Rip tides and Slurpees

Rip tides strike again off the NJ shore.  Every time I read a story about something like this I thank God for my mother.

When I was nine or ten a friend and I went to the Virginia Beach oceanfront with my mother.  We went to the section away from the crowds, where we always went.

We always stayed close to shore.  Where the waves were waist high.  We jumped the cresting waves or body surfed into shore.  Mom swam with us.  We had a blast.

The ocean was rough that day.  Mom told us to stay closer than usual.  We thought we were close enough.  Mom caught a wave into shore.  My friend and I jumped over it.  When we came down we were caught in the current.  Waves splashed over our heads.  In seconds our feet couldn’t touch bottom.

My friend began to panic.  I grabbed at her and tried to tell her to swim with me, parallel to the beach like my parents had taught us.  She didn’t fight, but she was scared.  So was I.  I could barely keep my head above water.  I kicked and struggled.  My friend got so heavy so fast.

Then my mom was there.  Cutting through the water toward us with strong strokes.  She said something like, “come with me.”  Then she took my arms and wrapped them around her.  I held on to her and my friend held on to me and my mother pulled us all to safety.

Safely out of the current, we swam to the beach.  Crawling the across the wet sand.  Collapsing on the dry sand.

My mother saved our lives that day.

Then, to top it off, on the way home we stopped to get Slurpees.  Near death experiences should always be capped with sugary drinks.

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chocolate should be packed in first aid kits

I live mostly in my head.  When I reveal that I work with computers for a living and have a secondary career as a novelist, people tend to respond with the all knowing “Ah.”  As if that explains it all.

It explains why I have a distant stare in tranquil moments.  It explains why, out of a peaceful silence I’ll explode with an “Oh, that’s why…” then go quiet again while I scribble frantically.  It also explains why I prefer not to have drama in the house if I can help it.  Unfortunately, attempting to curtail the insanity often brings it on full blast.

You see, mediating flaring tempers needs to be done with the lightest touch.  As if working with sweating dynamite.  Sentences formed exactly so, spoken with just the right inflection.  All body language relaxed and reassuring so all parties can tell that you understand.  A micro expression at the wrong moment can cause a chain reaction.  – BANG–

I’ll be spending the next hour or so in my room with a cold cloth over my eyes and chocolate at my side.

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Why I write

Every time I sit to write I’m forced to ask myself if I’m wasting my time.  Will anyone enjoy what I write?  Does it matter?

This leads me to the question of why I write.  To answer it I have to describe why I read.

As a child books were a favorite escape.  I could pick up a book and instantly be in a whole other world, having glorious adventures and still be home in time for dinner.

I write because now stories and adventures pop into my mind and I want to share them with others.  The idea that i could create a world and characters for someone else to love is what keeps me writing.

So the answer is, I’m not wasting my time.  Someone somewhere will enjoy my world, my characters, my novel.  Until then, all I can do is keep writing.  Hopefully, one day someone will clutch my novel with anticipation of their imminent adventure.

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Rest in Peace Anne McCaffery

I first started reading her novels when I was a teen.  After high school graduation I took a job in a book store and every time one of her books came through I set one aside to buy.   She wrote more than just the Pern novels.  The Crystal singer novels and the stories about the Brain ships are also amazing.

The world is emptier for her loss.

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I’ve always been a little behind the times.  I don’t understand reality television or twitter.   I only just now really get blogging; though they teach it in my children’s school as part of the English curriculum.  Still don’t have a cell phone and only just got a laptop last year.

Given this history you can understand why, when I received a Sudoku hand game player for my birthday last week I quickly became addicted. Love the game.  Love the challenge.   But with the handheld game it’s so much better.   I can choose my level.  It times me so I can compete with myself and it does this wonderful electronic cheer when I clear a number
or finish a game.

It’s a confidence booster, a mind clearer, and general good time.  And best yet, it’s a fine way to procrastinate.

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I think I’m ready

For the last few months, I’ve been working on my newest project.  I think it’s wonderful.  It’s my best book yet.  (just a little shamless self promotion) I’ve edited it myself, twice, and I’ll do it once more before I call it officially ready to pitch.

I’ve figured out my elevator pitch.  (elevator pitch is what to say to an agent when you’re stuck in an elevator with them.)  It should only be a few seconds and inspire questions.  Think of it like a cross between a pickup line and a movie tag line.  Every time I read mine I think of that guy that does all the voice-overs for movies.

I also have a business card designed.  I did it myself with my color printer, but it will do the job.  On the back, I have my blurb.  (the paragraph on the back of the book that makes you want to pick it up)

The synopsis is done. (Detailed outline)

Only two more weeks until the RWA National conference.  I can’t wait.

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Excuse me Ma’am your insecurity is showing.

 As a writer I’m expected to be a loner.  Books aren’t written in the middle of a party.  It isn’t done by a group of friends sitting around a living room.  It’s solitary work, between a writer and their medium.  Whether you use pen and paper or a computer, you still need the solitude to focus on getting your message out.

 Solitude can allow your mind to wander and wonder if your message is a total snooze fest.  Or, if you’re like me and struggle with punctuation daily, to fret that readers point and laugh at obvious comma misplacement.   Don’t say they don’t.  Commas can be hilarious.

Long ago I realized that everything made me nervous, my clothes, haircut, grades, boys, and people’s reactions in general.  I really only had two options.  Remain sequestered in my room until I completely cracked, or take a deep breath and step out into the terrifying world and deal with my inadequacies.  When a dear friend pointed out that I have to write, it was just another step.

Then I realized that it wasn’t just one.  Writing is a series of terrifying steps.  Seriously, I think writers block is just the crushing fear of moving on with the book.   You have to put your but in the chair and make your hands create words.  Then of course they have to make sense, build character, and move along the plot…

Once you’ve written the book, you breathe a sigh of relief.  It’s done.  You made it.  Not really, now you have to go back and change the words that you labored so hard to create.  Then there’s self editing.  Then some people give it to others to review and make changes or not depending on what they said.

Then you need to find an Agent.  What if you can’t do that?  What if the thing you’ve worked so hard on is really awful?  Those darn commas.  Or, if you get an agent, and they manage to get you published.  Then you have to go to book signings.  What if no one shows up?   You sit there all day amid stacks of your book, your smile getting more and more desperate with every hour.  Or if you’re at a group signing and yours is the only book that no one wants.

Wait.  Life isn’t about what could happen.  It’s about what’s happening right now.

You want to write a book?  Good, do it.

You’re finished?  You are now in one percent of the population.  Edit that one.  Write another.

Done with that?  Query an agent.

Rejected?  Do it again.  Continue until you get one.

Found an agent?  Congratulations, are you done with that second book yet?

Published?  You’ve just achieved something wonderful.  Be proud of yourself.  Sign books.  Promote.  And above all keep writing.

Just because some people don’t like your book, doesn’t mean everyone won’t.  To quote Walt Disney, “Keep moving forward.” 

Don’t let the peak of insecurity stop you in your tracks.  Own it, use it, bend it to your will until it becomes a part of who you are and no one, including you, notices it anymore.

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