Looking Back With a Grateful Heart

The journey back from 2015 to now has been a long one. I’m not a great blogger. Never have been. I love to share inspiring, intelligent things I learn. I love to pass along what other bloggers/writers have so generously shared. But sometimes life sucks. And when my life sucks I withdrawal. I’d been in the suck zone for a while but I was recently reminded of some wonderful people I needed to thank and draw your attention too, you know, if I’m not the only one here on this blog 🙂 Some times I think it’s just me and the crickets…

There is a contest that happens in October  called PitchSlam (also happens in March). It’s an amazing Twitter contest. Go check out Kimberly VanderHorst @Kymburleev. She was the Pitchslam Captain in 2015 when I was involved… yep, I said it was a long journey. Just a word or two about Kimberly, who I only just met through this contest. She was so enthusiastic and helpful and I wasn’t even on her team! Another fabulous lady, Leatrice McKinney, find her on FB or follow her on Twitter @ElleOnWords. She is a no-bullshit kinda gal, a wealth of knowledge, extremely generous with what she knows and funny as hell. Read back into her posts and be enlightened. I did not get the chance to work as closely with these ladies and the rest of the Harry Potter crew (that year’s theme) because I was chosen for Michelle Hauck’s team in Nightmare on Query Street, another  twitter contest. I was so sad to leave Pitchslam after my initial feedback but also so thrilled to work with Michelle Hauck and Michael Anthony, the co-host. Find Michelle @Micheleel4Laughs and Michael @RavenousRushing. I had an absolute blast with them!

Just a few other names, Jamie Corrigan, Laura Heffernan, C.M. McCoy, Caitlin LaRue, Melyssa Mercado, Cindy R. Wilson, Kirk Kraft, Kirsten Carleton, Eric Smith, Michelle Richter, Stacey Donaghy, Patricia Nelson, Danielle Barthel, Nina Haberli, Tegen Wren, JodiG and Karen M. McManus who you may recognize from the NYT Bestselling list as the author of One Of Us Is Lying. Which by they way, if you haven’t already read this book, and you probably have cause it’s been on that list for like 44 weeks now – but OH! So much to love about this book! And Karen is just so nice, and so normal. So yeah, go read it.

Some of these people have cheered me, read for me, helped whip my query and first few chapters into shape. Became my friends. Some of these folks are agents I really admire and when I asked them questions didn’t treat me like a leper. Thank you all!

Here’s my advice. If you’re not on Twitter, get on it. Follow these people. Follow the links to their blogs. Then search who they follow. Follow them and their blogs. You’ll make friends, gain CP’s (critique partners) and learn the business of writing and selling your work. It’s like going on a little treasure hunt, one link leads you to the next, and then another to another and so on and you will be amazed at all the greatness you find.

So to all, thank you. Most humbly, thank you.

I would also highly recommend following Brenda Drake who created Pitch Wars. Go to http://www.pitchwars.org for more information.

All of my experience with these contests has been extremely positive. I have learned so much and since I’m a writer, in for the long haul, learning something new everyday is what I need.

I’m not a post-every-time-I-go-get-a-coffee or take a pee type person,  although if I find a latte that is the bomb-diggity, I will shout it out.

When disaster strikes, I disappear. Even in public, I’m very good at hiding. Most people don’t usually know anything is wrong with me. Well, they probably think I’m a little strange, but that’s different then wrong. My life was undergoing construction I didn’t authorize.

I just didn’t want any of my writer friends to think I’d forgotten about them or that I’d just totally flaked out but life went to utter crap in November 2015.

I had back surgery four days before Christmas that year which was super duper bad timing but a cyst was causing nerve damage down my leg into my right foot so it couldn’t be helped. Then our family dog bit me two weeks after surgery and I really messed myself up getting the dog off me. I ended up with seven stitches and then had to put our dog down. He’d already bitten everyone in the family several times and we’d tried EVERYTHING before our vet convinced me there was no other alternative. I loved that dog. It broke my heart. I ugly cried for months after that.

But then we rescued Hershey and that helped heal my heart.

So my plan had been while my back was recovering I was going to get so much writing and reading done. HA! I had a bad reaction to one of the medications they had me on. And when I say bad I mean F’d up. It’s like when you’re trying to say cup but you can’t think of the word. It made me slur the words that did come out and lose other words in my head. Just as I would have a sentence, it would burst like a soap bubble and be gone…THE worst kind of medication you could ever put a writer on. So if you had spoken or texted with me at that time, I promise you I wasn’t drunk.

It took some time to crawl out of that dark hole. But I made it. My back is awesome now thanks to Dr. Abbed and I’m writing as full time as some one who has a day job can 🙂

2016.  I went back to work. I was on the mend and my friend Melyssa Mercado encouraged me to enter PitchWars. So I did. And the way it works is you enter to work with a mentor before the agent round. I entered the mentor round and then we lost my mom August 16th and life went to crap again for a while. I was with my mom the day she died. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not ready to share that story yet but one day I will ❤

2017 – Present 😉

I’ve almost finished writing my fourth book. Yay me! Took a creative writing class with author Vance Briceland that I loved! It was offered at our local high school. That’s another avenue worth looking into. You never know where you’re going to find gems in the industry. Be open to learning everywhere! I learned a lot about people over this last year. Some of it was good. Some not so much. Some situations and people were bringing me down. So I changed them. Will Smith said it really well recently. He said, “Look around you. Who is pissing on your fire and who is fanning your flame?” What that means is are you surrounding yourself with haters or people who build you up and make you a better you? Some times you have to take inventory of those you keep close to you. Make sure they’re fanning your flame. If a person or situation is causing you grief….change it. You can not change another’s actions. You can only change your own. Surround yourself with awesomeness. Fan your flame. So that’s what I’m doing…fanning my flame. How about you? Maybe it’s time to do some of your own spring cleaning 😉

And that’s just how life is… a roller coaster ride. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down, but it’s always interesting what’s around the corner. Okay. Enough rambling, but I did have three years worth. LOL.

