Saturday, 23 February 2008


The editor who was interested in my non-fiction gift book for writers has... rejected. No, I'm not devastated. Rejection is part and parcel of this business. As a matter of fact, it's the norm; acceptance is the exception.

So, does knowing this make it easier? Maybe. There's a bit of a letdown, of course, but it does not go to the heart. I've examined his comments; some were positive, stuff like "good choices" and "well researched". Others were not, such as "repetitive and forced", referring to two chapters in particular, one on the craft, the other on stumbling blocks.

I disagree absolutely with his assessment. As I told the agent in a subsequent e-mail, 'the craft' and 'stumbling blocks' are distinct, major issues for writers, judging from the books on writing I've read, from my interactions with writers, and from my reading of their blogs and websites. The chapter on the craft focuses on the actual craft of writing: on the language. The one on stumbling blocks deals with the psychological hurdles and pressures, the ones imposed by the writer as well as the external pressures. The real irony is that the editor in question has seen nothing of these chapters but the chapter titles. For a non-fiction proposal only three sample chapters are required. The chapters he mentioned weren't among those sent in the proposal package.

Doesn't matter, though, whether I'm right or wrong; that editor isn't buying the book. Maybe another one will; maybe not.

The toughest thing I've had to survive in this life was a bruising rejection from someone I loved. Editorial rejection isn't even in the same arena. It's much, much easier. Life goes on.

It's business as usual.

P.S. This is too good not to share; it's all about rejection. Thank you, Kevin.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Lovely Day

It's my birthday today. No, you can't ask how old I am. It's a girl thing. I didn't intend to mention it on the blog, but so far it's been all good. Here's my birthmorning so far:

6.20 - I'm lying in bed, waiting for my mother to leave to take my brother's children, who are with us for the week, to school. The Chicken, my 13-year old niece, comes in to wish me Happy Birthday and smothers me with kisses.

6.25 - My mother comes to the door and sings the Happy Birthday song to me.

6.30 - I go to the window to wave them off and a strong, distinctive perfume assails - the orchid we call 'the virgin' is in bloom. This is a strange variety that blooms every three months or so, and the blooms last one day only, but for that day the plant is covered with the inch-and-a-half, pure white flowers with a dab of yellow in the centre. I go to the door, and there they are, hundreds of snowy blooms gleaming on the stalks as the plant sways gently in the morning breeze.

6.31 - I look over to the front wall, where the purple petrea is showing off, inflorescences of lavender blooms with purple centres covering the plant. It's a breathtaking sight. This is the first flowering since we transplanted it over Christmas. These blooms last a little longer than the virgin orchid - about a week.

6.32 - I glance down at my mother's potted bougainvillea. It is the most beautiful bougainvillea I've seen, white blooms edged with delicate pink. When the flowers fall they look like rose petals. This plant is showing off, too, the branches heavy with masses of the blooms. On my birthday!

6.35 - Vaughn sends me a Happy Birthday text message. He's one of those sweet friends who always remember. Thank you, Vaughn.

6.50 - My son texts me. Ahh. Blessings, blessings.

7.00 - The Happy Birthday reminder the Chicken programmed into my cellphone goes off. I hit postpone so it could pop up again in 10 minutes, and wonder whether I should do that all day, just for the fun of it.

7.05 - I go to the front door, cup of tea in hand, and look at the flowers again. The impatiens are covered with spots of pink, lilac and salmon. There's a hummingbird zinging around in the petrea flowers, the breeze is cool and celebratory, the valley sparkles as the sun peeps over the hill, sending bright rays across the grass.

That minuscule advance for Café au Lait, the one I'm going to blow on a Nikon D40 digital SLR camera, is yet to arrive. I need my camera! I want to record these flowers, this day! Ye gods of advances, please hurry!

I have to get dressed and leave for work. I pause to reflect. I've had my share of crap to deal with in this life, but I have so much to be thankful for. I'm alive. I'm healthy. I have a beautiful family, a few great friends, and wonderful writer/blogging buddies. I've got a publishing deal for my first book, and there's interest in another. I'm polishing a third. There are others in the works, one a complete first draft, one about 15% written. I've got a day job that allows me flexibility and is not so demanding that I have no time or energy left for my own pursuits.

Why do I complain sometimes? Why do I? So what if my life isn't perfect? Whose is, really? And how do I know that, imperfections and all, my life isn't exactly what it's supposed to be right now?

I really must get dressed and get to work. It's going to be a lovely day!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Hunk of the Month: Clive Owen!

"Smoothly virile." "Steely intensity." Those words accurately describe this British actor who first grabbed me in Closer. I expected back then that Jude Law would command all my attention in that movie, but it was his co-star who succeeded in fascinating me. I subsequently saw Mr. Owen in Inside Man, and that confirmed it for me: the man is hot! In a mysterious, somewhat dark and dangerous way, too. Saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age a week ago and I must say, if the real-life Sir Walter Raleigh was anything like the man who played him in this movie, it was no wonder Elizabeth 1 was smitten.

