Writing is a journey, and there is so much to learn along the way. One of the things you must learn is when it’s time to move on. I knew the odds of publishing my very first novel were slim. It didn’t stop me from loving the book and trying my best. It has been through many revisions, and no one has shown much interest. I still believe in it, but know it needs help that I don’t have. So I had to take a hard look and decide it was time to move on. Doing that in the midst of the stress of a pandemic and social unrest made me feel a bit like this.
While querying, editing, and querying again, I also wrote two other books. One is another children’s book that I have yet to even begin editing. The other is my memoir, detailing the 25 years I spent in the entertainment industry. I was able to use the stay-at-home order to find more time to finish it and finally pare it down to find its form.
I thoroughly enjoyed going through my work orders, reading my journals, and falling deep into the memories of the time spent with Kevin Costner in South Dakota, or with Bob Hoskins on a soundstage at Television City, I relived the infamy of turning off Bill Clinton’s mic in the middle of a speech, and the sublime feeling of standing on the field of an NFC championship game with my eyes closed, imagining what it would feel like to have the roar of the crowd be for me.
Professional Eavesdropper takes the reader behind the scenes in Hollywood and leads them on a journey from naïvely wanting to be a part of celebrity culture to the realities of the toxic environments that culture encourages. With help from beta readers and wonderfully honest critique partners, the memoir began to take its shape. It likely still needs a lot more work, but I think it’s a fairly entertaining read.
Tomorrow, after finishing the polish on my query letter and synopsis, I will send out a couple of queries, testing the waters. I am cautiously optimistic that I have something people beyond my friends and family will find interesting, and something that can begin a dialogue on what celebrity culture does to society.
Some day I hope to return to Fear Unleashed and find the missing pieces to it. Until then, I am moving on with renewed optimism and excitement where this memoir might lead. Wish me luck.
It’s a scary time in the world right now. Not only do we have to face the dangers of flu season, but now Covid-19 is making its way across the country, partially aided by misinformation and a lack of preparedness. People are hoarding masks and food supplies, when those things aren’t necessary.
As has been made clear, there are several ways to limit your chances of getting Covid-19 or the flu. Wash your hands, and learn to stop touching your face. Avoid crowds. Those are all reasonable methods to limit your exposure, but the fact is, all it takes is one exposure, and all our efforts are pointless.
There is one thing that could help protect you if you are exposed, and I feel like I can’t keep this information to myself. Several research centers have done studies on a method of breathing called the Wim Hot Method. It is a method where you breath deeply for 30-40 breaths, basically hyperventilating, and then ceasing to breath until you body needs breath. The longest I have not had to breath is 3 minutes. It seems crazy, but it is entirely possible for the human body not to breath for several minutes. Doing this breathing regularly helps your blood become more alkaline, builds the immune system, reduces anxiety and inflammation. Several studies were done where bacteria known to wreak havoc in the body was introduced into the blood of practitioners of this breathing method. There was little to no reaction in the body, where control patients developed flu-like symptoms.
I have practiced this type of breathing every day for a year. I have had two illnesses during that year, and both were exceedingly mild.
Can this protect me against Covid-19? I have no idea. But I do no this is not the time to stop. If you would like to learn this type of breathing as just one more step you can take to protect yourself, here is a video.
If you decide to try the breathing, let me know how it goes. Be well.
It’s come to my attention that I don’t like social media.
It didn’t help when I recently took a course on writing your memoir, and it was suggested that if you want to get it published, you need to have, at minimum, 100,000 followers. That’s never going to happen. I freak out when I have 200 followers.
I’ll admit, that in early stages of entering a social media platform, there’s a rush of excitement. I’m connecting. It’s fun. Whee!
But then you have to keep it up. I see people posting on Twitter 10 times a day. I barely think to look at it once a day. It is a great resource of connecting with other writers, agents, and publishers, but I simply don’t have the time and energy to make it place for real interaction.
