Thursday, June 30, 2016

When Dreams Die

Ballet is a great love of mine, though not a great talent.  I didn't dance as a child (other than one semester-long stint when I was 6) or as a young adult (other than a requisite year of dance at college, as part of my music degree requirements).  For many reasons, all deeply personal, I fell in love many years later, all grown up and firmly entrenched in "stiff" and "not graceful".

After dancing once a week for a year or more, I came to the conclusion that, if I wanted to really progress, I would have to dance a heck of a lot more than that.  So I ramped up to three classes a week.  I set goals for myself.  I thought, okay, I have no desire (or ability) to dance professionally; this is just for me.  But I want to be the best I can possibly be, so I'm going to work hard.

And I did.  I still do.


It'll be almost four years since I've begun my adult ballet adventure, and, well, it just isn't happening for me.

Four years, and I still can't do a decent single pirouette.  Four years, and I still don't look like a dancer.  Four years, and I still have an incredibly hard time learning new steps and putting combinations together.

Four years, and I'm nowhere near being able to start pointe classes.

Sometimes it frustrates me to tears.  And sometimes I rise above it, pull on my leotard, and dive in without thinking too hard about how bad I am at this.

My burning desire to truly succeed, though, has faded.  I've come to the gradual and heart-squeezing realization that dancing is not something I will ever do really well.  I actually hate this.  Hate admitting it.  Hate owning it.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not being self-deprecating here, and I'm not allowing momentary frustrations to defeat me.  I'm walking in the reality that I AM NOT MEANT TO BE A DANCER.

It might seem silly to you.  I mean, after all--who aspires to something like ballet when she's all grown up and WAY past the tender age when real dancers are born?  But it was never about wanting to be a "real dancer" (I don't).  It was about wanting to succeed as an adult dancer.  To be able to walk into an empty studio, turn on something from The Nutcracker, and dance my heart out.  Even if nobody saw me (especially then).  Even if I had to choose simpler steps, slower tempi.  Even if I were the only one who saw any value in what I was doing.

Even then.

But it's not happening.  And I don't see it happening.  Ever.  I'm getting older, not younger.  And I'll continue to go to my ballet classes, because...well, I love them.  So much.  But my ballet dream, which once burned so bright, has died.

In other words, reality hit.

And, yanno, for all these years that I've been blogging my heart to the writing world (I love you so), I've always said "Never give up!" and "Keep your eye on your dreams!" and "Keep writing! And writing and writing and writing!"

I'm not reneging on any of that.  You've got to keep going and you've got to keep writing, because it's in you, and you love it, and words crowd themselves into your brain every day until you have no choice but to spill them out.

But I finally have to admit that sometimes...sometimes...someone's out there writing their little heart out, and it's just never going to happen.  The passion is there, and the commitment, and the endless story ideas.  But regardless of how long he's been at it, there doesn't seem to be any forward movement.  He writes, but he doesn't excel.

And that doesn't mean STOP WRITING any more than my lack of ballet gifting means STOP DANCING.  It does mean, though, reexamining your goals.  It might be--it just might be--that your writing is like my ballet.  You are completely committed and absolutely in love with the idea of being a writer...but publication is not, after all, the path you should pursue.

This is a highly personal decision, and I would never presume to tell any writer what his goals should be.  If you write, then you are a writer, and you always will be.  You're never too young or too old to write.  I would never council anyone to quit writing.  But if you've been trying for fifteen years to get published, and you haven't been able to land an agent--or even to garner a full request or two--then it may be time to reset your expectations.

To write because you love it, and not because you are seeking to write professionally.  To lose yourself in the joy of your own creations without worrying, anymore, what the industry has to say about it.

Write for the sheer pleasure of writing, regardless of what is flowing out of your proverbial pen.

And then there's me.  I've got an (amazing) agent.  I've honed my craft and have received such glow-y comments from editors that I'm left scratching my head as to why they still say "no" to the book.

Unlike ballet, writing is something I do well.  I'm still growing (writers who stop growing should probably stop writing, yes?), and still honing.  But I am finally at a place where I'm confident in my ability to write a marketable book.

Yet here I sit.  Still waiting.

