The tenor of my day went up exponentially when I found out that ABC is airing “Cupid” tonight at 10:00 p.m. 

The original version of “Cupid”, starring Jeremy Piven, was one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer in the first place.  I.  Loved.  That.  Show.  And I was equally heartbroken when it was yanked off the air before it really had a chance to catch on.  How anyone could not like the brilliant, rapid-fire dialog between Cupid and Claire, I have no idea, but I’m excited to see that the same producer from 11 years ago is on the project again.  (Rob Thomas; no, not the Rob Thomas who sang, “Little Wonders”.  At least, I’m assuming it’s not.  Who knows these days?)  No idea who the stars are, but I’m really hoping the show is as good in this incarnation as it was a decade ago. 

Because of “Cupid”, I’ve always wanted to write romantic comedy, but I knew going in that nothing I wrote could be half as good.  “Cupid” was Jeremy Piven’s big break in TV (I think he’d only been doing stand-up and bit parts ’til then), and from there he’s turned in some amazing performances.  Ari Gold still blows me away (check out this YouTube clip).  I’m sure the writers of “Entourage” are really good, but that aside, how does he do this? 

I haven’t looked forward to a show this much since “24” came back on the air.  To quote T.O., Get your popcorn ready; it’s gonna be a show!


The World Keeps Turning

I didn’t get much writing/editing done over the weekend, but the 5 hour drive to Rochester had a lot to do with that.  Still, the weekend was gorgeous and the drive wasn’t all rainy, and when we got home, it was like we brought the sunny weather back with us.  That is, until the monsoon from Reading blew through, but we were fortunate.  No hail.  (I’ll never forget driving through a storm with hail the size of golf balls pounding my then 3-month-old car.  Some of the dents are still visible in the hood.) 

Alas, the world keeps on turning.  I’m counting the hours ’til Friday, since I’m taking off next week while the boys are home from school.  So much for time off; I’ve already scheduled 2 doctor’s appointments, a mammogram, and 2 driving trips.  🙂  But if I don’t have to get up at 5:30, it’s still a holiday to me.

Hi Ho Silver!

Well, I’m back on that horse again.  I was down in the dumps for a few days following the Golden Heart calls (of which I was not a recipient), but I also had to focus on the revisions and final read-through of “Release Point”, which I think is about all that kept me from hanging up my PaperMate for good.  Last night, out of nowhere, I remembered that if I don’t believe in me first, who will?  I’m bringing about this negative energy by perpetuating it and allowing it to take over my emotions.  If I focus on positive energy and “I can do this”, it can happen.  Karma. 

So today’s the new Big Day.  I’m sending out a full submission, by request, and I’m telling myself that not only will this book sell but it will sell BIG.  And while that’s going on, I’m moving on to finishing up “Worlds Apart”.  I’ve been looking forward to it, particularly since I can’t get the Jude Cole song of the same name out of my head.  (I swear, it’s there every single morning.  I suspect the hero, Luke Holliday, is trying to tell me something.)  When that’s done, then I can go back to the other unfinished works in progress.  I’ve missed Gabe and Liz’s fun banter, and Nola and Calvin will be fascinating to meet.

And no, there’s no baseball whatsoever in “Worlds Apart”.  Luke used to play high school football, but that’s where the sports reference ends.  Sorry to disappoint anyone. 

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi Ho Silver!” Away!

Chasing Pavements

When I don’t know where to turn, usually I look to my iPod for direction.  It always seems like something comes on that throws an idea my way.  Inspiration, hope, courage.  All that fun stuff I can’t create for myself sometimes. 

The first thing I heard this morning was Green Day, “Holiday”.  The rapid-fire beat helped to try and kick the blues out of my head, since the Golden Heart calls went out yesterday and I didn’t get one.  Unfortunately the song is only about 3.5 minutes long; if it could go on for about 20 minutes, I’d probably be sick of it but I’d also be angry enough to find the adrenaline to push through the melancholy and keep going.  On the drive in, Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” came on, and it made me wonder, just as the song goes, “Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements, even if it leads nowhere?”

