I haven’t blogged regularly for quite some time, mostly because I’ve had nothing to say. I still don’t have much of anything to say, although this post will disprove that.
Suspenseful and riveting, His Majesty’s Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal is the best installment in the Maggie Hope series yet.
Without giving away spoilers, Maggie’s next mission plunges her into the heart of Germany—Berlin—during the height of World War II. Maggie has a few secrets under her belt that she must keep to herself (other than the fact that she’s a British spy).
The stakes are high and the action takes off from the get-go. The book can be read as a standalone for newcomers to the series, but I see the thrilling novel as a reward for fans and longtime readers of the series to see a side of their heroine that they’ve never seen before. Readers of mystery, thriller, and suspense will enjoy the edge-of-your-seat ride that His Majesty’s Hope provides.
If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you might know that I’ve been working on a book that I’m trying to get published. Well, last week I sent out my first query letter to an agent. I probably won’t hear anything back from her considering it was my first query letter, and I have a long way to go toward refining it, but it was a step forward in doing something that I’ve been needing—and afraid to do—for quite some time.
I’ll be going to the Writer’s Digest conference this weekend and live pitching my book to agents. Here’s the pitch that I plan on giving them (I’m currently working on memorizing it):
Three years after her brother’s tragic death in a car accident, 16-year-old Brooklyn native Marisela feels all alone and wishes she were dead too. She is fresh off her latest suicide attempt when she meets Pastor Edwards, a smooth-talking Baptist preacher, who welcomes the Roman Catholic teen to his church family.
Marisela finally has a renewed purpose for living and begins making friends until the married youth pastor makes a sexual advance on her. When vicious rumors spread around the church about Marisela, she—already prone to low self-esteem—despairs and finds her thoughts slipping back to suicide.
Will Marisela lose the friends, and the life, that she’s worked so hard to gain?
It’s also the pitch that I plan on using in my query letters as I try to obtain an agent.
Basically, the way traditional publishing works is that as an author, I have to obtain an agent before I can try to sell my book to a publisher. (Well, I could try to sell my book to a publisher, but I’d have to get a lawyer well versed in publishing contracts to navigate that murky world for me. Agents do that for a cut of whatever I earn.) The agent then tries to sell the book to a publisher, and once the book is accepted, goes through revisions before getting published. Depending on what a publisher would pay me, agents would get a 15-20 percent cut of whatever I get.
I could self-publish but that’s not the route that I seek as I don’t have a large platform and would have to do the marketing all on my own. Traditional publishers like authors to already have their own platform, but publishers help with the marketing aspect if the author is not already established. It’s a long slog, and a tough one too, but I suppose I’m tougher than I consider myself to be. I can handle this.
If I could have my choice, I’d rather have acceptance rather than rejection from the first agent I’ve queried. But I’d rather get a rejection response than nothing at all.
My expectations of fertility clinics has changed now that I’ve been through the ringer twice. I used to expect (naive little me) that fertility clinics would be warm, welcoming places for couples who were suffering through infertility. Now I know better. Now I know that it’s a business, and fertility clinics are only out to make money—helping people get pregnant is just a means to an end.
The first time around at the fertility clinic, the nurses were nice, but the doctors cool and impersonal. My husband and I were just another number, just another dollar sign. I still get upset when I think of my first and last IUI (intrauterine insemination) there. The doctor was so flippant about how he thought it wouldn’t work. It’s like he took a dump on our $800 before flushing it down the toilet.
But I’m going back to a fertility clinic—a different one this time. I’m not as naive as the first time around. I get it. I’m a huge dollar sign. The more advanced the treatment (see IVF), the better. But I’ve got limits. I will have these doctors, however impersonal they are, help me get pregnant. I’ll attempt IUIs but not much more than that (mostly because I can’t afford it).
I guess I should admit that I’m grateful that the nurses weren’t impersonal, but were even kind, warm, and caring. But there’s nothing caring about getting a cold internal ultrasound shoved in your uterus. But ovulation kits don’t work for me so I need to rely on the advanced, expensive stuff.
After almost 4 years of trying to get pregnant and not succeeding, I know we need medical intervention. At the new fertility clinic, we could have up to a 2-hour consultation with the doctor. I hope the detailed history and visit will prove beneficial to producing a child later this year.
I have the funny feeling if I get the privilege of being a mom, I’m going to have one high-maintenance kid (a lot like his mother).
