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


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-


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.


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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Full Nest - The Night Before:

  • Run to Fiske's General Store to get school supplies. Shucks, I forgot the grade 2 list! No worries, they have it all on file.

  • Zoom to the grocery store to get something for their lunch. Stand in line #34 at the deli counter with other anxious kids and moms. #25? 26?

  • Rush home. Make a quick dinner on the fly.

  • Pick out clothes, organize backpacks

  • Bathe kids, into pajamas, tuck into bed. Ahhhh….

  • Anxious little students need glass of water. Tuck into bed.

  • Can’t sleep. Tuck into bed.

  • Read them a story. Tuck into bed. Tip-toe out.

  • Finally asleep.

  • Empty Dishwasher. Change laundry. Answer email.

  • Lay down. Can’t sleep- thinking of all the “to dos”

  • Doze, awaken, doze, awaken...

  • Pass out.

Empty Nest- The Night Before:

I decide to stop in Superette on way home from work.

Hmmmm…What shall we put on grill for dinner?

I listen to John Mayer’s “Stop this Train” on my way home. Feeling sentimental as I see the mom’s hurrying across the cross walk with their kids to Fiskes.

Right… Back to school tomorrow. I forgot.

Stop this train I wanna get off and go home again I can’t take the speed it’s moving in I know I can’t, but honestly Won’t someone stop this train?

So scared of getting older I’m only good at being young So I play the numbers game to find a way To say that life has just begun

I pour myself a glass of wine and slow roast the potatoes while waiting for my husband.

We relax in the family room, watching “Chronicle”, sipping wine, enjoying a leisurely dinner, catching up on the day.

We mention the kids and wonder how they are doing.

“Wonder if they have any plans for Labor Day?” I say, “Maybe we could see if they can come for a cook out?”

“I think the boys are busy, “ Scott adds, “and Erica is moving.”

“Guess we got to call ahead these days.” I remember. We both laugh and smile.

Our usual late night, starry walk fills us up. The moon is full, crickets serenade and a slight cool breeze hints that fall is here. We see lamps flicking on in the neighbor's window.

Restless kids, I bet.

Full Nest - The Morning of:

  • Alarm goes off at 6:00. Kids already restlessly moving around.

  • Dog needs walking.

  • Throw on some sweats, splash water on face, clip up hair.

  • Husband can’t find his shirt.

  • Kids up and getting dressed. Son limping with one shoe on as he looks for the other.

  • Into the kitchen. Quick bowls of cereal for all. Noisy sips of juice.

  • Momma… Can you tie my shoes? Please?

  • Make 3 lunches and pack into new zippered thermal lunch bags. Which kid picked the Ninja Turtle one again?

  • Oh my gosh… milk money! Where’s my change?

  • Everyone dressed? Slide brush through daughter’s hair and quickly clip with a barrette.

  • Dog lapping his water bowl, spills on floor. Paper towels.

  • Look at the clock.. “Got to leave in 5 minutes!”

  • “Have a nice day honey,” Dad offers with a quick wink and a smile.

  • Run through checklist. Have they got everything?

  • Glance at clock. Oh no… Are we gonna miss the bus?

  • “Lets go!” Leash on dog, cell phone in pocket, fumble for keys.

  • 3 kids, a dog and a mom squeeze out the door. Chattering excitement.

  • Brisk walk to corner. “Stay together now, and watch for cars.”

  • Rumble of bus in the distance. Are we there in time? See neighbor and her kids waiting there. Steaming coffee in hand.

  • Ok were on time. Won’t miss bus.

  • Whew. Slow down pace.

  • Kids skip ahead to see their friends. Mom’s converse. Cell phone camera freezes moments for Facebook.

  • Dog’s sniff. Sound of lawns mowing. Sun streaks through the trees as the yellow bus appears in distance.

  • Brakes squeal. Bus stops. Bi-fold door slides open. Smiley bus driver reassures.

  • Kids see friends and leap on to bus. 1st steps too high for littlest, require a helping hand. Our big send-off over too quick. Did I give him a kiss?

  • Tears well up in eyes. (Mom’s not kids.) Door slides closed. Each guardian closely surveying the line of windows as kids walk down aisle and plop into bus seat.

  • Smiling face up against window. Erratic waving from each side of glass.

  • A pause while bus driver asks everyone to sit down.

  • Puff of exhaust and the bus rumbles to next stop.

  • Hands in air still waving.

  • Tears still streaming.

  • Pause of quiet as bus goes out of site.

  • Turning to each other, sharing of emotion, exhaustion and laughter, as the coffee in the mugs go cold.

  • Dabbing at eyes. Glad I have my sunglasses on.

  • “Have a good day,” I mutter.

  • The dog’s tail wags in happiness and his tags jingle as I turn back home.

  • Step by step an interesting mix of emptiness and relief creeps in and more tears flow. Rattle of key in the lock. As door slides open, the dog is unleashed and I pause.

  • The quiet is deafening.

  • It seems like forever till you will be at the bus stop again.

Empty Nest - The Morning of:

Six o'clock alarm dings. I hit snooze and decide to sleep a little longer.

Stretching, I slip on my robe and greet the kitties meowing for their breakfast.

On way up the stairs , I glance toward the back windows and see the preschool photos of my kids lined up on the end table. They are among my favorite. Black and white, sort of vintage in feel, capturing my children at their sweet innocence. I reach for the middle silver frame and pull my son Mark’s picture up and need to remove my glasses to really take a look. My eyes feel wet as I remember his sweet voice, rolling eyes when he was embarrassed and tender heart.

Memories of the first day of school flood back. I smile as I recall following Jared’s bus to school that first day of kindergarten. Not because I needed to, but because it was so hard to see him go. My first son, no longer a baby, but joyfully stepping up on the bus with a backpack bigger than he was. Not looking back, only forward.

Jared's first day of Kindergarten

A mixture of embarrassment and anxiety faded as I arrived at his school and see several other mothers who have followed the bus too. All of us needing reassurance that our children really did get to kindergarten.

We crouch stealthily behind our cars, large vintage video cameras rolling. I see Miss Parker greet the kids at the bus. Jared and the other kids follow her like sheep after a shepherd down the sidewalk and into the school, disappearing into the hallway. I wipe the tears from my eyes and head home - 1:00pm seems days away. I miss my sweet boy.

Jared is nearly 38 now… Where has the time gone? A grown man with a home, a wife, three daughters and a dog of his own. Once in a while, I surprise him and put one hand on each side of his scruffy face and see just for a moment the blue eyes of my little Jared, in his teddy bear over-alls just wanting a hug and kiss.

Once in a while when it’s good It’ll feel like it should And they’re all still around And you’re still safe and sound And you don’t miss a thing ‘til you cry When you’re driving away in the dark

My precious grown up son, Jared and I

The warmth of my mug invites a sip and I glance out the kitchen window to see the yellow bus squeal to a stop. Eager children leap on the bus after quick kisses. Mothers and fathers search the windows for a glance at their child as it pulls away. Hands outstretched, erratically waving goodbye. Life has come full circle. I miss those days. Oh… to go back for a moment and relive those those crazy, hectic, precious mornings.

Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in And don’t think I couldn’t ever understand I tried my hand John, honestly, we’ll never stop this train.

Enjoy "Stop this Train" by John Mayer and have a good cry at:

:) Cathy

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A Little Bit of This & That

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