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Update on editing manuscript

Editing is almost finished on my first manuscript! Whew!  I look back  and it probably took me just as long to edit it as it did to write it.  In all fairness, though, I did take some time away from it to have a fresh look at it.  (This works, by the way!)

I know every writer has his/her own method for editing and there may be some fast rules on it — that’s all great & nothing wrong with it.  Other than the usual editing grammar, etc., this is how I went about it:

*I started an informal critique group of family & friends — since several of them do not live locally, it was mostly individually and via email/phone calls. I found that some of my best critiques came from educators (media specialist, learning interventionist).  They have a grasp of what kids read and were very good about telling me when I was off mark.  Every critique was helpful and appreciated.  It was also great to have readers with a wide range of backgrounds,  since it’s a multicultural book.

*I printed out several manuscripts in “booklet” form with a feedback sheet and a wonderful 5th grade teacher passed them to some of her students.  It was anonymous so I could get honest feedback.  This was the best! I loved reading their (mostly) great comments and each one encouraged me to publish it because “this book was awesome!”  I highly recommend this if you have a willing teacher.  In fact, I may do this again once my final editing is completed.

*I paid an excellent professional editor and it was worth every cent.  She was thorough and great about providing explanations for certain suggestions.

In the beginning of my editing process, I attempted to join/form a writer’s critique group, but not enough people showed up.  Later, when I was invited to an existing local group, I had schedule conflicts.  Honestly, I didn’t pursue this avenue too much, but I’ve heard of wonderful writer’s critique groups and may still join one for the fun of it.  I love learning from other writers – a great bunch!

Now that I’m this close to being agent-ready, I’m super excited about the possibilities!

~~Maggie

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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Family, Uncategorized, Writing

 

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

The first real snow of the holiday season is especially magical.   My whole family is home because of winter break and we’re all still in our pjs in the afternoon.  I look out my bay window and everything outside is pristine and so white that I have to step back a little and take it all in.  Sitting inside my warm house, still in my bathrobe and sipping my daily coffee, adds to the magic.  It’s so peaceful that I grab a good book and curl up on my couch.  Ahh! Bliss!

My dog, Max, loves the snow too.  He plays in it, as if it was a friend who came for a visit.  He especially loves to lick it and comes back in the house with a funny little white beard.  He has to hop around when the snow gets too high.  Too funny.

Even though I’ve lived here a few years, I still love to see the flurries come down, as if from a giant sifter in the sky.  I grew up in a tropical climate and didn’t experience my first snow until I was an adult.  I’ll never forget it.  It was during the work week and my car was completely covered with snow.  What was a girl to do?  I happily cleared the snow off my car — every inch — and loved every second of it.  In fact, I was a half hour late to work.  Luckily, my boss was pretty cool and just laughed when I explained why I was late.  She probably knew that I would never again feel that excited about clearing snow off my car again.

She was so right!  Now – I park my car in the garage – thank you very much.   I love to look at snow, but driving in it is not fun.  (I’ve had my fair share of nerve-wrecking spin-outs).  I’ll just live in the magic a little longer – it’s a good book after all.  Soon enough, the snow will turn into a nice gray slush and I could just hope for….more snow.

I think we’ll go skiing soon.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2009 in Family, Funny, Holidays

 

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Cinnabon smile from an unexpected source

A couple of weeks ago, I waited for IKEA to open and bought a six-pack of Cinnabons.  Yum!  They were piping hot and the sugary smell immediately seeped through the box.  I held the box firmly and practically ran to my car.  I didn’t have much time.  I was on a mission to deliver these to a special someone at the hospital – about 45 minutes away.  I smiled to myself because I knew it was going to be a surprise and I couldn’t wait to deliver them.

My drive was now a familiar one and I shut off the GPS.  I was even familiar with the awful construction slowdown up ahead.  As I sat in my car, I automatically looked for the homeless man who always stood on the side of the road with a handwritten sign.  I’d seen him a few times before, but sadly, I was so wrapped up in my thoughts those times that he’d become part of the scenery.  On this particular morning, I actually looked at him.  He looked so scrawny and filthy.  Without hesitation, I reached for a Cinnabon in the seat next to me.  I opened my window as I approached him, we made eye contact and I handed him the Cinnabon.  He grabbed it and had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen – as if I’d handed him a million dollars!!  He said, “Thank you, Miss, God bless you!” and he took a large bite.  It was the best Cinnabon smile – complete with icing on his chin and on the edge of my side mirror.

As Christmas approaches, many people work in soup kitchens or collect money for the needy and that’s fabulous.  Handing that Cinnabon to the homeless man only took a minute of my time, yet I’m pretty sure I made a big difference in his day.   This goes to show that every little thing counts — whether it’s for a season or a day.  We can all help in some way.

