Saturday, April 30, 2011


And finally Y is for You. Blogger is filled with so many kind, intelligent, creative, funny people all striving toward perfection and seeking support, or maybe sometimes just a moment to laugh. From the day I first signed up I've been in awe at the immense talent. Whether you're a mom or a writer, an artist or a horticulturist—You inspire. You make people laugh. You make people think. You bare your soul. You are beautiful.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Y is for Yearbook. This is such a low effort blog post today because, well, you know, there was a wedding and all. But anyway, you have to actually click something if you want the full effect. It's totally worth it.

Here's the link. Don't strain yourself.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for . . . uh . . .

I can't write about xylophone, no one wants to hear about that. I can't write about x-rays, that's too obvious. X has a sinister feel to it, like it snuck into the alphabet and wedged in next to Y with a gun in his pocket, "Don't say anything or I'll shoot U, Y." Scooting just a bit, Y's long stem began to tremble.

X is coercive, strange, violent, seductive, it gives me a headache, it makes me dizzy. It's a nightmare letter. A challenge. It's the one that got away. But came to stay. Give me a day, and I'll think of a word.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


When I was a child coming out of the mists of formative memory, I spent a lot of time running through the grass and trees surrounding our neighborhood. Our back yard, yet to be boxed by newer houses and all their fences, melded nicely into a small forest, just right for a child to get lost, but not dangerously so. Other children must have gone through as well, many times, for there was a path worn into the brush. Flying past wildflowers and sweet clover, I followed that path to a small white house with an overhang, and sitting underneath on most days, two women: a mother and a daughter.

The portly mother never failed to greet me with a huge smile. The daughter was near adulthood and soft spoken, with long blonde hair hanging down. Guarded under the awning were a set of cages holding small animals such as rabbits and hamsters. I'd poke my fingers past the metal mesh to stroke their soft fur and stare into their quick, shining eyes. They nibbled at corn and grass in such ways that made me laugh.

The sun fell through the forest of trees, around the overhang, to the sandaled feet of mother and daughter, and there seemed to be music coming from the shifting leaves. I felt in a trance; a beautiful trance. The river of femininity, of nature, of life and joy and kindness. A gentle hand on my hair, a warm laugh, an offering of sweets and then I would leave, following the path back home where the sun was brighter and the days hotter and life longer.

A winter came and passed, and in the spring I followed the path through trees stricken of their leaves. The clover had yet to flourish; the wildflowers yet to bloom. I thought I would be greeted again, hear the warm laughter, see the tiny animals in their cages. But nothing was there. Everything had been razed for new houses to be built that summer. The house was gone, the women were gone, the animals, the overhang and the soft patterns of leaves. Gone. The only thing that remained were the water pipes, connected to nothing, and small bits of gypsum and joints of wood.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I either know too much about music, or too little about the letter V, because the only thing that popped in my head when contemplating this friendly little consonant was the song Valencia. Originally from a silent movie made in 1926, Valencia is a two-step (paso-doble) written by spanish composer Maestro Santiago Lope Gonzalo. Whenever I hear it I think of summer. It's a happy song, makes you think of people strolling down the street in white dress and straw hats.

If you watch the video, which you don't have to, you'll be treated to a pair of fine dancers. And see that you won't be humming this all day long.

Monday, April 25, 2011

STUpid Mistakes

Well I finally failed in the A to Z challenge, so I'm just going to cheat to make things all right. Since I missed S and T, I'll just add them to U to make the word Stupid. That's right, the letters of the day combine to make STUpid.

Have you ever done anything stupid in your writerly/artistic/musical efforts? I have for sure. When I had the flu I kept forcing myself out of bed to edit my first draft. With body temp going up and down, I was determined to fix what I thought to be horrible grammar mistakes, only to spend many months afterwards fixing the fixes. Oh how I regret that mistake! Another one was sending out my manuscript before it was ready. I thought it was ready, but know now to put a manuscript aside and work on something else for a while. Doing so gives you the needed space and gives you perspective. Always, always wait before querying.

But in the end, every stupid mistake was worth it, really. With humility, we can all appreciate the stupid things because they help us to grow, they give us depth, they make the ending so much sweeter.

