Monday, June 28, 2010

The Measure of Success

My husband and I stayed at the Dalhousie Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland last month (dream come true). I had a peek past the reception desk into the office, where a small sign was posted:

Success is not measured by the level you achieve, but the obstacles you overcame to reach it.

This reminded me of a conference I attended a couple of years ago where Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, was a speaker. His book is a fascinating study in the benefit of having obstacles to overcome. Something he said really stuck with me: "Maybe it's harder to handle success if you come from success, rather than from adversity."

These are words of encouragement to me (and perhaps to you, as well) since I had unrealistic expectations of what the path to publication would look like. I was inspired by Diana Gabaldon and Stephenie Meyer (as I have mentioned before). Both of these ladies found a fast path to success with their first books. Why should I be any different, right?


It's been a torturous uphill journey, scattered with wonderful heartfelt comments from readers and devastating rejection from agents. It hasn't been what I'd expected at all. And I've felt like giving up. Maybe you have, too.

Sure, fast success would have been great, but would it have meant as much? What about the lessons I have learned about myself (and others) on this emotional path? I am the better for it, though a bit road weary. I have the power to choose what I consider success, and so do you! Choose joy and perseverance today!

"Up, down, up, down, life's like a jump rope"- Blue October

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Itty-Bittty Scene is Famous!

You may recall that my 250-word action scene received Honorable Mention in Nathan Bransford's contest recently. I entered it into the Strong Scenes contest for June and am a finalist! Check it out:


:: does wiggling dance of joy ::

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Time to Celebrate!

No, I haven't gotten an agent (yet) and I don't have a big publishing contract to get excited about, but I figure, why wait? Today is worth celebrating and here's why (in no particular order):

1. There is blue sky right now in Seattle. I swear, it's true!
2. I have hot coffee in my mug.
3. My family loves me.
4. The book I finished last night made me tear up a little.
5. Jody Hedlund became a follower of the blog!
6. Noah's Bagels are yummy.
7. I am healthy (don't even have the sniffles!).
8. God is in control of this crazy life so I don't have to sweat it.
9. YOU are reading this post, which makes me exceedingly happy.
10. People are jogging outside my window. They're fun to watch. :)

Today's song selection is from Plus One:
"If you need love, take the time and be love. Breathe it out, create love. See how things can turn."

What's your reason to celebrate today? C'mon, you know there's at least one!

Monday, June 21, 2010

God's business vs. My business

On Sunday morning during a prayer, the pastor thanked the Lord for our church being 'about God's business' and the phrase really stuck with me. I should be a person who is about God's business, but the majority of my time and energy is about my business. It's all about me, to be honest. My book, my efforts to get published (including every social media outlet I can find), my kids, my house, my job, my relationships...

I am the center of my universe. No wonder it's so exasperating! :)

I wonder what life would look like if I were truly 'about God's business' rather than thinking that my business is so all-important. New perspectives can be powerful paradigm shifts!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ooh, pick me! Pick me!

Lorraine Holloway-White and the rest of the team over at Authors On Show have selected Between to be in the running for this month's reviewing contest! The top three authors get their books reviewed by a reviewer from a publishing house (which would be way cool) so check out the link and vote for me!

Ok, ok, you can vote for two more that you like as well, but definitely vote for me, too. ;)

Thanks to the folks over at Authors On Show for the honor of being selected for the contest! There's some good talent out there and I'm proud to be a part of it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Pity Party Playlist!

Ok, so rejection number 3,715,859 came today (give or take). So, in the spirit of a true pity party, here are some songs that came to mind (and some I found while surfing the web).

All That Could Have Been- Nine Inch Nails
Broken Dream- Justin Hayward
Cry Me A River- Crystal Gayle
Crying- Roy Orbison
Heartbreak Town- Dixie Chicks
Hello, Mr. Heartache- Dixie Chicks
I Can't Cry Hard Enough- Paul Williams
I Can't Make You Love Me- Bonnie Raitt
I Gotta Get Drunk- Willie Nelson
I'm Not Okay- My Chemical Romance
I'm On The Outside Looking In- Little Anthony
Is That All There Is?- Peggy Lee
It's My Party (and I'll Cry If I Want To)- Leslie Gore
It's The End of the World As We Know It- R.E.M.
Let the Sad Times Roll On- Buck Owens
Misery and Gin- Merle Haggard
Not Goin' Cry- Mary J. Blige
So Much For My Happy Ending- Avril Lavigne
Sounds of Silence- Simon & Garfunkel
Teardrops On My Guitar- Taylor Swift
There's a Tear in My Beer- Hank Williams
Too Much Time On My Hands- Styx
What Hurts the Most- Rascal Flatts
What's Going On- Marvin Gaye

Ok, enough whining and moping about! I WILL find the agent who loves my book and it WILL get published!

So here's my new theme song! Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

That's right: "I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down!"

Ah, much better :)

Feel free to add your own songs to the play list, my friends!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Totally Unrelated- Celebrity Sighting!

I went for a walk today and guess who I saw? Bill Gates! I was pretty excited, since I have never had a celebrity sighting before (if you don't count local news anchors).

Tell me about your celebrity sightings! Whom did you see and when? Let's live vicariously and have a little fun!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Are You a Monogamous Reader?

I don't know about you, but I have my nose in a number of books at any given time. Right now, I'm reading Judith McNaught's Whitney, My Love (which is pretty good), but I also have a couple of books at work on my shelf in case I forget to bring one from home. I am also partway through Memoirs of a Highland Lady by Elizabeth Grant (a book I bought in Scotland). And we can't forget the constant critiquing of books on Authonomy. Whew!

