A MOTHERS CHOICE

First and foremost let me start out by saying that I am not just a Military Brat, but a lifelong military dependent. My father served over twenty-one years in the armed forces and another twenty in the civil service. I am married to a man who has served thirty years in the navy. Twenty-one of those were spent at sea. No one on God’s green earth, loves their country more than I do. With that said, my son came of age in 2007 and the topic of whether or not he should in list in the military, was broached one night during dinner, and I lost it.

All of my patriotism flew out the window and the mother bear in me bared her massive claws. The love I have for this country runs deep with my bones, but the love I have for my child is insurmountable. The idea of sending him into war, was beyond comprehension, and I told him I forbid it. I told him that “this family had put in their time, we have served our country,” I went on to explain that, “I have spent my life making sacrifices for my county, but sending my child off to war, was where I had to draw the line.” I got up from the table, and yelled back over my shoulder “It’s never going to happen,” before storming out of the room. I needed a moment to clear my head, gather my thoughts, and calm the fear that rose up from the depths of my soul. I just needed to breathe. Because I knew deep in my heart, that if my son did decide to join the armed forces, I would be there to kiss him goodbye, and wish him a fond farewell. I would find that inner strength, that has seen me through, the many times in my life, that I have had to see off, those I love the most, as they left to serve their purpose in this life. A purpose most people will never truly comprehend, a purpose that defines a true “Soldier.” A purpose, they were born to fulfill. A purpose that many, who love a member of the military, have come respect, even though they may not fully understand. A purpose, that as a Military Brat, I know is too strong and unyielding not to be fulfilled. But as a mother, I wish every day, that it was a purpose, we no longer had a need for.

There’s no way they all got out (9/11/2001)

There’s no way they all got out (9/11/2001)

“Oh my God! What is happening, what the hell just happened?” The words spewed from my lips. I sprung to my feet, “there’s no way they got out, there’s no way they all got out.” I screamed at my television set. The shock of the first World Trade Center building collapsing, and crumbling to the ground, knocked the wind from my lungs, as if I were standing there in person, watching the carnage unfurl right in front of me, instead of the safety of my home. My knees buckled, and I crumpled to the floor, I felt the room spin, my head dizzy from the shock of it all. I rocked back and forth, desperate to find a way to wrap my mind around the immorality of what I just witnessed.  I tried to make sense of a senseless act, unable to comprehend how something of this magnitude could even be possible. Totally overwhelmed by the events unfolding around me, completely consumed by it all, lost in my own grief, I sat there oblivious to anything beyond the destruction resonating from the T.V.  My two year old daughter, waddled over to stand in front of me, with a look of confusion on her chubby little face, she gingerly patted my cheek in an attempt to comfort me. The innocence that radiated from the touch of my child, reached into the core of my broken soul, and pulled me from depths my despair. I wrapped my arms around her and wept.  I wept for those poor souls lost in the rubble, now known as ground zero. I wept for their loved ones going through unimaginable pain, I wept for my country and for what I knew lay a head for the men and women that had sworn their allegiance to stand and defend it. I wept for my children, and how their way of life and sense of security had just been stripped away. I sat there with my baby girl in my lap and I wept. I still weep today.

The Wisdom of a Child

Before I tell you what it is that I believe, let me begin by telling you what it is that I do not believe. I don’t believe that children should be seen and not heard. Children hold within them a wealth of knowledge, and as an adults, if we would take the time out of our busy life’s to stop listen to what they have to say, we could resolve many of the issues that plague our lives as grownups today.

Case in point, a few years back, I sat across the table listening to my daughter as she spoke of the day she had shared with her best friend. She reminded me so much of myself at her age, that I began to cry. She stop speaking and looked up at me and asked why I was crying.

I just shook my head and smiled through the tears as I explained that as I listened to her, I was reminded my old friend and how much I missed her.

Without batting an eye she asked, “If I missed my friend so much why you don’t just pick up the phone and call her?”  I tried to explain to her that it was complicated and I didn’t know how to contact her. With a shrug of her shoulders, and the infinite wisdom a child, she simple said “Why don’t you just Google her?”

Again not that easy, but how to explain to a child, that it’s not about the time that had passed or the roads in life you’ve chosen to follow, but the obstacles left behind. I looked at my daughter and explained her that even if I called, I wouldn’t know what to say. Popping a French fry into her mouth she replied “You say hi.”

Well, I took my daughters advice.  I Googled my friend, found her number, called her up and said “Hi.” Now we do lunch at least lunch once a month, and it is as if time has stood still for us. We are as close today as where back then.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, I learned that children are full of wisdom and wonderful ideas just waiting to be unleashed, and my life has been enriched by simply sitting down and listening to what my daughter has to say.  Some if it is kind of silly but it is never boring. I have discovered so much about her, who she is now and the woman she wants to someday become. Thank you, Tori Amanda for opening up my mind and letting me into your world. I believe am a much better person for it.

