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Good Things Come . . .

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I’ve had a lovely spate of agents requesting my manuscript. I now have five fulls out and two partials. @.@

Had a nice walk this morning, too, under mostly cloudy skies. Woke up feeling happy and hopeful, and my iPod definitely picked up on that by starting with:

1. “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors.
2. “I Can’t Stay” by The Killers
3. “Natural” by Rob Thomas
4. “Everything Will Change” by Gavin DeGraw
5. “When We Dance” by Sting
6. “Lonely Ol’ Night” by John Cougar Mellencamp
7. “Eternity” by Richard Marx
8. “Down Together” by The Refreshments
9. “Just South of Nowhere” by Gin Blossoms
10. “Epilogue” by Sting
11. “We Go Together” (from the cast recording of Much Ado About Nothing, featuring David Tennant and Catherine Tate)

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Wednesday’s Walk

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Today my iPod decided to choose songs with long titles, at least at first. Then it went for a few 1-word titles, for balance, I guess.

1. “I Can’t Let You Go” by Matchbox Twenty
2. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears
3. “Leave the Lights On” by John Prine
4. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
5. “I’ll Believe You When” by Matchbox Twenty
6. “Disease” by Matchbox Twenty
7. “Back to Work” (from the Sherlock soundtrack)
8. “Bullet from a Gun” by The Script
9. “Runaway” by Maroon 5
10. “River of Dreams” by Billy Joel
11. “Hit It” by American Authors
12. “Everything Falls Apart” by Dog’s Eye View
13. “Free” by Train

My iPod also seems to know when I have songs stuck in my head. I went to bed with Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” in my head and woke up with The Script’s “Bullet from a Gun.” So . . .

And just for fun, since I haven’t posted much writing lately:

You, standing by the pond with the fallen leaves dancing past the toes of your shoes. The brown sweater and a collared shirt, and your coat open because it is cold but not cold enough to button a coat over a sweater. You came to sit beside me on the green park bench, and I wondered at your lack of gloves then realized you were hoping I might hold your hand. Your hands are prettier than mine, and next to you I feel plain and pretty at the same time. So I do put my hand over yours—no gloves on me, either—and I lean my head on your shoulder, and we sit and watch the sun come up over the park. And it is perfect.

It’s not part of anything in particular, though I may try to incorporate it somewhere.

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Busted

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Years ago—I think it might have been back when I had a LiveJournal and these questionnaires were common—I was asked, “What song would you want to start playing on the stereo as you walked through the door to a party?” Or something to that effect. And my answer was “Busted” by Matchbox Twenty. Because there’s something about the opening chords of that song that lends itself to a cinematic image of the slo-mo entrance. You see the close-up of the boot and you travel up and there’s the person followed by his or her entourage. (Funny, in my mental image it isn’t me walking through the door, even though the question asked about me. It’s more music video-like; it’s Rob and the band or something.)

The tempo changes in the song give an interesting mental visual, too. The “video” starts in slo-mo, but once the drums kick in it goes to normal speed, then slows again . . .

All this is a long way around of saying that, whenever I hear “Busted” now, I think of this. I think of that random question and my answer, and I think of this video in my head. Funny what stays with you.

And, yes, “Busted” came up on my iPod today. Short walk because I had doctor things to do, namely a blood draw. I’m old hat at that and was able to point the phlebotomist to the best vein. She was pleased, told me I could “come back any time.” Yes, well, let’s hope it won’t become a regular thing.

1. “Somewhere Tonight” by Gin Blossoms
2. “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon
3. “Believe” by Rob Thomas
4. “Changin’ Luck” by Little Feat
5. “Busted” by Matchbox Twenty
6. “Love Unemotional” by Richard Marx
7. “Again Tonight” by John Mellencamp

And now I’ve been fasting for 15 hours and should probably think about eating something.

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Monday Music

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My iPod went on a Matchbox Twenty kick; I even checked it to make sure I hadn’t specified the artist, but no, my iPod was just feeling . . . Robbish? It must be excited that Rob is in the studio working on his newest album.

1. “If I Fall” by Matchbox Twenty
2. “Bent” by Matchbox Twenty
3. “Our Song” by Matchbox Twenty
4. “Bare Necessities” as covered by Los Lobos
5. “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train
6. “After the Fall” by October Project
7. “Barely Breathing (acoustic)” by Duncan Sheik
8. “Get a Leg Up” by John Mellencamp
9. “Vertigo” by U2
10. “All the Right Moves” by OneRepublic
11. “Road to Ruin” by Great Big Sea
12. “1979” as covered by Rob Thomas

Somewhere in there my iPod tried to insert “Fortress Around Your Heart” by Sting again, but I had a weird dream last night about having to close a vampire into a house and woke up with that song stuck in my head, so I wasn’t really into hearing it again.

