Updates

Last month I was offered a contract on my first novel Six Days! Beyond my wildest dreams – didn’t think my first attempt at writing would ever get this far. For someone who switches ‘careers’ like Jay Z changes clothes, I’m pretty proud of myself for not only finishing the book, but shopping it around. 

I finished Six Days in July of 2013 and had neighbor Jennifer Bateman, a contract editor for Penguin, look it over. She was the first person I let see my words on paper, the first person to tell me I should pursue this. Without her encouragement I never would have finished! Everyone needs cheerleaders in their corner and she was waving her pom poms for publishing like crazy! 

In August of 2013, Savvy Authors hosted a symposium and signed up immediately. They offered workshops, pitching practice, synopsis helps and the reason I joined: the Pitch Room! Editors and agents from different publishing houses accepted pitches from authors, trying to get their manuscripts in front of them. I submitted to seven publishing houses and one agent. I got two instant rejections and four requests for first three chapters. I was ecstatic at the response and encouraged to keep going. In September I submitted to four more houses and two more agents. Some of the editors gave me great feedback and recommendations. I edited based on some of the advice and resubmitted to them. By October I had two editors seriously interested. After some back and fourths I was offered a contract in March of 2014! 

It seems like it took forever from August until today to get where I am (contract expected to arrive early May, 2014) but from what I am learning the publishing world moves slower than I thought. But it’s all good and I’m already working on more novels, excited to keep my momentum going in the direction of selling and sailing. Husband and I have 7 years until we plan to sail away. Publishing more novels will help us sail longer so that is a strong motivation for me.

I’ll announce details when the contract is signed and the champagne is flowing! 🙂  

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My Yearly Motto

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New Year’s resolutions are all fine and good for some, but I usually find them too difficult to remember or by March they are no longer relevant. So instead, I do yearly mottos. Last year was DARE YOURSELF. Yes, I got it from the swimsuit issue of a Roxy catalogue and I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking about improving your reading list. But, it can be applied to so much. And for me it meant completing something. 

I love new things and get easily distracted by ideas. During my home interior design phase I changed the wall color of my kitchen so often my husband said we were losing square footage from the thickness of the paint alone. I once started a home-based business and as soon as it started growing and flourishing, I no longer had the desire so I shut it down. Acrylics and canvases are packed away in storage after I swore I wanted to sell art. I have a history of jumping from one thing to the next. So when I decided I was going to write a novel, I saw the Roxy cover and it clicked. “Wendi,” I said to myself, “I dare you to finish a novel!” It worked and I even managed to learn the publishing process and submit it to editors near and far. Two are very interested and I hope to have a contract next month. Not bad for my first attempt at writing and publishing! 

So, this year my motto is LIVE OUTSIDE THE BOX. See that picture up there? That is Gee Atherton during his downhill mountain bike race run at RedBull Rampage in Utah a few years ago. He and his family have made a living out of doing what the love. They get to travel all over the world and get paid to ride bikes. Down mountains. They love what they do and they’ve turned it into a career. Not many of us are programmed to do that. Or maybe we are and we’ve just been reprogrammed to do the whole 9 – 5 thing for 50 years and then retire. 

I admire people that live a life less ordinary. My husband and I are preparing to do that: buy a boat and sail the world. We have a few years, but this year is all about getting into that mentality to live outside the box.  

 

Blown Away… a small scene

If this website were a child I would be standing before a judge of Child Protective Services trying to explain my neglectful ways. I’ve just been busy. Pitching one book and writing my third. Here’s a little excerpt I just wrote, something to appease the website gods.

“I’m tired of walking on egg shells around you Emma!” Gee shouted at her, his arms raised in exasperation.

“Well, nobody asked you to!” she shouted back, fisted hands planted on her hips.

“Fine. Then I will give you a piece of advice that I would give any of my mates that sulked around the way you are. Life dishes out shit sometimes. It happens to everyone. So man up!”

Emma fumed and felt her face grow hot with the anger boiling inside of her. She took a couple of steps towards him, got right up in his face and yelled, “Don’t you dare to even think about giving me advice on my life. My life has been nothing but an all-you-can-eat buffet of shit. And in case you haven’t noticed, I am NOT a man!”

