Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Nice Change of Pace

Doug and I just got back from a trip to Depoe Bay Oregon. My sister in law Amber organized it to celebrate a milestone birthday for Mike, my father in law. We stayed in a very nice beachfront "cottage" that had an extraordinary view of the ocean.

View from living room window
We actually saw some spouting and breaching whales from time to time. We had fourteen people total, as Doug's father, stepmother Michele, Sisters Angela and Amber (with their husbands Dino and Ian), and our teen-aged nephew Antonio and our three young nieces Ava, Mia, and Kia were all there, along with two old family friends Les and Eileen. The place was set up to sleep up to nineteen, however, and most importantly it had four bathrooms.

Doug and I brought Wiley and Roxy as well, though Flick stayed behind at the WAG hotel (she's what the veterinary behaviorists at the UC Davis vet school call a hyper-vigilant dog, so she does not do well in chaotic conditions with lots of new people running around). Wiley got tons of petting. Roxy did okay, but she was a bit confused at first. She's fifteen and doesn't see or hear so well anymore, so it took her a while to figure out the layout of the place. She still enjoyed walking on the beach, in spite of her arthritis. It's sad, though, seeing how much she's slowed down. She was a big hit with the girls, though, and they seemed to understand the need to treat her gently.

The only less than ideal thing about the place was that it lacked any good tidepooling rocks. We still managed to find some interesting marine life washed up on the beach, most notably some driftwood that was positively crawling with some kind of (I think) wood boring clams or mussels [edit--it turns out to have been Lepus aniterfera, the goose-necked barnacle], and some blue jellies (Velella velella) that have been reportedly washing up all over Pacific coast beaches lately.

Mysterious blue jellies-Velella

Lepas Anitfera, goose-neck barnacles on driftwood

I remember seeing something similar years ago when I was at the beach at the Sonoma Coast State Park in Northern California. Except those jellies were clear and colorless, not blue, and my Father dubbed them "alien condoms." Evidently, the aliens are back and partying on our beaches, and they've decided to add the excitement of color to their experience. I haven't managed to look up the mollusc species, but they were pretty impressive, as they formed writhing masses of tentacle-like things (those would be the muscular foot part of their anatomy).

The water was too cold for swimming, of course, but we got lucky with the weather, and there was a breeze that was ideal for kite flying. My niece Ava got a kite as one of her birthday gifts, so she had fun flying it.

One way I am blessed is that I get along with both sides of my husband's family, and he gets along with mine. Maybe it's because we're all crazy in a similar way or something. All in all it was a wonderful opportunity to break from our usual routine and have a change of scenery for a few days. A lot of driving, but I don't usually get up to Oregon during the Spring, so it was a treat.

Doug, Wiley and Roxy
Oh, and one unusual thing that happened to us on the way up was that Wiley got to meet another kelpie at a rest area outside of Shasta. He was thrilled. He was less thrilled by the gigantic Newfoundland he met on the beach on Saturday. Wiley has a distinct bias towards dogs close to his own size or smaller as playmates.

We're home now and have picked up a very excited Flick from the boarding kennel (where we pay extra to have the trainers work on her with socialization), and we have made up with our cats. I'm looking forward to spending the rest of spring break relaxing and catching up with my grading and work.

Sadly no requests from any agents arrived in my inbox while I was gone (no rejections either). It appears that a couple of agents I queried back in early Feb have skipped me, as (according to Querytracker) they've sent rejections and made requests from more recent submissions. I don't know what to make of this, as they're agents who generally have a high response rate (as opposed to ones where no reply means no) one way or the other. So I have the fun of deciding whether my queries to them were eaten by Spam filters or lost (so maybe I should re-query), or so horrible they didn't dignify a response, or if they're still trying to decide about them (in either of these latter cases, re-querying would be offensive). I don't think my letter and opening pages are horrific, as I got very encouraging early nibbles from a couple of agents. They turned into nos, but I was hopeful I'd get some more requests at least. Since then, though, it's been crickets.

Querying is a harrowing process, and I honestly don't know now if I should rework my query letter and opening pages, and if so, how. I wish I knew of my writing time was best spent on the sequel for UH (so a draft, at least would be ready if someone does want to rep it and it sells), or if I should just write something completely new (and essentially give up on UH and the series I hoped it would become).


  1. Sounds like a wonderful vacation. I need the beach, but it doesn't look like I'm getting there until Auguast.

    Regarding the queries, sometimes agents will go out of order and clean things out of their inboxes in chunks. I remember from query tracker seeing people who queried in some cases well after me that they had gotten responses before me. Most of the time, these agents did get around to me eventually.. I feel your pain on the letter--just be careful about pulling the trigger on revisions too soon. Especially if you've gotten some interest already. Querying is the worst, in my opinion. Hang in there, and good luck!

  2. Thanks, Jeff. It's really is a frustrating and confusing process.