03 February 2010

Does This Make You Want to Read More?

Alaina Andersen is witty, warm and wonderful. Her best friend, Jarod, worships her, and everyone knows it but Alaina. The most popular boys at Southbrook High School want to date her, but she thinks that they are only teasing. When Alaina looks in the mirror, she doesn’t see the popular, playful and pretty girl that all of the other girls long to be. She sees a shy, unattractive band geek who has never had a real boyfriend and can’t find the courage to try out for the school play. As she compares her biggest weaknesses with her friends’ greatest strengths, Alaina fears that she will never measure up.

If only she could win the heart of Shane Crawford, her “Perfect Prince Charming!” He is tall, dark and handsome, with hypnotic blue eyes and a smile that could melt glaciers, and Alaina knew the moment she saw him that he was the White Knight she had been waiting for. She is certain that Shane holds that magical key to unlock her inner worth.

Alaina has read enough fairy tales to know that a magical kiss from the prince can work miracles, and she has felt like a frog for far too long! But in the real world, kisses aren’t always magical and princes aren’t always perfectly charming. Eventually, Alaina must learn to create her own enchantments by looking for the beauty she has buried within.

02 February 2010

Dreaming with a Deadline

Wish me luck! I'm going to go for it! I've decided that I'm going to enter Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest for a chance to win a publishing contract! All I have to do is write a 300-word Pitch to submit along with my manuscript.

Easy as pie, right???

Well, not quite. I mean, I can write 300 words with no problem. Compared to an 85,000-word novel, 300 words is a mere drop in the bucket. The difficulty comes in knowing exactly what kind of "drop" to submit to that bucket!!

Have you ever tried to condense an 85,000-word story into a 300-word soundbite? Knowing that they won't even look at the manuscripts unless you make the first cut based on this 300-word Pitch doesn't help either. Yikes! This has to be an amazing 300 words!

The contest closes on February 7th or when they reach 5000 submissions, whichever comes first. Which means that I'm frantically creating on a deadline here - something that I never thought that I would do! I have this fear that I'm going to create the perfect entry and then find that I'm the 5001st person to submit my manuscript, which would be crushing, wouldn't it?

So I'm determined to get my Pitch written this morning so that I can send it off to my "creative consultant" by lunchtime. Then, he can rip it to shreds and make me feel like I have no business dreaming of publication until I stop feeling sorry for myself, realize that he's right and rework my Pitch into something worthy of submission.

Wish me luck! And be prepared to vote for me :)

01 February 2010

Standing on the Edge, Working up the Nerve to Jump!

Fear is a powerful thing, isn't it?

Why is that?

I have an intense fear of snakes. Every time I walk past tall grass, a pile of leaves, large bushes, or something of the sort, I am simply certain that a snake is hiding in there, just waiting for me to let my guard down so that it can strike. I used to always make sure, when hiking, that I was the last one in line on the trail. I figured that the person in front would be the one to see the snake, and I would have ample warning to get out of the way before I ever got close. Then, I started to wonder. What if that snake just sits there in hiding and lets everyone else go by because he's waiting just to bite me?

Crazy, right?

Of course it's crazy! I know it's silly. The snakes and I have never been introduced. They don't know who I am or what I look like. They don't know I live in mortal terror. They don't know that I once heard my friend talk about how her cat had brought a live snake into the house and she found it in her bathroom, and since then my cats have not been allowed to set foot outside the house and I still always check behind the toilet before sitting down. Snakes don't know these things. And they don't have a vendetta against me! I have nothing to be afraid of. I'm still terrified.

I know that my fear of snakes is irrational, unfounded and a little bit silly. I try to remember that, and I don't let it beat me. I still go for long walks in the woods. I walk past the large, low bushes in my front yard every day without hesitation (though I do always glance underneath them, just to make sure). Of course, I let my husband take the kids to the reptile house at the zoo, but when Daddy wasn't there and the kids wanted to pet the boa constrictor when the zookeeper invited them forward, I bravely stepped forward and helped them gently pet it. I know that I can't live my life directed by something as silly as fear!

But then, I do.

I have this dream of being a published author. I keep writing (and rewriting) books and stories, and everyone tells me that I have talent. All through school, my classmates, my professors, those who read my pieces in the college literary magazine or the small-town newspaper I wrote for... everyone told me "You have a gift. You should do this professionally." To which I would instantly reply, "Well, of course! Look for my name on the bookstore shelves in the near future." I was going to be the next big thing. I was going to be famous. I was going to have a whole shelf full of books that I wrote. I was going to see the world on my book signing tour!

And then I stopped to think about it.

What if????

What if I'm not as good as I think I am? What if I don't have a story to tell? What if they don't like me? What if they say 'get out of here, kid, you've got no talent'? What if I fail?????

Well, you can't fail if you never try, right? So I didn't. I pushed my dream of writing aside and concentrated on my real job: being a mother. That was something that I knew I was good at. I knew I could do it. And it was scary, but it wasn't terrifying. I stopped saying "I want to be a published author" and started saying "Yeah, I used to think that I would do that, but it's not really a very realistic dream..." And I was happy with my decision. Mostly. But in the back of my mind, I knew that you really can fail if you never try. In fact, you do fail. Every time.

A couple of years ago, I heard Jason Wright (http://jasonfwright.blogspot.com/) speak, and I was inspired. I don't even remember what he said, but as I sat there listening to him, I just kept thinking, "If he can do this, so can I!" I rushed home, dug out the pencils that I had collected to write my first novel with, sharpened the first one and started to write.

That first novel simply flowed out of my pencil and onto the page. In less than a month, I had a completed first draft. And after a year and a half of rewriting and revision, I am again getting rave reviews. My novel is ready to submit to a publisher!!

Hooray! I conquered my fear! I did it!!!


Now comes the really scary part! I have to actually send my manuscript to agents and editors and People Who Know What They're Doing!! Cue the voices in my head: What if they don't like it? What if they laugh? What if they say 'get out of here kid, you've got no talent'? I just don't think I can take that kind of rejection! (Yes, I do feel like I'm channelling George McFly.)

Remember what I said about fear being silly? Irrational? Pointless?

Yeah, so do I.

This fear is just as silly as my belief that the snakes are waiting in ambush to bite just me while letting the rest of the world go by unharmed. All of the agents and editors of the world are not lying in wait to crush my dreams. They don't even know me. And some might not like my novel. But some of them might. And I'll never know unless I try.

So this morning, I find myself poised on the edge of the cliff, looking down. I'm going to jump! And I'll just have to trust that these wings I've constructed for myself will carry me up to the heavens...