Author: Faith Allaire

Dear Children, You’re Fired…Or I’m Fired?

For weeks now, I have been trying to get my kids to read my official revised draft of Children of Planes

The youngest started to read it. To make it official, she even asked that I draft up a Inked41723143_1807676106012125_2867250365001105408_n_LIcontract of what my expectations were of her to be a professional reader:

Note the deadline of September 3rd….

Apparently, she got bored with the fact that “her character” wasn’t mentioned yet and hasn’t gone back to it. Suffice to say, if I was paying her to read it, she’d be fired.

The eldest was like, “oh… well you know I have soooo many books I have to read this year for L.A, so I can’t even…”

I’m pretty convinced that if my own kids won’t read it, it is likely pretty crappy.

So, what do you do when you’ve developed this new found interest to try to get a novel published, but then realize it’s likely to be crap?

Scrap it?

Get new kids who are properly brainwashed and want to read their mother’s manuscript?!

When Failure Is Really A Wake-Up Call

A few weeks ago, before the Summer of Slacktitude ended and I was insanely blinded by medical goo in my eyes, I had felt empowered enough to send out a few query letters to agents. I had this grand idea of sending a few out each week so that I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed with absolute failure in one swoop.

That idea lasted all of one day, equaling two agents that I had found on Writer’s Digest.

Weeks later, which was last Thursday, I was at work. I checked my email, read said email, saw I was rejected and went on with the rest of my day.

You guys it was the sweetest rejection email I’m like to receive. She was like, “We read your query, and I’m sure it will do really well with another agent. Unfortunately, we’re overloaded with projects at this time and cannot take anyone else on.”

Let’s face it, her it’s “us” not you didn’t fool me. It’s likely me, although, I was expecting something more like “You are unoriginal!” or “That is the worst query letter ever! Quit writing.”

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Instead, what I got was an email that made me more encouraged to query other agents. And is it wrong that I feel as if this rejection secures my identity as an author? I  ripped off a band-aid that was supposed to cause me a lot of pain, but all it really did was sting for two seconds. It didn’t really change how I identify as an author, nor did it curb my writing.

And plenty of the authorial greats have had to rip the same band-aid off. Over and over again. I’m in great company:

Madeleine L’Engle – rejected 26 times

J.K Rowling – rejected 12 times

William Golding- rejected 20 times

Even George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected. ANIMAL FARM!

You can see even more at Buzzfeed’s 20 Brilliant Authors Whose Work Was Initially Rejected

It made me realize that it’s time.

It’s time to break through the fear of rejection and seriously campaign for my story to be published. This is the moment where I prove that I believe in my Middle Grade Fiction piece and its right to be in the hands of as many readers as possible. I need to keep being tenacious and keep pushing until I finally get a YES.

I’m fired up!

 

My game plan for the next few weeks:

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Writer’s Digest has compiled numerous agent databases as well as some added info on how to market yourself as a writer in a way that appeals to agents. These books seem like the next investment for an aspiring writer hoping to become published. I am going to query until Yahoo tells me I’ve sent too many emails in one day and need to take a break.Children of the Planes

 

 

I am going to begin work on the sequel of Children of the Planes, simply because my kids want me to. Being published does not validate me as a writer; my readers do. If the only readers right now happen to be my little children spawn, then so be it!

There is also a conference coming up in Massachusetts for Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators members where I will have the opportunity to get feedback from agents and editors about what they’re looking for. It sounds like a great opportunity to network and grow as a writer.

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. If I didn’t have as amazing of a network as I do, I’d like have quit after that first no.

Stitching Together Fiction and Science

I’ve developed a love for listening to e-books on my deck while I cross stitch. It beats being stuck inside watching TV, right?

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Over the summer, I finished Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. That book- deserves a re-listen. He was throwing terms and concepts way over my head, but I was like, “This makes sense” and “Double down on the history/science lessons!” His passion for everything beyond our atmosphere was infectious!

I also learned some new concepts that will enhance my ideas for Children of the Planes, which tweaks Albert Einstein’s Theory of relativity just enough to become official science fiction.

What’s crazy, is that perhaps my ideas aren’t that far off from the truth. I think that’s why science fiction is so appealing. A lot of what is placed as science fiction isn’t always that far off from tomorrow’s technology.

For example, Popular Science has an article by Mary Beth Griggs that shows examples from Star Trek. From cell phones to Bluetooth, her article highlights just how close the gap is between what we dream as far off concepts and realistic technology. All it takes is one person to look at the colorful ideas that science fiction presents and break it down into manageable shapes, which is very much like cross stitch.

Oh, and I’d like to thank Jupiter for essentially keeping us alive every day.

Mrs. Magoo Needs Angel Intervention

Last week I had to have surgery, and before all you concerned readers get worried: I am alive and well. My vision, however, has been shoddy. I have to put this cream in my eyes that has left me seeing everything in a blur.

Yes, I am the female Magoo.

But have I let 60% of my day being a blur stop my obsessive reading habits?!

No!

