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Danielle Haas

Mother of two, Writer of romance novels, Lover of wine

Taking A Step Back

This last weekend I was lucky enough to take a little step back in time. Two of my best friends from college and I planned a girls weekend back to our old stomping ground for homecoming. The three of us try to get together as much as possible, but we’ve never gone back to Bowling Green State University before. I hadn’t stepped foot on campus since I’d graduated over nine years ago. Not only was I looking forward to seeing two of my favorite people in this world and going back to relive my glory days, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. My beloved dog (aka my best friend) has been having issues and will be getting surgery and I had received some pretty disappointing news about my last manuscript that completely caught me off guard. I was stressed beyond belief, and I think the very large pimple that came to visit me would attest to that! I needed a break. I needed to get away and recharge. I needed to take a step back.

Stepping on campus was like being transported right back to Freshmen year. It was so surreal to see this place that played such a huge role in making me into the person I am today. My friends and I walked around and laughed at memories of all the stupid..I mean brillant…things we had done so many years before. We couldn’t believe how different everything looked, but at the same time how it looked exactly the same. The dorms we lived in, the buildings where our classes were, and the pathways that wove through the campus and took us where we needed to go. But some of the old, run down buildings had been torn down and new ones stood in their place. Improvements had been made where I didn’t realize they were even needed. It was the place I grew to love so much, but an even better version than what it had been. (Except for the lack of Myles pizza. I’ll always be salty about that one!)

I came home yesterday feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and just plain happy. I love my kids and my family…but this mama just needed a break from it all. My weekend took away my stress and reset me back to calm, patient mom. It also got me thinking about my writing. As I’ve written before, I chose to go to Bowling Green based on their Creative Writing program, and then I quickly dropped the major because the thought of having to read my work in front of strangers gave me massive anxiety. 22490054_10105072245062240_1181635136356446312_nWe walked past the church where one of my creative writing courses was held, and I thought about the crazy journey I’ve been on the last few years. Mainly, I thought about where I was at this very moment. I’ve let frustration, confusion, and a little bit of anger dictate my writing the last few weeks, just like I let the fear of what happened in this class dictate my major. As you can guess, that hasn’t gone well. My WIP has lain dormant after getting half of the first chapter complete, my newly finished MS hasn’t been opened for another look through, and my mind has gone over and over what my next step should be. After this weekend, I’ve realized sometimes we need to look back in order to continue moving forward.

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Saw these words of wisdom written on the sidewalk on campus

 

So I came home and I opened up the third book of the series I completed back in April. I love all three manuscripts for my Smtihview series, but book three just might be my favorite. My writing is stronger, the story more compelling, and I relate to the mother of two young children who married her college sweetheart. After close to ten months of my first manuscript being under submission with my agent, I’ve come to accept it might not find a home in the publishing world. But why should that mean I need to throw away the other two stories I worked on? Especially the third. Not only because Emma speaks to me on a personal level, but because I strongly believe it can easily be written into a stand alone novel. Especially if I make some improvements in areas I hadn’t even realized needed to be improved.

I haven’t gotten very far into editing/rewriting, but I’ve come to realize that’s okay. I need to take my time and use all of the tools I’ve learned over the last few years to dig into this baby and really make it shine. Sometimes, I just need to breathe, take a step back, and realize that every thing happens when it’s supposed to for a very good reason. Who knows, maybe that reason is to capture this story in a different why than I’d planned so that one day it will be shared with anyone who’d like to read it!

Ay Ziggy Zoomba!

 

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Another New Beginning

The last couple of weeks has been a whirlwind in this household. I know this is true of a lot of households right now. Summer is over, school has started, and fall is in the air. This has always been my favorite time of year, but this year it held a very different meaning. A whole new season has fallen upon us and it has nothing to do with the weather. This year, Tootsie started kindergarten. Gone are the days where we can go where ever we’d like and plan fun activities to fill our week. Now are the days with busy mornings trying to get out of the house on time, waiting for the bus to pull up with my precious cargo, and dealing with a tired and cranky five-year-old who is sill adjusting to her busy schedule. So far she’s loved school, and I pray her enthusiasm only grows from here.

