When You Just Don’t Fit the Market

I’ve never felt like I fit.

Growing up in the 70s and 80s on Long Island, New York, I didn’t know anyone whose parents (or grandparents) were divorced except mine. I didn’t know any other kids who had to visit their dad on the weekend instead of doing fun stuff with friends. And I didn’t know any other kids whose mother pulled them from the Catholic church when she found Jesus.

I didn’t fit.

In high school, I had my own salvation experience. Jesus had always been my savior, but in 10th grade he became my Lord. I didn’t know any other kids at my school who loved Jesus like I did, who drastically changed their ways over one summer, and who had to find new friends to hang around with the following school year.

Once again, I didn’t fit.

I went off to a Christian college in 1986 and thought for sure I would fit in. But how could a girl from New York ever fit into an evangelical Oklahoma school? I might have had the big hair, but I didn’t speak the language or dress the way they did. When people were fixing to go to lunch, I wanted to know what was broken. Eventually, I found people I fit with and it made my college experience one of the best experiences of my life, but after college I still struggled to fit into my church, my homeschool and mom groups. I don’t know why, but something always made me feel like an outsider.

Then I found my writing friends, and I finally found my home, that place that you know people love and accept you no matter what because they’re family and they “get” you. That’s what the writing community has been for me and most recently the dance community I’m a part of. I don’t have to explain myself to them, they just get me.

Where is all this going with fitting into the writing market?

The other day I had a chat with my agent about the story he’s shopping around for me. The consensus from editors so far is that the writing is really good, some even loved my writing…but the story doesn’t fit. Not a surprise, really. My last story didn’t seem to fit either. Too edgy, not CBA enough, too melancholy…whatever you want to call it, I find myself not fitting again, and this time I’m smiling.

Why? Because it just confirms the word my pastor spoke in church on Sunday and maybe something God has been trying to tell me all my life. I don’t fit because God doesn’t want me to!

God makes each person unique with different gifts and personalities so they can fit into different places. My pastor said we each are designed to fit in places only we can fit.

So I know there’s a place for me. A place my writing fits, and when I find it I will be smack in the middle of God’s will, the place he designed for me from the beginning. And I’m sure I won’t be the only one smiling!

UPDATE: After exhausting all leads in the CBA, we’re taking my current WIP to the general ABA. Uncharted territory awaits me! Not sure how I feel about it all, but I’m moving forward!

Have you found the place where you fit? If not, will you keep searching until you do, or will you conform to fit into a space that was never meant for you?

 

 

Writing Lessons from a Dream

I used to dream a lot! Vivid, storyline dreams that made complete sense…until I woke up. But lately those kind of dreams are rare. So when I had a dream about Donald Maass as my drama coach dancing with me ballroom style as I sang “Popular,” I had to laugh! Here’s why…

I’m an impressionable dreamer. I actually DREAM things that my consciousness experiences, usually the night before.

Last night as I ate Ben and Jerry’s as my last hurrah before I went no sugar this week, I watched Drop Dead Diva. There was an episode on where Jane is in one of her fun dream sequences where she’s dancing with a popular male vocal Chip and Daleish group and her old, frumpy boyfriend shows up for a dance. She wakes and tells her friend Stacey about it. Stacey, in her wonderful, ditzy blonde goodness, thinks it’s a sign that Jane needs to date her old boyfriend. Jane reluctantly agrees, but in the end Jane and Stacey learn that the dream really had no meaning, and sometimes a dream is just to dream.

So as I share with you my crazy dream, you decide. Just a dream or a prophetic sign? Whatever you decide, it sure was a fun one!

As far as dreams go, it started out pretty normal. Random craziness with an obscure goal as I traveled somewhere. Vague enough for you?

But when I finally arrived at my goal, I was surprised to find I was in a Donald Maass acting workshop. Yes, acting! While he talked and demonstrated some dance moves, I tried to imitate them, but I was barefoot and everyone else wore shoes. So I put mine on. A pair of black pumps I owned in real life used for my ballroom dance lessons that hurt my feet. So I took them off again.

Then we were asked to sit in chairs in a semi circle around the dance floor. As Don placed everyone in their seat, I tried on a few other pair of shoes I just happened to be carrying around with me and settled on a funky pair of red flat boots with lace up ties. When he got to me, I was the last one and instead of placing me in a chair he took my hand and spoke to me. Oh, how I wish I could remember that conversation, but in essence he told me I was going to dance a scene with him and that it might not be in my comfort zone, but he wanted me to be open minded and try it. At first, I was reluctant, but agreed. Then we started to dance, ballroom style, first cautiously as I timidly sang “Popular” from the Wicked musical. My steps were small and unsure at first, and my voice muffled as I sang with “cotton in my ears.” Then he whispered, “Follow me and take big steps.” And we glided across the dance floor as I belted out the song, “I’m gonna be Popular.”

