A Blend of Life, Family, Awareness & Tales

Agents.

The past year has been an educational one for me in regard to book publishing. I am not yet published, but have no doubt it will happen. In the mean time though, I thought I would share with you what I have learned so far.

A year ago I posted that I finished my first book, a fiction novel, The Stalking Horse. I thought I knew a lot, but in reality I was an uneducated boob! I knew virtually nothing about:

  • Finding an agent
  • Query letters
  • Manuscript length, and apparently
  • Fiction genres

Twitter has become my new best friend. In my initial search for agent was spent on Google. What I quickly learned is that A LOT of literary agents are active on Twitter. I started following each agent I could find simply to learn what I could from the experts. I currently follow about 450 agents and the information I have learned from their posts has been phenomenal.

Secondly, I thought that writing the book was the hardest part of getting published. Boy was I wrong! Actually it is the query. The query letter is a one page formal letter sent to, in my case, potential literary agents to “pitch” a novel in hopes of getting representation. Now I feel I am a really good writer but this one little page has been the bane of my existence. Fortunately I was lucky enough to win a query review from a professional so I have had some guidance, but the art of describing your novel in a couple of compelling sentences is a daunting task.

Then there was the little task of lengthening my manuscript. As it is, it still might be a little short at 55,000 words, but nevertheless I feel this book is complete at that length. In the past year I have reworked my book probably 15 times, adding and paring as I saw fit.

Finally, I thought my book was a Thriller, but I learned it is actually a Cozy Mystery. I read a lot of books, and I was sure mine was a thriller, but as soon as it was identified as a cozy mystery, it seemed so obvious. Genre is really important because certain agents represent only certain genres. Send it to the wrong agent, you’ve just wasted your time and the agent’s. You don’t want to do that, the literary agents have enough to do without having to sort through a missent query.

I have learned a lot, and I have received rejections. Through it all I will keep writing.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”  Samuel Beckett

Kidneyversary.

Sixteen years ago today I donated a kidney to my Dad. I am not looking for kudos because believe me, it was not a selfless act! This benefited me as much or more than anyone else including my Dad. Seriously, who doesn’t want a healthy Dad and happy Mom?

I wanted to share, because today is our Kidneyversary (it’s a word, trust me), and also because I wanted to remind everyone the importance of organ donation. I am not an expert on organ donation, but I do know some basic facts. If you want more scientific data, go here for a start: organdonor.gov

There are some organs you can donate while living, like I did. That is known as a live donation. Other organs are available only from cadaver or deceased donors, and you need to make your donation wishes known for it to happen. No matter the donation, it is vitally important. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, 18 people die each day in the U.S. because of the shortage of donated organs. The good news is that on average 79 people per day in the U.S. receive potentially life-saving organs.

My story is simple, my Dad needed a kidney and I learned there was such a thing as live donors. (The most common donations come from cadavers, but the success rate is better from a live donor.) Most of us are born with two kidneys, but we can live fine with one. I didn’t see how he wouldn’t get a live kidney. My Mom offered hers immediately, but learned she was not a match. I volunteered, but he was concerned about me going under the knife for him and wasn’t crazy about the idea. Nevertheless I can be stubborn, so I went in to get tested to see if I was a match. Low and behold I was a pretty good one, and was finally able to talk him into it.

Kidney donation back in 1998 was a little more barbaric than it is now, so I am left with a 10 inch scar and am missing a rib, but today it is usually done with a laparoscope and a small incision. The scar doesn’t bother me at all though, I am actually fond of it. Other than the scar (and the missing kidney and rib!), I am physically no different than I was before. I did what I did to make my Dad healthy, so he and my Mom could be happy and grow old together. What I had no idea would happen was the emotional change in me as well.

How do I best explain the feeling I had? I don’t know. The closest I can come is to say, “I stopped giving a shit.” I really did.

