It has been a crazy busy week. We flew to Miami for a former student’s wedding (which was very, very lovely) and the day we returned, got a call that someone was flying in from West Palm Beach to view our house.
This meant dropping everything to get the house ready. Not that the house isn’t in good shape, but I still had pumpkin decorations and fading mums on the porch and other remnants of fall that were past their prime… So, we hustled to spruce everything up to be show-room ready. That afternoon, my mother called to say she and Dad decided last minute to visit. They would arrive the next day. Some people may want more notice for a family visit, but the house was going to be clean anyway, so this seemed awfully good timing to me. I was delighted. We enjoyed a fun three days.
I had applied to the Georgia wild life commission to receive fish to stock our lake and was told to bring three 20 gallon containers to a specific place at a specific time to retrieve them. The lake has been left alone for a year to get ecologically balanced and at long last is ready to support fish. Mark was working, but since my parents were here, they joined me for the two hour drive to get this bounty. We argued about whether we should take the truck and if our containers were big enough to support all those fish on the long drive home. We wondered if they would smell or splash water, and speculated all manner of fish related issues. When we got to the hatchery, the game warden went to a tank and started weighing fish that were half the size of minnows. I was thinking, “Gee, they must be giving me these bate fish to feed the bass, brim and catfish I’m hear to pick up. But no, this was the stock. I received about a teacup of minnows, which considering their size might indeed be a hundred or more, but still, the paultry handful of fish seemed silly for those big containers.
“Is that all I get?” I asked. The warden claimed my teacup of fish was all a one acre pond can support. I was lucky they approved my application. Had I purchased the fish from a private hatchery, they’d cost twice as much and still be this size. Well, there ya go. Ya learn something everyday.
My dad and I couldn’t help but make jokes about these itty bitty fish that we drove so far to get, but the man assured us they would be full size and laying eggs by spring. He even said he gave us sixteen additional fish, just to be nice. I can’t imagine these minut fish ever being big enough to catch, but whoever buys our house will have a fully stocked lake, or so the theory goes. It took a full day to get the fish and introduce them properly to the lake, and considering I won’t be living here, you might wonder why I bothered. Well, if the new owners don’t want to feed my ducks, I know my beloved birds will always have something to eat. Besides which, it was a new experience and it’s always fun to see how these things are done. Now I can say I’ve stocked a lake. Check off another item in the life experience column.
The showing went well, and the woman viewing the house seemed impressed. She asked if she could schedule a second showing as soon as her husband could arrange to fly up. That seems promising. That night, we got another call from a gentleman’s secretary. He was one of the power executives we mailed our fancy brochure to, and one of his staff members was calling to arrange a future conference call with Mark to discuss the house and another showing. I’ve made jokes for years about “I’ll have my people call your people,” and dang, if this isn’t proof there really are people calling people for people. Ha. We next got another call from an agent who said she had someone who might be interested if we would consider taking less. Well, all I can say is thank you Mr. Obama for finally sending the message across America that the world may turn once again. After the last few dismally quiet months, the sudden interest in our home is much appreciated.
While we were preparing for the house showing, I got another call. This was from the New Southerner Literary Magazine. Apparently, I won their essay contest. When I applied for the fellowship, I was dismayed to note how inadequate my résumé was in the literary department, so in a last ditch effort to validate myself, I sent a few essays out to some literary venues. I haven’t sent anything to contests in years, and frankly, I’d forgotten about it, but dang, if my revised essay Threads of Meaning didn’t win. They called to tell me my prize check will be in the mail and to ask if they could change one thing. In the piece, I didn’t state where I lived, and they thought readers would want to know where in the country the story occurred (it is about spinning wool fiber). No problem. Sure. Change away. I am now to sign a contract that promises I’ll give credit for first publication to New Southerner if I ever have the essay reprinted. This essay happens to be a chapter in my new memoir, so I don’t see this as a problem. The publication rules are all new to me and I learn as I go. Fascinating.
Before leaving for the wedding, I sent out 40 query letters to agents to introduce my new book, (finally finished) called My Million Dollar Donkey. I was hoping one or two professionals would agree to read the material and consider representing it. The first day, I received three bounce back messages from agencies not accepting material. Bummer. Even though I knew this probably wasn’t a reflection on my work, it made me feel low. What if no one will read this book and it lies dormant like the historical? I’m proud of the memoir. It deals with important issues in a fun way and I have high hopes for the project. If it ends up collecting dust, I’ll be gravely disappointed.
