Don’t Be a Sisyphus by Rosemary Lord

just-rosie-3Rosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House! She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now,  English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.

 

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“It’s not where you start – it’s where you finish…” wrote Dorothy Fields, lyricist for the 1973 Tony Award winning Broadway musical Seesaw, which was based on the William Gibson play, Two for the Seesaw.  “…It’s not how you go, it’s how you land.”

As great as the musical and Michele Lee’s Tony Nominated performance were – I’m not so sure about that…

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

As we wrap up 2016, how many of us look back at the journey we each took this year? Journeys are adventures. Even if it’s literally a train, plane, bus or car journey we’re taking. Just think of people you met along the way, places you saw. This is, after all, where many of us writers find our inspiration.

For my fellow bloggers, 2016 proved to be a year of amazing writing success, with novels, short stories and blog reports abounding. I am so proud of you: brava!

Some of my 2016 journeys took me back to Europe, spendingtrip-of-a-lifetime-2009-240 time with my siblings (there are five of us), their kids and our cousins. This is a new commitment I have made since I lost my wonderful husband, Rick.

Rick and I were both always so busy in L.A., that in his latter years we had no time to spend with my family in England. I am making up for that now. Us ‘sibs’ spent magical days on the southern tip of Greece, in the Mani – away from the tourist crowds. Here we followed some of that Literary Journey I have previously written about: finding author Patrick Leigh Fermor’s house on the coast at Kardamyli, staying in the village where Nicholas Kazantzakis wrote about a local mine-worker, Zorba the Greek.  We had lunch in Corinth, watching the Corinth Canal operators open the bridges to allow large vessels through. In Greek Mythology, Sisyphus was founder and king of Corinth. (More about him later.) My travels in England took me through the worlds of Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Keats, Pepys, Kipling and so much more.  I saw a glorious production of E. Nesbit’s classic story, The Railway Children, at King’s Cross Train Station in London, where a portion of the tracks had been turned into a theatre, with the audience seated on platforms 1 and 2, facing each other. The play was performed on the actual railway lines between, with a ‘stage’ moved back and forth along the rails by stage-hands dressed as Edwardian railway porters, and a real steam train chunting in from the wings. Joanna Scotcher’s award-winning design was stunning.

Back in California, so much of my past year has been spent at the Woman’s Club of Hollywood, right in the heart of Hollywood. Here I have been working with a terrific new team to save this historic landmark, pay off a debt of over one million dollars incurred by ne’er-do-wells and bring amazing people back into the club, so that we might help the local community, support our charitable causes, restore the historical buildings and have fun at the great social and artistic events. We have a great series of writing workshops, of course, taught by Gayle Bartos-Pool!

But it’s a lotta work! Long hours, too. And, because the need for help here is so vital, I have neglected my writing. But I still poke away at it, snatching twenty minutes here and there to work on my second Lottie Topaz novel. The other things I intend to write swirl around my head – spilling as hurried notes in my many notebooks. I have also surprised myself by managing to write these Blogs. My fellow bloggers seem so much better at time-management than I! I have managed to attend some fascinating writers’ conferences too, where I get to renew old friendships with fellow writers – and meet new writers, editors, experts and publishers.

So here we are, as this year draws to an end, trying to make sure we have done all we set out to do. Remember those dastardly New Year Resolutions?  This crazy year-end rush to catch up as Christmas looms. No, I love Christmas – truly! I especially love the sentiment of the origins of this special time of year. But, now that I am supposed be grown-up, all the trimmings, demands and expectations tend to overwhelm. There’s that word again.

I long to have time to stretch out on my ever-so-comfy sofa and watch A Christmas Carol, Christmas In Connecticut, Miracle on 34th Street or Scrooge – with a hot cup of  tea and a mince pie. But there always seems so many things to take care of: phone-calls to make, papers to organize, to summarize, to complete. To Do lists ticked off and thrown away.  And this year has the added dread of ‘Mercury in Retrograde’ from December 19th to January 8th. This is when the planet Mercury slows down considerably and we mortals have all those challenges with missed communication, delayed deliveries, mechanical problems with computers and cars. Mercury Retrograde is supposed to be a time to slow down and reflect on where we are going. That’s what they say, anyway. It works for me. And I like having something other than myself to blame for emails that go missing or if my computer is playing up. So this year we have a double whammy.

