Filed under: Writing
Thursday, April 30th, 2015 • No Comments on April: the month in review
Oh, this month! April almost killed me. Literally. I fell sick at the end of March and in 72 hours I went from thinking I had a cold or maybe the flu to being in the ER, followed by the ICU. The diagnosis was pneumonia and I was apparently in septic shock when I arrived at the hospital, which is pretty serious stuff from what I learned after a few days there. It all seems a bit surreal now, being told after the fact that they weren’t sure I was going to make it, but I’m here to tell the tale. Or write about it, when I find the words.
Fashionable in a hospital gown
And so, I spent the first several days of April in the hospital and the past few weeks recuperating. Jay’s birthday and Easter were both celebrated over a week late because I was sick and hospitalized. I didn’t see any movies and, sadly, I didn’t even read any books. I envy those people who can read a stack of books when they’re sick. I had a book with me in the hospital and I couldn’t focus on anything for more than a few minutes. That continued to be the case even after I got home– I just couldn’t read. So I rested– a lot– and I thought– a lot– and I plotted– a lot. I desperately wanted to write, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as tired as I was this month, not even when I was very pregnant. So I have a lot of ideas in my head and jotted in notes on my iPhone and hopefully I will translate these ideas and notes into some good, publishable stuff in the coming months.
I may have not done much writing this month– a whopping seven hours (and that’s been in the past three days)– but I’ve had a few sales and a few publications. I sold two more essays to The Mid this month, for a total of three so far!, and my first two pieces have been published. The Mid is a terrific new website with a ton of content already, so if you find yourself in the “messy middle” of life, do check them out! There are essays and articles about everything from parenting to relationships to pop culture and I’ve found several new writers to follow. Here are the links to my current posts:
Why Don’t Adults Have Best Friends? (Originally “Seeking a Best Friend Like Me”)
10 Times You’ve Used Your Kids as an Excuse
I’m also very excited about an essay I sold to Narratively. It was the fastest acceptance I’ve ever received for an essay (six hours!) or, really, any piece of writing where I didn’t already have a working relationship with the editor. “Where Babies Come From” will be published in just a couple of weeks and I’m very proud of this piece– it’s incredibly personal and poignant and not like anything else I’ve ever written.
Finally, I’m officially joining the ranks of “mommy bloggers” in May! I’ll be blogging several times a month at mom.me about parenting, kids, family life and whatever else they’ll let me write about. I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity to share my experiences and my first piece–7 New Mom Tips from a Military Spouse— goes live tomorrow. Considering that I knew absolutely nothing about babies or motherhood until I was 42 years old, it’s mind boggling that I’m now writing about it!
Since April was a wash for having time to write, I still have two novel proposals to finish writing and editing in May. Plus a couple of short stories to write for upcoming anthologies, as well as my freelance assignments and a few other ideas I’d like to work on. I’m not sure where or how I’ll find time for all of that– the reality is probably somewhere between accomplishing everything I want to do and accepting what I’ll actually be able to carve out time do. Probably only one novel proposal will get sent off. Some of the essay ideas will get pushed to June or July. But after a month of illness, exhaustion and recovery, I am ready to get back to myself!
May is my birthday month and I’ll be 48 one week from today! Someone asked what I was going to do for my birthday, as I have a reputation for celebrating “birthday week” and making my birthday last as long as possible. This year will be a quiet birthday, though I still intend to celebrate all week long. But after this month, I’m just grateful to be healthy, to be alive, and to have such a wonderful, happy life.
Happy Spring and Happy May from Clementine and me!
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 • No Comments on March: The month in review
Well loved monkey.
Despite the fact that we had snow flurries last weekend, it really is spring! March was far more productive for me than February was and I’m bouncing into April with big plans and high hopes.
The monkey belongs to my youngest son. He and I made our debut in the Washington Post last week. This poor guy inspired an essay about love, Maurice Sendak and cute aggression.
I understand wanting to devour what you love. I understand the ache of need and the sense of belonging that is making my cute little boys sink sharp baby teeth into their monkeys.
(You can read the rest at: My kids are eating their lovies)
This month also brought the release of my anthology Three of Hearts: Erotic Romance for Women. This collection of erotic romance threesomes was one of my favorite anthologies to edit. This steamy, romantic collection has stories from Tiffany Reisz, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Angela Capterton and a dozen more talented authors, plus a foreword from one of my longtime inspirations, Alison Tyler. No matter how many more anthologies I may edit, this one is going to stay with me for the variety of sexy threesomes, the depth of emotion and the sheer sensuality these authors packed into their stories.
Also this month, I cracked a new market and sold an essay to a relatively new website called The Mid. I’ve been quite impressed with the essays they’re running– especially since I’m the demographic they’re targeting!– and I’m looking forward to joining the lineup.
I think that’s it for sales and new releases this month. The horror story I wrote in January was rejected, as was an essay I wrote for the New York Times. In both cases, I knew it was a long shot– the horror anthology received something like a thousand submissions (!!) and the NYT is, well, the NYT. But still, good to stretch myself and try.
This month I read Precious Thing by Colette McBeth– a book that twisted me ’round and ’round and I’m still thinking about it. Right now I’m reading Chelsea Cain’s Heartsick— another twisty little book that I’m happy is the first in a series of mysteries.
