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(SUNG TO "THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS")

Bold phrases are sung to ("5... Golden... Rings...)


On the day I got the email

the owner said to me

Could you come 11 to 3?



Gathering up my items

my husband said to me:

Here's a big hug,

and a hot cup of chamomile tea.



On the day of my visit

I feel so joyfully.

Can’t wait to do this!

Meeting with the children,

An author’s what I wanted to be.


Lugging my book bag

The owner said to me:

I'm here to help you,

So glad you came

Here is your spot

Is there any thing else you might need?



As I set up my table

a vendor said to me:

How I love cats!

So glad you're here.

This is fun

I'm over there

She was as sweet as a person could be.


In the first hour of signing,

a small boy said to me,

My name is Emmett

I love your cats!

I like writing too

Who wrote this?

Guess how old I am?

My baby brother is three.



In the next hour of signing

12 voices sung to me

All the favorite carols

I was getting misty

Are those your cats?

I have two cats too

one's "Meow-Meow"

and then there's "Lilly belle"

Then I smiled and gladly signed three.


My precious cats: Angel and Camille, How I miss them!


While waiting at my table

a vendor said to me:

My cats have helped me...

deal with my cancer...

My heart was touched...

Gifted her a book

signed, "To Jean"

Both our hearts were full

Then I cried into my chamomile tea.


Jean, If you see this... I will never forget you.

Your courage, strength and joy despite it all, reminded me of what is really important.


Sneaking up the stairway,

my grandie peeked at me:

Grammie, it is Miller

we came to see you

Look at my t-shirt

I'm feeling hungry

I miss your cats!

Are you selling books?

Let's go home.

What is in your cup?

Just my frosty, cold chamomile tea.


Me with three of my grandaughters: Hadleigh, MIller and Quinn


On the tenth of the hour

A sweet teen said to me

Can I have a Kit-Kat?

I really like them

Kitties are amazing

Mines russian blue

But she passed away

Goodbye is so hard!

I want another cat

fingers crossed

Hope they let me soon

Really, how sweet would that be?


A beautiful Russian Blue.

In the last few minutes

a grandma asked of me:

Do you do school visits?

His class would like one

Maybe after Christmas?

Feeling very grateful

Hugs are the best

When a friend stopped by

I miss my cats

They are touching hearts

and teaching

families to adopt

and it makes me so very happy


If you're a cat person... you know.


On the way home from signing

my head is spinning round:

12 Men were singing

11 Children laughing

10 Books a-signing

9 Ladies chatting

8 Men a-waiting

7 Pets adopted

6 Stories sharing

5 grateful moments

4 crying toddlers

3 granddaughters

2 new friends

Yes, it's time for some chamomile tea.



Thank you to everyone who stopped by yesterday at Hopkinton Card & Gift.

Special thanks to Julia- for the invite. You have such a beautiful store!

To Julie- for your friendship and ever present smile.

To Jean-who was such a blessing and inspiration.

To my family and grandkids for their never-ending support. When you surprise me at these events it makes my day.

and lastly to Emmett- Keep on writing! Can't wait to buy your book one day and have it signed :)

See you at the next event!

Purchase signed book for the Holidays on my website.

Local pick-up available.


How I miss my writing buddy, Camille

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This was big week for me. I received three... yes three rejections on my work.

Yahooie!


Defined as "the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc." One rejection hurts, but three? Ouchie Wa Wa!



What the Thesaurus says was a bit less comforting....


Each of these synonyms captured a bit of the extremes that I felt when my "wanna-be picture books" were not wanted. I started out with the feeling that it was a "kick in the teeth," and most definitely a "hard time." As the days pass, however, I am slowly working toward thinking of it as a "thumbs down" or a "pass."



One "veto"was from an agent who I really liked and longed to partner with. She liked my work well enough to ask me to send more for her consideration. In the years I have been submitting, this is the first time an agent has asked for more work. I was ecstatic and very hopeful.


As the months wore on, I thought it was surely a good sign. I imagined the agency office when my email arrived:

  • A smile creeping across her face as she read my submission, because at long last, she had found the perfect manuscript... mine!

  • Days flying by as she eagerly shared my lovely words with her fellow agents planning all they would do when they acquired it.

  • Meetings being held to discuss just the right illustrator, a Caldecott winner for sure.

  • Hours upon hour scouring their production list to see if they could squeeze it in this year, because

  • This story needs to be in the world. NOW!



Imagination can be a fool's comfort in these situations, allowing me to have in fantasy, what I cannot seem to attain in reality. Over the months, I stalked my email multiple times a day.,


____________________________________________


Then finally, this week they came.


"I enjoyed reading all three of your clever and fun manuscripts.

Each has different strengths and it was a pleasure to see your writing range."


"I'm always grateful for the opportunity to review what an author has poured time,

skill, and heart into creating!


