Sunday, December 29, 2013

Year-End Round Up, plus Sorry I've Been MIA

Kissing goodbye another year.

I know, I know, I've been MIA from this blog.

The loudest complainer? My mother.

Okay, fine. The only complainer. But still. Nice to know someone is reading.

Something happened to me around September of this year: I ran out of words. Okay, fine. Not exactly ran out, but they weren't coming, here, there anywhere, and I wasn't about to force them.

Sure, I've written some, and done writing-related stuff (first and second pass pages for THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO were in there, I think, and I'm muddling through a new manuscript, still). But the words felt stuck. They still do.

I blame the confluence of a few things for taking my words away, both physically and emotionally:

1. My oldest son leaving for college;

2. my younger son having escalating heart issues which have gratefully been resolved (thank you Dr. Levchuch, Dr. Hoch and St. Francis Heart Hospital);

3. my editor rejecting not one but two manuscripts (I'm not gonna lie, sometimes the No's do get hard) and,

4. first and foremost, this:

This is Charlie. He's a jackapoo. And a handful.
We got that for my younger son at eight weeks. See #1 and #2 above.

At any rate, I've felt totally bereft of both time and words, or at least good, descriptive, evocative words that are worth sharing, and I figured no one here would really miss me.

That's my dad, sister and mom with me a few nights
ago. My cheeks are pink from martini. Oh well.
Alas, my mother does, and to tell you the truth, that's enough for me.

The words still don't feel "here," but I'm going to force them, and in doing so, this is going to end up feeling like one of those rambling Christmas chain letters (sorry, people who send them, you know who you are. . .)

Anyway, with blame (and thanks) to my mom, here's a year-end round up since last I posted:

My older son is doing well up at college. He's a talented musician and, most importantly to me, he's coming out of his shell -- this boy who wouldn't play his music for anyone in the comfort of his own home, let alone get up on stage, is actually playing open mic nights and singing in his quaint little college town.

a favorite shot of Son One.
Here's the thing, though: I don't know how he already got to be a college kid. I know, I know, this is a refrain from mothers everywhere, and until it happens to you, there is simply no way to explain how it feels. How your home both feels remarkably empty, and yet, somehow, almost cruelly, the air and space fill in. We adjust, I guess. But there's a price. Tiny holes in our heart, that never exactly repair. The years we have our children at home are way too fleeting. But then, so are, just, all the years.

Speaking of holes in one's heart, Son Two, as I mentioned, had some heart issues. To be specific, he had a super ventricular tachycardia (SVT) that required an ablation to fix it.

He's amazingly all better now, but scariest few days of my life. Let those be the worst of them. From your lips to blah, blah, blah. . .

Son Two with the dog, the week he came home with us.
Does a picture speak a thousand words? I dunno.
The crazy thing is, my next book -- THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO -- that comes out in March, has a boy with a heart issue in it. Son Two did NOT have a known heart issue when I wrote it. Second time I've written a manuscript where something has come true soon after. Life imitating art or coincidence? Don't know, but I'm not giving my teen characters any more health issues. I'll leave those to someone else.

As for the rest of us? My husband, David, sang a lot this year. He and his friend/guitarist David, performed their first paid gigs as David & David. These were some of the very best nights I had this year:

This right here is the number one thing that keeps me
drawn to him. The guy can sing. Note to marrieds:
pursue the things that bring you joy. Don't stop striving.

video

And me?

With my friend Annmarie, and the few stragglers of the West Neck Pod we've dubbed the Polar Pod, we swam in the open water through mid-November when the plummeting air and water temps and my son's medical stuff derailed us long enough to lose acclimation. With water temps down in the low thirties, fear we are totally done for the season.

Last year, the coldest I swam was around 37 degrees, this year did 35 degrees, so at least there was that.

Now, I'm back in the pool for the winter, anxiously waiting for spring.

As for writing stuff, as mentioned, am mid-way through a YA manuscript. Trudging is the best word I can find for that.

