• It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Friday, April 30, 2010

Successful Writers

I came across a wonderful article: How Successful Writers Maintain Confidence. I highly recommend you take a few minutes out of your day to read it. While the author's focus is on writers, many of his suggestions can be applied to life in general (at least in my opinion).

Please let me know what you think!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions

Hi All! 

My first round of revisons are done and with my agent. (To be sent out 4/30/10) Since 4/21/10 I have:

1) Brainstormed with my agent.
2) Got approval for my planned revisions from Harlequin Medical Romance.
3) Deleted 16,000 words from my manuscript.
4) Added 8,000 words including three new scenes, a prologue and an epilogue
5) Moved the heroine finding out she was pregnant from chapter 3 to chapter chapter 11. (And what a nightmare that turned out to be because I needed to edit the pregnancy out of every chapter in between.)
6) I made the hero more lovable (at least tried to) and made his motivation and conflict clearer.
7) I deleted several characters and scenes that either did not move the romance forward or moved it forward via external plot twists.
8) I added more scenes with the hero and heroine together to show the developing romance.
9) I proof read, re-read, and read again until I thought my eyes would surely bleed. (They didn't.)
10) I typed, moved, deleted, and re-typed enough words for a complete second novel. (And if not, close to it!)

In the end, I am very happy with the result.

If I had more time, would I have made more changes? Definately yes, because it's my nature to tinker.

Would additional changes have improved the story? I'm not so sure. (I'm guessing the editor at Harlequin Medical Romance will tell me!)

Now I wait. And as much as I HATE WAITING, it's actually very exciting having a full manuscript being reviewed by an editor with an eye on publishing it. And it beats getting a rejection letter. Whatever happens, this has been a wonderful learning experience and has motivated me to get back to work on other projects, including the sequel to Love, Hospital Style. Because you never know.....

So what have you all been up to?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Put Up or Shut Up!

For months I've been talking about how I want to be a published author. I've been networking, taking online classes, and planning for the big day. Well, the time has come for me to put up or shut up. Today my agent sent over a list of recommended revisions I need to address before we submit my manuscript to Harlequin Medical Romance on April 30th. Of course, as luck would have it, today is also the day I got the middle finger of my right hand caught in a wrought iron railing and pulled off 2/3 of the nail. OUCH!

While a bulky bandage may slow me down, it will not stop me! For the next week, armed with Tylenol, extra gauze, and a positive attitude, I will be a revising machine. Unfortunatley, in order to focus fully on my task at hand, I plan to place significant limitations on my Internet activities.

Please come back for my next post at the end of the month.

Until then, may your days be productive and your nights filled with whatever makes you happy!  

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Are The Odds?

For those of you who follow my blog, you'll remember my recent post about a guest at one of my parties falling ill, necessitating a frantic call to 911. (For you newcomers, welcome and please scroll down to my April 3, 2010 post titled It's Not From the Food! I Swear!)

What are the odds of another guest falling ill at my very next party, two short weeks later? If I were a gambling woman I'd go play Lotto.

Saturday afternoon my family and I hosted a party to celebrate my mother-in-law's 85th birthday. I've been a little under the weather, so my husband and oldest daughter did ALL the cooking. I swear. (And no, we did not serve pickles.) When only one couple remained I was alerted to a male guest suffering chest pain. "It's just gas," he insisted. "I've had it before." But his wife's distress set me into action.

My first thought (after assessing his skin color and respiratory status): This can't be happening again.
My second thought: Damn, why don't I keep Alka Seltzer on hand?
My third thought: I hope I don't need to dial 911 again.

I rubbed the gentleman's back, patted gently, then not so gently. If I could have thrown him over my shoulder and burped him like a babe I would have. (I hope I don't need to dial 911 again.)

He got up to walk around. I think he was afraid if he remained seated I'd try to beat that belch right out of him. (I hope I don't need to dial 911 again.)

He walked, I walked. He sat, I sat, clutching my cell phone. He stared at his wife, I stared at him.

After some seltzer he said he felt better. I think he lied so I'd stop asking if he felt any better. He and his wife decided to drive home, probably to get away from me. (Thank G-d I didn't need to dial 911 again.)

I'm happy to say, this morning he felt good as new...well as good as any of us middle-aged folk feels in the morning, I suppose.

I have to admit, I'm a little concerned. Two near misses. Do I risk a third? And what can I do to avoid it, require an MD note for medical clearance along with my invitees' RSVPs? Should I stop throwing parties? Befriend an EMT? Invest in an EKG/defibrilator? Any suggestions?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Words to Live By

I'm feeling philosophical today. Maybe it's the fever, or the pressure in my head. But before I climb back into bed, I wanted to share with you some of the words I've picked up over the years that have shaped me into the person I am today.