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Tootsie being gone all day has brought on changes for my other little munchkin as well. Spud is baby number two, and besides a couple hours of preschool throughout the week, he has never known what it’s like to have mom all to himself. Spud LOVES his sissy, and I worried that he would have a hard time dealing with her being gone all day. I immediately went into planning mode. Signed up for classes, set up playdates, found amazing new places to visit that would peak his interest. But as it turns out, I was worried about nothing. Spud is loving having his mama’s attention to himself a little too much and all he wants to do is ride his bike up and down the driveway without his sister bossing him around.

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into the school year and we’ve all gotten a little more adjusted to our new routines, it’s time for me to turn the page on another new chapter. Or, as it turns out, another new book. I recently finished my fourth MS and sent it along for my agent to take a look at. I told myself that I was going to wait to start something new until after I heard from her and figured out what was happening with my MS. No use diving into something new if I was going to have edits thrown at me soon. I might as well spend the time reading, relaxing, and spending time with the fam. Anyone who knows me well isn’t too surprised to learn that didn’t last long! Ideas and characters were all clamoring around in my head, demanding my attention. I just felt itchy, not having something to at least spin around in my mind, fine tuning it until I had come up with the next chapter or great new scene. I was restless as hell.

So, yesterday I sat down using the romance arc as a guide to an outline. I put down my idea until I came out with a plot I was excited to write about. A family came to life in my mind and what this story could be puts a smile on my face. And then…my CP blew it all to hell. My last MS was based around an idea I had, that unfortunately, was written out of the story because it wasn’t central enough to the plot. My CP and I started batting around ideas until something just clicked and we both knew it could be something special! What we came up with is another romantic suspense, which I had so much fun writing, that will take me even further out of my comfort zone. It’s something fresh and dangerous and feisty as hell. I can’t wait to get started!

So on to the next page I go. Another new beginning that promises to take me on a great adventure. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

 

 

Teamwork Makes The Dreamwork

I haven’t been shy about admitting on here that I am a bit of a control freak, and I’m pretty fond of doing things by myself. Don’t get me wrong, if I absolutely need help with something, I’ll ask for it. But that doesn’t seem to happen very often. And lucky for me, I’ve passed this incredibly annoying trait on to not just one, but both of my children. I get so frustrated when Tootsie gives me attitude for helping her get her shirt on, or when Spud throws a fit because I switch his shoes on to the right feet. I know that in the long run it’s good to have independent children, but short-term, it can drive this mama crazy! But it has shown me the importance of reaching out for help for myself when the situation calls for it.

With my writing, I’ve learned how invaluable the help of a good CP is! I’m not lying when I say I’d be lost without mine. My CP helps with plot development, grammar issues, my constant neglect of question marks, and manages to keep me sane when I’m having a rough day. She is a lifesaver. She has helped me so much in my recent steps into writing romantic suspense. I’ve loved writing my WIP, and have probably annoyed the hell out of her by cranking it out at warp speed. I just haven’t been able to stop! I’ve been so excited about the story and my brain won’t turn off!

Besides writing romantic suspense, something else is different about this WIP. This time, I have an agent. Having an agent is a relatively new thing or me. I know that my agent is working hard to get my first MS published, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure what else I should be talking to her about. I didn’t want to be looked at as needy or unprofessional. I didn’t want to be perceived as someone who needed their hand-held when working on her WIP. And beyond that, my agent still seems kind of like some mythical unicorn that I didn’t want to spook, because what if she realized she doesn’t like anything else I did and would run back into the enchanted forest and never return? Okay, so I might be reading Tootsie too many fairy tales, but the main concept remains. I was too afraid to reach out and ask for help from someone who is actually invested in my career and wants to help me.

So, 51,000 words into my WIP, my agent asks me what I’m working on. I bust out a synopsis, send it over, and wait with bated breath to hear what she thinks. She quickly responds (One thing she’s excellent at!) that although I have some interesting ideas, my story feels more like two different stories and there’s a little too much going on. Punch to the gut! She gave me some ideas, and I responded with a new synopsis. Still not there. I respond with more ideas, until she recommends I create an outline using the romance arc. I took a couple of days to clear my head and really think about how I could get this book where we both wanted it to be. I wrote an outline, and she agreed I was on the right track.

