I’m still here!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. I’m sorry about that, but things have been crazy. Today I’ll update you on what I’ve been doing and what’s next for me.

The last time I wrote, in mid-February, I announced that I’d signed with a literary agent. Shortly after I posted that blog, I received my agent’s editorial notes on my manuscript. Then we had a phone call to discuss my revisions. The edits took me about two months. Initially, I was nervous about making the changes, but I also recognized that the book would be so much stronger when I was finished. I’m currently awaiting her comments on the revised version. I’m guessing there will be at least one more round of edits, but hopefully, I did a really great job and the next set will be smaller changes and not take as long. My biggest worry is that I made the book worse, but I honestly don’t think that’s the case. I was so confident when I sent the revisions back. Fear is making me second-guess everything. I told my agent I was willing to do whatever it took to get the book in the best possible condition to go out on submission to editors and I meant it. While I wait, I’m trying to work on my next book—“trying” being the operative word. Authors are always encouraged to keep writing throughout the “waiting” process, whether that means while in the query trenches waiting to hear back from agents, when they are out on submission with editors, and in my case, waiting to receive my agent’s comments on my edits. It is so hard to work on one book when the fate of another book you’ve poured your soul into rests in someone else’s hands, but the advice is good. Once I’m writing my new book, I momentarily forget about my other one, but getting myself to the computer is the hard part.

On another note, my restricted diet is not doing enough to sooth my stomach discomfort. I’d resigned myself to feeling 80% of how I used to feel (on a good day) and then decided it was foolish to assume there was nothing else that could be done to increase my comfort level/decrease my discomfort level. I shouldn’t have to settle, so I went back to my GI doctor hoping she’d be able to recommend something else I could do in combination with the diet to increase my comfort, for example, medicine. After a second examination, she thinks I have something called SIBO—Small intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. It sounds gross, but there is a treatment that seems to work on a lot of people in the nature of an antibiotic called Xifaxan. It’s supposed to reset my flora to where it was before the suffering began. I’m not sure I understand the scientific lingo, but if it makes me feel better, I don’t really care. I’ve been in chronic pain for almost two years now and it’s negatively impacted so many aspects of my life. I will do just about anything to feel healthy again. I’ll most likely have to stay on a restricted diet, but I might feel 90-95% instead of 80%. The diet is not so bad. What’s bad is depriving myself of so many foods I previously enjoyed and still feeling crappy. I’m starting the antibiotic next week because my doctor stressed eating very carefully while on it and for two weeks after. I wanted to fully enjoy Memorial Day Weekend and author friends coming into town next week for the Book Expo America conference (“BEA”) and that means having some cocktails and eating in places where completely controlling my diet is not possible. After next week, I will fully commit to putting myself in the best possible condition for the antibiotic to work. Wish me luck!

Memorial Day Weekend is coming to a close. I had a great one. I spent time at my rooftop pool reading, I got a full-body massage at Bliss, I went for drinks with one of my dearest friends, and I relaxed. I go back to work tomorrow for two days and then I’m off again on Thursday and Friday. I have so much to look forward to in the coming week thanks to BEA and BookCon that two days in the office seems completely bearable. Famous last words!

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Me and my friend Dee!

That’s all for me. I’ll try not to wait three months before posting another blog. In the meantime, I hope you’re all having a wonderful long weekend!

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I got an agent! (Part Two)

Yesterday, I told you why I decided to seek an agent after so many years. Today, I’ll share a little bit about what it was like for me in the query trenches.

I’d hoped to start querying in September, 2018 but revisions of the book took me longer than expected. My next goal was “by Thanksgiving.” As it turned out, I wasn’t ready until early December. I considered waiting until after the new year but since so many agents on my list were open to queries and I was ready, I chose not to wait.

Over the course of the first week, I sent out about 25 queries. I worried this time around would be no different than when I’d queried my first book—no requests. But I got two requests for the full manuscript almost immediately. But then I got my first rejection on a full two days later. I received several partial requests within the first two weeks, followed by a rejection of one of them soon thereafter. It took three weeks for any of my queries to be rejected flat out but once the first came, many more followed. But then there were more full and partial requests to remove the sting. This time was VERY different than a decade ago and it was dizzying!

