Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Radio Silence.

Last week I had an A average in my course…and then it was moving day.  Well, moving weekend.  Then unpacking and cleaning week.  Needless to say, things have been -crazy- around these parts…I've kissed my A goodbye and hope I can squeak by with a B!

Getting the UHAUL was a nightmare (I registered a week in advance to pick up a truck on Sunday, only to get a phone call on Saturday that the place was actually closed on Sunday.  But they said they'd give me an extra day if I could pick up that day.  So they found me a truck in Manchester, told me the place closed at 7, and Shaun took me to go pick it up.  60 miles and 1 hour later, the girl at the UHAUL place puts my name in the computer and says "Your reservation is for tomorrow."  She was able to call around and find me a truck in Massachusetts so we drove another 45 minutes and finally got the truck.) and moving was stressful (at one point I was just crying and couldn't stop but I didn't even know why) but the hard part is over.  Finally.

So we're getting settled into our two bedroom (yay) with a huge garden (yay!) and a dishwasher (finally!) and a washer and dryer (finally!).  There's still a lot of work to be done in the dining room and office mostly, but it's coming together.  The worst part is that Shaun's cat absolutely hates mine and will hiss whenever he comes near. 

I feel so sad for my poor cat. He keeps looking up at me with these sad eyes, like, "mama, why did you make me move in with this girl? she's bullying me!"  He tries to hiss back at her but it's just a wimpy little hiss, and then he runs in fear and hides…despite the fact he's twice (3x?) the size of Bean.

To top it all off I have bronchitis and a sinus infection.  (Bronchitis+Asthma made moving day -really- fun, let me tell you. /sarcasm.)   I think (hope) it's finally starting to clear up, though. I finally bit the bullet and went to a MinuteClinic yesterday to get some antibiotics and I definitely feel a bit better already.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beautiful Rejection.

After 30 rejection letters and 12 no-responses, trying to land a literary agent can start to feel like a fruitless effort.


See, the thing that is really hard about submitting your work to agents is that you usually get back form rejections.  They are pre-written and usually say things like, "Thanks for thinking of me, but this is not right for my list at this time."  Sometimes, after you're lucky enough to have someone request the entire manuscript, you'll hear something vague like, "I liked it, but I didn't feel on board with the relationship at the beginning."  (This type of thing leaves you wondering, why not? Does that mean it needs to be rewritten? Is this just a personal opinion? Does the relationship feel contrived, somehow?) And guess what?  You aren't allowed to ask for clarification.

As a writer, you are kept in the dark and you have to deduce what literary agents really mean.  Does "not right for my list" mean "eh, I'm not interested in this type of story" or "you can't write worth crap"?  When one agent told me "you're clearly a very talented writer" and another said "I admire the quality of the writing and the execution", do they mean that?  Or is that simply a form rejection that everyone gets?  There's really no way to tell.

Discouraged, I recently began submitting to a handful of small presses instead of directly to agents.  Being signed by a small press has its ups and downs (generally you don't get an advance, and you get less publicity than with a large press) but I figured, what the hell.  I'll give it a try.  The worst they could do is reject me, and by now I'm used to that.

I just got the most beautiful rejection letter back from a small press.  Here it is, in part:

Hi Alison,

I enjoyed your chapters, but this isn’t the kind of text [our press] is interested in. That is, we are committed to publishing excellent work that, given the current publishing milieu and market, is unlikely to be otherwise published.

Your writing, and what I imagine of the whole book from your description, on the contrary, is much in demand, consequently much wanted by regular publishers.

I would send the ms around to more mass market houses than we are, and agents that list “romance fiction” as what they’re looking for. I think you have a good chance of getting this book published in a marketplace far larger than literary fiction.

So I guess maybe I was a little off-base calling this literary fiction with romance elements…I submitted to nine new agents who specialize in romance and general fiction, so we'll see what this yields.  All in all, the best rejection I could have gotten: one that lit a fire under my discouraged ass and got me to keep going.  Onward!

Saturday, January 18, 2014 is either really good or really bad.

I've known about for a while, but I'd never really poked around there.  Today I was researching an article I'm working on and I got completely sucked in!

I've been stalled in production for my children's television show for years.  I always get little stops and starts (oh! a famous author agreed to let me use her book! oh…now she's no longer responding to my emails? -and- oh! a guy agreed to help me write math songs! oh…now he's no longer responding to my emails…you get the point!)  The problem is, no one wants to do anything for free, and no one really has the passion to put a lot of time into helping out.  So I'm on my own…and on my own, well…I do my best, but things like work, school, and my novel come first. might be the answer to my troubles.  It's a little soon to tell, but just browsing it, they have a lot of services that I'm looking for: they'll write jingles, record animated intros…hell, there are even people who will record their kids shouting whatever you want.

I'm going to try to scale everything down a bit and see if, by utilizing, I can get this show off the ground…eventually.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

30 by 30 (part 3)

It's officially January…are you ready for installment number 3 of my 30 by 30 list?  Here we go!

9. Christmas shop in NYC
10. Go to "The Real Bedford Falls"
11. See Annie on Broadway
12. Get a latte with latte art

I managed to do all of these things, too!  I didn't really have much to buy when I went shopping in NYC, but I did check out the original Herald Square Macy's (all seven floors!) and buy a Christmas ornament there.

After about three years of wanting to go and missing out, I finally got to The Real Bedford Falls, as I talked all about in this post.  It was amazing! I'm so glad I went.

I just got to see Annie the weekend before last.  The show was great and it pretty much fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine to see Annie live…yet there was something missing from the production that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Although the performers hit every note and nailed all but three lines (I'm looking mostly at you, Ms. Hannigan!) there was some sort of passion or excitement that the show seemed to be lacking.  That being said, I'm still glad I got to see it before it closed.  It closes in three days, so if you're jonesing for an Annie fix you'd better run and get tickets ASAP!