Enter massive relief! In order to incorporate the changes we discussed, I had to delete about 20,000 words from my WIP. At first I was a little heartsick about this, but as I started rewriting these chapters, my excitement for this story grew tenfold! It’s way more suspenseful, the story is fast paced, and it’s just plain better! I sent my agent the first three chapters, and she thought they were great! Let me fall back in my chair and hold back my happy tears! If I would have reached out to my agent sooner, I wouldn’t have had to go through the stress of deleting and reworking so much of my WIP. She could have helped me flush out the best possible story a whole lot sooner!

Now that I’ve learned my little life lesson, it’s time to hunch over my computer and get back to work. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness or neediness, it’s a chance to utilize the talents and insight of people around you who WANT to help you! And as for my agent, she’s not looking like that mythical unicorn I was afraid would run away anymore. More like an incredibly helpful, professional woman who wants to push me to be the best writer I can be. I’m beyond grateful to have her in my corner.

It’s All About The Journey

My husband and I recently got home from an amazing, whirlwind vacation. A once in a lifetime, completely surreal vacation. We’d been planning it for over two years, and I don’t think it’s completely sunk in that it’s over. The planning of this amazing vacation began because I was lucky enough to be asked to be in the one of my dearest friends wedding…and the wedding was in Scotland. How do you say no? I’ll tell you…you can’t! Not only has Ellen been one of my best friends for the past thirteen years, but hello! It was in Scotland! A place I’ve never been and would love to see. So my husband and I immediately started figuring out where all we wanted to go while we were in Europe. I mean, if we were going to spend the money to get over there, we might as well see as much as we could. And because of that luck that was on my side, we were able to plan our travels with two other friends who would be attending the wedding as well.

Our trip started off in Ireland. We met our pals in Dublin and spent three days touring the city and drinking Guinness. We had a blast, and only a few moments of missing the kids terribly. I mean, of course I missed them the entire time we were gone, but there were a few heart-wrenching moments of why did I leave me kids in another country? After Ireland, we made our way to Scotland. We had decided to rent a car and drive up to the highlands for a couple of nights before we needed to be back in Edinburgh for the wedding. Scott and I have never rented a car and just taken off before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was so surprised to discover this was one of my favorite parts of the trip! Taking off with no real destination in mind, stopping in towns whenever one sounded nice. We saw ruins, castles, lakes, and whiskey distilleries. We talked, we laughed, we took the highlands with Braveheart music blaring in our ears. We had the time of our lives! All of these awesome memories made before we even reached out ultimate destination…the wedding.

By the time we reached the castle where the wedding took place, we already had an arsenal of good times stored in our brains. By the time we reached the wedding, we had more amazing experiences and new friends to add to the trip. The wedding, which included epic dancing and fireworks, just took it to a whole other level. In one vacation we were able to play highland games in Scotland, live in a castle for two days, rally like William Wallace, and be a part of a good friends special day.I cant think of a single thing that could have made this trip more special.

This got me thinking about that old saying, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” I’m sure we’ve all heard this before, and I’ve always rolled my eyes and ground my teeth together to keep my opinion to myself. You see, I’m a pretty impatient person. I want things to happen on my timeline. And this saying was a big load of crock in my ears. But now I have a whole new appreciation for it. This trip, the entire journey was special. We stepped out of our comfort zone and we let the journey take us where it wanted. The result was the  most amazing trip I’ve ever had.

One of the great things about this trip was spending so much time with a friend who lives on the east coast. We try to get together for weekends once a year or so, but it’s been over thirteen years since we had such a long chunk of time to spend together. One thing we discussed at length was my writing. I had plenty of time during our week and a half together to tell him about all of the ups and downs I’ve experienced over the past two years. After hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly, his response made me stop and really think about where I am at the moment. He smiled wide and said, “I’m so glad you found your passion…you’re niche. You just seem so happy.”

