Archive for January, 2012

Funeral For A Friend.
January 29, 2012

The Red Thread of Destiny is a belief that comes from an old Chinese legend. Also known as the red thread of fate or red string of fate, it means that people who are destined to meet are tied together with an invisible red thread.

Chinese Proverb:

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.

The 27th of January was off from the start. In the morning, I spilled a steaming mug of coffee all over the table, rescuing my laptop literally seconds from disaster. In the afternoon, a glass of water slipped from my hands to shatter all over the tile floor.

There aren’t many things I hate more than cleaning up broken glass. Especially wet glass. Just awful.

In the rural desert, it’s dark outside, so I keep a special night-light in the bathroom so we can see our way. It’s one of my favorite possessions, molded from cream-colored porcelain with a relief sculpting of angels — it’s like a work of art made from light. If you look closely, you can see joyous angels gathered around a baby’s bassinet.

That night, it just stopped working. I jiggled it, screwed in a new bulb, finally resorted to begging, to no avail.

It was one of those days. I even tweeted about it.

 
Emily Murdoch
LeftyWriteyEmily Murdoch

 
Ugh, one of those days. Spilling-dropping-breaking things.
 
 
It also happens to be the day news broke that a friend died. A horrible day befitting horrible news, even if I didn’t know it, yet. Or, maybe on some deep, red string level, I did. Maybe deep down in my heart, I felt the red string snap.
 
Do you have old friends you haven’t spoken to in awhile? Give them a tweet, an email, a comment, a ring. There are so many ways to communicate.
 
About twenty minutes before I received the news, I’d sent her an email. The first email in a long, long time. I’m sure she received it. Just not in the way I’d hoped.
 
I’d written it in response to this poem she’d sent me.
 
She knew it, too.
 

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,
When 24 Hours in a day is not enough,
Remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class
And had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly,
He picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
And proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students, if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
Them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open Areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things – family,
Children, health, Friends, and Favourite passions
Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, Your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else –The small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ He continued,
‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are important to you.

So…

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play With your children.
Take time to pamper yourself.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time to clean the house and wash the windows.

‘Take care of the golf balls first —
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.
‘I’m glad you asked’.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.’

 
 The red sections above were by her hand.

Tierney was a very private person, so I’m not sure she’d want her full name broadcasted here. So, I’m using just her first. A stand-out name for a stand-out person. (Yes, I mean *you*, Tierney.)

Tierney was so many things. Like all of us, she had her struggles, her demons to wrestle. They made her no less worthy, memorable or dear.

I wish I were using this time to reply to the email she would’ve sailed back immediately, knowing her.

Instead, I’m writing this in her memory. It’ll be printed out and thumbtacked to the Tribute Board at her funeral next weekend.

It’s life o’ clock. Do you know where your friends are?

“We are each of us angels with one wing.

Only by embracing each other can we fly.”

This morning, out of nowhere, the night-light winked back on.

I smiled.

I wonder if those changes
Have left a scar on you
Like all the burning hoops of fire
That you and I passed through

You’re a bluebird on a telegraph line
I hope you’re happy now
Well if the wind of change comes down your way girl
You’ll make it back somehow.

Funeral For a Friend

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My Novel Sold To St. Martin’s Griffin! : ) Part One.
January 25, 2012

What’s been saved in my work inbox for 14 months, 8 weeks, 4 days:
This one, I wrote to myself. (A writer can dream, winks.)
Dear Emily,
 We’ve received FIVE offers from editors at amazing NYC publishing houses!
 
They love your novel and we’re looking at a significant deal, a multi-book contract and Oprah wants the novel for her book club.
 
Good work! More information to follow,
 
Agent Extraordinaire
I came across this quote below, and although I’m spiritual, not religious, I found it beautiful — both reassuring and strengthening. At times it feels like divine intervention alone is how one gets published. Maybe it is. I did do an awful lot of petitioning of my dead friend and dead grandmothers. Sometimes all we want to know is that we’re on the right path.
Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven.  This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you.  I never leave your side, and I never let go of your hand.  But without the cord of hope, your head may slump and your feet may shuffle as you journey uphill with Me. Hope lifts your perspective from your weary feet to the glorious view you can see from the high road.  You are reminded that the road we’re traveling together is ultimately a highway to heaven.  When you consider this radiant destination, the roughness or smoothess of the road ahead becomes much less significant.  I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven. 
 