Military Brats “The Ties That Bind”

On the plane back from a well over due class reunion, with tears in my eyes, I put pen to paper and what I was feeling in the depths of my soul spewed forth, filling the pages. As I wrote I had no idea that my words would impact so many people. How I unknowingly found a way to express, what some many others have been feeling in their hearts, but were unable to put it into words. The response I got from this was over whelming and I was encouraged to share it here on my blog. To those in the civilian world, here is a small glimpse into the life of a military brat.

I woke up this morning and realized that I had left a huge part of myself behind in a seven bedroom villa in Vegas. That the last four days had been filled been occupied by some of the most important people in my life. A fact that had eluded me, until I stepped into the door and saw their beautiful faces smiling back at me. I realized at that moment, that for the first time in very long time, I was right where I belonged, surrounded by a group of military brats.

Funny how as I child I resented that term “Military Brat” a label I now wear as a badge of honor.

As Brats we understood that we had a very limited time to forge the ties that bind. We were forced to pack a life time of memories into a span of just a few years, before we were transplanted to another state or foreign country.

As Brats we were expected to hit the ground running, learning a new languages, and adjusting to new culturals, at a speed unrealistic to the outside world. Most of us attended no less than five schools in twelve years. We were the constant “new kid in the class” always forced to start over, yet none of us ever complained, this was our way of life.

As military brats we were often reminded that being in the military, we did not have friends, we had acquaintances, due to the fact that we were never in one place long enough to form the bonds that, civilians too often take for granted.  But the truth be told, the bonds formed by military brats, are unsurpassable. The bonds that were formed between us, in the short time that we had together, have lasted us life time. They were forged from titanium, and built to with stand the passages of time.  They are strong and unrelenting. What was shared in the brief time we as brats were allotted, can never be put into words, which will allow those that live outside our world to understand.

I must confess that I myself had forgotten just how tights and long lasting, those bond I have with the Brats is my past still are, until I was blessed with the opportunity to meet up with those Brat that meant the most to me in high school. The moment I looked into their beautiful faces, I was instantly whisked back in time, I was sixteen again, and nothing had changed. Although thirty years had gone by as I stood there hugging my friends, I realized, time for us had stood still, and I was standing there in the presence of people who truly understood what it meant to be a Brat.

Looking back on it, it was not easy growing up as a Brat, but it molded me into the person I am today. As Brats, we are a breed of people, which no one outside the military will ever come close to understanding. We live hard, and love even harder, and the ties that bind, do not tarnish or fade with time, they just keep growing stronger.

WHY DO I CONTINUE TO WRITE?

Why do I continue to write even though the odds of ever getting published are small, if at all. The answer is a simple one, because every once in a while I put pen to paper and create a prose that gives a voice to someone whom can’t find the words to say it themselves. I write from the heart, from my soul. I write open and honest, no longer bound by fear of criticism or rejection.

I was told once that to write well you need to write about what you know. I posted a monologue based on my life as a child. It was extremely personal, detailed, and took every ounce of courage in my being to get up the nerve to put it out there for the whole world to see. The feedback I received was unexpected and humbling. I never thought my words could touch so many people or how many related to that lost little girl in the monologue. I recently posted an essay on my Facebook page, it too was personal and honest. I put it out there as a way of saying, watch out world here I come. The response was overwhelming, I couldn’t believe how many women it resonated with. It was if I had written their life story.

I figure if I am going to write a blog about the frustration of getting published, I guess it is only fair that I share a little of my writing with those of you who follow me. Shine a little light on who I am. You will find that my writing is a window into my soul. It reflects where I have been, where I am at now, and where I hope to be in the future.  So here it goes.

SOMEBODY ELSE’S SOMEONE.

I have spent my life being somebody else’s someone.  I’ve quietly settled into the background, content to sit in the shadows, watching as my family became what they were meant to be.

I have been many things a daughter, a wife, and a mother. I’ve never questioned my place in this life. I’ve stood behind my husband, shouldered the burden of raising our children, worried over the bills, and maintained our home, allowing him to focus on his career. Cheering him on as he rose up the ladder of success.

I’ve stayed home to raise my children, this was my choice not my sacrifice. If given the opportunity to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change the course which I’ve chosen. I know in my heart it was the path I was meant to take.  Yet, somewhere in the hustle and bustle of it all, I’ve gotten lost. I look in the mirror and no longer recognize the woman staring back at me. The passages of time have left their mark, the lines on my face, a reflection of my life’s story.

I’ve come to realize that I am entering a new phase of my life. This is not a middle age crisis, but a coming of age. It is my time to become something other than, somebody’s someone.  It is time for me to find my wings and fly. Where I am going, and how I am going get there is yet to be determined. But I am looking forward to the journey.

HOPE IN THE FORM OF REJECTION, I’LL TAKE IT

There are two ways we can look at things, is our glass half empty or is it half full. I choose to see it as half full. Today I received yet another rejection letter, but unlike the others that came before it, this one contained an inkling of hope. The agent passed on my current submission, due to the fact that it was not what she was looking for at the moment, but found it to be interesting, and would be open to me submitting more of my work.

Could this be her way of letting prospective clients down easy? Well, yes, it just might be, but I like to think that there was something in my query or synopsis or even in the first two chapters that caught her attention. So I am pulling myself up and out of my funk, putting on big girl panties, and getting back to work on the sequel to the book that I’m currently seeking representation for.