And oh, lattes with latte art!  This seems like such a small insignificant thing in the grand scheme of my other list items, right? Well, unfortunately latte art is super hard to find around me…and I totally love it. Something about it just makes me so happy.  And I'm willing to go to extremes for this art…which included walking in circles in Hell's Kitchen in sweltering temperatures before I finally found the coffee shop I was looking for, hidden behind construction awnings.
One day I hope to find a shop that does more of the really elaborate types of art.  But until then, this still floats my boat.
(A much paler version of latte art that I managed to find in Massachusetts.)

That's it for now! Four more things checked off my list.  :)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life Festival - Seneca Falls, NY: 2013

Oh. My. God.

I don't even know where to begin this post, but last weekend was the most amazing weekend maybe in my life.  (Okay: when I met Sharon, Lois and Bram and hung out in their trailer singing songs while waiting for the rain to stop? This is up there with that.)

Every year, Seneca Falls, NY holds the It's a Wonderful Life Festival.  The whole town gets involved and it's incredible. It seems to be something of a hidden treasure, and I'm slightly hesitant to blog about it because I'd like to keep it that way! But really, it was too amazing to not talk about. This was my first year, and I definitely plan on going back next year!

The town: Seneca Falls is a cute small town with quaint little shops lining the center.  Back before It's A Wonderful Life was made, Frank Capra stopped in the town to get a haircut, and happened to mention the movie to the barber.  After the movie came out, people started to realize strange similarities between Bedford Falls and Seneca Falls--the most glaring, being the bridge.  There's a plaque on the bridge honoring a man who jumped in to save a woman who was trying to commit suicide. (This detail was added to IAWL by Capra: originally George Bailey simply had a conversation with Clarence instead of jumping in to save him.)

For one weekend a year, the stores are transformed into iconic Bedford Falls stores: Antonina's restaurant becomes Martini's bar, the bank becomes the Bailey Building and Loan, the welcome center becomes Anderson's Emporium, etc.  They give horse drawn carriage rides and roast chestnuts on street corners. About half of the places we went to had live bands playing Christmas music. The whole thing is very Christmassy and picturesque.

Karolyn Grimes (ZuZu Bailey) and Carol Coombs (Janie Bailey) were there, as well as Mary Owen, Donna Reed's daughter. I got to meet them, take photos with them and get their autographs.  They held Q&A sessions and introduced the film.  While signing an autograph for me, Carol Coombs took one look at me and told me that I have a "movie star smile" and that I "should be in pictures." I'll never watch the film the same way again!

A cast performed the Lux Radio show version of It's a Wonderful Life.  There were characters on the street who were beautifully and hilariously in character the whole time.  Sara and I kept running into Bert the cop at inopportune moments--like when we were just about to jaywalk, or when I was trying really hard not to fall down some icy stairs while exiting the hotel, and instead looked like I was drunk.  "Had a little too much fun at the Gould Hotel?" He asked me.

They had a passport, which was probably the best part.  It got my shy self out and talking to everyone (in order to get stamps for your passport, you had to ask local businesses and the characters on the street for them) and the interaction, especially with the characters, was memorable.  Everyone in the town was so friendly and nice.

They hold this event every year, and this year they got probably 6 inches of snow.  This apparently never happens, so it made certain things interesting.  There were a lot of outdoor events, including the It's A Wonderful Run 5K.  (Sara and I are planning on going back next year, too, and maybe even doing the 5K. We'll see.)

My only gripe, and it's a small one, is that some events were off the beaten path and difficult to find, and they really lacked in signage. We weren't able to find the venue holding the "Dance By the Light of the Moon" event, or Anderson's Emporium (until Sunday, when it was closed) and the film was screened at the "Old Mynerse Academy" which had no signs at all to let us know we were in the right place.  It seemed like most people were locals, so they already know where everything is.

Anyway, if you're as It's a Wonderful Life-obsessed as I am, I definitely recommend checking out this event.  They don't have a Facebook page or anything (trying to stay low profile, I assume?) but you can check out there website here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good news!

I'm happy to report that grades have just rolled in, and I passed my first grad school course with a B+! Yay!  It was a little challenging at points (the final paper kicked my ass, officially) but I think my next course will be a bit more my speed.

I also had one of the most incredible weekends of my life: I went to the real Bedford Falls with Sara.  I'm hesitant to even blog about it, since it seems like an undiscovered gem. But I will, in time, once I can do it justice.  Just know that if you love It's A Wonderful Life as much as I do, you'll fall all over yourself to get to this event next year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Paint Nite!

My final research paper for the semester is due Sunday by midnight and it's less than half done.
This is as good a time as any to blog, right? Right!

Last night Sara and I checked out a Paint Nite.  It was her second time going and my first…a very interesting experience because I am somehow both a perfectionist AND not a very good painter.  I was paralyzed at certain points, but at least it was amusing.  My owl didn't come out TOO bad…although I have to laugh at those two fat branches I made.  I didn't even realize how they looked until I got them home! They seemed perfectly proportional at the time.
Sara added some snow to her painting at the last minute, even though it wasn't part of the instruction. I was really nervous for her because we both weren't sure if it would look good or wreck it!  But it came out good.  I feel like mine could have benefitted from some snow, too.

Anyway, it was a good time, even though the venue was a bit cramped.  I would make it a monthly outing, but to be honest, in my on-going quest for minimalism, I have absolutely no desire to collect a bunch of random paintings!  Maybe if I get better at it, I'll feel differently, but at this point I doubt it. 

I am SUPER excited now that December is here--I'm looking forward to checking TWO big events off my 30 by 30 list…and maybe more, we'll see!  Stay tuned for the updates!