Saturday, November 29, 2008

Grateful to be Don Quixote no more

Whoops! Late giving thanks! What am I grateful for? You guys! And the birthday girl who introduced me into the wonderful world of critique groups nearly four amazing years ago. I am grateful to share my writing and my life with you ladies, as our children grow older and we do too. We've been through so much together—two births!—yet we've never officially *met*. (except Heidi and I) It's almost hard to believe, isn't it? When we do, we'll barely notice, I think. It'll seem like we've been sitting around each other's living rooms and kitchens for years, yapping.

Anyway, I am grateful for these women, my writing sisters, and my whole extended online writing community, which has mushroomed pretty far and wide. I am grateful for my children, husband and parents, who continue to support and cheer me on in my endeavors and what used to seem like Don Quixote wacking at a windmill, and doesn't so much anymore.

And lastly I am grateful for the incredible Catherine Drayton, (deep breath, who represents, yes, Marcus Zuzak, of the Book Thief), my agent, who first, unbelievably, gave a hint she liked my writing a year ago this Thanksgiving and is now, even more unbelievably, guiding my career and working with me on revisions of my latest book.

Okay..yep...grateful. That's me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today is Thanksgiving and yesterday was my 35th birthday. This time of year is tough for me, because every since I was a little girl most of my friends were usually busy or out of town this week. It isn't easy having a birthday this close to a holiday, but when I start to get down I think of all of the reasons I have to be thankful.
I made it another year, I have friends and family, books and writing, a house, clothing and a job I enjoy. I am a Sagittarius (one of the luckiest, jovial signs of the zodiac). I am a mother and a wife. I have many interests so I am rarely if ever bored. I am alive and ready to howl at the moon!
I am thankful for all of the ladies in this group...I could not do it without you.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

I'm spending the day baking pies, watching the Macy's parade with my son, and thinking about how grateful I am for all of the wonderful people in my life. Since this is a blog about writing, this is the place where I'll take an extra moment to be grateful first to these wonderful, wacky women, who help me so much and make me so happy. Thanks, Slingers!

I'm also so thankful that the universal powers-that-be nudged me to write in the first place. To have something that gives me such a sense of purpose and wonder is truly a gift, and I am so, so grateful to have it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Every night before putting my daughter to bed, we say, "love, peace, health, happiness, gratitude."
At the risk of turning this into some Hallmark Hall of Fame "thankful" blog, I have to be honest. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am grateful for my health, family, friends, and job. Sometimes I get caught up with things, and then I look at my baby girl and watch her, how she is so amazed by the way a ball moves in her hand; the way a toy makes a noise. And I stop. I stop work. I stop everything to be grateful that I have these moments with her.
My deadline is looming.
My daughter is healthy.
The laundry is piled up.
We have food on the table.
The house looks like a tornado has gone through Toys R Us and deposited everything in one fail swoop.
I have a home.
And I have a job to buy those toys. And I have good mind not to replace the batteries in any of them.
I am grateful.
I wish you and your family love, peace, health, happiness and gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks is obviously the theme for the week as we near Turkey Day and I have so much to be thankful for. Hubby, relatives and friends, all of whom are healthy is just the begining. Then I can move on to a rewarding (though exhausting) job, great co-workers, wonderful boss and on into my home and the critters running around in it, chewing up my bathroom rugs. Next, my writing buddies. I have learned so much from the Wordslingers and continue to be amazed by the wealth of talent we have in our group. But I'm also thankful for Thanksgiving. I've got a couple of days off and a great meal planned with good friends. It's a special time of year and I hope that everyone has a blessed holiday whether you're serving turkey or tofu.
Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Mandy :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Someone I Deeply Admire

"My first memory is of the brightness of light...light all around."

I have always been fascinated by artist, Georgia O'Keeffe. Born in 1887, she was a strong, determined woman who never let anything stand in the way of her goal. She lived in West Texas (where I grew up) and still found beauty. Her true home was in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. I lived in New Mexico for several years and in lots of ways feel it is my home. The land is breathtaking and I can completely understand why it inspired her so.
"When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore...unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk this land when I'm dead."