THE PULL OF GRAVITY movie continues to be both Pie-In-the Sky and in motion. A few things have made the pie seem more reachable, the fork extended, if you will. A week ago, I had lunch in the city with the director. If anyone can make this happen, he will. Crossing my fingers for the New Year.



And, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO is out in advance copy and getting some really amazing early reader reviews.



It comes out in March. If you're local to Long Island, I'll be doing a launch party and reading here, at Book Revue in Huntington on the evening of March 25th. It's hard to compete with the likes of Cameron Diaz and Snookie (both appearing at Book Revue soon), so, if you're around, I'd love for you to come.

** forgot to add that the audio rights to SUMMER sold to Highbridge Audio, and it will be released in that format in March, too. So excited!

And that's it, Mom. There you have it. What I've been up to since I posted last.

What's that you say? Tell you something you don't already know?

Meh. Make up something new and interesting yourself. Feel free to come post it here. As between the two of us, you are the far better storyteller. My books would be lost without you.

But truly, thanks for reading, and thanks for wanting to read more.

To anyone else who is reading -- to all of you: have a very happy, peaceful, healthy New Year.

I leave you with this link which is, IMHO, this week's imperative reading.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/we-broke-the-internet?src=soc_fcbks

The world is a'changing. Some good, some bad. Never stop using your voice.

See you all in 2014.

- gae

Monday, November 11, 2013

To my father and all who have served, on Veterans Day

I am not a religious person, but a spiritual one. . . and yet, I pray. . .
I pray to the human spirit that one day, in the not too distant future,
compassion will always win out over fists, bombs and guns.

This is my father. . .

returning home from service in a MASH unit
Vietnam, Chu Lai, 1966 - 967. . .
how lucky we are that he came home.

This is the note that I wrote to him today, and the plaque for his bronze star that hangs on my son's wall here at my house:



This is an incredibly moving piece written by Laurie Halse Anderson today in the Huffington Post:


Read it and share it, then do more. Click on the links. Share the information. And donate, even $5 or $10 -- heck, even $1 -- to help a veteran who has done so very much for you.

With deepest gratitude to all who have served and continue to serve.

- gae





Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Riff Redux

Still love this one from 2011... resharing. Happy (safe) Halloween. :) 


Halloween Riff (Sugar Rush)


Me, last night, with the treat my sweet hubby delivered
Reeling from a sugar high (after weeks of not eating any) and inspired by a copy of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven (reprinted way below) that serendipitously arrived in my email box this morning, I penned my own version of some early Halloween terror.

I invite you to join me in the comments and create a little Halloween homage of your own.

Definitely treat over trick.

- gae


Deprav'in
Once upon a Tuesday, teeming, with the thought that I was dreaming,
when consuming pounds of creamy, malted chocolate balls galore,
should my sugar-coated teeth, my growing thighs felt underneath,
this memory, now, so vague and brief, it barely lingers at my core. . .
“Tis only fair, you see,” I muttered, “to mix some sweet amidst the bore,”
only this: a sugar fix, and nothing more.
Ah, distinctly (I was sober), it was in the bleak October,
sent my husband like a gopher, to the aisle in the store. . .

Eagerly, no, not a Spartan, sent him for the whole damned carton
Tried to cease, but played my part on, part on asking, yes, for more --
Now, the fear of scale uncertain, holes in teeth will soon be hurtin’,
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating, of my heart, I stand repeating,
"'Tis some minor weakness leaving, exiting through every pore,
Calories to soon be leaving, through my every pore.
Twas only candy, nothing more.”


The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
-Edgar Allen Poe

Monday, September 9, 2013

Broken record and other distractions

I like this photo. Sometimes, I feel
i could just dissolve into water. . . 

I keep going to write the post about my son leaving for college, about how that leaves me completely changed and lost and melancholy and heartbroken. How life is the same, while completely different. How people liken it to losing an arm, but to me, it feels like I've lost a lung, and I'm here struggling to learn to breathe this new way.


In fact, I've been having breathing trouble lately. Related? Maybe it is.

