The other day I got an email from Redroom, a blog site, to write about “the mentor who most changed your life.” I haven’t been on Redroom in quite some time because for a while I was experiencing a technical glitch, but I thought, Hey, why not just post this on wordpress? A part of me jolted with excitement because as soon as I read the email, Linda Morrison Spear, author of I Know You By Heart, came to mind. (http://www.amazon.com/Know-You-Heart-Linda-Spear/dp/1439248788).
Well, it all started with The Hunger, which is now an e-book. (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/141089) People who are familiar with my work say this is one of their favourites of my collection, and on a personal level it’s always been one that I’m most proud of. That’s why I decided to keep it under wraps until I knew the time was right.
When I received an email from a writing contest with a picture prompt, I took the opoortunity to put it out there. The photo was of a building that could have been anything, but I used what I saw as “eerie” to accommodate my story. Other entries in the contest were love stories, murder mysteries, and anything and everything in between. There were several that I’d read that I just thought were really good and there was a lot of competition. I figured I’d try my luck.
I had to bring the word count up and twist the beginning and end around to suit the photo, but that wasn’t a big deal. And a few days after my entry was accepted, I received an email from someone I didn’t know saying how much they enjoyed the story. I was speechless! I couldn’t believe it! I’d rarely had feedback like that, and as it turned out, this person was no ordinary reader, but someone who had a lot of accomplishments of her own. I was flattered that someone with such an impressive background in writing and media would have taken the time to stop by to send such kind and encouraging words.
We chatted back and forth via email for some time, and she sent me a copy of I Know You By Heart. I absolutely loved it. It’s on my list of favourite reads, and it was so gripping that I was pulled into this book. When I think of this book, I just get this bittersweet feeling that overcomes me. Part of that is because of the bond I felt with Linda and part of that was just from this amazing story. It was just so real, like nothing I’ve read before.
As a person, Linda is kind, understanding, and just everything you could want in a friend and/or mentor. I’m still trying to get my Forever Gothic series in print, and she helped me to up my game with my query letter as well as get my first few chapters organised.
I got that drive to keep going, even if I end up with a million rejection letters. I was motivated. She taught me to just trek through every time I got a rejection letter with confidence in my work and in myself. It’s easy to lose sight of that when everyone is telling you that your book “isn’t right” for their agency. To the mind of a writer who is critical of their work in hopes of getting somewhere, it’s easy to translate that to, “You’re just not good enough.” She showed me how to take that at face value and to find someone who is better suited to my work. After all, you want someone to love your characters and wants the best for them as much as you do.
So Miss Linda, thank you for all of the support, advice and encouragement when I needed it most. Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to make it as a writer. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get *There* . . . Wherever “There” might be. But I have a copy of I Know You By Heart proudly displayed on my bookshelf, and whenever I feel those pangs of discouragement, I look at it and am reminded that someone out there liked my work enough to take the time to find me to send a message. And along with all of that, thank you for your friendship.
Until I make the BIG TIME and my books are on the NY Times Bestseller List, I’m working on other things. I do see the possibility of my books being bestsellers as a very tangible possibility, as long as I fulfill my end of the bargain and put in a lot of time and effort to get there. And man, is it a lot of work. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye, but I enjoy it. Every time an agent agrees to even give my work a look, I reel with joy! I know there may be a rejection, but it’s all about the thrill no matter what the response. But, if my Forever Gothic series ever becomes available to the public whether I decide upon Kindle or a traditional publisher (or whatever chooses me, with the changes in industry), then I’ll be happy. From then on, I could focus on writing and promoting and maybe even travelling in order to get the books out there. I live for this little dream of mine, hoping that one day it will take me somewhere. I’m not out any money. Only time. And even then, I’m pretty dedicated because it is such a huge passion in my life. If I’m not writing or sending out query letters, I’m thinking of things to write about or networking with other writers and people in the industry. When people give me criticism, good or bad, I value it all the same because it helps me sharpen my skills. Most everything I do is in the hopes of not only creating a future for myself as a writer, but to learn as much as I can about the entire industry. And there’s still a lot to learn, especially with so many changes in the market.