The crazy thing is, this isn’t as low as I’ve ever felt when it comes to my so-called writing career.  About two weeks ago, Robin L and I gave voice to the idea of hanging up our keyboards.  It just felt like all we ever hit was brick walls.  That was when I got the agent request and she found out she finaled in the Amazon Breakthrough contest.  Until I heard “I’d love to see this”, I thought there was no point in going on; I don’t write what’s marketable these days and that’s all there is to it. 

I’m still working on getting my submission ready to go out, and I hope to have that done today so I can leave for the weekend with a clear conscience.  I like how it’s coming out, and I still think it’s a good story.  Is it marketable?  I have no idea, but I’m writing what comes out of my heart, and that’s the best I can do.

I think what tempers me away from really hitting rock bottom is that I went to Willie’s memorial service last night.  Bad enough I cried in WalMart as I read through the sympathy cards–it should be against the law (since it goes against the law of nature) to need a sympathy card for a child–but to see that empty wheelchair at the front of the room last night, I completly lost it.  Debbie, his mom, and I hung on to each other for a while.  I thought I could be strong but I just couldn’t.  I asked if she’d seen the episode of “Ghost Whisperer” with the autistic boy who, once he crossed over to the other side, was “whole” again, and I told her, that’s how I see Willie now.  He’s whole and able and he’s laughing, and probably a little bit mad that we’re all crying over him.  She said she sees him as an otter, flying through the water, free and at ease.  I like that vision.  Next time I see an otter, I’m going to know that he’s Willie. 

There are more important things than the Golden Heart nomination.  Missing out on it still hurts, like the deepest damn paper cut you ever had, but paper cuts eventually heal.  I went home and toasted to Robin, who did final, and I toasted to Willie, who’s free now.  I hugged the boys and wished them good night.  (Alex will still let me kiss him goodnight; Ryan won’t.)  I got up this morning and I’m getting back in gear and moving on, because I can.  And because I have to.

Reality Check

Today is something of a tense day in the Romance Writers of America world.  Today the calls go out to the Golden Heart/Rita award finalists.  For those who don’t know, the GH (as it’s affectionately known) is THE contest for unpublished authors.  Finaling in the GH means you’re among the best of RWA’s up-and-coming writers.  My friend Laura Graham Booth has finaled twice in the GH, and my friend Robin Kaye finaled and won (and sold!) in the same year.  I’m so glad they let me hang out with them.  🙂

The Ritas are the Academy Awards of romance publishing.  They’re only for published authors and if you can final in that company, holy cow.  Among the probable finalists, in my mind, would be Nora Roberts and Jennifer Crusie.  (I have no idea if or what they’ve entered so don’t quote me on that.  I’m just giving you an idea what the Rita competition is like.)

I entered the Golden Heart for the second year in a row.  Last year I was blindly optimistic.  I thought “Release Point” was a sure-fire finalist; who would be stupid enough to say this work of remarkable genius wasn’t good enough for the GH?  Apparently, both my judges.  And I can’t say they were wrong.  Looking back at what I sent in, yes, it needed a lot of work.  You really have to be the  best of the best to final in the GH, and at that point, “Release Point” didn’t come close.  (I finished in the top half, which is still a good thing.) 

This year, after finaling in the NJRWA contest (Put Your Heart in a Book), I made some revisions and entered “Release Point” in The WRW Marlene contest, in which I was soundly beaten within an inch of my emotional life.  One 50/50 but also a 35 and a 29.  For some reason I look at the 50/50 and think, “How delusional are you?”  But I entered “Release Point” in the GH before I entered the Marlene, so I’m pretty sure I already know what my results are going to be.  In spite of my poor odds, though, my heart still wants to believe that my phone might ring today, and it’s not just the Red Cross looking for another donation.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the Golden Heart is a time-delayed self-inflicted wound.  It’s what happens when you shoot your self-esteem in the foot in November, but you don’t feel the pain ’til March.