Dancing felt effortless as I was carried by my partner and sang my guts out. While dancing, I didn’t worry about what I looked like or how I sounded (because I had no clue with the cotton in my ears,) I just trusted my partner and knew by the smile on his face that I was going to be popular.

And when the song ended and I poked a baby alligator peeking up from a drain in the floor (after all, this WAS a dream,) I heard the roar of the applause coming from my cottoned ears, and I knew I was popular. Then I took my seat, not in the semicircle, but in the audience.

Was this dream a sign from God that one day I’ll be ballroom dancing with Donald Maass? I highly doubt it! Was it the result of my crazy weekend carting my kids to their play, reading Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass, working on my WIP after two weeks off, and watching Dancing with the Stars and Drop Dead Diva! Most definitely!

But maybe, just maybe it was also a sign.

If I analyzed each part of this dream it speaks to my conscious dreams, goals and fears!

When I started reading Fire in Fiction this weekend, I was inspired to work on my WIP again. It’s no secret my current WIP scares me on a couple of levels. It’s based on the real life story of my grandmother, and I’m writing it in a new genre, Women’s fiction. I want to do it justice, and honestly, I don’t want this story to be just another practice WIP on my way to publication. I want this to be THE ONE!

So I understand the setting of my dream  most likely resulted from my weekend experiences. Even poking the alligator makes sense to me, but why the song Popular? It’s one of my daughter’s favorites, and we did sing it in the car last week, but we also sang half of the songs on the Wicked cd.

No dream interpretation needed on this one.

Popular, I want to this WIP to be popular and maybe, just maybe I need to turn on the music, sing my heart out, and take giant, scary steps with Donald Maass.

What do you think?

And Action…Act II

I finally passed the 14,000 word mark and I’m on to Act I in my current WIP which would have been at 64,000 words if I didn’t scrap it and turn my Historical romance into Women’s fiction. Thanks, Susie!

At first I was literally paralyzed to write when my romance wasn’t working. I had HALF a book on paper and to consider pressing delete and starting over, for someone like me, a slow writer who has to scrounge time (and resist social networking) to get any writing done, was, well, paralyzing. BUT deep inside I knew women’s fiction was the way the story needed to be told.

I just was afraid to try.

Now 14,516 words into it, I’ve passed Act I where I tend to be compulsive about characters and motivation and I’m moving on, giving myself permission to write a lot of crappy dialogue with little action and setting, just to get the momentum flowing again and while I’m rambling on here, I SHOULD be writing. So I bid you farewell, and I’ll see if I can’t crank out another 500 words before my daughter wakes up and I switch gears to mom and homeschooler…er and maid. This house needs some compulsive cleaning!

And if you’re procrastinating your own writing, at least read something worthwhile like Compulsive Editing Disorder and let me know if you relate to any of this!

Opening Night and Playing Catch Up

For those still following and reading this blog, a BIG thank you to you! I know posts have been sparse lately, but it’s been a good break. A much needed hiatus in a sense to break the control the internet can sometimes have on us! But I feel like a change is coming and a redesign as well. FIRST, I need to get Writer…Interrupted up and running and then I can focus on this blog.
What’s been happening since my MidLife Road Trip?

Getting three kids ready for school and one for homeschool: CHECK

Attending a writing seminar with Lisa Samson and Susan Meissner and renewing my passion for my historical which is now a women’s fiction story: CHECK

Rehearsing for the Jungle Book in which I was recruited to play a part and TONIGHT is opening night! CHECKING

Working on my schedule so I can fit in more time to write: CHECK, though not always a success

Preparing for my Creative Writing class and grading papers: CHECK

Figuring out CRAZY school, play, sports, dance and you name it schedules for FOUR kids: CHECK

Losing another ten pounds and figuring out what I need to do to take this body of mine to the next level: CHECK!

Well, I guess that’s all for now. Say a little prayer for Opening Night and if you’re in the neighborhood make sure you buy a ticket!! Hopefully, pictures will follow one day!

Conference Confidence: Why Are You Going?

Just because I’m not going to ACFW this year, doesn’t mean I can’t help you get prepared to have the best conference you can. I’ll be reposting my Conference Confidence series to help you get organized and prepare for your upcoming writers conference.

I won’t claim I know it all, or know much for that matter :) But what I do know is that everything I’ve pitched at conferences have been requested by multiple editors (little did I know that I would have to follow up with a finished product…but that’s another story for another post.)

