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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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, February 03, 2008

Days of Dreams: A new month

It's February 3rd already, and I had intended to write this blog on February 1st. But life is like that. More often than not, things don't go as we intend.

Now that we've moved into the second month of the new year, I've been doing a lot of thinking about recommitting to goals. In January, we feel like we have a clean slate, with all possibility before us. Fresh from celebration of year end holidays, we start on a high, formulating goals for the new year. We begin to take action to achieve them.

Then, real life taps us on the shoulder. We get a cold or flu. Our kids get sick. Our spouse works late, or has stress on the job, or we work late or have stress on the job. We can't seem to find time for our writing, and what we do write doesn't flow. Details vary, but we each have our story. No wonder we don't have time for exercise, or we grab that candy bar or bag of cookies or bowl of ice cream. One action leads to another. They feed on each other. This leads to what I sometimes call "The Februaries."

Hang in there! Traveling in the boat with you, I certainly don't have stunning answers, but I've been mulling over this for the past several days. One solution, I think, is to realize that every month, every week, every day can be a mini New Year.

So, it's February first now. Yes. I know. February 3rd. But I'm redefing the date--today is merely February 1st + 2, a perfect time to review goals and recommit! No focusing on what wasn't accomplished in the past month. If I focus on anything, I'll remember what I did right in January.

I'm going to look at my goals again, the ones I posted on this blog. Would it help you to do this, too?

Then, I'm going to recommit and start up again. Like Scarlett O'Hara, I'm reminding myself tomorrow is another day.

I'm also appreciating recent comments made by Janice and Jordanne.

Janice talks about waning excitement now that February has arrived. She's noticed posts slowing down on some of her goal-oriented e-mail loops, and talks about struggles with her current writing project.

Jordanne sends some wisdom about JOY being the real stuff of life. She offers us a quote by Sathya Sai Baba: "For at least the next week or two, ask yourself these two questions each and every day: Did I bring joy? Did I find joy?"

These two posts remind me of the preciousness of the mutual support we give each other here. Janice's post inspired me (finally) to write this blog entry because I could see she and I have been noticing the same thing. Jordanne's post inspired me to realize that our mutual support brings JOY to our process.

So, may we enJOY the steps we take on the journey toward our goals. May this new month be the start of more JOY as we take steps toward progress. May we realize the JOY in the struggle and the process, however shaky.

At this new beginning of February, I wish you a month of progress and JOY.

Thank you for your support!

xo, ciao,

Rita

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Days of Dreams: A Writer's New Year

I love this time of year. Now that the holiday trappings have been put away, I get a chance to reflect on the past year, and to look forward to the new one. Goals are very much on my mind.

Last year was a good writing year for me. I finished the second draft of my second book (which I'm still tweaking). I attended the RWA national conference in Dallas, and met one of the top agents in the business. I was a contest finalist. I spent a weekend at the home of Susan Wiggs, along with some writing colleagues I've gotten close to. In 2007, this web site went up, built by my college-age daughter. Now I have two blogs, this one and another that is concerned with exercise and nutrition, called "Off the Couch and At the Table."

Speaking of exercise and nutrition, this year my efforts really paid off. Besides sticking with my exercise program, I improved my diet. The result? I lost TWENTY-FIVE pounds. (The picture on the home page was taken before the weight loss.)

All in all, a very good year. In 2008, I hope to be submitting both my books to agents with the goal of representation.

What are your goals? I'd love to hear them.

To help in goal-setting, this year I've asked myself and some writing colleagues three questions. Here they are, along with my answers.

Question 1: Sit back and close your eyes for a moment and imagine this is December 31, 2008. What dreams (or concrete goals) would you like to be able to say you've made come true by then?

My answer: On December 31st, I'd love to tell you I've obtained an excellent literary agent to represent my works of fiction. I'd like to say I've tweaked my two novels to make them the best they can be, so I can proudly submit them to my agent. Since that will require many hours sitting at the computer, I'd like to say I've been steadfast with my exercise routines, that I've maintained my current nutrition standards of minimal saturated fat and lots of vegetables and fruits. I also have goals for my "personal" life -- to be a good wife and mother, a good friend, a good sister and aunt, and to keep a good house.

Question 2: On December 31, 2008, if you've met these goals or made those dreams come true, what will your life be like? What changes will you see?