Then there’s Facebook. When considering a post, I always ask myself why I want to post it. Who would be interested in what I have to say? Will they be entertained? Am I informing? Am I just trying to create an image of myself? Generally, after thinking all that through, I tend not to post. Sometimes I still post when I shouldn’t. Some of my reluctance to post has to do with a theory I have on intimacy. I was contemplating what intimacy is, and realized it’s the special moments we share when no-one else is around. When we broadcast everything we do, we cheapen those intimate moments. I would much rather submerse myself in that moment with a good friend than stop to take a picture and post it to show everybody I have a friend and we do stuff together. I used to feel obligated to skim through FB posts several times a day because of FOMO, but I’ve learned I don’t miss out on the people around me when I’m not glued to my phone, and that’s more important.
And then there’s this blog. I should really post more often. I should really try to get it out there, but once again I’m faced with a time and energy problem. My work requires a lot of me, and my savings are running out. I can’t afford time-wasters. I need to focus on writing, editing, and querying.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that when it comes to social media, I have to accept I’m old. And that’s going to be a huge battle in the new publishing world, but I’m just going to have to let me words speak for themselves. Either my work is good, and someone sees that, or I will spend the rest of my life continuing to tell stories just for me.
I have two books sitting in my files, needing to be edited. One is a children’s book, and the other is the memoir of my adventures in Hollywood. I’m eager to get to both, and yet last weekend I got body slammed by the best story I’ve had in a very long time. A book for adults this time, though I think teens would like it too. There’s depth, sub plots, fully developed characters, and intricate themes. I spent the day handwriting 12 pages of rough story outline. It was amazing to see it flow through me. Those are the moments every writer lives for. I think I have to write this before I edit the other ones. I just have to. I don’t know how it will resolve, and I’m trying to figure out if I can just go ahead and write what has been laid out so far in hopes the ending will present itself.
My posts will probably continue to be sporadic, because as it turns out, I’m designed more for anti-social media. So you can be ironic, and drop me a line, telling me how much you dislike social media too.
The advice most given to writers is to write what you know. For that reason, I think it is every writer’s job to go out and experience as much as you possibly can. When I look back at my life, I’ve done my job. It’s been quite a ride.
The first 17 years were spent on a farm in a very rural part of South Dakota. Books and my imagination were the things that kept me going. My mom says she taught me to read at 4 because I kept trying to do it on my own. Books let me know there was a big, wide world out there, and I couldn’t wait to go see it.
My senior year in high school I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. Living an hour from a theater meant I hadn’t seen many movies. This one had an impact. After the movie, if I didn’t do it physically, I did it in my head – I stood, pointed at the screen and said, “I want to do that.” When I found out screenplays were only 120 pages long, while novels were 200-400 pages, my long diversion away from novels began. I decided I would write screenplays.
I wandered the earth a bit, fulfilling my writer’s job of exploring life. I spent a couple of years in Hawaii, a summer in Yellowstone National Park (best summer of my life), a winter at The Grand Canyon, a spring in the San Bernardino Mountains teaching city kids about the outdoors, and then finally, I made my way to Hollywood. With luck, hard work, and some talent I started working as a teleprompter operator.
The first five years were freelance, and were enough to make any farm girl’s head spin. I worked with celebrities I had seen on my TV for years. One day I was doing a PSA with The Fonz. The next day I’d be on the set of Home Improvement. Another day it was Murphy Brown with JFK, Jr. standing next to me at craft services. I worked with Michael Jackson at Neverland Ranch. I prompted Presidents Reagan and Clinton, and Vice Presidents Gore and Quayle. Sydney Poitier asked to speak with me privately in his sitting room, and I asked Meryl Streep to get off my cases so I could pack up and go home. I’ve been kissed on the lips by Bob Hoskins and Connie Chung, and slapped on the ass by Kevin Costner. Neil Simon once asked my thoughts on rewriting his speech. Every day was a new adventure. It was also an adventure on how to make ends meet in LA on very little money.
That struggle to earn a living led to the biggest wrong turn in my writing career. I traded all the excitement, and opportunities to meet new people doing freelance work for the good money and security of a long-running studio show – The Late Late Show. The problem was, I wasn’t connecting with the kind of people who could further my career. If I wanted to do standup, or be a comedy writer, it was the perfect place. For someone who wanted to write dramatic TV or film, it was an absolute dead end. My scripts piled up, unread, un-submitted. Even trying to further my career within the network went nowhere, because I was too valuable to them where I was.
