Wednesday, June 27, 2018

"What If?": The Big Picture of a Small Conversation

What if I fail?
What if this relationship doesn't work?
What if I don't get this job?
What if something goes wrong?

For years, I'd been plagued with a constant imagining of the worst that would happen in a situation. While it is important to consider that, and prepare for it, I focused only on that and let it consume me. Needless to say, everything I had feared did happen.

Here I am, four (almost five) published books into what is becoming a slow but sure writing career. That I still do it is a lot to say.  I cannot tell you how many times I've been rejected or taken for granted, overlooked. I will admit I used to constantly ask myself, What if no one wants to read my books? What if they're not good enough?

All I have to do is "show up" every day and give it all I got.

What else I have learned over the years:

  • Life itself is risky
  • I can be my worst critic
  • I can't know how something is going to go for me unless I try
  • My failures can turn into successes
  • Just when I'm about to give up, something great and unexpected happens
And...(with apologies to MetLife), I should have a positive outlook on the "What if's" in life. Let me turn around the rhetorical questions I had a the beginning of this post:

What if I'm successful?
What if I am highly favored in this relationship?
What if I get this job, I get promoted, or it becomes a career?
What if everything goes better than expected?

I may sound a bit insulting when I say this, but I'm thankful to have some people in my corner as "Yodas" tell me:

Image result for yoda you must unlearn what you have learned

Those of you have been around me know I love the following: God, family, friends, classical and classic rock music, chocolate...and uplifting, encouraging, unrushed conversations. 

And I'm such an author that I talk about my books every chance I get. Admittedly, that's one of the reasons I decided to meet for breakfast at McDonald's with Metal Mission of Knoxville last Saturday morning.  I sat across from Place of Skulls drummer Tim Tomaselli. Over the past several months, Tim and I have gotten closer and enjoyed our conversations. Sitting next to him was Tommy Newman, the President of the Place of Skulls fan club. He said something about Jimmy Dean sausage.

Jimmy! That one name means so much more to me now than before, having written Crawling to the Light.

Tim's and my conversation moved to a higher level. I told him about the impact Jimmy Hensley, the lead singer of Mounted in the Open, makes on Melissa Leahy, the main character. I impersonated the some of the ways Melissa says Jimmy's name. Tim was fascinated and wanted to know more about "this movie".

I told him it wasn't a movie, that it was one of the first books I had written, and what it was about. 

"That sounds like a good idea for a movie," he said. Though I had thought about this prospect in the back of my mind, to my knowledge, I don't think anyone had said that to me.

I could say a whole lot more about this, but let me share a more optimistic litany of what if's:

What if I hadn't written that book?

What if I had deleted the file while I was working on it (because of a big, major disappointment in someone)?

What if I hadn't seen Place of Skulls?

What if I didn't volunteer with Metal Mission to serve the homeless?

What if I hadn't gotten up last Saturday morning to go to KARM?

What if I had to work that day?

What if I hadn't gone to McDonald's?

What if Tim hadn't gone, either?

What if Tom hadn't mentioned Jimmy Dean Sausage?

What if I didn't hear that and didn't have the boldness to explain why that name means something to me?

Well, though I wouldn't have something to write about on this early Wednesday morning, it is showing you who are reading this you are only one conversation away from something that will allow you to succeed.

Yes, that's right: Succeed.

I have to admit a fresh round of "what if's" are rolling around in my head. The biggest one: What if I get rejected and no one likes it?. Then again: What if someone loves it and accepts it? What if it becomes a success and touches many lives?

It's amazing how a conversation unfolds over pancakes and Mickey D's sweet tea. Keep them coming...the conversations, that is.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Flashback to 1998!

I'm a little bit country, too!

And I'm not afraid to admit that.

There's just something about being a writer now (2010-present) that the longer I do it, the more I think about certain times in my life where a little bit of that inner writer has caused me to think about random things in my life that have led me up to this moment.

Let me take you back to 1998.

I was 24 and had become a certified personal trainer (a profession that quickly caused burnout), in college at Liberty University studying exercise science, and working part-time as a sales associate at Sears.  By this time, I had already a certified aerobics instructor. I spent the summer of 1998 teaching thirteen classes a week (yes, that number is not a typo). I would lead group exercise classes until a decade later when marathon running took over.

One thing I didn't want at all at the time: a boyfriend. Though I didn't have any dates, I did have a male friend whom I met through a friend I had at the time. He was in the Navy studying aviation in Millington, TN. We started writing to each other. We shared a mutual interest in being determined to set goals and country music. By this time, I had met him once, when he had had plans to pass through my neck of the woods (Lynchburg, VA).

Though nothing serious happened between us, looking back on this acquaintanceship I had had with him, he inspired me. I'm not sure what specifically it was, but he seemed to care about my well-being in spite of what had been going on with him.

One of the country singers I liked back then (and still do) was Aaron Tippin. Many of you are familiar with such hits as "You've Got to Stand for Something," "Kiss This," or "Working Man's PhD." But the one song I have always liked by him is "That's As Close As I'll Get to Loving You." There's just something about that song; I still don't know what it is. This was the song that brought out the romance writer in me. Though I never wrote down this plot, I still remember it after twenty years:

A young single woman meets a young man through a friend. He is in town on a break from flight school. Though she does have a boyfriend, they keep in touch, writing to and calling each other (because this was in the days before Facebook and e-mail). The one song they like is "That's As Close As I'll Get to Loving You." When they talk on the phone, they sing it to each other. The young woman eventually breaks up with her boyfriend and tells this young man. He writes her a detailed letter about how he was jealous of him and wanted the chance to go out with her. However, soon after that, he gets into a serious accident and is in the hospital. This young woman visits him. When she goes into the room, he is unconscious. She takes his hand and starts singing the first four lines of their favorite Aaron Tippin song. As she is doing so, he wakes up and recognizes her.

But darn those copyright laws! 

It was a good idea. I know I can always think of some other title and lyrics for it. 

In fact, it's such a great idea. After all, I still remember this twenty years later. There must be something to it. I'm on a roll now with writing romance. How about I tweak this and see what I can come up with?

Patrick Peterson, though I know we haven't spoken since 1999 and you might not even remember me, if you're reading this, in the short time I knew you, you inspired me. Look at what I'm doing now.

Now, for the featured song....

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Future Retreat Spot

By the end of the first weekend this month, I had everything ready for the big exciting weekend ahead. With all of the busyness involved in it, my husband and I decided to take a vacation afterward. Of course, I took my laptop with me. An author's work is never done. It takes no vacations. I knew where we were staying would be so conducive to writing. I spent as much time as possible writing in the mornings, which is the time of day I write when I'm home.

Something I've kept in the back of my mind to find was my go-to place for a writing retreat. I've kept seeking something out.

Well, my search is over!

I have chosen a cabin at Navy Lake in Lake Altoona, Georgia. 

To be more specific, the best place for me to write in the cabin was the screened-in porch. Though in the four-day, three-night vacation I opened my laptop a grand total of one time, ideas flowed out effortlessly for my work on Twofold Love Comeback.

What I like about the location is, it's not entirely out in the middle of nowhere. Just a mere twenty minutes from the cabin is Kennesaw, a suburb of Atlanta. There are some beautiful parks where I can go for a run or some restaurant I can try.

Now, it's time for me to set aside some money for me to go here on a crisp fall day. Just me, my laptop, and a notebook to write in. Whatever book I'll be working on at that time, I will be sure to mention part of it was written at Navy Lake.