Category Archives: Destiny

In fiction as in life …?

Thea today, writing from the grandbaby’s house where I’m caretaking him for the next few weeks, and I’m still crazy in love — even after 15 months. Which feeds into the next momentous month in which John and I celebrate our 47th anniversary. It’s kind of staggering to think it’s been that many years. But even more so, how we met, about two years before that, just after he’d just graduated college and we separately both attended to a party at the home of my friend Sharon in Newark, NJ.

I like to think ours was a grand love story, but maybe, because we were an interfaith couple (no small thing back then), it was more about rebellion. Or our just being together and figuring all of it out as we went.

Cut to ten years later. We were living in Brooklyn. I was pregnant out to the there with my eldest son. We were at a performance of Trelawny of the Wells at Lincoln Center. In the break between the first and second act, we were milling in the lobby, and a woman approached me. “Is your name Thea?”

I said yes. She told me her name and asked if I remembered her. I did. She was a friend Sharon’s and we’d hung out several times, no more than that, back in the days after that party at Sharon’s house. But I hadn’t seen her in more than ten years, and I’d not been in contact with Sharon either after John and I married.

She said, “Sharon is dead.”

Last thing I expected to hear. The words exploded like a bomb, chilling me to the bone. Sharon had died of complications of Type 1 diabetes. She couldn’t have been more than 35 years old.

“I thought you should know,” she said And then she was gone, leaving me devastated. And I couldn’t find her in the audience or after, and I never saw her again.

I still get chills thinking about it. How did she recognize me after all that time, AND that pregnant?
How did it happen this one night she and I were separately in the audience and she saw me, she knew me — and felt confident enough that I was who she thought I was to approach me? And how could she just disappear, never to be seen again?

I’ve often thought that incident would make a terrific scene in a book. Except for the fact she vanished. In a book, she’d have to return at some point because otherwise the reader would be questioning where she went and what her purpose was. It’s not enough just to have a character deliver bad news and exit right. There has to be some reason, some driving motivation, everything interconnected, all ends tied up.

Fiction is not life. Life is random. That moment at Lincoln Center was random — but was it? It haunts me even after all these years because it all seemed so coincidental — and yet it wasn’t. Still, I wonder … was she an angel sent perhaps by Sharon to tell me I was being watched over? I only recently even considered that. And if so, what signs have I missed all these years not contemplating that possibility? Or was it just a really intriguing idea to springboard a plot for a novel I have yet to write?

Of course that would be my first thought. Wouldn’t it be yours?

Or is there more to it than that?

Still and all, at this anniversary time of the year, I remember Sharon. I can close my eyes and see her just as she was, a pretty red-headed twenty year old, bedeviled but never beaten down by the disease that would take her life. But back then, at that party that night, without knowing it, by inviting John Devine, she gave me my future and my life.

What do you think? Was it a coincidence? Meant to be? An angel? A figment of my imagination? Have you ever had a moment like that?

Thea Devine is the author of 27 erotic historical and contemporary romances, five of which have just been reissued in Kindle editions. and nearly a dozen novellas. She’s been named a Romance Pioneer by Romantic Times, and is currently working on a new erotic contemporary novel.

A Key Publishing Ingredient by Connie Mann

Writers talk a lot about all the different stars and planets that have to align to get a bookAngel Falls author Connie Mann published: the right project—well written–to the right agent and the right publisher at the right time—all wrapped up in God’s perfect timeline. All those things are absolutely true.

But there is one more element that is equally important, sometimes the one ingredient that can make all the difference: the right editor. I am blessed to have one of those.

Back in 2004, I thought my time as a writer had finally “arrived.” I’d written lots of articles, accumulated an impressive stack of rejection letters, and had finally sold both a non-fiction parenting book and Angel Falls, a novel. We were in the midst of final edits when things went awry.

The publisher changed their editorial direction and requested significant changes to Angel Falls. So Ramona Richards–the company’s freelance editor I’d been working with–and I went to work. When the publisher asked for still more changes, we made more. Finally, I realized if I kept going, I’d have to rip the heart and soul out of the story. It wouldn’t be the same story at all. I talked it over with Ramona and my agent and with a heavy heart, I said no. The deal was nixed.

To say I was discouraged would be like calling a hurricane a drizzle. I cried. Couldn’t write. I finally realized I had to get out of my house before I lost what little was left of my mind. I became a boat captain-and love it! I’ve found I need that balance between outside around people and inside my writing cave to keep me happy and creative.