That’s where Sisyphus comes into the picture. In Greek Mythology, evil sinner Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a mountain. Once he got to the top, the weight of the boulder forced it to start rolling down to the bottom, wherein he had to start again.  According to Albert Camus, the Greek gods felt that there is no more dreadful punishment than this futile and hopeless labor for Sisyphus. Hmmm.

Well, as we look forward to a fresh, welcoming New Year, I don’t want to be heading into 2017 with my same disorganized paperwork, uncompleted tasks and my long list of over-commitments. I just hate to say ‘no’ to anyone, believing that I must always help others, before I take care of myself. That’s the way I was raised. But I really want to start putting some of my needs first for a change. I don’t want to be Sisyphus, pushing that boulder uphill anymore.

So these next few days between Christmas and the New Year I will make time to watch It’s A Wonderful Life again for inspiration. I know I will be having several of those ‘good talkings to’ with myself – making sure that I, Rosemary, understand that this next year really will be different. I promise.

I really will use my time a lot better, so I can accomplish more. I really will delegate work at the Woman’s Club. I really will discipline my writing time so that I  turn away from distractions and complete this next Lottie  book and start the next. So that I really will complete those dozen or so short stories I have started, but that remain unfinished. And maybe I really will enlist some help with my paper work and especially my computer and Social Media skills. Please! I prefer phone calls to Face Book: sorry!

But this coming year I really do want to make a difference in my life so that I can ‘stop and smell the roses’ again.  I have decided 2017 is going to be a grand year, with wonderful changes for the better.

And I hope that for everyone 2017 will be a magical year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Strange New World: Where Will Our Words Take Us Now? by Miko Johnston

FROM SCREEN TO PAGE, Part 3 with Miko Johnston

Miko Johnston is the author of A Petal in the Wind and the newly released A Petal in the Wind II: Lala Hafstein.

She first first contemplated a writing career as a poet at age six. That notion ended four years later when she found no ‘help wanted’ ads for poets in the Sunday NY Times classified section, but her desire to write persisted. After graduating from NY University, she headed west to pursue a career as a journalist before switching to fiction. Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington. You can find out more about her books and follow her for her latest releases at Amazon.

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This blog is not about politics, but unless you’ve been comatose for a year, you’re aware of the recent U.S. presidential election and its outcome. It’s fair to say many are unhappy with the result, although it would be equally fair to say that it would be the case no matter which candidate won. Still, it’s hard to deny that this election represents a significant shift in direction for our nation, leaving many unsure and apprehensive of what’s to come.

Again, this isn’t about politics; it’s about writing. Major events have always influenced our culture, from books to visual and now social media. I wonder what trends and influences the new administration will have on writing in the future.

Biographies of the President-elect and the candidate formerly known as the presumptive President should be forthcoming, as will analyses of the incoming administration. It’s also safe to forecast non-fiction works devoted to the election, the mood of the voters that led to the results, and what the change in leadership portends for the country.

Let’s consider fiction. What sorts of themes will become popular and what will fall out of favor? I’ve asked several writers for their opinions.

Author and blogger Terry Carr predicts there will…“be less futuristic fiction”, instead we’ll have more “fiction that goes back to a simpler time… my kind of escapism.”

Gordon Labuhn, whose books range from mysteries to memoirs, suspects there will be more graphic sex and language than before as barriers to what had been taboo are lowered. He sees a trend toward attacking and weakening the media for any negative coverage of the new White House. However, when I asked him if this would put a chill on writing anything that might be viewed as unfavorable toward the President-elect, Labuhn was noncommittal.

Several writers I spoke with who prefer to remain anonymous agree that some people will turn to nostalgia and the safety of the past for escape from the present, as Carr suggests. And still others will lose themselves in lightweight comedies and mindless action as a distraction from the reality of here and now. I confess I did just that, on an overseas flight home, the day after the election.

One of the most considered responses came from writing instructor and fiction author Wayne Ude, who surmises, “Some may focus on what unites us as human beings; others on what unites us as Americans—not necessarily the same thing…(and) others will surely focus on what divides us.” He thinks one approach would be akin to Ray Brgrapes-of-wrathadbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or George Orwell’s 1984: “In light of a Supreme Court which has ruled that money is a form of speech instead of property and that corporations are entitled to the same rights as are human beings, a similar work might present a country which has become an oligarchy entirely controlled by the wealthy.” Another would be “the approach John Steinbeck took in The Grapes of Wrath, which was a very realistic exploration of the lives of people left behind by economic change…(and) a third approach might be satirical novels about the wealthy, in the vein of Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or, earlier, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner’s The Gilded Age.