Anyway, I've been meaning to write the post, but the truth is I feel like it's all been said before. Those of us who live and breathe through it know how it feels, and those of us who won't and don't, well, there's no way to describe how disconcerting it is to drive away without a child, to walk past his room and know he (or she) is gone. To wonder where the years went. To wonder if you'll wake up, and they'll still be little. Still be there.

And, yes, I know, they return with laundry on vacations, but we know inherently this is not the same.

Brothers on the car ride up to school. . .
pictures do speak louder than words.

It's the lament that makes me feel like a broken record: Time is fleeting. Blink of an eye. Cruel how fast it flies. . . 

Blah, blah, blah. Shut up, Gae. 

What more is there to do but move forward?

So, we do. We move forward. We write. We swim. We distract ourselves. We get on with things.

And try to make the most of each day with the ones who are still here in front of us. Even knowing, yes, knowing, they, too, will way-too-soon head out on their way.

the heartbreaking truth: this one will be skipping off soon, too.

In the meantime, we delight in their successes, their moving forward, the happy reports from a college kid off and running! And take steps (oh, the things we do...) to soothe the ones remaining here.

Substitute brother? Not exactly. But well worth
the nearly 9 hr drive that brought him home to him.


- gae

Thursday, July 25, 2013

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Sam, in a funny room in a museum in Rochester
two springs ago.

My older son, Sam, is playing guitar in his room.

Frankly, there is a not a day that's gone by in the past few years, that he hasn't... that there isn't the sound of his guitar (or, sometimes now, a banjo) being strummed adeptly from behind his closed door. And when he is -- it is -- there's not a time that I don't stop whatever I am doing to listen intently, filled with the music, with his ability, and grateful for the fleeting chance.

This is one of the best small joys in my life, in a life blessed with small joys, to eavesdrop on my son making music.

In a few short weeks, the room will fall silent.

He will pack his guitar and his clothes and head off to college, and the next phase of his independent life.

That fact is like the funny room in the museum in this photo to me. No matter how hard I stare at it -- the words encapsulating it on the screen -- I can't make sense of it,
or find my balance.

Yesterday, my younger son and I were watching our dvr'd episode of America's Got Talent while we ate lunch together picnic-style on my bed (my room has the big-screen TV), and in a rare moment of joining in, Sam came in and watched the entire episode with us. He never does this. Or, at least, rarely.

During it, a commercial for that new Michael J. Fox sitcom came on and we were all talking about how good it looked, and I gleefully said, "We can all watch it together in the fall."

As soon as I said it, I realized.

In the fall, we will be three in the evenings, not four.

And even though his door is so often closed with him behind it, how I will miss his presence and the weeping, strumming of his guitar.

-gae


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Not One of those Weepy Moms

This is Sam a mere 5 or 6 years ago...
it's a trick - no way on earth it can be more... 

Today, my oldest son walked across stage to get an academic award, the lead up event for his high school graduation in two weeks.

As he crossed the room and walked toward the stage, I could see my husband looking at me, waiting for the tears to flow.

"Gonna cry?" he asked.

The truth is, I thought I would.

It's not like I'm not one of those weepy moms.

Trust me, I am. There's no one weepier than I.

But the problem is, I can't actually internalize that this day -- this moment in time -- is here.

video


I keep tossing around words like "unfathomable" and "impossible" and "surreal." The truth is, it does feel, very simply, impossible.

I don't know how the time flew.

I don't know how seventeen years can feel like five. Six, tops.

I don't know how time can be so cruel.


There is so much I love and admire about this child, and so much I worry about -- have worried about -- day after day. He's never been easy.

Darling? Yes!

Fascinating? For sure.

But he has always been a conundrum and a challenge, and so often I felt I didn't know how to rise to the occasion as his mother.

He's the cliche of the brilliant kid who has little sense of self, and less self-motivation.

