Friday, June 17, 2011

Camelot & Grind

Who remembers the Coffee Shop Quest? Anybody?

Awhile back I was on a quest to find my ideal coffee shop. I wanted a place where the music was either non-existent or very much in the background, where the chairs were comfy and the tables were the right height for typing on a laptop, where nobody minded if I sat for a while and where the coffee tasted of miracles.

I'm shocked to realize it's been more than a year and a half since I've quested. But that's about to change because it's time to start writing a new book.

Have I mentioned I finished my novel? I finished my novel. Speaking of miracles.

It's called Camelot & Vine. It's about a failed Hollywood actress who dreams that King Arthur comes and takes her away from it all. Unfortunately for her, he does. It's an adventure of love, time travel and second chances.

(This is not the official announcement. This is the unofficial announcement.)

So, what next? Next I send letters to agents describing my book in pithy terms. And if there's a happy ending to this tale, one or more of those agents will want desperately to represent my book to publishers, publishers will clamor to buy it, it'll get published and one of these days you'll all be reading it. This part, though, is like an actor's audition process: you audition many times, you're rejected many times, and if you keep at it you eventually get to "yes." My novel has already received two rejections from agents, so I figure I'm that much closer to "yes." (Miracles happen.)

Rather than dwell on this it's time to write something else. Which brings me back to the Coffee Shop Quest, because coffee shops are a good place (for me) to create new and miraculous material, as long as the coffee is that good.

Take a look at the Quest link. Do any of those shops need updating on the blog? What spots would you suggest I visit? I'll take you up on your ideas as I can, returning to my quest and seeking out high adventure in a new novel via the coffee shops of the San Gabriel Valley and as always, sharing my results with you.

24 comments:

Latino Heritage said...

Congrats on completion! Some agent will come to their senses!

Italo said...

What a good news Petra! Congratulations.

Bellis said...

Good luck with the agents - just keep reminding yourself how many rejections J. K. Rowling had. I like Jameson Brown, it doesn't get too crowded or noisy, but I do my writing at the Red Door Cafe at Caltech, sitting outside, with people walking past and just enough background chatter to stop my brain interrupting my thoughts.

dive said...

Boy howdy, that is a fabulous photograph!
Having just had breakfast in my ideal coffee shop I only wish I'd had your novel to read there to make the experience complete.
Good luck with the publishers. Remember, it's not a real novel until you can paper your study walls with rejection slips.
Have fun writing the new one. I can't wait to read them both.

altadenahiker said...

I needed some good news and a great photo to take my mind off the rain. As to the coffee quest -- lead on.

Petrea Burchard said...

How lucky I am to wake up to such comments. Thank you.

Roberta, I do believe you're right.

Thank you so much, Italo!

Great suggestions, Bellis. I've written about Jameson Brown (you went with me) but haven't tried it as a Quest candidate. And I haven't tried the Red Door at all. If I run into you there I won't get anything done but it will be a pleasure.

You're right, Dive, I don't have nearly enough rejections yet. Right now my wall is papered with encouraging quotes. This one from Benazir Bhutto is profound: "A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are for." Kind of off-topic, but what a great quote, huh?

Hiker, thank you. I think of you when I think of Bean Town. No. That's not quite right. I think of BT as your place. If I ran into you there and plopped down my laptop across the table from yours, I'll bet we'd both get mountains work done.

Kasey said...

I love reading your blog everyday, just so you know. I grew up in Pasadena, but have since moved away and love seeing all your photos - makes me feel like I am still connected to home in some way.

As for a coffee shop, have you checked out Intelligentsia in Old Town? It is one of my sister's favorite places, and both of us have worked at Starbucks and prefer a calmer environment.

Petrea Burchard said...

Hi Kasey, thanks for stopping by. I've been to Intelligentsia several times without my laptop. I'll put it on the Quest list and give it a try for writing. I remember last time I was there we had to ask them to turn the music down because my friend and I couldn't hear each other speak, but I'm aware those things tend to happen in coffee shops when managers are out.