Part-time employee status. Husband. Attending the staff meeting in 2 weeks. Bringing in my copy of the AMA style guide to work. Bringing in personal things to work to jazz up my workspace. Let’s face it: I have three places of employment—home, the ad agency, and the library.
Things I am concerned about: making friends at the ad agency. I don’t know how to be a good friend let alone open myself up to receive one. I just need to learn to be content with the few friends I have at the ad agency. C and D are both really good acquaintances.
I am praying for several things at the moment, some trivial, some not:
- The commercial tenant below to move and to have our landlord offer us the space. I could use it as a dedicated home office and deduct the space from my taxes. This is unlikely but it’s something that I’m praying for nonetheless. I realize that our rent would go up as a result of such an offer but the possibility would still be nice!
- The Container Store to build a store in Malvern, PA so that I don’t have to drive to crazy Jersey every time I want to get my Container Store fix. And I know just the place for it too…
- For patience. I’d like a baby. I’d like to become a permanent part-time employee of the ad agency I work for. I’d like more clients. So many things I would like, but I am only one person and there are not enough hours in the day for everything I’d like. And I’m exhausted. Really, God knows what’s best for me. I need to trust Him that everything is as it should be right now. Although it’s difficult when I want a kid, like yesterday. But I am concerned because I know that with the schedule I have right now, a child doesn’t fit in those plans.
I’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom even before I knew what that was. Maybe it’s because my mom was always working and missed out on semi-important events in my life (eg, school plays). My mother, in her quest to provide the best education for me, was never home and I missed out on a lot of opportunities, such as Girl Scouts, as I got older. I always thought how nice it would be if I came home to the smell of freshly baking cookies. That’s always been my dream. But if that couldn’t happen for me, I am determined to make that happen for my kids. (Although the freshly baked cookies will probably be courtesy of Pillsbury because I am a lazy cook.)
I have nothing to write about really. I’m reading a book, Writing Down Your Soul, and it’s fascinating to me so far. I’m not very far in the book, but the author talks about listening to the Voice from within (yourself) and from without (God). It’s a very spiritual book so atheists wouldn’t like it, but it’s not directly Christian so fundamentalists wouldn’t like it. But I am neither. I am a middle-of-the-road Christian who accepts that the universe does stuff with a lowercase u, and recognizes that God is behind everything with a capital G. I don’t ever plan on being a pastor so I’m okay with my slightly unscriptural stance.
I am at my proofreading job right now. There’s a lot of talk and speculation that I’ll be brought on as a permanent part-time employee, but as of right now, I haven’t gotten complete confirmation. I have a cube, a computer, and my own extension, things which are nice. The office manager has been a real sweetheart and she really likes me so she’s helped me to get set up very well. I appreciate her going out of her way to make me feel like I’m part of the team, something that I’ve felt on the outs for quite a while now.
I’m always afraid that I am doing a poor proofreading job. It’s a constant fear I have because I struggle with perfectionism. I know no one can be perfect and I also know that I should take the fact that the company keeps bringing me in as a sign that I’m doing a good job, but my job centers around the fact that I’m meant to primarily minimize mistakes and I fear that I’m not minimizing them to the extent that other people would like. (I just heard my name from someone so I popped my head up, doing the “gopher” thing that people in cubicles do.) I later learned that indeed it was a mistake that I made, and I am better off never ASSuming but always querying something I’m not sure of.
I get so frustrated when black people, especially kids, throw around the term racist to any white person who offends them in some way. It’s annoying and it diminishes the meaning of the term.
I work in a library in a predominantly white community. The black kids that come in can get a little rowdy. (To be fair, kids of all colors who come in can get a little rowdy.) When the kids start using foul language or begin causing trouble, they get kicked out. The black kids cry out “racist!” directly at the person who is sending them off (and that person tends to be white). It rankles my feathers to hear that term being bandied about by kids who probably have never encountered real racism. As my (white) husband put it so well, these kids use the only defense they’ve got because once you call a white person a racist, “it shuts them down and they have no other comeback.”
I’ve encountered racism. Sadly enough, the racism has come primarily from other black people. I’ve had other black people tear me down for music I’ve listened to, people I’ve chosen to date, and for the books I read. It’s one of the reasons I have very few black friends. In some respects, I feel more comfortable around white people than black people because most white people don’t go out of their way to make me feel inferior.
Anyway, that’s the end of my rant about black kids who pull out the racist card like it’s the biggest ace they’ve got.