Why am I plugging away at a sequel to a book that’s being rejected, again the answer is simple. Although it is a sequel, it takes place nearly twenty years after the conclusion of the first one. Its story line can stand on its own. There are just enough inferences to the characters in the first book to grab the attention of those who’ve read the first one to say “Wow, I remember that” but at the same time it makes the person who has never read the first book curious enough to think “Wow, I need to go back and read the first book.”

My logic may be off, but if I can get the sequel published, I will have a fan base wanting to read the book that inspired the sequel, ergo creating enough demand to have my agent go back and take a second look at my first book.  So I am continuing my journey with new found hope and inspiration. Although I have moved from writing at my kitchen table, into a small bedroom converted into my office. Had to make the move, my internet doesn’t work in the kitchen, and I have to have my internet, like a lot of others, I am lost without it.

Well, I am getting myself in the writing mode, so I need to go top of my cup of green tea, it too is only half full.

Dreaded Query Letter Rewrite

Well I guess it’s time to take another look at my query letter, something is defiantly amiss.  I have now gotten my sixth rejection letter. So I went back to my “Guide to Literary Agents” and reread once again on how to write a successful query letter. Still scratching my head, because my letter looks much like the examples in the book. So I went on line and looked for queries that have landed an agent. I study at least a dozen, then set down and dissected my query. I gave it a complete face lift, in the hopes that maybe I have finally gotten it “write” (sorry but I couldn’t resist) right.

I have made up a “No, I’ll pass” board, complete with one hundred squares. I am hoping that by the time I have written NO in the first ninety-nine boxes that number one hundred will be the one that I can finally put a resounding YES in. If not I will just start a new board and hope that after the next ninety-nine No’s I will get my Yes. I can’t give up hope. It took me over four years to write my first book, and it may take even longer than that to get it looked at, but that’s okay, I am a very patient woman. In the mean time, I will keep working on the sequel, who knows maybe by the time I finish that one, the first one will be picked up, a girl can hope can’t she.

A New Writers Journey in the Hopes of Getting Published

A few years back I sat down at my computer and wrote down a simple paragraph, and thought to myself, wow this could be the start a good story. Every couple of months I would revisit it and again say I really need to expand on this. I would then once again click off of it and go about my life and not give it much thought. Until I was awoken in the middle of the night, but a terrifying nightmare. With the memory of the dream still fresh in my head, I grabbed my note pad beside the bed and wrote it down before going back to sleep.

I had forgot all about it, until my life took a hard hit and I found myself in a dark place. I opened up my laptop and once again read over that paragraph, and remembered the nightmare written down in the notebook on top of my bed stand. I ran upstairs grabbed and brought it down to the kitchen table. This is where I tend to do most of my writing, but I digress.  Like a sharp slap across my face, it hit me I had the beginning and the climax of a story, but no clue how I was going to get from point A to point B. I made myself a cup of green tea, sat down, and started writing.

I’m still not sure where the plot and characters came from. I didn’t know from day to day what was going to happen next. I would just write until there was nothing left in head. I would go to bed and then start again the next morning, picking up where I had left off the night before. I wrote every day for hours and at the end of two months, I had my story down on paper.

I wrote mostly in an all telling form. I have always been a great story tell, but had a lot of work ahead of me in order to learn how to become a good writer. I had no clue about tags, or how to show and not tell, or how to use dialogue and actions in lieu of tags. My journey from good story to good book has been a long one. I spent over four years building my characters, creating their back story, making them into someone readers come to identify with and root for.

I have read everything I could get my hands on about the best ways of finding an agent. I have written and rewritten my query letter, my one page and three page synopsis, to the point of pulling my hair out. I have had my novel edited and reedited. I have joined writers groups, both on line and in my area. I have had my novel read by those who have no personal interest in me, and have gotten wonderful feedback.  But now I am at the point that I am told is the hardest part for every new writer. Trying to find that elusive agent who is willing to take a chance on an unknown, unproven author.  I am stuck in that catch twenty-two situation, in order to get published you need and agent, and in order to get an agent you need to be published.

I have sent out my query letters. I have followed all of the submission guide lines, I have studied and researched the agents that I am sending to, making sure my novel fits into their wheelhouse of book written by authors they represent. But time after time I get the dreaded informal form letter informing me that they are going to pass. My novel is not the right fit, but don’t give up, and keep on writing. The ones that come a few days after submission are disappointing, but the ones that are shot right back a few minutes after I’ve sent them, well those one irk the hell out of me. As a writer looking for representation, I am expected to follow the agents strict guide lines for submission, I carefully read their bios, who is open for submissions and who isn’t. I spend a great deal of time submitting, so when a rejection is sent back immediately, it tells me that the agent isn’t taking submission, so please let us writers aware of this, so we can use our time to solicit another agent.

My purpose for starting this blog, is simple, I hope find kindred spirts out there among other new writers, who are in the same boat as I am. That together we can share our journeys on this long and treacherous road to getting our labor of love, off of our laptops and on to the bookshelf’s of our local Barnes and noble stores.