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I was able to finish the book my fellow Southern New Hampshire University alumni, Conny Fuller, recently published. Green Eyes is her debut novel, and it was my honor to get to read it. Honestly, I can’t really know for sure if I had ever read Christian Fiction before, so it was a new experience!

I like the premise of her story. The idea that there is an intricate network of supporters rooting for your success (even when you have no idea what that is) is cathartic. I had so many issues involving this surgery that I was almost ready to toss my hands in the air and be like, “FINE! I”ll go blind in this eye damnit!” Maybe  I had a guardian angel giving me the strength to find a solution to every problem. They were probably also around this weekend making sure I didn’t fall down the stairs in my Magoo state…

Thanks Angel!

 

 

 

Will Travel for Good Food and Free Books

 

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Despite my state’s super high taxes and lousy roads, we have the golden opportunity to live a book lover’s dream. Some genius decided to combine the love of being a fat kid and the love of reading FREE books.

To be fair, most big chain book stores have cafes in their book stores, so there has been an established correlation between coffee, books, and snacks… but I’m talking a full service restaurant that has the look and feel of a library!!!!

 

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Oh, and beer:

In less than an hour of finding out the existence of this wonderland, I had a road trip negotiated. In a caravan of two cars, the Allaire family joined forces with the awesome S. family and made the journey to Traveler’s Restaurant.

The article lied about people who buy meals getting a free book. The reality is that you now get THREE free books each meal! I have to say, other than being concerned about the insane amount of Freudian psychology books sprinkled into the selection, they had an eclectic range.

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It was a bit awkward oogling books while people were trying to eat. Some of the selection is right above the tables, and since it is creepy having to look at those books, it’s likely where all the good books are.

I have to admit there were some personal boundaries crossed to get my three books.

 

Judy Chicago

Between a book about monsters of the mind and another with no name on the spine so it was clearly to be avoided, I saw a book penned by one of my favorite artists: Judy Chicago!

 

I was super psyched about Judy Chicago’s Through the Flower: my struggle as a woman artist because I had just finished a “History of Women in the Arts” course last fall. I was able to dazzle my table mates with facts of how awesome Judy Chicago was. Ironically, that was not the first time I had gushed about her feminine awesomeness, as I had included her in my final project about how women traditionally used needlepoint as a form of education AND activism.

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I could go on and on about her, but I digress.

Mr. Allaire abstained from getting books, which felt incredibly sacrilege. How could I marry a man that doesn’t see what a gift this restaurant is?!

I’m glad that this did not rub off on our spawn. They were as equally eager as I was to find their own bounty. In fact, once they found out that there was a used book store in the basement, they went crazy. The two eldest were about to battle for the last Dean Koontz book.

I didn’t buy anything from the store, because nothing could top my Judy Chicago book. I was in love, and at least until we got home again, there was no other book for me. At least for the day. So, if you’re ever in Connecticut and need a buddy to dine with at Traveler’s restaurant… I am your lady.

Sloppy Signatures

 

At one point in my life I had a flawless signature. In middle school, I dreamt of being Mrs. Faith Yu. It was fluid and beautiful. I obviously missed out on the opportunity to have a perfect signature by not marrying my crush…

That also means I’ve never really had a legal flawless signature.

It never really mattered until yesterday, when I had to re-evaluate our insurance records. My insurance agent passed over a tablet pad and pen as he said to me, “Check your signature to make sure it looks as close to your signature as the key pad will allow.” In my head I thought, Dear Sir, I am a product of my environment. Since when does the image on the screen pad ever match one’s signature? My insurance agent had me thinking, do I even have a true signature: a fancy practiced script of my name that people could read right away? Does it really matter?

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I am not alone in wondering the value of a signature in a digital world. Linton Weeks wrote for NPR in his article “The Great American Signature Fades Away” that “In recent years, however, as computers and keyboards have become more prevalent, the art — and the necessity — of penning one’s name has gone out of style. The opposable thumb is used more for clicking a button than gripping a pen.” There’s a reason that they usually take a photocopy of your ID when you sign up for a new set of documents. That has more value in contesting legal documents than signatures.

From a newly fledged writer’s perspective, however, a signature seems really important. Friends and family have been saying “I want a signed copy” ~ meaning that eventually I will have to sign my name on things that they, hopefully, treasure forever. Is this how I meet my failure as a writer?! Should I have been dutifully practicing a legible copy of my name all this time?

Sure enough, what showed up on the screen after I signed on the pad was a hot mess. I wouldn’t want to read a book by the person who penned that sloppy signature… nope… not even the e-copy.

When the agent signed on the key pad, his signature was flawless. It clearly matched the printed signature he has on the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday cards he sends us each year. Clearly, it is my own failure at having a fancy signature that is holding me back and not the technology. I wondered for a second if I could ask the agent for tips on supreme signature handcraft, but I realized that might have been overstepping our insurance agent/customer relationship.

To rub more salt into my sloppy signature wounds:

A few hours later, I was asked to go into work to set up a digital copy of my signature very much like my insurance guy has plastered on all those aforementioned cards. I met up with my sister, Alycia. She handed me this form where I had to sign my name three times in different sizes.

