Moving Forward

I’ve battled one major problem since deciding (now four years ago) to write my novel.  Am I good enough?  Is IT good enough?  I walk the fine line every day of self-righteous confidence, and face-palming “what the hell am I thinking?”  I became educated about what agents/editors/publishers want (not that it helps you write it that way) and attended conferences and hacked over every word and sentence and scene to try bringing it up to snuff.  I’ve pitched agents.  I’ve queried agents.  I’ve gotten requests.  I’ve gotten rejections.  The stupid thing is I never should have been pitching or querying in the first place.  I was ready.  But INTO THE MYSTIC was not.

I’ll be honest, I’m wiping away tears and snot right now as I type.  Pulling up your big-girl panties and knowing it’s time to move on is NOT EASY.  But just like having your first child and fumbling through parenthood, I’ve learned a lot along the way.  In the back of my head was the simple fact that ITM was my first attempt at writing a novel.  In other words, writing practice.  It’s a great story, I’m not gonna lie.  Many of you have read it.  But for the love of God I’ve edited and rewritten so damn much that I’m almost lost in my own story now.  Four years, it’s been in my head.  Four YEARS I’ve been chasing perfection, which I thought was attainable.

So I decided to self-publish.  It doesn’t follow “the rules.”  It doesn’t fit into a specific genre.  It does its own thing.  That means its PERFECT for self-pubbing.  Read: I want it in your hands so I’ll give it to you as it is instead of how it should be.  So.  I’m not self-publishing it.  I told you, I’ve turned it so sideways (not even upside down – I think I could FIX upside down.) that I’m lost in it.  I can’t give it to you, or anyone else like that.

It’s my baby, and I feared this day would come.  The day I decided to “give up” on it.  That sounds wrong, doesn’t it?  ITM will always be there, and maybe when grad school is complete I can start a true rewrite and see where it goes.  But for now, I’m thankful for what ITM has taught me: It showed me what I’m capable of, which is far more than I ever imagined.  It gave me an outlet, and a place to find my voice (one of them).  It showed me what a bitch editing is, and always will be.  And it’s definitely teaching me humility at this very moment.  It brought me to conferences, which led me to an amazing group of writers that call me friend and partner, and I promise you, if and when I get published it will ONLY be because of their help and holy awesomeness.

So I’m smiling now because I closed my files on INTO THE MYSTIC and reopened the new project I started in January.  It’s a futuristic, young adult, dark thriller and I can’t wait to stretch my limbs to get this new voice and story on the page.  I’m excited to be moving FORWARD.  You know that feeling you get when you start reading a new book and every cell in your body is bouncing with anticipation?  I get that feeling from a blank page.

Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward. ~ Victor Kiam

Elvira and Sunkist

Did you know the “gift” for your 44th anniversary is groceries?  Yep, right between 43rd: trips, and 45th: sapphire.  Today is our tenth anniversary, and let’s just say I don’t think I’ll be receiving diamond jewelry, and that’s ok.  I’ve lived a lifetime of daily diamonds alongside the person who has been my friend every day, as far back as preschool.  So, I’m going to share some of our stories – don’t worry, not the lovey dovey stuff – the kind of stories you can only get by sharing your ENTIRE lifetime together.

Elvira and Sunkist – conjure any memories for you?  For us, it takes us back to “The Farm Country Club” – for you out-of-towners, it’s not exactly a farm, but not exactly a country club either.  But it is where our families took us as kids to swim, play pool, shuffle board, and ping pong, listen to the jukebox, and create lasting memories.  One time he showed me a trick in the pool where he floated on top of a beach ball, and he would make it pop out his “dookie.”  I showed my mom the same trick, got a raised eyebrow when I said “dookie,” but messed up the trick and the ball popped out my side, so I recovered by saying, “Yeah, my stomach!” Elvira was a favorite on the jukebox, and Sunkist was our drink of choice.  To this day we can’t hear Elvira or taste Sunkist without instantly being transported to those days.  Flash forward to our wedding, also held at The Farm, and my hubs-to-be threatened to change the wedding march to Elvira.  I was mortified at the thought, but I think it actually would have been hilariously perfect!

