Advice Taken: Say Yes & Figure It Out Later

I’ve had the pleasure of being in the company of the fabulous Liza Palmer numerous times over the last few years. She’s been kind, hilarious, encouraging, approachable, and has always given so much of herself to pass on the things she’s learned. One piece of advice she’s received and doled out has stuck with me: Say Yes and Figure it out Later.

For too long, I’ve been saying wait. later. maybe. But now is the time, when I’m riding high on a wave of RWA post-conferences, to take advantage of this amazing sensation. In order for me to move forward, I need to get myself in motion. Progress means movement, and it’s the only way I’m going to ever inch closer to the accomplishing the things Alison and I drew up and agreed to in our contract.

So, I’m saying yes.

Yes, I am entering portions of my manuscript into two different contests (which are looking at two different aspects of the book) and eagerly waiting for feedback.

Yes, I am registering to attend the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference in 2015, even though I’m going to be getting married mere days after this conference and might be quite the basketcase by the time the conference rolls around.

Yes, I am going to sign for editor/agent appointments at the Cal Dreamin’ conference and fully expect to pitch my YA Urban Fantasy manuscript.

Yes, I emailed Decadent Publishing about their special submission call for their series of Beyond Fairytales stories. And yes, this means I will need to produce a 15k-65k length manuscript and submit it within six months from the time I receive my assigned fairy tale.

Yes, I am expecting to enter my YA Urban Fantasy into the RWA Golden Heart contest for 2015 (assuming I meet their eligibility requirements). And yes, this requires that I complete the manuscript before the end of the year.

Aren’t you supposed to be planning a wedding? Yes. I am. I will.

And aren’t you still working full-time? Yup, that’s right.

And are you still doing an internship somewhere on the interwebs? Yes, that I am.

So how are you planning on doing all this? I don’t know. My therapist doesn’t know. No one seems to know, but apparently, I’m just going to go for it. I’m going to have faith in myself (because I too often have too little), I’m going to trust the Universe/God/Powers That Be, and I’m just going to say YES.

And figure it out later.

After all, in the words of my lovely, RITA-award winning friend, Laura Drake:

Said during Laura’s 2014 RITA acceptance speech for Best First Book

Falling in Love at RWA2014 and Signing a Contract (not the one you think)

Like most attendees of the RWA National Conference, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not only did I get yet another awesome bookhaul (total number not yet determined!), but I got to be around other writers. For me, it was necessary–absolutely vital–that I reconnect with the passion that fueled me through three years of graduate studies, that urged me to complete NaNoWriMo multiple times, that makes me who I am.

It was like falling in love with writing again.

The last three years, I’ve been balancing both academic writing and working on my current YA Urban Fantasy manuscript. You’d think that my creative juices were already flowing, already in gear. That wasn’t the case. I was actually kind of burned out. You go from one thing to the next, one class to the next, and one responsibility to the next. I know that’s life, but sometimes, you have to hit pause and take time out to reconnect with yourself and the things that make you who you are.

It’s like any relationship. It needs love, nurturing, and sometimes a bit of a nudge in the right direction. Goals have to be set, focus has to be maintained, and sometimes that means you have to disengage from Everything Else so you can figure out what’s really important to you.

This realization and the refilling of my creative well led me and my friend/critique partner, Alison Diem, to draw up a contract because we needed to have something concrete put in place, written down, in black (or, blue, as it were) and white.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

We, the Undersigned, vow on pain of deepest embarrassment and public shame, to accomplish the following:

    1. Complete more than one (greater than one, no less than three) projects. Projects may be defined as full novel, novella, or long form (10k+) short story.
    2. By the Tuesday before the start of the 2016 RWA Conference in San Diego, CA, the Undersigned must have submitted ALL completed work to an appropriate Agent, Editor, or Publishing Entity. No response is required by this date for this clause to be considered complete.
    3. Should the above clauses be met, sold or not, published or not, the Undersigned shall consider themselves accomplished and shall not be permitted to feel [crappy].
    4. Self-publishing (includes [professional] edits, cover, formatting) is an acceptable form of submitting (per clause 3).
    5. Should no response be received for submitted materials, or should a rejection be received, Undersigned is required to set up AT LEAST two (2) editor or agent appointments at RWA, be it official appointment method or through outside contacts.

We agree to the above and state that we are sober, NOT hung over, and in sound mind and body. We are not under duress at this time.