Until next time. Be kind. Be well. Peace and love my friends.

My List of Ten Books…

Thank you cousin Oni Thalheimer and Mark Radzin for nominating me to name 10 books that inspired me or had some kind of impact on me.

I felt like I needed to explain some of them so what better way than to BLOG IT!
Okay so first of all, I have NOT always been an avid reader. I can hear you all gasping so let me explain. I flat-out hated reading when I was a kid. Enough with the gasping already. Sheesh.

All I can remember about reading was reading comprehension tests. I was a slow reader so therefore did not do well on those tests. I felt like a stupid failure or maybe a better way to say it is, I felt stupid and like a failure. I still have an aversion to polka dots because of those tests.
On top of being a slow reader I had a bad case of living in my own private fantasy world. While the teacher would drone on about the required reading assignment, from some boring book I hated, my mind would take me to far away places where I would be the princess in a beautiful castle beatin’ the crap outta the dragon. I was the kind of girl who wore dresses and ripped tights from climbing trees and rocks. I’m still that kind of girl but now I’m an excellent climber…I hardly ever rip my tights anymore.

 
So I made my way through school as a B/C student. I’m not advocating for these kind of grades, I’m just stating my truth. This went on until mid way through Junior year in high school. As luck would have it, I had bunion surgery. Bunions are not lucky. Quite frankly they suck. But because of the bunions the town wouldn’t let me go back to the public high school for fear of someone stepping on my enormously bandaged feet and them getting sued.

The lucky part came in the form of a tutor, whose name I am ashamed I can’t remember and my mother was sleeping so I couldn’t ask her. I couldn’t daydream in front of the tutor. It was just me and her. In a room. For four hours a day. No distractions. Game on.

I became a straight A, honor roll student in high school and in college largely because of this tutor. The first great thing I can remember reading was:

#1. The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allen Poe. This was one creepy-ass individual and I dug that about him! He inspires me still.

The rest of the books that I’ll mention are not really in any order.

2. Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this to my children and have given it as a gift. It is incredibly insightful. A lot can be learned from the simplicity of the messages in children’s books.

3. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I was scared to death of this book because of its sheer fatness. When I looked at it, I thought, good God, it’s going to take me a decade to read this sucker! But since its one of my Aunt Minnie’s favorite books, and I adore Aunt Minnie, I finally gave in. I’m happy to report it did not take me a decade to finish and it became a personal triumph as well as one of my favorite books.

4. The Bible by God. There is some amazing history in that book! Sure, its taboo to talk about it, but a little taboo is okay. I enjoy my freedom to read and believe anything I want and I respect yours to do the same.

5. The Diary of Anne Frank. I actually read this in Jr. High while studying the Holocaust. My maiden name is Thalheimer. Half of my family was in Germany during this time. My grandmother told me a story about my Great-Grandfather speaking out against Hitler in a pub and how the SS military beat him to within an inch of his life and how they came and took over their house, forcing my Great-Grandparents and Aunt to cook and take care of them. This was horrible, yes, but it could have been so much worse as I found in Anne Frank’s Diary. This book put a face on evil for me at a very young age.

 
6. Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume. This book belonged to my cousin Heidi, who probably never realized I stole it from her. I liked reading this book because I thought I wasn’t supposed to read it and of course because it’s fabulous!

7. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. ‘Nuff said.

8. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. When my daughter (who’s now 16) started kindergarten I went back to school for writing. This was the first thing I read that convinced me, without a doubt, that I am a writer.

9. Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini. This book has great significance to me. I met Kim a few years ago when this book, her debut novel, was coming out. I didn’t know this at the time, how bat-shit-crazy a writer’s life is when their book is coming out, which makes this even more special to me. A mutual friend put us in touch with each other, and by that I mean I got her email and stalked her till she wrote back. LOL! And even though she had that bat-shit crazy thing going on, Kim graciously took me by the hand and led me down the newbie writer path. This book represents what I can attain. Kim, as a person, represents the kind of author I hope to be. THANK YOU MY SISTAH!

10. Mother Teresa’s Everything Starts from Prayer arranged by Anthony Stern, M.D. My love for Mother Teresa was cultivated by my Oma (grandmother in German). Mother T was one wise, wrinkled woman! You don’t have to be Catholic, or even Christian, to dig this lady. Mother Teresa said, “People throughout the world may look different or have a different religion, education, or position, but they are all the same. They are the people to be loved. They are all hungry for love.” Her mission was to love everyone regardless of race, gender, wealth, place in the world, or anything else you can think of. I have learned a tremendous amount from her.

You don’t have to be a writer to love reading. You do, however, have to love reading to be a writer. I read EVERYTHING! Young adult, new adult, adult, mystery, romance, paranormal, fantasy…if it’s got words…I read it! I don’t love everything I read but I usually learn something from it all.
So that’s my list. What’s yours?

PEACE