Since I’m a writer at heart, the stories eventually pulled me back. I wrote Trapped and sold it to a small press. But Angel Falls was still the book of my heart.

Several years ago, I heard that Ramona had taken a job with Abingdon Press. I figured it was a long shot that she’d remember Angel Falls—do you KNOW how many stories an editor reads every year? But I mailed it to her anyway.

Ramona hadn’t forgotten. One day she emailed me to see if Angel Falls was still available. That SAME day, the manuscript arrived on her desk. Talk about God’s timing!

Angel Falls by Connie MannAnother 1 ½ years went by as she championed the story with Abingdon. Then came the email that began, “I know you thought this day would never come…” Fast forward another year, and Angel Falls is now available! I couldn’t be more grateful or excited.

My best advice? Go to conferences. Get to know the editors. That way, when your right project meets up with the right editor and God’s perfect timing, you’ll be ready.

Thank you, God. And thanks, Ramona, from the bottom of my heart.

And thank you, Connie, for sharing this amazing story about the journey of Angel Falls. I’m so excited for you, and this is a great story of perseverance for writers who wonder if “the call” will ever come. Find the editor/agent who loves your book and they will champion it for you.

Thanks being with us today, Connie!

Readers, Connie Mann loves stories of suspense, adventure and second chances. She offers encouragement to busy women on her blog:  www.BusyWomenBigDreams.com and is an active member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s also a USCG-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not writing, she’s usually on Central Florida’s waterways with local school children or her fabulous family. Please visit her online at: www.conniemann.com. And don’t forget to check out her new book Angel Falls at:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Falls-Connie-Mann/dp/1426756860/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361369788&sr=8-1&keywords=angel+falls+by+connie+mann

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/angel-falls-connie-mann/1112792558?ean=9781426756863

Christian Book:

http://www.christianbook.com/angel-falls-connie-neumann/9781426756863/pd/756863?item_code=WW&netp_id=1028634&event=ESRCG&view=details

 

 

 

Welcome Author Gerri Brousseau

Please welcome, Gerri Brousseau, a friend and fellow member of the CTRWA, author of A PIRATE’S RANSOM and the newly released ACCORDING TO LEGEND. Take it away, Gerri!

Gerri Bio picThank you, Paula, for inviting me to the Scribes today. I’m thrilled to be here and to meet your readers.

PJ: Please tell us about your current release.

Gerri: ACCORDING TO LEGEND is a time-travel story with a prophecy, a quest, a love triangle and a quirky wolf. The premise of the story is according to legend, when the spirit of the tribal princess is born again and she holds the enchanted stone in her hands, the lovers will be reunited … even through time.

PJ: It sounds like a great read! What inspired you to write this book?

Gerri: ACCORDING TO LEGEND came to me one night in a very vivid dream. When I woke up I started to write madly so as not to forget a single detail. The more I wrote, the more the story seemed to pour out of me. Don’t you love it when that happens?

PJ: I do! I had the same experience with HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES. What kind of research did you have to do for LEGEND?

Gerri: ACCORDING TO LEGEND takes place up at Kent Falls. Of course, I changed the name of the area and falls in the book. I researched the local tribe and actually spent a lovely afternoon whittling at the central fire pit at the reservation talking to the real Tribal Princess. It was quite a journey and I’m glad I took the time to make it.

PJ: That sounds awesome. I love the research part of being a writer. How do you combat the doubt monster?

Gerri: I must confess that I have had my fair share of bouts with that evil fellow, but I find the best thing to do is to keep writing. I wonder if he will ever leave me alone. Somehow I doubt it, but much to his credit, all his constant complaining causes me to edit and in the long run he makes me a better writer. Still, he’s not my favorite individual.

PJ: Mine either! What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Gerri: I don’t know if it’s all that interesting or that much of a quirk, but I like to read my work aloud. You would be surprised at how quickly you hear your errors when you do this.

PJ: That is so true! I sometimes forget to do that during the revision stage. Thanks for the reminder. If you had to be something other than a writer, what would you be?

Gerri: A chef. Cooking is my second passion in life and I really enjoy creating a meal that gets rave reviews from my family.

PJ: You sound like my husband. He would definitely be a chef in another life. Is there anything you’d like to share with readers that they might not know about you?

Gerri: Let’s see … they already know I’m a retired skydiver, that I’m a new grandmother, and that I have two pugs. But, I wonder if they know that I have played piano since I was 7 years old. It’s been a while now, but they say it’s like riding a bike … you never forget.

