Morning Coffee: Spring Tease, Part 2

Healing HeartThe old adage that if March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb, or vice versa, sure proved true this year. As I wrote last month, March came in with teasing spring-like temperatures filling everyone with hope that winter was coming to an end. Unfortunately, for those of us who are so over winter, it went out like a lion. Saturday the 31st a late winter (early spring?) snowstorm blew through. I was in Florida driving back to my son’s house after several glorious days in Key West; but I did see lots of discouraging pictures on Facebook thanks to family and friends who wanted to be sure we knew what we were missing.

For April we say, “April showers bring May flowers.” Is that true for April snowstorms? Do they bring May flowers? If April comes in like a lion will it go out like a lamb? I sure hope so. You see, on the third we drove back to Wisconsin and into the second half of a two day snowstorm. Our driveway greeted us with at least a foot of new snow. My husband, of course, is elated as he will get in a few more ski days this weekend, maybe even next weekend for his birthday. Me? I wanted to turn the truck around and head right back to Florida. As I said in my previous blog, “Vacation”, I was expecting the snow to be gone, at least a good share of it, by the time we returned. I was not happy going from temperatures in the 80s to temperatures in the 20s.

We are an impatient society. Right now we’re complaining about the cold and snow, wishing it were summer. Not so many months from now it will be summer and we will complain about the heat and humidity, the mosquitoes. We complain when it rains, and when it doesn’t. We want instant gratification. We want what we want and we want it right now.

Writers are no better than anyone else. From the moment we plot our novel we want it complete. We want that first draft to be perfect and sell immediately. We want it to be #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Writing a novel isn’t the same as reading one. A really good book can keep a reader in their seat from start to finish in one day; but a really good novel is not easily written. The author spends several years writing and rewriting. Then there’s the marketing timeframe. First we send a synopsis and sample chapters and wait, maybe months, for a request for a full manuscript. Then we wait, maybe months, while they read it. After that, if accepted, we start on our editor’s changes, followed by more waiting. You get the picture. Writing and publishing a good novel does not happen overnight. We know this, yet we expect it. We want it and we want it right now! I’m in the middle of that cycle with both of my novels. “Mary Bishop” is a full manuscript submission waiting for a response. “The Healing Heart” is about a quarter of the way through a rough first draft. When “Mary Bishop” sells and “The Healing Heart” is being marketed I will be busy writing the first draft of my third novel.

Golf leagues are scheduled to start in a month. Hard to believe when I drive past a course still buried in snow. Especially after driving by so many down south that were green and busy with golfers enjoying the warm sunshine. I know if I’m patient our course will soon be green and warm, too. So I will be patient.

In the meantime, while I wait for the snow to melt, and while I wait to hear the final decision on “Mary Bishop”, I will keep writing my second novel.

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Morning Coffee: Vacation

beach-3By the time you read this I will be on vacation! That warm southern sun has been calling me for several months now. As I’ve said before, I’m not much of a winter person. I want snow for the holidays. A fresh snowfall, especially a wet one that sticks to the trees on a sunny morning, is pretty. I’ve discovered I like snow shoes. But I don’t like the cold, I don’t enjoy shoveling, and I think skiing is for crazy people. (I’m married to one of those crazy people!)

Our children live in the south. Our daughter’s in North Carolina and our son in southern Florida. That’s who I’ll be spending a couple weeks with and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t get to see enough of them.

I have a cross-stitch project ready to go with. My Kindle is loaded with books to read. I’ll be doing my WisRWA Fab5 judging and I’ll definitely do some writing on my next book, “The Healing Heart”, but I don’t plan on blogging while on the beach.

So I’ll see you when I get back after Easter. Hopefully most, if not all, of our snow will be gone by then.

Morning Coffee: Positivity

RevisionsThe power of a smile was stressed in my business classes. When you answer the phone, smile. If the caller is angry or frustrated and you speak with a smile on your face your voice will reflect that smile and the problem is unlikely to escalate. If it’s a cold call from someone looking for information, your smile will make you sound friendly and will reflect positively on your company.