The problem is, people see writing as a pipe dream. I understand that I may never make it big. That’s fine, because it’s all for the love of the game, so to speak. I understand that some writers don’t make a lot, while others hit the jackpot. I’d hope to be lucky enough that every tween and teen will have a copy of the latest Forever Gothic book in his or her backpack. But my first priority is to get published and then move on to marketing. It’s a “one-step-at-a-time” type of thing.
And I’ve met some groovy people through my writing! I just hope they don’t mind me calling them “groovy”. But the thing is, it takes a lot of work before you see that first dollar from the project you are proudest of and which took the most time with. Sure, it doesn’t pay while you’re getting to where you’re going. But neither does being a parent or taking care of an animal. Does that make it any less of a job? Any less rewarding? Does it mean that it’s something you don’t have to do, because there’s no money involved? No, no, and no. The reward is the love and enjoyment you get out of it, even when things are rough. It’s something you stick with, through thick and thin.
And, now that I think about it, it may take me eighteen years to see this book thing through so that it may flourish on its own. It’s not something I’m giving up on because “It’s too hard” or “I’m not getting paid…yet”. I’m not giving up on myself or my work, and when I have doubts, I tell myself I’ll get there. It may not be a bestseller, but I keep that secret from myself. I tell myself it will. Because what is life without a dream? Boring, that’s what! So, if you have a dream, you may as well make it a big one!
So, for anyone out there who has a dream, stick with it! Don’t give up! And if you’re hesitant to try because you’re afraid of falling, just pick yourself up again. And again and again, if you have to. You can fill your mind with doubt if you keep saying, “What if I don’t make it?” Instead, turn it around. “What happens when I make it?” and believe that you will with all your heart.
Sure, there are times when I tell myself I may fail, and to epic proportions! It’s times like that when I just think, well, it was fun trying, but I’m not giving up!
And neither should you.
I haven’t written in a while. At least, not on my blog. This is actually my first diary entry on my blog site! But I’ve been busy with some pieces for anthologies and the like, not to mention a horrendous toothache! One the size of Texas!
And it seems that the toothache came at the worst possible time! I love Autumn, and just stepping outside in the cool breeze and seeing the leaves glimmer in the golden sun just has a magickal effect on me! There’s all of this talk about Halloween specials on the telly, and I just love browsing the costume isles. But what I really love? Taking walks in the beautiful Autumn weather! And as soon as this tooth is fixed, that’s exactly what I plan to do! I’m not able to enjoy the season to its fullest extent, and even though I may not walk all year ’round, this is the time of year that I usually get back into the routine! I used to go out, admire the Halloween decorations, and every Thursday (or was it Tuesday?) I glued myself to the TV when Reaper came on. That was in the very first season, and it is hands-down one of my favourite shows ever! And I’d save my stash of YooHoos for that very occasion. Sometimes I’d just walk to the store to see what new Halloween merchandise they had, if any, or pine over something every time I’d go. And now, because of this toothache, I can’t. It’s more that I won’t, because I’m afraid I’ll end up hurting it worse when I have the pain at bay.
At the moment, I’m trying to think of a really scary story. Something scarier than my kid-friendly horror. But, I’m at a loss. I don’t know if I can pull it off! I think of all of my own Halloween and horror favourites, and you just can’t replicate the feel of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow. Or Dan Dillard’s The Diary of Ethan Jacobs. It just can’t be done! And when I take my walks, that’s what I focus on. I think about what I want to write about. What moves me, what scares me. And with some of the other projects taking my time, it’s hard to do that. Not to mention this toothache that’s been dragging me down, forcing me to take ibuprofin and strap an ice pack to my chin!
But I have faith that something will come to me, and I’m hoping it will be the creepiest story ever!