He is in no way the child I imagined having when I fantasized about motherhood, when I walked around with him in my belly, when I read and sang and danced with him nonstop when he was a toddler. In many ways he was way more difficult, way less family-oriented, way less manageable. In many ways he was quietly disruptive, constantly forcing me to accept and rethink my idea of what and how my family would be. At times, he has been a disappointment -- NOT in who HE is, but rather in MY utter inability as a parent to figure him out -- and to figure out how to nurture him in the best way, which is truly what every child deserves.

If anything makes me weepy, this does. This I can feel, this I have internalized, day after day and year after year, in the very marrow of my bones. The fact that there are no do-overs, that there's not more time to try to do it better, to figure out the puzzle of this child. To hold his hand more, and read and sing and dance harder, to unlock for him everything he is and can be.

Alas, whatever I haven't done right, done well enough, done to my own satisfaction, he went to school this morning and walked across the stage to get an award. He's graduating. And he's going to a good college.

That's something, I remind myself. "He's done okay," but the word "done" feels utterly unfathomable,

impossible,

and wholly,

surreal.

 -gae


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Persistence


My older son takes his road test today.

It is a man-boy who sits in the driver's seat next to me, intermittently chatting nicely and sharing his life with me, and barking at me and shutting me down.

This, I know, is normal.

In the driver's seat, he is not in control yet, grasps for it where it waits, intimidating and unsure, right beyond his fingertips.

He asks me for guidance as he changes lanes, merges, makes lefts against the un-coddling traffic.

Yes, it has all become a metaphor for his quest forward, and that limbo space where he still exists, between needing me and having to do it all on his own.


My older son takes his road test today. I am both essential and unneeded, at times merely a crutch. Pass or fail, he is moving on without me.

In the shower this morning, water ran down me in sheets, melted shampoo in my eyes, and slipped time beyond my reach.

The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali, 1931.
I have never been a huge Dali fan, but suddenly this image appeared, The Persistence of Time, its clocks useless, liquid mercury slipped through desperate fingers. I never noticed before how there is water in the background. Now this makes sense to me.

My son takes his road test today. Still, somehow, I managed to shower, dry off, brush hair, put on makeup, get dressed. Now, I stand at the computer, writing. What else is there to do? There's no holding on to time.

I know he is driving away.

- gae


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two Old Love Poems

photo credit: Rick Kopstein
(with added help from the simians at Pic Monkey)

So, it's World Poetry Day, and my good friend Jim King got me thinking of the old poet in me.

The truth is, before I ever wrote books, my first love was poetry, though the last poem I wrote was probably in my mid-twenties.

After that, there was the law school phase and then the lawyer phase that I'm fond of saying, "sucked the creativity right out of me."

Then there were: marriage and kids, and the practice of law, and, ultimately, when I returned to writing, it was with the (daunting) hopes of writing a novel in mind.

There was The Jetty (agented, but never sold), Swim Back to Me (agented but not sold, with new life breathed into it -- maybe, maybe not, The Pull of Gravity (sold!) Frankie Sky now The Summer of Letting Go coming Spring 2014, etc.

But before all that, I wrote poetry.

It was my first love, and my friend Jim has sent me into a bit of a reverie. . . (bear in mind I was only 21... ;))

Verging 

I breathe
heavy air blankets the up-down rhythm
clocks and other night noises
float to me
here            aah, settle
to Autumn patterns
                   play and remind
                   (play and remind)
and, hey, you're too big for my heart
these days

                   The fan
and hot covers stifle
as somewhere water drips
slow            one, two
the radio and other sounds turned on to drown out
the constant, hollow fall of wet

but the man tells:
                    gunfire where you are
like he's reading from cue cards through static

Somewhere, between dark and mourning
I wake to call you
through dry cracked lips and no sound
only your name in my ears
                     swelling
and, hey, you're too big for my head.

-gae, 6/21/85


Temptations in Blue

(when you close your eyes, he said,
                           think only of blues)

so tightly I do
that I am at once surrounded and carried off
to where we can be.

there, I float as sea upon sea takes me
                             (though I tell no one, I recognize it is the blue of your eyes)
                              and I am safe to fall back where
somewhere, between childhood and pain
it begins to break
                            and scatter
into icy-cold marbles that tease and elude my uneasy hands
the fingers left groping at angels' wings
then
air.

