2015 in Review

2015 has been a long and wonderful year for me. So much has happened that I need to take a moment to remember each step along the way.

For starters, last January I was finishing edits on a project, then waiting for feedback from my fellow writers. I had written so many first drafts in 2014 that I declared 2015 the year of edits!

I started with my New Adult novel, SILENT ATTRACTION. This novel went through quite a few overhauls, tweaks, and complete revisions. My readers loved it, spurring on my confidence.

A great deal of time was spent entering SILENT ATTRACTION into contests and querying agents. I love contests and was so honored to make it through to the agent round, including getting some mentor eyes on my query and first chapter.

In the meantime I managed to edit one project, an adult contemporary romance set on a cruise ship. But then, oh then, my muse broke her cage and forced me back to first draft mayhem.

I spent the rest of the year going back and forth between drafts and edits. I wrote another New Adult novel. I shelved two novels at the halfway point. I started a third novel. All the while I continued querying.

In October I signed with my lovely agent. In November I landed a two book deal. I knew early on SILENT ATTRACTION was destined for something good, but I never imagined the path it would take me on.

Last year I was in the trenches, writing, improving on my craft, searching for the one that would get me to the next step. One never really knows when their life is about to take a turn for the better, when just a few more steps will bring you to the finish line. All we can do is keep writing, keep improving, and keep trying.

If you are still in the trenches: keep at it. You never know what’s waiting around the corner.

2016 will be a different year for me. I have two books to prep for publication. I have deadlines now, along with an agent and editor to help make my work shine. It’s a very different state than I was in last year.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Selectively Captioned for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Whenever I watch something on TV, be it the news, a television show, or a movie, I watch it with captions. I have a hearing loss. While at times I can hear the words being spoken without needing the captions, many times I need them to understand what is going on, especially if I watch without my hearing aids on.

I was nineteen before I started using captions. Once I realized how much I had been missing, I never wanted to go back. But there is a problem with media in general:

Not everything is captioned.

News stations sometimes can’t acquire a live captionist, other times they flat out don’t care. Some movie channels don’t give a damn whether people like me can enjoy their programming. Things have improved over the years, in a sort of one step forward two steps back approach.

And then there’s the selective captioning.

Case in point: I watched Pitch Perfect 2 last week. Saw the first movie, loved it. Started the second movie only, wait, the Bellas are singing, where’s the captioning? My husband and I stopped the movie, put in the first movie. The first time around they captioned all the songs and it was extremely enjoyable. This time around, they only captioned the original works.

Not gonna lie, I was bored. I was frustrated. I was hurt. I loved the first movie so much and was so looking forward to enjoying the sequel. Only I had to ask my husband what song was being sung. Add in accents and the cross sounds the original movie loved to do, and I plain couldn’t follow the songs.

Add in Amy’s song to Bumper, the lyrics there were important. They were plot dependent. I managed to figure out which song it was halfway through, but the movie should have given me the curtesy of the lyrics.

They aren’t alone. Many movies refuse to caption the music. Why? Am I not supposed to enjoy music simply because I can’t hear? Am I too dumb to understand the importance of song in film? Am I the ugly stepchild not worthy of having a full movie captioned for me?

Because if those lyrics were in ASL I bet they’d be captioned. So the hearing people can understand my language, but I can’t understand your songs.

That’s not right. That’s not fair.

I’m just a writer with a blog. Just one voice among many. But I’m tired of this inequalness that continues to prevail. It’s bad enough I can’t read an article from my local news station because they’ve been replaced with captionless videos. It’s bad enough more than half of the videos my friends post on social media are not captioned. It’s bad enough there are television channels that continue to refuse captions, and movies in my house that somehow sneaked by requirements and only my husband can enjoy. But don’t take a movie and claim it’s captioned for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, when you really mean “Selectively Captioned for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.”

Most importantly: it’s not up to the powers that be whether or not I will enjoy the movie, or others like me will enjoy. Caption everything. The decisions is ours, not yours.

Lights Burn Bright

I originally wrote this poem, and since I planned on posting it here, did not save right away (I know, I know). My computer froze, forcing me to restart. When I did, the poem and another document were gone. I recreated the poem, but it lacks something the original had. My apologies.

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Lights burn bright.
Shine on the darkness,
Shine on the night.
Colors twist and turn,
Reach higher and higher.

Lights burn bright.
Flames flicker.
Orange, red, yellow.
Jump, leap, dance.

