Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Walls

Someone posted this on Facebook awhile ago. I shared it to my daughter's page. She didn't see it for another week or so. She was busy taking care of a scary situation at work. A situation no mother wants her daughter to endure.

But she made it through the interviews, the fears, the stress and the long hours. I prayed a lot during those days. Prayed for her safety and for God to see her through.

Then she hit the wall.

She called me with tears in her voice telling me she couldn't do this job anymore. Had she made all the right decisions? Had she taken care of the people she needed to? She couldn't sleep, she couldn't eat, she couldn't care for her family.

We've all hit those proverbial walls in our lives at sometime or another. Usually, like my daughter, it's after we've handled the crisis. I remember as a young counselor, going into an apartment to find my client covered in blood. I had to talk him out of his closet to get him to the hospital before he died from blood loss. I went home and cried and cried. But I returned to work the next day.

As I've grown older, the walls are harder to hit. My move to Texas almost undid me. Then the trip home to PA and the struggle with financial needs. Finally, the return move to Florida last year. Little by little, it seems as though the bouncing back and stiff upper lip I need to make it are disappearing.

Sometimes I wonder how many more walls I have inside of me to hit. How many do you have?

But I know the answer. Just like you do.

As many as it takes to live the life we are given.

My daughter pulled herself together that day and returned to her duties. I'll follow my husband to Florida and PA again if that's where we are supposed to go. I'm sure I'll hit that wall again hard but I always know I have someplace to fall when I do.

"I'll be there," God said.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How much information is too much?

We've selected the date. June 11th. Another trip home to work on our house. The last time were were there it was a chilly October. We managed to side almost the entire place.

It was also the time my father-in-law went home to heaven. We spent time with family and our close friends but still we had to finish the job we came home to do.

This time home, we will be working on the electrical. My son-in-law is flying in to help with the project. We are praying our daughter and our grandkids can join him as well. 

So why do I tell you all this about me? It's not to brag what an awesome guy I married who can build me a house. It's not to lament that the building is taking forever. (It seems like that!) It isn't to hopefully bore you to death. (Am I?)

Why I share what I do is to give you a glimpse of who I am so that when you read my books, you will feel as though you know me a little better. I don't know about you, but I like to know something about the authors I read.  

And having said that, I will post my final picture of what I will see when I drove down the road on June 11. 

There is nothing like going home.

How much do you safely share if you are an author? As a reader, what do you like to know about the author whose books you read?

Monday, April 06, 2015

Write Anyways

When I was in ninth grade, my English teacher accused me of plagiarism. It seemed my paper was too perfect. Of course, I didn't copy from anyone else. I would never do something like that. But her comment in front of the entire class of my peers could have changed the course of my current career forever. 

Writers won't always get the encouragement they seek. Critics surround us. Friends who tell us we should give up writing because it will take too long to get published. Parents who roll their eyes when they learn how little royalties we might earn for a book deal. Editors who say they want to throw your book against the wall because your structure is all wrong. 

All true stories.

What should keep a writer writing even when the odds are stacked against them?

Someone needs to read your words.

When my first book recently released, I agonized over the numbers. If I didn't sell many, I would be a failure, Maybe I should have taken up another career and leave the writing to the big guys--the authors with the big names and followings. Maybe I'd wasted too many years dabbling and should have kept my day job. 

I'm sure you've told yourself those same lies and more. 

Then it happened.

One reader. Then two. A few more. Each wrote me to tell me how much my story meant to them. Some wrote personal reasons why the story resonated in their lives. 

A line written late at night. Another line written through tears. All pulled from my own heart of experiences.  Each spoke to someone I've never met before.

That's why writers write.

That's why writers write anyways.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Big Picture

Sometimes I need to get away. Sometimes writing and all that goes with it becomes more than I want to think about. Sometimes I need to be reminded that there's more to life than work.

This past Saturday, my husband and I took a drive north to Sarasota where we met up with good friends from Lakeland. We ate a huge Amish meal, followed by a stroll through the farmer's market and gift shop.

What I enjoyed most was the break from everyday concerns. Quite often life seems like a puzzle. I wonder how this piece or that piece fits together with what I already know. Lately, I have been making a huge effort to let God fit the pieces where they belong in my life.

But still. I can't help but have days when I wedge in a few corner parts myself. Or days when I can't find that missing piece and I search until I feel like screaming.

Breaks give me time to pry my fingers loose and wait. They also they give me time to appreciate the now.

Cause that's all we really have. The rest is a sweet bonus.

