Room With a (Better) View

The den’s been in a bit of chaos. It’s looked like this since last Thursday:

Yeah, that’s right. No room for chairs. No room to walk. Papers all over. Cords a-tangled. Chaos reigns. … The desk is normally right under that window, but it’s been pulled out like that mostly because I wanted to replace this window:

Not sure if you can tell there, but the window is completely warped along the bottom and wouldn’t shut. Not that that’s a problem in the summer months, but as soon as December hit, and we got some temps in the 30s and 40s (whaaa?), it became very, very difficult to sit here at my desk and finish my manuscript late at night. Or early in the morning. Or during rainy weekends. Or anytime at all, really. … Cold wind would come straight down the street, under that little window opening, and right over my hands! If I didn’t have deadlines, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been in there. (As it was, I was in there with sweaters on and blankets pulled down over my wrists.)

(No laptop, you ask? Nah. That’s what normal people would do. But those laptop keyboards kill me when I’m writing more than 1,000 words in a sitting.)

ANY-way. …

We got our new window in! Yippee! It’s here:

Isn’t she pretty? (And clean! And white!)

Tonight I’ll push my desk back, try to clean up the desktop a little, and then I’ve got to get some nice window coverings (I have a valance, but looking for some kind of roller shade). Suggestions welcome! Balloon-y Roman shade? Natural reedy roller shade? Hmmm …

The Next Step on the Road to Publication — Manuscript Changes for Your Agent

So if Step 1 is to write your book, and Steps 2 through 73 are to write a bazillion query letters and enter contests to help you find an agent, and Step 74 is to score an agent, I guess I’m finally at Step 75 or so.

And that involves making some manuscript changes that my agent thinks will help win over publishers of my genre.

She didn’t ask for many changes. And the few she asked for I agreed with 100%. But the biggest thing she needed me to do was to trim the manuscript by 16,000 words. (Gasp!)

Not that I didn’t know that was coming. …

I’d read lots of great articles and posts about why 100,000 words it the TOP of the word count, and – for a debut author – you should really try to hit the low line of the word count, like 85,000 words. (Everyone asks me how many pages this is, and I’m not really sure — I always think in word count. But I think 85,000 words is roughly 200 pages, 100,000 words is closer to 350 I believe. I was writing close to 400! a.k.a. Too many.)

Anyway, I’ve always written long. At the newspaper I was known for this, and it sometimes when an ad would drop out, my editors Dixie or Greg would turn to me and ask me if I could extend a story (sometimes other people’s stories!) by 300 words to fit the space? Sure! Writing long was my specialty. …  Continue reading

The Helen Sipka Football Pool

Well, not only does my late grandma inspire the Helen Sipka Family Craft Exchange, but now she has, apparently, inspired a football pool.

My uncle used to run a pretty involved Fantasy Football League, with lots of Sipkas participating, but things got complicated over the years, and he got busy, and everyone else got busy, and the Fantasy Football League kind of fell by the wayside. …

(I should add, in the spirit of full disclosure, that I barely understood Fantasy Football play. And never played. But my MOM is totally into football, and my hubby and oldest son, so they’d all jump into the Fantasy Football leagues.)

Anyway, this year, we still didn’t do Fantasy Football, but my uncle wrote an email to everyone at the end of the season and said that he “got a message from Mom that we needed to do a Super Bowl pool that would make us think about ‘Respect’ more.”

So apparently Helen Sipka has inspired a respect football pool now — from Heaven!

My uncle put everyone’s name in a square for the playoffs – we all doubled up, actually, because Helen Sipka had a large family – and whoever won would earn “respect” from his/her immediate and extended family and would be addressed as “Miss” or “Mister” by all family members for one full year!

And guess who won????

Yep, Miss Laurie here, in the 49ers and Baltimore square. Along with my cousin, Miss Kathy.

Nathan and Rene haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. … (My uncle noted that “Mrs. Mom” is also acceptable…)

Fun stuff if you’re still planning your own football pools. …

Another Goodbye. …

It actually gets a little easier each time, watching my son walk away at five-thirty in the morning, get on a plane at LAX, head to his new life 1200 miles away. …

It gets easier because I’m so proud of him, and so proud of how he’s navigating life almost all on his own now.  Despite the fact he was just a little pipsqueak up to my knee just … yesterday, wasn’t it? … he now navigates all these airports with no problem, navigates his life at school, gets to his newspaper job in the middle of the night, buys his own groceries, makes his own meals. … It’s kind of an amazing thing, actually, watching your kids become adults.

And seeing them forge forward through life with resourcefulness and confidence. …

I guess those — along with your love and respect and adoration — are some of the greatest gifts you can give. …


I Have an Agent!

Yes, indeedy!

I’m officially an agented author now!

Now all those weeks of the kids having no clean socks; the refrigerator being mostly empty; missing most of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; ignoring the kids’ hints that maybe I should decorate for Christmas; having to go out to eat again because I was too busy at the computer; missing the last part of Ricky’s “The Walking Dead” family marathon; and using up every last second of my vacation time … well, it all seems worth it!

I scrambled to meet my November 30 deadline to finish writing the next manuscript, then a January 2 deadline to turn in the polished manuscript to the next Golden Heart contest, and also mentioned to the agent who I really wanted (squeeee!) – Jill Marsal at Marsal-Lyon Literary Agency – that I’d send her the new ms on Jan. 2 also.

It took zero-ing out on vacation time and that burying-myself-in-a-cave thing, but I did it.

And she called me the next morning to offer representation!

Yippee, 2013!

Here we goooooooooo

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