She is one person I would love to meet on the other side, or in another life. She is a wonderful role model. Whenever you feel stuck in one spot in your writing, or you're frustrated that something is not going the way you thought it should, look at some of her work. I promise it will inspire you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On the back burner

I'm stuck between two manuscripts. I've started a new work and am loving it but at the same time there's still Solis. My new wip, tenatively called Rossi, is so much fun and I'm in the creating stage whereas Tala and Solis are hanging out...waiting on me to decide which one gets my attention. Rossi tugs and demands my time while Tala sits quietly twiddling her thumbs, hoping that I'll eventually finish those last few edits and start querying. She's been placed on the back burner. Am I just afraid to query? Is there more that needs to be done? Who knows what's going on in my weird pysche. But for now, it seems that Rossi is winning the battle.

I know that my pic has nothing to do with my post...I just couldn't pass it up though. I love Pearls Before Swine and I often feel like pig does. He mirrors my emotions more than I'd like to admit.


Monday, November 17, 2008


So, I'm trying desperately to finish the project I'm working on because 1) that's my job as a writer and 2) I have an idea for a new thing that I'm excited to start on.

And yet I barely eeked out five pages last week. Why? Time. Plain and simple. Either the kid decides not to nap or I have a house project that has to get finished before I host the out-of-town guests and parties and events that are clogging my calendar between now and the new year. And I LOVE all of those things . . . but when I can't get my writing done, I am one frustrated woman.

It seems like it's always one thing or the other - not enough inspiration, or not enough time! But oh, there are those rare and wonderful moments when we get some of both and that's when things really click.

So, I guess I'll sit on my muse and hope she sticks around until my dining room curtains are hung and my kid is in bed.

Regarding my revising

I'll be a hamster to Trish's bird—a whole lot of effort with not as much to show as I'd like. Yes, I am making good progress, but not as fast as I think I should. I'd love to just have the remaining chapters pour out from my mind like golden honey, but instead the ideas are dribbling out in fits and starts. And right now, I'm kind of plugged. Maybe I should have posted an image of that already forgotten dude, Joe the Plumber.

Of course, like Trish's industrious bird, I'll get there, but sometimes I feel that for all the frenetic activity, I'd have more to show for it.

But this too, shall pass. Ah, if only books wrote themselves...but then nothing truly worthwhile comes without real effort. In the immortal words of one of this semester's graphic design students, "go hard or go home" other words, just get it done and get it done right (and quit yer whining).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Twig by Twig

I've decided that right now the animal I feel like is the bird (and I chose the hummingbird because they represent joy). Birds are amazing. It takes them days to make one little nest. They pick up one twig or one leaf at a time, sometimes twice their weight. They don't give up, they don't stop until it's finished. It can rain and the bird will keep going. The wind can knock the nest out of the tree and the bird just rebuilds.
I feel like a bird right now. It may take me a while to complete my revisions, but I will not let the winds or the rain stop me. I'll take it twig by twig until my masterpiece is in my agent's hands.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We're back ...

Funny. You wouldn't think taking the time to write five minutes/week would be a task, but, alas, we entered the blog realm and so very quietly slipped away from it. But we're back and stronger than EVER.
Lisa, our resident artist has been offered representation! Christine and Trish are out there with amazing agents shopping their work. Mandy is ready to jump in and start querying. Yikes! And Jean, well, Jean is getting new eyes.
As for me, I'm up to my eyeballs in revisions for novel #2 -- still working with Jill Santopolo and HarperCollins (now with Balzer and Bray books).
But I wanted to take a moment to tip my hat to Laura Geringer. After twenty-seven years in the business, she decided to move on and is now going to write full-time. She's written loads of children's books under the name L.G. Bass. I've never met Laura Geringer, but I am so so proud to have had my first novel out under her imprint. And so grateful that she took a chance on me.
Laura Geringer is a gem in the business. She would take on projects and novels not necessarily because they'd be commercial successes but because she believed they were books that quite simply needed to be out there. And she's built a reputation by working with renown authors like Laura Numeroff, William Joyce, Richard Egielski. I am so fortunate that she thought FREEZE FRAME should carry the imprint those other books do.
So, though I've never met her, I miss her.
And I will always be grateful that she took a chance on me.
Best of luck to you, Laura Geringer!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