There was one person who knew everything as it happened, whether it was a form rejection, a pass on requested material, a partial/full request etc. I often apologized for sharing every little thing, but to me, they were all big things. But for the most part, I kept the process to myself. As excited as I’d get about a full request, I knew it didn’t guarantee an offer of rep. I didn’t want to get mine or anyone else’s hopes up.

Each rejection caused a wave of sadness, hopefulness, and fear. Whether it was because it “wasn’t right for their list,” “not what they were looking for at this time,” or they “didn’t connect to the [insert: characters, voice, story] as much as they’d hoped,” it stung. But I became very adept at talking myself off the ledge. (My friend helped too.) I understood that in order to offer representation, not only would the agent need to love my book, but she’d need to feel confident she could sell it, and she’d have to feel passionate enough about it to do the work without any guarantee of ever getting paid. Those are major hurdles to clear! Each agent who wasn’t intrigued by the premise or didn’t “get” the book allowed me the opportunity to find the one who did. I wanted the one who did! And you can only sign with one. Sometimes it takes a lot of time (and queries) to find the right match. The only thing that guarantees failure is giving up too soon!

I had some bad days. In one twelve-hour period, I received four form rejections. It made me question whether it was ever going to happen for me. But in the same week, I had my first phone call with an agent as well as a request for a call with a different agent who ultimately became my agent—Melissa Edwards from Stonesong Literary.

I found Melissa on Twitter when she’d tweeted that her #MSWL (Manuscript Wishlist) included high-concept approachable romantic comedies. I had one of those! Further research disclosed she’d sold a lot of books to Big Five and other major publishers. Ideally, this is where I wanted to land. I also liked her personality. Since I’d be working closely with her, a nice disposition was important.

I queried Melissa on December 6th. According to her website, she only responds to queries when she is interested in reading more material. I hadn’t heard from her by the time I left for my annual writer’s retreat to California on January 15th, but when I landed at San Francisco International Airport, there was an email from her requesting the full! My writing tribe cheered the request. I was thrilled. But during that vacation, I also received a form rejection from one agent and a rejection on a partial from another. Dizzying!

When I got home from my trip, I queried a few more agents. Then I decided to pause the process while awaiting feedback on the fulls/partials I already had out. I didn’t want to exhaust my full list of agents in case the consensus was that the manuscript needed extensive revisions.

Then, on Thursday, January 31st, Melissa sent me an email. She asked a few general questions but didn’t comment on my book. I assumed she wouldn’t have engaged me in conversation if she hated the manuscript or was even lukewarm about it. But what did it mean? I answered her questions and spent the next twenty-four hours analyzing what she must be thinking and waiting for her next move. She wrote again on Friday to tell me she’d love to have a call to discuss my book and was I available the following week? Um, YES, I WAS AVAILABLE! We scheduled a call for the following Tuesday at 10 a.m. (February 5th)

I knew that a request for a call didn’t necessarily mean she was going to offer representation. It was possible this was an R&R call—a revise and resubmit. I braced myself for either one, but I hoped so hard it was “The call!” In the meantime, I spent all weekend reading posts online and watching videos on Youtube about questions to ask so I’d be prepared.

Finally, Tuesday arrived. My hands were shaking, and I thought I might throw up, but by the time we ended the call, I had an offer of representation! Melissa loved the book and she shared my vision for it. With each question she answered, I became more and more excited about the prospect of signing with her. But I didn’t accept her offer that day. She knew there were other agents reading the book and she gave me two weeks to let them know I’d received an offer and give them a chance to either offer as well or step aside.
At this point, I had four other amazing agents reading the full. I also had three reading the partial and several other outstanding queries. After I did my happy dance and emailed my best friend to tell her the news, I notified the other agents of my offer and gave them until February 15th to get back to me. Everyone was so gracious. Those with the full promised they’d finish reading and get back to me quickly, many requested the full, and several politely stepped aside.

It was a great position to be in because I already had an offer from an agent I was excited about. But it didn’t mean the next set of rapid rejections didn’t sting or make me second guess myself or the marketability of the book. One of the agents with the full told me she’d been waffling over the manuscript because she really liked it, but she didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm as the offering agent. A few more complimented the story and my writing but said they didn’t feel the sufficient level of passion required to take me on. Some said they just didn’t connect. These passes hurt, but then I remembered that I already had what I wanted all along: a reputable agent who loved my book, felt confident she could sell it, and was passionate enough about the project to take it on without any guarantee of compensation.

