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I’ve been sending out queries to agents this week, lots of them. It’s a heart-wrenching time, sending something out that you have been working on for SO LONG, that you’ve poured your soul into, and bracing yourself for the rejections that will come. And they will come. Most agents are very upfront about their acceptance rates, usually less that 5% of thousands of queries every year, so even just statistically, the rejections will arrive, one after the other. These agents are busy, filtering through all of the email they get every day. There are a lot of people who want to be the next J.K.Rowling and they have to make quick decisions based on a tiny piece of work, hoping to get it right. Not an easy task, to be sure.

But there’s always that one possibility, that one chance, that that ONE agent will see your first ten pages, or five pages, of first three chapters and think, Yes, I could totally represent this person! That agent could have been looking for that very thing that you just sent them, in that very genre, with the voice that you wrote it in and it will happen. It will be a glorious, delirious, day when that email or phone call arrives. Believe me, I’ll be writing about it right away if that ever happens. You’ll be the first to know.

I was spoiled the first time I ever queried a publisher for my book, Put Up Your Hair. I got an offer from the first publisher I sent it to. It was exhilarating; I framed the contract and everything. Foolishly, I expected the same kind of thing to happen when I sent out my first novel, but I soon learned that querying a small publishing house for a specialized piece of work and querying an agency with thousands of other people trying to do just that are two very different things. With my first book, however, I heard lots of very good things about my writing, with many questions about when I would write another book, leading me to think that my writing was at least readable.

So there was that hope, and I kept writing. Writers who are trying to get published write, edit, second guess, edit again, and even again, to make their writing clean, concise, but yet descriptive enough to paint a picture in the mind of the reader. The waiting to see if someone likes all of that hard work can be unbearable; I’ve been checking my email all week waiting for a response, any kind of little answer. I did get a very nice email from an agent who rejected the project I sent due to time, but added that she hoped that I would keep her in mind in the future, so there is that. It’s amazing what a little spark of encouragement can do.

What is my point in all of this? Working off nervous energy, for one, but also to put my feelings into words. I’m better at writing them down than I am trying to say them out loud. I really, really want this. It’s worse than being a kid at Christmas, and there’s always that thought in the back of my mind that it’s not meant to be, that it’s never going to happen. Besides telling that little voice to bugger off in the rudest way possible, I’m keeping my hope alive by thinking positively and putting it out to God and into the universe.

In the meantime, I’ll keep working on the next project, the next book of Traveler (no title yet), my essay for a writing contest, and trying to not obsessively check my email. If you’d like, check me out on Facebook: Julie Ballantyne Brown- Author or on Twitter: @23italiana (I only have, like, 16 followers; I really need to get better at Twitter). You could even take a look at the first Traveler, available on Amazon Kindle or in paperback, if you really wanted to.

A presto.

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Hey! I set up an author page!!! Please visit me on Facebook at Julie Ballantyne Brown-Author.

Oh, and if you haven’t read Traveler yet, please give it a try. You can find it at: https://smile.amazon.com/Traveler-Julie-Ballantyne-Brown/dp/198333166X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=2CA9P79MNU1NQ&keywords=julie+ballantyne+brown&qid=1547933115&sprefix=julie+ball%2Caps%2C161&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

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I am blessed. Unequivocally, undoubtedly, blessed. It’s easy to forget, sometimes. It’s easy to let the problems of the universe sink in, to let the daily annoyances pile up and inspire resentment, but that’s when we have to take a few steps back and get a new perspective. We need to let those unimportant things go and either make a new plan or let it be. Here are some of my blessings:

  1. My husband. I am married to a man (for almost twenty years!) who has seen me at my best and most definitely at my worst. He has loved me through four pregnancies, three kids, job loss, financial crises, a depression/anxiety diagnosis, and my frustration with keeping up an older house and no money to do it. Oh, and did I mention that he has to put up with me trying to convince him to move to London?
  2. My kids. My boyos: Oldest Child, Middle Child, and Youngest Child. All different, all amazingly wonderful. I never imagined being the mother of all boys, but God works in wonderful ways and even with all of the ways they are different from me, they are my heart.
  3. My family. My family is huge, mixed-up, made up of many components, a wee bit dysfunctional, but most important, loving. I wouldn’t trade my family for anything in the world.
  4. My friends. Like everyone, I have different groups of friends in different places and from different times in my life. I am deeply thankful for each one of them.
  5. I live in a country where I’m free, not only as a person, but as a woman. In many places in the world, even today, I would have no rights to anything. The U.S. isn’t perfect by any means, but I can wear what I want, marry who I want, drive, go anywhere I like without a chaperone, and criticize the government without worrying about being thrown in prison, or worse. There’s much work to do, but things are moving in the right direction.
  6. My hedgie. She’s amazing, cranky and cuddly at the same time and I love her.
  7. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to several countries. I have the wanderlust. Bad. I believe that seeing how other people live in other parts of the world is essential. How can we work together if we live in ignorance and all we know of others is what fear mongers tell us? Granted, I haven’t visited any war-torn nations, but the places that I have been have given me a greater appreciation for the world as a whole. Now, I just have to figure out how to travel more frequently. (Rick Steves, have you looked at my résumé yet?)
  8. I’m a published author. Not a New York Times bestselling author, but I was able to get published by a company. Let’s see if it can happen again. (Slightly greedy, I know.)
  9. Facebook. This was a toughie, because Facebook is most definitely a colossal time-waster. But it has also allowed me to keep in touch with people who I may have otherwise lost contact with. In most cases, that is a blessing.
  10. Creature comforts. There’s an old hymn that says, “There’s a roof up above me, I’ve a good place to sleep. There’s food on my table and shoes on my feet. You gave me your love, Lord, and a fine family. Thank you, Lord, for you blessings on me.” It’s one of the truest songs I know. I don’t need, or want, a huge house, expensive cars, or designer clothes. Most of the world doesn’t have what I have: Enough.