I agree with Ude regarding political and social satire, which has long been part of our culture. I believe it will become more caustic now, and that debate will erupt over whether a liberal bias in the media or the words and actions of the new administration is the cause. This will create a more fluid divide between legitimate news and parody, which itself straddles fiction and reality. And while, like Ude, I expect big institutions that exploit the downtrodden will continue to be vilified, I hope we don’t begin seeing the downtrodden portrayed, not as heroes like in The Grapes of Wrath, but as villains. Casting certain groups as scapegoats during unsure times has occurred for centuries, but what’s different now is that it would effectively kill political correctness. I’ve never been a P.C. fan; I believe it creates a false impression of civility and holds its own biases. However imperfect it has been in balancing freedom of speech and protection from hate speech, why destroy it when you have nothing better to replace it with?

A clue to where we’re headed came in a recent news story. Executives at several television networks have decided to break with tradition and not take questions from critics at their semi-annual press conferences.  Many networks have come under fire for their lack of racial and cultural diversity, both on and behind the screen, as well as their depiction of violence, particularly against women. This is not new. Neither is the overrepresentation of well off, educated professionals as primary characters on most scripted programs. However I do think these concerns will go unchallenged by the new administration.

Will any of these scenarios come to pass? Ultimately it depends on how we writers decide to react to the new political reality. We can be cautious, or courageous. We can block out the real world and focus on the worlds we build in our stories, or we can bring some of that reality into our characters’ lives, no matter where they live, or when. As we are about to enter a new era, I’m asking writers: What trends in fiction do you foresee in the future? Will the change in leadership have any effect on what you choose to write about? And if so, how?

 

Collections and Anthologies – Get Your Writing Out There!

Most writers have those short stories hanging around. Sometimes they have been published through magazines, Amazon, or as blog posts. Don’t let them go to waste! (If you have the rights to them.)

This year, I’m putting together all of my short stories – those with a winter theme – and coming out with a collection to introduce my various characters. The advantages?

  • Readers who might not invest in an entire novel could be willing to discover new characters through short stories.
  • Every time a writer comes out with a new book, he or she increases the odds of being found online.
  • It’s a good reminder that books that revolve around a season or an event sell better: holidays, weddings, seasons etc.

I went to Book Boxed Set to buy my template for the cover. Thank you for coming up with this template!!  My collection will be called “Murder Takes a Chill” or “The Chill of Murder”.

In fact, take the survey to let me know which title you like better or to suggest your own. No personal information will be collected.

So, pull out those short stories and novellas, find a theme, and get them online already!

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Jacqueline Vick is the author of over twenty published short stories, novelettes and mystery novels. Her April 2010 article for Fido Friendly Magazine, “Calling Canine Clairvoyants”, led to the first Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery, Barking Mad About Murder. To find out more, visit her website at http://www.jacquelinevick.com.

The Sound of Writing Music

I’ve been thinking about Christmas and Christmas carols; which has brought me to a writing topic I’ve put off posting about because of the nebulous nature of my thoughts. I’ve wanted to write this post for a bit, but hesitant to do. Lyricism in narrative—that is, other than in poetry—is the slippery topic I’m referring to. But I’m finally writing this post at the risk of being labeled a loony. But that’s okay, it’s a classification I can accept and work with!(smile)

Here’s a quickie little back-storyI’m tone-deaf and monotone(1) when it comes to musical hearing and singing songs. The short synopsis of a long younger-life story is: in grammar school I was instructed to just move my lips during mass hymns, and in high school I was excused from Gee-Club (not a small concession for the time and environment) So, you get the picture—music is not my forte. But lyricism in writing is something I can hear. And feel.

I think lyricism is more complicated than my explanation—but it’s the best I can do so far. It’s the juxtaposition of short sentences, long sentences, paragraph breaks, even scene breaks that carry our minds forward. Sing to our minds. Pleasant to the earreading wise. It’s the mechanics, (or is it the art?), of intermixing heavy and tedious words or sentences with the short and snappy. For me, it’s also a kind of a coaxing music that moves me along in the story. It’s that little “something” that makes you want to keep reading, keep listening to the author’s song. Regardless of whether a good or bad story.