I accepted Melissa’s offer on Friday, February 15th. Then I withdrew my manuscript from consideration from the few who hadn’t responded yet. Shortly after, one of those agents told me she loved the book and had been about to offer representation as well! I’m not gonna lie, having another agent want to rep me was validating and felt amazing. But I had no regrets about already accepting Melissa’s offer. I’d found my one and I couldn’t be happier about it.

I received an offer two months and two days from the date I sent out my first query letter. I’m aware that my journey wasn’t long relative to many others seeking agent representation. I consider myself fortunate. I tried to mentally prepare for a much longer process. I read blog posts and watched Youtube videos by authors who sent out 100s of queries over several years before getting an agent. These authors inspired me with their success stories and persistence and implored me to keep going after each rejection. Although the wait wasn’t long in duration, it felt interminable at times. I was an emotional wreck. My mood/state of mind vacillated daily depending on whether I’d get a request for a partial/full or a form rejection. I suffered from writer’s block even though I knew the best thing to do was to work on my next book.

I know that having an agent doesn’t guarantee my book will sell. I’m sure I will worry, sweat, and lose sleep over the submission process when the time comes. (I’ll be revising with Melissa before we go on sub.) But for now, my dream of signing with a literary agent has come true and I’m going to celebrate it!

My stats:
Total queries sent: 52
Form rejections: 19
Total rejections: 34
No response: 15
Referrals to colleague: 1
Partial requests: 6
Full requests before offer: 6
Full requests after offer (total): 10
Offers: 2

I got an agent! (Part One)

I made a big announcement on social media yesterday: I signed with a literary agent!

Since I’ve already had seven books published, some of you might wonder if I’ve already published seven books without an agent, why get one now? Or maybe you assumed I already had an agent.

I tried to get an agent with my first novel about a decade ago. Even though I workshopped my query letter and had my book critiqued by a professional and several beta readers, I didn’t get a single request for a partial or a full after almost a year. Not deterred, I researched smaller publishers who took unagented submissions. I submitted to a few of them and got a contract. One contract led to many more over the course of eight years.

My desire for a literary agent and a major publishing deal waned as I released more books with small publishers and built my fanbase. I was having so much fun writing and connecting with the readers that I didn’t want to pause the journey to query agents. I also enjoyed the extra money! Traditional publishing moves very slow and I had too many books to write and too little patience to wait years!

A combination of factors contributed to me changing my mind: Spending more time with traditional authors and following their successes, watching my very good friends enter the query trenches and emerge with an agent they loved who believed in their talent, and my own career and fanbase not taking off/building as quickly as I wanted it to despite working so hard. I yearned for more marketing support, but mostly I wanted a partner/advocate (agent!) to help me navigate my career. I decided that after I fulfilled my contract with my current publisher, I was going to query my next novel. Unlike in the past, I wasn’t happy with the status quo. Timing is everything and I finally had the patience to wait.

I began researching agents even before I finished the first draft of the book. I used Query Tracker, Manuscript Wishlist, Publishers Marketplace, and Absolute Write to curate a list of agents who were open to queries and seeking submissions in romantic comedy, contemporary romance, or fun women’s fiction. I looked at each agent’s sales history. If they were a new agent, I looked at their agency in general. I created a list on Twitter of just agents to keep track of the types of books they were seeking and to get a general sense of their personality. I checked comments on Query Tracker for response rates. I stalked their reputations on Absolute Write. Although the pitch and bio parts of my query letter never changed, I tailored my first sentence to each agent, and I prepared the introductions ahead of time. If they’d tweeted about seeking more romantic comedies, I wrote that. If my book was similar in theme to one of their client’s, I mentioned it. I was very strategic in who I queried, and I wanted each agent to know there was a reason I chose them. Even though my manuscript wasn’t completed yet, I participated in Speed Pitch at RWA 2018 in Denver and met more than 10 agents and editors who invited me to send them material upon completion of the book. I knew this wouldn’t guarantee me an offer of representation but being able to put “RWA Speed Pitch” in the subject line of the query would at least get me noticed in the slush pile.

When the book was finished, I did what I always do—gave it to my beta readers. They knew I wanted brutal honesty and they gave it to me. My critique partner read it about four times—before and after the betas—and each time she pulled more and more out of me. I was exhausted. I hated her sometimes. But mostly, I was so grateful she helped me take the manuscript to a new level. Agents constantly implore writers not to query until there is nothing more we can do without their help. My support system helped me get there.

