Archive for October, 2010

Dear Hamish,

 Pawnee Kitty came home on Sunday with a story about a camel she’d seen on the way home from Columbia.  Sometimes you can’t believe her, but she was consistent with all her facts.  The next day the person had to go back to Columbia, so I went with her.  I thought Pawnee Kitty might stay home because of all of the rain, but she came too.  I think it was more because of the rat that lives under the house.  The person has been hinting that she, Pawnee Kitty, could do something about it.

We did not see the camel as we drove to Columbia.  We did see it coming back.  It’s in a large pasture (they call them fields here).  It is a one humped camel.  It is very, very big.  And I want to ride it. 

“You rode a camel,” I said to Pawnee Kitty. 

“I did.”

“Help me ride that camel.”

“Are you nuts?  How are you going to get it to allow you to climb up on it?”

“It has hooves; I have hooves.  We both eat vegetation.”

“That doesn’t mean you’ll be instantaneous friends, you know.  I bet you’ve never been up close and personal to a camel’s mouth, have you?”

“I’ve never even seen a camel before.”

“They bite.”

“Och, you got bit.”

“No.”  She climbed into the front seat and I climbed in after her.  She was not going to escape so easy.  “They have large feet.  They can step on you,” she told me.

“You’ve been stepped on then.”


By now, Hamish, I know she doesn’t like camels, but I really, really want to ride one.  I know I can get close and I know Pawnee Kitty can get me on top.  Then she’ll take a picture of me – Angus on a camel.  That will be something for all the sheep in our district.  I’ll send it to Croft and Pastures.  Maybe Open Pasture Magazine will put it on their web page!

“So what happened between you and the camel in Morocco?”

“Who says something happened between me and a camel?  They stink you know.”

“You got smelly?”

“I always smell refreshingly nice.  Smell.”  She held a fore paw out for me to sniff.  I declined.

“I’ll ask the person.”

“Go ahead.”

That means the person won’t tell.  And I do so want to know.  She’s really got me curious and that is never good for a timid sheep like meself.

“I want to ride that camel, Pawnee Kitty.  You don’t have to go close to it; you just have to get me on it.”

Now her eyes are focused on me.  She has that look your farmer’s cat has when she spies something tasty.  “I get a hug?”

Och, Hamish.  I don’t relish her hugs.  She makes them last and I know she always pinches some wool somehow. 

“Fine.  One hug.  After I sit and ride on the camel.  And you can’t launch me body at it either.”

“Okay.”  She turned to the person to tell her to stop the next time she goes by the pasture with the camel.  I can’t help but feel I might be in trouble and Pawnee Kitty has had one over me.

 I will write more after I’ve ridden the camel.

 Your friend,

Angus.   McSheep.


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My Query

According to some folks who are looking at my query, it took them a year to write the perfect query.  A year!  I was kinda hoping for something quicker.  If it takes a year to write and then a year to find an agent and then a year to sell (if it does) then my insides will get all sad.  I hoped for quicker because I think I may have to quit my job to take care of my mom and I need an income.  Not that I think I’ll become instantly rich and famous, but some money coming in will be nice as I look for a job in the city where my mom lives.  I don’t want to quit my job; it pays decent and there’s insurance and that, but I can’t leave my mom alone either.


So, anyway, I’m trying hard to get my query in order.  I did start in spring, but that was only me goofing around and trying to get something down.  I’m hard core now, rewriting, looking at other queries, adjusting my queries to comments others have made.

The latter is pretty hard because I get pigheaded at times, but they’ve been accepted by agents and they’ve been to conferences and they’ve talked to real live agents so they know more then me and I have to get over the ‘but I like the way I wrote it’ business.  And usually it does look better when I adjust it.  I think I’m kinda getting there.  I just want it to go faster.

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I just finished a book from the Star Trek Titan series, Over a Torrent Sea.  It’s the third one from the series I’ve read.  The Titan series follows now Captain Will Riker on his command the starship Titan.  The premise of the story was okay.  I enjoyed it fine, but am not avid about it.  I suppose my biggest complaint is that all the new characters in the book confuse me.  There are so many new ones and I can’t keep track of them all.  Plus I read the book because I wanted to read more about Will Riker and Deanna Troi.  Instead it’s more about the others, these new characters, then the original Star Trek Next Generation characters.

Which led to this question: If the book had been about entirely new characters, free from any established series, would I have liked it better than I had?  Probably.  Only then I may not have read the book at all.  It was only the Star Trek connection which led me to pick it up and check it out.

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On Queries

I have finally progressed to writing a query for my manuscript.  It is not easy.  It doesn’t matter how many articles I’ve read, how many blogs I’ve perused, how many how-to’s I’ve studied, it still isn’t easy.  How can I whittle down my wonderful story to a mere, measly paragraph?  And still have it sound good? 

To write a query you really have to know your story inside and out.  I’ve rewritten it so many times so paraphrasing isn’t a problem.  I just have to make it sound alluring.

So far I’ve written I don’t know how many versions.  One I wrote last year and I thought it was good.  I thought no one in their right mind would turn this story down.  I read it again last month before I got down to the serious business of thinking about the query (which was before the serious business of writing a query) and thought: boy, does that suck.  What was I only thinking when I wrote this?

I totally scrapped that disaster and typed a new synopsis based on some query letter’s I’ve seen dissected.  Pleased with myself, I put it up for review at a critique site.  Too long.  Bummer. 

I reread blogs, took the advice of the person who wrote the critique (someone is a published author) and rewrote it, condensing the query to what I thought was the bare bones.

There were still problems.  Who is the antagonist?  Whoops, forgot that part.  What is the protagonist’s challenge?  I guess I didn’t describe that well enough.

I reviewed more blogs and how-to’s from agents and the like.  I think I got some good advice again.  I have to make the first sentence a better hook then I had before.  This is what I came up with.

Far in future, Schwinn O’Quinn who comes from an isolated, simple, underground community, confronts the unknown and a domineering government after being swept from her home in this 74,000 word YA novel entitled The Big A’Wanderin’.

I’m thinking it still needs improvement, but I can’t say at the moment what I should do. 

I also spent quite a while looking up words to describe my main character so I might insert them in the synopsis.  The big trouble is I couldn’t think of the right word.  She’s the type of person who pours her whole being into one thing and cares little about anything else.  There’s a word for a person like that (I’m sure), but I just can’t think of it.  It’s buried deep in my brain, I know it is because I know (I’m sure) that I used it before.  Darn it.  Hopefully a restful weekend will restore the brain cell in which that word lives.  Hopefully a restful weekend will give me ideas on how to improve my query.

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Somehow, somewhere, in most of what I’ve written there is something on the environment.  At times it creeps in when I’m not looking. 

I guess that’s why like I enjoy reading the Sierra Magazine from the Sierra Club with its messages of hope and its horror stories.   When I pop open the door of my mailbox and find the magazine lying there, I wonder if there’s something in there that will start a story.  I wonder if there is something I can use in a story.

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