The same can be said about your choice of words, your attitude. When I’m feeling uncertain about my writing, beginning to question whether or not I can succeed at becoming a published author, I always smile and tell people I know it will happen. I explain that that particular agent or editor turned out to not be the right one for me and my book, but there is someone out there who is and I will eventually find him or her. Even if internally I might not believe it myself at that moment, if I say it with a smile on my face I will believe it. Then I move on to a new submission. Or perhaps I take another look at my manuscript and fix some of the things the previous rejection mentioned as not working for them, should they have been kind enough to give a little feedback. I want my agent and/or editor to LOVE my book.

Sounding positive leads to feeling positive; and feeling positive leads to the persistence that leads to success. The only thing negativity leads to is more negativity. If you believe you are incapable of doing something you will not be able to do it. If you believe you are a failure, you will be a failure.

So, believe in yourself. I do. Last week I participated in my first Twitter pitch party. It was quite the experience and at the end of the day I walked away with a submission request from an editor. Naturally, I immediately sent her the synopsis and my first three chapters. Within a few days I received a reply asking for a full manuscript. They wanted to read more! This is definitely a positive response and I’m hoping it will lead to success. It’s a response I never would have received if I’d let myself believe the occasional negative thought that tried to push its way into my brain. Instead, I listened to the positive thoughts, believed in myself and my book, and went for it.

If not this one, then perhaps the next one. I know there’s someone out there who wants to read my book; and I know there’s a publisher who wants to sell it to them.

Morning Coffee: March In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

winterWe’ve all grown up with the old adage if March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb…or vice versa. Of course, the former is more likely to be true merely because it would make sense that as spring approaches the weather will gradually improve.  As for the former, that could easily happen, too, because March weather is so volatile. Warm fronts from the south begin pushing north while those cold Canadian fronts continue to push south. When they meet…well…that’s why we have some of our worst winter storms in March.

This year March came in like a lamb. I wrote last week how the mild temps were teasing us with the smell of spring in the air. But we were less than a week into the month and we were hit again with a whopper of a storm. It started the morning of the fifth with the hard winds that blew in advance of the front. Our yard quickly became littered with branches, both large and small. I watched knowing that once the snow melted we’d have to go out and collect them. Hard gusts rattled the pipe leading down to the gas fireplace in the living room and shook the windows. In the afternoon we had sleet one minute, snow the next, and then back to sleet. The icy pellets danced on the back deck, reminding me of the styrofoam beads that spill from a beanbag chair if it’s ripped. By evening the snow won and the wind blew it into white-out conditions. A soup supper and card game night planned with two other couples had to be cancelled due to hazardous driving.

Then the next morning it was all over. The sun was out and so were the shovels, snow blowers, and snow plows…again. I spent two hours clearing about four inches of very heavy wet snow from the driveway. The end with all the waterlogged deposits from the plow was the worst. I’m hoping this will be the last time I have to do this, but I wouldn’t put any money down on that bet. At least the temperature wasn’t all that bad, or maybe it just seemed that way as I heated up from the shoveling. It definitely helped that the wind had died down to a gentler breeze. And now it’s cold again.

But this is what March is like, every year, and it’s just another sign that spring is coming.

Morning Coffee: Spring Tease

Mockingbird2Spring tease kind of sounds like strip tease and, in a sense, that’s what it is. Winter slowly peeling back one layer at a time to give us a glimpse of what is to come; what is hiding underneath. Spring! Flowers, song birds, and light jackets!

Last week we woke to 6 inches of new snow. Then two days later, 6 more inches. It wasn’t unexpected. For once the forecasters got it right. I’m not a big fan of snow. It has its place, namely, the holidays. It isn’t Christmas or New Year’s without snow. Then, in my mind anyway, it can go away. But, I will say this, there is nothing more beautiful than a fresh white snowfall before the plows and passing cars start turning everything dirty again. This snow had enough moisture in it to stick to all the bare trees around us, glittering in the morning sun. Very pretty!

But spring is not far behind. Daytime temps have been in the low 40s. If this was June we’d be complaining how cold it is. But it’s March and the sun feels amazing, welcoming. Those new but now dirty snow banks are fast receding. I went for a long walk yesterday, no gloves and no hat, my coat unzipped. The smell of wet earth was the smell of a promise. The promise that, while there is no doubt more snow to come, spring is almost here; and after spring, summer. Even the birds are singing a little more joyfully.

I’ll go out again, as often as the weather allows. It’s a much needed mood boost after the long cold winter. Not to mention, I need to start thinking about that winter hibernation weight. Can’t ignore it any longer.