Now the book was ready, but I still had to nail the query letter and synopsis. And I thought I did. Many times. Only to be told by several people that they still weren’t good enough. The letter wasn’t “hooky” enough. The synopsis didn’t pull them in. I whimpered, I pulled on my hair until my scalp hurt, I screamed. I took my frustrations out on the friend who was helping me the most: “The book is about what the book is about! If it’s not a big enough hook, I might as well give up now!” This friend took it in stride, as true friends do. She assured me that the book had an amazing premise and hook and that I just needed a better pitch. Then she implored me to ask our other friend, one who works magic with marketing copy, to help. And she did! She read the entire manuscript and helped me tweak both my query letter and my synopsis so that everything she adored about the book shined through.

With a polished manuscript, a solid query letter, both a one-to-two-page and three-to-five-page synopsis, and a list of vetted agents in hand, I was finally ready to start querying! I was pumped!

I was also scared out of my freaking mind!

Spoiler alert: I got an agent! But come back tomorrow for part two and I’ll share how it happened.

2018: Year in Review

As 2018 comes to a close, I thought I’d post my year in review. I cannot believe how quickly the year flew by, although every year seems to pass quicker than the last. It’s scary, yet it doesn’t stop me from constantly looking forward to something in the future rather than making sure to appreciate each day as it comes. Alas, that is a subject for another blog post!

This year came with a lot of changes. For one, my diet changed significantly since I was unofficially diagnosed with IBS at the end of last year. For the most part, I’ve given up wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup, and lactose and all the foods and beverages that contain them. There are a lot of them! I’ve learned how much and how often my system can handle certain ingredients and how to portion control to avoid an outbreak of symptoms. It’s been a challenge but for the most part, I feel SO much better than I did this time last year. The constant full/bloated feeling has subsided by about 80%. Going out to eat (and sharing appetizers) is trickier, but my friends and family have been so supportive in this regard!

I broke ties with the group of women I’d socialized with most often over the last few years. I have a lot of other close friends but since most of them aren’t local, my social life took a bit of a beating. To be honest, I was 100% okay with that. Because of the faith/love/support shown to me by my other friends, and knowing they were a phone call away and always had my back, I didn’t mind losing the company of women who no longer provided that level of friendship or wanted it from me. I still feel a pang of hurt over the way things went down, mostly because my argument was with only one woman and yet I somehow became persona non grata to several more. I shrug it off because I obviously overestimated the strength of the other relationships and you can’t miss what you never really had. I am happier now and more comfortable and confident in my social circles than I’ve been in a long time. I also have a greater appreciation of the ease of friendship I share with my other pals—some for two decades—and the freedom to be myself.

I made significant progress in my writing this year. My seventh romantic comedy was published in April and I completed another one, including rounds and rounds (and rounds) of revisions and edits from outside critique partners and beta readers. Until now, I’ve had publishing contracts in advance of completing a book and set release dates. That is not the case for my newest novel. I don’t know when it will be published because I’m seeking a different path this time around and it might take a very long time. In the meantime, I’ve started plotting out my next book and can’t wait to lose myself in another fictional world.

I attended three writer’s conferences this year, both to hone my craft and network. I became more involved in my local writing community and spent more time attending (and participating in) book signings and readings, and dining with other authors/bloggers/publishing professionals.

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 100 books so far this year! Favorites include One Day in December by Josie Silver, The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, Limelight by Amy Poepell, On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Ried.

I’m dating here and there, but there is nothing monumental to report on that front as of now 😊

Thanks to AncestryDNA, I connected with a cousin I never knew I had. Her great grandmother and my grandfather (on my father’s side) were sister and brother. The discovery had me shedding happy, sappy tears! We’re going to meet for dinner after the new year.

I’m still at the day job and happy to report that there is nothing to report there: I still have a job, a steady pay check, health insurance, and a 401k. Yay!

I don’t take the good health of my parents and other close relatives for granted and I’m happy to say that everyone is doing well.

With 16 days left on the calendar, that is my year in review for 2018 so far. Best wishes to you all for a merry and healthy holiday season.