I guess it just depends on my mood, so I don't commit myself fully to one book at a time. Of course, sometimes a book is so amazing that I foresake all else until it's finished (including sleep- ha!).

What about you? Are you a monogamous reader, or do you have lots of books in play at once?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Atttributes of a Leading Man

I received a comment from Alex Riley on Authonomy (who is a great writer, BTW) and she mentioned her amusement at the Americanized romanticism of Scottish men because of Lindsey's reaction to Aiden's accent and kilt in Between.

It got me to thinking about the attributes that we find attractive in leading men. Sure, handsome is a given, but what about beyond that? I, in particular, have a thing for Scottish men (thanks to Diana Gabaldon). I could listen to a Scottish man talk all day; I adore the accent.

What do you like in a leading man? Is there anything in particular that really works for you?

(Side note: this is a topic at the upcoming RWA conference, too!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gold star for NEB

My four year-old son left his computer game to run over and get my attention. "Mom, I wrote my name on the 'pewter. Come see!" he said, his face lit up with excitement. And sure enough, on the screen were the letters "NEB". Trouble is, his name's not NEB, as I am not a horribly cruel mother. ;)

He was so proud of his accomplishment; I didn't want to burst his bubble with the truth. So I paused a moment before saying anything, and it was in those few breaths that I realized he truly had accomplished something. He'd chosen the correct letters and ONLY the correct letters of his name. He'd simply put them in the wrong order.

It got me to thinking about the first draft of Between, and how it compares to the manuscript today. Writing a book was an accomplishment, to be sure, and I was puffed up just like Ben when I finished it. Look what I'd done! So I ran out to agents to tell them the good news and over time, the message sunk in that maybe I needed to take another look, to refine, to reorganize the letters, if you will.

Ben was a little deflated when I pointed out his error (in the most loving way possible), but he made his changes with determination, confident he was going to get it right. And so have I. I'm still puffed up about the book and I know it'll get picked up at some point. But just like Ben, I had to learn that even though it might not be perfect the first time around, keep trying and eventually, the letters will line up just like they should.

Thanks, NEB. Mommy loves you.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Honorable mention in Nathan Bransford's contest!

Blogging agent extraordinaire Nathan Bransford hosted a writing contest this week. He challenged us to write a chase/action/suspense scene (500 words or less). He received over 300 entries! I told ya he's a popular guy. ;)

The prize was a critique of a partial (which would be fab), so I wanted in. Problem is, I write love stories, not action. In fact, I don't even read action or suspense, so I was starting out at a disadvantage. But hey, I wasn't going to win, so what harm was there in trying, right?

So I hammered out a scene over my lunch break and posted it. I was surprised at how good it turned out (in my humble opinion).

Results day today and voila! Nathan has chosen 5 finalists and 5 honorable mentions. Yours truly was in the honorable mention category! Woo Hoo! Happy dance of joy! :)

Click on the Cyndi Tefft link in his blog to see my entry! And thanks, Nathan, for the vote of confidence. I am so glad you liked it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Caught in a bad romance

I watched last week's episode of Glee last night, and the theme was Lady Gaga. They did a rendition of her pop song, "Bad Romance" and it got me to thinking about what makes a bad romance book.

I love romance novels, chick-lit novels, any book where romance and love play a central role. But I get weary of the formulaic approach of 'boy and girl hate each other but are hot for each other' that you often find in romance novels. I don't find that romantic at all, to be honest, though some books pull it off better than others. I also don't like books where the leading man is a total neaderthal. And why is it that in romance novels the hero can be a 'rake' while the heroine is almost always virginal? The books I love the most bring romance in a fresh way and focus on the love, not the fighting.

What about you? What characteristics do you think take a book into the 'bad romance' category?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Deciding what's important

I've come across a few inspiring quotes from agents recently about doing what you love.

Rachelle Gardner with WordServe tells us we have to believe in ourselves and reminds us of God's greater purpose. It was just what I needed to hear today. "Believe you've been given this passion for a reason. Understand that you have to work to bring it to fruition - but you've also been given the energy and enthusiasm and time you need to make it happen. I believe it for you. I believe it for every single one of my clients. But you've got to believe it too. God gave you something powerful - a story or a message, and the desire to share it. God is not in the business of tricking people, or of squandering anything - not talent, not passion, not time. Pursue your God-given passions with an unwavering faith. Praise and bless the obstacles. And keep believing."

Jim McCarthy with Dystel & Goderich has these words of wisdom for the writer, which I thought particularly poignant. "If you think you can give up writing, then give it up. If you can't ... if you know that no matter how much stress or rejection or frustration you face, that you can never stop writing? In that case, never give up. Publishing is too hard to face if you aren't in it for the right reasons. But it's not too hard to break into if it's what you need to do."

Finally, Nathan Bransford with Curtis Brown has a Top 10 List that showcases his fantastic sense of humor but drives the point home. "Keep writing. Didn't find an agent? Keep writing. Book didn't sell? Keep writing. Book sold? Keep writing. OMG an asteroid is going to crash into Earth and enshroud the planet in ten feet of ash? Keep writing. People will need something to read in the resulting permanent winter."

Thanks to these and other agents who take time to remind us about what's important. Do you have some words of inspiration to share? I invite you to do so in the comments section!