So, what are the stupid things you've done in your chosen craft?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Records

I think I'm still in a state of shock. But it's good shock. Just wanted to thank everyone again for the well wishes, I appreciate it!

Okay, so the letter for today is R and I choose Records. Saturday was Record Store Day, but I didn't go out and buy any because I support that franchise quite well without any special days to boost me along, thank you very much!

I remember when they started to phase vinyl out, it was around 1989. CD's were on the scene and people loved the whole idea of these silver discs and their perfect sound quality. I was in a music store with my friends and I heard a guy say, "In a few years, records will be gone forever." Something stabbed in my heart. A huge part of my childhood was records, they really meant something to me! And you don't know how many albums I bought in the 90's that would have sounded so much better on vinyl. I felt cheated! Also, there's a whole layout issue. An album was almost concept art. Song placement had actual meaning to enhance the experience of the listener. The layout of CD's, however, were meant to have the hits first, and the rest as filler. Cover art became insert graphics.

You gotta love the crackle and sway of records. It's hypnotic, it's beautiful, it's soulful. It takes you somewhere. Well . . . at least it does for me. I have The Doors, Rick Nelson, The Beatles, John Lennon, Dylan, Donovan, Joni Mitchell, America . . . let's face it, I am a record store.

Word to the wise though, if it says it's unbreakable, it's a lie. Just like a heart, vinyl can be cracked.

Here's a beautiful song. Just sit and listen, will you? The slow spinning and organic groove might heal all your troubles.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Query

I wonder how many people will choose Query for their subject today? Though queries are the bane of many a writer's existence, they are necessary. Even if you already have an agent or publisher, it really is good to write one early on in the manuscript process as a sort of exercise. Doing so will force you to define just what exactly will happen to your characters. Who are they, what are they afraid of losing, what will happen if it's all taken away, and how will they turn things around and become the hero? You need to define this, and then start adding voice. Make it read like a mini version of the best parts of your book. Entice. Bait. Make someone laugh or cry or both.

Last spring I read everything I could on query writing, the Writer's Digest agent issue being my favorite source. They have sample queries that agents love, and tips on what agents don't like to see (so glad mine wasn't in there!). It helps to see examples as a sort of template. So . . . here's one of mine that I've been working on. It's not perfect, but I think it sells the book fairly well.

Dear Agent Sparkly Pants:

Fourteen-year-old Joni Weaver is a proud member of the Freak Table. That’s where all the uncool kids sit everyday for lunch at Hell, er, Hellman High. Perhaps the honor was earned by her wardrobe of sparkly clothing (shouldn’t have given her mom that Bedazzler for Christmas) and buck teeth, or maybe it’s her strange inability to speak when spoken to without sounding like a broken record.

But those ain’t problems. Living in a house with seven cats is a problem. Having a mom who plays online poker all day is a problem. Having an estranged father who works in the projector room at the local movie theater with a bottle of whiskey in his hands is a problem. And when’s that darn first period gonna start? Now that’s a problem. Joni’s about ready to explode, a nice solution to her semi-doomed existence.

Pressured into trying out for the school play, Joni decides to make everyone see she’s more than just a member of the Freak Table. That she just might be somebody. That the rhinestones, and the dead-beat mom, the Virgin Mary status, the Southern Comfort guzzling dad and his new needy wife, they’re not her. She can escape. She can prevail. But first . . . she’s gonna have to try out.

‘BYE JONI WEAVER is a YA mainstream of 70,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours truly,

Amy Saia

It takes a lot of time and effort to write a query letter. But it can be done, and the main thing is that you represent your book—and the MC—in the right way. Good luck to anyone out there who is in this process right now. You'll get it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let's pounce on P

The word for today is P. P for persistence, P for perfection, P for pleasure. And it is my Pleasure to announce that my YA Paranormal will be Published by WiDo Publishing sometime in 2012. I'm so exited and happy! Very, very happy! I received encouraging words last night from the wonderful Allie at WiDo and should expect to see a contract today or sometime this week I imagine.

