Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Irene Took From Me

I sometimes feel like I live in a bubble, protected from the outside world and natural diasters alike. I live in the Northeast where the only weather system I have to worry about are Nor'easters. There are no tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes. Last week, however, we got two out of the three; an earthquake and a hurricane.

The earthquake did little damage but shake me in my chair. The hurricane did much more than I could have ever imagined. It arrived on Sunday, having rained since Saturday night. The wind was mild compared to what you see on TV and I have to admit, I was actually disappointed. Like, that's all you've got? But little did I know it wasn't the wind that would snake it's way into my bubble, bursting it, but the rain. Sunday night, I thought we were in the clear. We didn't have any trees down and we still had power. But then the Facebook posts started coming in from friends and family. The river was rising. Yes, my town is nestled right along the Mohawk river. On my little hill on the north side of town I hadn't realized the looming danger. And by Monday morning things went from bad to worse. Historic flooding that was ripping our historic landmarks to shreds.

As the pictures came in, and memories rushed forward, the tears began to flow. The gas station I worked at for four years during college is ruined and the owner, a woman who taught me how to be business savvy and gave me confidence, is now homeless. The furniture store I used to ride my bike to and play hide and seek in is ruined. My friend's childhood home where we used to have X-files parties and drool over David Duchovny is ruined. The ice cream stand where I'd "just" been to last week with my children is ruined.

Then the news came in last night. A family friend drove through a blockade to check out his corn fields. He misjudged the water running past and was swept away. It happened so fast, the troopers couldn't get to him in time. He was found miles down the river, dead in his truck.

I feel like screaming at someone, anyone! How can this type of destruction come to MY town and take away MY childhood memories and destroy the lives of MY family, friends, and neighbors? My bubble has officially been burst. And it sucks.

American Red Cross Donations

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I've had an eraser on my desk for about a year now. I look at it every now and then, not always "thinking" about it. But today I did. It has a picture of this goofy guy's head (Ned) with the following words written on it:

N Never give up
E Encourage others
D Do your best

My son received the eraser at school at an assembly and I don't exactly know how it ended up on my desk at work, but it somehow did. I'm glad. The words are few but they pack a punch and should be everyone's mantra in life.

Never give up. As writers it's easy to give up. Sometimes we abandon projects because we can't get them right. Sometimes we take long hiatus' because we're full of self-doubt. One bad review can sink our conviction, our confidence. We just need to overcome those feelings and remember we're doing this for ourselves, not anyone else. Never give up.

Encourage others. By encouraging other writers, we not only build up their self-esteem, but we build connections, and form friendships. As I've learned in the past couple months, beta reading is not just helpful to the writer, but the beta reader as well. Personally, I gain inspiration from all my beta reads. One of my friends writes lyrical, beautifully descriptive sentences that flow off the page like silk. After I read her work, all of a sudden my own manuscript is infused with description I hadn't thought myself possible of. Another friend of mine has quirky, humorous charcters in her manuscripts. After doing a beta read for her, my own characters start making clever and witty quips. Beta reading allows you to grow as a well-rounded writer and helps bring out the shine in others' writing. Encourage others.

Do your best. To me, this is a no-brainer. If we didn't do our best, what's the point in doing it at all? Yes, everyone has weaknesses and everyone has room to grow. But doing your best is not just excelling in what you do well, but learning and improving on what you don't do well. Do your best.

If you keep NED in the back of your head, you'll go far like a shooting star. Hey I made a rhyme! :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Everything Happens for a Reason

I'm a true believer that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes, when in the middle of a particularly hairy situation, I'll thumb my nose at it, but eventually, I'll come to realize why it happened and that I'm better off for it. Today, something amazing happened. Well, at least I think it's amazing. :) I was having a boring day at work being that my 6-month long hair-pulling, teeth grinding project is now completed, and I was perusing a writer's forum, Absolute Write. I came upon a post that caught my eye. Why? Because I saw myself in the writer. She was doubting her ability because someone somewhere along her writing journey (out of who knows how many betas) told her her writing was "clunky." Like any normal person, she zeroed right in on that comment and hasn't been able to let go of it. It's even been holding her back from writing her second book. I know how that feels.

So I PM'd this writer and offered her a completely honest opinion on whether I felt her writing was "clunky" or not. I may not be the best writer in the world but I feel like I can recognize whether a writer has what it takes or needs more work. She took me up on my offer and sent me her first three chapters.

Can I tell you, her voice and writing skills are AMAZING. Yes, I put it in caps because it deserves to be in caps. And to think she may have stopped writing because of someone's preference for a different writing style. It boggles my mind but in reality, it happens to every one of us. We keep that doubt locked away in our head, taking it out and carressing it every time we're stuck or receive a rejection. We need to stop treating doubt like our most prized possession and instead smash it into little pieces, then stomp on it for good measure.

Of course, me finding her isn't the basis for my post today. That would be a bit of an ego-stroke for me. Hee Hee. The amazing thing that happened occurred when I was talking to my writing partner about this woman. I mentioned that she had a predicament...a vampire predicament. She didn't think she could query agents with her MS because it was an Urban Fantasy about vampires. (Oh, and by the way, she came up with this book before Twilight came on the scene.) So anyhow my friend tells me how a new agent introduced himself on Absolute Write today, saying he's looking to build his client list and wants vampire stories. Shazaam! Oh, to be a fairy godmother right now. "Cool new agent meet awesome vampire author." I wave my magic wand and they live happily ever after with bestsellers clogging up the NY Times List.

The timing is completely off the wall and I've offered to help her get her MS in shape for querying before his clients start piling up.

And you know I can't leave without at least a little ego-stroking. It's like speed for writers! Check out these compliments she gave me. :)

"This is fantastic. In these three chapters you have been more useful to me than all my previous beta-readers put together!!!" and "What you've done is awesome. I'd love to have you do the rest for me. Hell, I'd pay you to do it (no, seriously)."

Tee hee. I'm not making her pay me. :) But yes, everything happens for a reason. I just hope the stars align for her like she deserves.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can You Be My Friend?

You know a book is engaging and the characters realistc when you find yourself wanting to jump into the story as another friend, or at the very least, a third cousin. I'm beta reading a YA right now from the multi-talented Claire Gillian, and I keep thinking of her characters long after I stop reading. I want to be their friend. It's so odd to think that and a little embarrassing to say it aloud. But I do. I want them to cry on my shoulder, to confide in me, and fetch me an apple (Claire, you'll get this when you read my comments. LOL).

Does anyone else ever get this feeling? Like you wish you could be friends with the characters? Or that they were real people you could invite over your house to just hang out? And it doesn't even have to be just book characters. A few years ago, I so wished I could be one of the "P" sisters in Charmed.

Come on, I can't be the only one. 'Fess up. :)