Jealousy

When I told a close author friend recently how much I hoped all the hard work she was putting into revising her suspense novel would result in a sale to a prestigious publisher, a lucrative advance, and a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, she expressed how much it meant to her that my wishes for her success were genuine because it was evidence of how much I truly loved her. This introduced a discussion about other authors who are not always as supportive because they are too jealous or bitter about their own journeys to embrace another writer’s success. While I am always happy for and supportive of my fellow authors, I admit it is sometimes too easy to compare their success to my own and come out lacking.

I’m friends with several authors on Facebook whose newest books were released this month by traditional New York City publishers to serious fanfare. The authors’ readings at local bookstores were packed with fans clamoring for a signed copy as well as other impressive guests such as well-known local authors, editors, publicists, etc. Reviews of their books were written up in popular magazines and newspapers, and their first week Amazon rankings hit bestseller lists in both ebook and print formats. As thrilled as I was for these authors, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy as I compared these releases with the publication of own last novel which did well by my own standards, but compared to the likes of these other novelists, not so much.

I confided my inferiority complex to a non-author friend who responded with these words of wisdom, paraphrased for the purposes of this blog: she assured me that I was every bit as much of an author as these writers regardless of the level of success achieved thus far. And she reminded me that no matter how many books I sold or how famous I might become, there would always be authors who were both more successful and less successful than I, and all I could do was keep writing. And she was right. In fact, several of my author friends have told me they wished they sold as many books as I did. One went as far as to say she wanted to be me when she grew up. The statement made me laugh, but it goes to show that the measure of success depends on the person doing the measuring.

I can’t say I won’t continue to experience pangs of jealousy from time to time, but I hope these feelings will inspire me to keep honing my writing skills so that each book I put out is better than the next. It’s unfortunate that some people, in any field, prefer to surround themselves only with people to whom they can feel superior. To the contrary, I love having role models I can look up to and learn from. And lucky for me, I have so many successful writer friends who are so very generous with their knowledge.

How do you turn potentially unhealthy feelings of inferiority into something constructive?

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Master of my own universe

These days, I’ve been actively trying to take control of my own happiness rather than relying on others, circumstance, luck, or fate to bring it to me. This post outlines two recent instances where I took action to be the master of my own universe. In this blog post, I am publicly giving myself a pat on the back and saying, “Go Meri!”

After spending time with my writer friends, I’m always super motivated to improve the quality of my writing and try new things for marketing. I also feel so understood by my author buddies because they share so many of my dreams and frustrations, and if they don’t have the answers to my questions, it’s usually because they are seeking them as well. Being united in cluelessness is pretty bonding. My friendships with some of these people go beyond our shared writer identities. I’ve gotten to know and love them as individuals, which only adds to the positive effect they have on my life. Unfortunately, most of these friends do not live close enough for me to see them with frequency, and we are limited to communication mostly by email and social media. Although I can’t simply clone the heart of these people in my hometown, I’ve been wishing I could at least find a group of published authors in the city who would want to meet in person monthly and dish about writing, publishing, marketing etc. There are plenty of groups out there for writers in general and still more for people looking for feedback in their writing, but I’d never seen a club for published authors who simply want to talk shop over a drink, coffee, snack etc. Rather than continue to wait for someone else to organize such a group, I took matters into my own hands and I started one myself. Announced a week ago, the group already has close to 100 members, although meetings will be limited to fewer people, about 10-20. I hope this group yields the comradery I’m seeking, but if the result doesn’t meet my highest expectations, I’m still proud of myself for taking the initiative rather than leaving it in someone else’s hands.

I’ve also been trying to think outside of the box with respect to marketing my novels and my own author brand beyond the “usual.” Of course, I post blogs on my own website and am active on social media, but aside from that and the occasional sales of my individual books, I haven’t done much lately to really put myself out there. Because I have a full-time job as a paralegal, I prefer to spend my “writing” time working on my novels or my blogs. I rarely write guest posts for other authors unless the other author has a large following. It’s nothing personal to the author, but I really need to balance my marketing efforts with the time I have available and the likelihood that the results will be worth the time spent. But how does one find third party websites with the potential to reach a large, relevant audience? It would be wonderful if someone like Sophie Kinsella or Jennifer Weiner would invite me to post on her blog, or if Glamour or Cosmopolitan magazines came calling, but it’s highly improbable. But seeking out publications I think would appeal to my target reader and pitching my writing to them is something I can do. And so I did. I was told the pitch letter is as important as the article itself because if the person who reads the pitch is not sufficiently intrigued, they won’t ask to see the article. In my efforts to take matters into my own hands, I came up with an idea for an article, drafted a pitch letter (with the help of an author friend with more experience) and wrote the article (also with my friend’s keen eye). Thankfully, the pitch did its job by piquing the editor’s interest enough to ask to the see the article and I’m thrilled to say that my first ever article for a magazine “5 Tips for Making a First Impression inspired by The Bachelor” was published today in the Happy Ever After column of USA Today. You can read it here.