I know this isn't an awards show or anything, but I'd like to thank all my friends here for sticking with me and giving such wonderful words to help me along. Molly, thank you for reading the early manuscript and giving your thoughts and love. Karen, thank you for reading the manuscript, for putting in a good word for me, and for helping me through this whole process. Cro, thank you for being so positive and for giving such calm wisdom to keep me from freaking out every two days. Tom- thank you for those early compliments and for being so hard on me at times- to make me work hard- I really appreciate that! Talli, Jenn, Tess, MC Howe thank you for the love and smiles. Thank you to all my newer blogger friends as well! Mom, thank you for all the advice and patience. Marshall, thank you for being such a dear friend. Everyone at AW thank you.

Okay so here is a short pitch for the book:

Seventeen-year-old Emma Shay is dying to get out of small town Springvail, but after falling in love with a young man no one else can see, decides to stay and fight to get his soul back from a cult called the Soul Seekers.

Happy Tuesday to all!

Monday, April 18, 2011


O is for OPEN. NOW that you've decided to step forward, you must OPEN that door. What happens when you finally decide to act on a dream? Bad things happen, right? Sometimes. Lots and lots of failure, with lots and lots of hard work. Sometimes it seems like it can't be worth it. Wouldn't it be better to go back to the old days of sitting comfortably in a chair pretending you're working on a dream? No one would be able to hurt you, judge you. You can sit and dream endlessly and never have to feel the pain of rejection. Well . . . there's always that option. But what happens when someone else finds your idea and they make it happen, they get the glory, they find success? All because you were afraid of failure.

Dreams are the ingredient to ideas. Ideas need action. Action takes work. Work brings failure. Failure leads to success. OPEN the door and get started.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I'm a little late, but this actually demonstrates my point quite well. You see, it doesn't matter how late you are, or how unorganized, how much money you have, or what your age is. What matters is that you start from NOW. Now is always present; it's always waiting. It's an empty room with a welcome sign. All you have to do is step in and keep moving. The room expands as you move. As long as you keep moving, the room keeps growing. Once you enter the NOW room your life takes on a positive spin. You are no longer the procrastinator who can't accomplish anything. You become the person in action, the person who tries, the person who is willing to risk, the person who likes change, the person who grows, who wins, who embraces, who loves, who succeeds.

So remember, the next time you tell yourself that you have failed at life because another year went by and you didn't start that book, that painting, that song, that friendship, that job, that invention, remember, NOW is waiting. It never leaves. It waits for YOU.

Friday, April 15, 2011


This is the story of Marian.

I've said before how deep the generation gap is in our family. It's so deep that my grandmother was born before the last century. She was the result of an affair between a man and his Irish maid in New York City, or so we hear, the records have always been a little cloudy. After the baby girl was born the mother took her to a Catholic orphanage. At this time Charles Loring Brace had already set up his famous Orphan Train which placed children into homes across the Midwest from 1854 to 1929.

From all estimations Marian was still an infant when she left on her campaign and was adopted by a German Family in Taos, Mo. Taos was a pretty hillside town, long on fields; a white country church with high reaching steeple sat up like a throne. It was in this town that Marian spent her childhood. She worked hard doing chores, even occasionally pulling bulls in from the field for mating.

Adopted children at this time were sometimes thought of as extra help. You earned your keep, or in other words, you were taken in as an indentured servant, though this type of thinking was not vocalized as such. Marian's adoptive mother used her as a servant, and having emotional issues, became abusive perhaps from regret of time spent having to care for the girl when she had a baby of her own. Regardless, Marian suffered beatings, iron burns to her forearm, she was even thrown down a flight of stairs at one point which resulted in a broken arm. Marian maintained her sanity by going out to the fields and screaming, singing at the top of her lungs. Finally the husband, a quiet man, allowed his sister in town to take over the care of Marian. This woman, who was later to become a nun, raised the child with peace and a gentle hand.

Marian with Sister Mary

Yet young, Marian left Taos in her teens and traveled to Kansas City where she learned shorthand and secretarial skills. An early job matched her up with Cyril Brown, a gentleman fresh from a tour overseas with WWI. Cyril's family had ties to The Younger Brothers, akin to Jesse James, he'd even hopped trains once. It was to be a double date—both of them with different partners. But in a happy twist of fate, Marian and Cyril ended up together. It happened at Kansas City's infamous, and now a mere ghost, Fairlyland Park.