Have a gotten a publishing contract yet? Nope! Do I have books sitting on the shelves at my local book store? Not even close! Have I learned a ton and found something that makes me feel fulfilled and incredibly happy? Absolutely! I’m almost finished with my fourth MS, I have an agent, I’ve made countless friends who have enriched my life in so many ways, and I have a brain full of different book ideas. Twelve to be exact! I’ve come to the conclusion that this journey I’ve been on with my writing is one that will never end. There will always be a new book to write, a new contract that needs signed, a new marketing plan to figure out. This thought would have driven my a little crazy before. How am I supposed to pour so much time and energy into something that won’t lead me somewhere concrete? But now I know, it’s all about the journey. It’s all about the things I see and the people I meet along the way. So no matter where this winding road leads, I’m going to crank up the battle music, enjoy the view, and go in with my sword swinging. I’m going to enjoy the journey.

One Step At A Time

Today I reached a milestone that I never thought I’d reach. Actually, it was one I never had a desire to reach. I ran my first 5K. Well, run might be a bit of an exaggeration. More like a very slow jog. You see, I am NOT a runner! Beyond that, I’ve never understood why people choose to run. Do they enjoy it? Do they force themselves to do for health reasons? Do they like torture? I try to stay fit, try to eat healthy. I workout regularly and understand relishing the burning of muscles and the soreness that comes after a good workout. But huffing and puffing and feeling like I’m about to toss my cookies at any minute…not an enjoyable experience for me. But…I’m a big believer in when God shoves something in your face, you’re a fool to look the other way and not seize the opportunity He’s given you. That’s what happened to me, and hence why I ran my first 5k.

The month of May has been a bit of a whirlwind for my family. I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of family visit from out-of-town, my kids got to ride on Thomas the Train, my beloved dog turned ten, and Tootsie turned five. We’ve attended preschool graduation, a dance recital, and a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party for my favorite birthday girl. Beyond  all that, I’ve been completely consumed with my WIP. In one months time, I’ve been able to pound out 11 chapters, over 30,000 words. For me, this is a lot. My poor CP gets sent a new chapter to go over almost every day. But I can’t seem to slow down, I don’t want to slow down. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’m just so excited about this MS.

One thing I’ve done with this MS is some research on different elements that are present in this story. FBI protocol, different aspects of Chicago, and human trafficking. The first two things have been interesting and fun to learn about, the last has been eye opening and extremely disturbing. There have been nights I’ve gone to bed with different stories swirling around my head and feeling absolutely sick to my stomach. The things these victims go through are horrific. And yes its horrific for all of them, but it’s the thought of the thousands of children who are exploited and used every day that really sticks with me. I had no idea how big this issue is, how many people are bought and sold every day all over the world. But what I could do to help such a massive infestation into our world?

Enter my in your face God moment. Not long after I started my research, I shared an article on Facebook. A close friend of mine responded with a 5K run she had been told about. The woman who had invited her runs a workout class that I had recently started attending. She created her business, Humpty Dumpty Mommy, to give women a place free of judgement to workout…and maybe offer a chance to get out of the house. Both things I love. I’d only attended two classes when the 5K was brought to my attention, and I instantly contacted Amanda and told her I’d love to be involved. You see, the race was the 2017 Sock it to Human Trafficking event located about thirty minutes away. How could I not go?

So this morning, I woke up and made my first step toward helping to bring awareness to human trafficking. Who knows what will happen with my WIP, but I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason. I know I was meant to write this book and research human trafficking. A fire has been lit inside me to do whatever I can to spread awareness on this subject, and do whatever I can to aid those whose life work it is to reach out to the victims. I don’t know how much little ol me will be able to do to help the cause, but I know I can only take it one step at a time to find out. Thank God I’ll have my Mom Squad by my side while I do.

New Beginnings

Spring is finally in the air here in NE Ohio. Well…kind of. The sun is out at least.  We have had nothing but cold and rain for the last week. It’s still pretty cold out, but sitting at my dining room table and seeing the sunshine pour through the winow, I’m pretending it’s warm outside. It’s a beautiful, Spring day! And beautiful Spring days just scream new beginnngs.  That seems to be a theme for me this weekend.

