. My tastes seem to be skewing toward mystery/thriller/horror right now, much like my writing interests. We’ll see what that means for my March projects, hmm?
Back to the words, back to being a writer, back to finding my balance.
Friday, February 13th, 2015 • No Comments on My Debut at Mommyish
I’m very happy to have had my first piece published at Mommyish last week. In “Why I Stopped Saying ‘Someday’ When It Came to Having Kids” (which I’d originally titled the shorter, and perhaps too-poetic, “Someday’s Mother”), I wrote about my non-traditional path to motherhood. The interesting (to me) story-behind-the-story is that I’d originally pitched a different essay entirely. But in my brief bio I mentioned I’d been married for almost twenty-five years and had two sons, ages three and five. The editor at Mommyish was intrigued by that and asked if I’d be willing to write about why we waited so long to have kids. And so… this essay was born. Here’s a snippet:
I turned forty in 2007. We had been married for seventeen years and people had long since stopped asking when we were going to have kids. We still said, “Someday when we have kids,” but the articles and statistics about conceiving after thirty-five were concerning. “Someday” was slipping away from me. I was on birth control and it was unlikely we’d have another accidental pregnancy. I needed to commit to the idea if it was ever going to happen. I threw out my birth control pills at the end of 2007 and read up on getting pregnant at my age. The articles scared me. I was worried about my eggs—did I have any left? Were they viable? Were they old, dusty, scrambled
(Read more: http://www.mommyish.com/2015/02/06/stopped-saying-someday-came-kids/#ixzz3RepAg0UD)
With the exception of a big typo (“basil” instead of “basal”), I’m really pleased with how this piece turned out. Despite trying to maintain a “don’t read the comments” policy, the comments have been amazing. It’s rewarding to be able to cross over from fiction to nonfiction and back again. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing a lot of zig-zagging this year.
Saturday, January 31st, 2015 • No Comments on January: Month in Review
I don’t get to Starbucks as often as I used to when I had a babysitter and a real work schedule, but they still love me.
January is not my favorite month. The post-holiday letdown is compounded with cold days, long nights, dreary weather (rain, snow or both) and nothing to look forward to. I had my ups and downs this month (with the downs including illness for both kids, stitches in the chin for the youngest kid and the winter blues and a lingering cold for me), but overall it’s been a better month than I could have hoped for.
Professionally, I wrote some words and made some sales. By the numbers:
I had about 26 writing/editing work hours. Those are out-of-the-house-all-alone hours! About 10 hours of that was used on admin– proofreading galleys, emailing acceptances and rejections for two forthcoming anthologies, responding to other work-related emails, researching markets, etc. Considering my typical work week with childcare used to be about 25-30 hours in a week, it’s been quite an adjustment the last few months. But I’m adjusting!
I wrote about 11k (7k of that was a horror story!). Most of that writing was done at Starbucks, but I did spend a few hours writing at home after the boys were in bed or busy playing, and I even managed to write 1k at Starbucks with my youngest in tow (I’m grateful for iPads and Angry Birds). It’s much harder to concentrated when the kids are awake (and the interruptions are frequent), but I can sometimes manage it if I know what I’m going to write.
I submitted 3 essays and 1 short story. I’m happy to have sent some pieces out into the world, but I hope to be working on longer projects in the coming months. Instant gratification is awesome, though, and essays and short stories sustain me during the times when my writing hours are sparse.
I sold 2 essays and cracked two new markets. I’m pleased to say my first essays for Mommyish and On Parenting at The Washington Post will appear soon! I supposed it makes sense that I’m writing parenting pieces now that I’m home full-time and steeped in all things maternal. Links to come.
The rest of my January hours were spent with family and friends– managing children’s schedules and health, catching a couple of movies (Mockingjay Part 1 and Inherent Vice), reading (I enjoyed Easy Death by Daniel Boyd and I’m currently reading Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King), hosting one dinner party and visiting the city parks when the weather permitted. We had one snow day with no accumulation, but the boys enjoyed the less-than-an-inch of white stuff before it melted.
These are days of contemplation and planning– of looking forward but being in no hurry for the months to pass. Spring will be here soon enough. Until then, there is much to look forward to, including our first big family trip next month. We’re going to Walt Disney World and I’m excited about introducing the boys to Mickey Mouse (and finding the WDW Starbucks, of course). So all in all, though I could’ve done without the ER visit for the three-year-old (he’s fine, but sheesh, these kids!) and the colds and viruses that seem to plague us now that big brother is in school part-time, January has been a fine month.
Onward to February…