And for me, it’s often very hard to do—but when it’s there in other’s writings—easy to hear. In the final edits I do make a lot of changes to try to make my writing “sing.” Especially since I’m habitually fond of writing long and tedious sentences. Not sure if “literary lyricism” is a craft-of-writing kind of thing that can be learned, or a talent you either have or don’t. Sure hope it’s at least an improvable skill.

musicpictureAnd indeed, this may be something only I “hear.” A concept only important to me. And there are enough hurdles and “things” to think about already in writingI certainly don’t want to build artificial new ones. But bringing music to your writing is something to think aboutespecially for those of you who can tell C from D, and a flat from a sharp when you’re singing all those lovely Christmas Carols!

If you have a thought/insight into what I’ve dubbed “literary-lyricism,” and would like to share, I’d love to hear your comments.

 Happy writing trails throughout the holidays!


(1) From Internet — “Tone deafness is the lack of relative pitch, or the inability to distinguish between musical notes and between linguistic tones that is not due to the lack of musical training or education It is also known as tune deafness, “tin ear”, dysmelodia and dysmusia.”

“Monotone a continuing sound, especially of someone’s voice, that is unchanging in pitch and without intonation…(of a voice or other sound) unchanging in pitch; without intonation or expressiveness.

Thanksgiving Promptings

by Jackie Houchin

Glazed TurkeyOften, before diving into a scrumptious feast, the host of a Thanksgiving celebration will ask her guests to pause and answer this question.

“What is one thing you are thankful for?”

Dutifully each guest around the table mentions some thing or person they especially appreciate. Perhaps a prayer is given to further delay devouring the meal. But finally the repast begins in earnest with guests consuming on average a hearty 3,000 calories each.  (That’s just at the table! Another 1,500 will be eaten while snacking later on.)

I could ask that question here too, but I’d like to do something different. We are writers after all, and presumably you readers scribble a few things down now and then as well.

So instead of that question….

I’d like to challenge you to take one (or more) of the facts or prompts below and think up a brief scenario, or outline, of a fiction story you could develop from them. Write an “elevator pitch” in the comments below. Who knows, you may be able to use it later in a novel, or short story, or as an anecdote in your memoir.

Give it a try, but don’t spend too much time on them. After all there’s a turkey to thaw, bake, eat, or re-purpose into soups or sandwiches. (Along the way, I might offer a mini-suggestion to get your juices running.)

  1. Now a Thanksgiving dinner staple, cranberries were actually used by Native Americans to treat arrow wounds and to dye clothes. (A prison escapee gets a leg wound and…..?)
  2. “Everyone says you can’t go home again. Well this Thanksgiving, I tried and this is what happened….”
  3. Baby turkeys are called poults. Only male turkeys gobble and, therefore are called gobblers. (What is that awful sound Uncle Herbert always makes….?)
  4. “I never realized how grateful I was to have a home until…..”
  5. Black Friday is the busiest day for Roto-Rooter, a major plumbing service. They are called in to clean up “overwhelmed” sewer systems. (At one house, the plugged up sewer system yields…..)
  6. The song “Jingle Bells” was originally written as a Thanksgiving song. (The song writer’s reaction when the publishing of his song is delayed till December….?)
  7. Parents frustrated by a teenager’s lack of gratitude, determine that THIS Thanksgiving, she will be taught a lesson….
  8. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” because stores hope the shopping day will take them out of the “red” and into positive profits. (Show an alternate reason for why it is called Black Friday.)
  9. Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879), who tirelessly worked to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday, was also the first person to advocate women as teachers in publish schools, the first to advocate day nurseries to assist working mothers, and the first to propose public playgrounds. She is the author of two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  (Choose one aspect of her life and turn it into a Historical-Fiction piece.)
  10. Approximately 50 million people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. (But that year, ONE of them saw….?)

Aw, go on!  Try at least one!

And Happy Thanksgiving!  Each day in November I am posting on my Facebook page things that I am thankful for. Come on over and take a look, and add yours. http://facebook.com/jackie.houchin

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Recently I have been writing short stories for children about missionary life in Malawi, Africa, based on my 3 excursions to the dark continent over the past few years. Stop by and read a few if you are interested. http://www.jackiehouchin.wordpress.com .

