A GARDEN OF PRETTY WORDS…

I love words.

Long words.

Short words.

Words that bind.

Words that sing.

Words that laugh.

Words that think.

But sometimes…

They get in the way of what I’m trying to say.

Sometimes, I become so enthralled with the pretty little words that I can’t see plot or characters or voice.

One time I wrote an entire paragraph centered around the word “ramshackle” just because I like that word.

Oftentimes, I’ve had to erase/delete all of those beautiful words and discard them forever.

But then…

Something happened.

Other words grew in their place. Fresh words blossomed and became a new story. The story I always meant to tell.

My authentic story.

Do you ever get caught up in pretty words too?

The 777 MEME: 7 LINES FROM PAGE 7 OF MY WORK IN PROGRESS…

I’ve been tagged by Cindy Rodriguez for the 777 Meme!

She highlighted the rules, so I will too.

Go to the 7th line of the 7th page of your work in progress.

Post the first full 7 lines.

Then tag 7 friends.

My work in progress, titled BAREFOOT ON THE SIDEWALK, has been chosen to be mentored for the Pitch Fiesta Contest through Latin@s in Kid Lit. I’m so excited to be a part of it. My mentor is fabulous! Kerry O’Malley Cerra. Her MG novel JUST A DROP OF WATER just debuted several weeks ago. Yay!

Here’s a little synopsis of what’s going on with my WIP:

Abby loves living on the prairie in her family’s country home surrounded by a vegetable garden and Texas bluebonnets. She wants to ride horseback through the tall grasses. But a voice inside her head, her mother’s voice, warns, “Life’s a basket of rotten apples. Be careful.”

When her Puerto Rican dad, who grew up in New York City, suddenly decides to trade their country home in Texas for a cold flat in Brooklyn, twelve-year-old Abby doesn’t understand why.

In Arkansas, on her way to Brooklyn, her family stops at a minimart to grab a few snacks and buy gasoline. But when Abby’s dad enters the minimart, an old man behind the cash register glares at him suspiciously. One of her relatives, Bart, inadvertently sees that the old man has a gun. Abby doesn’t understand why this old man is fearful of her family. After all, they’re just a family passing through town. What’s the big deal?

So here’s my 7 lines:

Abby’s dad sat in the driver’s seat this time, her mom beside him speaking in a loud whisper as their bus moved along the highway. “It’s a shame we couldn’t stay longer at that last stop. That old man was unstable to say the least.”

Her dad, who on most days readily agreed with everything her mom said, clicked his tongue and shook his head. “Unstable? That’s not the word I’d use.”

They passed a rumbling truck. Abby took the cotton balls out of her ears and scooted forward. “Well, I don’t like it,” said Abby’s mother, waving her hand in the air. “I should write that man a letter and give him a piece of my mind. He lost good business.”

Abby’s mind was stuck wondering what word her father would use other than unstable. She thought the old man looked frightened, or maybe even angry, and she suspected the word had something to do with the color of her dad’s skin.

Oh boy. I probably did more than 7 lines, but it made more sense adding a line or two. :)

Okay, so I need to tag some writer buddies. I’ll put some names here, but if anyone I name can’t participate, no worries!

I tag: Leandra Wallace, Hilary Sierpinski, Sharon Chriscoe, Valerie Coulman, Catherine A. Winn, Katherine Pisana, Donna Cook.

Wishing everyone the best with your WIPs!!!

NO WAY! WE FOUND LEO …

It’s true.

Leo was missing for close to 40 days. Every time I would drive into our neighborhood, I’d wonder if by some crazy happenstance, maybe Leo would show up. Maybe he’d walk across the road, strolling in his little Leo sort of way.

And he did. Seriously, he did.

But I wasn’t there to see it. My neighbor (thanks Tess!) texted me a photo of an African Sulcata tortoise with the question, “Is this yours?”

“Yes!” I texted back. “Where is he?”

She says, “Teresa saw him yesterday and posted a pic of him on Facebook.”

My hubby was home, so I texted him to go outside, Leo was spotted yesterday traipsing around Teresa’s front yard!

Leo was across the street the entire time.

Tess was kind enough to text a photo of Leo to all our neighbors. And within an hour, another neighbor called and said she found Leo.

And after nearly 40 days of wandering the bushes, flowerbeds, and gardens of our little neighborhood street, Leo came home.

My son is thrilled. I’m thrilled. My hubby is thrilled. Our neighbors were all thrilled.

But Leo is a bit shell-shocked. He hides his food as though someone may steal it from under his nose, and he skulks about, puts his head inside his shell, and looks weary. Which he probably is. Our poor little Leo.

But he’s home! Yay! He’s really home!

LEO, WHERE ARE YOU? …

Sunlight filtered through the trees in our backyard, casting shadows on the grass, while our one-year-old African Sulcata tortoise, Leo, enjoyed a quiet afternoon romping in a heap of fallen leaves. With my lawn chair propped beside him, I typically would read my book (right now it’s The Doll People, by Ann Martin), and listen to the sound of his shuffling little feet crunching on bark and dried leaves. But on this particular day, two weeks ago, I was visiting with a friend and not paying much attention to little Leo.

Oh, boy. Note to self: NEVER have an important conversation with a friend while watching a tortoise.

The noise of crunching leaves stopped. I promise. Really. Only like for, two-to-three minutes. Or so. Give or take. And he was gone. Forever.

My ten-year-old boy cried. I was heartbroken. What had I done?

Frantically, I searched our backyard, front yard, neighbor’s yards, nearby ponds, under shrubbery, pretty much EVERYWHERE I could look; for 5 hours. I went to Animal Control and filled out a missing tortoise application. Little Leo (full name Leonard Da Vinci), has his own missing animal id number. But he’s never come back home.