PJ: I had no idea! That is so cool. I bet you’d pick it right back up! Thanks so much for being here and sharing your time with us. If anyone has any questions for Gerri, or comments about her books, her writing tips or her pugs, please feel free to do so.

Gerri AccordingtoLegend_850 Full CoverHere’s a short excerpt from ACCORDING TO LEGEND:
“According to the legend, the enchantment of the stone was originally activated by the depth of their love. It is said that their love created a very powerful magic. According to legend, the power of the stone would be set in motion once more when the spirit of the Indian Princess was born again and she held the stone in her hand. Then, the spirit of the lovers would awaken and they would be reunited, even through time.” She sighed. “It is believed that only the true Tribal Princess would have the ability to seek out and find the other half of this stone and access its full enchantment.”

For more information on Gerri and her writing, please visit her website at www.gerribrousseau.com and if you would like to read ACCORDING TO LEGEND, it’s available at Amazon for Kindle.

When Work Doesn’t Feel Like Work by Katy Lee

Happy New Year! I have just returned from a writing retreat in the mountains, but technically I didn’t step outside, except to buy chocolate, that is. I spent my days glued to my laptop, and honestly, I have never had so much fun working.

Because Suze already told you about the benefits of a writing retreat, I will just second everything she said. See Suze’s post here. BUT I will add one more thing to her list that I came away with this week.

Find a way to do what you love.

Now I’m not saying that means work will be easy for you. It’s called work for a reason and anything worth doing will be hard. It’s going to need a strong will and a strong desire in your heart to complete it. But that’s where the love comes in. If you love it, you’ll do it, and you’ll do it well, and you won’t mind the work. In fact, the harder it is, the sweeter the victory will be when you accomplish what you set out to do.

This week as I sat for long hours from sun up to sun down behind my computer, typing out difficult scenes and plot twists and pulling on my hair when the story and characters took over, I did it all with a smile. I could literally feel my cheeks hurting because I was loving my job so much.

Now if you honestly can’t find that desire in your heart for your work, then perhaps a little search for it will help. Holding onto tasks that you have always done just because you’ve always done them isn’t always a good thing–for anyone. You’re not happy, and the people you’re working for know something is lacking. And perhaps there is someone out there who does have a heart for the work you drudge through. By stepping back to find the work you love, you allow them to step up and find what they love to do, too.

And then everyone’s cheeks will be hurting.

The Unlocked Secret: The secret here is not to find what you love to do. That’s no secret. We all know that. The secret is to learn a way to make a living from doing what you love. Like I said before. It’s going to be work. Hard work right from the beginning. But it all starts with your willingness and openess to learn. And the chocolate does help.

Question: Tell me…what do you love to do??? Have you found a way to make a living doing it? What’s stopping you?

 

 

The Russian Coat

The Russian coat is packed a plastic bag, still on the floor of my office because I have no idea what to do with it.  For one thing, it has a history.  Back in my older son’s senior year of high school, the class, in conjunction with a course in Russian literature, travelled to Russia during spring break.  My son left wearing a blue ski jacket when he boarded the plane.  When he arrived back at the airport a week later, he had this thick woolen brass buttoned military coat: the Russian coat.

That coat went with him to university in Chicago, it and he enduring four years of minus zero degree winter weather (and how glad I was he had it) and then it came back home and into the hands of my younger son who wore it for the last two years of high school and beyond.  At that point, my older son was working overseas, we were on the cusp of moving to CT, and as we were cleaning things out, I thought maybe it was time to donate the Russian coat.

My eldest was adamant that we shouldn’t. The Russian coat had a story, it was his story, his history;  it  was part of his growing up. We had strict orders not to donate the Russian coat.  By that time, it was in pretty bad shape:  it needed a really good going over, repair, and a major cleaning.  Was it worth all that if it was just going to be packed away and nobody was planning to wear it ever again?

As I’ve written previously, my mother was born in Russia; my grandparents emigrated here in the 1930’s so I’m not without some sentiment on this matter.  I feel that pull to keep some connection to a history that’s in my blood if not in my consciousness.

But maybe there’s a different story about the Russian coat that I, the granddaughter and daughter of those immigrants and romance author, have yet to excavate from its tattered remains. I mean, this could be my Doctor Zhivago moment if I’m ever bold enough to grab it.