Say It Isn’t So…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA by G.B. Pool

Okay, I’ll say it. Christmas isn’t just for kids.

They might have all the fun Christmas morning, but it took a lot of effort to make it happen. Santa brings a lot of those toys, but good old mom and dad put a few of them under the tree, too. And then there are the clerks in the stores who sold the toys and the folks in the factories who made some of them. Santa’s elves might make their share, but lots of others work hard all year to design new toys and get them on the shelves.

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And then there are the decorations. Kids make a few cute things in school, but adults make an awful lot of those beautiful things and they put up the tree and string the lights and decorate the outside of the house and bake the cookies and pies and Christmas dinner.

Then lots of adults step back, exhausted after all that work, and spend some time enjoying the holidays, too. And what better way than to watch one of the Christmas classics on TV with the family, though most of the older holiday movies were really made for adults. A kid wouldn’t understand how Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life was taken under the wing of Clarence the Angel and shown what the world would be like without him ever being in it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOr how about A Christmas Carol? Kids might like the Ghost of Christmas Past and Present and maybe even the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, but it will take a while before they understand what the story means on a more adult level.

But that’s the gift these movies and stories are: A gift that keeps on giving as you grow older and start to understand the deeper meaning of each story every time you watch it.

Some modern stories are purely fun with not much meaning lurking anywhere or even any holiday spirit. In fact, many might as well be straight comedies because there is nothing Christmas about them. Even the holiday favorite, A Christmas Story, could just as well been about a boy’s birthday wish to get that Red Ryder BB Gun. Christmas was only in the title.

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Santas Galore

But most of us watch these movies and enjoy the season year after year. We check out the Christmas lights in the neighborhood and write our holiday cards and revel in the aromas of an evergreen tree, baked goods, and the holiday feast.As for me, I have been a collector of Christmas things for some forty years. My collection of Santas is nearing 4000. It takes me two weeks to decorate the house. We put up seventeen trees and those are the ones above 12 inches high. I have doll houses with smaller trees in them, some only a few inches tall, all decorated, so the number is way above that seventeen mark.

 

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Since I like to make things, I have quite a few handcrafted Santas. I have been crafting for years. Other than the fact we are running out of space to house these guys and a few other things that I have made, my imagination leads me into other areas.

What areas you ask? Writing holiday stories, of course. The books include pictures of things that I have made and they also include the True Meaning of Christmas in the stories.

 

santaclaussingerfinalcovercroppedYears ago I worked at Walden Books in the Glendale Galleria. At the beginning of the holiday season the mall had a Santa who sang songs when he wasn’t talking to kids. I moved the Santa to Las Vegas in the book The Santa Claus Singer and made him a lounge singer who gets laid off and who ends up playing Santa at the mall and sings to the customers. He meets a young girl who is need of an operation. He is just the right blood type and he volunteers for the gig. At the same time, he gets a job singing in one of the hot night spots on Christmas Eve. A once in a lifetime opportunity. Only thing is, he promised to visit the young girl that same night. And then his car breaks down…

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The first Christmas book that uses pictures of many of the things I have made is called Bearnard’s Christmas. I got the idea for it when I worked in a miniature shop that sold doll houses. I sketched out a design for a Santa castle, wrote the story, and then built the castle and made the figures to go with the story. It’s about a lady who loves animals and who falls asleep near her Christmas tree only to wake up at the North Pole. She meets a talking Polar bear dressed in a Santa suit. His name is Bearnard. He works for Santa. Some people want to capture him and stuff him and put him in a carnival attraction. They might just get their chance if a miracle doesn’t happen.

the-santa-claus-machine-cover-final-croppedThe newest book is called The Santa Claus Machine. I got the idea from a Christmas card. In order to modernize his image, Santa builds a series of Santa robots that are sent to stores around the world. They are programmed to tell Santa’s stories and record children’s wishes. An unscrupulous sales manager at the largest department store chain in America, along with their computer engineer, kidnap the real Santa and hide him in an ice cave. They reprogram all the Santa Claus Machines to encourage children to ask for more and more toys. When Santa learns about the change, he becomes disheartened and thinks he might have to cancel Christmas.