1)   Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. (I live this one daily.)
2)   Character is doing the right thing even when no one is around to see. (I instill this in my children constantly.)
3)   Praise often, and in public. Criticize in private. (I am good with praising others. I can, however, be rather critical of my family. (I am a perfectionist.) But I am trying to improve.)
4)   When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. (It usually takes me 24 hours to implement this one.)
5)   You never know until you try. (I started my business based on this one.)
6)   You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. (I think of this each time I send out my writing for someone else to review.)
7)   Love deeply. (I do.)
8)   Laugh out loud. (Every chance I get.)
9)   Those who row the boat don't have time to rock it. (Or: Stop complaining and get to work!)
10) To get to the top you have to get off your bottom. (Or: Stop talking about it and do it!)

What words and phrases do you incorporate into your daily life?

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's Official

It's official. After a few days of nail-biting and worrying that she may have changed her mind, I received the signed contract in the mail today. I am now represented by the wonderful Michelle Grajkowski at 3 Seas Literary Agency.

This is a very exciting time, and I appreciate you all sharing it with me!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Someone Needs to Walk the Dog

John's comment on my last post, about not wanting to have to care for a dog, set me up nicely for this post. (Thanks, John!)

In my house, nothing clears a room faster than when I say, "Someone needs to walk the dog." I could yell, "Fire!" and my children wouldn't budge from in front of the TV/computer unless actual smoke and flames obstructed their view. However, when I yell, "Someone needs to walk the dog," they scatter like shrapnel after the big blast.

Of course I track them down, and then the bargaining begins. It typically goes something like this:
"If you walk the dog, I'll set the table."
"You have to wipe it, too. And clear."
"I'll wipe. You clear."
"I don't know. My foot hurts. Besides, I walked the dog yesterday, in the rain. I got soaked."
"Well the last time I walked the dog it was dark. And I had to pick up his poop. (A Marcus family requirement.)
"Last Thursday I walked him twice and he pooped both times."
"On Friday he almost broke my finger when he ran after a squirrel."
Me: "Dinner's getting cold. Someone needs to walk him."
"What about Becca?" (My oldest daughter. 18. Enough said.) "She never has to walk the dog."
"If you can get her to do it, fine. Daddy and I are going to start eating without you."
"Walk the dog," my son yells, because he's 16 and exists in a constant state of hunger.
"No. You do it," my youngest daughter counters, because she's 12 and likes to argue.
Me: "If I have to get up there will be consequences."
"Fine," my youngest daughter says, stomping off to get the leash. "But if my foot gets any worse I won't be able to participate in gym, and I'll get a bad grade, and it will be all your fault." (My fault. Not my son's.)
Me: "It's a risk I'm willing to take. Put on a jacket." (She doesn't.)

I'd like to point out that while my children think it's perfectly acceptable to lally-gag and or negotiate when I ask for something to be done, the same does not apply for them. So when my son needs new turf shoes for the indoor soccer tournament the next day I'm expected to hop in the car, pronto, so he can drive me to Dick's Sporting Goods. And when my daughter wants the new rubber animal bracelets that everyone at school has, I'm expected to swing by the dollar store, regardless of whatever else I had planned, pass her some cash, then sit in the car (while the groceries melt in the back) and act like I don't know her. (Unless she sees someone she's wants to avoid, in which case I am allowed to exit the vehicle to purchase the bracelets for her.)

I know people survive this parenting thing, but it amazes me how most manage to do it without developing a noticible twitch, or suffering a debilitating mental collapse, or winding up in prison.

I guess I manage like most other good parents, with a sense of humor! (Usually after the fact!)

For those of you with grown children, did you survive unscathed? For those parents still in the trenches, do you blame your gray hairs on your children? Or do you visit the salon? For those of you not yet blessed with children, please disregard this post!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Dog

I am not a dog lover, but I love my dog. A few weeks ago my son and I got into a discussion about how old our little, white Bichon Frise is. I figured he's three or four, my son insisted he's older. So I whipped out his doggie birth certificate to prove I was right. Only I wasn't. My pet is actually six years old. Six years! Where has the time gone?

I still remember when we bought him as a tiny puppy, from a less than reputable pet seller it turns out. He wouldn't eat, wouldn't drink, and wouldn't sleep (alone). Heartbroken and sleep-deprived, I called the vet who said to pamper my pooch with cooked chicken and rice and bottled water. A working mother of three, I rushed to the local superette and purchased what they had available. That night my puppy feasted on boiled Bell and Evans chicken breast (steroid, antibiotic, and hormone free and uber expensive) cut into tiny, easy to chew  morsels, basmati rice, and Poland Spring water. My children ate peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches!

It took all of 48 hours for that little white ball of fur to burrow into my heart. Today, I rarely take a step he doesn't follow. I'm the favorite, which suits me fine.....unless of course someone in the house is eating....then they become the temporary favorite. My pup is no longer little, which I blame, in part, on the vet. You see, after having a taste of table food at a young age, my dog has a very discriminating palate. He'll scrounge for people-food day and night, and won't touch his dry nuggets until he sees how he's made out at the dinner table. And boy does he love chicken! The vet says my dog has the biggest thighs he's ever seen on a bichon. It's because he spends as much time balanced on his hind legs begging as he does standing on all four.