Until I’m certain of it, though, I’m feeling, fatalistically, that the Russian coat just might be with us forever.  So it sits, a victim of inertia, bundled up, on the floor of my office and I nudge it every once and while, and wonder what to do with it. I try to imagine that moment my son actually came into possession of it, and wonder whether actually having the object is necessary if you’ll always have the memory.  I wonder if this is how we all get stuck with the objects of our memories that we just can’t bear to relinquish.  And if the reason we hold onto objects is to hold on to our history in order to assure that our children and grandchildren know and remember that we were here.

How many things have tethered you because of memories?  Are they inspiration or clutter? Are you someone who can easily let go of objects?  Or do you hold onto things forever?  Is your house as cluttered as mine? What would you have done with the Russian coat?

Thea Devine is nearly finished with Beyond The Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart, to be released April 2013.  She’s pleased to announce the reissue of His Little Black Book in October.

Dead Men’s Houses

Hi, all. Suze here. Happy Thursday!

There’s something sad going on in my neighborhood. A house is coming down. Not just any house, though. It is (or was) a classic New England saltbox built in the 1740s. The last owner of the house was an elderly woman whose family had lived and farmed there for generations. She died a few years ago, and the place has been vacant since then, a victim of the economy. Her absentee heirs managed to sell off one parcel of the farm, which fronts on a busy road on one side, and a large medical building went up. The parcel with the house, which fronts on the same busy road as well as my residential road, did not sell, most likely because the heirs were asking an astronomical amount of money.

The old girl’s got good bones!

I’ll be honest. Until the “For Sale” sign went up, I had no idea the house was that old. I thought it was a newer home built to look that way. At some point it had been re-sided with shakes over the clapboards, and the place was in darned good shape. It didn’t have one of those name plates you see all over New England showing the name of the original owner and the date the house was built. I’d never been inside, only knowing the owner to nod and say hello as one or the other of us was taking a morning walk.

Now the house is nearly gone, and it’s bittersweet. On the one hand, my town is losing one of its ancient homes, and my neighborhood is losing a piece of history. On the other hand, the house isn’t actually being destroyed. A post-and-beam company is  dismantling it, tagging each hand-hewn beam and support so that it can be reassembled somewhere else for a person who truly appreciates its significance. I have hope for the old place. Not so much for my neighborhood. I’m sure a subdivision will go into that acreage eventually.

I may lose some of you here, now that I’m about to wax literary. Everytime I go past what’s left of the house, I can’t help but think about a passage in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. Bear with me, okay? Matthew Holgrave, the mysterious daguerreotype artist, is a boarder in the House. He is speaking to young Phoebe Pyncheon, the last descendant of a once-proud family:

I ought to have said, too, that we live in dead men’s houses; as, for instance, in this of the seven gables!”

“And why not,” said Phoebe, “so long as we can be comfortable in them?”

“But we shall live to see the day, I trust,” went on the artist, “when no man shall build his house for posterity. Why should he? He might just as reasonably order a durable suit of clothes,–leather, or gutta percha, or whatever else lasts longest,–so that his great-grandchildren should have the benefit of them, and cut precisely the same figure in the world that he himself does. If each generation were allowed and expected to build its own houses, that single change, comparatively unimportant in itself, would imply almost every reform which society is now suffering for. I doubt whether even our public edifices–our capitols, state-houses, court-houses, city-halls, and churches–ought to be built of such permanent materials as stone or brick. It were better that they should crumble to ruin, once in twenty years, or there-abouts, as a hint to the people to examine into and reform the institutions which they symbolize.”

The Turner-Ingersoll House in Salem
Now, I’m fairly sure Hawthorne/Holgrave is not actually advocating tearing down every building on the planet every twenty years and building something new in its place. What he is saying is that we should examine our beliefs about who and what we are as individuals. The histories of our families and of our communities should not shape or define us completely. Ultimately, each of us is responsible for creating her own “house” — whether that’s the physical building in which we live, or our own consciousness. Take what you can from the past, but build a new future on it.

Done with the literary criticism here! (You’re lucky. I could go on and on. I absolutely adore The House of the Seven Gables and can talk about it ad nauseum!) Click here for more information about the Turner-Ingersoll house in Salem, Massachusetts, Hawthorne’s real-life inspiration for his novel.  I’m pretty glad this place is still around. It’s one of my favorite places to visit. As for Hawthorne’s other most famous novel, The Scarlet Letter, I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve always thought that would make a wonderful musical. Can somebody call Andrew Lloyd Webber for me?

What about you? How much do you allow your history to influence your life? Or if you’re not feeling self-reflective, what book would you most like to see turned into a musical?