So the first order of business is to figure out why you’re going to a writer’s conference?

The first three times I went to a conference I went to pitch and SELL. I was focused, driven and hardly recognized my introverted self. I had to will myself to be an extrovert, in fact flying to my first conference (Glorietta) in Santa Fe, New Mexico I distinctly remember the moment I put on my game face. I gazed out the window, worrying about having to push out of my shell and said “Game on.” (Yes, I’m a big Survivor fan) but it was the focus I needed to play the game. And it worked, I got multiple requests for multiple manuscripts (yet to be written, of course. I admit I was naive and believed what I’d been hearing, that you can sell without a completed WIP…sure if you’re Francine Rivers, Brandilyn Collins or Ted Dekker. Sadly, I was not…)

There have been conferences since that I went to (ACFW), knowing I wouldn’t pitch anything. I had given up writing and simply went to network and make friends. It was very awkward for me, a little no body, sitting with the big guys, late after classes. But I did it and prayed I didn’t look like the misfit I felt like.

So why are you going to conference this year? And are you willing to break out of your comfort zone? If so, what’s your game plan?

Random Thoughts from a Writer…Interrupted

It’s been so long since I gathered my thoughts enough to post that I’m not sure where to begin. Lots of things going on as I plan for my three week trek across the western half of the United States. It’s a belated 40th bday present to myself and I’m excited to hit the road, though not excited about all the driving. Note to self: Calculate the actual driving time and miles BEFORE you commit!

My trip will take me to Denver for the Masters Seminar with Susan May Warren and my agent Chip MacGregor where I’ll hang with Danica and Jessie and I’m sure I’ll make some new friends. Then it’s off to drive Jessie home to Idaho, then on to Portland, Cannon Beach, Northern California, Santa Barbara and last, but not least, to visit my pal Georgianna in Arizona.

If  by chance you’re on my route, I’m always looking for a reason to pull off the road and chat with a friend!

My writing took a back seat with the end of school responsibilities and when a writing mentor very wisely told me my romance was lacking the hero’s story. So I’ve been sulking, thinking and brainstorming since April and hope to get back on track at this conference. I’m praying it will be just what I need to jump start my writing again.

My weightloss finally turned a corner this month. I lost 18 pounds in three weeks on a detox plan I’ve been looking at for two years now. I’m not one to jump on bandwagons, but God mercifully gave me the grace to stick with this plan, and I’m continuing on maintenance for the next two weeks, then I’ll be free to eat anything I want in moderation.

For about seven years or more I’ve been trying to lose the 20 pounds that my last pregnancy and homeschooling put on me. For the last 4 years I’ve been faithful to exercise, though my diet hasn’t been perfect, I haven’t been able to lose the weight. Now 18 pounds lighter (and about 18 plus more pounds to go) I’m able to wear clothes I haven’t worn in years! My trip will cut into my exercise routine, but I’ll do the best I can and watch my diet. I really feel incredible to have overcome this hurdle. Maybe it’s just the beginning to all the other areas of my life!

So what have YOU been up to?

When Everything Falls Apart

As I continue on this journey of faith and publication it becomes more and more apparent that I’m the protagonist in my own story, and God is the author, moving me along my story arc as I race toward my happy ending.

While there is comfort in knowing that God is the ultimate author, and my story is safe in his hands, there is also fear.

I’m a writer. I know what authors do to their protagonists to get them to the end so they can be the person they were created to be. So they can ultimately reject the lies they’ve been believing about themselves, and embrace the essence of who they truly are. And walk in truth.

The protagonist must be taken on a soul-searching, gut-wrenching journey. A journey that tears them wide open, where everything in their life falls apart to bring them to their black moment where they cry “Lord, you’re the only hope for this heart.”

That’s where I am right now.

Desperately trying to figure out where I fit in this writing world, where God wants me to be. Trying hard not to listen to the lies blaring in my ears that tell me I can’t do this. That it’s too hard. That I’m a nobody. That I will never be who I dream to be, and maybe, just maybe, this is all that God has for me, and I should be content.

Yet, deep inside there’s still a pull, a longing to embrace the essence of who I know I am, who God created me to be, but not sure if I have the strength to go on.

I’m lost, wandering around in my own story arc. Have I reached my black moment in my writing life? Have I surrendered all? Will there be a happily ever after?

I don’t know, but what I do know is that this weekend when it felt like everything was falling apart in my writing life, God spoke to me at just the right moment, twice, through a song. And his message was clear.

“When everything falls apart
Your arms hold me together
When everything falls apart
Your the only hope for this heart
When everything falls apart
And my strength is gone
I find you mighty and strong
You keep holding on
You keep holding on.”