I drift,
          where I resurface I am lightheaded and weightless
                             flooded by turquoise so brilliant it pulls me

I do not follow but hold
                             to the edge of a peacock's tail
its cobalt center
                             trembles and bursts
                             and silently folds
                             into green.

There
          where I cannot remain
but try to
anyhow.

- gae 8/13/85



Friday, March 15, 2013

The Fear Age


Say goodbye to me. I'm dying.

Well, at least according to WEB MD, I could be.

This is what happened.

Last night, I looked down and the skin on my shins was peeling. Like, flaking off completely. Both legs.

Now, sure, I might have gone to Florida a few weeks ago and overdid the whole sun thing. But my arms peeled weeks ago. This was not from that, was it?

Also, my right shoulder has been hurting like a motherfucker.

And, yes, I typically swim a bunch of miles per week and, yes, swimmers notoriously have shoulder issues.

Add to that the yoga I've been doing a few times a week. Those chaturangas can be bitches on your shoulders.

But I've taken a FULL WEEK OFF and I'm still hurting.

Come to think of it, my left shoulder is hurting, too.

And, there's still the hip bursitis that's now lasted for a few years.

In fact, all my joints are aching.

So, back to my peeling legs.

What the fuck?

I do the prudent thing. I go to the computer (my mind screaming, DO NOT GO TO THE COMPUTER!!) and I google skin peeling on legs.

It asks me (via my further search choices) "in sheets?"

Jesus, no.  

It asks, instead:

"skin peeling and dry eyes?"

Why yes, my eyes have been dry. Just the other day, I was complaining to my husband . . .

and,

I have Lupus. Or at least, four other symptoms that match that disease.

Or, you know, some other tragic disease.

Now, the good news is, a. I have a dear friend with Lupus and b. she is, for all intents and purposes, an Iron Man. Okay, well, she's a half iron woman. But, she can do, and does do, anything. So, you know, if that's what it is, I will survive it.

But what if it's something else? What if . . . I'm dying?

We're all dying, I remind myself, trying to stop that snowball from rolling. From the moment we're born, we're dying. 

BUT, what if I'm dying NOW??

where I swim to find my calm. It's been four months since I've found my calm.
Just so you know, so you're prepared, if I am dying, I'm not going to be one of those graceful, positive people I wish I could be when faced with some tragedy.

I'm going to be a blathering, disastrous mess. Tears. Puking. Panic. Passing out. It's a well known fact that I'm a passer-outer.

I'm sorry. I'd like to believe otherwise, and I guess we can hold out hope. But we should be otherwise prepared.

And, I know I'm not alone in this fear of dying thing. My brilliant writer friend, Amy Ferris, has documented her own Post-WEB MD spiral hilariously and poignantly HERE.

In fact, I remember a neurologist telling me that it's quite common with mothers . . . that overwhelming fear we develop that we will die and leave our children too soon.

In good humor, I've had many a facebook friend confirm their own, daily morbid fears.

I also know it's not mothers alone. My dear friend Jeff, a father of four, jokes about the goodbye videos he's made for his children, with every WEB MD self-diagnosis he's made. In fact, he's made me promise to keep them, and dole them out year after year.

And, yes, I've agreed. Of course, of course, I have agreed.

Look, we laugh about it. We joke. But the truth is, we're all terrified.

We're all laughing through our fear and our tears.

So.

In the middle of the night, I woke up hurting, all dizzy and reeling too. This has happened on occasion, too, over the past two years.

So, I've called the doctor and made an appointment. Hopefully, she'll tell me it's all nothing but age and fear and dry skin. The good old process of "getting old."

And, if that's what she says, I swear -- I mean, pinky promise, girl scout's honor, signed in blood -- it's the last time I'll google WEB MD.

- gae

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is it Spring Yet? (and a ballsy writer's story)

Me, wind-whipped


I was in Florida last week with my family.

It was a nice reprieve, if we only got
a whopping two days of sun out of five.

