Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Midsummer's Day on the Natchez Trace

I took a road trip today to Alabama via the Natchez Trace Parkway. What can I say except it was such a beautiful day and summer is in its full glory along the Trace. The fields of corn and soybeans bordering some stretches of the Trace are oceans of green amid rolling hills and forests. In places the trees bordering the Trace are so thick, I drove in shade and the Tennessee river was a vivid blue today. I love driving the Trace. I love the lack of all things commercial. I love driving in the shade provided by thick groves of huge old trees. I find it very calming. There's not much traffic on the Trace. The speed limit is only 50. Much too slow for those who are busy rushing through life to take a moment to actually enjoy nature's presentation of a summer day. However, summer will start to fade in a few weeks and I wanted to get a look at the lush shades of greens against the blue sky. I'm grateful I took the opportunity to do that. I'm also grateful that someone a long time ago decided we should have a national park serivce and places like the Natchez Trace Parkway should be preserved.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Ladder of Success

The first objective to attaining success is determining exactly what success means to you. What would it take for you to feel that you are a success? In our society, we often view success as making lots of money, having power/talent/beauty and being recognized for such attributes.

However, success comes in various levels and doesn't always have to mean wealth and fame. Accomplishment of a goal is well worth pursuing. Success can be harvesting vegetables from your first garden or the completion of a manuscript. There is no greater excitement than the "I did it!" moment.

But, the thing is to keep your success in perspective so you will always enjoy the moment and look back on your successes, no matter how small, with pride. It is easy to let success become an enemy because for every rung on the ladder, there is always another rung. Unfortunately, success walks hand-in-hand with failure.

For a writer to make the NYT bestseller list is to be considered a success, more so than other writers. However, unless they make the #1 spot, they are still not tops, and if they do, how long does their book stay there? Long enough? And what about the next book? Success becomes frail quickly, and, sadly enough, it can take its toll on anyone.

You avoid that trap by celebrating your achievements as something that has made you happy, made you feel good about yourself and your capabilities, given you a good memory to cherish and the will to stay on the ladder. Remember, success will only make you feel badly if you expect too much of it, if you start comparing your success to what others have accomplished, and if the worry of failure overshadows all else.

It doesn't matter where you are on the ladder. You can go up and down as much as you want.

The main thing is to enjoy the climb.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finally the Phantom Rose Sees Print

This has been a long time coming. I wrote this story one summer weekend in 2004 and I loved every minute of writing it. Sometimes I don't love every minute of writing a story. I submitted about a week or so after writing it and the editor at Arabella magazine immediately bought it. In fact, she called me and told she knew before she ever finished it, she was going to buy it. That was one of those moments as a writer that you don't forget.

However, it was not in the stars for the Phantom Rose to get published nor for me to get paid. It was slated for publication in the fall of 2004 but the magazine folded before then. After that, the story languished in my computer until 2007. Then, I heard about a new magazine called New Love Stories, that took romances with historical settings and I have never been shy about submitting. So I dusted off the Phantom Rose and sent it off. By the way, the Phantom Rose is the name of my heroine's pirate frigate. Months went by. I practically forgot I had submitted it. In June 2008, I was contacted by the editor about buying the story. I signed the contract and waited to hear when it would be published. Months went by. I figured it would suffer the same fate as it did with Arabella, especially with the recession in full swing. I'm happy to say that didn't happen.

Today I got two copies of the magazine in the mail and a check! Yay!! I was very pleased about that. Also I really loved the illustration they used. The cards and the gun plays into the beginning of the story. I've had other stories illustrated but this is my favorite. It could be because it is not a photo of people who don't look anything like the characters. LOL! Also I noticed they did not change my character's names, which I'm happy about. One time I had an editor change my character's names for whatever reason and she gave the hero one of ex-husbands' name! I nearly croaked! Yes, I have been married a few times but that's another story....