"Thanks for your query. I’m afraid this one isn’t for me."


and finally each ending their email with some version of the all-to-familiar closing lines...


"These reactions are entirely subjective and I don't want to be discouraging. Another editor will feel a stronger connection and I wish you every success with your thoughtful work."


____________________________________________


Ugh! The agents were all very kind, mind you, and a couple even had very nice compliments for me, which were so appreciated. I really am very grateful for the time they took to consider my work. Their job is not easy.


It still sucks though.


The one lesson you learn very throughly in this business is about rejection. Comments on your work are so subjective. I understand. It is part of the process. The agent may have gotten a manuscript similar to mine, they may be looking for something entirely different or most likely, they just did not connect with it.


You do your research, choose just the right manuscript to send, write a knock out query letter complete with polished pitch, comp titles, and courageously send it off. Fingers crossed you will get "the call." But sometimes it can feel like throwing darts and not getting one on the board.



I still hope to get "the call" one day, but as a "late bloomer" I have to work hard not to get discouraged. Each of my many stories, finally complete after multiple drafts revision and critique, sit patiently in my files waiting for the day that they will be read and loved and acquired; when an amazing illustrator will bring them to life with their magic.


In the mean time, I implement another word I have gotten to know quite well-


REVISION.


Re- meaning do again. Vision- meaning seeing.

"To take another look at"


I will research and find another agent that looks promising. Then "alter, amend and improve" my query letter, "reconsider" my manuscripts again, perhaps adding a bit of "review, editing, and polish" to my text. Then bravely hit "SUBMIT," because this is what writers do. They write, put their heart on a page in 500 words, send it out for acceptance and then write some more while we wait. For it is in the waiting that we realize we did it. We wrote and had courage to share it.


Time to get querying.

Here's to crossing my tired fingers once again. :)

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Writers often talk about the story of their heart... the one with subject matter, words and emotions that they are most passionate about and yearn to express.


Miller and my dear friend,Tom


I have such a story. I have been working on "Adopting Kitty"since 2017. That's right folks...

Five years! It is a story about Intergenerational friendship, based on my many experiences "adopting" several 90+ year old Grandmas and Grandpas and our visits together. These years have been filled with some of the most meaningful moments in my life. Truly. I have laughed and loved, celebrated and cried. And I wouldn't have missed a moment.



Today, October 3, 2022,

almost exactly 5 years to the day my first draft of "Adopting Kitty" was written...

I finally have a draft I can move forward with.

YIPPEE!!!!


My dear friend Don and I


So... why did it take so long to get a draft I am happy with and ready to polish?


  • To begin with, contrary to popular belief, picture books are not as easy to write as some may think. Averaging about 500 words, you must crank out your first draft and then spend MANY hours over many months (and yes, in my case- years!) revising, deleting and rewriting to get it just right.

  • I must interject, that most of my manuscripts don't take that long to come to a better place. A place where I really like the beginning, and the often elusive ending seems to be working; where the story arc, tension and pacing are very close to being right and with some work I will be ready to submit.

  • Most of my picture book stories are fiction with characters that I created. With no printed directions on where to take them. I am free to create any setting, plot twist, resolution my little brain cells can think of. And believe me, I have one I am writing now that has had my husband in stitches at how my mind works :)

  • With my parents becoming ill, caring for them, and then planning their funerals, I had to prioritize. If I am honest, all I was going through was a big distraction and not putting me in the headspace needed to write a picture book. AND. THAT'S. OKAY.


Baby Hadleigh meets her new friend


So? What's different about this story?


I think the reason it has taken so long is ...

that I care so much.

  • This story needs to be in the world and I am longing to have it published and promote its message.

  • It is also based on a true story that is very emotional to me.

  • My first drafts took a funny and clever look, but never really got to the core of what was so very meaningful to me - THE EMOTIONAL HEART - The Grandmas and Grandpas, the love we grew to have for each other, the simple moments we shared that were priceless.

  • I have loved each of them (Don, Carolyn, Ron, Phil, Tom, Scotty, Bea, Vinnie, Gladys and Sylvia) and their loss has left an indelible mark on my soul. I feel obligated to honor them with each and every word.

  • For that reason, it was important to take the time that it was going to take. Let the words and feedback simmer in my file for a while.


I am grateful to my friend, Julie Bliven and Andrew Young (both editors at the time) who each critiqued my work and pointed out things I couldn't see. Their feedback, along with that of my daughter Erica Leigh as well as other critique groups, began pointing me in just the right direction.


Then it was simply a matter of

B. I. C.

(Butt in Chair)


I am drained, but I am elated and feeling optimistic that I am one step closer to holding "Adopting Kitty" in my hands. I am ready for its next critique on October 12 and will be waiting with fingers crossed for their comments. Gotta love being a writer!


I'll keep you posted :)






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