Next, the warm and wise Ana Gonçalves shares how each moment is an opportunity at Pursuing Life, the new blog I recently started with my dear friend and best cohort. Please go read Ana's insightful words, and say hello.
Also, to leave you with a resounding quote:
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
The first novel I wrote was considered by Avalon Books in NYC. When they rejected it--this was December of 2008--I was crushed. I said at the time, on this blog, I feel like my sails have lost their wind. Now--instead of a writer being considered--I'm just a writer. I feel less validated. Like I have to start all over again...
It's been two-plus years.
Avalon is a quality publisher, and I have friends who've found success through them, but I'm glad my pacing was off, that the editors didn't care for my story's element of suspense, and that my hero and heroine lacked tension. I'm thankful they didn't pick me.*
The writer I am now, without that publication, is the writer I'm supposed to be.
I'm working on my third novel. Somewhere between that first book and this one, I've found my true writer's voice. I've learned that women's fiction is my strength. I've better-established and set the path to my long-term goals, not the least of which is agent representation. (Avalon does not require representation of their authors.)
I've added to my resume, and bolstered my confidence, and have become part of some awesome projects. I've honed and practiced and still continue to grow into a better writer.
If Avalon had thought differently, would I have grown in these same ways? Would I have found another path? Or molded to a certain style of writing, a particular avenue of publication that could have stunted my development?
How things could be different. I'm glad they're not. Really.
Do you have a similar story? Whether with writing or something else, has there been a near-miss you're now grateful for?
* I'm also thankful for the small nudge that Avalon's interest gave me, and my drive to write.
When I was in the fifth grade, we were given a project to write our own epitaph. It was a lesson in poetry. `
My maiden name is, well, difficult to rhyme. This is what I was virtually stuck with: ` Here lies Janna Leadbetter. When she was little she was a bedwetter. `
(I found my honest and vulnerable root in writing early, I guess.) `
Years later, after my surname changed and I was a new mom, my husband sold wheels to a young man online. When he came to pick them up, and I opened the door, we realized we knew each other. We'd been childhood classmates. `
He said, "I'll never forget your epitaph." And he recited it verbatim. `
That's some memorable writing. ` What would you write as your epitaph, just for fun?
My alarm and its 5 o'clock music interrupted the question in my dream this morning, but I heard it anyway. And no surprise, it's woven to my sub-conscience, because yesterday was the eight-month mark since my dad's passing.
As I lay in bed before getting up, running over the sadness of that question--How's your dad doing?--I remembered what my five-year-old said last night when I tucked her in.
"We know where Papa is. Papa's in Heaven."
This after no prompting from me. I hadn't shared with her what date it was.
How's your dad doing?
And the answer pressed me, just like I'd pressed the alarm's snooze button.
He's in Heaven.
I trust it because my daughter knows the truth. She is a pure and open channel that way. She knows.
QUESTION: What's the worst way to make a great first impression? `
ANSWER: By flipping deep-dish spinach pizza across the table at your dinner companion, of course.
Amy and Janna
Amy and I just laughed, and I dared her to share tale of my clumsiness (which I'm beating her to, I think). No damper on our dinner.
I've known Amy, who is such a great and talented woman, through the power of the internets for what has to be a few years now. And when I learned I'd be visiting an area very close to her hometown, we planned a real-life meeting.
I've talked about such meetings, with colleagues and bloggy buddies and all, here on the ol' blog before, and many of you have had the same experiences. It's just so darn cool. What pleases my writer's spirit is the connection over words, and the craft, that one can't get just anywhere. `
Amy and I talked about agents (she recently signed with Jason Yarn of The Paradigm Agency!), women's fiction, favorite authors, POV/tenses, premises, plots, and brainstorming about your WIP with habit, as a rule not an exception. Who else can you do that with and not bore your company to silence and disinterest? It's a powerful thing to share the same wavelength with another writer. `
I absolutely enjoyed our time together. Flipped food and all! `
If you've never crossed paths with Amy, go meet her now. Visit her blog and website at amysuenathan.com. She also has a post up at STET! today, so you can find her there. Tell her Janna sent you. `
You should try deep-dish spinach pizza, too. It's good.
When I'm working on fiction, I keep dictionary.com open on my laptop. I plug words in a dozen or more times a day, when I need to make sure a meaning applies in the way I need it to, or to get a full feel of a term's nuance. I like, too, that if I'm undecided about what to say, I can track one definition to the next and find something fantastic.
So anyway, I look up a lot of words. I think it's entertaining to look back at them, to see at what kind of story they hint. Here are some recent ones:
I'm nervous. My jitters are quaking. My quivers are jostling. I hope you like it! is what I'm thinking.
There's always a little worry when striking out with something new...
And there's always a little excitement when it comes to just shouting it out...
I have a new blog!*
But the most exciting part is, it's a dual-effort, co-authored by my best friend, Marie. I've been dying for you guys to meet her, and now is the time. You're going to love her.
This is about us. About the stages we're at in life, about where we want to be and how we're going to get there. It's how we're using introspection and self-discovery and adventure to our advantage, for growth and better, more fulfilling lives.