Is there a genre for fictional tulips and daffodils?

Tulips don’t grow in my garden. Deer eat them before the buds even develop. I’ve planted dozens upon dozens of daffodils and narcissus because I’m told deer don’t like them. They bloom beautifully the first year, but only a few make it through to the next, and by the third year there are none. I suspect the squirrels are to blame, but I have no proof.

I love the cheery colour of spring bulbs but have to make do with the store-bought variety. There’s no point trying to grow them where they aren’t going to thrive.

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I’m discovering a novel is a little like a garden. If the conditions aren’t right, it can’t develop its full potential. Unfortunately, I’m the one responsible for providing a nurturing environment, and that involves more than fencing out marauders.

I can do extensive research and come up with lots to nourish a budding idea. I can refuse to let the I.E. thwart my attempts, invest time and energy to revise and rewrite, get professional editing and helpful critiques. But transplant that ready-to-blossom story into a less than receptive location and it’s probably going to wither and die.  Or be buried indefinitely in an agent’s slush pile.

Compiling a list of agents and going from A to Z in a dedicated submission process is like throwing a handful of flower bulbs into the air and hoping they’ll land in a fertile growing medium and survive. There are websites like Chuck Sambuchino‘s that provide listings of what agents are currently looking for, others that demystify the many different genres, and still others that explain how to classify our novels and/or understand why it’s important to know where they fit so we send them only to those agents who read our genre.

One thing I’ve learned over the past fifteen years of writing novels and studying the publishing industry is that we can do everything right and still not meet with success. Perhaps it’s time to change tactics.

I’m thinking of planting crocuses for next spring. Oh, wait…there was a flash of fur in the garden. I wonder if squirrels like crocus bulbs.

Squirrel

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Tulips

By A. E. Stallings

The tulips make me want to paint,
Something about the way they drop
Their petals on the tabletop
And do not wilt so much as faint,
Something about their burnt-out hearts,
Something about their pallid stems
Wearing decay like diadems,
Parading finishes like starts,
Something about the way they twist
As if to catch the last applause,
And drink the moment through long straws,
And how, tomorrow, they’ll be missed.
The way they’re somehow getting clearer,
The tulips make me want to see
The tulips make the other me
(The backwards one who’s in the mirror,
The one who can’t tell left from right),
Glance now over the wrong shoulder
To watch them get a little older
And give themselves up to the light.

Source: Poetry (June 2009)

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Oh, Spring… wherefore art thou?

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Sleet pelts the windows, driven sideways by 50 km per hour gusts of wind. The storm was predicted and will be over by morning, although rain showers will continue. I’m not complaining. We had an unusually dry January and we need this moisture. But… well, yes I suppose I am complaining. Just a wee bit.

Snowdrops and Hellebores are blooming, and some years by this point we’ve already had to mow the lawns. Not this year. This year the grass is sodden, and early shoots are struggling up through uncleared winter debris — orangey brown bits of cedar, hemlock needles and mud-spattered moss. I hesitate to mutter too much, given there are places where folks are still under multiple feet of snow, or a deluge of flood waters, but still….

When springtime hovers just out of reach and the weather is miserable day after day, it can be hard to keep depression from settling in.

Tulips

I know of two friends who received red roses for Valentine’s Day. They’re beautiful, of course, but I don’t think anything is as romantic as having someone know me well enough to bring me a bouquet of cheery tulips. I adore tulips, and they were the perfect spirit brighteners for a blustery February 14th. (And yes, he received a kiss for his thoughtfulness!)

During this in-between-the-seasons time, another way to lift spirits is to put some energy into a project. Many years my hubby would choose the early New Year to paint a room or two. (This month he’s bucking up a tree recently felled, slowly building the pile of next winter’s firewood.) I’m more likely to rearrange furniture or start a new writing project.

This month I’ve already moved the furniture. In ten days I’ll begin the writing.

Every March a group of writers and readers band together under the banner of #MarchMadness. We encourage each other to set and fulfill significant goals, and then cheer each other on. We commit to checking in… every. single. day. all. month. long… and reporting our progress. It’s surprising how much we achieve when guilt stares us in the face. Mind you, it helps that there are prizes offered, too.

Author Denise Jaden coordinates us, but we have seven different hosts this year, one for each day of the week. (I’ll be providing Saturday #MarchMadness postings here.) Earlier this month Denise posted a heads up that “there are some great prizes trickling in – like audiobooks, and high-demand books and even at least one agent critique. Start thinking about what writing/reading/blogging goals you will set for this March, and I’ll be back soon with more details.”

Our goals aren’t necessarily lofty ones. They’re meant to be individualized to meet specific needs. Maybe you’d like to join us this time. As Denise said, start thinking about what goals you’d like to set. There will be more information coming, and on March 1st we’ll all leap into action.

Just think… before we’ve completed #MarchMadness SPRING WILL HAVE ARRIVED! Oh, joy!!! I’ll be happy-dancing! 🙂

As a writer, reader or blogger, might you be tempted to join us for #MarchMadness 2014?

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Spring Things

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“Spring is when you feel like whistling
even with a shoe full of slush.”

[Doug Larson]

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“Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!'”

[Robert Orben]

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“The day the Lord created hope was probably
the same day he created Spring.”

[Bern Williams]

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Sending a joyous greeting from my heart to yours this first day of Spring!

Do you have any favourite Spring sayings to share?

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Surprised by God

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I’m musing this morning… finding wonder in the ways God meets me wherever I am. Whatever the need, before I realize it even exists, he has responded.

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It’s easy to notice the big things and be thankful, but it’s in the little unexpected moments that I am caught unaware and surprised by his faithfulness.

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In pain there is endurance

In fear, reassurance

In the chill of bitter snow and slashing rain

See the faith-filled promise

Of what will come again.

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Have your eyes been opened to any surprises recently?

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