And even on the sunny days, the wind was whipping.

I mean, 30 mile per hour winds.


Still, I lay at the pool,
grateful to soak in the sun and relax.

self portrait in bathingsuit


I swear, if I could, I would do little but swim and lie in the sun. . .

Alas, I am back, and have a shitload of writing stuff on my plate:

"Frankie Sky" is finally on it's way to copy edits which puts me in the throes of doing all the behind-the-scenes stuff -- getting permissions, fretting over my author photo ;\ , and mulling over new titles, because my editor has concerns about "Frankie Sky."

Next will come cover ideas and the dreaded, dreaded jacket copy. How can that be so hard?

In the meantime, remember my women's fiction? Well maybe not since it's yet to be published. :\

But it's never far from my mind.

So, I did something ballsy the other day and it paid off, if only in the quietest "validation" sense of the word.

What happened is this: Looking for something else, I inadvertently pulled up an old email rejection letter from an editor who had read Swim Back to Me in 2009 (when I was with my first agent), and it filled me with the kind of longing that only that manuscript (and its history) can fill me with:



I know that one doesn't look like a rejection and it isn't. It was this one that had followed:


Well, especially if you are a writer reading, you can see how it was hard to let go of this one after feedback like this? And, I will tell you that I had at least three other close-but-no-cigar encounters with major publishers like this one. . .

So, anyway, back to my balls. Turns out I had this editor's email and I reached out as politely as I could, starting with the fact that I had no idea if she'd remember me or the ms, but that, if she did, I had done a subsequent rewrite with my next agent that had left the manuscript just the tiniest bit less (in their words) bleak.

I figured that was the end. She would write me off as a crazy stalker-writer-girl and change her email address as fast as she could. But instead, she wrote back to me within the 1/2 hour, told me she remembered me and Swim and asked if we could to talk.

I've seldom been as blown away -- or felt more validated -- in my ten-plus years as an aspiring writer.

Anyway, we had a great conversation and if nothing else comes of it, that was enough.

What she told me was that she had -- and still does -- love the book as is, but that she could not ever sell it this way. . . but that, if I wanted to try to tackle a few of the other editors' concerns in a rewrite, she would look at it again.

So, that's what I'm doing. I'm attempting a rewrite, which, as always, is way harder than I thought.

But whatever happens, that? That was a good writing moment.

In other (and final) book news, The Pull of Gravity is now out EVERYWHERE in paperback and I would surely love you to go out and grab a copy from Barnes & Noble or your local indie bookstore. It's also got a spiffy new trailer that was made by a 15-year-old kid named Jude Bourke.



He's the son of a friend and his dad, Karl, did the amazing original drawings. If you like it, leave him a note, and please, please, please pass it on.

Anyway, that's it for now.

Come on, Spring!

xox gae

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Grass, Softer and Greener. . .

me, a few, brief years ago. . . 

I look at this photo and I think: wow, look how much younger, sexier, bolder, skinnier, more entertaining I was.

I crave her. I miss her.

I wonder how she drifted.

I forget that she was also depressed,
anxious,
lost,
wanting, waiting, wishing, and, um,
not eating much.

I forget how she stumbled through the dark house trying simply to hold onto things.

My life since then is happier,

less on edge,

more content.

And, this is a good thing.

But sometimes, I look back on her -- that me from a few short years ago -- with longing.


me, the other day, shorter hair,
more shadows and lines,
a bit less longing,
and yet. . . 
Maybe that's just how I am.

Maybe I am made up of longing.

So that, if I'm not longing someone,

or something,

I am just longing for that old me.

Maybe it's a writer thing. Maybe we must keep scratching at the surface, picking, turning over emotions, until we hit raw nerves.

Maybe we're afraid we'll be stale and staid (boring) if we're not in some glorious state of pain.

And the truth is, it's not hard to get there -- stay there -- wanting,  wishing,

fretting,

longing.

Life obliges,

makes it easy to feel unsettled,

by making it all so tenuous and fleeting.

Face it.