Build me up Buttercup

Every so often, I get down on myself and I vow to be more positive, accepting, and appreciative of who I am. I considered writing down the qualities I like about myself, much like people jot down “grateful” lists. And then I decided to not only write the list, but to post it as a blog. So, here I go: Some things I like about myself:

I never completely lose hope. Even when things are going wrong—in the world, with my books, in my love life, with friends—I’ve never yet reached a point where I feel completely hopeless. I’m a bit like Little Orphan Annie in that I know things might royally suck today, but “the sun will come out tomorrow.” If I’m wrong, at least my “glass-is-half-full” outlook got me through the day.

When I love someone, I really, really love that person. I’ll admit that while I *like* a lot of people, the list of individuals I love is smaller, but I would do anything for them. I think it’s just as wonderful a feeling to truly care about someone as it is to know someone truly cares about you. (Of course, this does not include toxic, abusive, or otherwise “unbalanced” relationships.)

I am willing to work really hard for what I want. That’s not to say I don’t accept help when it’s offered (or ask for it), but I’d rather do the heavy lifting to make my dreams come true, even if it’s painful and tests my patience, than accept something less than what I want because the journey is easier or will take less time. (Someone please remind me of this in the coming months as it relates to my next book being published…)

I’m funny. I’m not Tiny Fey stand-up-comedienne funny, but my particular brand of sense of humor is appreciated by many. (And it helps with my writing.)

I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong and own up to my mistakes. I can apologize. Think about the people in your life. I bet you can find at least a couple who never say they’re sorry or even acknowledge their role in anything negative. I’d rather be wrong and admit it than always think I’m right. And by admitting when you’re wrong, you learn about the other person—how willing they are to forgive or meet you halfway.

I don’t take my loved ones for granted. I’m not sure I was always this way, but losing someone I loved more than just about anything or anyone else in the world opened my eyes to how quickly things can change.

I know when to let go. I tend to hold onto things for a long time because of the aforementioned “glass-is-half-full” mentality. Because of this, I’ve stayed in relationships (platonic and romantic) for too long because I gave someone the benefit of the doubt or assumed things would get better. But I have a threshold and once it’s met and I realize things are shitty and not likely to change, I acknowledge that I deserve better and I move on without looking back (much). On the one hand, I wish it didn’t take me quite so long to reach my limit, but on the flip side, I never want to get to a point where I’m easily able to turn my back on someone I once cared about without even trying to resolve our issues.

I possess the ability to forgive. People, even really great ones, screw up sometimes. It’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.” I don’t believe in unconditional forgiveness, as there are some things that are unforgivable, but I’ve found that I am a happier and healthier person when I don’t hold onto my anger. This is especially true if a person has expressed sincere remorse, but it’s also possible to forgive someone in your heart without them even knowing.

I’m easy to please. Just treat me kindly, show me you appreciate and accept me, listen when I speak, make me laugh, laugh with me (and at me in a kindly manner), allow me to respectfully disagree with you sometimes, have my back, and trust I have yours, and we’re good.

I’m not a follower. I try to form my own opinions about people rather than blindly take someone else’s word for it. I try to understand that a person’s negative feelings about another is based on their own experience with said person and that there are three sides to every story—person A, person B, and the objective truth.

I prefer understanding and kindness over making fun of others for entertainment value.

I’m a work-in-progress. I embrace learning and becoming a better person.

Well, that’s all for now. If you know and like me, feel free to comment about how great I am! Kidding! But, if you’d like, share any qualities you appreciate in yourself in the comments.

Idle October

I sent my latest book to three beta readers this weekend after already doing a heavy round of edits with a critique partner. There’s nothing left for me to do right now besides wait—something I’m not very good at.  I asked my beta readers to try to get the book back to me by the end of month, but if I have to wait longer, I will. Honest, thorough, constructive criticism from trusted and unbiased third parties is critical to me for crafting a tight, well-paced, engaging, and sell-able book, so my self-imposed deadline is flexible. With the book temporarily out of my hands, October is kind of open for me, and I’m not one to remain idle for too long. I’m doing a manuscript critique for a new client (learn about my editing services here), I’ll work on my next book, and I suppose I’ll relax.  What? I know. Crazy, right?

I’ve decided to say yes to all social invitations (within reason), when I often think twice to make sure I leave room for writing. I’ll reach out to friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’ll probably give online dating another try, although I truly hate how casual the exercise has become and don’t have high hopes. Does anyone know an available, intelligent, funny, kind, attractive man around 39-53 so I don’t have to join Ok Cupid or Plenty of Fish? Anyone? I didn’t think so.