Noah’s Arc – this was our preschool.  I couldn’t tell you what I wore for Halloween, but he was Batman.  One of our teachers was Mrs. Apple.  I cried one time because I didn’t get to stand in line next to the other boy I liked.  He tried to point out, “It’s ok, you can stand by me.”  Apparently that wasn’t what I wanted to hear, because I cried harder. (Sorry, babe, but I came around!)  Our girls both later  attended Noah’s Arc, so now it’s a family tradition.  We’re alumni.

The Shop – my parents’ business, where we both spent a lot of time, because he lived right down the road.  I remember eating popsicles while twirling in the tall front desk chairs, until his crashed to the ground.  I remember walking to his house to visit, and as the story goes, I tripped and fell into a mud puddle.  He cracked up until realizing I was crying, and then he started crying, too.  I remember another visit when he showed me his collection of Michael Jackson tapes.  I remember walking behind The Shop, behind my grandma’s house, to the creek, and wondering if he might ever wander down to the creek as well.

The Playground – he’ll kill me for this one.  We had two large playground forts, and for some reason we had boys days and girls days on each.  One ill-fated boys’ day on the big equipment, my sweet skinny toe-head in a red tank top and black and red bike shorts (oh yeah, bike shorts.) decided to show off (he claims) for me – and ended up…there’s no easy way to put this.  He racked himself on the gymnastics bar.  I remember when it happened and I remember when he returned to class and was obviously in pain.  The good news is, we have two beautiful girls, so no permanent harm done!

The Bus – we always rode the same bus after school.  Even when he moved from the house that was right down the road from The Shop, the bus route changed to include his new house.  Weird, huh… Many memories were made on that bus, but mostly it was two young elementary kids watching older “cool” kids.  Sometimes we would sit together, and I remember one time a bump in the road made him bang his head against the window, and because I laughed, he repeated it on purpose over and over again.  I kind-of feel bad about that.

The Adams Family – 7th grade.  We were “going together,” which is what our generation called being an actual couple.  His mom took us, along with another couple who was “going together” to see The Adams Family movie.  This is classic.  I don’t even know if I spoke to him, because when you’re actually “going together,” forming words directed at the other person is next to impossible.  We girls got some seats, and the boys got refreshments.  My dashing young boyfriend returned, tripped in the aisle, and threw popcorn all over me!  I had grease stains all over my sweet new jacket with The Shop’s logo embroidered on it.  I love this story.

Baseball Days – he was a Sophomore on Varsity, and I was one of the managers.  This basically means I had the good fortune to ride the bus and stare at all the cute baseball players.  He had his license already, so before every game we would go drive around town and get convenient store candy to bring on the bus.  Usually, Big Red and Peach Rings.  (Another instant trigger memory.)   The other boys on the team used to rearrange the Velcro letters of his name on his jersey to make a…uh, new name.  (I’ll just say, swap the D and the P….) It’s still funny, even now that it’s my name, too!

Prom – Junior year.  We didn’t actually go to Prom together, but we were both class officers and had to take practice pictures to test out a photographer.  Pretty sure we got Big Red and Peach Rings on this trip, too.  We got all dressed up – fancy dress and tuxedo, the works.  So we now have a keepsake – us, arranged in the typical high school prom pose, standing on lovely astroturf flooring, flanked by two white columns laced with red roses.  It looks believable!

The Necklace and The Note – our moms knew even back then.  I worked with his mom my senior year of high school, and one day she brought me a folded piece of notebook paper.  Scribbled on the top was a 4 year old’s “cursive,” and drawn below it was a heart with our names in it.  She had kept it since we were in preschool, and she told me, pointing to the loops, “I think that says, ‘I love you.'”  We were far from dating at that point, so it was funny that she decided to show me.  I got home and told my mom, and she went to her jewelry box and got a necklace made of metal shell-shaped balls that had a faded gold coating.  I remembered it, vaguely.  He had given it to me in preschool and my mom had kept it after all those years.  At our wedding, my aunt used these items, along with our 4 year old class picture, with us standing next to each other, in a shadow-box type arrangement.  It was a hit with all the guests.