And if I'm perfectly, brutally, bare-my-soul honest, I've got to say that my dream has died.  I keep writing because it's what I do.  I've come this far, and I'm not going to just throw it all away.  My agent is excited!  Engaged!  And incredibly encouraging!  (She's incredible in so many ways--I should really showcase her here so you can all see how wonderful she is.)

I don't think I've ever experienced the level of enthusiasm and gut-level BELIEF IN ME that I get from Danielle.  And it definitely counts for a lot.  Every single day.

But my dreams?  They're yesterday.  I actually go days at a time without giving a second thought to the fact that we're on submission.  (This is a stark contrast to the way I used to HANG on the hope that today, today, today, today I'll hear something good!)  I just...write.  I work hard, I take it seriously.  I'm UTTERLY IN LOVE with my new WIP, and I'm pressing forward.


In so many ways, this is easier.  Kind of like Data with his emotion chip turned off.  But in some ways, it's sad.  Writing without dreams feels like dancing without music.

Still.  We do what we can, and we do what we must.  I can't afford to dream anymore.  I just need to keep writing.  Because, unlike ballet, it's what I'm meant to do.

I really do believe that.

So wherever you are in your own journey, KEEP WRITING.  It's not the writing that needs to go!  But it may be something else.  A goal, an expectation.  A dream.  You can write without those things and still derive joy from what you're doing.

Always take the time to reevaluate, remembering to give yourself grace in the process.  Writing is hard.  The arts as a whole are hard!  But we who create have no choice but to keep doing so, regardless of where those creations ultimately lead us.

Take heart.  Keep writing.  And thank you for always, always, always offering me your support.  When my debut hits the shelves, you'd better believe that this wonderful MSFV community will be included on the acknowledgements page.

Oh, wait.  That sounded like a dream...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

From the Archives: WRITING: THE ODYSSEY

Today I'm recycling a 3-and-a-half-year-old blog post, because 1) encouragement is timeless, and 2) there is so much content on this blog from years-gone-by that I'd be downright silly not to pull some of it back up from time to time.

Here I am, three and a half years further along on my journey, and I'm still...journeying.  By now, I'm absolutely convinced that my journey-toward-publication has as much to do with those whose lives I'm speaking into as it does with me.  Sometimes (a lot of times) we need to see tenacity in order to achieve it.  We need to see flames that refuse to go out...attitudes that stay positive...hearts that rally after each disappointment.

And so I offer mine.

Without further ado, I give you:  WRITING--THE ODYSSEY 

Monday, June 27, 2016

I'm Back! And ON THE BLOCK 2016 -- Yes or No??

Hello, dear ones!

It always feels like half a millennium has passed once I get back from vacation.  Yanno?  And the whole getting-back-into-normal-life, for whatever reason, feels like more of a struggle this year.  That might have something to do with the ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLY WONDERFULNESS vacation-time-with-Mr-A.

Aside from all the schmoopy romance and quality time (I really do love this guy), he READ BOOKS.
*pause for dramatic effect*

Guys.  THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN OFTEN.  In fact, it's about as common as having a sixth finger.  And you can imagine how I've ached over the years to have cozy, bookish conversations with my true love.  Imagine my delight when, after finishing Pride and Prejudice (his first reading--huzzah! It finally happened!), Mr. A dug into Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave. 


See the OPEN BOOK on my husband's lap??  And I'm especially thrilled because I bought him The Fifth Wave, hopeful that he would love it.  And I was right!  So on the one too-damp-and-dreary-to-do-much-else day we experienced at the shore, we hit our favorite coffee shop.  I plotted, and he read.

(And the thrill hasn't stopped.  Because he is now reading Mary Pearson's The Kiss of Deception, which I read at the shore, and loved BEYOND ALL WORDS.  I suggested we swap books, so I'm now reading The Fifth Wave.  Every time I close the book, Mr. A is all, "So, where are you?"

This has never happened in the entire history of my relationship with this man.  I AM SO HAPPY.

Okay.  I think I've gushed enough.

You understand.  I know you do.

(Also?  If you love YA Fantasy and haven't read The Kiss of Deception yet, STOP EVERYTHING AND READ IT.)

So, I'm back, and the first thing I need to know is DO YOU WANT AN ON THE BLOCK THIS YEAR?

