Good Friday morning, Everyone. It’s a cold, dreary day at daybreak ( sounds ambitious, but since springing ahead in time, the sun is up at a lazy 7 a.m.). If we were having coffee together, I would tell you that chatterbox starlings are chirping non-stop. I’m not sure about what, but the racket confirms that spring is not far away.
I have been away from social media again, responding only to urgent emails and taking a quick Like browse through Facebook and blogs once, maybe twice a day. I am struggling to establish a back-to-reality routine since returning from South Carolina. Missing the kids weigh heavy, and the coronavirus is worrisome.
But there is no time to wallow in a pity party.
Last weekend, before everything started to shut down, our Chowda’ cook-off went off on schedule before the coronavirus shut down everything. Matt whipped up an impressive She Crab bisque that took two days to concoct, and I presented my old Manhattan style stand by. We had eleven pots of chowders for the participants to sip and slurp and an incredibly varied Sweet Treat table to sample. Fun day. Matt and I did not have a winning pot, but we had a great time organizing and leading the event. My niece’s little boy celebrated his second birthday with family and friends. Eileen is a very creative party planner and pulled out all kinds of culinary stops and kiddie activities surrounding Two the Moon theme. She is a fantastic baker and recently started her Beasts and Sweets blog. Check it out.
If we were having coffee together, I would fill you in on the writing front. My middle-grade novel, Daily Bread, is done, but is it? Are stories that lived in one’s head for years and finally transcribed onto paper ever done? I printed the 165 pages and bound them with my spiral binder. I scratched notes, corrected a variety of ills, made a few changes and lots of omissions that I placed in a separate file in case they become necessary. The manuscript looks battered with Post-its sticking from the edges and scribblings in once empty margins. It needs to simmer. In the meantime, I re-tackled a 375-word query letter (too long) and a 668-word synopsis (way too long). These are necessary pieces to capture the attention of an agent and/or publishing house that accepts unsolicited manuscripts. They are also great practice for pitching and clarifying the story. I find them painful tasks.
Last week, I attended a local writer’s meeting featuring a fellow She Writes Press author. Debra Bender wrote Saturday’s Child—an incredible memoir of growing up with an unconventional mother. Our paths to publication were very similar, except she was so much more successful in getting her book into readers’ hands. She had many great points, but my biggest take away was to seek out an audience I can speak to, grow with, and share. I have been feeling this for some time, but hearing it out loud it confirmed the truth.
I can best speak to children and teachers. Years ago, when my children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup, came out, I was a visiting author in the schools. What a great gig meeting little fan readers, and creative teachers who applied the story into the curriculum! From my revelation, I began writing workshops and author visits programs for children and teachers. I hope to practice a few times before the school term ends, so I’d be ready to put myself out there in September.
If we were having coffee together, I will address the elephant, err… microbe, in the room. COVID-19 has taken center stage and is the only topic of conversation. Like so many other parts of the country, continent, and world, my local schools and colleges are suspended, and events canceled indefinitely, causing a harrowing household juggle and economic tsunami for so many people. Although this crisis will end, the recovery will take time, patience, and compassion. Let’s all remember to be kind to each other, look out for our neighbors, and wash hands. My parents are thankfully not getting on a plane to return north. My home is armed with Clorox wipes and an impressive amount of antibacterial sanitizers ( a few of the items I have always hoarded like cans of tomato sauce). I’ve stepped up the surface cleaning and sanitizer regimes, but I have not felt a need to trap myself in the house. I can go to the grocery store, check in at the library, and buy a coffee in town. Uhh! I just got an alert message that the library closed until further notice.
Have a healthy weekend and week, Everyone. Make it great!
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.