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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Sing Rejection Blues

I feel like I'm locked in a dank, cold jail cell, leaning against the bars. I am cute as can be (think Chicago, or if you're more of a Disney fan, Lady and the Tramp when the dogs start howling) and you feel very sad for me as I cry out my sad song in the darkness.

I got rejection bluuuuuuueeeesssss......

Ha Ha, if you actually sang that to yourself as you read it you get 2 points in the game called life and I like you a little more.  ;)

So remember a few months back when I wrote about my 3 rejection letters and I was all happy and positive and excited to be starting the process of trying to become a published author. Ah, those were the days. I would open the emails with excitement, read the line of "sorry this doesn't fit what I'm looking for" and move on. Because of course, someone else was meant to be the agent who would snatch me up, not this stupid person who rejected me. They were just silly, or busy right?

Flash forward to now... the tally is somewhere in the 20's. I could tell you the exact number if I had the energy or emotional strength to open that excel file and count them, but I don't.  Suffice it to say, I've gotten rejected, a lot. Probably the hardest was the rejection after my full manuscript request.

A word to editors and agents here.... if you make a full manuscript request, couldn't you at least take the 2 min to type even one sentence of suggestion? Because when you send back "Sorry I don't have the time to give you any information why I'm rejecting you" it stings twice as much. Don't you understand the full request is exciting, and tells us writers you were interested in our story? We deserve something to let us know if we're on the right track.

Don't worry I haven't given up, it will take a lot more than that for me to stop. But the rejection has weighted my spirits. I haven't done hardly any writing on my WIP in months. I open the document and even though I have the next few chapters planned out, I can't seem to get back on the horse.

Then I think to myself, ok, what is the worst case scenario here? That I never get published. Well, alright that's not so bad. It doesn't take away the fact that I wrote one novel and am working on a second. It's sad to be sure, but it doesn't mean it won't ever happen. And it doesn't mean I should stop either. I think the biggest fear you can get as a writer is that all the time/energy/effort you've put into your manuscript will be for nothing. A waste of hundreds of hours. But is it really a waste, even if I never get published?  The writing process has made me a better writer, made me wonderful friends, opened my eyes to the struggles and successes of millions of people embroiled in this profession, and it's made me have confidence in myself, even while others reject me. In no way is that a waste of time, right?

So I'm going to keep reminding myself all these things as I continue on my writing journey. I know it's going to be hard, but it will be worth it in the end.  To all my fellow writers, don't get discouraged. Keep writing, even if no one else understands or wants your work yet. You're doing something, putting yourself out into the world, and that is important and special.

Good luck and may the writing come easily to you all!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Haircuts and elections

On Tuesday after Cleo got a bath, I decided to brush her. It's been a few weeks since I've done this and she's been shedding like crazy lately, our blanket on the bed looks like a character from Fraggle Rock. When I started to run the brush through her fur, all of a sudden huge clumps were filling the bristles. I was amazed at first, one sweep of the brush was all it could hold, then I'd have to pull out the wad of fluff before I could keep brushing her.

Then it hit me, it was a "no shit Sherlock" moment. It's summer and getting hot, she's been losing her winter coat and baby fur at the same time. Gee maybe I should have started this sooner?  Here's the pile of fluff we were left with when we finished brushing her. It's bigger than her head.

Then over the weekend Matt and Tessa visited and we spent a lot of time watching Glee, which naturally led to many discussions about mohawks, which of course led to me giving Matt a mohawk.

It was a lot of fun, in fact Tessa said my laugh while I did it was a little evil.  He He He....:)

Oh and while all this was happening, Egypt had it's first Presidential election. I don't mean to lump the two together and insinuate that the Cushman family's haircuts are as important as the first real Presidential election in Egypt's history, it's just that those were the events going on in my life this week. 

We were prepared for a bit of chaos, but things actually went really smoothly. We were in school because our campus is so far out of the main city. And traffic wasn't even as bad as anyone expected it to be since all the government offices were closed for the two days of voting. People proudly displayed their inked fingers, proof that they had voted. Who knows what will happen over the next few months as the power shifts... but it's pretty surreal to have been here for the revolution through the election.

Oh, and the haircuts too of course.  :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wilde's Fire Writing Contest

Have you heard of Sharon yet? She's an amazing author and blogger who devotes valuable time to helping other writers. I highly recommend you add The Blue Word to your list of blogs to stalk. I've gotten to know her through some of my other writer buddies, and the resources she posts about on her blog are fantastic. Not to mention the super exciting fact that she just signed a publishing deal!

And true to character she's spreading the love and opening up her own contest.  It's all based around the release of Wilde's Fire by Krystal Wade. I haven't gotten to read it yet, but it sounds amazing.