The 43-year old Brit has won a BAFTA (Best Actor in a Supporting Role, 2005, Closer), and a Golden Globe (Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture, 2005, Closer). He was also nominated for an Oscar, again for Closer.

Not bad for a bright boy who left school with one O-level pass - in English - and spent several jobless years hanging around pool halls before coming to his senses and entering the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. The rest is history, as they say.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Waxing philosophical

Got an exciting (okay, I'm easily excited by these things - sue me) e-mail from my lovely agent a few days ago. I know I should be calm because it isn't a commitment, just 'some interest' so far, but a publisher wants to see my non-fiction gift book for writers. I'm crossing my fingers, toes, eyes, tongue...

This path I've chosen is so precarious. I haven't seen a red cent from anything I've written thus far. The (very, very small) advance for Café au Lait is somewhere out there, wending its way toward me, I hope, and I've been told that the advances for the type of gift book I've compiled are likewise very small, but the books continue earning over a long period. So - I live in hope!

I've decided, though, that whether or not I'm ever able to turn my books into money that I can actually live on, or that can merely contribute in a meaningful way to my subsistence, I won't regret any of this. Not the years spent learning, writing, researching and polishing, not the friends I've made along the way, not the roller coaster of hope and despair, waiting and wondering, depression and euphoria. I love this life. I love not having a beaten path laid out with well worn ruts, not knowing exactly where any of my efforts will take me, not knowing if they'll take me anywhere at all.

I could've stuck with my old job. I would have had a secure income, though not one decent enough to afford me the things I'd like - like my own home, for instance. I would've had a secure pension, which would have kept me in a state of non-genteel poverty in later years. I could have had the boring predictability of knowing exactly where I'd be and what I'd be doing in any given year until I retired, tired and worn, drained and disillusioned, knowing that I'd lived my life by default.

The writing road has no guarantees. I work at a day job to support my writing, because the writing doesn't support me - yet. I could end up in a worse state financially than if I'd stuck with my teaching career.

So what's the big deal? This way, I'm doing what I love. I'm doing it the way I love to: my way. And my spirit? It has good days, and bad days, and in-between days. But it's free.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Thank you, JJ!

JJ, my blog buddy who's right now drinking tea in Bangkok, just did something that made my day: she gave me a brand spanking new blog award!

Thank you, JJ. And the cherry on top: I can pass on this award to no fewer than ten deserving bloggers. I nominate the following - some of my favourite people from some of my favourite places in the blogosphere: Kim, Kaz, aka_lol, Anti-wife, Chumplet, Pacha, PJ, Lane, Nyc/caribbean ragazza, Lucy Diamond... Oops! I've gotten to ten and I still have several more to add...

I had to delete some people I've passed on awards to before. Next time, guys. As for you, Liz Fenwick! After seeing those fabulous photos from your frolicking time in the Maldives I decided that if I left you out of this awards ceremony it would just about serve you right. :)

Saturday, 2 February 2008

AQ Shameless Promotions Club

AgentQuery has played a crucial role in my successful agent search. I found them almost by accident late in 2005 while exploring a writing website link sent by my friend Dar in San Diego. The power of the web never fails to amaze me: Dar and I met in 2004 during my brief membership in a Yahoo group - a fangroup for Willem Dafoe groupies! Yep, I have strange tastes; I was obsessed with this actor for years. That was four years, hundreds of e-mails, and lots of fun and support and sharing ago.

But back to AgentQuery. They've got a testimonials page where they shamelessly promote the work of writers who found their agent through the AQ website. I recently sent them my own testimonial; you can read it here - mine is the sixth on the page. I recommend this website with absolutely no reservations - the agent I found was not even listed in Writers Market, which was my resource for the first set of queries I sent out. I'm not knocking WM, but AQ rocks, IMHO.

And it's FREE! You can't get better than that.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Tagged by Kaz and Pacha

Kaz and Pacha both tagged me for this meme. I already did it a few weeks ago on the Narcissistic Meme post, but on to round two...

Six random things about me:
  1. I was accident prone as a child; if anyone had to fall and bust something, it would be me. I have the scars to prove it.
  2. As a teen I had a huge crush on Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky of Starsky and Hutch fame). My friends and I swooned over his tight jeans and salacious walk.
  3. When the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior visited our capital some years ago, one of my friends thought that when it sailed away I'd be on it.
  4. I used to grow hybrid tea roses. The lady at the garden shop where I bought them never so much as glanced at my ID whenever I gave her a cheque; she said that rose people's cheques don't bounce.
  5. Late night is my favourite time of day.
  6. I detest oatmeal porridge. Tried it again recently because of all the cholesterol reduction hype. Couldn't get past the first spoonful.
Let's see, who'll be my victims this time? [Did the room just empty?] I'll tag Chennette, B.E. Sanderson, JJ, Lucy Diamond, Matt and Debs. Only if you want to, guys. I know many of you have already done this one.

The Rules:

* Link to the person who tagged you
* Post the rules on your blog
* Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself
* Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
* Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website