Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Things I've done. Things I want to do...

me, a few days ago or so...

I turned fifty in July.


I keep saying (and typing) the word, because i don't really believe it. Otherwise, I'd probably be less quick to admit it.


I think 50, and I think: that is simply UNFATHOMABLE.

Then the line from Princess Bride pops in my head:

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

So, here I am. Fifty. Well, actually, more than three months in.

I've done a lot in the past ten years I never thought in a million years I might do. Actually succeed at. I didn't even imagine a few...


  • Swam a 10K plus (7+ miles) in the open water (probably clocking close to 200 miles of open water swimming each season for the past several years);
  • Swam in waters as cold as 37 degrees;
  • Secured three agents, two book deals, and have written eight manuscripts;

Still, there are many days I feel like an utter slacker. Like I'm wasting time and I'm going to have a thousand regrets... Like the clock is ticking and there's so much I want to do. . . 


  • get another (effing) YA ms published (for Pete's sake);
  • Publish my second piece of unpublished women's fiction, THE SWIMMING SEASON, if I can't get a traditional publisher to take it by year's end, with a hybrid or curated press... big brave move I'm not sure I'm ready for...
  • write a picture book;
  • write a play;
  • do more yoga;
  • read more;
  • teach creative writing;  
    Finishing the 10K+ with Annmarie this past summer!
  • swim from Long Island to Connecticut (oh, come on, Annmarie, you know you want to); 

  • and
  • contribute more charitably/be involved/try to make a difference in our world.
Some days, I'm full of productivity. Other's I'm a total slug. I do a lot of starting and stopping, too much starting and stopping these days. The writing, especially, is hard. So much easier to veg out in front of The Voice, or facebook when the going gets tough, and the words aren't flowing, and the water is freaking cold.

But I'm fifty. And I have a whole lot I still want to do.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Falling, Failing and Chutes & Ladders Redux (with essential footnotes that should be read contemporaneously with the piece)

Me, trying to accept the fall...

One of the most interesting things about being a parent is trying to take your own advice. Or at least the advice of others you dispense to your own kids freely. Like this awesome advice from Kelly Corrigan about failing that I've been dispensing to my college son for weeks:

Great advice from Kelly Corrigan, from this terrific speech,
that I've been dispensing to my kids freely.

I mean, I love that.

I love that so, so much.

A few weeks ago, I handed in my next young adult manuscript -- one called THE MEMORY OF THINGS, which I think may be my favorite ever  -- to my amazing, smart, wonderful, cherished editor at Algonquin Young Readers, who unceremoniously fn1 turned it down.

If you don't know the stinging-sharp, kick-in-the-gut pain of rejection, made ten-fold worse by being rejected by someone you know and love, whose approval you deeply seek and desire, then you might as well not bother to keep reading.

But if you do, then follow along with me, here.

This has been my writing life. Most writers' writing life. This constant rejection, coupled with self-doubt, that only gets compounded by more rejection. fn2

I wrote about the path-- my path -- of trying to get my books published maybe best here, in one of my most popular blog posts ever called My Writing Life: Chutes & Ladders. So, when my current editor turned down my current manuscript, I had to remind myself of this: that my prior editor had turned down the manuscript that my current editor loved and nurtured and bought. This is the subjective nature of writing, of making, or trying to make, art.

And, so. Now I set out to find that new editor, the perfect-fit one who will help spin this new, worthy manuscript into gold. . .

The write-up for THE MEMORY OF THINGS in my agent's October newsletter

To do that, I slide down more chutes. I climb more ladders. I find new edges to bounce back from.

I'm ready and excited to bounce back.

Within hours of my agent's newsletter going out, we had five requests to read the manuscript. In fact, THE MEMORY OF THINGS had the honor of garnering, within ten minutes, the first request.

I'll take this as a good sign.

And, while we're waiting, I'll rake leaves. One foot up on the next rung.

And, now, for your reading pleasure: some Beta Reader feedback fn3  on THE MEMORY OF THINGS... (you may click on the photos to enlarge them.)

High School Librarian . . . 

Teen reader I enlisted through an English teacher in Indiana. . . 

President and co-founder of Books are Magic. . .

Elementary Reading Teacher and avid reader. . .
- gae

p.s. I also have a piece of women's fiction called THE SWIMMING SEASON out on submission. Love me from this post and want to get more of me? Ask my agent about that one. And about my other dark & edgy YA called JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME. Go on. Go on. fn4.

Essential footnotes:

fn 1. I mean, perhaps there was a ceremony and I just wasn't privy to it, what do I know? Perhaps she made a voodoo doll of me at my laptop, placed it in the center of the manuscript, and burnt the whole thing down. Perhaps there was cake involved, which would have been lovely too.

fn 2. Of course, the bruised and battered ego is buoyed, thank goodness, by manuscripts selling and books coming out in between, that garner awards and good reviews, and bring letters from teen -- and other -- readers who love them. We call this keeping us out of the ditch. Okay, fine. I just made that up and called it that. 

fn3. Yes, yes, we writers learn quickly that we are supposed to take our BETA readers feedback with a grain of salt... well, so far, my BETA readers have ultimately been correct. So, salt and all, I'm sticking by them. Especially my teen beta reader's feedback. ;) 

fn 4. In fact, what are you waiting for? Here's his phone number. 212 627 9100   You're welcome.