How I Got My Agent….

I finally got an agent! Hip hip hooray, YES!, YAY! and every other happy word I can think of. But let me tell you this process was not an easy one. It took years.

Me jumping for joy!

I started writing in 2007, my senior year of college. From the beginning I wrote romance. I blame Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ THIS HEART of MINE, which was the first contemporary romance I had ever read. (Till this day I still have a soft spot for Kevin and Molly.) And Jennifer Crusie whose BET ME introduced me to Minerva and Cal and was the only book I’ve ever read twice in a row. You know when a book is good when you still remember the characters names years after putting it down.

As a writer I knew I wanted to accomplish that. I had to accomplish that. I’m the kind of person that once she decides she is going to be good at something doesn’t stop till she gets there. So I wrote BY HAND, (gasp) for years. Full novels in notebooks while I read every romance novel I could get my hands on. This was my training period. I had no clue what the RWA was or that local writing groups existed. All I knew was that I wanted to write. And so I did, like a job, I wrote everyday, getting a little better.

In 2008 I completed( typed) my first novel and sent it out to about a dozen agents. In the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t ready. It was too long. The plot was a little all over the place and the genre wasn’t clearly defined. I didn’t know that then though. I didn’t know much except that I wanted to be a writer.

A few more embarrassingly bad hand written manuscripts and one semi decent one later I decided to enter a contest. I really wanted feedback. I knew I could write but I didn’t know much about the art of writing. It was then the writing Gods interfered and introduced me to my Fairy Writing Godmother Kristan Higgins who suggested I join a local writers group. From these people I learned about community and what it really feels like to have people truly want the best for you.

I also learned practical things like… I suck at commas.( Thank you, Jane.) And sometimes I am far too wordy. I make my heroes say stuff that most self-respecting men would never say. (Thank you, Christine.) I tend to over complicate my plots. And I use You’re when I mean Your.

They helped me learn from my mistakes, showed me it was okay to have practice manuscripts.(Thank you PJ Sharon.) So when I sat down to write the book that got me my agent I was determined to write a good one.

I know I didn’t write the next great American novel but I wrote a book I could be proud of.  (I promise I’m getting to the good part now. Damn writers and their back story!)

So I sent it out into the world and ended up getting 6 full requests. 3 partial requests and a hell of a lot of rejections. I queried 51 agents since December 16, 2011. I was getting frustrated by the whole process. The funny thing was I never received a rejection on a full manuscript. I actually wanted one of those, just for the feedback alone. Three of those agents had my book for months and each day of silence was making me more and more discouraged.

But then it all happened so quickly. I got a request for a full. Then the next day I got a call from that agent offering me representation. As soon as I hung up with her one of my dream agents requested a full, when I told her I had just been offered representation she asked me not to sign anything until she got the chance to read it. By that time I was ready to barf. Two agents! And if that wasn’t enough my fairy god writing mother was bragging (as all good fairy writing god mother’s should) that I had just received an offer to yet another agent.  That agent asked that I email her. So I sent off my manuscript and the day after that I got another call.

I really and truly fell in agent love with Emmanuelle Morgen. Love LOVE LURVE! The other agents were nice but Emmanuelle rang every bell, told me exactly what I could expect from her and what she would expect from me. She didn’t make me huge promises and was up front with everything. Explaining the history of the agency, who her clients were, what advances were like, what houses were the best for authors. We talked about the future, and long-term goals and that was before she ever offered me representation. I hung up the phone after our forty minute conversation and felt like this woman will do her best to get the best for me.

I’m not the type of person who can have laid back agent. I need someone who is going to be on my tail to help me create the best book I can. And so when Emmanuelle said I needed to get on those edits and cut down my word count by 5- 10k and get it back to her by Friday morning. I busted my ass to do so. By Friday afternoon I had my work with five houses. All of this happened in the span of two weeks.

People who see me wonder why I’m not shaking with excitement.(Well, I barely gotten any sleep these past two weeks) But I am excited and grateful and happy, but I’m also a realist. I know that crap happens, and despite the best of intentions books don’t always make it to publishing. And until I see my book on a shelf I’m going to keep my optimism cautious. And I’ll never stop learning how to be the best writer I can be.

Sooo thank you to all my CTRWA members who have cheered me on. And to my fellow scribes, especially Casey who has seen my book at it’s worst and still encouraged me to finish it. And to Kristan Higgins who has been the best Fairy Writing God Mother a girl could ask for.