The long and winding road~

The book’s the thing…

It is cold and rainy here today and I just received my very first rejection from a literary agent—how cliché is that?

I am not too concerned about it because it was in response to a “cold call” e-mail query. It was to an agent listed in one of the many “Agents, Publisher, Editors” books I have researched. To date, I have sent out three e-mail queries, two of which are friends of friends. I have not heard back from those two yet. I hope no news is good news on that front.

For those of you who don’t know—and I didn’t either before starting this process—a “query letter” is used to solicit an agent into being interested enough in your material to actually want to see it. It is not an easy thing to write and there are many “how to” books on the subject. I tend to think it is a lot like auditioning for theatre—you have to be in the right place at the right time for the right people. As with anything artistic, getting your foot in the door long enough to spark some interest in your creation is always the most difficult thing. And I am at that point at the moment—a most difficult thing!

Patience is a virtue; however, although I think of myself as a very patient person, when it comes to waiting on a response about the book—I am not at all virtuous. All I can think about is all of the things that could have gone wrong with how I sent the queries. I become very OCD when something has to be perfect. I read and re-read a letter 100 times hunting for mistakes and, if something should fail in the course of the e-mail process—well, let’s just say that I have thought about hurling my laptop over the balcony and watching it explode into a hundred pieces as it hit the ground. Currently, I am keeping my Tosca tendencies in check. (http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/history/stories/synopsis.aspx?id=25

Time to change gears and get back to our vacation in Italy…

The third day of our recent vacation to Italy was a lot like today in Alabama—cold and rainy. We took the train from an overcast Rome to a very rainy and significantly chillier Vicenza, in the Veneto region of northern Italy.

Our first debacle of the day happened when we arrived at the Vicenza train station and went looking for the Avis car rental office. I had been mistakenly under the impression that Avis was located at the train station, but when we couldn’t find it I took a chance and put my basic Italian to the test. I went into a shop in the train station and asked the salesclerk if she knew where Avis or “via milano, 88” were located. She didn’t know about Avis, but she pointed and waved and gave directions indicating that it was a considerable distance to the address I had asked for.

“Let’s grab a cab,” Richard said, and off we went. “Ciao, ciao, ciao. Mille grazie!” I had to thank her for giving us directions—even though for the life of me, I wasn’t quite sure where she was directing us or what she was saying exactly.

With the help of the cab driver, we placed our luggage in the trunk and jumped into the backseat of the taxi. I was thrilled to be out of the rain.

“Dove?”—“Where?” the driver asked.

“Via Milano, 88,” I said. He paused and looked at us suspiciously.

“Dove?” he asked again, much more emphatic than the first time.

“Via Milano, 88, per favore.” I answered again, thinking that I was being considered rude for not saying “please” the first time.

“Via Milano è qua,”  he said, pointing to the road right in front of us.

“Qua? Davvero?”—“Here? Really?” I asked.

He went on to explain that we were parked on Via Milano and that number 88 was just “là”—“there” by the bus station, across the train station’s parking lot.

This is one of the times I wished I was fluent, so I could explain to him how the salesclerk made us believe that we’d need a taxi to get to Avis and, trusting her, we climbed into his car. But alas, I’m not, so I just felt like a fool.

He offered to drive us the block or two since it was raining, but we declined and sheepishly got out of his cab, unloaded our luggage, and without tipping him, headed off across the parking lot. We should have tipped him even though he took us nowhere. I felt bad for making him get wet loading and unloading our luggage in and out of his trunk.

We arrived wet in the bus station and there was no Avis there. Ugh. We headed back out into the rain and pulled our luggage further down the street searching out our unknown destination in the rain.

Avis was only a block past the bus station and when we walked in, dripping wet, I tried to make a joke with the guys working there by saying “Nuotiamo!”—“We are swimming.” They looked up at me as if I was speaking Martian and had no clue what I meant. I need to work on my pronunciation, I think—or, find a better audience.

The drive to our agriturismo, San Michele (http://www.agrismichele.it/Default.aspx?LAN=ENG ), was simple and we were greeted by four sheep when we parked the car. Cute, huh?

Ciao e a presto~

Mark

About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

  1. Kris KendrickKris Kendrick12-02-2009

    Beautiful photograph! Fantastic story! Awaiting your next installment with baited breath…

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.