Another thing that screams new beginnings…literally sreams… is a brand-new baby. Yesterday we welcomed my perfect, little nephew ino the world. Mr. Lewis is a blond bundle of cuteness. He’s the perfect size for cuddling, and the best part is that once I’m done cuddling him, I can give him back to his mother. Tootsie and Spud might be past that tiny baby, cuddle all the time phase, but they usually sleep through the night at this point and I have no desire to go back to that stage. Hopefully Lewis will be a considerate little booger and sleep like a champ from the beginning! And if he’s a handful, well then Aunt Danielle can swoop in and hold him (during the day of course) while mama gets some rest.

The other new thing in my life these days is my WIP. I finished book #3 in my series a couple of weeks ago, and couldn’t wait to dive right into something new. I already had the major plot points of the book worked out, and had written out some charcter sketches for my main characters. I knew exactly how I wanted the book to start, and when I sat down to write the first chapter it just poured out. My heart pounded with excitment as I sent it to my trusty CP to see what she thought. She LOVED it! And she agreed with me, this feels so diffren from what I’ve done and it could really be something special.

The only problm is, it’s REALLY new and different. I mean, my last series took place in a small NW Ohio town loosely based off my hometown. The jobs and social habits of the characters were all familar to me. I knew the setting like the back of my hand. I had to look little things up here and there, but not much research had to be done to give the books the feel I was aiming for. My WIP, on the other hand, isn’t straight contemporary romance. It has a lot of suspensful elements to it, but I don’t know if there are enough elements to label it strictly romantic suspense. Is that okay? Can I have a contemporary romance with suspensful elements, or do I need to twist the plot and beef up the suspense?

My WIP is also set in Chicago. I wanted to step away from the familiar and write something completely different. That meant leavig the small town setting. I’ve been to Chicago several times and love it, but it’s not the most familiar place in the world to me. I’m looking up cab fare and romantic restuarants and different areas of the city. Luckily my cousin lives there, and if I can’t convince my husband to take a trip or two to the windy city, at least I can hassle her into answering my questions. I just hope I’m able to paint the scene well enough to give the reader an accurate vision.

As exciting as new beginnings are, they are often scary too. There’s a lot of sceond guessing and wondering if you’re heading in the right direction. I’m just taking comfort in the fact that figuing out where to go with my WIP isn’t nearly as scary as bringing home a new baby. But just like baby Lewis is in great hands with his loving parents, I know my WIP is in good hands with me. I will figure out all my questions as I go along, and in the end, the right stoy will be told. It just might take me a little longer to get there.

Khaleesi: Queen of Perseverance

Full disclaimer, my inner nerd will be shown a little during this post. But, I’m guessing the title gave that away!

Yesterday was a day that I had been looking forward to. First of all, I was going to be able to sleep in. You see, my husband and I have a pretty sweet system set up for our weekend. He gets to sleep in on Saturdays, and I get to sleep in on Sundays. With two small children, one that is always up early no matter what time we put him to bed, we both are happy to know we get one day a week that we can sleep in and be as lazy as we want before we get up to start the day. Granted, the older we get the earlier we wake up on these days. But I’m sure if you ask any parent out there, sleeping in until 8:30 is not something to turn your nose at. Well, my husband had to golf Sunday morning, so he graciously switched days with me so I could still get my morning to sleep in. It was going to be a great day! I’d lay in bed until I felt like getting up, my daughter had a birthday party we were looking forward to attending, and we had dinner plans (without the kids) with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. But the biggest thing I had planned was finishing the first draft of my third manuscript! I hopped out of bed earlier than anticipated ready to start the day.

The first thing I do every morning is check my email. Usually, I’m disappointed to find nothing from my agent, but yesterday was different. I had an email with the subject submission update. My heart started pounding and my palms grew moist as I clicked on the email. My day was going to be better than expected! Instead, I got a rejection from one of the publishers who had requested a full manuscript a couple of month ago. My heart dropped. As much as I had told myself my hopes weren’t up… my hopes were up. My day instantly came crashing down around me and all excitement flew out the window. I did what I always do when writing stuff gets me down, I reached out to my CP. She boosted my spirits a little bit with words of encouragement and outrage, and I knew I had to pull myself together and try to get passed it.

