Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lesson Learned

Moving on with my story . . .

I had one completed manuscript. At the time, it was entitled Sanguinity. I know, awful. I later changed it to Sierra and that is what it is to this day. It will always be my favorite story because it was my first. I love the hero, I love the heroine, and I love the setting. My sister once told me—after reading Sierra—that she couldn’t stop having dreams about being stuck in a snow bound cabin with a handsome hero.

I know.

Anyway, what next? Now, at this point, publication has, of course, entered my mind. But that’s not the path I take. I still hadn’t done any research on how to get published. Regardless, I decide to move forward and write another book. Won’t I be more marketable if I have two books to publish, rather than one? Of course. So, I set off writing my next novel. It had also been in my head for many years. It’s now called Joshua’s Folly. It never had another name. What do I do? I write another monstrosity. Yep, all 165,000 words worth. I eagerly send it out to family.

Now, just because family and close friends like your writing does not exactly mean that it is good. They love it because they love you. It just so happens that I have very honest family and friends! They give it to me straight. While it hurts, it also makes you really think about your writing. It makes you learn to revise and edit—a very necessary skill.

For Joshua’s Folly, the reviews are mixed. Some people like it, some people don’t. They read all of it, they are hooked on it, and it evokes great emotion in them, but, in the end, not everyone loves it. And I’m devastated.

However, it turns out to be the FAVORITE of my mother and of one of my daughters. This encourages me and I learn a great lesson. Not everyone will like every book. And that’s okay. Some plots appeal to some, and not to others. But the fact that two people who are very close to me LOVE it, makes it all okay and I am happy.

Lesson learned.

Image: basketman /

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day Job

“Don’t quit your day job?”

Ever hear that snarky little comment? If you write, you’ve heard it.

Now let’s get one thing straight—I am very lucky to have a husband who supports our family. I don’t have to work. But, I do want to help pay off all of our college debts, therefore, once my children moved on with life, I knew I wanted to do something to help. I began to write. As I write this now, I’ve been writing, seriously, for six years.

And I haven’t earned one single dime as of yet.

Luckily, I have a husband who believes in me and has faith in me. He believes my books will sell one day. The thing is, I’m lucky in that I don’t have to earn a living with writing like most people do. I do have a goal in mind. (need I say it again, college debts) Therefore, I have a lot invested in this. I’ve spent a lot of time with the hope that one day my work will pay off. This remains to be seen. I know many writers must hold down a ‘day job’ while working on their manuscripts during their ‘spare’ time. I feel for you. And I am in awe of you. Not sure I could handle that.

In the meantime, my day job is writing . . . and hoping.

But, mostly, sheer hard work.

Image: Stuart Miles /

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


In spite of my first story’s rather raw state, my family and friends said they loved it, that they couldn’t put it down. I was ecstatic. Who wouldn’t be? However, that encouragement was exactly what I needed. Would I have continued to write if they had told me I sucked? Probably not. Definitely not.

At least not with publication in mind.

The bug had hit me. Now I had a need to write. It was like a sickness. I wasn’t happy if I didn’t sit at my computer and put my thoughts into words for the day. Now I was that person, the one who says, ‘I’m writing a book,’ and everyone nods their heads at you and their eyes glaze over with boredom.

Of course, I kept my new obsession to myself. The fact that I was writing books now became a carefully guarded secret, something I dare not tell anyone, else the glazed look would ensue and I would feel silly. I could hear their thoughts. I was sure of it.


Wasting time.

Has too much time on her hands.

Doesn’t have to work.

She’s just playing around.

It will never go anywhere.

Get serious!

Oh brother.

This is what I imagined people would say. But no one did. As a matter of fact, when I shared my dirty little secret, people said, “Good for you,” “Let me know when I can read it,” or “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

Me too. And I will always do this. Even if my books aren’t successful. Even if no one ends up liking them. Because I like them. I enjoy writing them. And if I happen to earn a little money in the process . . . yeah! It will be a huge bonus.

But, what if other people do like them? What if I do earn a little money to help pay off all those darn college loans? Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Oh yes, it would. So I kept writing, indulging my new obsession.

And I was hooked.

Image: Naypong /

Friday, March 23, 2012


My first novel.

It was already written in my head. I sat down at my computer and began to type away. It flowed onto the paper with seemingly little effort, (I’ve since realized that it feels that way only because I love to write, not because it’s effortless). I didn’t even use proper formatting, I just went to town. My husband and children read bits and pieces of my story, and encouraged me to continue. They said it was riveting, and I didn’t need any more encouragement than that. As a matter of fact, my husband kept telling me to keep going, that a longer story is good, (I had NOT done my research on word count. Actually, I hadn’t done any research at all). Before I knew it, I had a 165,000 word monstrosity on my hands. I had no idea that, at that word count, my story was completely unpublishable. More on word count later, as the story unfolds.

So, now I have this monster manuscript. A completely unformatted and unedited manuscript. And I’m so proud of it, what do I do? I make copies and let my family and a few friends read it, sure that’s it’s beyond amazing.

I’ll never forget the moment when I let my sister read my first manuscript. Hardly anyone had read it at this point. (Sierra) She faced me with her hands on her hips and said, “I want to read your novel.” I finally relented, feeling like I was letting someone read my diary. It was soooo personal. It was the night before my daughter’s wedding and my sister was staying at our house. She sat down at the backyard table and began to read. She was hooked, she said. She couldn’t put it down, she said.

Oh my. As an author, there is absolutely nothing better to hear than that. She stayed up ALL NIGHT to read my book. And she finished it too. I even asked her what her favorite part was, and she told me the exact line. The exact line!