They married. Cyril became a lawyer, Marian remained a secretary.

They had four children, though one died of illness at a young age. Grandfather used to sit and look at Ramona's picture on the mantle. She had been the first born.

Marian holding Kathleen

More hardship was to come, The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl. Though Grandfather was somehow able to procure a house from an ill-fated client. Through one man's misfortune Cyril kept shelter for his family of females.

My mother describes Marian as musical, happy, thrifty, generous, kind. She knew how to play piano by ear, and would often play long into the evening. She loved movies, and would often walk up the hill with her three daughters to attend a show at the city theater.

Work called my mother to New York, and it was while she was there that Marian died after suffering from colon cancer.

Years later, I followed Mom and my Aunt Kathleen to Taos. We climbed the hill and walked inside that old white church with its sharp steeple. We just needed to know; there was so little information. No pictures of Marian as a child, it had left such emptiness. The parish priest took our group down to the church basement so we could look through a few photo books, surely there had to be something. I opened a thick ledger, began to sift through picture after picture of school gatherings with children half-smiling, teachers with tight buns in their hair holding chalkboard squares with dates: 1913, 1912, 1911 . . . My eyes scanned every face, just hoping one would pop out as familiar. And then it happened. I found a picture with a young girl of about seven or eight dressed in white, thick hair and beautiful irish face. Marian. I called Mom and Aunt Kathleen over and heard them gasp.

There she was. All these years later we had come to claim her. No one had ever wanted that child, loved that child. And finally, we were there. I could almost feel her with us, looking over our shoulders. We made copies of the picture and left, quiet.

Marian in Taos, Mo, December 17, 1907

And that's the story of Marian. Survivor. Mother. Child.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Liam

My other baby. He's rough and rowdy, but very cuddly. He loves to dance, loves to run around, loves to play with Henry the dachshund. He makes me laugh. His new favorite thing is to play video games, and though I've lamented whether he could be doing better things with his time, once I saw the way it improved his confidence, I dropped all complaints. I think boys these days are programmed to love that type of sensory activity. Not sure, but he and his cousin seem to be happier because of it.

Lately he has been struggling over his sentences, "Li-Li-Li-Li-Li-Li-Liam wants to go outside and swing!" Yes, he speaks about himself in third person, haha. I just wait the stuttering out because I know he's excited and tripping over the words. He'll get it. Some things take time.

I love what he said the other day; kids are like little Platos sometimes: "Ice cream is tasty to eat!" So simple and yet so true.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Keep Your Soul

You've worked on your book for three years and your query for three months. You send it out only to receive a reply two minutes later, "Not for me." It's not the end of the world. This agent doesn't like the premise, but someone else might. Send it out again. Don't quit. Rejection happens. KEEP YOUR SOUL.

You wake up and life is good. You stop by Starbucks and get an expensive coffee to celebrate this perfect day. Someone cuts you off right outside the drive-through lane and you spill all that hot, five-dollar coffee on your lap. The person who cut you off doesn't even care, they're already gone. You want to go after them and start a little road rage. Teach them a lesson. Don't. It's not worth it. Remember the happiness you felt before it all happened. KEEP YOUR SOUL.

It's early morning and you've prepared breakfast for the kids. Eggs, waffles,toast, fresh-squeezed juice, you even folded their napkins to look like stars. Your kids walk in and tell you to stop making food for them, all they wanted was a pop-tart and no mothering. You feel alone, hurt, used. Remember that kids go through phases, and sometimes being a parent is a crap shoot. We're all in this together. You're not alone. Do something nice for yourself today to boost your spirit. KEEP YOUR SOUL.

There's no money in the bank account. Gas is almost four dollars a gallon. You have places to go, food to buy, a doctor's appointment copay, and you really need to buy a gift for that upcoming bridal shower. Looks like you're going to have to sell your laptop on eBay just to get by. Remember, you can't take it with you, bad luck comes in shifts, it's always darkest before dawn. As long as you're breathing good things are still possible. Take a deep breath. KEEP YOUR SOUL.

Your hair's a mess. There's a rip in the armpit of your sleeve. Your boss is a bitch. A huge zit is forming on your cheek and you have to greet people all day at your job. You feel so ugly and just want to hide. Beauty really is on the inside; it radiates out like sunlight affecting the world around you. You're like the sun: warm, beautiful, unique, elegant, graceful, wise, calm. Don't let the physical world ruin your inner spirit. KEEP YOUR SOUL.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is for Julia

My darling girl. When she was little she was trapped inside herself and needed help getting out. Diet change was the first thing that set her free. Getting her special help at preschool and speech therapy helped, and now she's doing quite well thanks to targeted studies in kindergarten. I've seen her schoolwork improve these last few weeks, and she's also more aware of her feelings. That's the hardest thing for a kid with a sensory disorder, they are so stuck in their own head that everything else is overwhelming. She's gotten so much better dealing with all outside stimulation like unwanted conversation, hugs, etc. When she was little she would never say she loved me, and it hurt, believe me, it hurt. When I saw other kids hugging their moms and saying they loved them, well, it was depressing. I feel like those years I was almost in a dead state. Writing helped me open up again, it brought me joy. And now my little girl tells me she loves me all the time. She's free. I'm free. Julia is a good lesson to us all: work hard and good things happen. Time heals. Love prevails.

I love you Julia.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for I Don't Know

They say write what you know. I read a twist on that last week in a blog titled: Steal Like an Artist. The author says write what you love. Both are right, I think. But the thing is, you could have grown up on a desert island and still have enough material inside you to write a book. Why? Because imagination is endless. The only thing stopping many of us from writing what we know, and what we love, and what we wish we could is fear. The I don't knows and the I'm not experienced enoughs keep us from letting our imaginations dance and paint and sing. If you want to write something write it. Look it up on Google. Write it then fix it later if need be. Don't let—I don't know—keep you from writing what you want to write. Not only are you denying yourself of happiness, but you're keeping stagnant and withholding your gift, your talent. Use it or lose it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Just thought I'd ask a question on this free Sunday. The picture shown is not mine, but I have the exact same print with a nicer frame. It's a Copuletti, whom I know nothing about. Any wisdom on this possession of mine: meanings, history?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Help

H is for Help. When things have gone south and you don't know what to do with a project you're working on, step back and ask for help from other writers, painters. Don't be afraid to reach out. There's a weird syndrome we all have that keeps us from seeing our work objectively, and so it's very often we become stuck. Allowing another to step in adds fresh perspective, it also gives you breathing time to sort things out so that when you come back you can see both mistakes and triumphs without aide.

And since this is Saturday, I want to add a link that I've shared before, but it's too funny not to post again: Jack Handy's Deep Thoughts.

Take Care everyone. Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Gut

When I wrote my first draft I was trying to please. I was writing a happy little story with a skeleton of what it really should have been, but fear, rejection, pre-judgement were holding me back. I can't use that word, I can't hurt my character in such a way, I can't put them in this situation, I'm not a good enough writer to even try a descriptive passage like that. An early critique told me the draft had too much wordiness and too little going on. But cutting out all that pretty fluff will make my word count go down and I'll have nothing. I was so wrong. Cutting out all the wordiness enabled me to dig deeper. It brought me to my knees and made me think, really think about what I wanted people to read when they opened the front cover of my book.

After a night spent laying awake with thoughts going wild I rewrote the first section and began a path toward a newer, better, more risque, more honest manuscript. I could actually feel my characters now, I knew their fears and I used that knowledge to drag them through the mud a little. Sometimes it got so deep that I even cried and I wondered, why hadn't I had the guts to write the book this way from the start?

So I tell you, use your gut. Don't worry about your skills, or about censoring. Don't think about anything but what your characters want you to do. Tell the story right.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F is for Friendship

F is for Friendship. And what a wonderful example I have with all you dear folks stopping by and leaving great comments. An artistic endeavor can become quite a lone process sometimes, we give so much to our fictional existence and the real one suffers. But you need real friends to make it in this world. So thank you very, very much for all the support. It hasn't gone unnoticed!

