Saturday, August 31, 2013

Submission Sundays or What Jealousy Taught Me

So this post is "authorly" in nature, in that I am an author and I'm going to talk about writing, but it's also a post for people in general. I want to talk about something we all are either recipients of or are guilty of. What's that, you ask? JEALOUSY. I'm no stranger to the green eyed monster and I bet you aren't either.

Recently, I was made aware that some people didn't like me. WHAT?! Was my first response. And by "what" I meant "what is wrong with those people?" Because I'm always taken aback when I find out people don't like me. Unless it's someone I don't like and I've given them good reason not to like me, that's a different story. But coming from people I mostly like and hadn't done anything to, it was a shock. Then, the more we talked about it, we came to the realization that it wasn't so much dislike (well, it still might be, but not for these reasons) as jealousy. People were jealous of me. Now, I'm sure that what you're supposed to feel, what most people feel, when they find out someone is jealous of them is pride. I'm so good that people are jealous. Right? But that's not what I felt. I felt angry. Angry because it felt like their jealousy undermined my hard work. No good fortune fairy came down and tapped Mike & I on the head. Everything we have, his job, my job, a nice house, great kids, great relationships with those kids, the trips we take, everything, we worked our asses off for or went through hell for. And it felt like these people were saying we didn't deserve them, we just got lucky. And I call bullshit.

But the truth is, you never truly know anything about anyone else's life unless you live it. Those people couldn't know that I'm constantly stressed about whether my oldest son, who has autism, is happy at his group home. Is he being treated fairly, does he like the people who work there, does he miss me too much? They couldn't know how stressed I am about my youngest leaving home and how he'll never be the same person again. I will never know him as well as I do at this exact moment, because leaving home changes you. They couldn't know that I still miss my Grandma on a daily basis and how much I miss being able to share every success with the person who believed in me the most. They can't know how much my sister and I worry about our parents increasing age and declining health. Or the daily frustration of living with someone who has no short term memory. Or any of the million other things that everyone deals with on a daily basis. They didn't really know me. All they saw is what we present to the outside world. And as much as I try to be genuine and an open book in all of my interpersonal communications, I don't often share bad stuff. Mostly because I figure everyone has their own, why bring them down with mine. And truly, most of the time I choose not to dwell on mine; Mike and I adopted a policy very early on, right after CJ's diagnosis in fact, of "well, this happened, let's deal with it and move on." So I am a happy person most of the time. But it's by choice, not luck.

And because of this episode I started thinking about my own petty jealousies. Most of them work related. Such and such press signed author X. Why didn't they sub to us? So and so sold yet another story for pro rates. Why didn't I? Why aren't I having all these acceptances? So I took my own ponderings to heart and realized I have no idea what is going on in other's lives. They got those things because they worked hard for them. And if I want them? Well, I better get my ass in gear and start working harder.

A wise woman once told me  I can't measure my success by the success of others because success is personal. There's no one definition that applies across the board. And what I realized was the reason I wasn't having success was because I wasn't putting in the time and effort. If I want author X then I need to do something to put the press on their radar. And if I want an acceptance letter with a pro rate sale, well I'd better start finishing my stories/novellas/novels and submitting them. Because the truth is I bust my ass for the press, but I'm a lazy writer. I let myself get distracted, I procrastinate, I find 15 other things I "should" be doing. And that's my bad. I know what I need to do. And so, I started last week. Last weekend I sent in three submissions. I already had two out, so that's five. Four original stories and one reprint. So far, I've heard nothing back. Two I think have a real chance. The other three are a gamble. But if they come back with a rejection notice, I will research some more markets and get them out again, because that's what it takes. And from now on, I will finish one new story per month and send it out too, until I have so many subs out that the law of averages takes effect. Something has to sell, right? I mean, I have sold stories before.

So the moral of this story is I took something unpleasant and turned it around by choice. And every time you do that, the Universe smiles for like 3.5 seconds. I mean, c'mon, it's a busy Universe and you really aren't that important. But maybe it helps to bolster hope for the human race. And for you writerly types who are still with me? The lesson is: success comes with backbreaking (or mind bending in this case) labor. Not good luck, not fairies or wishing wells, but your own sweat and tears. You have to put the work in to reap the rewards. And will we all make it? No. I mean some people just aren't ready, or talented enough, or even interesting. But no one is going to make it if they don't try, if they don't keep trying. And the more you write, the more you read other's writing, the more you work on your craft, the better you get. And the better you get, the better your chances of acceptance. It's a circle of win.

So I'm starting "Submission Sundays." Every Sunday I will evaluate my submissions. The ones sent back rejected, will be looked at, tweaked, and sent somewhere else. New stories will get the same treatment. I want to have at least five and possibly ten subs out at all times. This Sunday, I have a "pass" since they are all still out and I didn't get anything new written or finished this week. But I'm looking for some of you writers out there to join me. I might even make a Facebook group. Because I do better when held accountable to others. And so do some of you. And some of you are good all on your own, but might enjoy kicking other's in the pants. C'mon, it'll be fun.

