Round up the usual painkillers

I just finished e-mailing an editor at Penguin, asking her if she might mail me the notes she has on the partial that I sent to her as part of the NETWO writers’ conference last week. I couldn’t attend the con (as regular readers here will recall) because Mama and the puppy needed me, and it turns out my diabetes was indeed out of control (the doctor chewed me out, but good, and Mama as well, because her numbers were also terrible–all my fault, of course, as far as he’s concerned) and I wouldn’t have been very functional. Still, I really needed the change of venue. My original plan had been for us to rent an RV and park it right there on the conference grounds (actually a Baptist encampment meant for retreats, out in East Texas’ Piney Woods and on the shore of a lake) so that the family and dog could come with me and enjoy some outdoors time while I attended the sessions . . . I still think that could have worked, but you should’ve heard them squealing in protest every time I floated the idea.

But anyway, I e-mailed the editor. Hope that turns out to be kosher. The writer to whom I gave my conference membership (a value worth over $100–and it was a stranger I found through the NETWO mailing list, to boot) didn’t e-mail me or call me to say that she’d enjoyed it or even that she’d attended, so finally last night I e-mailed her to ask how things had gone and whether she had met with the editor in my stead to apologize for my not being there. She replied this morning and told me that the editor had allowed her to pitch her middle grade book, and that she was sending a hundred pages of it immediately. That made me feel as if the entire hassle of transferring my membership was worth it. She also said that the editor had some notes on the partial I sent–I think it was MARFA LIGHTS that I sent, sixty pages–and that I should probably e-mail her to ask her whether she might send me the notes.

Now, what this obviously means is that, as usual, the book hasn’t impressed anyone, and I should probably just shut up. After all, had she been excited about the book, she’d have e-mailed ME after the conference! This is just simple logic. Still, as always, I couldn’t resist, and I dropped her the note below. No, it’s not the completely impersonal request that I’m sure everyone thinks it ought to be, but whatever–I’d rather get a note that had some personality, myself. I hope it doesn’t rub her the wrong way, but hell, I would like to hear anything that she was going to tell me. I mean, she was going to tell me anyway. . . .

Dear All-Powerful Decider,
I hated to miss the NETWO Writers’ Conference last week and my “audience” with you to discuss my writing sample. I’m the sole caretaker of my mother, who turned eighty on Shakespeare’s birthday, and both she and my little Pomeranian were on a medication schedule and needed me. Luck doesn’t smile on me very often–which is actually the premise of my paranormal romantic comedy, _Little Rituals_–and this, alas, was another example of the Universe saying, “Gotcha!”
But I did get in touch with LuckyDog, the writer to whom I gave my conference membership, and she mentioned that she attended the appointment and that you requested pages from her manuscript. That is wonderful to hear. At least the Universe does have a use for me: as a conduit to get others into position for their success. *grin* This is not the first time I’ve put someone in line for something good, so perhaps I should accept my fate as the unseen hand in the background.
Still, LuckyDog mentioned that you had some notes on the partial that I sent. I would be so very interested in seeing or hearing anything you have to say about my work. If you weren’t taken with this particular novel, but liked my voice or style, I could send a partial of _Little Rituals_ or of my dark YA urban fantasy, _Camille’s Travels_. (It’s terribly forward of me to suggest that, but I figure, what the hell.) I’d be happy to send return postage costs or whatever you need.
I hope your conference experience was a blast! Not everyone would come out to a church retreat in the middle of East Texas and stay in a dorm. In fact, I’ve only done that one time myself . . . I’m a city girl, and one of my fondest memories is of my visit to New York City in 1998, when Scotch Brands/3M flew me to the final round of the Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. I know the NETWO “folks” (as they say around those parts) did their best to give everyone fantastic opportunities.
Again, thank you for taking the time with Lucky and for (I hope) providing me with some feedback about my manuscript pages, if possible.

Yours truly,
the hapless Shalanna Collins

Okay, I didn’t actually sign it “Hapless.” But I should have. Thinking over this entire event just convinces me once again that my apparent purpose in this life is to put others in position to achieve their great successes. It started when I tutored the star math performer (a boy) in junior high to go win all the awards at the UIL contest because the principal felt he would make a better showing (he won by solving the very type of problem I had coached him on, over and over). It continued when I taught my First True Love, in college, how to love and how to interact with people so that he could dump me just in time to go out with the woman he married. (He even asked me where to take her and how to date her . . . he wanted to “remain friends,” probably so he could keep on with the cool date ideas.) It just keeps keepin’ on. Why can’t I be happy with that? Some people never have anything but a negative impact on others. I could well have been stuck with that kind of function.

*sigh* But anyhow, I might as well shut up. Maybe a couple of hours out in the garden with the dog will improve my attitude.

I’m also thinking of making a board book out of my “Splatterfairies” story just to keep here on the coffee table. I picked up a few more images of fairies that are from vintage storybooks (out of a clip art/rubber stamp catalog) and realized that I could make a twisted little “Pressed Fairy Book” sort of book out of it. You know, as if it were a kids’ story, but for twisted fantasy readers instead.

My friend BarbJ told me that I need something that would allow more “instant” gratification than writing does, and that’s one reason I started working on my piano repertoire. But that isn’t doin’ it, because my teacher has me in some fairly advanced repertoire, and it isn’t coming as easily as it did when I was sixteen and used to practice three hours a day. Thus, I came up with the board book idea. And also I’m working on that “Mixtape” CD. One or the other of those may turn out not to be too embarrassing.

The flowers aren’t doin’ too shabbily, either.


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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