After 20 years of watching celebrities parade across the control room monitors, and seeing there was no future for me writing in Hollywood, I walked away, sold my house, and moved to a spot in the middle of the country where I had good friends, the weather was tolerable, and the cost of living was low. I have a job where it takes me a month to earn what I used to make in a week, but it is one that makes my heart sing, and not one that kills my soul. I have found the balance that has allowed me to write.
I’ve completed my first novel, though if you count the pile of screenplays in a box somewhere, it’s not like it’s my first attempt at writing. I’d like to think it’s not your typical first novel. I’m focusing on MG at the moment.
The MS I am submitting to PitchWars is Fear Unleashed, which takes place 2000 years after mages and dragons filled the land. They still exist, but now, technology has replaced the need for magic, and kids just want the latest gadget. 13-year-old Opal’s mom was working in the space program when she was killed. Now all Opal can think of is fulfilling her mom’s dreams and heading into space. The only problem is, her magic ability score is even higher than her science scores. The placement board has other ideas for her, and on her first day of school she summons a deadly karuk. In the midst of all the danger and adventure, Fear Unleashed explores spirituality vs. science, and by the end of the trilogy, love vs. fear. I hope to find a mentor to help me fix some structural problems, and give the MS a boost in finding its way into the world.
I was part way through book two of the trilogy, when I decided it might be better to have a more stand alone book to offer. I have nearly completed that book, but can’t come up with a name for it. It follows the adventures of an 10-year-old girl named Daisy, who finds a magic stereoscope in her great-grandfather’s attic. When she presses a button on the side, it sends her back to the exact moment the picture was taken – Buffalo Grass, Oklahoma just a few days before Black Sunday, one of the worst dust storms the country has ever seen. While this book is a stand alone, it also has the potential to be a series, with Daisy traveling to any number of historical events between 1835 and the present day.
So that’s what I’ve been up to during my years on this planet. Thanks to my wandering, there’s a lot I know and a lot I can write about. Hopefully some day all those experiences will make it to print.
Four years ago today I arrived in Springfield, MO – my spirit nearly broken, exhausted, and clinging to a small bit of hope that my life wasn’t irreparable. It wasn’t, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not grateful for the leap I took.
Looking back, I have to laugh at my naivety. I had done the math, knew the cost of living in Springfield, knew the profit I made from the sale of my house, and figured I had 3-4 years to get a book published before it all fell apart.
It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know that the journey to publication can be a very, very long one. Many authors don’t get published until they’ve written 9-10-20 books. Each of those books might go through 6-16 rewrites. 3-4 years! HA!
Of course there are always the wunderkinds – the ones who get published right out of the gate. There are the self-published who can claim the title of published author, but can’t claim to have many readers or earn a living. But the vast majority of authors who want to publish traditionally, toil away in the trenches for years, learning to write, learning to tell stories, and learning to deal with rejection.
This is what I’ve gathered the path to publication is: write – celebrate – edit and polish – celebrate again, imagining agents thronging to your brilliant book – rejection – rewrite – test the waters – rejection – rewrite – rewrite – rejection – rewrite – rewrite – rewrite – rewrite – agent – rewrite – rewrite – rewrite – publisher – rewrite – rewrite – rewrite. Publication!
I’ve been stuck in the rewrite process, floundering. Not sure what direction to go. Since form letter rejections leave the author blind, and my writer’s group has disbanded for the time being, I needed to get some pertinent critiques from authors who write and read similar books to what I’m writing. I got a couple of critique partners online and we are in the process of reading each other’s manuscripts and giving feedback. I’ve gotten one back already and it has given me so much to think about. Many areas that I had problems with, but my early readers assured me were fine, gave them problems too. I wish I could learn to listen to my own instincts more.
I am heading back into the rewrite breach. What will follow is analyzing the already written story for structure. Breaking each chapter down. Examining plot. And most daunting… possibly rewriting the entire novel from a different POV. Right now each chapter is told from each of the main characters point of view – rotating through to tell the story. I am considering switching to third person omniscient. It seems overwhelming to even attempt it, but I may give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, I still have my original.
