Thursday, July 25, 2013


 When I was in the seventh grade, my father who had been vice president of a major company in Massachusetts and had invented many cutting edge electronic devices, left the corporate world and opened a small greenhouse and retail business in Vermont.  We sold antiques, made and painted wooden furniture and signs, and even created creatures out of driftwood and sedums.  My life changed dramatically.  I also learned something that had a profound effect on the way I choose to life my life. 

Life is about taking chances and following dreams. I’m not talking about flitting from one profession to another. I’m talking about knowing when it’s time to reassess life, put fear aside, take the chance and move in a new direction.

I’ve been in retail since I was a teen. The awards in this photo are some of the ones I've won for professional floral design. Okay, I’ll brag some more. I’m damn good at it. I’ve owned and run my own retail shop for almost twenty years—freaking six days a week. A fifty to sixty hour work week is normal.  Every weekend of the summer is filled with brides and weddings. Every holiday is a work day for me. And I have other dreams.

So, come the end of October, my husband and I are closing the florist end of our business.  We are remaining in the antique business and plan on doing things we both love, like more antique shows, picking, flea markets and eBay.  We are keeping our shop and going to be open for antique sales by chance or appointment—man, will that be freeing. And if you do happen to want to buy a Vermont country store, you could probably talk me into selling the building.

Needless to say, my writing time is about to go from stolen hours after work and Sundays to something much more expansive.

A year from now, we’re going to reassess. I may open a wedding-only florist business in 2015. But for now, we are grateful that we can afford to give ourselves one year to breathe and enjoy new dreams.

<!– start LinkyTools script –> <!– end LinkyTools script –>

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Like a Virgin: Getting to Know You Firsts

Getting To Know You

Warning, you’re probably about to learn more about me than you want to know.

Do I remember my first romantic kiss? Not really. It could have happened in the sixth grade, but I’m guessing it was seventh, at least that’s when I first started going to dances and that led to quite a bit of indiscriminate kissing. I had a thing for guys with long hair. In fact, that was pretty much the only requirement I had in order for a guy to be deemed kissable.  I also recall going to parties at that time and making sure I was always standing close to a cute guy, just in case someone shut the lights off and the kissing began. And we'd be listening to this.

I do, however, clearly remember making out for the first time. It was August, between 7th and 8th grade. The guy and I were in the same summer art program. I can’t remember his name, but he had beautiful, long, dark hair. We ended up going on a hike in the woods. It was sunny. The leaves on the ground under the trees were warm and . . . Let’s just say it was memorable. And, though I can’t specifically recall a favorite first love song, I did blare Wild Thing by the Troggs pretty repetitively around that same time. This video of Wild Thing slightly predates my kissing, but you'll get the idea 
and probably laugh. 

Now, for the less personally revealing firsts.

Just prior to when all the kissing began, I had a fantastic English teacher, I believe it was 5th grade. By then I’d devoured all the Wizard of Oz books, Narnia and the Grimm’s stories, basically I’d exhausted our town library’s fantasy section for kids.  This teacher introduced me to more sophisticated and newly written fantasies. The first novel was Once and a Future King by TH White. There’s a small homage to it in my manuscript Moonhill.  

Okay, let’s move on to my writing.

Before I begin a writing sessions, I fix something to drink, usually tea or coffee, iced or hot, depending on the weather. And I only have one goal in mind: to create a story that will entertain people and let them escape from the real world for a few hours. So I guess the one word I’d like to hear used to describe my writing is enjoyable. That’s it.

I wrote my first novels in high school. They were gothic and Regency romances, created for my own pleasure. Their first chapters were a mix of my daydreams and first chapters from published novels I’d read. I was totally unaware that revision existed, so they never changed or saw the light of day.

However, the first chapter of the first manuscript I wrote with publication in mind has an interesting story which says a lot about pitching agents, revision, and readership. This novel began as a short story challenge based on another writer’s avatar. So I guess that would mean the story idea started with a character. It was a fantasy with several points of view and a fairly adult first chapter involving a bonfire scene which culminated with the conception of the main character. The first query letter I ever wrote and sent out was for this story. It resulted in a full request, followed by an R&R with one condition. I needed to cut the first chapter and rewrite the story as YA. After that failed, I had a different agent request, then ask for an R&R—this time as middle grade. Honestly, the manuscript has several fatal flaws, but it should have remained adult and kept the original first chapter.

Hmmm, come to think of it, the guy in that fireside conception scene had long, dark hair. Guess I haven’t totally left my thirteen-year-old self behind. 


<!– start LinkyTools script –> <!– end LinkyTools script –>

<!– start LinkyTools script –> <!– end LinkyTools script –>

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

And the Winners Are...

Everyone who signed up for my newsletter and commented on my new website post were thrown into the stewpot and names were drawn.

 Christina Farley wins a copy of The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen.

 Jessika Fleck gets the eBay gift certificate

 Please send your mailing addresses to me patesden [at] gmail [dot] com or use the contact link on my website.

 Congratulations to the winners!! And thank you to everyone who entered.