Saturday, March 20, 2010

Take Three Minutes for Success!

I've talked a lot about dreams come true and success. I want to succeed and I want to help others succeed, too.

So, here's a link to a great video that gives good advice on how to succeed at whatever you want to do. Watch it. I think what TED says really applies to success in any area of life, whether it be at one's job, as a mother or spouse or friend, or as a writer.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Happier Days

It's been eleven months since my last entry to this blog, just after my husband became seriously ill. Since life has improved for us since then, I wanted to provide a quick update.

Best of all, my husband is doing better! The brilliant doctors at Stanford Medical Center have been working wonders. Though his illness still causes us to wrestle with lots of change in our life, the disease has stabilized for now. We've been able to travel a little, mainly to Los Angeles to events at the University of Southern California, from which our daughter will graduate in May. We've been overnight at the beach a few times, and are now in the process of planning our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration, which will include a trip up to the Pacific Northwest.

Another joyful development is that I'm back doing my writing. Though I have less time to spend than I used to, I do usually have the ability to spend a few hours a day. I've even been able to attend a few writer workshops, and again can regularly attend my RWA and California Writers Club meetings.

To avoid frustrating you if you try to access my blog, I'd also like to mention that my web site is likely to change. Now that Google has announced Blogger will no longer handle "FTP," my blog will be non-operations as of the first of May. Since I plan to revamp my web site, and given my current care-giving responsibilities, I will have to suspend this blog until the new website is up and running.

All in all, though life isn't perfect (and when was it ever?), my family and I are doing quite well. I hope the same is true of you and yours.

I look forward to your presence at this blog, via my new website, at some point in the near future.

Until then, I wish you the best!

Ciao,

Rita

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Days of Dreams: The Mystery of Success, Part Two

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog--I've been very busy, working on my manuscripts whenever I can steal time from my family and volunteer responsibilities. Like so many of you, I'm sure, I've been working persistently. To my way of thinking, persistence is the key to unlocking and stepping through that door to a place where dreams come true. We have to keep at it, work doggedly if we must, work everlastingly until we find our dreams.

So today, it's with great pleasure that I report results from my persistent work, my practice of never giving up--the first sale of a work of fiction authored by me. My romantic short story, Chateau, appears in the current issue (March/April) of New Love Stories magazine, available right now by subscription and in some local Borders bookstores.

Now I'm "officially" published -- a dream come true.

Here's something I never expected: being published feels quite comfortable. If you happened to read my blog way back in June 2008 (Days of Dreams: The Mystery of Success), you might remember how it struck me then that after striving and striving, success seems to come in a single instant.

Here's another example--learning of my publication in an instant at my mailbox.

A few days ago, I'd returned home with my daughter after a trip to the local day spa for a manicure and pedicure together, a ritual she and I seem to have established for whenever she comes home from college. She'd just returned for spring break from George Washington University on the East Coast. As I pulled into the driveway, I passed our mailbox and commented that I hadn't yet picked up the day's mail. After I retrieved the mail from the box, I fanned through the bills and junk mail. Right away I saw an envelope from Phoenix Publishing in New York. "Oh," I said. "I think this might be my story in the magazine."

When we got to the kitchen, I ripped open the envelope, and sure enough, in my hands was a copy of the contract I'd signed, a check for payment, and two copies of the magazine. The timing seemed especially right, since my daughter has long been a supporter of my writing (as has been my husband.)

Needless to say, the three of us each read the story right away. I'm happy to tell you that both my daughter and my husband liked it. (Believe me; if they didn't, they'd tell me. We're that kind of family.)

I've been waiting since June for the story to come out. In retrospect, that's not such a long wait, but until the other day at my mail box, at times the wait seemed long. Then, in an instant, my wait was over.

I share my news and these feelings not only to ask you to get the magazine and read my story, but just as importantly, to encourage you on your path to fulfilling your dreams.

We work. We wait. And then there comes that day -- that instant -- when our wait is over and a dream has come true.

I wish you luck and many blessings as you work persistently to make your dreams come true. Use persistence as a key. Never, ever give up.

Oh, and if you can't find the magazine in bookstores or the newstand, and you'd like to subscribe,

GO TO http://grassrootsmag.com/newlostma.html

OR


just click here!


If you subscribe right away, maybe you'll receive the current issue.

xo, ciao,

Rita

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ready, set, pause--for 2009!