Here's a toast to friendship!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Ewok

E is for Ewok. An Ewok is the darndest little critter, let me tell you. Covered with fur, this forest creature has big eyes, looks like a little shitzu really, but don't let all that physical stuff lend you to thinkin' they are harmless. These dudes can pack a mean punch.

So let's see, how do we relate this to writing, art, music, life . . . ? Well, how many times have you thought an idea wasn't worth much, but then you looked later and saw it was quite powerful? Maybe you'll have to work with it to help strengthen its power, maybe give it just that right amount of polish. Voila! You end up with something that is very strong, something that is unique; simple, but good. Sometimes it's the little things that put up the best fight. They can change a whole project with their eloquence. Never, ever fall to doubt, always create with an open mind.

So next time you have an idea you think is minuscule, step back and see if it's an Ewok idea. And to make this post fully effective, I suggest you dress up in rags, dance around a fire, and chant gibberish to the sky. I'm doing it now! Wheeeeeeeeeee.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dachshund

D is for Dachshund. Dachshunds are expressive, funny, smart, fiercely loyal, playful, protective, naughty . . . They love life and demand that others join in their enthusiasm. For instance, well, being a writer is not a good profession for a dachshund's human to have. It's so boooooring. Why would anyone want to sit around all day tapping at keys? I mean, there's a ball to catch, food to steal off the table, cats to run after, birds to snap at, squirrels to kill, and we gotta stay inside? WTF??

James Thurber had a dachshund. Napoleon had a dachshund. Queen Victoria had a whole bunch of us. Total domination. We haz long backs. We haz badger hunter power. We bark at anything that moves. We bark at doorbells, cows, clouds, flies, loud food wrappers, bubbles, slow walkin' whiny kids, policemen, firemen, mailmen, strange ladies with big dogs. We be crazy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Cut

C is for Cut. Wether you're an artist or writer or singer or dancer or filmmaker—anything creative—there's going to come a time when you have to cut sections from your project. It's probably the hardest part of what we do. We're so close to our work, we see the beauty of every single part, so to cut something is like drawing blood and pouring it down the drain. But it's necessary. It must be done. Here's what I do to help the process:

For each project keep an extra file where you can put all those ideas that don't quite fit. You can use them later on, or save them for other projects. Ideas are like putty, they can be molded to fit. If you are writing, for instance, and you sense that a scene is too long and maybe a whole chapter just seems to be sitting there with no reason, take it out and put it in the extras folder. Does the book read better now? Are the characters still alive? Good. You didn't need that scene. You may like it, but you didn't need it. You can always add it back in (but try not to).

Happy Monday!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


B is for Bravery. Taking that first step toward writing a book, toward saying something different, toward releasing thoughts and feelings you never thought you'd have the guts to release before. Have faith that your ideas are good enough to write down. Write first, think later. First draft: Bad. Second draft: Better. Draft 1,000,000: Great.

You have to be brave to believe in your dreams. You have to be brave to actually think someone else might love your stuff. Never assume it's not good enough. Don't pre-judge. Let other people do the judging. Always have faith that whatever you create will shine one day.

So, next time you have an idea, pretend there's an invisible cape on your back—the kind Superheroes wear. And then just write.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Actress

A is for actress. The ultimate movie star, Great Garbo. I used to obsess over her quite a bit, as she was the highest level of glamour, of style, of sophistication. She was tall, I'm tall. She had a husky voice, I can get kinda husky. She was strange, elusive, hard to pin down. I'm . . . strange.

I was thinking how as we get older, as women, we should look an ideal for ourselves. So I look to Greta as my aging idol. If I see a wrinkle I think, so what, Greta got wrinkles and she was f*cking Greta Garbo. If my breasts aren't as perfect as an eighteen-year-olds (though they're pretty damn perfect—to me, at least) I think, Greta never had implants, she didn't need 'em, she was f*cking Greta Garbo. If a man gets cruel, if the world starts caving in, if the ground shakes a little, I think Greta went through all this too. I can make it.

So yeah, that's my report on the letter A. This is like Sesame Street.

Ya'll know I write under a pen name. photo credit: Web-Betty Pete's Kitchen | Denver, CO via photopin (license) A girl’s...