So what does a mom do when she needs a minute to pull herself together, her husband is out of the house, and she has two kiddos running around? Well, she puts YouTube videos on the TV and jumps in the shower. (Or am I the only one who does this?) One thing my CP said to me stuck in my head. She said, “It only takes one, and you want it to be the right one.” I thought back to all the rejections I had received from agents before I found the who loved my writing. I had gotten so close to giving up on finding one, and out of nowhere Ella Marie swept in and signed me. This was the same thing. Only one round of submissions have been sent out (with one full still out there), there are bound to be rejections coming my way before I find the right place. I can’t let it get me down.

By the time I got out of the shower, I was feeling better but still a little down. It pissed me off. Finishing the first draft of a manuscript is a big deal, and I didn’t want anything to take away from my excitement over it. How could I push past that little bit of disappointment still clinging to me so I could sit down and get to work? I opened my drawer and my Game of Thrones shirt stared back at me. I, hopefully like many of you, am obsessed with Game of Thrones. And if there is one bad ass bitch I’d love to be, it’s Daenerys Targaryen. She didn’t let her dipshit brother or the death of her beloved husband get her down. No! She gathered her dragons and got to work fulfilling her destiny. Okay, so she’s the Khaleesi who wants to take her rightful place as ruler of Westeros with her fire breathing children, and I’m a stay at home mom who wants to become a published author, but it’s kind of  the same, right? I grabbed my shirt and wore it with pride while I sat down and pounded out the rest of my manuscript. I channeled my inner Khaleesi, persevered through my disappointment, and wrote an extremely satisfying ending to my very first series.

As for the submissions, I’m steeling myself for the worst while hoping for the best. Yesterday was a roller coaster of emotions, and I know I have more days like that ahead of me. But when the ride dips low, I’ll grab my shirt and get to work. It’s the only thing I can do!

Take Me Out Of Funky Town

The last couple of weeks I have found myself in a bit of a writing funk. I’m still trying to write a little every day, and am busting out two chapters a week, but it’s feeling more like a chore. I’ve lost that desperate need to sit down and let the words pour out of me. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, because I know exactly what I want to say and how to say it. I just plain don’t want to do it. I’d rather use the free time I’ve been able to carve out for the day to clean the house, hang out with my kiddos, or sit on my butt in front of the television for a whole twenty minutes of “me” time. I’m afraid that this funk I’m feeling is going to reflect in the writing I manage to get done. I don’t want my story to suffer just because I’m stuck in funky town.

Even sitting here writing this blog, I’m cringing to myself. I’m laying in bed next to my baby boy, and all I want to do is put my computer down and snuggle the heck out of him. But I know I need to push on to get past it. At least, I hope that’s all it’s going to take. I think the issue is I’m suffering from a lack of motivation at the moment. Even though I set goals for myself each week, it’s not doing it for me at the moment. The words, “What’s the point?” keep crossing through my mind. I mean, really, I know the answer. The point is to write a story I’m proud of, to do justice to my beloved Emma, and to give this mama something for herself…blah, blah, blah. But I think where I’m getting stuck is a concrete, tangible reason to write this story.

The other two MS’s I’ve finished, I was focused on an end game. Get an agent, get published, write more books. The problem I’m running into is that I’ve got the agent, the agent as sent out submissions, and fours weeks of crickets have passed and I’m slowly losing my mind. Out of the five submissions sent out, I had two requests for full Ms’s and one pass. So, of course, my head is spinning with the possibilities of nothing but rejection coming out this torturous wait. Which brings me to my lack of motivation. If I am unable to get a contract for the MS being sent out, I won’t be able to get one for the second MS, or my WIP. So why finish the WIP until I know there’s a reason for it?

Again, I know the answer to this question. There’s no way I could set Emma and her story aside and just not finish. To begin with, my mom and sister-in-law would kill me. But more than that, I still need to tell her story. I just need that desire to consume me, to make me want to sit down and get it all out. I miss that! Instead, my mind is filled with different book ideas that I should start, just in case those rejections start piling in again. Something I’m avoiding, but maybe that would help? Maybe shifting my focus onto something brand-new will get the sparks of excitement bursting again.