Yes, and I forgot to mention that I probably won't go questing at chain coffee shops unless you know of a special case. Starbucks especially, because they're mostly too cold, and they make the environment unwelcoming. In other words, they don't encourage folks to set a spell.

Margaret said...

I've actually read Petrea's manuscript, and it's fabulous. She WILL find an agent--and a publisher, but these things take time so it's good to start writing. I'm not much of a coffee drinker and I like to write at home, so I can't help with the quest.

Virginia said...

Congratulations on that novel. Your quest for a publisher reminds me of my saying, "If you turn over enough rocks, you'll find that roly poly"! I"m still waiting for a yes or two myself.

About the coffee shops. Too bad our JB isn't closer. He can sniff out a good place no matter where he travels. :)
V

Kasey said...

Petrea - I completely agree with what you said about Starbucks. I liked working there, but I felt bad about the environment that was provided. It isn't cozy and comfortable, even though one of the mantras we tried to follow was to make the shop a "third place" where customers could come to get away from home and work. I don't think many Starbucks shops do that. Now that I don't work there anymore, I tend to go to independent shops here in Phoenix. :)

Speedway said...

Hah! You've finished it! Now comes the adventure! I love the quote, will probably steal/borrow it for one of my own photos, but it goes well with a saying a friend used in regards to our own boat, "People who buy boats are either floaters or boaters."

Lots of people keep their boats tied to the dock, cleaning it, drinking beer with their buddies, never taking it for more than a circle on their "pond," when the real adventure was in the places it could take you.

Same with your novel. You've imagined it, written it, massaged it. Now, you've had the courage to put it out there, for good or ill. It is, will be, a journey that will be more than a line on a resume.

So many people don't even try.

John Sandel said...

Wow, Speedway's on the dime.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Margaret! Speaking of fabulous manuscripts, Margaret has already found her agent and is in phase two, agent seeking publisher (unless there's news I've missed).

V, thinking of high-powered literary agents as roly-polys just brightens my day and makes this so much easier.

Kasey, I get the feeling that Phoenix's gain is Pasadena's (and Starbucks') loss.

Speedway, you are often "on the dime," as J says. I haven't tried everything I've wanted to try, and I can say in those cases I've definitely failed. The only boats I've floated have come after a few sank first.

Speedway said...

Thank you, Petrea. Does the phrase "Whatever floats your boat" have any place here? Right now, I am stabbing away at my own efforts, just trying to keep the courage of my own convictions, trying to keep the boat afloat.

Sheesh! I could use a nice bit of coffee right now -- hot, steamy, laced with sugar and caramel and whipped cream. It'd turn me into a speed boat, vibrating too much to see my path.

Speedway said...

Ok, I just can't resist. I know it's bad, but "Visualize swirled beans."

Ms M said...

Kudos on finishing your book! And best wishes in finding an agent and publisher.
Love the coffee swirl photo! I can almost smell the aroma...

Petrea Burchard said...

Speedway, it's "whirled p-" --oh.

Ms. M, none of this would have happened without those beans.

chezcherie said...

petrea, i just came up for air (deadline fassssst approaching on book#3) and saw your unofficial announcement about finishing your book! congrats, congrats! it's a big deal to reach that point, especially when your deadline is self-imposed. (that's the hardest kind, i think, because you can tweak and fiddle forever....btw, that may be my new band name--"tweak and fiddle forever"!)
best of luck with your agent search--with your platform and talent, that will happen soon. can't wait to see the book at vroman's!

Petrea Burchard said...

Cherie, thank you. You know what they say about your lips and god's ear!

Susan Campisi said...

Congrats! I'm late but I have to say how excited I am for you. What an accomplishment to finish a novel. I have no doubt in my mind that I will hold your published book in my hands one day and that it'll be a great read. I look forward to it - and the reading at Vroman's! It'll be a packed house.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm printing all this out and framing it.

Dina said...

I hope you find both soon, a publisher and a perfect coffee shop.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Dina!