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking
Friedrich Nietzsche.

Do you have writer’s block once in a while? Have you experienced a growth spurt, especially around the middle or where bottom meets chair? Perhaps your ankles swell after a day’s work at the computer when inspired prose sailed through your fingers onto keys and screen?

If any of this sounds like you, it may be time to acknowledge one of the realities we face as we pursue our passion for story and the word.

To write, we sit.

If your life resembles mine, in December my chair feels more like a top spinning than a calm place from which to write. Life hurls extra work at us now: cleaning the house and decorating, shopping, baking, gift wrapping, cooking meals fussy and festive, hosting or attending social gatherings. And don’t even mention that low-key statement, some assembly required.

Whatever holidays you practice, all the extra work must be completed by the date they roll around. Deadlines are nothing new to us as writers. But during this merry season, tasks are heaped on top of looming requirements of editors and agents, or on top of self-imposed target dates we must meet if we’re to achieve our writing goals.

December’s time crunch can be a stressor, and you might want to stop the merry-go-round to pause for some time to yourself. In keeping with the gift-giving of the holiday season, why not give yourself your own present—the gift of a nice, brisk walk?

You don’t have to wait for 2009 and another set of New Year’s resolutions. You can make a modest start now and reap the benefits. Medical science tells us we receive physical and mental goodies when we walk most days of the week, even for only ten minutes a day.

All of us know that walking for exercise can set us on the path to better health, but do we realize it can spark our creativity as well?

Research and testimony support Nietzsche’s assertion. Just google around and you’ll fine a plethora of articles and studies on the walking and wellbeing connection.

Do I sound preachy? If so, I apologize. In writing this post I’m hoping both to encourage you and to help myself. After cheering you on, if I don’t walk, I’ll look pretty foolish, won’t I?

So, here’s a tip: go to http://www.walkscore.com/.

This new site has checked out more than 2,500 neighborhoods in America’s 40 largest cities. You can enter an address and get the environs’ instant walkability score, along with a map of locations such as parks, coffee shops, theatres, markets, etc.—even fitness centers—the types of things you might want to enjoy during your walk. This is useful whether you’re shopping, visiting, or aimlessly roaming. You can check out the neighborhood’s walking potential before you’re even out the door.

As you bring in the New Year, here’s another quote to ponder, one by Raymond Inmon. If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.

May you have hear whispers of many angels this holiday season!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Days of Dreams: The Mystery of Success


Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.

--John Updike


Dreams. I've always believed that dreams come true. John Updike did, too--the above quote came from his memoirs.

In my own case, I can honestly say that every serious dream I've had in my life has come true, in one way or another. Maybe it's because my dreams were realistic in the first place, although some of them I'd never expected to become reality. Or maybe it's because I'd worked hard to make things happen, although some things were indeed beyond my control. Or maybe it's just serendipity, plain ole good luck. But whatever the cause of a dream fulfilled, dreams do come true. I think we all know this, but sometimes it helps to remind ourselves.

I'm often struck by the idea of the before and the after of a dream come true. We don't know what's just around the corner--we can't know the future. The second before something great happens to us, however strong our suspicions that what we long for might come about, we can't ever know we're on the threshold. We can't know that our wish is about to drift down from its star and take concrete shape in our world.

What if we'd given up on our dream in that second before? Stopped striving, stopped working so hard? Stopped caring?

Published authors say that the name of the game is persistence. That once we have a manuscript, we'll never sell it if we don't submit. That if we never get past the first, or second, or hundredth rejection, but allow those no's to stop us from submitting, we'll certainly never make a sale. Published authors say we must persist, that we have to keep submitting, which means we have to keep taking risks.

With every submission, there is risk of rejection. This risk is universal, experienced by every writer who submits work with the goal of publication. I've had best-selling authors tell me that even they get rejected!

Before, we don't know.

But then, an infinitesimal instant takes us from before to after--and the yearned-for milestone occurs. In a writer's case, that yearned-for event more often than not is publication of our work.

After, we respond, we feel--joy, satisfaction, a variety pack of emotion, because our reality has changed. Our dream, or a step toward that dream, has actually come true. What a mystery this seems, the mystery of success.