Ok, it might get a little lovey dovey now, sorry.

The Hug – March 10, 2000.  He threw a party at his family ranch.  At one point we hugged and neither of us let go.  We knew.  And so did everyone else, who noticed “the hug.”  After all the guests left, we stayed up until 4:00 am, talking about all of these memories from our unique past.  The following day I skipped out on flying to Colorado for my family’s spring break ski trip, and spent the week at home instead.  (That wasn’t easy to ask my parents!)

The Proposal – December 15, 2001.  We booked a weekend at the Adam’s Mark hotel in San Antonio to celebrate my college graduation.  His mother had given him the diamonds of her wedding ring from when she was married to his father, and he had them made into a wedding ring set for me.  I think his plan was to propose at dinner, but he was too anxious and woke up early in the morning, and told me he wanted to wake up next to me every day.  He asked me to marry him, and I said yes.

The Big Day – June 29, 2002.  We returned to The Farm and were married on the shuffle board slab.  If rain on your wedding day is good luck, then we have proved the exponential power of the flood we received.  We are beyond blessed.

I think we’ll celebrate today with some Sunkist and introduce our girls to a new song…

Slow and Steady Wins the Race?

I adore running.  When the planets align, and I get a chance to run, EVERYTHING is better – my mood, my energy level, my emotions, my attention to my family or work.  I’m somewhat overjoyed right now because I may have found a rhythm that will allow me to fit in running this summer, but I’ll be honest: there’s a point where it totally sucks.  Usually, the first mile, because whether I’m running two miles or four, absolutely no part of that first mile is the “homestretch.”

I find myself repeating, “slow and steady wins the race” just to keep me going – to push through and reach the euphoria that comes in the later miles.  Then I laugh, because, in fact…slow and steady won’t win.  But it’ll finish.  And sometimes it’s not about winning, it’s about finishing.

This morning, I realized “slow and steady” is more than just my mantra to keep me physically moving.  When I looked at my MacBook, my heartbeat picked up with excitement of what to tackle first: continue revisions (ugh), get down the ideas from overnight on my next possible project (shrug), or post a blog (about what ?).  And the excitement turned to mmmwell, the first mile.

Yes, still – the first mile, even on my manuscript that has been finished for almost a year.  I’m nowhere near the homestretch, but that doesn’t mean I want to stop and give up.  I’ve made up my mind that this is something I’m committed to, just like when I lace up my running shoes and decide my mileage goal for the day.  And part of it sucks.  But a bigger part of it won’t.  The part where I finish and look back, proud that I kept going, slow and steady.

My Father’s Day Love List

Following my  Mother’s Day Love List, it’s time to brag about my dad.  Here is a list of some – just some – of the things my dad has given me.

1.  My tree-trunk legs.

2.  Tickle Monster hysteria.

3.  Possibly my coffee addiction. (adult-onset, of course)

4.  A lighthouse, standing on the bluff overlooking the river when my cousin and I thought we could navigate it straight back to our Granny’s house, but instead ended up lost for hours in Tarpley, Texas.  When we finally saw my dad up there, the worry on his face, we realized how lost we were, and how thankful we were that we’d been found. (This should have been on my mom’s list, too – she was stopping cars on the highway checking campers and trunks of cars for us, sure we’d been kidnapped.)

5.  An audience at every game, ceremony, meet, and competition.

6.  A sounding board during college.

7.  The heavy lifting moving crew during college.  (I.  Moved.  Every.  Single.  Year.)

8.  A walk down the isle – ten years ago this month.

9.  He showed me, rather than just told me, how to work for something.  For anything.

10.  My education, and the pride in his eyes when I graduated.

11.  Pointing out all those times I did things “the hard way,” but still letting me figure it out on my own.

12.  My laugh.

13.  An unspoken appreciation and understanding of how, as a struggling student in school, he had to work three times as hard to build the business he has today.

14.  A man-made gurney/crutch/wheelchair on skis when I broke my leg and he had to ski down the rest of the mountain in a careful wedge with me one-leg skiing between his legs.