Romans 12:12; Thessalonians 5:8; Hebrews 6:18-19.
The next is just plain-old lovely.
“Be who God meant you to be,
and you will set the world on fire.”
 
St. Catherine of Sienna
I’ve been trying and trying to write this post, to no avail. I’m not one of those writers who (beforehand) imagines writing a post like this. Truth be told, I find myself feeling quite shy about it. How shy? As shy as reading your diary to a crowd. Yeah, that shy. Welcome to my head. Watch your step.
Agent Bob Diforio’s blurb stays in my inbox, also, because after years and years of rejection, I keep reading it as a reality check. To make sure this is real.

Christmas came early for debut literary YA novelist Emily Murdoch. In a spirited submission  creating buzz among dozens of editors, publishers and publicity people who quickly read her extraordinary novel, THE PATRON SAINT OF BEANS, it was Jennifer Weis of St. Martin’s who carried the day for North American Rights;  sold by Bob Diforio and Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary Agency.

Emily was inspired to write the novel after reading about a mother who kidnapped her son and fled to Brazil. In “Beans”, violin prodigy Carey Blackburn and her mute little sister, Jenessa, have spent their entire lives in a broken-down camper deep in the forest of a national park, forced to cope with their drug-addicted mother only sporadically on hand, until they are rescued by a father they don’t know and learn the truth about their early childhood. As they adjust to the real world of school, malls and other children – especially boys – Carey is weighed down by a dark secret that threatens the only good luck she’s ever known.

A brilliant YA novel with adult cross-over appeal, editors found the work both moving and magical.

I didn’t realize that even praise can take some getting used to. Which is how I came to realize what was holding me back from writing this post: the entanglement of personal and public feelings.
Once I agreed to publish, my book became itself — a separate entity increasingly out  of my control.
Let’s look back. I was one of those people admonished as a child for being too sensitive — as if sensitivity were a negative thing. (Sensitive child in your midst? You may just have an artist on your hands. Celebrate that fact, that sensitivity. A child could do worse than to possess a deeply feeling heart.)
I’m also one of those people who keeps my feelings close to the vest. And what I feel about selling The Patron Saint Of Beans to St. Martin’s Griffin is a feeling so personal, profound, and public all at the same time, that it remains gestational in its development. For all intensive purposes, it’s a baby novel. I’m a baby author. All the words are new.
But what I can articulate is that however many years I’m lucky to live, this will remain one of the most amazingly awesome moments of my life.
On to the story.

The two weeks preceding December 19th, 2011 (the date of my sale) were an amazing whirlwind of hope, praise, editor reads and offers, telephone conferences with editors and pinch-me-hard moments.

I was subbed to both adult and young adult editors. I had offers from both adult and young adult editors. At one point, when I thought we’d settled on a publisher/editor and my agents informed the other editors, they said no!

They wouldn’t take no for an answer!

And so more offers came in. A pre-empt came and went. Choices, choices, choices, from no, no, no’s. I felt like a character in a novel whose obstacles had been removed. Reality was so surreal, such a rocket ride, such a blessed, lucky, thank-you-Universe kind of moment, I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.

When I was seven-years-old and in the midst of reading every single book in the elementary school library, I used to imagine my books on the school library shelves, not in the bookstores. Books to transport eager, earnest children into parallel worlds of dark and light. Books poking like crocuses through the snow, opening curious hearts and minds to worlds where underdogs prevailed, where obstacles existed for good reason: to grow a person deeper, stronger, taller. Pages. Places where anything was — IS — possible.

What an amazing thing to be a part of.

If you’d like to add my novel on Goodreads, or friend me, please go here: Goodreads

I believe the good things happen to us so we can pay it forward. A portion of the proceeds of “Beans” will benefit Taylor Hendrix’s Christmas Project.

Sixteen-year-old Taylor, battling osteosarcoma, gathers gifts in backpacks each Christmas to brighten the spirits of cancer teens in hospital over the holidays. For more information, see my previous post: Taylor’s Christmas Project.

Part Two to follow …