I have been waiting for three days for the proof of the book to review.  Finger-biting kind of waiting.  I want it to look good.  I want to fall in love with the final product.  Lightning Source posted that the proof was out so I was positive I would recieve it within two days.  Nothing.  I have checked the mailbox twice a day for the last three days (even though I know we only receive one shipment a day here).  I spent one morning in tears worried I would hate it and it would be revealed that the book stinks…what was really revealed, by that, was my low self-esteem from the past rearing its ugly, horn toed head again.  Anyway, there is not much to add here, except that it still has not arrived so on Monday I will be calling to see where it might have gotten to.  I tried the tracking number they sent me with USPS, FedEx and UPS but could not even find who it was shipped through.

So keep me in your positive thoughts and I hope it gets here soon.  I am almost out of nails!

The Cookbook

I am updating a family cookbook for an upcoming family reunion.  This isn’t writing, per se.  More like copying old recipes my mother had written down and given to us years ago.  We have added about 80 family members since then so I felt like we needed to add new family recipes to the ones she had given us in the past.  It, also, give us a chance to get the old cookbook out to the next generation.  The reason I have decided to write about it is, because, initially I was just going to type the recipes and notate who gave them to us. However, as I started typing I realized what gems were inside.


I began with the first recipe and found this “prenote” (is that a word?) typed in by my mom:


This is not authentic chili.  Just a recipe from my canning book but when I served it at an Empty Nester’s meeting, all the men love it. It was the first to go.  It is the same one I have always made. 


and on Baked Potato Soup:


This is from the newspaper but Cara says it tastes like Black Angus potato soup.


I have seen these notes often as I use this book every week…at least once.  But, it really wasn’t until I was going to be efficient and just re-type recipes for printing that I realized we would lose something from the cookbook if I did not type these notes also.  This keeps my mother alive and lets others see the funny things she did or said, or, really, just how she thought about things.  For example, I am pretty sure my family doesn’t believe I am a potato soup expert so they probably don’t or didn’t really care what I thought but I love that my mom thought it was important enough to note.


Following a peanut butter candy recipe she added:


If you buy exact sizes of peanut butter and marshmallow cream, there is very little measuring.


and regarding peanut butter, in general:


For peanut butter and crackers, any peanut butter will do but for cooking, cookies, fudge, etc., only Jif–it has the best flavor.


Now…did you know that?  Did you know it would matter what brand it was once you mixed the peanut butter into the batter?  It does, though, so I only use Jif.  This is what I am saying…easy hints and the knowledge of exactly what kind of peanut butter to use.  These side notes bring smiles to our family and give us an opportunity to remember what my mom was like and share that with our children.  They will help when mom is gone and, possibly, make the food taste just that much sweeter because each bite is filled with a memory and the love that went into the cooking in the first place.


Rejection is a funny thing.  When you are a child and are trying to talk to your parents and they are distracted you feel unimportant.  When you are a parent and your child gets too old for hugs and kisses when you drop them off for school you are sad and realize they are growing up.  When you are dating and someone breaks up you feel like your heart will break and wonder what is wrong with you. But, when you are a writer trying to get published rejection takes on a whole new meaning.  Let me explain…

When you decide you have a manuscript the world must see you enter the new world of rejection.  You send this manuscript to agents, publishers, editors…anyone that might see what you felt and realize the impact this book will have on readers everywhere if they will just give it a chance.  Then you wait for the replies…and, sometimes, wait and wait.  (This process can take anywhere from 1 day to 12 weeks.)  Also, you are really only supposed to send it to a few of these people at a time so the process can really drag on.  OK, now you start to receive replies to your inquiries.  These are generally rejections, at first.  Now, I guess, these can come in many forms but mine so far have felt pretty generic.  I am sharing this one word for word so you can see what I mean but, for the most part, all of mine have said the same thing more or less.


Dear Cara Long,


Thank you for your submission, which we’ve now had the chance to share and discuss.  We appreciate the opportunity to review your work.  However, we do not feel that we can be of further assistance in placing it at this time.


Thank you again for thinking of us in connection with your work and we wish you the best of luck.






So you see this is where this new rejection gets tricky…what does this really mean?  Does it mean, “your manuscript stinks and we can’t believe you really think you are a writer” or “hey, with a little more work and polish this could really go somewhere” or “this really just isn’t for us because we already have too many children’s book authors on our lists but it isn’t bad”.  It is hard to know from these generic rejections what the thoughts really are.  Now, I understand these publishing houses, editors and agents receive hundreds, if not thousands of manuscripts to read each year (most unsolicited) but maybe they could write these generic rejections more specifically using the ideas I mentioned above and attach them to how they feel about each manuscript.  


Because, here is the thing, most authors will be rejected a lot.  Hundreds, if not thousands of times…unfortunately with no guidance to possibly make them better writers or just to know if maybe that agent was having a bad day with no coffee when they picked up my manuscript.  Becoming published really does feel like the luck of the draw…your manuscript hits the desk of someone at the right place and right time.  Because opinion is relative…I mean 10 people will read the same book and have many differing opinions.  Some will love it…some will find it too slow or graphic or not a genre they enjoy and others will just like it.  But all will have received a different impact and gotten from it something meant just for them.  That is the beauty of books and imagination.  So, as a new author, you keep moving forward hoping for that one desk of an agent, editor, or publisher that sees your vision for your manuscript. 


The rejections, maybe, weed out the weak.  I am only working on my first book and, even though, the rejections are not specific about me being a terrible author they hit at my heart a little.  But mostly I just wonder if I should keep going. Even though they are not the same rejections that are pointedly about you, like children, dating, etc…they are rejections. You have to decide if you keep going and plugging away and mailing in the manuscripts.  Therein is the true author…you have to do it because you love it because, in reality, it may be…that no one ever sees it.



Becoming an author, or should I say, a published author is quite a process.  I had some story ideas come to me one night and quickly got up and scribbled them out.  I was positive this was it.  I was going to be a success.  I was going to be the author all publishers had been looking for.  Well…think again.  It has not been that easy.

As I continue to send in manuscripts to publishers and attend writer’s conferences and utilize the tools provided from critique groups, I have decided to self-publish my first children’s book call “Filthy Frannie”.

Even this process has been quite a process.  After finding an amazing illustrator I, again, thought I was ready to go.  But I found I had to have a printer which then involved a designer to layout the book with the requirements necessary to be ready for print.  I am in the middle of this process right now.  It is an anxious and exciting time.  Exciting to see it all come together but the process takes the “rose colored glasses” off.  I sometimes fear that what I am doing is ridiculous or that I will be an instant failure.  I also have found that, at this point, I don’t really love the book anymore.  Mostly because for me anytime it takes effort and consistancy I usually give up and find something new to be passionate about.

However, I love Frannie so I continue to move forward in an effort to see her come to press.  Not for the fame but to leave something of myself behind for my family.  If I never do anything but give these books as gifts to my grandchildren, nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews I will feel successful at this point.

One of the biggest steps and, I would declare, the most important first step in this process is to find a circle of support because you will need it.  My friends and family continue to cheer me forward.  My critique group continue to give me feedback and are not afraid to say…not quite good enough, redo it.  When this first happened, I was so attached to what I had written I thought everyone was crazy but just as the story goes…if three or more people tell you you have a wart on your nose you better take a look…I decided when two or more people had the same feedback I would look at what they said and see if changes could or should be made.  It is still my work, though, so I made the final call.  I have that luxury still, right now, because I have no publisher or editor but myself.  I hope to have a publisher someday but until I will keep you informed of the process and my successes.  Fingers crossed!

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