Monthly Archives: February 2005

Who am I?!

Okay. I’ve hit an all time low.
Yesterday I came home to a Tyvek envelope sitting on my chair and instead of that stomach dropping sensation that usually accompanies rejection, I got excited. I even said “Thank God! The rejection’s here and now I can move on.”
What?!
Then I realized the envelope held manuscripts I’m judging for a chapter contest. No rejection.
That’s when the disappointment hit.
Double what!?!
When did this strange rejection expecting writer invade my brain and how do I get rid of her?
UGH!

Back to the waiting game

So what DO you do while you’re waiting to hear back on requested work? Sometimes I feel like I really should have all the answers. I mean I’ve certainly studied all the books, talked to lots of authors, been to tons of classes.
And you know what? I don’t have the answer.
I do know the one thing I control is the writing. So the answer probably is simply that. Write.
Because every day I write, I develop a little more voice. Every day I write, I find a new secret my characters want me to know. Every day I write, I get closer to the Girls in the Basement. (I LOVE that term)
Since I can’t write full time, I have to write when I can. It takes longer to hook into that creative part of me that sometimes helps the words come to life. I do what I can to help: the scents, the music, the schedule, BUT none of that takes the place of opening the document and letting the words flow.
I can write or I can wait and let time go by without working that part of my creativity.
So what happens when I can’t write? When I look at the keyboard and nothing happens. When I can’t connect with the characters. I wish I could say that never happens. But you know what, it does. Used to it really freaked me out. (Used to was just a few months ago!) But then I realized it’s just a part of my process. When that happens I need to take a break, read some, write a letter to my grandma or e-mails to my CPs, maybe let my characters write love letters to each other. I can’t do like a lot of people suggest and “write through it.” I thought I could, but when I do that, the story STINKS! So I give myself permission to take a break. I think part of the problem when that happens is the doubt caused by ghosts of multiple rejections. But that’s not all. Whatever the reason, those moments of blankness happen and when they do, that’s okay. The key is to not let the break go on forever. 🙂
And that’s the simple truth. What works for someone else might not work for me. What works for me might not work for others. Writing is solitary. We all have the way we do things. The key is to find what works and do it!

Whoa, there for a minute I thought I was getting a compliment

It’s funny how I’ve been steadily losing a pound or two a week for a few months now and suddenly people see it. Funny and cool. 🙂
Especially at school. My students keep making comments, and they always make me feel great.
Today while I was on “make out” patrol (my hall is make out central. I stand out there during passing saying ‘Ew, gross, don’t show your love. You’re making me sick. Ick.’ ….I know not very pro romance writer of me, but man these kids can be gross. :[)
I digress…
Anyway, so today I’m standing there on make out patrol when one of my editors walks up and says, “WOW! Mrs. Lee, you look so great.” I’m feeling awesome, wonderful, ‘so great’ when she finishes. “You know. You’re so different now. You really look great.”
And off she went.
UGH.
I think I definitely see something in there I can use in a book.

SuperBowl weigh down

Whoa! SO I’m going along full blast working out an hour a day, feeling totally in control when the Super Bowl decides to make its annual appearance.
I’ve never really counted the Super Bowl as one of those days you have to worry about. I save those for Valentine’s, Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and family reunion.
Somehow this year my new active state has me smack dab in the middle of Super Bowl heaven.
I’m not talking about the game. I mean, seriously, who cares about the game!?! I’m talking about the chips…and the dips….and the chocolate…and the pretzels…and the cheese and crackers. Thank GOD we didnt do alcohol this year.
I’ve NEVER eaten like I did this year. I didn’t even think about it. And I didn’t eat the pretzels. Pretzles. Chocolate. It wasn’t even a choice. AND then once I started on the chocolate, my old brain suddenly made an appearance. It was like Damien took over my mind.
One minute there I am watching the cheerleaders thinking, hm, wonder if those are real, and the next I’m thinking, hm, since I already ate three chocolate covered strawberries, I might as well eat a few moe. And then a few more. And heck by then half were gone, so I might as well eat the rest of the freaking chocolate covered strawberries because LORD KNOWS if I eat them, they’ll be gone and I’ll never have to worry about them.
Now I ask you. What kind of logic is that?
Today I see it as insane. Yesterday it was smart thinking. The mark of a genius. After the game I slogged around wondering what in the world had happened. Today I kicked it back into high gear and worked out at the Y, drank my water, wore a sexy new outfit and…FINISHED OFF THE LAST THREE STRAWBERRIES! What is wrong with me? 🙂
UGH!
The good news is I weighed in down another pound. That’s 39 total.
The better news is I realize I’ll always have days like Super Bowl Sunday from hell and chocolate covered strawberries can still kick my butt. And that’s okay because the rest of the time I’m eating and living healthy and one party day out of seven isn’t going to hurt.
AND the best news is one day I’m going to write a character going through a life transformation like mine and I’m going to use this!
Woo Hoo!