My answer: I'll be full of excitement and energy. Having a great literary agent will tell me I'm on my way to being a published author. And, with the vibrant health and energy that come with good nutrition and exercise, I'll feel especially ready. Succeeding with my weight loss goal will make me feel really good about myself, and I'll love being able to wear more stylish clothes. For me, success with diet and exercise and success as a writer are linked in my mind.

Question 3: What specific challenges do you face right now?

My answer: I feel like I never have enough time to get everything done. Another problem is that once I get writing, I don't want to get up to do anything else, and that includes exercise! When I'm working fast and furious on a novel, or on anything involving writing, I don't even want to take the time to eat right.

Those are my thoughts. What about yours?

Perhaps you can ask yourself these three questions as you formulate your goals for the new year. If you'd like to post your answers here, you are welcome to do so.

I wish you the best in 2008. May it be a great year for us all!

xo, ciao,

Rita

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Writing and Driving

Hello, all!

I haven't written an entry here in ages. Main reason is that I've spent most of the time since my last post traveling. Finally, I've been home for a week and a half, and I've been catching up. Writing, polishing, submitting to agents, entering writing contests, -- even coordinating part of one -- and reconnecting with my writing colleagues on several e-mail loops. Not to mention that I have a family whom I love dearly and try to care for. However, with my only child in college now, I only have to care for my dear hubby, who doesn't need much, so, until she comes home for a weekend in early November and then, of course for Thanksgiving, my time is my own.

Then there's the household clutter that builds up when I'm working hard on my writing. I have to get going on that, too.

I'm continuing my exercise program of fast walking and am now working with a personal trainer in preparation for the ski season. I adore skiing, which is probably evident to anyone who reads my book, Lost Mountain, part of which takes place in the Swiss and Italian Alps, and also the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe.

What does this have to do with driving, you ask? Err..nothing. Now you know I'm a writer who likes to veer off on a tangent.

Do giive me a break. I'm working so hard at honing my craft and building my novels with good, solid, interesting structure, that I need a little release. So, there you have it. I meander.

On one of my writing e-mail loops today, a New Yorker joked about New Jersey drivers. Since I'm originally from New Jersey, I took to pondering her point. In response I wrote this little story of my driving life and posted it on the loop. Something compels me to post it here.

So, here goes my story. I'll be back in a couple of days to update you on my goings-on. And, believe it or not, I never got back to the beach to read my book. But where I live, sometimes you can sit on the beach in winter, so I'll keep trying.

OF STATES AND DRIVERS

I was born and raised in New Jersey, where we used to gnash our teeth about "New York drivers." (And let me be up front --though I live in California and am a member of Silicon Valley RWA, I still long for my home state and have recently joined NJRWA -- so if any of my NJ sisters are reading here's a wave!)

A small town in New Jersey is a great place to be brought up. However, after college I longed for the excitement of the city andmoved to Manhattan. There, I had a respite from driving, but when Ifinally moved to Brooklyn and bought a car, I became a "New York driver." Well, of sorts. Since I'm from Jersey, I guess you New York natives will never extend me that kind of street cred.

When I moved across the country to live in Seattle (on BainbridgeIsland, actually) a girlfriend and I drove from New York to Washington in her VW Scirocco with NY plates. We were issued a couple of tickets -- cops seem to love to get their quota by picking on the drivers from out of state. (Would we ever speed on those lovely flat expanses of country road in Nebraska? Noooooo way, Jose!)

In Seattle I had to take the road test (again), since at the time Washington State did not have reciprocity with any other states. People told me the test was hard, so I even took some driving lessons. (Yes, I know the New Yorkers would agree that I needed those.) Once Igot my Washington license, I became a West Coast driver.

I always loved the drivers in Washington state -- after New Jerseyand New York, they seemed positively mellow.

After a couple of years, I moved to California -- the San Francisco Bay area -- to marry my dear husband -- and learned to driveon California freeways. I've now been a California girl for a good number of years. I have a college student daughter, so you can imagine how many.

Recently, I drove from the Bay Area to Seattle, a two-day drive on I-5. All alone, mind you, since DH had to cancel out at the last minute because of a crisis at work. I'd never before done such a drive solo, and it was an interesting and pleasant experience.

When I got back to Seattle, I found the drivers had become more like us drivers in California, USA. (The Bainbridge Island drivers still seemed mellow, though.)

Now, I'm back home. My conclusion? The drivers are great in Oregon!

Yes. I know. You needed to know this.

xo, ciao,
Rita

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