And stop being jealous. Shake it off, look around, and appreciate your own blessings. You might not want the other person's bad times or dues they paid to get those good things.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Gifts from afar...

The lovely Vix Kirkpatrick, horror fan and Facebook friend extraordinaire, sent me a box a while back of scampi fries and English chocolates, things I'd mentioned I missed about England. And she did this just because she's a wonderful person, she wouldn't take anything in return. Well, the first box didn't arrive and didn't arrive, and after two months she decided to send me another one. As luck would have it, the first package showed up finally! And then the second package came as well! So lucky me, I was blessed with enough scampi fries to share with my sister. Although, I did tell her she had to be nice to me to get some.

Well, my family thinks I'm seriously odd in some of my eating habits and no one was on board to try them. And then we had this conversation the other evening. Mike, Sean, and Sean's friend Roaman were present at dinner that night.

Me: So will you try some scampi fries after dinner?

Sean: Why did this person you don't know send you food?

Me: I do know her, we've been Facebook friends for a long time.

Sean: That's not "knowing" someone. She could be a 70 year old man for all you know. Don't you watch Catfish??

Me: Where do you get this paranoia from? This mistrust of strangers?

Sean: Well, certainly not from you, Mrs. Gullible.

Me: She just sent me them because she's nice.

Sean: They could be laced with acid.

Me: They're in sealed packages.

Sean: And you think that would stop someone?

Roaman: They do sell home sealers now. They could've resealed them.

Me: You're not helping. *shrugs* But even if, what's the harm? We'd all just take a little trip.

Sean: How am I going to explain the drugs in my system to the Air Force?

Me: Well I'd vouch for you.

Roaman: Yeah, me and your mom would explain what happened.

Sean: Mmm. And you are two highly credible witnesses. Not.

Me: I own a company.

Sean: Right. And dropping acid would totally ruin your reputation, I mean, wait, you're a horror writer, it would not hurt your work.

Me: Well, there is that. I've never done acid, but I might right a fabulous book, the best horror novel ever, while tripping.

Sean: Except that you'd write it in some language you completely made up because you were high and no one would be able to understand it.

Me: You're such a glass half full person. Some people like books they can't understand.

Mike wisely stayed out of this whole conversation. Roaman did, in fact, try my chips and loved them and they were not laced with acid (I knew they wouldn't be.) Mike did kiss me afterwards though and said:

Mike: Oh man, those don't even smell good.

Me: They smell like shrimp scampi, because they are shrimp flavored snacks.

Mike: That's just so gross.

But they aren't, they are delicious. And I will be forever in Vix's debt. And I don't know how I raised such skeptical, paranoid children. Must be Mike's fault.

Thank you, Vix!!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Travel funnies

So, I'm in the process of changing over my blogging to this one blog. I'm going to combine what used to be my family life blog, What Passes for Sane on a Crazy Day, over to this blog. There may or may not be a book coming about from the other blog, but mostly I'm just too busy to do both (as anyone who reads my sporadic blog posts can easily confirm). I also prefer to read author blogs that contain snippets of their lives, not just writing advice and news. Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a stalker, or maybe it's just more interesting. I like to know people I admire are just that--people. People a lot like me who are doing what they love while raising families and dealing with life. So, in the spirit of combining both, I give you the following post which would normally be on my other blog. Oh, and so as not to be confusing, I'll be using my children's real names this time.

During our rather long (3 day) car trip to California, Mo and I had this conversation:

Me: We have to stop listening to your iPod.

Mo: Why?

Me: *pointing to my lips, which are closed* What are my lips not doing?

Mo: Um...

Me: Singing. And if my lips are not singing, I'm not driving "happy." And trust me, you want me to be driving happy. I don't know most of these songs. Put in my CD. (I know, I'm old school like that, making CDs and all.)

Mo: *huge sigh* She puts in the CD and the first song is "Feel this Moment" by Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera. If you don't know the song, you can find it here.

Me: This is my jam.

Mo: *laughing* 'Cause you're from the Dirty?

Me: No. Partially because it references Fifty Shades of Grey and even though I hate that book and all it's horrid grammar, any song that references what could loosely be termed "literature" in an intelligent manner is cool. But also because it's about living in the moment. That's what the chorus is talking about.

Mo: Is it?

Me: Don't you listen to the words?

Mo: I can't understand them.

Me: *singing rather loudly* Someday when the night is glowing, I'll be in my castle golden. But until the gates are open, I just want to feel this moment.

Mo: *and because she never believes a word I say, she Googles the lyrics* It's "Someday when the light is glowing."

Me: Oh, my bad. One freakin letter.

Mo: So it's your "YOLO" song?

Me: Yep. You know I was all about Yolo-ing before it was an acronym.

Mo: So she's talking about YOLO-ing before she dies.

Me: Um ... Mo ... you kind of have to YOLO before you die. It really doesn't work the other way around.

Some days I wonder about her...