One of My Muses: The Decemberists

And I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I've written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones
I am a writer, I am all that you have hoped on

And I've written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones
My bones
My bones

(And if you don't love me let me go)
And if you don't love me let me go
(And if you don't love me let me go)
And if you don't love me let me go

The Decemberists are my favorite band. I had the great fortune to see them this past Wednesday, Nov. 5 the day after the most amazing election in the history of the universe. I'm mainly mentioning this band, because, Colin Maloy, the wild and wacky lead singer and incredible genius behind this troop of geniuses claims he is a failed writer. I just want to send a shout out to Colin, because he is not a failed writer, but rather a writer who has managed to put a treasure trove of amazing stories to music. For the past three years, the music of the Decemberists has been an inspiration to me. I truly realized this at that performance Wednesday as they breezed through the songs that have been the soundtrack of my life as I struggled to find myself as a writer. Particularly the song above. I distinctly remember listening to that on my favorite radio station, (shameless plug here) WFUV, the non-commercial station out of Fordham U, on a fall day last year when I was feeling pretty discouraged. For some reason, those words, and the haunting melodies helped me resolve to plug on. Now here I am, one year later, agented by one of the best in the biz, Ms. Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Mgt, fresh off the Decemberist concert. It became a giant blue state celebration of the election of Barack Obama. So I guess, I'm rambling, but I just want to reflect on the two impossibilities that have actually come true this year: Landing an amazing agent and witnessing the election of the most amazing human being I can think of to lead this country. And...I'd like to mention: Mr. Obama is a published author, to boot. (and he can pronounce nuclear). It's been quite a week. Oh..and did I mention I turned 50?


I was a clumsy kid. Every year in gym, we would complete a gymnastics rotation. There was not a single event I could master and I wanted so much to be able to flip and fly through the air. But no, my feet need to stay on the ground. Now that I'm older, balance takes on a new meaning. Work, writing, critting, hubby, friends, reading, housework and on and on (and I don't have kids...I am in awe of all moms!) Learning to juggle all of my responsibilities plus everything that I want to get done is a trick I've yet to master. I'm still struggling for balance. I know that everyone wrestles with having enough time in the day but I also know that some have mastered a schedule that I am totally jealous of. I love to hear how others fit everything into one day, people are so creative when it comes from making the most of their time. So tell you have a schedule? Do you stick to it? I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal by nature but I'll keep working to find my balance at least until life decides to knock me off the beam again.

Holiday Gift-giving Guide

In a word? Books. Please.

In this economic disaster zone, it seems some folks are still bullish on the book market, and as someone who is still waiting (mostly) patiently for her agent to sell a manuscript, I hope to God they're right.

This article seems to think fiction is the way to go this holiday season.

Books are an inexpensive way for people to escape the not-so-wonderful reality around them. They're portable. They're easy to wrap. There are endless choices. I say, hit your local bookseller and you can be done with your holiday shopping in time to grab a gingerbread latte and read the first few chapters of the book you couldn't resist buying for yourself.

Looking for a suggestion? Try FREEZE FRAME, by our own Heidi Ayarbe, available now at bookstores everywhere (and also, of course, on Amazon.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Writing and What A Book Can Become...

S. Meyer's TWILIGHT comes to the big screen this month...and it's amazing to me. I read the book two years ago before all of the hype. It was just on the verge of becoming popular and none of the other books had been released. I loved it, and I can't wait for the movie to hit theatres. I will be in the audience the first night Edward's face graces the big screen.
Every time I see the trailer for this movie I wonder if she ever imagined her idea, her baby becoming this huge. Did she even fathom the popularity of something that was once a thought in her head?
In looking at some of our previous posts, I saw that last October I thought I was almost finished with the final revisions of Shadow People. Ha! I'm at it again, and might as well use a pick ax! My point is, I can't imagine my characters hitting the big screen, or hundreds of squealing teens standing in line until midnight for the release of my book. It would be wonderful, but while I have my head in the book all I can focus on is where the characters lead.
So how does it happen? How does one little idea become what Meyer's books are today? Or even Harry Potter for that matter? Is it timing, marketing, luck or all of the above?