Has anyone else had this issue? What’s worked to light that fire under you again? I’m taking the weekend off, lifting the pressure of needing to sit down and work on my WIP. Instead, I’m opening up a book to read for pleasure, and hoping that helps clear up the funk. And if doesn’t help, I’ll keep forcing myself to sit down and write the words. One way or another, Emma’s story will be told.

Lessons In Time

Today is finally Friday, and I’m so excited for the weekend. All weekends are highly anticipated, but this weekend is a little more special than most. This weekend is my sister-in-laws baby shower, and I can’t wait to celebrate my newest little nephew! I already have two handsome nephews and one gorgeous niece, and being an aunt is one of the best things. I get to love and spoil these little peanuts, but I’m not in charge of daily discipline and making sure they don’t turn into assholes one day. And with my little love bug Marvin, I’m not in charge of nightly feedings and explosive diapers. Thank God I’m pretty much past that stage with my kiddos. But there’s just something so amazing about preparing to welcome a new addition to the family, and we cant’ wait for baby Lewis to make his debut in a couple of months.

Tootsie is just as excited, the girl loves babies! We are going to have a small girls outing later today , and head out to the mecca of baby world to pick up some essentials for the baby and parent’s to be. I pulled up their registry earlier, and it all came flooding back to me. All the crap you need to have a baby. And more importantly, all the crap you don’t need to a have a baby. I remember standing in Babies R Us with the fun little registry gun, feeling like a kid in a candy store, while my husband was completely overwhelmed by everything that store told us we just had to have. It was a lot! And being first time parents, we had to have it all! We were there forever, the gun beeping away while we added item after item after item to our ever expanding list. I think my husband was sweating by the time we left. We were lucky enough to get almost everything on that list, and then we laughed when we didn’t end up needing half of it. So much preparation, so much anticipation of what we would need, and so much wasted on a baby who hated being a swing and never wanted to be in a stupid bumbo seat.

This week on Facebook, a memory popped up (I just love those memories!) showing how one year ago I was declaring to the world how I was finally ready to start looking for an agent. Posted was a picture of my yellow legal pad, and all the names and notes I had searched long hours for. I couldn’t help but think back to how I was feeling at that time, and all the hard work that went into preparing my agent list. And again, I was forced to laugh at all the preparation and all the anticipation…and how much time I wasted on things I didn’t need. I remember looking up hundreds of agents in a copy of Publisher’s Marketplace and not knowing the different between upmarket fiction and women’s lit. My book was fiction and meant for women, so why not send a query? And the query letter I wrote, oh boy! But I’d read countless books and articles that gave specific instruction as to how to write one…it had to be good, right? The pile of rejection letters I got would say otherwise!

Both parenting and trying to break into the publishing world have both shown me that time and experience are the most important tools that I need. A baby book might tell me the best way to clean out my kids snotty nose, but nothing but experience could teach me how to hold Spuds arms between my legs while I shoved a little rubber aspirator up his nose and sucked out his snot. And just like writing a query letter and getting published, books could only explain so much. I needed practice and the help of others to show me a better way to do things.

It’s funny to look back on where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come. I’m not published yet, but I’m getting closer. I have an agent, and I have interest in my MS from a couple of publishers. And even if those fall through, there are still countless opportunities out there waiting for me. I attended my NEORWA meeting last weekend, and this same feeling of satisfaction…of knowing how far I’ve come…washed over me. I wasn’t a quivering ball of nerves when I stepped into the room, and I didn’t sit quietly by myself and wait for the meeting to start. I talked to other writers about their work and about their lives, and I told them where I am as well. In our small group, I volunteered to go over the scene in my WIP, and then preceded to answer questions about how I’ve gotten to the point in my writing I currently am. It felt good to know that I can now offer a few words of encouragement to others who are sitting where I was a year ago. And it felt even better to know there were so many women in my group who have gone much farther than I have, who are willing to offer me support and encouragement.

So a year has gone by since I sent out those first query letters, and I’m happy with where I am. Beyond happy! I’m thrilled! Time seems to go by so slowly until we realize who quickly it’s really gone, and we think we need to have everything figured out before we take that first step. But it simply isn’t possible. We never know where one step, and then the other, will lead us. We can only prepare the best we can, and then look back and laugh at how little we really knew. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that time and experience will always hand us our most important lessons.

 

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