Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

I confess. I've fallen off the wagon. I promised myself last year, after purchasing some 12 additional rose bushes ( I already had nine), that I would take a break from adding to the them for a year or two. But today, Jackson and Perkins called me while I was at home eating lunch. "We noticed its been a while since you've ordered, is there a problem?" No, no problem at all. Then she proceeds to tell me about all the new and wonderful roses they have ready to ship, and at a huge discount too. I sat listening with rapt attention, like it was my own personal 900 number. Please don't talk dirty to me, tell me about the roses!!

I have to wonder why it is that roses make me so happy. I've tried to explain it before, but no one(at least no man) seems to get it. It's like..... hmmm. What? I'm supposed to be a writer. Well its like first love and baby laughter all rolled into one. The feeling of when that special someone gets down on one knee with a ring. The memory of love ones lost but still cherished.

Writers often sit around and talk about what goal or achievement will solidify in their own minds when they've made it. Will it be winning the Rita, or the Tenth Rita? Making the NYT bestseller list? Having your book translated into every language on the planet? I'd love to achieve all of those things and one more. To have Jackson and Perkins name a rose after me. The Dee Burks Rose. Heheheheheh. And I only bought 5.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

3 Queries, 2 Partials and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

At least once a month I go over my submissions spreadsheet for the books I have that are ready to sell. I make sure I've logged any rejects and responded to all requests. Then I dig back into my research and decide where to send it next. However, today I pull up my spreadsheet and find that it's been 3 months since my last submission! How can 3 months slip by so quickly? I'll admit I've been busy, but am I too busy to sell a book? I think not. While I still have a few submissions out, today I'm sending more queries and partials for my contemporary romance. I know the odds are slim as they are for every aspiring novelist but I still have faith. I think of the publishing game kind of like I do the lottery, you can't win if you don't play. And I'm a player. Or an addict depending on how you look at it. Maybe I should form a support group, Queries Anonymous. I'm not sure what the meetings would consist of, but I have a feeling wine and chocolate would be involved.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Let's Do Lunch

Don't you love to hear that phrase? Especially when it's one of your writer friends calling? It is so encouraging to get to take a break and talk about writing over lunch. What you're working on this week, what ideas you have, what goals you have for next week. All these things contribute to what I like to call Publication Anticipation. It is similar to spring fever for writers.

As you get together and encourage one another, you also anticipate the great things that will happen this year. It gathers your confidence and concentrates it all over again, like a well you go back to time and again when your spirit tires out and your determination falters. It may be only an hour, but it is enough to resurrect that feeling of excitement and belief in what you are trying to accomplish.

So, are you sitting there wishing you could go to the well again? Pick up the phone already!! Your writer friends are probably wishing the same thing. Invite them out for lunch and renew each other's spirits. Let me know how it goes and next week, we'll do lunch too.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

RITA Update

In addition to Candy, two more fellow writers are up for RITAs. Jennifer Archer ( and Jodi Thomas ( . Congrats ladies!! The awards this year are a must see event. It says so much that Texas writers are repeatedly honored in this way. Amarillo seems to be a hot spot for growing not just writers, but award winning and bestselling writers. I think the old adage is true, Writers Beget Writers. There's a lot to be said for struggling along the path together, and having mentors to guide and encourage you. I can't imagine trying to write in isolation, having no one to bounce ideas off of, critique my work, or just plain listen to me moan about the difficulties of this business.

Its not that other writers guarantee anyone's success, only you can do that, but they keep you from giving up. They pick you up when you've been trounced on by life, dig you out from under the mountain of rejects and give you the will to keep on going. Ninety percent of this business is persistence. Thousands of people each day sit down and try to write a book. Of those, maybe 1 percent will ever be published. And they make it not because they are the best writers, have fancy English degrees, or are married to a publisher. They make it because they never gave up. They planted their butt in a chair everyday and made it happen.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Great News!

A friend from Dallas, Candace Havens has been nominated for a RITA award. For those of you who may be unaware, a Rita is Romance Writer's of America's highest achievement. She has been nominated in the category of best first book for Charmed and Dangerous. You can check our the lastest info on her at Way to go Candy!