In front of you, it's all a blur,

whooshing by faster than you can catch your breath.

So, behind,

back there,

you,

then,

"ago"

seems stretched out,

heightened,

nearly gilded.

The grass back there is softer, somehow,

isn't it?

Younger,

and greener.

gae

*post script: this blog post has been resonating with friends -- both on my facebook page and in my email -- it made me remember this other post of similar theme, with this beautiful  "green" poem by my friend, and poet and artist, Lori Landau. You can see it HERE.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Paperback Party, complete with essential footnotes. . .

me, begging pleady eyes.
This is me, close up, in your face.

Are you sick of me yet?

(please say no, please say no, please say no...)

It's okay, sometimes I'm sick of me too.

Still, it's a dog eat dog world out there, and sometimes writers just have to promote themselves.*fn1

So, once again, here I go.

If you prefer not to read any further blatant self author book promotion, here's a lovely place to sit, instead,

looking out over my father's gardens. Feel free to stay here and relax:


Nice, right?

(Are you still here?)

If you are still reading, guess what?

Square Fish did a fabulous job with the new cover!

My paperback is out! Well, the official release date is February 5, but the ship date is 1/17 which means boxes and boxes of the The Pull of Gravity in paperback are now circulating all over the country. *fn2

Meaning this: It would make me really happy if:

a) you buy one for yourself;

b) you buy one for a beloved tween or teen;

c) you already read it and loved it and now told two friends to a) buy one for themselves or b) buy one for a beloved tween or teen they know.

also, it doesn't hurt *fn3 if you put up a review on Amazon.

But what would make me happiest -- at least if you are local -- is d) if you come and join me to celebrate the paperback release on 2/10 at the wonderful Huntington Public Library (it's a Friends of the Library fundraiser). If you want to read more about the launch party, you may do so HERE or HERE (you must register to come!).

If you don't come, be warned. You will be missing:

a) monkeys *fn4;

b) jugglers *fn5;

c) flame-throwers *fn6;

d) delicious cupcakes *fn7; and

e) a live, bravura performance by an internationally-acclaimed musician! *fn8.

Plus, clearly, I will be doing the entire reading standing in a pool. *fn9




So, see, in the end, this isn't really about me and my blatant self promotion.

This is about YOU, reading a good book, telling your friends about a good book, and having an awesome Sunday afternoon in February with live cupcakes and live music. *fn10

Also, there's a Writer's Workshop and Publishing Q&A beforehand, if that's your cup of tea. *fn11

So, that's it. I love my readers and need my readers and I'm grateful if you spread the word.

Speaking of which, my next book, still unnamed but referred to as Frankie Sky, comes soon from Algonquin Young Readers. They've launched their Fall 2103 line of galleys into the Universe and have gone live on Twitter (@AlgonquinYR) and facebook. If you're either place, you should check them out and follow them. I'm sure there are monkeys and jugglers galore! *fn13

Thanks for reading.

xo gae

footnotes:

*fn1: did you skip over that link? Because seriously, at least if you're a writer, it is one of the funniest things I've ever read. Just in case, I'll give you the link again. Hell is My Own Book Tour.

*fn2: this may be a slight exaggeration.

*fn3: it actually helps -- some Amazon algorithm that does something to do something.

*fn4: lie, no monkeys.

*fn5: lie, no jugglers.

*fn 6: lie, no flame throwers

*fn7: all completely true!

*fn8: I promise "David and David" are talented, plus, we must have some relatives in another country somewhere who will vouch for them...

*fn9: hey, I will if the Huntington Library will let me! :)

*fn10: okay fine, no such thing as live cupcakes, you say? What if I put spirulina *fn12 in them?!

*fn11: my cup of tea lately is Tazo Zen Tea (I mean, come on! Lemongrass and Spearmint?!). I'd be genuinely curious what yours is, if you want to tell me. I'm an excellent listener that way. :)

*fn12: i promise not to put spirulina in them.

*fn13: has no idea if there are monkeys and jugglers. You'll have to buy the books and open the pages to see. . . :)