What was the last break you took from your busy life?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

5 Secrets Most Writers Don't Like to Share

1. We wish our hearts were encased in steel.  We think we are prepared for that first bad review or that one star rating or those words that say our book stinks. But we aren't. We wish our skin was thicker than the fat on a pig but it isn't. We wish we could reach for a chocolate bar and blow off the negative feelings as quick as we can devour our favorite food. But we can't. Writing isn't for the faint of heart. If we're going to put our hearts out there for anyone to stomp on, we have to be prepared. But honestly, we never are.

2. We wish all our friends, family and everyone around us were writers.  If they were, they might get us. They might understand why we enjoy talking about make-believe people and why we sob over our computers when writing an emotional scene. They might understand why we drool over the thought of going into a Barnes and Noble and stand for hours in front of the shelves dreaming that one day our book might sit there. 

3. We wish our name was Stephen King or Jodi Picoult. When our first book gets published, we dream of having an instant bestseller like the big writers do. We want to be on the NY Times' bestseller list before the book is even available. We pray. We hope. We cross our fingers. We watch the stats. And then reality hits us. We are a small drop of water in a big ocean. We learn to be content with selling that one book to a person who really needed to read it. 

4. We wish we didn't have to spend most of our lives online.  Most of our daily interactions take place over the computer. Some of us attend writer's groups but many of us live our lives with anonymous people we've met through some social site. If we do go to Starbuck's to write, we put in our earplugs and ignore the activity around us. Those few times when we meet an online buddy are better than gold. 

5. We wish we didn't have to beg for reviews. We've been told reviews sell books. We hate begging our friends and family and strangers to give us a good review. We want them to love our book and think of writing a review on their own. We want them to email us and tell us they loved it even if they have to lie. (Not really!) 

I'm going to throw in one more Secret just for the sake of it.

                          We would never change what we do. 


Monday, March 16, 2015

A Year Later

I find it hard to believe a year has passed since moving back to Florida. Sometimes I think my life is playing tricks on me. I'll wake up and be living in another state tomorrow. 

(Hope not!)

We left in a hurry, choosing with as much care as time allowed the items that would see us through in our new home. Snow waved goodbye to us and the sweet sunshine of Florida greeted us once again. 

Getting used to a new area is never a treat. New doctors, new churches, new stores. I've been given a lot of free time to reflect on our past years. Time to accept the changes and time to be thankful for them as well. 

I've come to realize that God places us where he wants us. We can fight it or we can go with it. For now, Bonita is my home. Next week? I really don't know. But today I'm here. For whatever reason, I'm here and I need to remain open and willing.

It's not the place I figured I would be when I walked into a new decade. I turn 60 this week. My definition of 60 looked a lot different than my reality 60. Sure I wanted less wrinkles (don't we all?) but I also envisioned a stable home with my grand-kids nearby.

God had other plans. 

So I'm hanging out here in SW Florida until we get the word to move again. I'm sure it's coming. I don't know when or where but like earth, this place is not my permanent home. 

Are you open to change? If you had to pick up and move tomorrow, would you go willingly or kicking and screaming? 

Monday, March 09, 2015

After the Ride-- A Thank You

I've tried to present a clear picture of my writing journey over the years since I started blogging back in 2006. It wouldn't be right if I didn't describe my final perceptions after being published.

It's been a month since publication. I've marketed and marketed and watched numbers go up and down. I've done everything thing I learned to do to push sales of my book. I've held the final proof in my hands and rode the ride as though on a roller coaster.

But I'm glad it's over.

I'm happy that this week I can finally focus on what I enjoy doing and that's writing.

I remember how much I wanted to get a book published. I remember thinking someday it will happen and that it would be wonderful. What I didn't realized was the total reality of getting a book out in the public eyes, The pressure to sell. The fear of wondering who likes your work or not. The putting yourself in places you would rather not go. The time spent on social media pumping your book instead of being who you really are.

I'm thinking there must be a fine balance and I plan to find it.

This week I go back to finishing the edits for a book I've wanted to write for a while. In the back of my mind, I wonder how my other book is doing in the hands of my agent who is shopping it. And still in another department of my brain, I'm plotting my next book that takes me totally out of my comfort zone. I can't wait until I write the first sentence of that book.

Probably what strikes me most from last month is the overwhelming support I received from friends who encouraged me and held me up as I struggled with this new learning curve of writing. When I look back on this first release, those moments are what will come rushing to my memories. The "you've got this girl," and "do you want to know what my friend said about your book?"

The kindness from people I've never met push me on.

That kindness has always pushed me on in my writing. 