Gee looked down at the fury on her face, shocked that she had it in her. Shocked that she had yelled back. Shocked at how turned on it made him. “Oh, I’ve noticed,” he whispered as he bent down to kiss her.

It was a quick kiss. Emma didn’t even have time to remove her fists and hit him. Or wrap around him to draw him closer. Before she could even respond with any sort of coherent gesture, he turned around and stalked away. She took in great gulps of air as she stared at his retreating back and wondered what the hell had just happened.

To kill or not to kill

When I first met Jason I really wanted to kill him. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he was a good guy and all. Musical, smart, beautiful, and Southern. There was A LOT to like about the guy and everyone who met him loved him. I did, too. But I just thought it would be better if he died so I shot him one rainy evening. He tried to hold on a bit longer but the bullet had done its damage. He suffered but finally died in the arms of his love. It was tragic and beautiful. But then my editor said I could absolutely NOT kill my male main character. *Pout* So I re-wrote the ending to my first novel and she’s right, Jason had to live and I’m glad he did. The world does need more good guys out there, right? Especially since Jason stumbled upon a government cover-up. Think Eric Snowden but with more of a plan and handsomer. Here is a picture of Jason:

jason2 henry_cavillYes, I know. His real name is Henry Cavill. AKA Superman. But I found him before all that. He was my Jason long before he donned that red cape. Having a picture of my main characters helps make them real, helps me write, helps me figure out where they are going next. So, yeah, looking at that dimple now, I see that killing him would have been a shame.

But sometimes the endings aren’t Happily Ever After. Nicolas Sparks obviously has stock in Kleenex. Jodi Picoult, the author of My Sister’s Keeper, can create tears from others with less than five words.  The popularity of their books leads me to believe that sometimes killing is okay, even necessary. Sometimes a death brings about a much needed change in another character, something that spurs the story on, even changing it’s direction. I do understand that people read to escape reality, to have a happily ever after in their dreams. But sometimes, just sometimes, don’t you want a little tragedy, too?

Dead Man Down? Have you seen this Colin Farrell movie? OMG – again, support Mr. Sparks and get those tissues! Broke my heart into a million pieces. Crying and runny nose with my husband glancing over making sure I was going to be okay. It was sad but you know what? I freakin’ LOVE that movie! Yes, the acting was amazing, the story line was riveting and there was a good amount of gun handling of which husband approved. But the tragic ending made it memorable, something I won’t soon forget. Does that make me a masochist? No, just a writer that likes variety, something more than the fairytale endings so many are used to watching or reading.

If you haven’t heard about Game of Thrones and you like your HEAs please crawl back under your rock. There is so much uncertainty about the longevity of it’s main cast the actors have to check in with security every morning to see if they are still wanted on the set. There is even a parody on YouTube:

 

So what about you? Do you like it when a character is killed off or do you want to see that Happily Ever After?

Standing Out and Out Standing

So. How ya doing? It’s been a while…summer vacations, house falling down, zoo needing care. You know, it’s been busy. But really, I am at a loss as to what to write. I know, I know. “You write books, for cryin’ out loud!” I hear you and writing 90,000 words for a novel comes easy for me. Status updates, tweets, texts – got those covered, too. I can spit those out easier than I can, well, spit.

Frankenstein's_monster_(Boris_Karloff)But this beast I’ve created here? It just stares at me, daring me to post some drivel that it will consume and then spit back out with a laugh. I have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m not an authority on fashion unless jeans and a t-shirt are suddenly couture. I can’t even begin to comprehend the ins and outs of politics nor do I want to debate that here. I can talk a little about a lot. Unless it’s my neurotic dog. I’m a pro at dealing with him. And if you need advice on how to burn a pot of rice, well I’m your girl!

I’m supposed to be creating an ‘online presence’ for publishers and agents to look and see. Kind of like a litmus test for how popular I am, thus indicating how popular my books will be in the future. It’s like high school all over again. Word.

I understand that the publishing world is inundated with ‘wanna be’ authors and you have to stand out above the rest. You need to be different yet relevant; relateable yet edgy. Lady GaGa is a perfect example. People who don’t even listen to her music know who she is just by the absurd and bizarre things she does. Her bacon dress was brilliant. It was different, never heard of anyone doing that before. And it was relevant – talk about the ultimate recycling of materials. She could wear a dress and then go home and cook it.