In case you’re interested, Judi Fennell will be updating her blog throughout the day with a list of finalists who’ve contacted her.  She did this last year and it was a blast.

Quick update:  I didn’t final, but my friend Robin Lanier did, for her novel “For Love or Money”.  I’m SO excited for her!!

Not today

Sorry, I can’t post today.  Willie’s obituary was in the paper, and I can’t seem to stop crying.  He was only 15.  (He looked older when I saw him last.) 

I know there’s a story in this.  That morbid, bizarre part of my brain wants to write a story from Willie’s point of view, now that he’s on the other side and fully abled, the way he was supposed to be.  (I read “Angel Unaware” by Dale Evans when I was a kid and it really clicked with me.  The Natalie Merchant song, “Wonder”, also inspires me that same way.  I used to sing it to Alex before he was born, back before I knew anything about autism, let alone believed I might experience its effects.)  If anything, I’ll write what I can, if only to make myself feel better.  Nobody needs to read it.

I bet he’s smiling.

Sonnet 29

My favorite Shakespeare sonnet begins, “When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes/I all alone beweep my outcaste state/And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries/And look upon myself, and curse my fate.”

I started having one of those afternoons, after the caffeine wore off and the work day wore on.  I got home, took out the trash, and checked Alex’s notebook for homework assignments and saw a note from his teacher saying Willie (in another class) had passed away over the weekend.  I know a Willie in another class; his mother Debbie babysat Alex for almost 2 years, and Willie’s brother Charlie was good friends with Ryan until the boys went to different middle schools.  I still think of them often.  I went to get Alex from school a month or so ago, and I ran into Willie and one of his teacher’s in the hallway.  I couldn’t believe how much he’d grown since the last time I saw him.  (I wish there was a rule that boys aren’t allowed to grow mustaches until they move out of their parents’ houses, so that until then, their mothers don’t have to accept that their baby isn’t a baby anymore.) 

The Willie I knew was born with severe cerebral palsy and while everyone knew he’d never have the same quality of life as a “normal” child, his parents did the best they could to ensure that he was happy, safe, and as healthy as possible.  He required 24/7 care but as the saying goes, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.  My mom once told me she was proud of me for getting through all Ryan’s medical issues when he was younger, to which I replied, “I didn’t know there was an option.”  It’s just what you do for your child.  God put this baby in your hands and said, “Here.  Take good care of him and love him with all you’ve got,” and no matter what situation the baby is in, you do everything you can.  At least, the people with half a brain do that.  There are others that I shudder to think about.

I emailed Alex’s teacher and yes, the Willie that passed away is the Willie we knew.  It was sudden and unexpected, and I’m heartbroken for his family.  Practically speaking, I’d like to believe that this makes things easier for them; no more constant care, no more rearranging their lives for Willie’s sake.  He’s in a good place now; he’s safe and he’s happy and he’s fully abled in a way he wasn’t when he was here on earth with us.  I bet wherever he is, he’s smiling, missing his parents like crazy, wishing for a hug from his mom or a laugh from his dad or a kind word from his little brother.

I can’t fathom what his mom and dad and brother Charlie are going through right now.  I don’t even want to try to imagine myself in their shoes.  I only pray that they’ll find peace again, soon, and they know that the love they shared with Willie over his few years has gone on with him, and he’s on the other side now, shining through it. 

God bless you, Willie.  I’m so happy you were here.  We’ll miss you.

Quotable Quotes

I don’t usually have coffee first thing in the morning, but we were out of instant (John has instant at home in the mornings, I have green tea) so John, being the sweetheart that he is, made a pot of real coffee.  I don’t know how I ever got through Mondays before I discovered coffee.  (Mind you, my coffee is jacked up; I pour the cup, then add GFIC mocha flavoring, which is meant to be enjoyed as coffee on its own; fill a cup with hot water, add mocha, stir and enjoy.  I’m stirring coffee mix into actual, full-caf coffee.  Yes, I was bouncing off the walls this morning, why do you ask?)