And then we signed it and dated it, and had our friend Beth Yarnall witness for it to make it all official and everything. We’ve given ourselves adequate time to meet these goals, and finally, I think we’re ready to try to meet them.

What was the most motivating thing you took away from RWA?

Hoe Your Row

Here’s the thing about being at the RWA National Conference with all these amazing, inspiring and successful authors — some of whom are traditionally published, some e-pubbed, some who are self-published, and some who are some mix of the three — it’s kind of like filling your well again. I’ve been so entrenched in academia since the last time I attended, I don’t know if I remember what it was like to have the same kind of zest for the creative process as I did when I first started getting really involved with RWA.

I mean, I’ve been a member since 2006. I didn’t join a local chapter until 2009. (And if you aren’t a member of your local chapter, I highly suggest you look into joining it!) I wasn’t even really that active on the online chapters I had been a member of, and I didn’t finish my first manuscript until 2009.

So what I started to notice and feel was that it’s been four years since I completed my first manuscript (which is still in sad, dire need of major revisions and maybe shouldn’t actually ever see the light of day again), and it’s been two years since I attended my first RWA national conference… and in that time, I didn’t think anything had changed. I still hadn’t edited the book I’d finished and I hadn’t finished the new one I’d come up with since! But in that same time frame, I’ve seen friends of mine get published, self-publish, get nominated for RITAs and get signed… Progress! I thought, they’ve made progress!

And progress translates to success for me. It’s movement forward, and here I’ve been like a stick in mud. Not moving, not changing, not doing much of anything.

I see what’s changed around me and I feel like the one thing that hasn’t.

But then I had a chat with my good friend Beth Yarnall and she said something that was so simple and yet so profound to me: “Hoe your own row.” She reminded me that even though I haven’t accomplished ALL the things I aimed for, I did still accomplish a lot of things! She urged me to think about what’s different for me in the two years since I last attended a conference.

1. I completed my masters degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing.

2. I had just gone on Date #1 with Captain the weekend before RWA 2012, and here I am, attending RWA 2014 with a ring on my finger and promise to marry him in 2015.

3. In 2012, I didn’t have much but an idea of my current WIP. In 2014, I have half of it. (Gotta get the other half!)

That’s a lot of change for a girl who didn’t think she was doing anything over the last two years. And it is! I’ve made progress. Just because it’s not EVERYTHING I set out to do just means I need to put in a little more work.

She urged me not to compare myself to others (which goes against every cell in my body and every brainwave in my head), but rather, to keep focused on my goals. Hoeing my own row, she said, meant that if I focused on what I was supposed to be doing — the task at hand, the business of writing the best damn book I could possibly write — I wouldn’t be able to look up and see who’s ahead of me without messing up my own row.

Staying focused: that’s the new goal from now until the end of the year. I don’t want to hit my 10 year RWA membership anniversary and still be in the same place… but to make that happen, I’m going to have my hoe my own row.

RWA 2014 Kick-off!

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Pardon my dust here as I try to get this website revamped! Currently, I am enjoying myself at the Romance Writers of America national conference in San Antonio, TX.

This is my second time attending the National Conference, and it’s been so good to run into so many old friends and acquaintances. I’ve also already made some new friends here, and I am so excited to get the chance to read all the books I’ve already gotten my grubby little hands on! Currently, Book Haul 2014 is at 22 books for myself and 8 books for friends! The last time I attended RWA, I went home with over 200 books–all for me! While I am looking forward to the book haul, I am *really* looking forward to learning a lot in the workshops.

There are so many to choose from, so it’s going to be hard to choose between different topics, but I really feel that this is the year I can diversify my attendance and learn a little bit more about how to balance my writing life with the rest of my life, how to create better/more dynamic characters, learn a few more things about Stuff I Don’t Know Very Little About, and even more from publishers that are being spotlighted.

Since this is my second go-round and I’ve fostered numerous friendships within the RWA, it’s been really exciting to see who’s had a change in status (SOLD! tags and PAN-identifiers on name tags)… but on the other hand, it also puts me in this strange position of realizing that I’m in the same place I was two years ago when I last attended RWA.

Granted, I’ve spent the last 3 years entrenched in Graduate School, but that ended in May and since then, my YA manuscript has not really had much work done on it since. My fiancé, the so-called Captain, said to me that maybe the RWA conference is just want I needed to get my creative writing juices flowing again…

I have a feeling that he’s probably right. (Thank God!)