Monday, November 21, 2016

It's The Little Things

Writing is hard. It’s frustrating and it’s isolating. There are no guarantees that your manuscript will get published, and even if you do publish, there are no guarantees that people will buy your book.

Then there are the reviews. In order to sell your book and get visibility as an author, you need readers to review what you’ve written. But reviews are subjective and after pouring your heart and soul into something, when someone hates what you’ve written, it stings.

Pushing past all of those obstacles is tough. Trying not to let it get you down is even more difficult. Add in regular life and it can seem almost impossible to persevere.

I was just about ready to give up. Seriously. It’s been so long since I’ve felt good about anything having to do with my writing that I wanted to just stop.

And then over the past couple of months, I’ve gotten breadcrumbs of good news. An editor might be interested in one of my manuscripts. Another editor might be interested in a different manuscript, one which I thought was dead in the water.

And I finaled in a contest. Now, to clarify, I DID NOT WIN. Someone else did. Yay for them! But I was a finalist. And they didn’t let everyone be a finalist because I entered three books and only one of them finaled (that actually makes me feel better). So it’s something. Not a lot, because there are lots of contests. But in this one, I did well.

Those breadcrumbs are enough for me to keep going, for me to convince myself to persevere just a little longer. It put a smile on my face for a day.

So I’m not giving up. I’m meeting my self-set daily word counts. I’m finishing manuscripts and I’m giving them to my critique partners to tear apart so I can put them back together better, stronger and sellable. I’m hoping the publicity from the contest—because apparently it comes with publicity—will get more people to read and review my books. And every time self-doubt creeps in, I’m reminding myself that I can do this.


It’s the little things.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Aftermath

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with the election. I’m done with reading everyone’s posts on Facebook for or against the results, prophesizing doom and gloom or a new dawn. That’s not to say I don’t have my own opinions, because I do. I’m not hiding my head in the sand, I’m looking forward with realism and making sure I’m prepared. And if you’re reading this blog, I’m sure you have an inkling of where I stand. But the last thing I want is a lot of political comments on my blog. Therefore, I’m remaining silent here.

So…I am grateful for one thing that resulted from this election. It’s personal, it’s within my own insular bubble, but it’s what has gotten me through this past week (in addition to looking forward to the chocolate expo, which was yummy!) and it’s what is going to carry me through the next four years.

Kindness.

No, I’m not oblivious to the hatred that has been spewed since the election cycle has started, or has risen up on both sides since the results were tallied. I’m not naïve enough to think I, or my friends, won’t experience it personally. The kindness I’m talking about, though, is different.

It’s in the deep breath I take before responding to someone, the extra care I’m taking with my words and the smile and manners I’m trying extra hard to use when talking to people.

It’s in the defense of a teacher my daughter provided when said teacher was questioned in the classroom about her vote—and the conversation at home is created about the necessity of standing up and speaking out whenever you see unjust behavior.

It’s in the silence of normally outspoken people who realize that now might not be the best time to gloat, when emotions are still so raw.

It’s in the donations I’ve made to organizations and political groups to continue their work, and the concrete suggestions made my friends about how to help.


Hatred is easy to find. It feeds off of fear, and right now, everyone is afraid. But kindness is just as easy to find and can feed just as easily. While kindness alone isn’t enough to accomplish anything, it’s a good start.

Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Almost Here

We’re standing on the precipice of change. Tomorrow is Election Day (just in case you’ve been living under a rock—and if you have, can I join you?) and no matter who wins, life is going to be different.

From the sound of things, there may be violence and unrest and actions more suited to a non-democratic nation than ours. I hope I’m wrong.

I also hope there is a way to return to the way things were—no, I DON’T mean “Make America Great Again.” But I would like people to have hope that things will get better, a vision for a future we can be proud to leave our children and grandchildren, and understanding for our fellow human beings.

Watching this endless election season has been painful. At times it’s felt like a reality show. At other times it’s felt like the end of the world. And although it’s resulted in some interesting conversations in my house, I, like everyone else, will be glad when it’s over.

