Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring is springing!

First, cool tune alert: "Stylo" by Gorillaz. (For those of you trying to remember, Gorillaz is the cartoon group who released that "windmill, windmill" song about five years ago, "Feel Good, Inc.")

I downloaded "Stylo" a few weeks ago, and I have to say it gets better with every listen. That, and I really dig Mos Def's voice. Good vibrations.

Second, several peeps have asked for the latest on Debut Novel. Here's where we stand: I've had five requests for the full MS and one request for a partial.

And I wait. And yes, it's torture.

But the full MS requests came quickly over the last 10 days. (I finally figured out that query-letter trick.) Typical turnaround on fulls is 4-8 weeks. I'll keep you posted.

Now for spring! I was out jogging this morning, and it is so nice right now. The Bradford pears and Japanese magnolias are blooming and it's 60 degrees outside. Wow.

There were still little bursts of dead leaves that would rain down every so often while I ran, and it made me think of my first boss as an editor at LSU, Susan Rogers. She was a neat lady.

Susan was Irish. Actually, she was Jewish, but she was born in Ireland and then raised in London. Very multicultural. Still, she had this great British accent and she was extremely refined. She had a little teapot, and she liked to observe tea time. She said it was important to pause and reflect at some point during the day.

She taught me to write sentences that began with "would you please" and ended with "thank you" in the letters I sent back to professors with their edited manuscripts.

(Rather than "do this" and "do that" and "explain this" and "you stopped using English here.")

Susan also used fun catch phrases such as "we live in hope" and "keep calm." (Yes, there were times when those catch phrases were needed.)

Our offices were in Prescott Hall right next to the offices for this government program Law Enforcement Online (LEO). I never was quite sure what LEO did--busted hackers? Used satellites to track spies?

I did know we weren't supposed to go through their double-glass doors for security reasons. But the hall bathroom was just on the other side of their little suite of offices, so we ignored that rule. Sorry, federal government.

The lady in charge of LEO was this obnoxious redhead. She liked to stand in the hall and have loud conversations with her underlings who were in their offices. Her yelling typically involved lots of cursing, and it drove Susan nuts.

The redhead drove me nuts because every day after lunch she would go in the bathroom in her office and spray the crap out of her hair.

The building where we worked had been a dorm in a past life, so the bathroom of this woman's office was connected to my office, but the door had been sealed shut. (I'm sure to keep me from going postal on their butts.) The only problem was it wasn't airtight, so after she finished her grooming, my office was awash in Aquanet.

I would seriously have to stand at my door and fan out the hairspray. Rex Rose, my first graduate assistant got the brilliant idea of using clear packing tape to seal all the cracks around the door. It actually worked.

Oh, if only he weren't better at editing the manuscripts I gave him. He was actually pretty terrible. Susan was always calm and rational, but once he provoked her to say "bugger." That was So. Funny.

Susan had a daughter Rosie and an autistic son Seamus. Rosie called the office once and I answered the phone. Our conversation went like this:

Rosie: Is my mom there?
LTM: She's not in the office. Is everything OK?
Rosie: Keep calm.
LTM: Ooo-kaay... What's wrong?
Rosie: There may or may not be peacocks in our yard, and Seamus may or may not be chasing them.
LTM: (Well, which is it?)

That situation worked itself out. Seems their neighbors kept peacocks. Baton Rouge is also a quirky place to live if I haven't already mentioned it.

Seamus didn't talk and he wasn't toilet trained. He was also nine years old, and quite a handful. Some days Susan had to call in sick because he'd been up all night. She was a single mom. Her jerk husband had left her after they found out Seamus was autistic.

I say "jerk" because she implied that he blamed her for their son's condition. Seems that used to be the school of thought--autism was somehow the mother's fault. Jerks.

But Susan was always so upbeat and positive, and the few conferences we attended together were a blast. She was a lot of fun, and I admired her very much.

The reason I was thinking of her today was because she taught me to catch leaves.

Susan had lots of fun Irish folklore, and supposedly if you catch a falling leaf, it's very good luck. I managed to do it once when we worked together. I caught my leaf and then tossed it aside. Susan later informed me I had thrown my luck away. (You're supposed to keep it, silly!)

Catching leaves is hard. If you try it, be sure you've got an open, flat space to practice. Looking up and runing around is a great way to get hurt.

This morning when I was jogging I caught a leaf. I smiled and thought of Susan. She moved back to England several years ago. To a little village called Lowndes. I like to imagine those guys are doing great, having fun, enjoying life, observing tea time. Rosie would be grown now.

St. Patrick's day is a week away. Get outside and catch a leaf!


JRichard said...

Kiss me blarney stone! Sorry, I just like to say that whenever I read something Irish. There are supposedly Irish strands in my bloodline but I still can't sing like Bono. Bugger.

LTM said...

Did I mention Flower ate my last lucky leaf? Does that make her my lucky cat? She's a bit of a bugger...

pam said...

Oh LTM your blog is fantastic! I actually just laughed out loud at the peacock phone call. You write very visually to me....I love reading these :o)

LTM said...

(pam just made the "permanent" Christmas card list... ;o)

Thanks, hon! xoxo

Ex-pat Odessa said...

Shelaleigh sticks, blarney stones, and Erin Go Bragh!

LTM said...

is that Latin?

Ex-pat Odessa said...

no, it's Gaelic! I can tell you to kiss my you know what in Gaelic too - one of the perks of knowing all the Irish and Welshmen in Houston!

Lia Keyes said...

What a wonderful post! If only more blogs were written like this!

A great portrait of a brave woman and I'm impressed that you still remember her customary phrases. Just goes to show how important it is to be the best that we can be to the people we meet every day.

How's your quest for an agent going?

LTM said...

Thanks, Lia! Being a British observer of tea time, I thought you might appreciate that. And I agree w/you. I've met so many interesting, inspirational people. If you like this, you might also like "The House is Not for Sale," April 4. I wrote that after my neighbor died. :o|

(JRM told me to stop giving away my memoirs for free... LOL! whatever.)

Alas, the agent search continues... sigh. But I'm "out there"! :o)