Illuminate the cold.
Illuminate the dull.
Bring joy, bring hope.
A time to rest, a time to love.

Lights burn bright.
Welcome one and all.
And flicker, and flicker.
And flicker.

How I Got My Publisher

Is This Really MY Story?

We’ve all heard about those crazy fast submission stories, where an author lands an agent, and then boom lands a publisher. We also know this is the exception not the norm. Most authors go on submission, and stay there for months, maybe years. Often times the book they first sell is not the first novel they go on submission with.

I knew all this when my agent put my novel on submission with publishers. I was still on the, “OMG I have an agent!” high. I prepared myself for the long wait. The very first thing I noticed was the odd surreal feeling: my agent was now in charge. I wasn’t drafting queries and sending them out, someone else was doing that.

In theory: great, more time to write!
In reality: what’s going on?

Let me tell you: nothing. Nothing’s going on. Editors are presented with a concept. They either request or pass. Then we all sit back and wait for them to get a chance to read.

Months pass. Years pass.

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Or, in some cases, weeks.

About three weeks into my submission process I started checking my e-mail more often, waiting for an update from my agent. An update I knew wasn’t there, but this nagging feeling kept whispering, “Soon, soon.” I pushed it aside and went back to my latest work-in-progress.

Then my agent sent me an e-mail, requesting to chat. She had an update from one of the editors. I freaked out almost as much as I did during THE CALL with my agent several weeks prior. I tried to think of what this could be and decided the editor hated it, with some big picture changes needed.

Instead I learned an editor loved my book, couldn’t put it down, and wanted to have a conference call with us. Wait. What? Words spilled out, words an editor said about my writing.

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We scheduled the call. And for the first few days, I was fine. This was cool. I had interest in my novel, good stuff. The nerves kicked in the day before hand. Different types of nerves. This was a conference call. Was I to call five minutes early? Or right on time? Or a few minutes late? Was I going to be the only one there waiting for the call?

In the end, I would have been two minutes early, but the number I dialed led me to an older sounding female voice assuming I was Lorraine. In my nerves I misdialed!

We had the call. The editor gushed. She mentioned some edits she envisioned for the novel. I felt good about these changes. More importantly, I felt good about the editor. She got my vision, she respected my story.

The next step was for my agent and the editor to catch up without me. Only as timing would have it, the weekend hit before they had the chance. This was a long weekend, where I convinced myself that even though my agent said I did well, I must have done something wrong and the editor was no longer interested.

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Monday rolled around. I got an update from my agent: the editor wanted additional information about my brand and where I saw it heading.

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Me: Okay. I can do this. I can totally sell myself as a brand.

I managed to work up some words and send them off to my agent. A few hours later we heard back that the editor liked my ideas (OMG, can I do this?) and she had to discuss this with her team.

Waiting. Waiting. More waiting.

Then came my day off. I was lying in bed, under the blankets, with my laptop on my lap. My cell rang. It was my agent! I didn’t have my hearing aids on, unlike each time we’d spoken before. Heck, until now I’d made sure to shower first, but I was caught, ha!

She told me the editor had offered a two book deal! I was speechless, thrilled, and ended up with a cat clawing at me to calm down. I couldn’t believe it. I had an offer on the table, for two books.

I hung up and did a happy dance, then called my mom, texted my husband, and messaged a few writer friends. All the while I’m thinking, “How is this happening to me?” I know of authors on submission for longer than me, I’m not the type to win the lottery. Yet it felt like I had.

I had submissions out with other editors, and they were notified of the offer. I prepared myself for more rejections, remembering this phase after my agent offer.

We got silence. The day of the deadline, I was at work and my cell rang. I had a second offer! And by the end of the day the magic number went up to three.

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Three publishers saw potential in me and were interested in a book that was my heart and soul. When I started this journey, I had dreamed of making it this far and was terrified it was a pipe dream that would never happen.

It was happening.

In the end, the first editor was the right match for me. Four weeks from the email about the conference call and I had accepted an offer. All I wanted to do was jump and down and scream it from the rooftops, but I couldn’t, not until the announcement came out.

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And now I can announce my two book deal with Avon Impulse! SILENT ATTRACTION is scheduled to be published on June 14, 2016!

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I don’t know where this road will take me from here. I do know I was lucky enough to find a super star agent who not only believes in me, but had the right editors in mind for my work. Through her I’ve found a fantastic editor whose love for my book shines through. At the end of the day, isn’t it all about someone else loving our writing?