As it happened, Kim and I ended up with the arena to ourselves yesterday afternoon. So we are keeping out of each others' way while focusing on our individual schooling sessions.
That's Kim. I'm not sure what she was asking of Finn, but it obviously needed sound effects. We had a chuckle about sounding like a pirate. Ah, yes. The "Pirate School of Equitation and Horse Training."
That's me. Trying to get Phantom off my leg and bent correctly at the canter. That was worth a chuckle, too. The "Weight Lifting Guide to Riding Your Horse."
As we continued riding there were the "Good boys," and more assorted grunts and groans. It seems sound effects are required when directing half a ton or so of equine around the arena from our perches. It was apparently a good day for Kim as well as me -- no epithets or expletives directed at Phantom or Finn.
So for those folks who believe that the horse does all the work -- have a listen! Sounds to me like the riders are putting in the effort, too! ;-)
Sunday was the final workshop in the 2009-2010 Northwest Author Series coordinated by Christina Katz and supported by Friends of the Wilsonville Library and the Wilsonville Arts & Culture Council.
Since I'm writing novels for young adults, I was particularly interested in attending Mr. Slater's session. He is a full time teacher who writes picture books, YA fiction, and adult novels. His titles include Cheese Louise!,The Bored Book, the Sacred Books series (The Book of Nonsense, The Book of Knowledge), and Selfless.
Mr. Slater began the session with a humorous slide show presentation about his entry into the writing profession. His visual aids included three large three-ring binders crammed with his rejections. But the point of it all was: be persistent!
In the beginning he dutifully followed the "no simultaneous submissions" admonishment posted by most publishing houses but he soon realized it would take decades to route his story to every potential publisher. So he tentatively broke "the rule" and when no gendarmes appeared at his door he proceeded to send out numerous queries. Many of which were rejected (as evidenced by his notebooks).
However, Mr. Slater advised us that a rejection doesn't mean you've written a lousy story or book. There are numerous reasons ("doesn't meet our needs") an editor may reject your query, and there are many steps in the publishing process where your story or book may fall by the wayside.
And there is an element of luck involved. Being in the right place at the right time. Submitting to one more editor who just happens to be the one looking for a story or book just like yours. You'll never know if you don't keep trying.
Top Ten Tips
* Targeted submissions are fine -- just shoot at lots of targets. Use every avenue available to you to learn the names of editors and the editor's direct e-mail address.
* Continually search the Web and other resources for new contacts.
* Strike while the iron is hot -- since promising news may be temporary. If an editor is considering your submittal, continue sending out queries with the note that your work is currently under consideration.
*Believe your time is as valuable as anyone else's. Don't waste it at your mailbox or by the phone awaiting a response.
*Never hold off submitting queries based on vague hints or promises of interest. Don't withdraw your queries, continue sending them out.
* Go on to the next project while you're submitting the last one.
* Accept that the publisher will provide little or no promotion of your book. You'll have to do it yourself.
* Don't scoff at any chance for publicity. Even the most dismal bookstore reading means your name and book title were posted for all to see for weeks ahead of time.
* Never burn your bridges because you never know. Be professional, courteous, prompt, and open-minded. A positive attitude could get you selected over a troublesome author of equal ability.
* Know that persistence is as important as talent when it comes to success.
Mr. Slater then moved on to plotting. Stories that last move the reader. They are about change. Use archetype, not stereotype. Stories that last are about universal human experiences wrapped inside a unique expression. Powerful scenes should (drum roll) show not tell. Allow the reader to say "I get it!" Learn the eternal story structure of rising action toward a climax. The inciting incident should be connected to the climax. The impossible should seem inevitable.
Mr. Slater then described two types of story premises: Simple versus Fertile. The Simple Premise is wide open with innumerable possibilities (I want to write a story about a piece of cheese). The Fertile Premise has limited possibilities (I want to write a story about a piece of Swiss cheese that is unhappy about her holes). These limitations provide freedom to create within a circle of obstacles. The problem becomes part of the solution (Cheese Louise uses her holes in order to save the day).
Like most of the series workshops, the ninety minutes alloted went by very quickly. I'm looking forward to the 2010-11 series. We're fortunate that our region is rich with creative talent to draw upon for these sessions. And writers are so giving and supportive.
I find my efforts to learn about writing fiction and getting published are similar to riding lessons. The information received by various trainers and clinicians is pretty much the same, but the different methods of presentation spark light bulbs. And like most skills -- you build on a solid foundation. You may have been provided instruction for the next level up, but it may take awhile before you're prepared to fully absorb it and apply it.
So -- even though I've already heard many of the things Mr. Slater presented, I had a couple more "aha!" moments. Not to mention, "I never thought of it that way before."
This was an easy challenge here in the Pacific Northwest. The flowers are popping out all over. We had some unusually early spring-like days followed by a return to our infamous rains -- which apparently worked wonders for the flora.
So...these are some the shots I took this week:
Iris (kind of a funky angle)
Painterly Iris (first Photo Shop edits)
The following photos were taken about a month ago:
It's primary election time in Oregon. That means TV ads, lawn signs, and door-to-door campaigners. The candidates are taking a few pot shots at each other, but so far it's pretty low key. The fall election will be a different story, I'm sure.
I have to admit that I am amused by the candidates who claim that their lack of political experience is a plus. It seems my thirty years in state government makes me a bit of a cynic.
At the local level, it's understandable that first-time candidates will have limited political experience. And many new state legislators have minimal or no political background. But we have a candidate for governor who has never before shown any political leanings, has a sketchy voting record, and has only his career as a professional athlete to recommend him.
At this point I should probably reveal that I am a registered Democrat and the above-referenced candidate for governor is a Republican. But it isn't necessarily his political viewpoints that make me roll my eyes. It's the fact that his lack of participation in state government is supposed to be a plus.
Now, few of us would select a surgeon or plumber or landscaper who advertised a lack of experience.
So as a former state employee I just shake my head. The "outsider" Republican candidate is ahead in the primary polls and may very well be elected governor in November. Boy! Will he have a learning curve!
He will find out:
* When taxpayers claim that they want smaller government -- they don't mean a reduction in the specific services they expect.
* Some programs and activities are established by statute and can't be eliminated from the budget without a vote of the legislature.
* One voter's waste of tax funds is another voter's necessity.
* Reducing some state budgets also reduces matching federal funding.
* Some funds are dedicated to specific programs and are not available for transfer to other uses.
* It takes years to learn the programs and activities of all the state agencies.
Whether right or wrong, it's a fact that politics is based on relationships. Self-proclaimed outsiders have yet to build relationships within the capitol that will help them make the changes that they claim they will accomplish.
And, it's a fact that the front line state employees will keep things running as best they can with the resources available regardless of who is in office.
I guess there's a reason that public employees rarely run for political office. They know too much.
The cover of this month's issue of Flying Changes is eye catching and I had to find out more about the artist. So I visited Eve Holloran's website at Very Best Dog.
The website has a gallery of dog portraits (as to be expected) plus the following horse: I love Shelties, but I'm also a sucker for Jacks. So I had to include this one, too: It turns out the magazine cover was a composite photo with Ms. Holloran's original artwork background. Check out her photo gallery. The portraits and various backgrounds will make you laugh as well as go "Aaaah."