Reminding myself of how much I actually have when I want something may not stop the desire, but it does make me appreciate my blessings. I wish the same for you.

A presto.

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It has been quite the week, so I’m blowing off some steam today, on the less serious side. Well, some of them are kind of serious when they happen. It’s sometimes hard to forget that they are just that: pet peeves. Still, they’re annoying as heck. Here are some of my biggest ones.

Not using a turn signal when driving. You are not James Bond. You are not evading or tailing a super spy. You do not need to hide your movements. I promise that I will let you over (unless you’re driving like a jackass) and I’d much prefer to know that you are moving into my lane rather than be surprised. This turn signal thing also bugs me when I’m waiting to turn onto a street and I’m waiting for a car to pass, only to have the car turn a few blocks before it gets to me. Super-annoying. My time is wasted and now I’m irritated, thank you very much. Really, how much of your time does it take to flip the little lever on your steering wheel? Sheesh.

People who talk during any kind of performance. As an actor and as a mom with kids who are involved in school performances, I see this a lot and it’s really rage-inducing. If your conversation is important, TAKE IT OUTSIDE!!! I want to hear what the performers have practiced for weeks or months, not a random conversation on someone’s extended family. It’s really, really, rude, not to mention distracting, to talk during a performance, whether it’s a band concert, a community theatre play, or a movie. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bicyclists who ride in the street but don’t follow the rules. This really burns me and it falls under the serious category. This is DETROIT, not the Tour de France, although one would think so from how these folks are dressed. You do not need to be aerodynamic in the city. If you are riding in the road, you MUST stop at stop signs and lights. It’s the LAW. I once sat at a green light while a 50-bike blob decided to go right through their red light like they were a funeral procession. A fast funeral procession in neon spandex and pointy helmets. Look, folks, this is Outer Drive, not the French countryside. I hope, I hope that a police officer caught up with them at some point and gave them all humongous tickets. Look, I’m all for bike lanes and giving bicyclists a wide berth. I wish I could ride to work. It’s great for the environment, it’s healthy, and it’s fun, but follow the frickin’ rules. It’s just not safe, in fact, it’s downright arrogant, to zip through a red light and assume that traffic will stop for you. Plus, the spandex looks stupid. (Sorry, but it does.)

And while we’re on the topic of driving…

Driving under the speed limit. Oh. My. Gosh. We have places to go. If something is wrong with your car, turn on your hazard lights and get thee to the nearest service station. Otherwise, drive the posted speed (at least), especially during rush hour.

Loud, obnoxious swearing in public. I’m no angel. I swear on occasion, but it’s not terribly often and very rarely in public. I’m not talking about that kind of swearing, when one is with friends or in the heat of anger. I’m talking about the people who swear like they’re twelve years old and out of earshot of mom, who think that every other word in public should be a loud f-bomb or something similar. Really, it makes one sound uneducated and ridiculous. There is a time and a place for such things and Target or your local family diner is not it, especially when there are kids around. Manners, folks, manners.

Parents who yap on their phones instead of parenting. Another serious one, I think I blogged on this at some point. This makes me crazy, especially when the child is being a hellion and no discipline is happening. Hang up and stop your angel from wreaking havoc in the restaurant or on the playground. It makes me sad when I see a parent pushing their baby in a stroller and all they’re doing is talking on the phone. Talk to your BABY! A baby’s brain is primed and ready to soak up knowledge. It’s amazing how they respond to you. Studies show over and again that talking to you baby promotes language development in the brain, it teaches babies how to read facial expressions and how to interact with other humans, and increases literacy potential. Those baby and toddler years are so precious and go by so fast, please don’t waste them on the cell phone. Really, who is more important than your child? Be a parent.

Using all of the toilet paper on the roll and not replacing it. My children. You know who you are.

And last but certainly not least,

Memes on Facebook that tell you to share this in the next twenty minutes and you’ll get money, share if you love Jesus, if you love God, share and you’ll have good luck, etc. God doesn’t care if I share a Facebook post and I would venture to say that Jesus doesn’t either. Not one friend who has ever shared these posts has ever suddenly become rich or lucky. Just saying.

That’s all for now. Of course, there are more, but people who complain too much are also on the list, so I’ll end here. Until next time.

Peace and love.

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