Anyway, I think between the coffee, the coming new moon, and redisccovering some great music on iTunes, I must’ve been a little hyper-emotional this morning.  Seinfeld last week replayed the episode with Elaine’s father, the one where George can’t get “Master of the House” from Les Miserables out of his head.  This inspired me to pull out the soundtrack.  The real version of “Master of the House” didn’t quite hit John the same way it hit George, but in looking over the songs, I remembered how intense the finale was, so I downloaded it to my iPod to listen to it again.  And then I forgot about it. 

This morning, fully dosed up on high-test caffeine, I put the iPod on in the car and the Les Mis finale came on.  The crescendo usually gives me chills anyway, but before that, when Jean ValJean is dying and he sings, “Does Cozette forbid me now to die?  I’ll obey; I will try”, it tapped on a nerve because once I’m finished reading through “Release Point” one last time, I’m moving on to complete “Worlds Apart”.  (My Book in a Week project; 55K words are down already but it needs to be fleshed out more.)  Luke is dead when the story begins, but at the end, he has to let Kate go on to live her life. 

That line from Les Mis that I mentioned above wasn’t what hit me, though.  I was driving in to work with tears streaming down my face when I heard this:

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” 

Maybe it loses its impact without the harmony or the angelic voices singing as Jean ValJean fades into the afterlife, but lines like that are why I will keep writing as long as I possibly can.

Or until the Golden Heart calls on Wednesday, when as Brooks & Dunn sang, “My phone ain’t ringing; is it you ain’t calling?”  But if (WHEN!) Robin and Laura get a call, I’ll be happier for them than I might’ve been for me.  Promise!

I’m still here

Still busy with my project. Matter of fact, I’m down to the last scene on the last page, and I’m dodging having to finish it because that would mean, well, the story’s officially over.  That’s what I keep telling myself, but I’ve finished different incarnations of this manuscript at least 4 times already.  The only difference is, this time really feels like IT.  The End.  The motivation works, the bad guy is a really bad guy (and I’m hoping no one sees it early on; the obvious bad guy is a red herring), and there’s even a theme:  HOME.  He had it and lost it; she thought she had it but she was wrong.  It wasn’t until they came together that they found what they needed the most. 

I’m even considering changing the title from Release Point to No Place Like Home (but that’s been done a few hundred times already).  Maybe “Long Way Home”?  I like the ring of that, but yesterday I was “channeling the universe”, as it were, when I came upon a t-shirt in the boys section of WalMart.  It had a picture of a baseball, glove, and home plate, and beneath it was “No Place Like Home”, and I got that old 2×4-between-the-eyes feeling again.  I love it when that happens. 

Okay, back to work.  Yay!

Absentee Blogging

Two days, no posts?  Yeah, I know, I’ve been truant.  Sorry!  But I’ve been thick in rewrites for Release Point since Friday and it’s been going well.  An agent showed some interest and I want to be sure this puppy SHINES.  I skipped all TV (except the bottom of the 9th in the WBC US/Puerto Rico game) and didn’t even knit a stitch last night.  It’s a lucky thing the boys’ dinners are patterned or I’d be in trouble.  My mind is elsewhere but lately it also seems the Universe is cheering me on.  This morning I turned on the radio as I got dressed—my usual routine—and it played 2 songs from my Release Point playlist, one of which pointed me in the direction in which I need to change the plot. 

The funny thing is that a week ago I was debating hanging up my keyboard, as was my friend Robin.  We were commiserating, bemoaning the lack of any sort of good news in our writing careers, when I got the request and she found out she’s a semifinalist in the Amazon Breakout Novel contest.  (Go look for “Rules of the Road”; trust me, you won’t be disappointed!)  We both needed this SO much!! 

Anyway, RP is very close to ready, which will be a WONDERFUL thing!  Back to the grindstone!!