A friend of mine said just this morning that Karma evens out the universe. When you do the work to succeed, you will. It may be fast, or it may be years in coming, but eventually you will be rewarded. For those of you out there that are still waiting for your time to come, I would encourage you to keep the faith. Belief in yourself and your abilities will allow you to ride through the tough times. The times when your family tells people that you write as a hobby. The times when you stare at the blank screen at a total loss as to what to put on that page. The times you camp out by your mailbox only to receive a postcard rejection addressed to Dear Author.

There are several authors I know that have told me that the good news of a sale arrived just when they were thinking about throwing in the towel. So if you are holding the towel this morning, put it down. Your good news may only be a day away.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Help From My Friends

Don't you hate it when you are writing and the words are flowing and then you get stumped by one word or awkward phrase? And your mind refuses to move forward until you fix it? That happens to me frequently. Its as if the internal connection to my mental thesaurus becomes unplugged. Those are the times I'm so very glad to have writer friends, and even friends that aren't necessarily writers that can help. One of my friends, affectionately known as the Grammar Nazi, is an excellent resource. I can send her an instant message at any time and get help with words, phrases, or just have a whine session. The latter being the most valuable sometimes. If you have someone like this in your life, you are a very lucky person. I know I am.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It's Snowing!

Strange how the weather has the ability to impact your mood. I love to write on snowy, rainy or otherwise gloomy days. I don't really know why that is, but they are also the days I'd like to curl up with a good book. Maybe that's it. Whether its writing or reading, my mind loves to be engrossed in a good story when the snow flies.

It reminds me of how important it is to remember that your characters are people too. Readers will identify with those events they recognize as part of our common human experience. Funny thing though, the items that usually have the most impact are the tiniest details. Lets take snow for example. You have all had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night and being instantly aware that it's snowing.

How do you know? Is it that strange eerie quiet as the snow buffers all sounds from the outside? Or the very distinctive glow that streams through the bedroom blinds, an unearthly light from the reflection of white. The crunch of foot steps though the pure white power, the taste of one unique flake on the tip of your tongue. These are the the details that place your character in our world. The little tidbits that create the suspension of disbelief in your readers and engross them in the story. Next time you write a scene or even a paragraph think about the details you can add to make your writing sparkle.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Answer the Door

Well who should come tap tap tapping on my door this morning but good old opportunity. His ears were probably burning from my post yesterday. In my inbox this morning was the offer from a new financial publication in New York to be a contributing editor. The first issue comes out in June. I've been talking to the editor in chief for a couple of weeks now and we kind of clicked. It will be a monthly pulp for a while until the advertising base is solidified, but I'm kind of excited. It will be nice to use some of my financial knowledge for a change. Some of you may or may not know that I used to work for Prudential as a qualified funds specialist, so this is really my cup of tea.

It just goes to show that all the past experiences you have as a writer, be they good or bad, may be the foundation for new experiences down the road. They are the things that make up each writer's path.

Many of the students in my classes ask how to get to from point A to point B in a writing career. It sounds like a cop out to say it depends, but it depends. It depends on your goals, your persistence, and your willingness to learn. So many factors go into a career that there's never any way to boil it down to a formula that you can follow. The best I can do is to say, when opportunity knocks, answer the door. You never know where it will lead.

Monday, March 20, 2006

When Opportunity Knocks

I decided that I could use a miniature vacation today. This has been a horrific month busy wise. I wrapped up two Writing classes that I'm teaching at Amarillo College. Another will begin in one week. I have two weeks left of a memoir class at Craig Methodist and a critique seminar to help with on April 1. I spoke to two groups in the past two weeks about writing, the Widow and Widowers club (I was promoting my next memoir class) as well as Panhandle Professional Writers. Whew! It makes me tired just reading how much I've done. And on top of that I actually got pages written on my new novel.

I have been asked many times how I juggle all the things I do and still have any time to write and I'll admit its not easy. But I have always been one of those people who gets the most done when I have the most to do. It's true. I have taken time between day jobs before to stay home and write "The Great American Novel". You know what happened? Not a darn thing. I became a slug languishing on my couch watching daytime TV all the while feeling guilty that I wasn't writing.

I heard a saying once that opportunity never knocks on the home of a hermit. I believe that to be fact. The more you put yourself out into the public as a writer, the more opportunities you get to promote yourself. These opportunities also give you the chance to network with other individuals giving you more ideas for your own work. So while I'm on mini vacation today, I'll be hard at it tomorrow listening careful for the quiet knock of my next opportunity.

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