(Ha Ha! Take that Egyptian internet, I managed to get the picture on here through all your attempts to thwart me!)  :)

For this contest I need to post my query letter and the first 500 words of my novel, AMPED. There will be a few rounds of critiquing with other contestants to get everything in the best shape possible and then they will be judged by Krystal Wade, an editor from Curiosity Quills Press.

This is a great opportunity for me, and I can't wait to read all the other posts! Feel free to leave comments and suggestions about my post. I have three days to make adjustments before submitting.

Here we go....


Seventeen-year-old Avery Lancaster worries she might be crazy.

When an asteroid collides with the sun, a purple solar flare erupts across the sky. Now Avery has visions when she’s touched. She has no idea what these images mean, and she’s not the only one with a new, freaky ability. Teenagers everywhere are becoming Amped.   

The Flare Research Center is formed, and flare victims are brought in for “their own” safety.  They’re not calling it a prison sentence, but Avery has no intention of being used as a science experiment. She and her friends flee into the mountains of Colorado before they can be captured.

Hounded by FRC agents, they find another group of runaways hiding in an abandoned mine. Now Avery is surrounded by kids whose eyes glow purple and orange. They can scale walls, detect metal and cast the room into silence.  

Their Amps help them stay hidden from FRC agents combing the mountains. But hiding isn’t enough. They must learn why the Flare only affected teenagers. When they discover the military rigged the Flare to create an army of Amped soldiers, they form a plan to bring the whole system down.

In order to stop the FRC, Avery must face her greatest fear; embracing her Amp. If she doesn’t learn to harness her power, she may lose more than her sanity. She may lose her life.

AMPED is  a young adult science fiction novel complete at 76,000 words.

First 500 words

I can’t stop imagining how things would be different, if I’d never looked up.

The last mile of my bike ride takes me down a country road lined with verdant pine trees. I take a deep breath, and lean my head back so the breeze lifts the sweat-dampened hair from my shoulders.
It's exhilarating to close my eyes and trust the bike and the dirt beneath me. The bike takes control and I glide like a bird on the updraft. Seven seconds of uncertainty, then I open my eyes. Squinting through wind and sunlight, my house appears through the foliage. Tucked into the pocket of Mt. Lamborn, we live in the pint size town of Paonia,Colorado. The house, like the town is surrounded by trees; huddling, emerald sentries.
            A persistent chirp escapes my backpack as I pedal up the driveway. I swing a leg over the bar, and dig the iPhone from my pocket. The photo on the screen is a woman with wavy chestnut hair in a sun hat, blowing a kiss.
            "Hey mom." My mood brightens as I answer the phone. 
            "I got your text, what did Cameron say?" Her voice is breathless; she must have had to run for the train again. If she misses the last shuttle she’s screwed, I don’t have a car.
            "He’s coming home tonight. His class tomorrow got cancelled."
            "Did he say what time?  Do we have enough food? What does he want for dinner?" Her questions spill out like a bag of rice ripped at the seams.
              A shriek from the woods steals my focus, and my eyes are drawn to the enormous oak tree near our front porch.
             "Avery, are you there?” she asks.        
              A hawk soars out of the tree into the air. Russet wings shimmer inthe sky. My eyes follow its' flight, breathless, as I watch the hawk swoop and glide towards the sun.
            Just as I turn my head and look up, the sun explodes. Purple streaks of light rush at me like a tidal wave of electrical current. The handle of the bike slips from my grasp, and my eyes sear with pain. Electricity surges to my fingertips and the light burns into my brain with such intensity, I'm sure I'm dying, already dead, burning, crying, there is nothing but the pain, no pain like this before, pain until the end of time. No cohesive thoughts, a muddle of color and fire swirl in my mind.
My thoughts are sucked down a drainpipe as the purple light recedes, followed by an orange afterglow striking my befuddled senses like a bell, ringing, resonating and I'm sliding, sinking, drowning. Everything is black and I’m gone.

Hope you enjoy this bite size morsel of AMPED and it leaves you wanting more!  :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You might live in Egypt if...

If you cache supplies of huge bottles of water in your home, office and backpack....

You might live in Egypt.

If everything you own that was once white, now carries a dull orange glow....

You might live in Egypt

If you've ever accidentaly uttered the words, yanni, habibi, yallah, or shokran when talking to non Arabic speakers...

You might live in Egypt

If the sight of rain is so unusual and beautiful that you want to cry from happiness....

You might live in Egypt

If you regularly have your laundry, prescriptions, food, water and groceries delivered to your house...

You might live in Egypt

If you have a boab, maid or driver, and can't imagine how you ever got along without them...