So for those who ask where I am with my writing… that is where I am. Once more unto the breach.
I remember whining “I’m bored” from time to time when I was a kid. Most of us over the age of 30 did. Apparently kids today are saying it less and less often, because they’re never bored. They pick up their phone, their tablet, their game controller, or the remote control.
Back in the olden days, you know, the 70s, do you remember what happened shortly after uttering those words? Our parents would either suggest something to do, which sounded good, and we did it. Or, they would threaten us with chores if we continued to complain about boredom. And with that, we would evaporate from their presence before chores could be unleashed. Out on a farm, 12 miles from a town of 400 people, there didn’t seem to be a lot of choices, but the sheer weight of boredom would force out some creativity. I would go work on my fort in the trees, maybe build something, or pretend I was on some adventure in the barn or pastures. Much of my love of writing comes from being bored and losing myself in a book, or being bored and playing out some story I’d invented in my head. Obviously, being bored isn’t fun, but it makes me sad that today’s kids aren’t enjoying the adventures that come out of boredom.
The problem is, I now feel sad for myself, as well, and doubly so, because I’m trying to launch a creative career. You see, I, too, have ceased being bored. There’s always something to watch on Netflix, or Amazon, or Hulu, or Sling. And if that’s not enough to entertain me, I’ll play a game on my phone while watching. Then there’s Flipboard, which lets me read all the news from so many sources and viewpoints, that it’s a black hole that can suck me in, leading me from one story to the next. I might sit down to write, but then YouTube seems infinitely more interesting than pounding out the next chapter. I mean, you can tour abandoned sites, learn about cults from those who’ve left, hear inspirational Ted Talks, watch a video on history, telling yourself it’s research for future ideas, watch music videos… again, a black hole that can suck one in for hours.
And then I complain that I just don’t have time to read. I just don’t have time to write. LIAR! I do have the time for both those things, and if I were bored, I would be clamoring to do them. My mind would be filling the boredom with ideas, just like it did when I was a kid.
So, I am doing something I don’t know that I’ve ever done before. I am making a New Year’s Resolution.
I do hereby resolve to be bored in 2019.
Often and frequently.
I will be getting rid of several of my streaming services. Not all of them. I am not a troglodyte, after all. I will be removing the games from my phone. The iPhone OS now lets you monitor your screen time, and I will keep an eye on that, perhaps creating time limits if I feel that’s necessary. Anybody have any other suggestions?
How often are you bored? What distracts you from boredom? Want to join me in my New Year’s Resolution and get your boredom on in 2019?
The podcast Write or Die has provided an excellent window into the world of publishing. There was so much I didn’t know, that I didn’t even know I didn’t know it. My newfound knowledge has led me to understand that an unpublished author is going to have a hard time selling a series. You might have delivered one good story, but can you finish? Will they like how you finish? You have no track record. A stand alone book is a much easier sell.
When I first conceived of this Fear trilogy, my ignorance led me to believe that I would be offering them something great — not just one book, but three! What a deal. Oy!
It has also become clear that many authors have to shelve much loved books and move on to something new. They might write 4 books, 8 books, 10 books before they finally make a sale.
While I’m not shelving the Fear trilogy, I am going to start a new project. There are several other book ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for years. I’ve landed on another middle grade series idea, but each book would be a stand alone, so it carries no risk. And since it is a lower middle grade book, it will be about 1/2 the length of my upper middle grade book.
The first chapter flowed out yesterday. Today has been a day of research, as I learn more about the particular year into which my main character gets plopped. Luckily I once wrote a screenplay in this era, so I’m half way there.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to write two books at once. I don’t want to let my trilogy go. That story needs to be told, but my gut feeling is that I can’t do both. My hope is that if I can pump the new one out quickly, I can get back to work on the trilogy.
The other exciting discovery through the podcast, is pitchwars.org It’s an amazing writing contest that matches published authors (mentors) with unpublished authors (mentees). The mentees submit their query packages to four of the mentors. if they choose you to work with, they spend the next four months helping you revise your book and then it is presented to agents. Usually I hear about these opportunities just after they closed. Submissions don’t happen until the end of August, so I will have plenty of time to go over my query package again, as well as research the mentors.