So today, two weeks later, I’m sitting here wondering how Leo is doing. Did he burrow under a tree? Is he hiding? Did he make new friends somewhere and having a party? Is he okay? I hope so. I truly do.

Today I’m melancholy when I look at the empty tortoise box. And not only that, I’m bummed about my writing life, too.

Maybe I’m just missing Leo. If anyone spots a cereal-bowl-sized African Sulcata tortoise roaming the plains of Southern Idaho, please let me know. We’d be so happy to see our friend again.

WRITING A REJECTION-PROOF MANUSCRIPT…

Does such a thing even exist for a first time novelist?

It does.

But the occurrence is so rare, like being struck by lightening and knocking, not your socks off, but your rubber soled boots to shreds and living to see another day. That’s how rare it is. And that actually happened to a young man from Georgia recently. Blown right out of his boots!

Who wants to be struck with the rare occurrence of having your first novel accepted without ever NEVER EVER being rejected?

Did you just leap out of your seat and holler, ME, ME? I certainly did.

I met a super nice young woman at a SCBWI conference two years ago who did just that. She never received a rejection letter. And no, she wasn’t a famous actor or any such thing. She happened to be a gifted writer who happened to know the right people in publishing. She even received The Edgar Allen Poe Award (or the Edgars) for the best mystery fiction, nonfiction, television, film or theater published or produced the year before. A huge honor! And on top of everything she was very humble about it.

Imagine?

I got all woozy imagining how it’d feel.

But coming back down to reality, this rare and wonderful occurrence is not the norm for most writers. Let’s face facts, rejection letters are trophies for many successful writers. It’s the rite of passage.

So I have only one question. How many more “trophies” will I be honored with before my first book is published?

Honestly, just got a little woozy thinking about that, too. ;-)

ATE TOO MANY COOKIES BLUES…

Something about summer sunshine, sparkling water and a wide blue sky makes me happy. But not today.

Today I ate too many cookies. Anytime I weigh myself and see how I’ve lost a few pounds, I immediately want to celebrate. Celebrate by eating cookies, of course. Any kind of cookie. Oatmeal, shortbread, sprinkled, oh and that powdered sugar cookie (think it’s called Mexican Wedding), and especially most of all…chocolate chip.

My summer break, so far, is similar to my cookie intake. Too much of a good thing can make one sick.

Here is what I mean: My manuscript is complete and off with the agents, so I’ve been celebrating. A lot. Went to visit my brother in Vegas, family in San Diego, had a wedding anniversary dinner, graduation party, had a slumber/pool party for my kiddo. And mind you, all of this “celebrating” happened in a span of only ONE week.

Anybody want a cookie?

LITTLE HOUSE IN THE TRAILER PARK, Second Summer

Last summer my son and I stayed in our little travel trailer nestled in the hidden valley of Escondido. Papa and Grammie and all the cousins live there. There’s a pool, jacuzzi and lots of palm trees. And last year’s adventure included a trip to Disneyland (for research, you know, for my book) :-)

This summer we hope to relax by the pool. I have a summer reading list that is growing everyday. Here’s where I’m at so far in middle grade:

THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY by, Tracy Holczer

BEST KEPT SECRET/FAMILY TREE SERIES Book Three by, Ann Martin

THE RIVERMAN by, Aaron Starmer

ALMOST HOME by, Joan Bauer

And in young adult and adult:

GIFT OF THE PHOENIX by, Donna Cook

GIRLS IN WHITE DRESSES by, Jennifer Close

And in between all this fun reading, I hope to do a little writing, spend time with family, and dine at some of my favorite restaurants.

What summer plans await you?

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FILE, SAVE, REPEAT

One afternoon a few weeks ago I was rushing on a deadline with my editor. As I reviewed the manuscript, what felt like the millionth time, the words on the screen slurred. “NO!” I thought. “Not now.”

My computer was crashing.

Immediately, I saved my work. And as an email attachment, I sent it back to myself.

For awhile my longtime trusty computer had been on the fritz. Poor guy. I think of it as a HIM. I don’t know why. Anyway, I had to finish the manuscript to send to my editor and then to a few agents who had agreed to review the revisions.

I turned the computer off and then restarted it several times. And working page by page, saving the work, emailing it to myself, I was able to finish it!

Now, the story is complete and off with the agents. And today I’m getting a new computer. I’ll miss the old one, but my hubby says this one will be just like the old one. We’ll see.

That’s life, isn’t it? Always out with the old and in with the new. Maybe this is the beginning of many new things–new experiences.

Wouldn’t that be lovely?

A SATURDAY EVENING POST Family & Writing…

In the cool of this Saturday evening, the sun now diminished to hues of gold and red, I share a few profound thoughts about how my family feels about me being a writer.

All right. Maybe not so profound, but at least honest.

I’ll interview my ten-year-old son first.

Here we go. The following will be his actual responses to my questions.

Me: Son, what do you think about your mom being a writer?

Him: Um, I think it’s weird cuz I hate writing.

Me: Really? Why do you hate writing?

Him: I like Star Wars.

Me: What does that have to do with writing?

Him: The original Star Wars was a book. That was worth writing. But write this part down Mom, okay? Are you writing this?

Me: Yes.

Him: Star Wars books aren’t as accurate as the movies.

Me: All right. Thanks for answering my questions. I’ll go ask your dad.

(Now, standing in front of my hubby in the kitchen.)

Dear, how do you feel about me being a writer?

Him: Proud.

Me: That’s it? Anything else?

Him: Happy? I don’t know. What do you want me to say?

Me: This is not helpful. Never mind.

Him: No really, I love you’re a writer.

Me: (Smiles endearingly.)

END OF INTERVIEWS.

How about you? How does your family feel about your writing?

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