You might live in Egypt

If when you think of Egypt you still think of Mummies, Pharaohs, Pyramids, the Nile, Hieroglyphics and people walking around in white linen....

You probably don't live in Egypt.  :)

Can my fellow expats think of any more?  I'm sure there are hundreds! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Egyptian Apple Juice

I've always hated apple juice. My sip-pee cup could have pretty much any other type, just not apple. It's a been a long running joke in my family not to give Devin any apple juice. I was the only 3 year old on the block not addicted to the stuff. And I don't know why I don't like it. I like apples, I like apple cider. It's a conundrum to be sure.

Since moving to Egypt I have discovered that I like their apple juice. I found out by mistake... I accidently picked up an apple juice box instead of a mango, and discovered that it's good!

Every since that day, apple juice has become a part of my weekly breakfast/lunch ritual. And I'm pretty sure it's an Egypt specific thing. The apple juice here tastes like a tangy slightly sweet apple.  It's not too thick, or too sweet and syrupy.  It's yummy.

So don't start stocking up on apple juice if I come to visit, because I'm pretty sure I only like it here in Egypt, but isn't that strange?  It's kind of fun to know that our tastes can still change as we get older. Maybe in a few years I'll start liking melons, or cottage cheese. Ewwww, ok hopefully not the cottage cheese.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Goodbye junk!

Yesterday was an important day for Cleo. Though she would probably term the day as horrifying, lonely, painful and just plain mean. My little girl will never be a momma, we took her to get all her junk cut out yesterday.  Or in laymen's terms, we had her spayed.

It was a really interesting experience actually.  The clinic we went to in Maadi was wonderful. Very nice and the people working there like dogs, they played with her and talked to her and complimented her on how pretty she is. I often feel bad for Cleo, she's a very friendly and social dog, but she doesn't get to interact with a lot of people beyond our group of family and friends, because Egyptians are so scared of dogs. And really, I can't blame them. Most people in this country buy a dog as security. So there are a lot of german shepards tied up in gardens, barking their brains out and starving for attention. Then there's the packs of wild dogs that roam the streets. They're generally harmless, but seeing 5 huge dogs running towards you might put terror into anyone's heart. It's completely understandable that Egyptians are mostly nervous around dogs.

But our dog is the most non-aggressive dog I've ever met. She's sweet and docile and so happy whenever she sees anyone. She's learned to lay down and cower at the door whenever someone comes by, because if she stands up and wags her tail they run away.

It must have been a novel experience for her to be around strangers that wanted to touch her.  The doctor walked into the office laughing at the dog who was so excited to go into surgery.

When we picked her up a few hours later, she was awake, but very lethargic and glassy eyed.  She slept last night and probably will be mellow for the next few days.  But it's a huge relief to have it done and know that she's doing well.

So goodbye junk!  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Countdown to summer

Today begins the official countdown to summer. 49 days till we are out of school and off for summer vacation. Don't ask me why today is the day. I just woke up knowing  it was true.

For those of you not linked to the life of a school, summer probably  holds the promise of some rest and vacation. But for those of us  still eating our lunch in the cafeteria, summer is the end of the race, the oasis in the desert, the rest stop on the highway. Trust me, when you're dealing with kids, teachers, administrators that are nearing burnout, all anyone can think about is getting the hell out of this building.

April was a ridiculous month school-wise.  We had 3 long weekends, which meant we had 3 short weeks. Man is it easy to fall into a routine of less work and more relaxing! So the next month and a half is going to be especially difficult because we have absolutely no vacations or long weekends. It's the home stretch and they want us to sprint!

Luckily the summer plans this year are much more laid back. Instead of the crazy chaos of flying home and traveling all around America to visit family and friends, we're staying in Egypt.  We'll be coming home at Christmas, so family time isn't that far off.  We do plan on a great trip this summer though.  We're taking a 14 day cruise around the Mediterranean that leaves on July 7th, my birthday!  What a perfect birthday gift.  :) We leave from Venice and will visit, Athens, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, Olympia, Venice and Ephesus.  The only place I've ever been to on that list is Venice, so I'm really excited!

Even more exciting, Matt and Tessa are going on the cruise too! So we'll get to spend some time together before they head to the states for a crazy summer. Then Ryan and I will spend a few days alone in Venice after the ship docks.  All in all it sounds like an amazing cruise and I can't wait to board.

The rest of the summer will be spending time with the pup, visits to the Red Sea and hopefully some scuba. Oh and lots of time reading and napping.  Ahhhhhh, bliss.  Oh and trying to finish writing my sequel and getting AMPED into the hands of more agents and publishers so someone will realize it's amazing and want to publish it!