The most important thing I’ve learned from the podcast is this: Getting published is simply a matter of perseverance. If you stick with it, take constructive criticism to heart and edit, edit, edit your work until it shines, you WILL get published. You just can’t quit. I don’t plan to.by
Before I get to the main topic, I want to speak to any writers who read my blog. There is a terrific podcast out there called Write or Die. Authors are interviewed about the road to publication and it is eye opening. I knew it was a long process, but until I listened to these authors, I had no idea how long. A part of me thinks it would have been good to know it can take 8 or 9 years to get a book from written to published before I took my leap. My 3 year financial cushion wasn’t nearly enough. On the other hand, it’s a good thing I didn’t know, or I never would have taken the leap. Give it a listen. It’s great information about getting published.
Now to the title – I’ve made the decision to end my Prime Membership and wean myself off Amazon. It’s something more Americans might want to consider. Let me lay out the reasons.
Brick and mortar stores have long warned that Amazon hurts local businesses. Local businesses employ local people, giving them money to spend, and building thriving local economies. I’ll admit there have been many times I have ordered products through Amazon that I know I could get locally, but it seemed so much easier to have it show up on my doorstep, rather than drive to get it. There was a good chance the price was better too.
Amazon’s policies are impossible for smaller businesses to compete with, and are creating entitled customers who expect the same service. No shipping expense, and if you don’t like it, you don’t pay to ship it back. Package stolen – Amazon refunds it fully or sends another, without many questions asked. When a business isn’t doing the volume Amazon does, they lose all profit with those policies. But if they don’t provide them, they lose all customers.
Amazon is the poster child for corporate greed – Recently, on the same day they announced huge profits, blasting through all expectations, they also raised the fee for Prime Membership citing rising costs. Riiiiiiiight. Jeff Bezos has so much money he’s using it to go to space, but he can’t pay his workers a living wage, and provides horrible working conditions. When Seattle tried to tax Amazon to help the homeless population, which has grown due to the high cost of living in the area, partially due to tech companies, Amazon fought back and killed the tax.
And for me, there’s a final kicker. They broadcast extremist views that are contributing to the deaths of Americans – NRA-TV.
I’ve got until December before my Prime membership renews, but I’ve already begun the process. I can’t get my cat food anywhere in town, but I can get it through PetCo. I’m searching out item after item and am finding it locally, ordering it directly from the manufacturer, or at the very least, another distributor. That doesn’t mean I won’t use Amazon from time to time. In fact, if I’m trying a new product, that’s exactly who I’ll go to, precisely for the free shipping and easy returns. But once I know I like something, I’ll buy it elsewhere.
Greed is not good, and right now neither is Amazon.by
The process of sending out query letters has begun. It’s likely going to be a long and frustrating process, but I’m glad it’s started. I read an article that said not to give up until you’ve received 80 ‘no’s. That means I have 78 ‘no’s or 1 ‘yes’ to go before I end the search for an agent.
But that’s not what’s really on my mind tonight. Charlottesville is on my mind. Once again, my heart is broken. It’s broken for so many reasons. I think, just as in the election, the biggest heartbreak comes from my fellow citizens.
Nazis were marching in our American streets.
Let that sink in.
And a significant portion of our country, mainly the ones who support Trump and who felt personally offended by the Women’s March, shrugged their shoulders.
The Nazis, and that is what I will call all of them collectively, because essentially that is what they are, came to their march with shields, concealed weapons, helmets, and sticks.
Other people came to protest these disgusting Nazis because they actually remember history, and that their grandfathers, you know, that greatest generation, were partially great because they beat the Nazis.
And then one terrorist plowed into a group of people, changing lives forever, and ending one.
Still, so many shrugged. It was one of those awful liberals who died, so who cares. After the Women’s March, I saw some who I had thought were decent people sharing memes laughing at the idea of running over protestors in the street. Guess they thought it would be funny to see me dead, too. And so you know… I guess in Charlottesville those disgusting leftists just got what was coming to them.
