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Chance Encounters

Pink Sherbet Photography

*A few years ago I’d been sitting at a really arty coffee shop waiting for a friend. It was the kind of coffee shop that had worn couches along the walls, bookshelves with new and second-hand books for sale, art supplies in one corner, and a real eclectic mix of patrons. It was one of those places that made people-watching a real treat.

So while I waited for my friend, I sort of spied on the middle-aged man at a table near me. He was a sketch artist, and the table he occupied was littered with pencils of various sized, crumpled pages, and eraser shavings. I think when I chose that table, he’d already been there a good half an hour, just drawing. The artistic mess in front of him might have been what made me choose that table, because my friend was notorious for being late. Most of the time very late.

But it was when I combined that mess with the business suit he wore that I chose a table that allowed me to watch him without him being aware of it. Not that he would have noticed, he was too engrossed in sketching the bus stop across the road along the lady waiting there.

In truth it was a really inspiring sight, this man in his business suit, sketching. Just by the look of him I could tell he probably worked as a manager or an accountant, something along those lines. It might have been his lunch hour, and he spent it doing something he loved. Something he was exceptionally good at, if what my spying had shown me was anything to go by. I had been an inspiring thing to see. Somebody with a day job still finding time to do something he loved. I’m sure had I asked him, he would have told me he’d much rather devote more time to his art, but he had a family to support and he loved them more than he did his art. He’d looked like he kind of guy who would have a wife who tried giving him as much time to devote to his passion as possible. Sometimes you could just tell these things about certain people.

My timing couldn’t have been more perfect if somebody had sent me there on purpose. A couple of student had walked into the coffee shop, and after they’d all placed their orders, gathered around a table and started talking about all kinds of random student things.

One of them, a guy I guessed could have been twenty or so, had leaned back on the two hind legs of his chair and looked at the man drawing. He’d complimented the man on his skill, and the man had accepted it graciously. The student then went on to tell the suited man how he used to draw until some personal issues got in the way. The man had asked the student if those personal issues were still in the way, and the student had said no, they weren’t. ‘Then why aren’t you doing it again if you love it so much?’ the suited man had asked him.

You have to understand, this conversation fascinated me. I’d once asked myself the same question, right before I’d started writing again. It had changed my life, that question. Why aren’t you doing it if you love it so much? Good question, right?

The student had replied that the man had made a good point, and the man had agreed. He’d said that there would always be things that get in the way of doing what you really wanted to. The trick was finding ways around it or making those things work for you. Bad things are only bad things until you decided to do something about or with them.

It had been a strangely wonderful thing to see, the light of comprehension in the student’s eyes as he assimilated what the man had said to him. He’d returned to chatting with his friends, but I’d seen the change in him. Good change, and maybe the change had gotten to me too. I like to think it had.

Fifteen minutes after the encounter, the artist had gathered his pencils and pages and placed them all inside his briefcase. Before he’d left, he’d touched the student’s shoulder and had pointed to the corner where all the art supplies were on sale, then left.

I have no idea if the student went to buy any of the supplies, but I like to think that he had.

* Please ignore my tense issues. I blame it on almost being the end of November and my brain not functioning properly. Any of the H&C ladies are welcome to correct anything they want. I take no responsibility 😛

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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, luck, Motivation, Uncategorized

 

Dream Big and Never Give Up: How I Landed a 2 Book Publishing Deal

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter’s evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.”
Woodrow Wilson

I feel like I’ve just won the lottery.  My Debut novel, Pretty Dark Nothing, is being published by Month 9 Books on April 23, 2013 with a sequel due out April 22, 2014

Am I Really Going to Be a Published Author?

*pinch*

Yes, I really am.

*pinch*

It’s been two weeks since the deal was announced in the trades and I’m still pinching myself. I can’t tell you how surreal and amazing the last few weeks have been. Like the Woodrow Wilson quote, I have nourished and protected this dream, nursed it through bad days and after 26 years of dreaming, it’s finally come true.

The dream sparked to life when I was ten. I was sitting in my 7th Grade English class. Insetad of working on my spelling assignment like I was supposed to, I spent the class writing the first chapter of my first novel. I wanted to be a real writer with a real book on a real book store shelf. I imagined the smell of the freshly printed pages, and what it would feel like to hold my book in my hands. I wanted it. I spent months working and writing in my notepad. No, you can’t read it, I’ve buried the manuscript in the middle of the desert and it’s gaurded by a three headed dingo. Yeah, it was that aweful.

The years flew by. When you’re that young, it’s hard to hold onto a dream, hard not to get distracted. Life got in the way. So did middle school bullies, hormones, boys, and surviving high school. I channelled my angst in poetry and short stories that never saw the light of day. The idea of being a published writer became overshadowed by other goals. But no matter how much I pursued other things, writing never left my soul, it haunted me, tapped me on the shoulder every now and then to remind me that was my gift and I shouldn’t waste it.

At the age of 22, I was working as a receptionist for an IT company, unhappy and lost in my life. A magazine had been left on my desk by my boss on her way into her office. Bored, I started flipping through it. I’ll never forget seeing that ad for The Institute of Children’s Literature. It spoke to me. It dared me to take a chance.  I tore out the page and decided it was time to get serious. It was the first step to get myself back on the write path, of really learning the craft, learning discipline, connecting with other writers, and developing confidence so that I could achieve the goal I had set when I was a child.