For those of you who don't have a dog, there's nothing better than coming home to a bundle of energy who's bursting with joy at your arrival. (Even after a short walk to the mailbox!) Having a dog is a lot of work, but he works hard for us too: Protecting us from delivery people, alerting us to movement in the yard, notifying us that the garbage is full and needs scavenging   emptying. I love my dog, and can't imagine life without him.

Do you have a pet you'd like to write about? If so, I'd love to read about him/her.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's Not From The Food! I Swear!

This post is dedicated to one of my favorite cousins who I love dearly. (You know who you are!) The topic is finding humor in situations that aren't particularly funny. (Usually after the fact.)

I'll start by telling you all that my house is the party house. We have a huge deck, a screened in porch, and an oversized family room. Every year my family and I host all the major holiday gatherings. And even though, from time to time I complain about all the work involved, I wouldn't have it any other way. Now I'm not a great cook, but over the years I've perfected a few dishes....turkey, chicken soup with matzo balls, and matzo kugel. And these delectable treats were on the menu for my annual Passover seder held this past Tuesday.

So after hitting the seder highlights, my family, friends, and I partook of the festive meal I'd prepared. Afterwards, while I was doing the dishes, my cousin walked into the kitchen complaining she didn't feel well. She grabbed onto my arm for support, and I assisted her into the family room. I got her settled on my new couch, elevated her feet on my new coffee table, and got her a cold compress for her head. I ran for my mother-in-law, also a nurse, but didn't need anyone to tell me that my cousin did not look at all well.

Was it my food? I wondered. Had I purchased a diseased bird? Had I served my loved ones tainted turkey? I strained my brain to remember the signs and symptoms of food poisoning. Botulism. Listeria. There were so many possibilities. I considered a Google search, but after another quick glance at the gray color of my beloved cousin's skin, opted to speed dial 911 to get some trained professionals on site PDQ (pretty damn quick).

While on the line with the 911 operator, I did a quick head count to make sure no one else had succumbed to a foodborne illness. I started to feel nauseous. I considered telling the operator to send a fleet of ambulances because I had a potential  culinary catastrophe on my hands, with the possibility of mass casualties. (Well, fifteen total. But there was no way we could all squeeze into one ambulance.) I started to sweat.

I took a calming breath, surveyed the crowd once more, and decided not to overreact. The first responder arrived, lights flashing. I told him what happened. "After our Passover meal my cousin felt sick. It's not from the food. I swear. Look, everyone else is fine. I think it's her heart." Yeah. That's it. Because no way did I want to be responsible.

The EMTs arrived, lights flashing. I gave them the same schpeil...... "It's not from the food! I swear!"

The police arrived, lights flashing. I gave my account of what happened. "......It's not from the food! I swear!" The officer gave me his 'just the facts ma'am' look. I prattled on. He summarized, "So she fell ill after eating." I glared at him. He smirked. I made a mental note of his badge number.

Mobile Life arrived, lights flashing, bringing the total number of strangers in my family room up to about eight. By that time my cousin looked much better. And despite one paramedic taking her blood pressure while another attached EKG leads to her chest, that dear sweet woman came to my defense muttering through her oxygen mask, "It really wasn't from the food. The food was delicious."

I wanted to scream out , "See. I told you so!" I'd been vindicated. Whew! I was off the hook!

But still.... when the phone rang in the middle of it all, and I saw my neighbor's number on my caller ID, I picked up the phone and immediately said, "It's not from the food. I swear!"

Prior to my cousin leaving for the ER, she announced she'd eaten half a pickle and maybe that was the cause of her ailment. I made a mental note to remove pickles from the menu of all future parties.

Of course I've embellished a factoid here and there for effect. And at the time, my cousin's condition was anything but funny. But when I look back on it and think about my irrational fear that I was somehow responsible for her falling ill, and the measures I took to clear my good hostess name, I now get a bit of a chuckle.

I'm happy to say all turned out okay in the end. No one else reported feeling anything more than the satisfactory fullness that accompanies an EXCELLENT meal, and my cousin is doing well.

Does anyone have a holiday story you'd like to share? Or a serious situation that, after it was all over, tickled your funny bone?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lots of Good Things

On the heels of not finaling in RWA's Golden Heart Contest, I've received some pretty great news:

1) Harlequin Medical Romance liked the first three chapters of Love, Hospital Style. They requested the full......after I make some major revisions.

2) An agent e-mailed me that she'd like to discuss representation. I'm still waiting for her call, which feeds my fear that maybe she mistook me for someone else. But I'm enjoying the anticipation none the less.

3) I received notification that my entry finaled in the URWA Great Beginnings Contest!

I'm sharing this, not to gloat or stroke my ego, but so you all can see that good things can happen when you least expect them, so don't give up hope! And if nothing comes of any of it, now that I've had a taste of the positive, I'll work even harder for more.

Happy Passover and Easter to all! I'm off to spend some quality time with my family.