Where are you in your life’s story? Will you keep holding on?

Why We Grow Weary in the Journey

I started on this writing journey enthusiastic, bright-eyed, and hopeful.

That was six years ago.

Now I’m weary, blurry-eyed, and discouraged.

Why?

What takes a determined person and zaps the life from her dreams?

Is it the struggles we face a long the way? The obstacles we must overcome?

Or is it the lack of results?

While I’ve had small successes in my writing career, I’m starting to wonder if it’s enough to sustain me. Yes, editors have been interested, even enthusiastic in my ideas over the last six years, but they’ve always ended in a rejection. Yes, I have an awesome, encouraging agent, but in the year and a half I’ve been with him he hasn’t sold my two manuscripts (by no fault of his own.) I’m slowing trudging through my current WIP in hopes it will be the one…

People tell me to be patient. I encourage others to be patient, but lately I’ve been wondering why we grow weary and why some people eventually quit.

I’m convinced it’s lack of results.

Apply it to any other area of life. Take my weightloss journey which I began anew this January. I did all the right things. Said my daily surrender statement, exercised daily, watched what I ate. But the scale didn’t cooperate. I calculated that if I did everything right I would lose 2 lbs. a week. By the end of the first month I lost 2 lbs. Not my original goal, but I persevered through the next month, slacking a little in my enthusiasm, still exercising though not as faithful in eating healthy on the weekends. Here it is the end of March and according to my original plan I should be 21lbs. lighter. Well, I’m not! Why? Because lack of results killed my enthusiasm, and it’s very discouraging to keep doing the hard things, the right things, to keep persevering without results.

Take a look in the Bible. Abraham was so discouraged when a son wasn’t born to Sarah that he took things into his own hands which ended in disaster. Though God was still faithful to his promise and turned it around, it was still less than what God had originally planned for Abraham. Same thing happened throughout Abraham’s family line. First the promise, then the wait, then the impatience and discouragement. Discouragement because of a lack of result which produced a lack of faith and the person taking things into his own hands.

It’s hard to persevere when our time table is light years ahead of God’s. When we think we know best and our timing is perfect. It’s hard to keep going without results. Big results! Little encouragements along the way like landing an agent or losing a few pounds help, but in the end what makes us stick it out? Results.

But when their are no results, all with have is faith. Faith. Is it enough to sustain? It is for me, for now. Though it’s not easy…

Is faith enough for you?

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Barbie: The Ultimate Heroine

Before I had a little girl of my own, I vowed to keep her from those barely clothed Barbie Dolls. I had grown up playing with Barbie, the perfectly sculpted woman. In a society that idolizes perfect women with perfect figures, I didn’t want to subject my daughter to that mentality and to subconsciously compare herself to Barbie’s impossible proportions. But as she got older it became more obvious that Barbie was a force to be reckoned with, so I relented to the Princess Barbies. After all, they were clad in long flowing gowns instead of those skimpy clothes so many of the other Barbies were wearing.

Then I fell in love with Barbie videos and all vows were off. After ten years of Barnie, Psalty the singing song book, Disney Sing-a-long, and Wee Sing, I was ready for a change and delighted when my daughter skipped all the PBS toddler shows and went straight for Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper. I think it was her older cousin’s influence, but it’s one influence I didn’t grit my teeth at.

I was pleasantly surprised by Barbie who portrayed both classic and new characters and was not your typical damsel in distress princess. She was strong, independent, her own hero! And it didn’t hurt that she sang! I was definitely hooked on Barbie DVDs after that first video and as excited as my daughter when new Barbie adventures came out. Needless to say, themed Barbie dolls filled her wish list, and I didn’t hesitate to indulge her in these fun Barbie character adventures.

barbie-dvd.jpgSo when Mom Central invited me to try out the new “Sing Along with Barbie” DVD I was excited!

12 Barbie songs comprise this DVD which is basically 12 scenes ripped from some of our favorite Barbie movies like “The Island Princess,” “Barbie and the Three Musketeers,” “Barbie and the Diamond Castle,” “The Princess and the Pauper” and a few more. My seven year old daughter was able to follow along with the purple highlighted words, like you’d do in karaoke, though we did notice when there was a duet, it was harder to follow. We did figure out that the second singer’s lyrics were on the bottom, but my son pointed out it would have been better if the words were highlighted a different color. One negative is that since the songs are scenes from the movie, there is talking involved and that talking is also highlighted across the screen as if the tv text was just turned on, but that is easily overlooked.

I’m not sure who enjoyed the dvd more, me or my daughter, but I’m sure we’ll have plenty more opportunities to find out!

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Mattel. In addition, I received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

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