Thursday Thirteen

Because it looked like a good thing to do – plus it’ll give this blog some shape – below are 13 things that happened in 2010 that I am grateful for.

  1. I quit my day job. (However, I do NOT advocate this for everyone!)
  2. I turned 50.
  3. Hubby and I spent a week in a rental house in Cambria, California, and loved every second of it.
  4. I took classes on how to write query letters, and proceeded to bombard agents with said query letters.
  5. I did not land an agent.
  6. I finally joined the FF&P chapter of RWA. Finally!
  7. I worked a music teacher’s convention by LAX over the July 4th holiday weekend.
  8. Spent nine days camping at Mammoth Mountain, joined up with my brother and his gal.
  9. Diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma in August.
  10. Finished a damn fine play in September; had a reading of it that excited good friends of mine.
  11. Went to Colorado to see my best friend for a week.
  12. SOLD! A two book contract to Crescent Moon Press!
  13. Had surgery, am on the downhill side and doing really well.

And…that’s my year in review, lol!

Do you make Resolutions?

I don’t. I gave them up for Lent, and never looked back. (cue laugh track…)

No, seriously – I don’t “do” New Year’s resolutions.  I used to believe that span of time between December 31st and January 1st was magical, a time for me to dig deeply into my own psyche and figure out what I needed to change in order to get what I wanted out of life. But consistently failing at any such change has made me warier of that ol’ New Year magic.

I do set goals. I’ve been a goal-setter since 1985, when I received my first Franklin Day Planner. My writer’s heart rejoiced – I do love my office supplies! And I set work goals for years and years on end.

My personal goals I tend to set in September, that back-to-school time when the chill of autumn sweeps in and the new school year beckons.  But this year something new has been added to my goal-setting/revising (because I revise my personal goals all year long). It’s something I got from Susan Meier and I believe it’s the one, the ONLY reason we lemmings in our resolution-making never seem to follow through.

Motivation. Every writer knows that after a goal, your character has to have motivation or that goal becomes meaningless. Pfft! Gone! And where’s the excitement in your book? Also gone. When I read this in Susan’s workshop on Goal Setting, I almost passed out. How simple. How obvious. How truly true.

So you’ve got “lose ten pounds” on your resolutions list. If the motivation isn’t there, if you’re happy being slightly overweight, if no big health issue is cropping up and FORCING you to be motivated, then honey, you’re gonna drop going to the gym by early February. Gym rats look at the newbies in January with resignation, knowing by March 1st at the latest they’ll have their gym back.

By the same token, if you have no motivation to write, then guess what? You’re not going to write.

Each writer’s motivation for writing comes from a different place. For me, this was the year. I turned 50 in February, quit my day job in March because I could, joined the FF&P chapter in June, got diagnosed with a acoustic neuroma in August, and sold in October. But I started my push to selling in January by searching out agents and sending them queries. Everything else combined to motivate me, to make me take the steps that led me to the pitch session that led me to the contract offer.

So if you’re serious about finishing that novel and submitting it and SELLING it, then you’ve got to find the motivation that will work for you. It’s there, you just have to find it.

Do you regularly make New Year’s resolutions? Are there sufficient motivations behind your resolutions to help you get them done? I’d love to know!

The Solstice, the eclipse, and the new me

This has been a remarkable journey, especially these last few days.  I had surgery for an acoustic neuroma in my right ear on Thursday December 16th, and got home yesterday to pouring rain and no chance of seeing the eclipse. My Solstice celebration was brief, but heartfelt.

A writer doesn’t get an offer of a two book contract every day, or even every month. A person doesn’t get a diagnosis of needing brain surgery every day, either.  I don’t know the stats, but I’m thinking maybe the odds are roughly the same? At any rate. I had both those things happen to me in September/October timeframe. Now the surgery is done and I’m recovering; and the first book will be published in March of 2011 (cover coming in February and I love what I’ve seen so far!).

I can’t drive for awhile, and I don’t know how long I’ll be on disability. My cognitive thinking is just fine but my mental willingness to deal with details is squirmy right now. But what’s got me excited is this can be a new me, going into a new year.