Even during these tough economic times, my family is so blessed and I want to make a difference, even past the holidays.  I guess this is my first new year’s resolution and by posting it here, I’ll be reminded to keep it!!  (Now, about other resolutions….we’ll see)…

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2009 in Family, Holidays

 

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‘Tis the season for… my ‘peeps’

This time of year, every store seems to have a lot of  Christmas music and tons of decorations.  They also seem to be  in panic mode and have every possible kind of sale.  “Hurry, hurry – deals like these go quickly”, etc. etc.  Our junk mail triples at this time.   On the one hand, I know that they need to do this to stay in business and of course, the employees need the jobs to support their families.  On the other hand,  it can be a bit overwhelming and materialistic.  This isn’t what Christmas is about – for me.  Every Christmas, I have to remind myself not to get caught up in all the hoopla.  Instead, I make an effort to get together with family and friends.  Family and friends are what helps me through the worst of times and are proud of me in the best of times.  They are my ‘peeps’ (people).

I’m so blessed to have a wonderful husband, daughter and son.  They are the most important people to me and THEY ARE MY LIFE.

I am also blessed to have some relatives who live nearby, who are wonderfully supportive.  The rest of my extended family either  live in another state or country and we can’t always get together at this time of year.  Through the years, fortunately, I’ve also made several close friends that are my ‘other’ family.

This Christmas, I may not get into all the decorating as much as my neighbors; but I will most definitely get together (or Skype) with my peeps.

Have a blessed Christmas!

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2009 in Family, Holidays

 

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The other three letter word nobody wants to be called…

Not FAT….I’m talking about getting OLD.  It’s funny how we fight it, but we’re all getting a little older every day.  Regardless of what skin care or vitamins you take, you’ll still get older…if you’re lucky.

My birthday’s coming up and I always get reflective at this time.  It’s a great age for that.   (ssh…I’ll never tell).  It’s like I’m standing on a time line where I can turn my head one way and glance  back at my life’s memories and then turn my head the other way and look forward to new ones.   The realist in me knows that I need to take each day as it comes and live it to the fullest, because sometimes we don’t have as many years left as we hope for.  My sister-in-law, JoAnn, died at the age of 44.  I’m learning (at my ripe old age) to live in the NOW, but with plans for my golden years.

I think about all the times I’ve said, “just kill me before I turn 90.”  My friends and family laugh when I say this, but they usually nod and agree that getting old is tough.  We all have stories about aging parents, grandparents or relatives and we hate to see them suffer, especially when they become incoherent.  It’s sad to see anyone’s life end with such little dignity.

I was in this reflective mood as I was putting away our fine china, which we used for our Thanksgiving feast.  It’s a lovely set which was handed down from my husband’s late grandmother, Jane.  Each piece is in beautiful shape and still gleams, as if it was brand new.  Obviously, it was handled with care through the years and I am honored that the set made its way into our home.

Grandma Jane was an interesting lady who told us wonderful stories about going to a speakeasy and the Great Depression.  She was petite and had blue sparkly eyes that lit up when she spoke.  When her husband was alive, they decided that he may die first and they sold their house and bought an assisted living condo.  He didn’t want her to struggle after he died.   It was perfect for them.  They were able to have the freedom of living on their own, as well as the security of having someone nearby, just in case.  The facility had a large cafeteria, which doubled as a meeting place and Jane liked to play cards with the other residents.   Also, they were in walking distance of a 24 hour store and they could take a shuttle bus on day trips.  I loved visiting them with my daughter (who was an infant at the time).

Now, they had the right idea about getting old.  It’s going to happen — plan for it.  Don’t be too proud to accept help when you need it and be realistic — you’ll need an alternative way of getting around.  Grandma Jane died not too long after her husband did.  I still think it was more of a broken heart, since they were inseparable when he was alive.  It was sad to see her go since I would’ve liked my kids to get to know her.  This is why I make sure my kids get to know their living grandparents.

My parents live a few thousand miles away and each time we visit, I see more signs of aging.  My mom walks a lot slower and she seems to have shrunk.  My dad’s memory is diminishing and each time, he tells the same story as if it was the first time.   It’s sad, but I know it’s part of life and the good news is that they are still with us.  We can still hug them and love them.  We can still listen to old stories (and pretend we’ve never heard them).  My dad loves to sit outside and breathe in the air from his trees as he listens to music on the radio.  My mom’s eyes light up when she tells me about a story she wrote — she’s a very creative writer.

My kids are also getting to know my husband’s dad, who lives near us.  He’s a self-described ‘dinosaur’ and a Godly man.  I  know that I am blessed to still have my parents and my father-in-law still around.  My kids never met their grandma on my husband’s side.  She died when she was only 59 years old and her death was sudden.

Instead of thinking of old age as doom and gloom, I choose to look at it as a blessing.  No one knows how long they will live and each year is a blessing.  I appreciate it more now, after JoAnn’s death.  Now, I pray that I get old.  I want to be like Grandma Jane and tell stories of my youth.  I want to be like my mom and continue to write stories.  I want to be like my dad, who appreciates music and soft breezes.  I want to be like my father-in-law, who finds humor in getting old.

Just like the fine china,  I will “handle with care” and hope that my eyes are still sparkling for the next generation.  This birthday, I will be happy that I’m one year older and have an amazing family and friends to share my life with right now.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2009 in Aging, antiques, Family, Holidays, Writing

 

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