15.  My athletic instinct.  (I’m laughing when I type this, because my high school sports days are long gone, but having recently taken up soccer, I realize I still have that instinct, and I now have some lasting scars to prove it!)

16.  The understanding of the power in walking away from a fight.

17.  Tickle Monster hysteria for my girls.

18.  Plenty of loans, dinners out, and shopping trips (via Mom) just because.

19.  Understanding of others – never giving reason to judge based on differences.

20.  The example of who a husband and father should be, and the approval of the man I chose to be those things for me.

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” ~ Clarence Budington Kelland

I’ve always been a daddy’s girl, it’s no secret.  This is a man who has been the proverbial rock during my entire existence.  My mom wrote in my baby book that on the day I was born, he whispered to me, “I need you.”

Love you, Dad.

The 1%

This past weekend I spent at the DFW Writers Conference, which is still providing me with a wonderful high, was a game changer for me.  It was like the   “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like me” of the writing biz.  And I found out that it takes former veterinarian turned best selling author, James Rollins, only 30 seconds to neuter a cat. The man’s got mad skills.

I got to meet several of the agents I’ve stalked – I mean admired – since I started writing.  In the same room, at the same table, chatting it up.  I endured an hour and a half of zombie evacuation plans at the table of one super star agent, hoping for my turn to improv pitch.  She was interested, and asked if I had the chops to write it.  That will stay with me forever.

I had a sweet little old lady stop me by name, and thank me for what I said about her query.  I had no idea what she was talking about, until she mentioned my comments on the Gong Show.*  She apparently confused me with one of the super star agents.  Same name, both short, with short brown hair.  I should have used that to some advantage, maybe a segue into a pitch, but I feared that might be right up there with the   “don’t pitch in the bathroom” advice.   “Don’t tell the agent you’re twinsies and then bug her about your novel.”

I networked like a boss, too.  Well, it was networking in the beginning.  I wanted to meet people, and I wanted them to remember me, but after a tweet n’ greet Friday night, the idea of   “networking” was out the window.   In actuality, the ballroom full of strangers suddenly became the best pitch practicers, tension reducers, cheerleaders, class buddies and weekend BFFs that I now miss like crazy.  Their websites are linked —-> on the right, so please “meet” them!  Oh, and one of them shares my very unique last name.

Also, but most importantly (and it’s a tall order to pick the most important) is something I hope we #DFWCON peeps and writers everywhere keep in mind.  All of us have experienced the conversation that goes like this:

Me:  I wrote a book.

Them (option one):  Wow, I could never do that.

or Them (option two):  Oh yeah, I started a book…

or Them (option three):  I’ve always wanted to write a book…

A stat was given that 1% – ONE PERCENT – of all of the people that start a book…actually finish it.  ONE PERCENT.  I couldn’t believe that.  I feel like I’m in a very exclusive club.  That sounds boastful, I know, but you know what?  I just met some of those ONE PERCENTers and they all deserve to brag – that’s a club with some pretty frickin’ fabulous people.  You know who you are!

On the business end, I have too much to consider about traditional publishing (pipe dream) vs. self-publishing (everybody’s doin’ it), but for now I am going to keep polishing my work with the help of some GREAT gals that let me into their critique group, and see what happens after I send off to the super star agents.  Feel free to cross fingers, pray, do a rain dance, and chant out loud to send good vibes.

Somethin’ tells me I’m into somthin’ good” keeps fluttering in my head since this weekend.  And I think it’s right.

*Gong Show – learn more here from Roni Loren

Shout Your Blessings!

I could ramble endlessly about the amazing weekend I spent at the DFW Writer’s Conference, and maybe eventually, I will, but…

I met two men on my flights – random passengers, not writers.  Their stories are on my mind this morning.

I sat next to the first gentleman on the way to Dallas, and he opened conversation by offering drink vouchers.  (Yesss!)  Over Cape Cods we talked and passed the 44 minute flight laughing and appreciating each other’s lives that were very different from the other’s.

The second gentleman sat next to me on the way home, and cracked jokes and struck up conversation.  We realized he lived very close to my hometown.  Our daughters shared the same name.  He told me my father-in-law’s business was at his house last week fixing something and we laughed about it being such a small world.