The Waiting Game

I hate waiting. I know I’ve got to get over that if I’m going to make it in this business, and you’d think after eight years, I’d be used to it, but I’m not. (I almost didn’t write those words because they feel like BEGGING for the rejections to roll in Monday morning.)
This is my eighth anniversary of collecting rejections and still I get antsy around the third month of submission. I have partials at Kensington and Super. The Kensington submission is my first foray into the world of Single Title. It’s hot. It’s fun and I had a blast writing it. 🙂
The Super is angsty. It runs the full gamut of emotions and I love that book. It makes me cry everytime I read it. I’m not sick of it yet, and that’s saying a lot.
At least I think it’s saying a lot.
Way back when I started, I never thought I’d be here. I’ll never forget attending my second conference and talking to a lady in the bathroom. She was a multi-pubbed author whose publisher was getting dragged through the mud on a regular basis. When she told me who she wrote for, I was stunned. At the time I was fixing my lipstick. I looked at her in my smug unpublished state and said, “Wow. I’ve heard so many bad things about them. It must really stink to write for a house that treats their writers like that.”
Now, I can’t believe I spoke the words outloud. At the time I was young and completely unaware of the realities of commercial fiction. I had two requested fulls and a requested partial on H/S editor desks and I was absolutely certain one of those editors was going to call and offer me a million dollar advance for my greatness. (LIke I said, I was completely unaware!)
I have no idea who the author was. Back then I only knew two authors’ names. Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Margot Early. I read lots of others, but if either of them had a book out, I bought them immediately.
It was probably someone super famous like Jo Beverly or Stella Cameron. I remember she was British. Thankfully she understood my ignorance because she just laughed and said “I remember a time when I would’ve paid to have one of my books published! Actually, my publisher pays me well and it beats getting up and going to work in the mornings.”
I had no idea what she meant but I felt sorry for her. She was happy to work for XYZ because she was so desperate for publication. (UGH!)
Now, after all these years and tons of rejections, I’m starting to understand.
I keep reading all the Publish America stories making the papers across the country and I wonder why someone would give their work away, but then a rejection comes in the mail and I wonder why not? It’s better than letting the work sit in a drawer or under the bed or in a filing cabinet.
Like I said at the beginning I HATE playing the waiting game. It’s definitely a part of the business, but it leads me to thoughts like these. I know what I should be doing: trying to connect with my new characters in my new book that have completely befuddled me! Instead I remember the good ol’ days when I read voraciously but never knew who or what sub-genre I read. (Women’s Fiction! What’s that?) When I loved H/S lines, but didn’t even know the authors. When GMC were just letters of the alphabet and people who studied them were crazy! When I waited for 9 or 10 p.m. when I could finally sit down at the computer, turn on the Ozzy or Heart or Van Halen and blast it while I wrote like a maniac, totally immersing myself in my make-believe world and forgetting all about my family or my reality. Back then nothing about writing was hard. It was joyous. It was exciting. It was awe-inspiring.
And rejections were unthought of. Waiting was no big deal because it was just more time to write more books to give to the editor who was going to be blown away by my incredible talent.
I guess I miss that young newbie me.
Hopefully though as I’ve grown, my talent has grown. And maybe this time, I won’t get the rejection. As long as I’m playing the waiting game, I don’t know.

I FEEL like a romance writer

I got new clothes. Jeans. Small jeans. Sexy jeans.
And a bunch of other stuff too.
I look and feel great. DH took one look and said WOW. That’s all. One word.
And that’s all he needed to say. 🙂
My friend Claire gave them to me. She just lost a ton of weight and wanted the clothes too big for her out of her closet. I am SOOOOO thankful.
It’s expensive losing weigh and I already spent my budget on this size. Now I won’t have to buy again for a long time!

It’s amazing how feeling good makes me WANT to write. I didn’t even realize it affected my ability to create characters, but it definitely does. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize how important feeling good is to writing. I’m more awake now. I can breathe. I don’t groan when I look in the mirror. I can actually wear the shoes my heroines want to wear. 🙂 It’s awesome. Incredible. Wonderful.