The other day, when I made my first sale (of a short story entitled "Chateau"), I happened to be be traveling from Tokyo to San Jose, California, winding up a family vacation in Japan. That morning, and all that day, for that matter--in other words, during the entire before--I had much on my mind: forcing my jammed suitcase closed and hoping its weight didn't result in excess baggage charges, getting to the airport on time, trying to sleep during the long, red-eye flight, and upon arrival home, dealing with unpacking and laundry while severely jet-lagged, striving to renew my normal schedule ASAP. With all this going on, I certainly wasn't thinking of what might be happening with a recent submission to a magazine publisher.

Then, it happened: I found in my in-box an e-mail saying that my story had been chosen for publication, with a contract to sign and return to the publisher. Before time snapped its finger, I had no idea that in less than a second my dream would come true.

Now, I'm in the after. I walk on the other side of the door that leads from unpubbed writer to published author (pending the appearance of the issue, of course.) I've sold my writing.

Though a modest success, this milestone feels like a great success to me, a big step on the way to my fulfilling my writerly dreams. Which just reinforces my faith in the mystery that every day is a day of dreams come true.

I'd love to see your comments on this mystery of dream come true, or of modest steps toward your dreams of success. For example, I'd love to hear about the time you received "the call" when an editor wanted to buy your book, or the time an agent offered representation, or the day you placed in a writing contest, or the time you finally got to type THE END in a hard-wrought manuscript. And your non-writing successes, too, dreams unrelated to writing that have come true. For example, the day you got that promotion you worked so hard for, the time your tyke learned to tie his or her own shoe after your patient teaching, the moment that special someone first declared his or her love. What was happening just before that milestone? How did you respond in the after?

Dreams big and little, the mystery of before and after. Thinking of this inspires me, makes me hang on, helps me keep the faith--which means I keep trying, keep going for the gold. Maybe someday there will be that second just before I find out an editor wants to buy and publish my novel.

Does thinking of this mystery help you, too? If so, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your musings.

xo,

Rita

P.S. Here's a link to another writer who sold to the magazine the same time I did.


http://www.dixiebelle.blogspot.com/2008/06/second-chance-for-phantom-rose.html.


For further inspiration, go there and read what she has to say.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

See you in mid June

Hi, all!

I can hardly believe I haven't blogged since Valentine's Day, but I have a good excuse. I've been working extremely hard on my novel, "Lost Mountain," and finally feel ready to market it in earnest. It sure has been a lot of work, but a labor of love.

Before I start said marketing blitz, I'm taking a vacation with my family. We'll be in Japan for the next month. There, I'm sure I'll find fertile material for all kinds of stories.

I wish everyone a safe, blessed, and fulfilling month. May all your dreams come true.

And here's to world class love.

Talk to you soon,

xo, ciao,

Rita

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Days of Dreams: Valentines for US!

Happy Valentine's Day, one and all. As a writer of women's fiction and romance, this day feels very special. But then, Valentine's Day is always special.

This morning, in the shower (the place where brilliant ideas spring) I thought of how many of us do special things for our loved ones on this day. Cards and candy for the children, cards for relatives and friends, and in my own case, I'm cooking a candlelight dinner for my husband. But as I stood in the shower, warm water flowing down my back, I realized one thing--I hadn't thought of a Valentine for myself.

Now, you might ask, if my dear husband comes through with something special for me (as he always does) why think of something special for me? Shouldn't the focus be on him, my lover?

Yes and no, I say. Suppose my husband wasn't around for some reason? Suppose I'd never married? Suppose I was 'twixt and 'tween significant others? Or I didn't really want a significant other at the moment. Shouldn't Valentine's Day, the day for love, be celebrated in those circumstances, too?

So today, I've decided to give myself a Valentine, in the form of a walk around the park. Exercise keeps me healthy and strong, helps me shed pounds I need to lose. Exercise reduces my stress. These things are true gifts.

So...I'm even going to take my walk before I buy groceries for dinner. That way, I'll be in the perfect mood for cooking and setting my candle-lit table.

Other gifts to myself are good nutrition, another blessing I'm working on. Even a spray of perfume--the scent a gift to last hours.

On this day, during this week, I'd love to hear about valentines you give yourself. And if you haven't thought about this before, you know what to do. There's still time, after all. Just like any day can be a mini new year, any day can be your valentine's day.

Happy day, one and all!

xo, ciao,

Rita