I don’t know what that Los Lobos song is doing on my iPod. But it does bring to mind the Denis Leary joke about God’s sombrero.

I like that “All the Right Moves” leads to the “Road to Ruin.”

And though I was only three years old in 1979, I love that song, particularly Rob’s cover of it. Between that song and The Thorn Birds, I came close to naming my daughter Justine . . . Oh, but of all the Rob Thomas/Matchbox Twenty covers, their take on Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again” is phenomenal. What a way to recast the tone of a song. Just wow.

Numerology & Friday Music

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Last night I had a dream I sold my book to a small publisher for $133. Oddly specific number there. One could parse it a few ways: 1 & 33, 13 & 3, or (adding the digits) 7.

The number 1 is of course indicative of individuality. This can mean originality, or it can mean loneliness . . . It can also stand for the start of something.

Thirty-three is a number of high potential and spiritual awareness.

Thirteen—that’s the Death card in Tarot. It stands for transformation. An end that is also a beginning.

And 3 is certainly a well-known spiritual number: the trinity; past, present, future; strength; and also possibly triangles of sorts, like love triangles, or three friends.

Seven is another “magic” and “lucky” number. There are 7 chakras, 7 deadly sins, 7 days in a week. It’s considered a healing number as well.

But what about the number 133 itself? I hear you ask. Well, as best I can tell, it has no particular significance. But this site says that the number is a message from my angels to give over my fears and doubts. I should remain optimistic.

The dream was optimistic in its own way. Though I’d like to make more than $133 for my book. It was weird, too, because then I was at some kind of camp/conference with a bunch of literary agents . . . But at least I was able to tell them all I’d sold my book!

Okay, enough of that. What about my walk this morning? Well, it was a bit shorter because (a) our heat is back, just for the day, and (b) I had a couple appointments to get to. So:

1. “Say Hey (I Love You)” by Michael Franti & Spearhead
2. “Last Beautiful Girl” by Matchbox Twenty
3. “A Minor Variation” by Billy Joel
4. “Fortress Around Your Heart” by Sting
5. “Wise Up” by Amy Grant
6. “Hurt So Good” by John Cougar Mellencamp
7. “Calling You” by Richard Marx
8. “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You” by Sting

October Project’s “If I Could” was just starting as I got home.

I think it’s interesting I was reading the New Yorker article about Billy Joel last night and then he turned up on my iPod! Meanwhile, “Wise Up” and “Hurt So Good” were flashbacks for me (Mercury is retrograde). I had the “Wise Up” video on the same tape as Young Sherlock Holmes, so every day after school I would see Amy Grant in her pink leopard-print jacket before watching my movie. Yes, every day. I’m not even exaggerating.

And when I was in Europe back in 1998, I remember hearing “Hurt So Good” at, like, every bar and club. It was the weirdest thing because it wasn’t a current song. I also heard a lot of “Tubthumping” and “Brimful of Asha,” but it was Mellencamp that made me go, WTF? Anyway, now whenever I hear it, I just think of that summer.

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My WIP + Thursday Music

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So I’m getting more and more excited about my current WIP, which is a middle grade novel set in an alternative world. If that’s what you call it. What I mean is, my novel is kind of like The Giver in that the world is similar to ours but just different enough . . . Plus, there’s an element of magic in it.

I’m saying the novel is middle grade. The characters are actually 15 years old, almost 16, but I’ve heard many times that kids read about characters that are a few years older than they are themselves, so I’m guessing my readers will be middle schoolers. Which is fine since I’m not doing anything “hard core” like profanity or drugs. The story is actually kind of sweet. It’s about Cee and her best friend Marcus. She has a wrenching crush on him, but he’s gay, and what’s more there’s something weird going on with him, and for the first time in their long friendship Cee is feeling shut out. They usually share everything, but now . . .

Anyway, it’s a lot of fun. And yes, I do write a lot of gay characters. Maybe because at least half of my best guy friends were and are gay.

As for my walk this morning:

1. “All In” by Lifehouse
2. “Best Day of My Life (Acoustic)” by American Authors
3. “I Fly Away” by Better Than Ezra
4. “Quietly Making Noise” by Jimmy Buffett
5. “The Motown Song” by Rod Stewart
6. “No Curtain Call” by Maroon 5
7. “These Hard Times” by Matchbox Twenty
8. “Chariot” by Gavin DeGraw
9. “Wild Nights” as covered by John Mellencamp
10. “Follow You Down” by Gin Blossoms
11. “Everywhere I Go” by Amy Grant

Actually, Jackson Browne also has a song titled “Everywhere I Go,” and I love it. Played alongside Sting’s “Love Is the Seventh Wave”—it’s a really good pairing. Alas, I don’t believe I have the I’m Alive album in my cloud. Need to upload it . . .

