Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rejections Can Be Good

I recently uncovered some of my older books. And I'm talking way older, like from 30 years ago when I first started writing. When I wrote them, I thought they were the greatest books anyone ever wrote, and couldn't understand why I kept getting rejection letters. What was wrong with those editors! And form rejection letters, no less! My words of wisdom at least deserved personal letters from the head editor, not a form letter from some associate. Sheesh!

Wow, those books were bad. I can read them now and know why an editor didn't accept them. Passive writing, two points-of-view in one paragraph, head-hopping, lack of plot...all those things an author has to learn as she or he grows as a writer.

I know some authors who have sold the first book they ever wrote. That's wonderful, but it's rare. I believe an author learns from rejections, learns by going back over her/his work after it's turned down by an editor or agent. That rejection hurts, but it also tells the author that even though Aunt Mary loved it, it still needs some work for an editor or agent to love it.

Did I give up? I'm too stubborn to give up. With each rejection, I cried a little, ate some chocolate (okay, a lot of chocolate), filed away the letter, and got back to work. I joined the Romance Writers of America, went to a local chapter, joined a critique group, attended writing conferences. My book didn't work when I submitted it. That didn't mean my next book wouldn't be exactly what an editor wanted.

I kept submitting, kept getting rejections. Then, a friend of mine told me about a new e-publisher and I submitted a book to them in 2001. They liked it! They really liked it! I had three books published with them before I moved on with Ellora's Cave, and then Avon Red.

Did I keep all those old rejection letters? You bet I did. They're a part of my growth as an author. An author never stops growing or learning. There are always new characters to create, new worlds to build, new happily-ever-afters to write.

And if I get another rejection, that's okay. I'll cry a little, eat some chocolate, file away the letter, and get back to work.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year’s Resolutions Check Up

Now, I’m not a big one for New Year’s Resolutions. They always seem so strict and really, do you want to start off the New Year denying yourself all the things that made the old year fun?

On the other hand, I do think the turning of the calendar is a good time to refocus and put some extra effort into making positive changes. For 2009, I decided to reenergize my efforts to get fit (comes in two parts) and to focus on my writing more.

We’re almost three weeks into 2009 and now is that time resolutions start to crumble and we remember why we didn’t do all the things we’ve resolved to do. They are usually hard and not as much fun. Still, it’s a good time to check up on your resolutions (if you made them) or if you just wanted to make some changes, are they still happening?

Here’s my check up…

My two-part plan to get fit, not surprisingly, involves losing weight and being more active.

So, after almost three weeks, I’m going strong on the weight loss/better eating. Now’s when boredom sets in and I’m going to have to shift menus so I don’t revert back to poor habits. I had forgotten how much more organized you have to be when trying to lose weight. Can’t just run out at lunch (fast food is NOT my friend) or grab a scone (ooh flour and butter) for a snack. On the upside, I already feel sleeker. Don’t know if it’s real or not but I’m letting the happy little fantasy live in my mind.

Working out/being active isn’t quite a habit yet. I still have to drag myself to the treadmill (too cold/icy/slushy/wet to be outside) but I’m using DVDs to keep me going longer. I have a collection of Murder She Wrote and Queer As Folk to entertain me on the walks to nowhere (how’s that for extreme ends of the sexy spectrum?).

As for my writing focus…it’s a little fuzzy. I gave myself a hard deadline to finish the two werewolf books that have been lingering in my mind. Wednesday they go to my editor (hopefully with much rejoicing) and then I’m going to plan my writing year. I’ve got a few projects off my normal scope that will take some time but I think I’m ready to put in the effort and stretch myself a bit.

How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions? Did you make ‘em? It’s a good time to check in with yourself—no blame, no guilt, just a little refocus.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Well everyone, the day I’ve dreaded for a long, long time is looming on the horizon. In a week’s time, I will be an official ‘empty nester’ and I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with it.

I’m certain there are those of you out there who have celebrated that moment when the house becomes yours again, because doesn’t it mean that you are finally your own person once more? Someone who has been released from physical parental duty? I say physical because I don’t imagine we ever quit worrying about our children no matter what their age may be.

I’ve been through this twice already. You know the routine—you watch as your child enters the world and hope like hell you did a good job and raised a now responsible adult. But watching my two sons leave and head out on their own is totally different from watching my youngest—who is my only daughter—light out on her own.

The situation is a bit different. My boys moved only a few miles away. It was both their choice to remain close because they love the rural setting we’re in, are sportsman and never had the urge to fly far. In fact we’re now in business with them and enjoying the fact that we’re all working towards a common goal.

My daughter? Well let’s back up the train here. Twenty years ago I traveled to Bogota, Colombia to adopt a beautiful little two-year old. I won’t go into it but she had a rough first couple of years and the urge I felt to protect was stronger than anything I’d ever encountered. She was an unexpected gift to say the least. I can shut my eyes and it seems like yesterday that I walked into one of Colombia’s adoption agencies only to find this tiny shivering body who was scared out of her wits. Big brown eyes were almost unblinking as she stared about in confusion. It was with teeth gritting that I made it through that first long afternoon of signing papers and tending to political details when all I wanted to do was pull her in my arms and disappear with her.

You know, we had an instant bond. Sounds like a movie, doesn’t it? But that’s how it was. That first evening I wanted to cuddle her in the hotel bed with me but instead I pulled her crib tightly against my mattress and through most of the night we simply stared at each other through the bars. I can’t tell you how my heart flooded with love in that semi-dark room as she handed me a little plastic toy with a fleeting smile she tried to hide. I think it was probably about five in the morning before we both succumbed to sleep. And ever since that first day we’ve been tight as can be and I’ve always counted my blessings to have such a wonderful little person so willing to share her spirit of life with me.

I always thought about how the day would come and she would leave but never thought that time would pass so quickly or that she would be moving across the country. So here I am, only days away from doing what I know is right but still is so hard to imagine that I won’t be able to reach out and touch her. I will support her fully. I will let her spread her wings, let her discover the world without me by her side and hope that she will always be safe. Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do? I am so proud of the woman she has become.

To my daughter: Have a good life, have a happy life and know that I will always love you with all my heart. I will miss your daily presence, your quirky sense of humor and mostly your hugs but I can’t wait to watch you grow on your journey.

Love, Mom

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What's spare time?

If anyone could tell me what spare time is, I'd love to know. I've heard
rumors that it exist but does it?
I truly don't have a second to relax anymore. I thought as you got older
things were supposed to wind down.
But they haven't. I am not complaining. Please don't get me wrong.
I'm busy with my teenagers, work, the back-pain/gout ridden husband and
a writing career that I'm hoping is on the upswing.
It's hard to wear so many hats and remain sane. My characters are screaming to
escape, the husband complains about the house (like I'm the only one capable of cleaning,sheesh)
and editors dropping bombshells about a release date I didn't know was looming.
That's the reason I'm late in posting to the blog.
I hope someone out there can share with me the intricacies of spare time.
I'd love to learn how to gain some.