I have the opportunity to change so much – some superficial things like diet and exercise, of course, but other, deeper things. Having a real regular writing schedule. Not putting as much emphasis on my part time day job. Expanding what I write and reaching out for more than I’ve dared to reach for in the past with my writing. I can stop being shy and really brand myself online. I can reach deeper into the business as I reach deeper into myself, and get myself fully prepared for the glorious ride to come.

It is a time of much excitement for me, and a part of me gets pissy that I get weak and have to sleep, to heal. So it’s also a time of learning a deep patience. Walking on the treadmill only for 20 minutes on slow, instead of jogging. I’m an ex-ballet dancer and have been a runner in the past (LA Marathon, 2000 – rainiest LA marathon EVAR), so going slow is extremely trying on my patience, as is having to be careful with my physical body as I retune my brain for head and body movements. Having to go slow will also, hopefully, inform my writing; learning how to deepen a story, make it more meaningful for the characters and the readers, alike.

These two life-altering paths that I’ve been treading are expanding me personally and professionally. I am in a strangely exalted state of being and while I’m looking forward to Christmas and the New Year, I feel like I already have all the gifts of the season scattered around me, ready for me to play with them as soon as I am able.

My editors are thankfully taking these two weeks off, and aren’t pressuring me about anything. SO glad I got the book to them prior to surgery – but even if I hadn’t, they wouldn’t have cared. They are more concerned about me than the product, and that is priceless.

My last two blessings are my family and friends. My husband holds my heart. We’ve been together a long time, and he is right there beside me when I need an arm to grip, a shoulder to beat upon, or someone to laugh with. He is my soul mate. My children held me so tightly when I got home yesterday, that I figure I got something right in being a mom.

And my friends have been steady with their love, concerns, prayers, healing light and energy not to mention food, offers of rides, and other joys.

I wish you all blessings at this huge time of change. Grasp what scares you personally and take it deeper. Growing can hurt, but not all hurts are bad.

LARA and Edits

Tomorrow I get to speak at the Los Angeles Romance Authors’ chapter meeting as one of the folks who received a contract in 2010. I’m excited – it’s taken me long enough to get there – but I’m also conflicted about the time it’ll take, as I need to complete the second pass of edits soon.

Once I managed to get through the first pass of edits and all the stuff my editor pointed out that needed changing, all has gone well. I’m now tweaking the relationships, the tone of voice, smoothing out the grammar – few story changes at this point, so it should go much faster. Got about 30 pages done in the car on the way home from Carlsbad, where hubby and I had a romantic get-away at the Pelican Cove Inn Bed and Breakfast. A fabulous place!

My posting will be irregular from now through the end of the year…lots of holiday and writing madness. But I promise I’ll come back strong in January.

May your Christmas be happy and bright, with those you love safe around you; and may your New Year bring all good things to you and yours.

Holiday Traditions – The Tree

In my house, we have always had a live Christmas tree. Tall, piney, sometimes lopsided and wobbly, I can never remember not having a live tree.

The year my hubby and I celebrated our “first married” Christmas, we were in Seattle. He was on tour, I came out to visit for a couple of weeks, and we got a tiny, Charlie Brown-type tree. That year we also put on two special ornaments that we got from the shops in the area, plus lights and tinsel and tartan bows. Neither one of us wanted to deal with breakable ornaments, so we went soft.

Ever since then, though, wherever we go through out the year, we look for an ornament to put on our tree. Now when we decorate, we can remember our trips – Seattle, Vancouver, Paris, London, Amsterdam…even the LA County Museum of Art has provided us with an interesting ornament.

In my Demon series, the Caine men remember their childhood tree filled with angel ornaments that their late, beloved mother had collected. Every one was special; every one had a story, but most of those Angel stories have been forgotten. Or have they? I’m working on a Christmas Novella for the Caine men and the Angels their mother left behind.

What kind of Holiday Tree traditions do you carry on, year after year? If you’re a writer, do you have holiday traditions for your main characters, whether you have a holiday story or not?