So let me say this. Thank you for riding the ride with me. Thank you for helping me keep my balance so I didn't go screaming into the lake. Thank you for being with me as I try to improve my writing and stories to maybe someday take this crazy ride again.

Friday, February 27, 2015

3 Truths 3 Weeks After Your Book Launch

Your first book has launched. Life feels sort of like a fishbowl now. You can't hide out in the coziness of your office in your pajamas dabbling over your next book. You are expected to do more than that now that your novel was finally published.

Have these 3 truths hit you yet?

1. NOT EVERYONE LOVES YOUR BOOK  Of course you knew that. You don't even love your book more than you do some of your favorite authors' books. Didn't you find that mistake on page 234? Why on earth did you write such a blah description of setting in the first chapter? You wrote this book five years ago. It took two years to come to publication. How can anyone love what you wrote?

Sound familiar? I knew my best friend would read my book. I also knew it isn't her genre. I also knew many of my friends would buy the book to support me and when I didn't hear back from them that they loved it, I knew they were being polite. I appreciate that. I do that to writers whose books don't thrill me as well. But many writers secretly wish for an avalanche of love for their work. Get over it. It rarely happens.

2. MARKETING STINKS  A long time ago, you were warned that writers had to do most of the legwork to get their book out there. When the time finally comes, you realize they were right. You tweet your book, post reviews--beg for reviews--overdo your comments on Facebook, and send to newspapers and plan book signings all to convince one other person to give your book a chance.

Are you like me? I'm an introvert. I don't enjoy tooting my own horn. The thought of standing in front of people to talk about my book makes me keel over in fear. But it's the new hat writers must wear. That's why I did most of my marketing early on-- before I wrote my book. I tried to create real relationships so that when the time came, a reader will buy my book based on what they know about me. They still might not like it but hey, they gave me a chance.

3. YOUR NEXT BOOK WAITS TO BE WRITTEN  You can't stop now. Another book is dying to come out of you. Finding the time to write that book is the challenge but you can do it. Mark off time for marketing and social media and begin again.

 I should add one more truth: That love will return.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Walking your Path

When I wrote The Mulligan, my husband and I were living in uncertain times. He was attending golf school because he felt he needed to expand his options for a career, Our path was not too clear but we forged ahead.

Some days I feel that way about writing. Last week, I was amazed when my book hit the Amazon bestseller list for Religious Romance at #26. It remained in the top 100 for a few days and then the steady decline began. I found myself watching the numbers when I should be trusting that God has a better plan than me than checking my sales every few hours.

Like me, the main character, Bobbi, had an inkling she wasn't doing what she should do but misplaced loyalty drove her to make choices that didn't fare well.

How often do we do the same in real life? I'm the kind of person who wants to take charge and fix everyone's problems. I'm slowly learning to wait and trust the plan God has for my life. Even if it means life gets ugly and painful.

What path are you walking today? Is it one of your own choosing or have you waited on God?

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Reality of a Book Release

The big day arrives. The day you've waited your entire life to arrive. The countdown is over. You've sent out blog posts, made an author page on Amazon, and told everyone you can tell. Book Release.

I spent The Mulligan's release on Feb. 6th at Disney with my grandchildren checking my phone and Facebook between rides. Anticipation ran through my veins as I waited for one reader to tell me she had purchased my book and loved it.

I hadn't received my books yet so when they arrived a few days later, opening the box felt very anti-climatic. Thankfully, I was surrounded by my daughter and family so her excitement bubbled into mine.

Next the articles I'd written went live. I hoped again someone might like my book. A few good friends emailed me they had read it and posted reviews on Amazon. A few more days passed. I placed a book in our community library. I also drew winners for my giveaway. I checked Amazon too many times and discovered they no longer carried the paperback version.

A little over a week later, I had garnered five reviews--some from strangers. One very good one from a stranger. A bit of my anxiety lessened.

In a frenzy to keep sales moving, I posted pictures from where my inspiration came from. I noted Amazon finally had a sample read on the website. I tweeted and posted. Prayed I wasn't annoying everyone.

I wished too I knew how many books I'd actually sold but Amazon wasn't telling me yet and my publisher information wasn't available. I prayed for 500 and then thought I was being greedy. I told myself I would settle for less--just let a few people love it.

And then Monday came.

It was time to pull out my current WIP and write again.

It felt like eating spinach after a dish of chocolate ice cream.

So this is what it's like to birth a book. It's out there in the world and all I can do is point to it and smile hoping someone will agree that my baby is beautiful.

Then I can go back to mopping my floors, packing my husband's lunch and finishing the next book to someday do it all over again.