So, while I won’t wrap bacon around my next manuscript, I need to find a way to stand out from the hundreds of thousands of ‘wanna bees’ out there. The wanna bees that write beautiful novels, descriptive and passionate, full of amazing story telling. There are thousands of those on slush piles on agents’ desks all across the world. Just to be seen by the agent’s two eyes is pure luck of the draw. Standing out after that is crucial. That’s where I’m at – creating something worth seeing. And right now I’m just feeling like her: brideFrankenstein3

Lawns=Yawns

Ever since my dad stuck me on a riding lawn mower at the age of 5 and gave me the responsibility of keeping the lawn mowed, I have asked myself one question: Why this obsession with perfect green grass? (okay – I’m lying about the age thing. I don’t remember how old I was, old enough to roll my eyes and sigh dramatically most likely!) And even though I now pay the boy next door to keep the green stuff neat and tidy I still wonder why people care so much. How did it become the standard to spend countless hours and too many dollars on something you wipe off onto the front door Welcome mat?

Landscaping companies make millions of dollars a year so Americans can achieve a lush carpet of green, edged with beds of tightly controlled flora that may or may not be native to their area. Yeah, yeah property values, image, blah, blah, blah…whatever. But look at this beauty of a place.

alaskaI can guarantee that Alaska didn’t spend one penny on Scott’s weed killer or Round Up’s fertilizer. Mother Nature did all that and it’s beautiful! Even without the majestic mountains or amazing glacier in the background, it makes me want to inhale a big pesticide-free sigh. Because, really, who wants to knowingly put down chemicals that can cause health problems in a place where children play, pets roll around on and is tracked through our house. Oh, that’s right…they make these signs for a reason.

pesticidesIt’s crazy that we fight Mother Nature so hard. It’s like plant genocide! I myself refuse to do it. I have a lush, trimmed green lawn required by the homeowners association but I dare you to find a blade of grass. It’s a mixture of stuff, sometimes they bloom these pretty little flowers I enjoy until the lawn boy comes along. I can peacefully watch the birds that pluck the organic earthworms from the ground and the bunnies that frequently come out at dusk without fear that they will start convulsing in a seizure right before my eyes. And my dog Harris and cat Percy can graze at times, too, like they do when they are trying to vomit in the house. On my carpet.

And if you enjoy taking care of grass, nurturing your lawn until it practically glows green and pulling local Zone 4 weeds from choking your Zone 9 exotic hibiscus then I applaud your passion. No, really I do. I am not trying to say that what you are doing is wrong. It just isn’t for me.  Astro-turf has more appeal, although I wouldn’t want to watch a bunny digest that. Nor would I go to these lengths, although I secretly want to give them a thumbs-up.

spraypaintgrassYeah, that’s paint! A Staten Island company spray paints lawns (no really, look). It has been popular among ball fields and golf courses for years so it was a matter of time before it gained a footing in residential neighborhoods. If the grass is dead, the vegetable-based paint is permanent. But I have no need for that because my native weeds are always green and healthy.

“Lawns say a lot about the homeowners that live there,” some say. “Your lawn presents an image to the neighborhood.”  Well, I guess my lawn is giving everyone in my ‘hood the middle finger. I know I’m not alone in my distaste for yard work. There are secret lawn rebels out there that grumble as they thatch their delicate sod, eyeing me with envy as I walk over my tough-as-nails lawn on the way to the pool. One day they will wake up and realize how much time and money they could have spent on fun things, like bettering themselves instead of dirt.

One last thing. When I googled “unmanicured lawns in America” images why in the world did Russel Brand’s image pop up? Seriously.

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Playing Dress Up

You would think that as a writer my first post would be something profound, thought-provoking or even poetic. But honestly, I need a post so I can see what this new website, the whole outfit, is going to look like. This site and I are having a love/hate relationship right now and I’m not ready to air all the dirty laundry in a rant about Widgets, URLs, and privacy options, not to mention fonts. (We all know it’s the font that makes the site. Am I right?)  I just want a pretty place to show off to you, my readers. So we have been busy trying on different dresses and pairing it with the right accessories. Please have patience as I learn how to keep my settings, that I spent hours on, from disappearing when I press Publish. I’m just so thankful you are here and I promise this site will be as funny and entertaining as it is beautiful, once I find the right pair of shoes!