Both had heartbreaking stories, however, that they have embraced in a BEAUTIFUL way.

The first had been married to his wife for 9 years, and had been with her for 13 years before that.  5 years ago, she had a misdiagnosed sinus infection that was actually shingles. It spread to her brain, she was in a coma, and was not expected to live.  Miraculously, she pulled through, although with brain damage.   “I  am so blessed,” he told me.   “People look at me like I’m crazy when I say that.”  But he knows that not only did she beat the odds by surviving, but she recognizes him – she knows him.  He still has her.  He is blessed.

The second has three children, the oldest of which (9 years old) has a heart condition that I couldn’t remember or pronounce if I tried.  I think it is more serious than he let on, but in a nutshell, they monitor him closely, he gets tired very easily and he is extremely self conscious about it.  It is self-limiting, though, so he knows when he needs to slow down and take a breather.  They have taught him tricks, like stopping to bend down to “tie his shoes” when he’s running around and needs a break.  That way no one realizes he’s winded – I love it!  It’s now such a habit for him that he does it even when his school uniform requires non-laced shoes! They started a foundation to raise awareness – he didn’t give me a card or tell me the name, but I saw it on his shirt (which I forgot) and I’m trying to find it so I can post it…  He said,   “I can’t just sit and wait for something to happen.  The foundation is my only way to feel like I am actively helping.”

Both have had to literally move family members to live on their property to help with their loved one, but NOT ONCE  did either of them complain about what life had dealt them. They counted their blessings – out loud – to me, a stranger!

I am overwhelmed by these two men, and stories like this often give me perspective with a slap in the face.

It’s good to get slapped in the face sometimes.

My Mother’s Day Love List

I decided to make another Love List, but with a Mother’s Day spin.  I’ve been thinking a lot about myself as a mother, wondering what my girls will grow up appreciating (or not), and it led me back to consider what my own mother gave me – as a kid, and still now.  So, here goes:

My Mother Gave Me:

1.  A phobia of snakes.  When she was pregnant with me, she almost sat down on a toilet until she saw there was a snake curled up in it.  She nearly had me right there on the floor.  Needless to say, my phobia is legit and I know why, it was born into me.

2.  My obsession with reading.  There’s always – ALWAYS – a book in her hand.  I grew up to be the same way, and I would hate to think of life without the worlds books create for me.

3.  Stretch marks.  Damn hereditary genes.  All scars have a story, though, right?

4.  Work ethic.  Watch your parents start their own business from scratch, carry it for thirty years now with never more than 3 employees, and you don’t end up with the “give me a hand-out” attitude.

5.  Appreciation of random comfort foods like tapioca and cream of wheat.

6.  My sister.

7.  An audience at every volleyball game, track meet, pep rally, and award ceremony.

8.  A sense of home.  Every way possible that you could read more into this – they all apply.

9.  Emergency sitter service.  She needs a theme song like Ghostbusters… “When a kid is sick….and the hub’s at work….Who ya gonna call?  Grandma!”

10.  Everything I needed, and even some things I just wanted.  And the ability to know the difference.

11.  A college education.

12.  Words of encouragement when I started dating my husband.   “I never worried about you.  I always knew you would find happiness.”

13.  My aversion to leftovers (sorry mom, no trashcan soup for us…)

14.  Plenty of loans.  Plenty of dinners out.  Plenty of just because shopping trips.

15.  An artsy side.

16.  Music appreciation.  I NEVER listened to music of my own generation.  I grew up with my parents’ music:  The Beatles, The Stones, CCR…I remember a friend listening to Janet Jackson when we were  young, and I had no idea who she was, unless maybe she was related to The Jackson Five.

17.  Oh, nearly forgot – gray hair.  I don’t begrudge this at all.  I love my gray.

18.  A little bit of a clutter problem, but we’re both working on it.

19.  God, my sense of humor.  Sometimes inappropriate (ok, a lot of the time), but I couldn’t imagine life without the fits of hysteria we find ourselves in because of our ability, or tendency to…just laugh.