A week later, I started getting responses. I’ve heard from 7 agents so far and five of them are asking for partials, a synopsis and author’s bio. Though I’ve had great faith in this project, I didn’t expect such a wealth of positive responses. I’ve been conditioned to expect rejection, I guess. This is a grueling business to break into. So all week, I’ve been preparing more material for agents. A request for material is a long way from selling, but it’s a very important step in the process. I’m grateful agents are taking me seriously enough to at least give the book fair consideration.
My two no’s were by mail. Today, I went to my file to make notes about them and realized one of these agents was never sent a Donkey query. Ha. This rejection is for my other book. So, I’m batting even better odds than I thought with my memoir. Of course, just as I closed the file and went into my e-mail, there was another “the concept sounds intriguing, but I think I’ll pass” response. Ah well. So much for my blooming overconfidence.
Anyway, this is a week filled with promise and hope.
Perhaps the house will sell. Our new house is half finished, standing at the other end of our land like a beacon of the hoped for the future . . . if only . . . We put construction on hold until our current home sells. I can’t describe how good it will feel to see that construction cranking again and see Mark covered in saw dust, his most becoming state in my opinion.
I can’t help but feel with all the darts being tossed at my writing dart board something is going to hit soon. I care about this book. I can’t wait ‘till it is in the hands of someone who can help place it with a publisher. Perhaps an agent will be my Christmas present.
I won a literary contest. Cool beans. I will let everyone know when and where they can read the publication. I’m validated now – sort of.
My historical novel, which I lovingly refer to as the Albatross (because I can’t seem to let it go even though it drags me down into despair and frustration constantly) is sitting on a senior editor’s desk for a huge romance publisher. Well, to be truthful, she has only a partial. We met at a seminar, had a lively conversation about commercial fiction and how it clashes with a formal literary education (she was in a PH.d program and left it to be a romance publisher) and she requested the book. I should be excited, but I’ve gotten so use to rejections and comments like, “This is a good story but it is not a romance,” that if the book ever did get published I’d probably have a heart attack on the spot. And yet, I keep flinging the albatross back into the world. I am persistent if not practical. So, since I am counting blessings, I’ll throw this one in for good measure.
Even an exciting week has its low points. Here it is. I ran over one of my chickens. Squashed her flat. About ten little hens were crossing the road (to get to the other side, no doubt) as I was driving down to feed the donkey. I went slow, mumbling “Get a move on chicks.”
They usually scurry aside when a vehicle comes through, but when I got out of the car, I looked back and dang if there wasn’t a chicken pancake. Oops. That’s a first. I would feel guiltier except I’ve decided she must have been a very stupid chicken anyway. Nevertheless, I’m stopping the car next time I see a chicken speed bump before me.
Donkey is fine. Peacock is still laying. Mark eyes every omelet as if I’m out to poison him. The horses are dirty. Washed them on one of the last warm days of the season and they went out and rolled in the mud, looking worse than ever within the hour. I gave them the cold shoulder for two days because this means I’ll have grubby horses till spring, but I couldn’t stay mad. Dirty, happy horses are better than clean, disgruntled horses, after all.
Pauli, the baby llama, is so tame you’d swear he was a wolfhound rather than a camelid. He rubs against my legs and gives me kisses whenever I go into the barn. What a cutie. Did I say I was going to sell my llamas? I take it back.
My angora rabbit is due to have babies any day now (Ready for new homes for Christmas) and nothing has been picked off by a predator (unless you include cars) for months. Yes, the barnyard is well adjusted and in harmony with the universe. I dug out my gloves and I’m gearing up for the searing cold ahead. Time soon to crack the ice on drinking buckets and to cuss when the metal gate closures freeze shut. Lots of good times ahead.
Now, I must make three cheesecakes for a huge open house we are having for 40 realitors this Thursday to show off the house. I’m planning my desert table and appetizers in advance. My mother in law is coming for dinner tonight too, so I have an excuse to make something fun – think it will be chicken in a creamy sauce on a puffed pastry with a salad. Perhaps a pie. Cooking still brings me joy. If I was smart, I’d be writing cook books – less tormenting to the heart, I suspect.
Back to work.