On a bright note, I’ll be a featured author at Saugatuck Storyfest, a three-day celebration of writing taking place from October 12th-14th, and organized by the Westport Library and the Westport Public Schools. If you’re local and around that Sunday morning, join me at Staples High School for an author breakfast. It’s general admission with no advanced ticketing required. I’ll be joined by authors Jamie Brenner, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, Fiona Davis, Lynda Loigman Cohen and more. We’ll be discussing our writing process, what’s new in our respective genres, authors who’ve inspired us, and what we are reading now. I would love to see you there!

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That’s all for me for today, but I’m also hoping to be more active on the blog this month.

Famous last words

Win a bundle of RomCom books!

Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you.

I’ve teamed up with 15+ fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Romantic Comedy & Chick Lit novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner!

You can win my novel  THE BOYFRIEND SWAP, plus books from authors like Melissa Baldwin and Whitney Dineen — just by following me and other great Romantic Comedy & Chick Lit authors on BookBub!

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/romcomchicklit-aug18

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Good luck and enjoy!

Weekly (er, Monthly) update

Remember that blog post I wrote a couple months back where I promised to blog much more often? Yes, that one. You’ve probably realized by now that I lied. I really tried, but time (and life) got away from me and a weekly blog post slipped through my fingers like sand from the beach vacation I haven’t taken yet this year.

You might be wondering what’s been keeping me so busy that I reneged on my promise to blog. No? Well, too bad because I’m going to tell you everything anyway! Well, maybe not everything

I spent a week in Denver in mid-July. I stayed at my oldest sister’s house for the first few days. One-on-one time with my big sis was my biggest priority and we accomplished it. As a family, we day-tripped to Red Rocks Arena. The altitude is no joke. I run approximately twenty miles a week and I was breathless after only a few steps! I went on a mini-hike with my sister and youngest niece. And my sister was shocked to learn I’d never seen the Ocean’s series, so we watched Ocean’s 11 and Oceans 12 in one sitting. A moment of silence for George Clooney. I also managed to write at least 1000 words of my new novel from her back porch while the rest of the family was at work/camp. Since I wasn’t expecting to write at all, it was a win!

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Sisters 1 and 3 at Red Rock. (There are three of us)

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Is this beautiful or what?

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A rare solo photo

After three days with the fam, I headed downtown for the Romance Writers of America Conference (RWA). It was the first time I’ve attended the conference and I was a hot ball of nerves! But I’m so glad I went! I reunited with online author friends I hadn’t seen in person in years (or ever), attended fabulous sessions on craft and marketing, and met with industry professionals, including agents and editors. One of my favorite sessions was The Writer’s Guide to Getting it All Done. Balancing my writing career with a full-time job and a personal life is a challenge, and the speaker, Sarra Cannon, provided so many amazing tips on how to prioritize tasks based on your ultimate writing goals. I’d never really visualized my dream writing career, and doing so helped me figure out what activities to focus on or toss aside depending on whether they would bring me closer to accomplishing my goal. I’m also a fan of Sarra’s young adult series, The Shadow Demons. I picked up the first one when it was free on Amazon and got so sucked in that I read the entire series!

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Dinner with my fellow authors from Chick Lit Chat

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From left to right, Kathryn Biel, Melissa Baldwin, Becky Monson, Stacey Wiedower, Kate O’Keefe, and me 🙂

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The gang from Chick Lit Chat again.

One of the highlights of the conference was meeting my writing idol, Kristan Higgins. She was moderating an early (very early…) writing sprint with another one of my faves, Tawna Fenske, and I couldn’t resist having them both in the same room at the same time! After the sprint, and approximately three hundred new words later, I summoned the courage to introduce myself to Kristan. I told her she’s not only one of my favorite authors, but she inspires me to be better. It’s true. I purposely read a Kristan Higgins’ book when I need a swift kick in the butt to up the humor, conflict, and swoon-worthy moments in my own work-in-progress. She seemed genuinely touched by the comment and hugged me. Kristan Higgins HUGGED me!!!

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That’s also my author friend (and amazing RWA roommie), Stacey Wiedower!

I returned from the trip incredibly motivated and anxious to continue working on my new book. It’s a romantic comedy for fans of Sally Thorne and (you guessed it) Kristan Higgins.  Hopefully, fans of Meredith Schorr will like it, too! That’s all I’m going to say about it right now…

I’ve also been busy with the day job, but nobody wants to hear about that!