20.  Last but not least, and I know there are better notes to end on, but undeniably…my MOM gave me my foul mouth!

Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother.  A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What’s that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don’t mean a thing.  ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

Love you mom!  Thanks for all this and more that I can’t even put into words.  I know Dad was inseparable on many of these, but I’ll give him his own list on Father’s Day!

Back on Track

Ugh, it happened again.  The whirlwind that is my life swept me up and kept me from what I have found is my best therapy.  So needless to say, my New Year’s Resolution is to find my way back to my writing.  My book has sat, unattended since July, just waiting for me to tend to its editing needs, thumping me in the back of my mind, “Remember me?  I’m done.  Finished.  Now DO something with me.”

I think I’m taking on a split personality, fighting to conduct my two very different lives. Soccer mom, wife, teacher, vs. aspiring novelist.  I know how cheesy it sounds – it makes even me laugh and I’m the one proclaiming it.  I wrote in my book, though, that you never truly know the value of anything if you didn’t give your blood, sweat or tears for it.  I’m positive that I have shed tears, have probably worked up a sweat, and considering I had my wrist tattooed with a symbol from the book, I guess you can say I have bled for it, too.  And that was all just to do the writing!  The truly hard part starts now…groan…

So the task at hand: Seize the next few weeks until soccer starts up again (in which I will have BOTH girls suited up and playing) and get busy editing the book.  I’ll read through it first, trying to feel it as a reader rather than the writer, then I’ll give it hell and tear it up.  I’ve already made several attempts at the tearing it up part and I can say it sucks.  Writing the book was fun.  Perfecting it is brutal.  And that was just my own critical opinion of my work – on ONE chapter.  If I’m lucky enough to move forward, I’ll have the pleasure of having everyone criticizing my work.  How fun. More blood, sweat and tears.

But still, I can’t wait.  Just since opening the computer and starting this post, I feel more alive than I have in the last several months.  Every cell in my body is energized.  I can’t deny it – writing makes me happy, and as hard is it is to balance life in order to find the time to do it, and even though editing is a bitch, I cannot wait to get back on track.

Pearls don’t lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it.” ~ Chinese proverb

For those of you who have been kind enough to follow and comment on this blog, I want to say thank you for the encouragement…and I’m going to need a lot more of it!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a good book to go read.

Decades

Recently I posted on facebook that if I had realized how great my 30’s were going to be, I would have had an easier time getting through my 20’s.

Nothing against my my 20’s – those years held almost every single happiest moment of my life: (in chronological order) college graduation, marriage, birth of daughter #1 and birth of daughter #2.  But despite those monumental occasions, I think most of that decade was spent hoping that it was going to eventually get easier.  It’s tough – starting careers, worrying about finances, beginning a life together with your partner, and good Lord, can I get an Amen for the infant through toddler years of childrearing?  I never missed a chance to count my blessings, but my 20’s were measured by lots of sacrifice, and equal amounts of blood, sweat, and tears.  My mantra should have been, “This, too, shall pass.”  It wasn’t.  It was really more like, “It’s got to get better…”

The good news is: it has.  In the two years that I’ve been in my 30’s, I can’t tell you how many times a day I have to just sit back and smile at how completely content and fulfilled I have become.  No, we still don’t have much money, and finding the balance between work and family will always be a challenge…but seriously, life is good.  We are all coming into our own – my girls are 3 and 7, and have already experienced enough in their lives to have found talents and interests, and I couldn’t be happier than when I’m watching them do their “thing.”  Also, my husband, who followed his childhood dream in his late 20’s to be a firefighter (another tough adjustment in our 20’s), decided to test for promotion…and did great!  He will know soon if he will promote to Paramedic or stay in the firehouse, but either way we are very proud of him.

Most of you probably expect me to say that deciding to write, and seeing the completion of my book is what has made the difference for me lately, but the truth is – it’s bigger than that.  How many times do we as mothers put everyone else’s needs first?  Let me count the ways… That will never change, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But, I did look within myself and make more of an effort to do things just for me.  The book is huge for me, and it has changed how I define myself, but I also started running, eating healthier, lost some weight, and will now work toward a triathalon in my future.  Do you know how many sedentary, exhausted, frustrated, unhealthy years I spent?  Pretty much all of my 20’s.