As naïve as I may seem, I’m going to hope and pray that “right” wins. That we prove to the world that we are a just nation. That we “go high” in all things.

And for those who despair, keep this in mind. The Princess* spent all weekend laundering every piece of clothing she owns because the piles and mess were causing her anxiety and she wanted to organize them so she could see what clothing she owns and what she needs.


If she can do that, anything is possible.


* Yes, for those who know, I should call her the General. But that implies she has too much power. So she's staying the Princess.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween

It’s Halloween. I used to hate the holiday. When my kids were in preschool and elementary school, I swear, the holiday lasted the entire month. Even during middle school, the stress of finding the perfect costume and making the best plans started in September and drove me nuts.

But now my kids are in high school and for the first time, neither one is doing anything. One isn’t feeling well, the other just isn’t into it this year. They requested candy but without trick or treating, it’s no different from any other day (not that I buy them candy ever). It’s one of those “lasts” that make me realize how fast this year is slipping by and how many changes there will be next year.

I tried to force it this weekend with a trip to the pumpkin patch. I played the, “But it’s your last time at home and we need to pick out pumpkins together” card, and it only semi-worked. Like I said, one wasn’t feeling well and the other wasn’t into it. I got pictures, begrudgingly, only some of which I’m allowed to post.

We didn’t carve a jack-o-lantern. Instead, my husband did this:



I actually love it, but it’s different from previous years and I’m not sure I like “different.”

However, I think I’m learning that the times I’m going to like best are the ones I don’t force. The times when one goes upstairs to bed and comes down ten minutes later for “one last hug.” The giggles at the dinner table. The conversations that occur spur-of-the-moment. The little things that I notice while being present, rather than the big things that I set up and somehow don’t go as planned.

So yeah, my kids are probably too old for Halloween. And my giving them candy is really no different than any day of the year. And my husband was more into the pumpkin than they were. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that somehow, at some point today, something is going to strike me and I’ll notice something sweet about the day.


And worst case, I’ll get the Reese’s all to myself.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Conference Corner

I just returned from a fabulous romance writers conference this weekend. Sponsored by my local RWA chapter, the Put Your Heart in a Book Conference featured workshops, networking, pitching opportunities and chocolate—what’s not to love?


For me, it was a needed jolt of energy and inspiration. I’ve been down on everything writing-related recently, and hadn’t even planned to attend. But my online writer friends were talking about it, my critique group was involved in planning for it, and a writer I admire, Virginia Kantra, mentioned coffee. So I registered.


In a “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” moment, I decided if I was going to the conference, I might as well pitch. So I chose three editors/agents I thought might be interested in my work and signed up to pitch them. And then I panicked. Luckily for me, one of my critique partners, Miriam, was in charge of the appointments. She talked me off the ledge, adjusted my appointments and even invited me to sit at the editor/agent table for lunch – a surefire way to guarantee I don’t actually eat anything.

For weeks I prepped and worried and planned and worried and worried some more.

But I’m so glad I went!

I met up with lots of writer friends, pulling me out of my introverted writer shell. Thank you, Laurie!

I attended two fabulous workshops—one by Tessa Dare on “Firsts”—first kisses, first meetings, etc.—and how to use them to improve the emotional content of your writing; and one by Robin Covington on adding intimacy to your sex scenes (insert tab A into slot B is really only good for Ikea directions). They both inspired me and I’m busy incorporating what I learned into my current manuscripts.

My pitching went well—and the editors and agents were nice people too!—and I’m planning to submit their requested materials within the next two weeks. Hopefully I’ll have good news soon.

As I’ve often said, one of the best things about these conferences is the support we all give each other. Romance writers are some of the nicest in the publishing world. We constantly look for ways to prop each other up, no matter our success level. With that in mind, if any of you are looking for some new-to-you authors, may I suggest any of these wonderful ladies who have been so supportive of me?