Each story is set during the holidays for sure, but each has a deeper meaning: something seen with the heart and the soul.

every-castle-needs-a-dragon-cover-trial-2-croppedAnd I have been working on a new story for next year. The idea came when I bought a Christmas ornament, a small dragon. I found a tiny wreath on the sidewalk while walking one of the dogs and slipped it over the dragon’s head. Then I set him on the roof of the Santa castle and said, “Every Castle Needs a Dragon.” That’s the name of the book. I bet you don’t know that dragons are the protectors of something very precious in the world. If they have the wrong champion, they can go astray and do great damage, but if they are taught well, they do nothing but good. Now someone wants to capture this one particular dragon… You will get to read the rest of the story next Christmas.

Enjoy the coming Holiday Season. See it with your heart and your soul. It costs nothing and gives back so much.

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Biography:

gayle-and-santaA former private detective and once a reporter for a small weekly newspaper, Gayle Bartos-Pool (G.B. Pool) writes the Johnny Casino Casebook Series and the Gin Caulfield P.I. Mysteries. She also wrote the SPYGAME Trilogy: The Odd Man, Dry Bones, and Star Power; Caverns, Eddie Buick’s Last Case, The Santa Claus Singer, Bearnard’s Christmas and The Santa Claus Machine. She teaches writing classes: “The Anatomy of a Short Story” (which is also in workbook form), “How to Write Convincing Dialogue” and “How to Write a Killer Opening.” Website: http://www.gbpool.com.

 

 

MY SUPERPOWER: PERSISTENCE by BONNIE SCHROEDER

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Bonnie Schroeder started telling stories in the Fifth Grade and never stopped. After escaping from the business world, she began writing full-time and has authored novels, short stories and screenplays, as well as non-fiction articles and a newsletter for an American Red Cross chapter.

 

I come from a family of quitters. Sort of.

Several generations ago, my family owned a farm in northern New Mexico, in the Four Corners area. Now, anyone who’s ever lived on a farm knows it’s hard work. There are no vacations, holidays, or sick leave. It’s dangerous work, and you’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

So it’s totally understandable that at some point they gave up, sold the farm, and moved on to something less overwhelming. However, the people who bought the family farm went on to discover oil there. And I’m sure my great-grandparents sometimes thought, “If only we hadn’t given up.”

I heard that story from the time I was a little kid, and it haunted me. So when I became a writer, I swore I would never give up or give in to discouragement. I would become a published writer.

Life intervened in unexpected ways, and I had to put my dreams on the back burner for a while, but I never abandoned them. I kept writing, if only in stolen moments on a commuter van traveling to and from my job.

Writing is hard work, and you often must sacrifice other pursuits, many of which are easier and more entertaining. Your friends look at you funny when you tell them you’re skipping the movie so you can work on your novel. Sometimes I’d wonder, “Is it worth it? Who will care about this book anyway?” The answer, of course, was “I will.”

I finally finished a novel, and I even found an agent. Yay! Mission accomplished!

Ooops, not really. My agent was very determined; she got me rejected by all the big publishing houses, until a junior editor at the now-defunct Zebra Books took a liking to the novel. We talked, she suggested a few changes, and I was almost done revising when my agent called. The junior editor’s boss overruled her. No publishing deal.

My agent briskly told me to write another novel— “a mystery this time.” I did. She read it and dismissed it, telling me “that theme isn’t selling right now.” And she gave up on me.

But I didn’t give up. I wrote another novel, and after years of workshops and revisions, I began sending it to agents and to publishers who took unagented work.

I sent 167 query letters over six years before luck landed me at Champlain Avenue Books (well, luck and my friend MM Gornell, a fellow member of this blog.) And after all that time and all that angst, before I could even catch my breath, Mending Dreams came into being—and into bookstores.mdfrontcover-web

I was tempted a lot of times to give up, but that family story stuck with me, and I didn’t want to be the one who walked away and let someone else reap the benefits.

You hear all kinds of slogans on this subject: “Winners never quit; quitters never win.” But in my case the slogan took tangible form, and I’m here to tell you that you CAN achieve your dreams, if only you keep trying. Sometimes just hanging on for that extra day, that extra mile, that extra page—it can make all the difference.mountaintop

I’m putting my words to the test again, working on a new novel—the most challenging one yet. But it’s easier to keep going now, because I know I can do it, and I know that I have to.

Have you ever been tempted to quit writing because it can be so hard and sometimes so discouraging? Did you persist? How did you motivate yourself to keep going?