Now that I’ve caught you up, it’s time to get my butt back in the seat…of my new writing desk. Check it out!

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Until next time (hopefully next week, but no promises)

XOXO

I will never stop.

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the day I lost my best friend, Alan, to cancer.

July has been hard for me since he’s been gone. The long Fourth of July weekend has become less about day drinking and fireworks than it is a reminder of the day I spent getting drunk with a friend at the Seaport blissfully ignorant to the fact that Alan was on his death bed and I’d never see or speak to him again. During this month, the anger returns (why him?), the memories are more vivid, the sadness deeper.

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There are people I can talk to freely about this—others who loved Alan, folks who have also lost someone they truly loved and “get” it, and people who simply love me and hurt when I hurt.

Still, there are others who probably don’t get it. People who change the subject each time I bring up his name, as if the fact that I still miss the man after four years means something is wrong with me. Maybe they think there is a timeline for grieving and I’ve surpassed it; that our friendship had its time and should be put to rest like he was.

I don’t think these people mean me any harm, but it’s something I simply cannot do. I will always remember Alan as someone who truly made my life better. I will recall the day he died as one of the worst days of my life. (THE worst so far, if I’m being honest.) I will forever wonder what he’d say/do/think about the things I say/do/think. I’ll never stop laughing when I think of an inside joke we shared. I’ll never stop thinking of him whenever the clock says 10:27 (his birthday).  I will forever include him in the acknowledgements of my books. I will keep changing my profile picture on his birthday and the anniversary of his death. I will cry every July 8th and October 27th and whenever I watch The Long Island Medium or the subject of Leukemia comes up. I will never EVER forget him, stop cherishing the role he had in my life, or cease finding reasons to mention him in conversation. It’s my way of keeping him alive.

If you don’t like it, my advice to you: get ear plugs.

The Paris Theater

If you’ve read my books, you’ve probably noticed that there’s at least one reference to Sex and the City in most of them. It’s not a “thing” I do or even a conscious decision. I think it’s because the majority of my heroines have been single New Yorkers. Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha are iconic single New Yorkers who experienced quite the dating life. They also exchanged some of the wittiest banter on television, in my opinion.

When my friend, Lily, asked if I wanted to see The Seagull at The Paris Theater with a couple of her friends, I initially said yes because I was impressed with the cast, including Annette Benning, Elizabeth Moss, Brian Dennehy, and Michael Zegen (from my favorite show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime). Then she reminded me that, in one episode of SATC, Carrie went to The Paris Theater and mused that “the most amazing thing about living in a city like New York is that any night of the week you can go to Paris.” After living in Manhattan for more than fifteen years, I’ve made it to many of the venues frequented in the show, by not The Paris Theater. I was in!

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So, this past weekend, four of us (Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda—kidding!) met for a quick dinner at the food court in the Plaza Hotel, followed by a trip to the Eloise store, before heading over to the theater for the movie. We sat in the first row of the balcony. It would have been very romantic if we were on a date, but we weren’t so…we just enjoyed our popcorn (or I enjoyed mine, since I was the only one incapable of sitting through a movie sans popcorn despite having just eaten a delicious gluten-free lobster roll and a bag of chips.)

About the movie: It was very well acted, very humorous at times, but not at all uplifting, which is fine. The books I write need happily-ever-afters, but not necessarily the films I watch. I especially enjoyed that one of the main characters was a novelist. Here is a snippet from his monologue about the “curse” of being a novelist:

Day and night I am held in the grip of one besetting thought, to write, write, write! Hardly have I finished one book than something urges me to write another, and then a third, and then a fourth–I write ceaselessly. I am, as it were, on a treadmill. I hurry forever from one story to another, and can’t help myself.

Boy, could I relate!

About the theater: In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen quite a few movies in big multiplex theaters where the seats recline, but I’ll take the glamorous, old-school, single-screen theater of The Paris Theater any day of the week. And the cool spiral staircase that led from the lobby to the balcony was pretty cool too! Although I didn’t really feel like I was in Paris, I felt a special fondness for New York City, Sex and the City, and my own fabulous girlfriends.

I wish I’d had the forethought to take more pictures. But if you’re a New Yorker or just visiting and want to channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw, or simply escape the masses of the AMCs and Loews of the island, definitely check out The Plaza Theater!