I made the mistake of reading some of the Nazi’s propaganda and listening to one of the speakers from last weekend say Heather Heyer deserved it. They called a woman with a passion for helping others, a “fat, childless slut.” They have publicly spoken about how Trump did not denounce them, and in fact said he loved them. They are ready for the next event, feeling even more certain that they can act with impunity.
And still so many, who claim to have love in their heart, are silent. Nothing but resounding gongs and clanging cymbals.
The world is upside down. Republicans first embraced Putin and Russia, and now seem to be ready to embrace Nazis. Hatred and exclusion is now celebrated, and love and inclusion is mocked. Peacefully protesting is unpatriotic. Violence and murder is barely worth noting, (unless it’s a brown person doing it). Loving your neighbor and wanting them to be well makes you a commie. Spending your time and money to become educated makes you an evil elite, while remaining ignorant is seen as a virtue.
It’s enough to make me not want to ever get out of bed again. Because there is no fix for this. 45 is the symptom of a broken nation, not the problem.
When someone asked G.K. Chesterton “What is wrong with the world,” he wisely answered what each of us should answer to that question.
But luckily for us, it’s the same answer to the question, “What is right with the world.”
I am what’s wrong with this country, and I am also what’s right with it.
And so are you.
I cannot control those who want to divide our country by skin color. I cannot control those who want to divide our country by religion. I cannot control those who think I am less than they are, or that others are less. I cannot control those who hate.
What I can control is myself. I will not hate someone because they have a different shade of skin, culture, religion, or language. I value the variety in the world and see how life improves when you add to it.
What I will do is show love to everyone I come in contact with. It’s what is right about this country, and so I will be that.
When I was a kid, I sneaked into my sisters’ room and went snooping. Under my oldest sister’s mattress was a poem. I thought she had written it, and that she was quite subversive. It was only years later that I discovered John Lennon singing it, and for just a brief moment I thought he was singing my sister’s poem, until I realized, no, she had a copy of his song under her mattress. Doh! The things kids will think.
It has since become my favorite song. I’ll always love John Lennon’s version best, but this one is perfect because Pentatonix is America – gay, straight, bisexual, Latina, black, white, Jewish and Christian. Together – as one – they create so much beauty. Many people might consider my idealism foolish. In fact…
It’s official. I’m a writer. I’ve been rejected. It’s actually not the first time, just the first time for a novel. Despite being told I would probably not hear back before September, it o only took a couple of weeks to be rejected.
I had told myself to expect it. Afterall, nobody gets in on their first try. Still, it hurt. Reading the reasons hurt more.
I gave myself last night to feel lousy about it, then today I would get off the pity pot and climb onto the perseverance pot. Even in my angst, I reminded myself of some things – like the comments I’ve gotten from people who’ve read it. And the fact that neither agent actually read my book. They sampled it. If I can get someone to actually read it, perhaps I’d have a better outcome.
This morning some other facts dawned on me. I know that most writers get rejected many times before someone takes them on. Each person who rejected them had a compelling reason for the rejection… but that didn’t make them right. J.K. Rowling was rejected dozens of times, and obviously those agents reasons were idiotic.
One agent that rejected my novel said its was good writing, good pacing, but too familiar and wouldn’t stand out. Another one said he didn’t care for it and couldn’t follow it. Two agents. Same agency. Two completely different reasons for rejection, and frankly two that don’t even work together. If it’s good writing and too familiar, how could it be difficult to follow? It occurs to me that I can’t take any of their opinions to heart. If down the road, every agent is saying the same thing, then perhaps I should take them more seriously, but for now, I simply have to find an agent whose personal opinion is more closely aligned with my readers.
Other reasons cited for rejection were a weak market linked, in part, to the chaos in Washington. Lucky me. i decide to make my leap of faith at the same time a quarter of my fellow citizens go nuts and decide to destroy the country. Hopefully they don’t take my dreams down too.
This afternoon I did some research on how to properly construct a query letter. I already have several agents in mind that I’d like to query. One in particular interests me greatly, but only allows for 10 pages of the book to be submitted. That means I better have a killer query letter to sell then entire series.
Onward and upward. It’s not the last rejection I’ll get. But I won’t quit. Not yet. Perhaps not ever, because I only fail if I quit. I will persist.by