October 2, 2014

Writing Without a Net

Writers sometimes speak of the writing cave as if it's a deep dark place of confinement. But self-imposed hibernation isn't about artistic fragility or a need for separation in order to create. On the contrary, we need interaction with people to be able to construct believable fictional characters.

For me, writing is how I make my living, and the cave is the place where I work. Although storytelling is an enjoyable calling, it can also be challenging and at times downright grueling, especially when looming deadlines, reader expectations, and life's normal interruptions come into play. Getting my work done means giving it the total concentration it demands.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with my youngest. He began college at barely 17, a bit young for sharing living space with strangers and juggling relationships and setting his own daily agenda, all while trying to answer the all-important What do I want to be when I grow up? question. Recently, he began joining study groups for his more demanding courses, and it's starting to pay off in the form of better exam grades.

Even so, he remained frustrated. When I wondered why, he said, "It's still tough."

That's when it occurred to me that he'd swallowed a misleading notion our society often endorses: that once he discovers his passion, it will all come easily. Work he's "meant to do" should be immediately fulfilling and stimulating. All joy and rainbows. The career edition of Happily Ever After.

So much NO.

An instant HEA is no more true in a vocation than it is in any relationship worth having. Both require dedication, patience, and commitment. Knuckling down and doing the difficult stuff is what makes work - any kind of work - more fulfilling. And on that note, I'll be in my cave. ;)

September 25, 2014

Kicking the Bucket List

I was challenged by writing buddies Jody Sparks and Julie Cross to share my Author Bucket List – a set of goals and/or aspirations specific to my life as an author. As I examined fellow authors' lists, however, something occurred to me: I’ve hit several objectives that would have made such a list just a few years ago when I was querying agents, attending writing conferences, and writing a sequel to that book I still hadn’t found an agent to represent.

In my thirties, I was a SAHM of three and a non-traditional college student who intended to graduate with honors if it killed me. Believe me, there were days when I was overwhelmed by all the things. I developed a little fortitude-building trick for days like that: I began my to-do list with chores and errands I'd already completed... and then I crossed them off. Cheating? Maybe. But it left me feeling efficient and capable - the perfect mindset to tackle a list of goals, no matter how big or small they are.

So I decided to imagine what my Author Bucket List might have been on March 3, 2011 – the day I received my last rejection letter. The day I could have given up trying to advance from writer to author. The day I decided to self-publish my novel so I could move on to my next writing project. My list includes several goals - desires of my heart - that would have been lost if I’d thrown in the towel instead of thinking outside the box:
  1. Get an agent.
  2. Get a publishing contract.
  3. See a book I wrote on a shelf at Barnes & Noble.
  4. Hear from a reader who tells me they loved and/or were helped by what I wrote.
  5. Sign novels at a book signing, even if I shake and stammer the whole time.
  6. Have a novel make the NYT Bestseller list.
  7. Be quoted.
  8. See a book I wrote turned into a movie or adapted for television.
  9. Write a book outside the romance genre, probably under a pseudonym.
  10. Be in a position to mentor young writers when I retire and/or have more free time. 
What's on your life's-work Bucket List? What might have made your list two, five, ten years ago, and which of those goals have you already achieved? Sometimes it's good to remind ourselves of those forgotten accomplishments, especially when battling feelings of inadequacy or exhaustion.

I'm challenging the smart and adorable Ava Jae to share her author bucket list. She and I joined Twitter the same month (April 2011), and we've known each other online ever since. I was thrilled to finally meet her this year at the RT 2014 in New Orleans, and I urge you to check out her fabulous writing blog.

September 16, 2014

BRAZIL - Here I Come!

My Brazilian publisher, Verus Editora, is arranging multiple signings in November - less than two months from now. If you live in or near any of these cities, please grab your copy of Easy and make plans to join me - I'd love to meet you!

São Paulo (http://bit.ly/BreakableSP)
Rio de Janeiro (http://bit.ly/BreakableRJ)
Belo Horizonte (http://bit.ly/BreakableBH)