We all need people like this in our lives--people who encourage us.

It was an amazing moment for me. It encouraged me to keep writing. Little did I know that I had a very long way to go.


Image: digitalart /

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Dilemma

The year was 2006 and my third daughter had just graduated from high school. My oldest two daughters had already left the nest. My youngest son was busy with work, track, and school. I was faced with a dilemma. After years of feeling overwhelmingly busy, my life was suddenly leaving me. My children were moving on with their lives, in the natural order of things, of course. But where did that leave me? Quite without a purpose—or so it felt. (I’ve since come to learn that our children still need us after they leave the nest, sometimes even more so than when they lived at home). At any rate, college expenses were stacking up and I began to wonder what I could do to help contribute to the family finances. I had always considered writing children’s books. I had a few of those floating around my mind too, (and have since written them). I was used to being home and the idea of being able to work from home greatly appealed. But then I thought about the hastily written ten-page document sitting in my files. That story was still in my head. Could I write it down? I wasn’t sure. But, I thought, why not give it a try? To be honest, at this point the idea of actually trying to be published didn’t enter my head. I just wanted to write my story.

As it turns out, writing down the stories in my head proves to be therapeutic. Once I write them, it’s as if I am expunged of the adventure and my mind can’t think about it any longer. Seriously. Once they’re written, I’m done thinking about them.

I’m free.


Image: digitalart /

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Attempts at creativity

I have four children. The first two are fourteen months apart. Number two and number three are fifteen months apart. There are three years between number three and the baby. Those were demanding, but happy, years. Thus, there were only two occasions when I sat down and actually tried to write.

I couldn’t stand it anymore. It was as if the story was bursting out of me and I had to write what was in my head. Both times the attempt took place on paper in longhand. It was long before computers were a commonplace item in every household, as they are now. (that ages me) I saved these papers and still have them today. They’re awful. But, the stories that were raging inside of me were essentially outlined in those hastily written scribbles—the basic plot anyway. And those stories are still, in essence, the same today.

My first attempt was only one page. My children were very young and the demands of motherhood were calling, interrupting the creative process. Hence, I put it away, laughing at myself for even thinking about writing. I haven’t written this particular story yet, but it’s next on the agenda. The next attempt was about three years later. This time I wrote about ten pages, and again, there were more important demands on my time and I put it away. This particular story is now written. It was my first novel and when I finally let people read it, I was the most surprised of anyone when they actually liked it.

Go figure.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pleasant Surprise

I’ve always had stories floating around in my mind. They’ve been there since childhood, since my earliest memories. A thought would come to me and I would begin to expound upon it in my imagination. Only when I was imagining, I was thinking the story through as if I was writing it down, word for word. I wasn’t just fantasizing. I was writing in my head. All. The. Time. Being a stay-at-home mom, I had lots of time to think about these stories. Housework and the day-to-day grind is often mind-numbing, but my stories kept my mind active and alive. I entertained myself with my own imagination on a daily basis and often lived in my own little world.

By the time I finally sat down at the computer to write for the first time, the story was already written in my head. All I had to do was type away, while feeling relieved that my story was finally committed to paper before it became lost in my memory banks, (well, I exaggerate a bit, the story was written in my head, but it still took a lot of work to get it on paper).

I’ve heard it said that anyone can write if they will dedicate themselves to the task. I believe this is true. I’ve also heard it said that everyone has at least one great novel inside of them. I believe this is true too. It makes me look at people and wonder what their novel would be about. An intriguing thought. However, not everyone enjoys sitting at the computer day after day, writing. Some people have said to me that it would be drudgery as far as they are concerned. I LOVE it. I can sit at the computer twelve hours a day, writing my stories and be perfectly happy. I didn’t know this about myself before I started writing.

It was a pleasant surprise.

Image: Craftyjoe /

Monday, March 19, 2012

Birth Day

It’s an interesting thing to grow up being told you’re a miracle. It makes you feel special. Every family get-together I ever attended as a child included the story of my birth. Most commonly, I heard the story from my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandmother, but a few of my aunts often related the events of the day also. I was born pre-mature with a condition called Hyaline Membrane Disease, a syndrome wherein the lungs are not fully developed. Instead of a healthy newborn pink, I was more like a smurf, a nice little shade of blue. The doctor entered my mother’s room that evening with the news that I would not make it through the night. I was the firstborn and this news was devastating to my parents.

But, in case you’re wondering, I survived.

“She’s a fighter,” the doctor told my mom. “She wants to live.”

As you can imagine, hearing this about yourself over the years has its effect upon you. When the going gets tough, I tell myself I’m a fighter and that I wanted, even fought, to live. It has always given me strength. (yes, I use this story in one of my novels) I have no ill effects from my newborn ails, however, because of the lack of oxygen to my brain when I was born, the doctor told my mother that I might be a little slow at math.

This, unfortunately, proved to be true. Math sucks.

But, English . . . ah, English. I loved it. Even the grammar. I remember being sad when I had to turn in my HS sophomore grammar workbook. I wished I could keep it. Not sure what I would have done with it, perhaps studied it for entertainment. One thing is for sure, I would’ve treasured it. Maybe I would’ve slept with it under my pillow. Who knows? (Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m good at grammar, just that I was one of those weird kids who found it fascinating).

My mother owned and operated a ballet school while I was growing up. I would watch her show me the steps, and much like A Chorus Line, I would think to myself, “I can do that.” And I would.

The same concepts apply to novel writing. An I can do that attitude goes a long way in the publishing field. And you need to be a fighter if you’re going to succeed.

I’m a fighter. At least, I’ve been told that all my life by the people who love me.

It must be true.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /