Monday, June 23, 2008

Missing the Beautiful People

I had a great time at the Writers' League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference! Of course, it isn't like it would have taken all that much for me to have had a good time. I had a bed to myself, a bathroom that remained un-invaded during each and every use, and meals prepared for me! How great is that? It is sad, truly sad, that it takes so little to make me happy. I keep telling people that it doesn't take much to make me happy but they disagree. It turns out that I am incredibly, brilliantly right! (Again). I just live with difficult people who refuse to give me my own bed, bathroom, a gourmet meal, and proper recognition for my level of genius. I also came home to another proven scientific theory that is stated as thus:

Anytime one man is left alone for 2 days with 5 children the woman of the family will return home to tattooed children and freshly laundered pink towels and socks.

I made new friends and sat in on some great workshops. When I arrived on Friday I immediately attended a workshop by Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest. He taught us how to pitch to an agent, which was most excellent as that is why I had come. I intended to pitch my book idea for Upstream Parenting. I made a new little friend in the form of Holly, who is a published author of children's books and an aspiring adult novelist. Holly and I hit the mixer together and it had the undeniable feel of a singles' bar. We all stood around with our programs containing the editors/agents' pictures and then gathered in tight little groups, scanning the crowd for agent meat. We encouraged each other to leave the safety of our little groups to approach the target and pitch our books. Holly was unstoppable and was responsible for my first successful pitch. The editor I talked to at the mixer is with Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. She was a doll; friendly and open and (most importantly) interested in my book! She asked for a proposal. I met many other writers and agents and headed off to dinner with another new friend, Sheri Bernstein. Sheri was pitching a novel and coffee table book series. Sheri is also an actor and kept me in stitches!

The next morning I attended a workshop on preparing non-fiction proposals with literary agent Ted Weinstein. This workshop let me know I was in the big leagues and I began to feel the first stirrings of "holy crap -what am i doing here?" A delicious lunch followed and there I met Nita Lou Bryant, of Austin. She and I have a lot in common and are both non-fiction writers. You can check out Nita's blog at The keynote speaker was Sara Nelson, editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly. After lunch Sherie introduced me to Marc Graham, an award-winning historical fiction novelist. You can visit Marc's website at At the cocktail party that night he was particularly handsome in his kilt!

In the afternoon I went up to the 4th floor to await my appointment with a literary agent from Full Circle Literary. Everything ran very smoothly and on time. My appointment went well and I felt very comfortable with the agent who sat through my pitch. In fact, I was thinking, "Man! She would be fun to work with!" And she is a new mom. She asked for a proposal of Upstream Parenting, and now I have to do it!!! This feels like the parenting journey, somewhat. You survive the pregnancy and birth only to find nothing is over at all. It is all just beginning! Now you've got a kid to raise. I feel like I survived the conception and the pitch, and now instead of feeling relief, I have the anxiety of knowing that now I have a book to write!

Sunday morning found me sitting in a workshop about using the social web and I was completely overwhelmed with the information. But I am going to try to learn more (in my amazing amount of spare time).

I arrived home to a melancholy scene. I had been forced to leave during a crisis, just as we discovered our new little puppy, Scout, had been attacked and killed by coyotes. Camille was devastated and I had to drive away screaming at Jeff, "For God's sake go out and get her a bunny RIGHT NOW!!" while tears streamed down my cheeks. Fortunately, Jeff did not do that. Camille is pouring all of her efforts into comforting Ranger, who undoubtedly witnessed his sister's tragic end. He is now in our house, which is not good because he is proving difficult to house train. But this morning as I sat here typing at about 6:30 - I heard a pack of coyotes beginning to howl, wrapping up a night's worth of hunting. So inside he shall stay, at least overnight.

Yesterday afternoon Ellie performed in the San Antonio International Piano Competition's Summer Showcase of Young Pianists. This is the third time she has been invited to play in the showcase. She played beautifully and it was a lovely afternoon. She performed the same Ginastera piece she played at her recent recital (which you can hear under "Bragging Time" on the right hand side of the blog). One of the lovely ladies attending the event thrilled Ellie afterwards with a story of her friendship with Ginastera, himself! We came home to find Joel had managed to end up with the exact same number of children he had started out with - always a plus. My dad took us all out to dinner and then I hit my bed with chapter ideas fighting for space in my head....

Well, Jasper is next to me having a ketchup meltdown. Jules put ketchup on his chicken instead of next to his chicken and this is a real emergency. He is trying to remedy it with a napkin but alas, it is becoming stuck to Jasper's chicken. And now we're out of ketchup. The universe, as we know it, could very well be coming to an end. Nothing like a ketchup catastrophe to bring me back down to earth. I am definitely home!

Sardine Mama


  1. ok now... i want to hear the pitch... hit it girl!

  2. i'm so sorry about Scout, that's terrible!

    but congrats on your successful trek to (was it Houston?) some part in Texas. i'm sure everything will work out great.

  3. Janet - Here is the pitch:
    I am writing a book called Upstream Parenting. It is about finding a way to hear your own inner voice of wisdom above the roaring din of parenting experts, and then following that wherever it leads.

  4. Welcome home. I'm happy to hear that it went so well. I never had a doubt.