I stopped thinking that my job was my identity, which was good because at the time I was in sales and not very good at it! The man I loved lived across the country and it seemed insane, but I decided we needed the relationship to work. It did, we are married and have a beautiful family. I spent more time with my family and friends. I tried to say “no” more often to things I really didn’t want to do. I tried new things. I decided I needed to write.

So today my parents are healthy and happy, I have a wonderful family and friends, I am fortunate that the work I do is work I like, and I write. Is my happiness due in a large part because I donated an eight ounce chunk of me? Heck yeah it is. Donating my kidney changed my life, and better yet it saved a life.

Please consider donating your organs, whether as a live donor or after you are gone.  As of today, there are 123, 252 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ. If you choose to donate, it is a no-brainer that you will forever change the lives of others, and the pretty cool thing is that it will probably change yours as well.

kidney

 

 

Inspired.

Yesterday my daughter and I watched our friend turn into an Ironman.

Training for and completing the Ironman competition is no simple feat in itself. It is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, with a 26.2 mile marathon chaser. Truthfully you had me at entering a lake with nearly 3000 other people. Yikes!

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Every one of those athletes impressed me yesterday, but what really inspired me is that our friend did all of this with Type 1 Diabetes.

No big deal you may think. Well, it is time to think about it. She pushed herself through those 140.6 miles from sun up to sundown, with a fantastic time might I add, while having to also act as her own pancreas. (We were exhausted just cheering and checking online updates!) While she pushed her body, she had to manually keep track of her blood sugar which I am sure was always on the brink of dropping too low or maybe too high from overtreatment. I was not there with her, nor do I have any idea as to what her plan was, but I know she had one. I know she probably ate high sugar snacks during the day even though she probably could no longer stand the taste of them because she had to. Not only to compete, but also simply to live. She probably felt awful at times and wondered, is it because of her blood sugar or because she was just exhausted? She probably had to wake herself up a couple of times during the night to test her blood sugar to make sure she wasn’t  dropping too low. I know I worried about her several times!

She did all of this with a smile on her face.

Watching her cross the finish line was amazing, but our highlight was earlier in the day. We were cheering her on during the bike ride and she cheered back to my daughter, her Type 1 buddy. She took that moment to remind my little girl that she too can do anything. Wow.

My little girl was forever changed yesterday and for that we thank you. Thank you for being such an inspiration. And congratulations on an amazing achievement!

One Wish.

One Wish.

If I had one wish, it would be a wish for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). It would allow my daughter to go to the park, or school, or wherever she wanted without worrying if she brought her test strips, her ‘poker,’ insulin, fast acting carbs, and extra supplies of all kinds. It would allow her to go to a sleepover without her mom. It would allow her to go to college without us worrying that she will check her own blood sugar at two in the morning or worse yet, not wake up. It would allow her to have a baby without constant monitoring and worrying about her unborn child. And finally it would allow her to grow old some day without the worry of heart disease, blindness, kidney failure or any of the other complications that are often caused by T1D.

One Wish.

It might be selfish, that if gifted one wish, I would spend it on my daughter. But this one wish is for the eighty people in the U.S., half of them just children, who are diagnosed each day with T1D. Nearly 30,000 people in our country alone each year are added to the 3,000,000 U.S. citizens that are testing, injecting, counting and treating all day every day. A cure would potentially eliminate the nearly $15 billion in T1D healthcare costs racked up in the U.S. each year. (JDRF)

Just this past week, I was put in touch with a mother hours before her son was diagnosed. They had not yet gone to the doctor, and after communicating with her I was 90% sure her son had T1D. I imagine she still had hope that what she had read, the signs that her son was showing were simply coincidences, it couldn’t be something that would happen to her son. Truly I wish they hadn’t been added to the T1D family.

One Wish.