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From a Certain Point of View

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You’re not going to like every book you pick up in a bookstore. There are a lot of books there, covering a lot of topics, and you’ll first go to the section(s) that have the kind(s) of books you like . . . In fact, you may never go to any other part of the store. And that’s okay.

Even when narrowing it down to the fantasy or biography or whatnot, you won’t like all the books that are there. You might like a lot of them. But you’re going to put back most of what you pick up. (Well, I’m making an assumption there; you may very well stack up a lot of books, but let’s be honest: Will you ever read them all? Probably not.) You’re going to look at the covers, the titles. You’re going to flip the book over and skim the back, or else you’ll open and read the flap. You’ll glance over the first page or two, then skip ahead to a random page. You’re looking to see if the writing “sounds” right to you, whether the book catches you from the start or if it seems like a slog. You’ll use all this data to decide whether to buy the book or not.

Of course, sometimes it’s something you’ve heard about somewhere, or it’s an author whose name you recognize or whose other work you’ve enjoyed.

But I’m talking random books by people you’ve never heard of. There are thousands of them, and you have to narrow it down to the handful you can reasonably afford to buy and (hopefully) have time to read.

This is what agents do, too.

They are in a virtual bookstore of as-yet-unpublished books. They are skimming the back covers and book flaps (known to them as synopses). They are testing the first few pages to see if these manuscripts are the kinds of books they want to read—more than that, are they the kinds of books the agent wants to work on and with for months and years?

Like anyone in this world, an agent won’t love every book (query, manuscript) he or she receives. They, like you in a bookstore, are just looking for a few to take home. And just because one agent or reader doesn’t love your book, that doesn’t mean someone else won’t. The agent puts your book back on the shelf for someone else to come along and discover.

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The day started with another partial request for my manuscript. That’s seven out now; four full and three partials. Not bad, really.

Nice walk this morning, too, sunny and cool, which is my favorite kind of fall weather: crisp.

1. “Mrs. Rita” by Gin Blossoms
2. “Overkill” by Jimmy Buffett
3. “Real World” by Matchbox Twenty
4. “Runaway” by Maroon 5
5. “Deep As You Go” by October Project
6. “Final Act” (from the Sherlock soundtrack)
7. “I Don’t Wanna Know” by Fleetwood Mac
8. “Robin in the Rain” by Raffi
9. “Miami” (live cut) by Counting Crows
10. “Until I Fall Away” by Gin Blossoms

There’s a nice symmetry to beginning and ending with Gin Blossoms, and those two songs in particular are good for starting and stopping.

And, yes, I keep Raffi’s “Robin in the Rain” on my iPod. It’s so cute and jazzy, and when my son Robert is around, we sing “Robert in the Rain” instead.

As for the live cut of “Miami,” I don’t usually like live albums unless there’s something new and different about the way the songs are played, but for some reason I do really like the New Amsterdam album.

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God & Doctor Who

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My 5-year-old son Robert has some kind of insect bites on his back and shoulders. There are no signs of insects in the house, so I can only guess these are coming from school and time out at the park or whatnot. Still, I was stripping his bed, and I asked him, “What do you think is biting you?”

He thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Well, God doesn’t bite, does He?”

“Uh . . . No.”

“So it couldn’t be God,” Rob said reasonably.

I then jokingly suggested maybe it was angels instead, and Rob narrowed his eyes as me and said, “But not Weeping Angels, right?”

I have the best kids.

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Monday Mourning & Music

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Two more rejections over the weekend, but I’m still doing fairly well; 11% of the queries I’ve sent have resulted in requests for my manuscript. (Of course, I’m still waiting on 62% of the agents to respond . . . It’s a long process, and I’m terrible at long processes.)

Good walk this morning but I need to invest in, like, athletic pants that have pockets. Songs included:

1. “It’s My Life” by No Doubt
2. “Mexico” as covered by Jimmy Buffett
3. “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul
4. “Tin Cup Chalice” by Jimmy Buffett
5. “Her Diamonds” by Rob Thomas
6. “Heart on the Line” by Richard Marx
7. “Hands Are Tied” by Gin Blossoms
8. “I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying” by Sting
9. “Southern Cross” as covered by Jimmy Buffett
10. “Why Should I Cry For You?” by Sting

Apparently my iPod is making a last bid for summer by playing a lot of Jimmy Buffett. But I do consider Sting more of a fall/winter kind of music. So maybe we’re in transition here.

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