Almost as amazing as the brainstorming session I took part of last night on Gonna-Beez. I stumbled across the group on e-Harlequin and joined on a whim. Good timing. They’d just gone through a revamping of their board and list. Last night’s brainstorming session was wonderful. They call plotting “in the hot seat.” The person accepts ideas or says no, that won’t work. The big thing is there’s an abundance of ideas and people just toss ideas out there. It was great. I can’t wait to be in the hot seat. 🙂

Adding it up

How can one piece of pizza and a salad turn into three pieces of pizza, a salad and a cupcake?
I don’t know. But in just a few minutes I discovered pizza has the power to motivate me. I ate it. I loved it. And then I went and worked my butt off at the Y.
Now I need t figure out how I can use that same motivational technique in my writing.
It would have been easy to skip the Y tonight. It’s Friday. My friend wasn’t going. DD and DH were whining. But that pizza kept laughing at me and I knew it was go to the Y or let the pizza defeat me. So I laced up the tennis shoes and off I went.
It’s easy to skip writing too. It’s Friday. I’m tired. (hel-lo, I just cardiod 90 minutes!). DD and DH are whiny.
So I sit here writing my journal, knowing I have the very same decision to make. Only when it was the Y, it was about how my jeans fit, how my lungs feel so good when I hit that groove, how I want to lose more weight and look good in a bathing suit for the first time in my life. (Seriously! I’m even fat in my baby swim suit pictures!)
When it’s about writing, it’s about a lot more than how my clothes fit. It’s about how my soul fits.
I know. Weird.
But it’s true.
If I take tonight and write, it might not make a difference. I might write this entire book and it might go on to the next big rejection in the sky, under the bed, in the closet, wherever the heck it goes when an editor passes.
OR
it might be THE ONE. The story that connects with an editor and has them calling me saying the magic words we want to buy YOUR BOOK!
I think that’s the key.
With the Y, I know that even if the scale doesn’t move, my jeans are going to fit better because I defeated the monster otherwise known as over-eating Chuck E. Cheese pizza.
But with my book, currently known as Identity Crisis, I can pour all my time in it, live with the whiny dh and dd, and still end up with a “no thanks, better luck elsewhere.”
That’s where “how my soul fits” comes in.
Writers understand this. I think actors probably do too. When we pour ourselves onto the page, when we send the manuscript off to New York or Canada or where ever, it’s not just a bunch of black blobs on paper otherwise known as letters put together to form sentence that form paragraphs that somehow tell a story. When we close that envelope and drop that package in the mail, a piece of our soul goes along with it.
And no matter how many times we hear “don’t take it personally” about rejection, that’s just not very realistic.
Just like Getting THE CALL and not taking it personally isn’t very realistic. 🙂
But then sitting down to write on a Friday night with dh calling my name every five seconds and allowing myself to think the story I’m pouring my soul into is quite possibly going to be rejected along with the others isn’t all that soul nurturing. It’s not all that smart either. I mean if that’s the case, why bother?
It’s Friday night. I have a decision to make.
I already defeated the pizza. I better go defeat the doubt monster too. And maybe dh will quit calling my name. He’s just watching South Park anyway!

Time

I saw a quote the other day that made me stop and think. It said we have the same 24 hours as Helen Keller, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin and a number of other famous people.
For a few minutes I was blown away. WOW! These people, some with huge deficiencies, found a way to change the world! And here I am complaining about a tough year. Whoa.
Then I saw a response that made me laugh.
A woman wrote: Isn’t it interesting that NONE of the people on the list are mothers?!
Another WHOA!
Motherhood does add an interesting dynamic to the world of a will-be-published-one-day-but-currently- multi-rejected romance writer 🙂 My daughter’s practically grown up watching me write. She knows when the big floppy Tyvek envelopes come in from NYC that Mom might need a hug, some chocolate and a few minutes alone. A teenager, she still pats me on the back when the rejections come in and reminds me I have “that new story I’m working on.” She always talks about WHEN I get published. She’s even learned when she’s angry she can target my writing and get a rise out of me.
That quote was right. We do all have the same amount of time. And once it’s gone, it can’t come back. It’s something I need to think about on a regular basis.

Just like I think about a new study that showed 1 in 3 high school students think the First Amendment gives too many freedoms, YIKES! Zero tolerance has helped us raise a group of children who have no problem being dictated to. UGH!
It’s a good thing I’ve got twenty years left to teach kids how important those rights are.
Between that, motherhood, being a wife and writing, my life is pretty much full. I’m sure I’ll still wish for a 30-hour day every once in a while, but for now, I’ll have to make the most out of the 24 hours I’ve been given.