This was my unique story, but I think most of us – male or female, married or single, parents or not…have lived this.  Life just keeps getting better, does it not?  I want to say that we get better, but I don’t think that’s it.  We pay more attention to ourselves and those around us, and can say with certainty what it is that makes us who we are, and what fulfills us.  We get to know ourselves – more and more every day, every year.  And we’re old enough to fill our lives with the things we hold dear, and to get the hell rid of the rest.

So as someone who always wished to be in high school when I was in junior high, or to be married when I was just dating my husband, I finally don’t want to wish myself to the next step.  I want to slow things down and breath in every day that I’m living right now, making it last.  But, if this is how amazing my 30’s are, I happily await what’s in store for me in my 40’s.

A Different Me

On the morning of July 13, 2011, I awoke a different person than I had been the day before.  Like wearing new skin, snug and comforting around me, the change was within me…but I could feel it radiating outward through this new skin. 

My book began on December 2, 2009, a nights-and-weekends labor of love.  It started with one phrase, which branched out to form the situations, plots, and characters that within two weeks, filled a spiral notebook.  The characters were immediately real to me: I knew what they looked like, I knew how they would talk to one another, and I knew the battles they would face.  Then, it was just a matter of getting it all down on the paper.  On July 12, 2011, I finshed, after 19 1/2 months of struggling to fit it in, often at 11:00 at night with both my girls asleep next to me in my bed, the room glowing from the light of the laptop; in the car on the way to vacations until the battery went dead; at Starbucks, which didn’t happen often enough; in the waiting room of gymnastics class; and towards the end, on the couch where I made a permanent butt mark due to endless hours of continuous writing with Jack Johnson, David Grey, Ray LaMontagne, Ben Harper, and others streaming through Pandora as a chapter a day poured out of me.

The Fratelli’s Whistle for the Choir was the song playing as I typed my last sentence, which by the way, I highly recommend…It was the perfect ending to my journey, lending itself easily to a celebratory hands-in-the-air-waving-back-and-forth dance.  I’ll never ever hear it again without that memory attached, now ranking up there with Etta James’ At Last for my first dance with my love at our wedding, and Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely for the birth of our first little girl.  (I don’t have a song for my littlest little girl’s birth, but she sure does love Pitbull – Hey Baby might be her defining song…)

So now I feel new, different, and better than ever, because I have done something that I am proud of, and I know it will be a legacy to leave behind, even if only for my friends and family.  The next steps ahead may fall short, and trust me – the odds are more likely to go that way rather than in my favor, but I am overjoyed to have seen this through to the end.  That being said – the whole “even if only for friends and family” part is true, but I also have trust and determination, that I can do whatever it takes to see my story in print…in bookstores…in the hands of the masses.  And so now it’s time for the hard part.

I’ll agonize for another few months over editing and making it perfect – and I don’t just mean the typos.  I’ve already started rewriting half of my opening chapter, because I had some amazing feedback from a contest that gushed all over one half, and told me I fell short on the other.  That’s okay, its not going to be just right the first time. 

I have been asked, “what’s next?” by many, so just for those of you wondering, the next step after editing to “perfection,” is to get an agent.  I was lucky enough to have met with two agents in Houston in May that showed interest in my story, and asked me to contact them when I finished.  So that’s what I’ll do.  They could say no immediately, or they could request chapters or the entire manuscript, and then I’ll wait…and wait…and wait.  It could be a very long time, which will really suck.  And then they could still say no.  If…if they like it, then it moves on to more editing and pitches to publishers, and more editing, and lot’s of praying, I assume.  That’s a little too far down the line, though, so I’ll just focus on getting an agent right now.

I often like to end with a quote, and there are many that I love for everyday inspiration, and others that are meaningful for specifics, but today I’ll end with my own.  I don’t intend to come off as over-confident, there’s truth in this for everyone.

“I am my own hero.  Go be yours.”  ~ me

It’s likely that you already are your own hero, even if you don’t realize it.  That’s the beauty…