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It was the theme of this year’s JDRF Gala in our chapter. I didn’t come up with the theme, but what a beautiful one it was. I am a member of our Gala planning committee, so I can say I am proud of what we accomplished again this year.  Our one beautiful evening, with the help of countless volunteers, donors and bidders, raised

$450,432

Yes, you read that right, nearly a half a million dollars that will be used to not only improve the lives of those with T1D with better working technology and insulin, but also used for research that will one day lead to a cure. These dollars were the result of a collection local people and businesses and their generosity. The gala committee itself is diverse, and what an honor to be included. It was so fun to see one another at this grand event after months of planning. The donors, which ranged from local firefighters to a coach that lead our university to the Final Four this spring, are heroes in my book. We even had a beautiful young woman willing to share her T1D story with all of us, and I can say that more that once my eyes filled with tears with not sadness, but with all the hope that came with this evening.

One Wish.

So yes, I have one wish. A wish that we could all come together some day and say, “Remember when we used to plan that big party to raise money for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes,” and maybe someone new in the crowd would say, “Diabetes, what’s that?” That is my wish.

I really enjoy this video, and was so pleased to see it at the gala last night.

Thank you to all the Gala Committee members. It has been a true pleasure working with all of you, and look forward to next year. Plus last night was a blast!

 

Cosmo.

I love my husband with all my heart, but I can not even begin to understand the obsession our dog has with his feet.

 

Why do I let them do this to me?

Why do I let them do this to me?

 

Cosmo (the foot-licker), is a relatively new member of our family. He’s been with us for about 1 1/2 years, but we couldn’t imagine life without him.

He’s 16 pounds of comedian, security, trash collector, personal trainer, detective, food critic, squirrel and friend all rolled into a fluffy white package. He loves fruit and vegetables, and has a nose for chocolate (I do know the dangers of chocolate for dogs and do not feed it to him!). He occasionally gets into my purse or my little girl’s diabetes bag and snags snacks. Does he eat them? No. He hides them in the corners of our couch, laundry basket, in our bed, even in my husband’s briefcase. I wonder if he is storing them away for leaner times?

He is always ready for a walk and he is always excited to see me or any member of the family. He misses my Mom and Dad when they are away and is ecstatic when they return. He has been loyal to us since the day we met.

When Cosmo joined our family he was three years old, and we didn’t know much about his past. We quickly learned he despised other dogs, with the exception of puppies. Walking him through the neighborhood was stressful, he barked at everyone. It has taken a long time, but he is becoming tolerant of some dogs and has even made some friends. It warms my heart to see him wag his tail at a dog, as it was such a rare occurrence in the past. Don’t get me wrong, he still has several dogs that are the enemy (in his mind), and he really is not concerned that many of them outweigh him by 50 pounds or more. He barks like a fierce warrior and it drives me crazy, but I’m not losing hope for him.

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So as I watch him worship a foot, or patrol our windows, or stash a granola bar I smile. We have our own little quirky dog, who while not perfect, is perfect for our family.

Finished!

It has been a long time since I’ve been here.

Where have I been you may or may not be asking? Well, I have been raising my kids, working a little bit, and probably wasting a lot of time. It’s been five years in the making, but I am very proud to say one thing did get done:

I finished my first novel!

I’ve been celebrating for about a week, but have a feeling the tough part is ahead of me. First of all, no one else has read it yet.

Is it good you ask? Well of course it is, and my children are the smartest, best behaved, sweetest in the world. (I may be a little biased.) So now I have the hard part, submitting it to someone who knows what is a good book.

What do I do next? I need to have an editor look it over, write a summary, find an agent, etc.

Do I know what I am doing? Not really, but I am learning quickly! I’m not naïve enough to think my first book out the gate will be a winner, but I still have fantasies that it will be! No matter the outcome though, I am really proud of myself. I finished a novel which contains 50,000 words that are all mine, written in a document that tells a story that has never been told before. I’ve created people who I sometimes forget are fictional. I even slipped up once and shared an anecdote with my family, forgetting that the person in question was simply a figment of my imagination.

The more I write, the more writing is becoming part of me. I am finished with my first book, but have only begun my life as a writer.

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