That was 14 years ago. In that time I’ve written picture books, short stories, poetry, and magazine articles. Some came close to publication, but ultimately, none found a home.  Seven years ago, I had an idea for a YA paranormal novel. Writing a full length novel scared the crap out of me. I had never ventured to write anything that long before, but they story, the characters nagged at me, urged me to write. Something clicked. I knew I had finally found my voice. The words poured from me. Euphoric. I was in love with my characters. I worked hard for two years. I wrote draft after draft, polishing and working it until I thought it shined. Then I crossed my fingers and sent it out into the world. After several rejections, an editor with one of the big six asked for the full. I could hardly contain myself. This was it. It had to be. I waited nine months for a decision only to be dissapointed when they ultimately passed.

I felt discouraged. I wanted to cry and scream in frustration. There had been days when I wanted to give up before, but this rejection hurt more than all the others put together. It took me awhile to pick myself up again. But I had a fire in my belly. I couldn’t let go of my dream. I started several other books, but none of them excited me as much as my first one. My main characters wouldn’t let me go. They nagged me, kept me up at night, told me not to give up on them. They wouldn’t be ingnored. I finally gave up and took another look at the manuscript. It had been three years since I’d read through it. I started reworking it. It had potential, but I knew it could be better. I worked harder, I tore the manuscript apart, I threw half of it out and started fresh. I spent eight months rewriting and reworking the entire manuscript. Time to cross my fingers and send it out again. I expected that rejections would come, just as they had before. And then something amazing happened.

On March 2nd 2012, all the dreaming, the rewrites, the determination paid off.  I opened my e-mail to an offer. My YA paranormal, Pretty Dark Nothing, had sold in a two book deal to the amazing Month 9 Books. I couldn’t believe it. I read the e-mail over and over, pinching myself each time. Me? A two book deal?  I felt like the luckiest girl on the planet. I thanked the ten year old me for setting that goal 26 years ago. Wow! That’s a long time to carry a dream with you. But I’m here to tell you that it can happen. If you’re willing to work at it, if you’ve got the vision, the passion, the fire in your soul to be a writer, if you can’t imagine doing anything else in the world, your dream will come true.  When you least expect it. When you feel like it’s never going to happen, just remember to pick yourself up, get back to your laptop, keep striving for your dream every single day, and don’t let anyone tell you you’ll never get there.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ~Confucious

It takes work, vision, passion, determination, persistence, and most of all, it takes patients. I look back over the years and think to myself, why now? What’s different about today than the other times I’ve submitted my work? And I can honestly say that the timing of this opportunity is perfect. I wouldn’t have been ready before. I have never felt so in sync. I love my publisher and feel like we are a perfect fit. My editor is amazing and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I am exactly where I’m meant to be.  I’m ready in a way I wouldn’t have been earlier in my life.  I’m ready for the work, I’m confident in my craft, I know how and what to sacrifice to feed my passion.

So in the words of Henry David Thoreau – ‘’Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Write on. Live the dream. Never give up.

Has writing always been your dream? How long have you carried it with you?

 

Luck of the Irish?

 

Hope you all had a wonderful and safe St. Patrick’s Day! Being that our theme this month is St. Patrick’s Day, I had to think about how I wanted to incorporate that into a post. There are so many fascinating things about Ireland and it was hard to narrow it down to just one subject. At first, I had my writing heart set on talking about the Blarney Stone and the gift of eloquence it’s said to bestow. That was my plan up until a few hours ago when I went for a walk and found a four leaf clover.

Luck. How much is luck involved in writing and how much is due to talent? It depends on who you ask. There are some people who say that it’s all a matter of who you know and the connections you make. There are others, who believe that with determination and hard work success will come and that luck plays no part. What do I believe? Depends on the day you ask me. I have days where I whine about not having a dear old friend who became a literary agent and wants to sign me immediately. But then, after my little whiner party, I shake my head and go back to work. I’d never be happy if I was signed by a friend. I have to know my work is good enough.

I read agent’s blogs like they’re going out of style. I read the craft books and try to put everything I learn into my work. I can’t afford the workshops and retreats, but I put everything I can into learning. I may go slower than others, but I’m okay with that. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not solely one or the other – luck or talent. It’s a mixture of both.

You see, I’ve figured something out. After all the blogs, articles, books and interviews with agents, publishers and editors – there’s no one sure fire way that guarantees publication. No one really knows what magical combination it’s going to take for you to see your book on the shelves. I think for each person it’s a different equation. A certain amount of luck mixed with a certain amount of talent and determination.

Keep writing. Keep reading. Keep taking classes and going to whatever retreats and workshops you can afford. Keep getting your work out there and reviewed and critiqued. It’s hard. No one said it was easy, but it’ll be worth it – if you stick to it. In the end, I think that’s one of the big factors in whether you get published or not – did you keep writing after facing all the negativity a new author endures or did you give up? Were you able to keep your head above water in the face of all the things life can throw at you? Or did you close your computer, promising to come back to it – someday.

Don’t give up. Open up that old document and blow the dust off. Only you can tell the story inside you. it may take time, but as long as you keep writing – you can get to where you want to be.

P.S.

On another note – is there anything you, as a reader or aspiring writer, would like to see a post about? Feel free to comment and let us know!

 
 

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