It's no secret that I've cut way back on what I offer here, for the sake of allotting more time to writing (instead of blogging, which is also writing, but not writing writing).  So when I do offer something on a larger scale like this, I want to be sure it's worth the time.  If you want it, I am glad to offer it!  But if the interest isn't great enough, I'd rather not jump in the water.  Because, yes, it is time consuming.

On that note, PLEASE TAKE THE SURVEY THAT POPPED UP ON YOUR SCREEN!  It's not long -- only 8 questions, mostly multiple choice.  Make your voice heard!

And if you didn't see the pop-up, here ya go:


Thank you, all!  It's good to be back.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Premiere Critique Now Available

Here it is -- my official "I've got a slot for you!" announcement.  If you've been waiting to take advantage of a Premiere Critique from Authoress Edits, now's your chance.

What you'll get:

  • A detailed line edit of your first 75 pages
  • An editorial letter
  • A guaranteed 1-week turnaround
Cost:  $260 (made in 2 installments via Paypal)
Note:  No first drafts

Email me at authoress.edits(at) to reserve your spot!  First come, first served.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Fricassee

(because she is beautiful)

June!  It's June!

This means, of course, that I'm going on vacation.  Not that I've been around all that much, anyway.  As I mentioned quite some months ago, I'm ramping down this blog in preparation for launching my Real Me author web site.  I'm also spending more time on my writing (I've got 2 projects going at once right now, which is something that's never happened for me before, though I've tried!), which is as it should be.

I've watched my readership here drop (because, well, there hasn't been much to read), and part of me is going OMG MY BLOG MY TRIBE MY PEOPLE MY CONTESTS.  The other part of me, though, is going AH. NICE.

There's more in store for the rest of this year, though.  Let me offer you a bulleted list of Things Both Blog and Non-Blog, shall I?

  • Our next Secret Agent Contest will be in AUGUST.  That gives you a couple of months to POLISH YOUR MANUSCRIPT!  (Hint: SF, Fantasy, Spec Fic, Literary, Contemp, Historical, and Thriller, along with YA and MG across all genres!)
  • I am still not sure whether or not I will host a second ON THE BLOCK this December.  I will be offering a poll when I'm back in town, so if this is something you'd like to see happen, BE SURE TO CAST YOUR VOTE!
  • Yes, I will be hosting another Are You Hooked? round, but I have to wait until Michael fixes the bot glitch.  Keep your eyes on the blog (and my Twitter feed!) for info on this and all in-house critique sessions (as I often come up with them spur-of-the-moment).
  • My recent #CPTwitterSearch--an alternative to the on-blog Critique Partner Dating Service--boasted only a moderate showing on Twitter.  This was my fault, because I came up with the idea in a flurry and threw it out there too quickly.  Next time, I'll give everyone MORE TIME by getting the word out in advance.  My apologies if you missed this!
  • I'm almost finished with my WIP and almost ready to start drafting my now-plotted Next Story.  This will be the first time I've moved straight from one draft into another.  One can only hope that this is a sign that I have somehow achieved a new level of writerness.  Or something.
  • My agent, Danielle Burby, is truly remarkable.  She is working SO HARD on my behalf.  She consistently keeps me in the loop, she's ne'er-say-die, and her belief in me and love for my work are a fire that burns beneath me and KEEPS ME GOING.  Her editorial eye is incredible.  Her sense of the market is excellent, and SHE'S PRETTY MUCH THE ROCKSTAR I'M PAINTING HER OUT TO BE.  If you write in a genre she reps, put her on your query list!
  • Mr. A has lost nearly 25 pounds.  This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, except for the fact that I am INSANELY PROUD OF HIM.  And he is insanely proud of himself (and ready to hit the beach without feeling like a beach ball belly).  The best part is that he had recently gone on BP meds for borderline hypertension--and HE NO LONGER NEEDS THE MEDS.  That's cause for celebration, for sure.
And it's a wrap!  I'll swing by after vacation and see what I can offer up.  I'll also be posting that survey on ON THE BLOCK, so please stay tuned!  I will need to hear from you.  (And, yanno, FEEL FREE to leave your thoughts on this in the comment box today, to give me a general idea of people's feelings on this contest.  I only want to offer things that you REALLY WANT!)