I can do different sizes! It was making the three signatures look the same that was the problem. When I handed the form back to Alycia, she looked it over, handed me another form to try my three signature again and muttered, “I knew this would happen.” Signature failure Number Two.

I clearly am a failure at signing my own name, so I did some research and found out that Business Insider’s Skye Gould, Megan Willett and Mike Nudelman compiled a list of famous signatures in their article, “The 17 Coolest Signatures Of Famous People Through History.” Most of them have the feel of a signature, but really end up looking like mini sized pieces of art. On the other hand, J.K Rowling’s signature isn’t the hand crafted beauty that I would have expected, which makes me think that I have a chance at being a decent book signer someday!

Weeks argues that signatures are relevant these days largely for sentimental value. It should be considered a piece of art that signifies who you are, which is backed up by Gould, Willett, and Nudelman’s piece. It has me thinking that I can choose to look at my sloppy signature as a failure, or I can look at this new opportunity as a writer to create a signature that is uniquely me. A whole separate piece of art. Who knows! Maybe I can create such a noteworthy and memorable signature that it will one day end up on the “18 Coolest Signatures of Not-So Famous People Through History.”

Signature Pending

You’re a Published Author!

 

Ahem, I would like to make a declaration that will forever alter the history of the world as we know it.

I, Faith Allaire, am a published author.

Whew! I need to put that on business cards! Maybe make myself a name tag! Definitely change my job status on LinkedIn.

This is only a proof of the impending set of books WITH MY NAME on the cover, but it still looks and feels like a real live book! And it smells like one.. like a new book which not yet had the chance of living.

Not sure what one does with the proofs of their books, I introduced it to its new family. I think it’s going to fit in nicely as their Queen.

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For now, you can buy the E-book version at Amazon.com

Closet Readers

When I was around my daughter’s age, my parents separated, and we moved into a tiny apartment that was cozy enough for my ,mom and me. When I wanted to escape from the world, I would hide in the only closet. It had just enough space for myself, a blanket, a flashlight and a handful of books.

I remember reading one book over and again. It was a non-fiction book based off of a Gorilla who knew sign language and had a best friend that was a kitten. If you haven’t guessed it, the Gorilla’s name was Koko.

This weekend that Gorilla passed away, which made me a little heart broken.

To honor the part of my childhood she made memorable, I grabbed a book and squirreled away into a closet. I know it should have been more about honoring Koko than comparing and contrasting my childhood with my children, but ya know…stuff happens.

For example, my kids have access to five closets not including bedroom closets where they can lay out and create summer reading dens. This works in their interest because I had no siblings trying to break down the door to see what top secret activities were going behind closed doors.

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I was in the closet a total of five minutes before the youngest sniffed me out. Then she climbed in and joined in the reading with her own book. Ten minutes later the eldest found us, cramming us in like sardines and making me wish I had picked one of the bigger closets to honor Koko.

My son is a lot smarter than I ever will be. He rigged up the flashlight to hang from a hanger, allowing for a hands free experience.

I expect that by the time my grandchildren become closet readers, they will have closets with lights on the inside and locks from the inside to keep intruders out.

Summer Reading Goals

Today is the very first day of summer!

It would be something to celebrate, if we weren’t still a family of school goers for ANOTHER WEEK.

Snow days seemed worth it at the time…..

Since a week can feel like forever, we started to make our summer reading goals.

We searched the Scriptorium’s shelves for books we haven’t read yet.

Everyone’s personal choices are squished on this shelf in no apparent order, so it’s hard to say who chose what. I will say that I was not the one to choose the Shakespeare plays…..

 

Middle Grade Fiction: LGBTQ+ Community

In honor of Pride month, Scholastic listed a series of books that promote the LGBTQ+ community within middle grade fiction. It is important that members of these communities are valued and represented within our literature, especially Middle Grade Fiction where adolescents are at the cusp of displaying and understanding their identities.

 

 

In Children of the Planes, one of the themes I focus on is introducing the non-binary gender spectrum.

Jay, a twelve-year-old male is learning to communicate about his preference for displaying a gender non-conforming lifestyle.

I’m often asked, what does that even mean?

Jay knows he’s a male, but feels he wants to be a girl. He dresses in pink t-shirts and purple sneakers that light up, but his favorite past time is playing Legos. Jay is learning to put words to thoughts he’s felt for a very long time. He’s not entirely sure with what he identifies as of yet, and to spotlight this experience when he is still navigating that aspect would force us all to have to put labels onto his situation that he’s not ready to express.

Within the scope of this novel, Jay is learning to build a support network for when he does figure out his true self. His friend Zane is the first person that he has felt comfortable sharing these feelings with, so we see him in a very raw state within this novel. He gets easily frustrated and builds walls around others because it’s been easier to be alone than trying to be something he knows he’s not. When Zane supports him despite the conflict that ensues, Jay learns that he can be respected and valued even when he doesn’t feel “normal.”

As such, Jay doesn’t “come out” or any of that stereotypical nonsense, but rather we see the seeds being sown for him to embrace himself no matter what that is.