My daughter calls from North Carolina to tell me her daffodils are blooming. My son calls from south Florida to complain (gloat?) that it’s 91 there! Then they laugh when I tell them about the snow on the roof and piled along the driveway and street. I tell them I hate them, then we all laugh because they know that’s not true. I’ll be seeing them in a few weeks and look forward to sharing some of that warmth. I’m hoping by the time I get back our snow will be gone and I can start to watch for an open sign on the golf course.

Spring is coming. Winter is almost over. In the meantime, all these warm days and cold nights mean the maple sap will soon be running. Syrup season. Another sign of spring.

Morning Coffee: Contests

Healing HeartContests can be a great way to get feedback on your work-in-progress. I say “can be” because not all contests provide feedback. Either you win or you don’t. So, unless you’re alright with that, you need to do a little research first to be certain you’re getting what you want out of your entry fee. It’s why I’m generally picky about which contests I enter.

But I know I’ll get more than my money’s worth out of anything sponsored by RWA (Romance Writers of America) or any of their chapters. I’m currently entered in The Golden Heart for unpublished authors through RWA. I’ll learn mid-March if I’m a finalist in the category for mainstream with romantic elements. I will not receive any comments from the first round judges, but if I do make the final round my book will be read by both a publisher and an agent. That alone makes the entry fee worth it because I could end up with a contract even if I don’t ultimately win.

I have also entered WisRWA’s (Wisconsin chapter of RWA) FabFive competition for unpublished authors for the third year in a row. With that one I will get my score sheets and comments from the first round judges, and, if I make the finalists, as I did in year one, I will again be judged by a publisher and agent. AND I will receive their score sheets with comments.

It’s too late for The Golden Heart. If interested, you’ll have to wait until later this year to enter. However, the deadline for FabFive is one week from today, so there’s still time. Check it out online or see the flyer below. You have until 11:59pm central time on March 1st. So dust off your romance novel and see what the judges, your peers, have to say. Who knows what can happen from there.

FabFive Flyer

Morning Coffee: Rejection

feet

“I love my rejection slips; they show me I try.”

Sylvia Plath

 

 

Rejection is a big part of being a writer. No matter how many books you’ve published, or how many devoted Twitter or blog followers you may have, you will never be immune from rejection. I received another one myself this week.

As I’ve written in the past, I pitched “Mary Bishop” to two different agents at the WisRWA conference last May and both asked to see a synopsis and partial manuscript. By the end of October I finished the suggested revisions and eagerly sent it out, hoping for at least one of them to request a full manuscript, and ultimately sign me. Within a couple weeks the first one replied with a kind but short “no thank you”. My story didn’t fit her current list needs. Okay. There was still agent #2.

This week, three months later, I received the long-awaited email. After careful consideration, and while she felt my story had a lot going for it, agent #2 didn’t “fall in love” with “Mary Bishop”. Was I disappointed? Of course, but I also understand what she was saying and was happy that she made sure and start with a positive statement about my writing. I wouldn’t want to sign with an agent, or editor, who didn’t “fall in love” with my book. It’s that love that drives the passion needed to promote it. I want, need, them to love it at least as much as I do.

The question is, what do I do now? Do I toss the manuscript into a drawer to rot? No! It’s a good book and I’ve been told by a few editors that, while it didn’t suit their current needs, they knew there would be someone who would want it. So I keep going.

It’s currently an entry in the RWA’s annual Golden Heart competition for authors who have a completed novel ready to market but have not sold one yet. I will find out in mid-March if I’m a finalist in my category (mainstream fiction with romantic elements). If I final, then I continue on to the final round where I will be read by both an editor and an agent. Whether I win in the end or not, I get exposure and the possibility of a contract. The winners will be announced at RWA’s annual conference in Denver in July. I will be there, a finalist or not, and I will also be signing up to pitch to the many agents and editors who will be attending in search of new blood.

I also plan on participating in what Twitter calls a Pitch Party in March. I’ll have a chance to post three pitches at #PitMad in the hopes that an editor or agent will be interested in seeing more. Pitch Parties have become very popular and a door-opener for many writers.

After that? I don’t know. We’ll have to see. But I do know I won’t be giving up until I’m picked up by someone. I know there are readers out there just waiting for my book.

writer encouragement

There’s also book #2, “The Healing Heart”. I’m currently about 1/3 of the way through my first draft. By next year I’ll be pitching that one.