I saw a few movies this month, too. Kingsman wasn’t what I expected, but it was fun to see Colin Firth as a badass spy. Run All Night was exactly what it looks like, but I adore Liam Neeson no matter how mediocre the movie. And it was fun to revisit the geriatric gang in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
I had 26.5 writing hours this month, compared to only 17.5 last month. Those are hours I get outside the house, alone, focused. I try to squeeze in hours here and there at home with the family, with various degrees of success. It’s not much, but I’m still managing to be somewhat productive. It’ll get better in the fall when the boys are both in school and I have 3 days a week (the little one will only go to school MWF), every week, during the school year. Something to look forward to, along with more adjustments to make. Until then, I’m being as productive as I can be given the time I have.
April will be a tough month for writing. Jay is in a transition program to become a teacher (and he’s already been offered a job for the 2015-2016 school year!), which has him in class, either online or in-person, several days a week on top of his work schedule. So I’m pretty much on parent duty non-stop through April and May. But hopefully I’ll squeeze some work hours in. Right now, I have copyedits to work on for my July anthology Best Erotic Romance of the Year (formerly Best Erotic Romance 2015). I’ll also spend this month finishing and polishing two novel proposals to send to a literary agent who has requested them. And, hopefully, writing a few new essays and sending them out into the world.
Have a lovely April!
Friday, March 6th, 2015 • 1 Comment on February: A month in review (a little late)
Fish in Florida
Well, hey there! Look at that, it’s March 6. You’d never know it by the temperature here in Virginia (a chilly 28º), but February blew by and here we are, wistfully staring off in the distance at spring. It’s coming, right? It must be…
February was a month. Some really, really good stuff, some pretty awful stuff. I’m trying very hard not to dwell on the negative and focus on the positive, but it’s been difficult. I started the month off strong, writing some words, plotting some projects, but things kind of fell apart by the end of the first week of the month. Long story short: I received not one, but two reversion of rights letters for anthologies I had turned in and had been approved. Three anthologies total. In fact, two of those books had been listed on Amazon for pre-order for months, complete with lovely covers. The kicker was that after the first reversion letter for two books I was told that all other contracted books would be published. Flash forward ten days and I received a second letter. Will there be a third? Who knows?
What that basically means is that I now have three completed anthologies with no home. And so, a chunk of February was spent trying to determine whether to cut my losses (and pull out my hair) and let them go despite all the time and effort that went into them (not to mention the forty authors who entrusted me with their words, received acceptance letters and had announced their sales) or to explore the options and see if I might find a new home for them with a different publishing company. I’m a fighter and I have a hard time accepting failure (which is what this feels like, never mind what everyone has been telling me) and so I’m determined to invest a little more time in these books and see if we can get them out into the world.
I’ve been asked who is to blame, why this happened, how a trusted publishing company could seemingly screw people over without conscience. I don’t have any answers. I have read some pretty lousy accounts of things that have happened to other editors/authors and I’m still shaking my head. “It’s just business,” seems to be the go-to phrase, but honestly, for writers it’s always personal. I spent a good chunk of February feeling sick, feeling depressed, feeling helpless. I’ve been angry, disgusted, flat-out infuriated. But to what end? Truth is: they (the powers that be) don’t care about my mental state, my bank balance, my home life or whether I ever write another word. So, it all comes down to me. I have to care. I have to focus on the positive and find a way. I have to keep writing. I have to do right by my authors (yes, I think of them as “my” authors). And so that’s what I’m going to do.
More details as I have them. If any of my authors wants more information about a specific book, please drop me a note. There is a lot more to my experience, but this is a month in review post, not a nightmares in publishing post…
By the pool, not a care in the world
The rest of February was about getting ready for a trip to Florida and the trip itself. We took our first real family vacation (longer than a long weekend, further away that Washington, DC) and took the boys to Walt Disney World. It was wonderful, it was exhausting, it was somewhat relaxing, it was nice to not have to cook a single meal for ten days. I ambitiously brought my laptop, three magazines and three books and managed to read one-third of one book and write a couple of emails. Oh well. I clearly needed the break (from reality?) and I feel refreshed. (And I did find Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot!)
February brought the publication of my first essay for Mommyish.com: Why I Stopped Saying ‘Someday’ When It Came to Having Kids and I’m waiting for my first Washington Post On Parenting essay to be published, hopefully this month. I’m in waiting mode for a few things right now, refreshing my email more often than is healthy. Which is a clear sign I need to get back to writing. This week. Right now. Go, go, go!
February also brought SNOW. Oh, it wasn’t much, and some of it came while we were out of town, but the week before we left was a snowy/icy mess that kept this girl at home. The Florida trip (and hitting the pool on several days) was a good cure for cabin fever, but we returned to more cold temperatures and a dustying of snow last night. I’m over it. Seriously.
I’m over winter, but I did make these pretty ice globes!
March is going to be filled with its own adventures and trials and I’m looking for distractions—books, trips, projects, time with friends and family. In my goal to read at least two novels a month this year, I read Horns by Joe Hill and Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins and I started Precious Thing by Colette McBeth while we were in Florida. I loved both the Hill and Hawkins books and I’m enjoying Precious Thing, as well. My tastes seem to be skewing toward mystery/thriller/horror right now, much like my writing interests. We’ll see what that means for my March projects, hmm?
Back to the words, back to being a writer, back to finding my balance.