And what a leap it was!…

…all the way from the New Year to mid-summer! How did that happen…?

Well, I can only describe the first few months in my new position at the college as truly grabbing hold of a moving train and hanging on for dear life. But hang on I did, and manage to scramble aboard and squeeze myself into a rattling car. And it’s still full steam ahead. Then, in February, I turned 40 which called for an impromptu, creative jaunt to my beloved City of Dreaming Spires.

I returned to spend hours in the backyard stripping paint off doors and window trim in anticipation of remodeling my office…at the same time spending precious last days with my feline magician assistants, Copperfield and Houdini, who left me in April and May, and took with them all joy for a time.

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After seventeen years of company on every life step, dream, and scheme, the world within and without was sad and uninspired without them. For a time I didn’t care if the office got finished or the book published or what filled my free time. Thankfully, that part of grief does pass. And though those two are forever in our hearts and missed daily, there is a new addition to the family who has infused it anew with youth and joy. Realizing that we still had love and a home to share…and that a real writer needs a cat companion to write anything worthwhile!…my husband brought this fellow home from the local animal shelter…

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He was introduced to us as a twelve-year-old Licorish, but we now know him as the more-like-four-year-old Oscar.

But in this long leap of time and all that transpired, did I take the “true leap” I wrote about in January…the daily leap into the life and identity of a writer, filled with wonder and writing and inspiration, despite everything else that can get in the way? The short answer is yes…and no. I did…just not as much as I should or could have.

When I was in Oxford I spent five blissful days researching an exciting new treasure hunt of a story…I just haven’t made much progress on the actual writing of it. And I have been wrestling with and pondering important revisions to Shadow of a Woman, with good results, making it a stronger manuscript…but I haven’t yet resubmitted to agents. And I made it to a Sisters-in-Crime meeting…but only one. Still, here I am, having leaped, stumbled, had a bit of a rough landing, but brushed myself off and am ready to go.

And that’s the reality of leaps, I suppose…

 

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Reporting in from the new office…

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Good morning…from my new office! Yes, it’s still in my house, but (for those of you who followed my 365 day journey around the sun) it is no longer the Blue Room, or even the dining room table. It’s a well-lit, dual-aspect, cozy bedroom off the dining room. It still needs work, as you can see, but I have French doors out to the rest of the house and a little jewel-box of a bathroom all to myself…not to mention a flat-screen tv, Playstation, sofa bed with quilts, and my faithful feline assistants. But, I assure you, writing will still get done…

Actually, I must get some writing done! I’ve been feeling quite lost as an artist…even though I’ve been working through the Artist’s Way and expressing my creativity through cooking and cross-stitching and decorating for autumn. But I haven’t been writing and I can tell my soul needs it. I even had a visit from a black widow spider, crawling across the living room floor to where I sat doing bills one evening with all the lights on! I think the message was clear…”embrace your female power, create, weave…or else!” I thanked her for her message and quickly relocated her outside. I’m worried if I don’t get writing soon she’ll visit me again.

I am pleased to report that Pitch Madness day went very well. I had multiple small publishing houses express interest, as well as one very reputable agent. I thanked the publishing houses, explaining that I would first like to seek agent-representation. As for the agent, well unfortunately (in one sense) the book is already out to one of her colleagues for consideration, and the agency has a strict no-submitting-to-multiple-agents policy. I emailed her and was honored to receive a response informing me that if her colleague didn’t express interest, she’d like to see the manuscript next. Of those first eight submissions of SHADOW OF A WOMAN to agents that went out in July, I’m still waiting to hear back – or not hear back, as the case may be – from four by the end of October. In the meantime, I have put submissions on hold, and am revisiting the manuscript. Not for major revisions to the plot, but to clean up the language even further, and increase tension where possible. A good manuscript goes through seven to eight drafts…this would put me at six, I think. And I’ve been blessed with the most unlikely of editors – my husband! He’s not read the book before, and is very good with language, so as we read it together, he’s helping to point out where I have too much description, what needs better description, and what just doesn’t make sense.

But I still need to get writing. I’ve been considering participating in NaNoWriMo this year. For those of you not familiar with this crazy writing event, it’s where writers across the world commit to writing 50,000 words in one month. And November of all months!…with Thanksgiving and family and holidays to negotiate. But it’s a wonderful way to force a first draft out. I’ve calculated that to make the quota I would need to write six pages a day, every day. What’s prevented me from making the commitment is that I just can’t decide which project I’d work on. Logic tells me that I should start the next Penzey Brighton mystery. But I also have another series I’d like to start. And then there’s my epic, historical fantasy, that will require tons of delicious research and total abandon. How to choose?!

And that’s the report from my new office. Apologies for the length. That’s what comes from being away too long. But I’m thinking that now that I’ve got an office back, I’ll be able to report in more often in style and comfort!