Friday, November 13, 2009

When Opportunity Knocks

Back from a writer's conference, I sit in my home office surrounded by piles of paper. I just completed the second draft of my novel and have a stack of changes to make. I have three months to get it into shape and send it off to New York.


When I attended the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, a two-day event with 350 participants, I didn't intend to pitch my novel to anyone. I knew it wasn't finished. Several writers booked appointments with literary agents and editors. At the eleventh hour, there were cancellations; a slot came free to pitch to an editor at NAL, a major New York publisher that takes paranormal. I took it.

At the very most, I expected to find out if there was any interest in the general lines of my story. I pitched, the editor asked pertinent questions and then she asked for the complete manuscript by email. Just like that.

NAL doesn't normally consider unagented material so this IS a rare opportunity.

Before the request, I had a self-imposed deadline and worked on and off on the writing. Now I am knee-deep in manuscript pages (400 in total), in the midst of cutting, revising and polishing. It's what fiction writers do. The editor's request gave me a welcome push.

When we believe in our dreams and actively pursue them, a momentum is created - an energy that taps into the field of possibilities. Then we are more likely to have opportunity knock.

Be prepared - it could happen to you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Sip of Serenity

At the YMCA music blasts from the upper floor, where a roomful of women flap their arms, climb on and off steppers and swing their bodies around. In the Fall everything shifts into high gear. People get into shape, start classes and plunge into their working lives with new vigor.

It’s a go-get-‘em world where everyone rushes just to keep up. Family, job, bills to pay, kids to raise… there’s hardly enough time to breathe.

Listening to the pounding on the floor above me, I sit in a small lounge at the Y and sip my orange/mango juice. After 31 years of a busy office career, I now have different priorities. Earlier today I visited an elderly aunt with bronchitis. In a few minutes I’ll catch a movie with a friend and later on I will tackle the next chapter of my novel.

Things that used to seem important now seem less so. Sharing a smile or an honest conversation has become more meaningful than making a pile of money. There’s nothing to prove and no one to impress. Tranquility and a slower pace are the new norm.

As I leave the building, a red maple leaf flutters from the sky – a graceful reminder of the changing season. Half a dozen people hurry past as it falls unnoticed to the ground.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Return of the Frogs

Something amazing is happening to our natural habitats. This is what I discovered in a suburb of Montreal, a city of three million in eastern Canada.

I live a short distance from parkland along the St. Lawrence River. This area borders the rapids and includes small waterfalls. There’s a lagoon with lots of bushes and trees – known as a wild bird sanctuary where kingfishers, mallards and great blue herons regularly appear. Like elsewhere in North America, contaminants in the river have poisoned the fish; air and soil pollution decimated the population of animals that lived here long ago.

After sunset, I stroll over to this park. It’s a beautiful evening, with cooling breezes and clouds trailing the sky in odd shapes. As dusk falls I hear a chorus of crickets and the “ri-bitt!” of frogs.

Frogs! I’ve lived here over twenty years and rarely heard them before. Has something brought them back? The sound of their croaking is melodious to my ears.

In the semi-darkness, I see a beaver swim across the lagoon to a stretch of lush water grasses.

What I am noticing lately is the presence of all kinds of creatures I’ve never seen here before – red foxes, weasels, vibrant-looking grass snakes, and large snails with decorative shells which I used to see in the countryside farther north.

As I turn to head home, I look down. A small green frog sits on the path. He lets me admire him but makes a huge leap when I try to pick him up. Everything about him looks healthy – and this is the sense I now have about this riverside park.

I heard the vibrational frequency of the planet is rising to new levels. Could it be that the Earth herself is also being cleansed?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spring Rain

For seven straight days, the streets of Montreal have teemed with rain. This morning is no exception as I watch raindrops bounce off the pavement and create widening circles in puddles at the curbs. Everywhere I go, I smell the pungency of wet earth and the delicate scent of lilacs and other flowers in bloom.

There’s something very cleansing about the rain; it washes away the grit of winter and helps us to prepare for a new season.

I think of the healing that takes place when we cry – what a release it can bring. Sadness and grief, when we allow them to flow through us, can lead to peace and acceptance. Men, especially, are socialized to hold their softer emotions in check. Why should crying be less acceptable than laughter? We all need to express both.

A year ago, in the month of May, my dear mother passed on. Fresh grass now grows on her burial plot and mauve tulips stand tall next to her tombstone. Only one or two tears slide down my cheeks as I pay my respects at the cemetery. Her spirit is free now, no longer bound by time or place or affected by the elements.

I can almost hear her shout, “Let it rain – let it rain!”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Climbing Stairs

Our largest library in Montreal, the Bibliotheque Nationale, can be accessed from within the subway system, a great convenience in frigid weather. This morning as I wait for the library to open, I look down at two flights of steps populated with people coming from and going to the trains.

Talk about character in motion! It’s amazing what you can tell about a person from the simple act of climbing or descending stairs. Some of these travelers are terribly out of shape. They use the handrails to haul themselves up, step by step. By the time they reach the landing, they pause to catch their breath. Others skip lightly, rushing to the top. I see someone reading the paper as he takes the stairs. Now that’s multitasking.

Going in the opposite direction, a young man counts bills in his wallet as he goes down. A thin woman in heels clatters all the way to the bottom of the stairs, hanging on to the railing for dear life. Her frame is pitched forward at an unnatural angle, telling me the shoes are more of a hindrance than a help.

At this time of day, I assume most of these people are heading for work or school.
I can sense their moods by the way they carry themselves. Some of them walk jauntily, with confidence. Others trudge along, as if the effort is almost too much for them. A few shuffle their feet.

From my vantage point over the stairwell, I commiserate. It would have been so comforting to be able to stay in bed another hour on such a bitterly cold morning.