There is so much in this world that we cannot control, but some things in life do require us to make the first move in order to get anywhere and, to the extent possible, I want to continue to be the master of my own universe, both professionally and personally.

Guest Post/Giveaway – A.R. Rivera author of BETWEEN OCTOBERS out NOW!

I’m excited to invite A.R. Rivera, author of Between Octobers, to my blog today discussing “The Art of Falling” – I think I have found my soul sister of klutziness 🙂 Without further ado:

I don’t think of myself as a clumsy person. But I must admit that I seem to possess a real knack for executing spectacular falls.
The biggest, most embarrassing ones come along when I’m mingling among large groups of people, feeling confident—yeah! I’m getting published. My book is so good. I’m so happy! My life is awesome!
(Yes, these are my actual thoughts.)
The most recent spill was at the husband’s company picnic. He works with a really great group of people. They are all smart and funny, and generally great to be around. Lots of them are bibliophiles, like myself, so it’s natural to discuss my writing among them.
(CUE SHAMELESS PLUG: Between Octobers, out now, on Amazon!)
So, here’s the short of it: I tripped over an extension cord.
The long: My hands were full, so what should have been a quiet, harmless little spill, was not.
We were one of the last groups to file into the covered picnic area at a lovely city park. Most of the tables were already taken.
(Makes sense, I suppose. If I’m going to make a spectacle of myself, may as well maximize the audience.)
My duck feet didn’t get enough air to make it over an orange extension cord that was being used to power the cotton candy machine. To make it worse, I saw the cord. I made sure to step over it on my way to the line of ice chests to get drinks for me and the kids. On the way back, my foot caught on the extension cord. But I had too much momentum to simply fall. No, I had to try and walk out of it. I took three or four gaping steps, leaning forward, gaining speed as I went.
The whole thing played out in slow-motion: I was in the middle of a long, open area, heading to a table where my husband was waiting. Center-stage. My hands flew out in front of me. The bottles of water and cans of soda pop sailed onto the concrete. Right about the moment that everyone heard the drinks clatter to the ground, I went into a nose-dive. I watched my purse careen across the smooth concrete and I was glad that it didn’t spill. God only knows how many personal items could have flown out, doubling my embarrassment.
Most of the people that had been facing their plates of food were now staring at me. Watching with concerned eyes and full mouths. Some gaping.
As the heels of my palms came to a skidding stop, I heard my husbands worried voice. Someone else was suddenly beside me, asking if I was okay. My kids were standing behind me, holding their plates with shocked expressions.
I checked my stinging palms, barely any scrapes, and dusted them on my pants as I got back onto my traitorous feet.
“I’m fine!” I yelled to the watching faces. “Just bruised my pride.” I wanted to laugh. But I didn’t.
As if on cue, I felt the sudden heat rush into my cheeks, then my forehead, and ears. I was a decent shade of red in about three seconds.
Someone I recognized, a very sweet older woman, handed me my purse while another boy—the son of a co-worker—handed me all the sodas and waters that I tossed.
By that time, my safety-conscious husband had already surveyed the area and pointed out that the fault lay on whoever had stretched an extension cord over a walkway. I knew he was right, and he was trying to make me feel better about my brutal clumsiness. We spent the rest of the afternoon joking about it. Yeah, it hurt a little, but it was funny.
Looking back, I think I needed that moment. Maybe I needed to be reminded that my simple journey from one place to another may not go as planned. And that’s okay. Because I can always dust myself off, find the thing that tripped me up, and try to learn from it.

Take Two Publishing is giving away an e-copy of Between Octobers! Enter now at www.taketwopublishing.com/blog-2

Keep in touch with A.R. Rivera

Blog: arriverabooks.com
Twitter: @girlnxtdr2u
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorarriverabooks

Get Between Octobers now on Amazon!

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About the Author:
A.R. Rivera was born in Portland, Oregon. The absolute, unyielding love she received from her parents gave her a light-hearted attitude that doesn’t let her take take life too seriously and gives her the confidence to believe she can move any mountain in her way.
Some years ago, she read a little book by a lady with the surname of Meyer. Then she read the next three. In the process, she fell back in love with reading and it sparked a passion in her she never knew she had.
Today, she spends every minute she can with her sons and husband, sharing an abiding faith and love with them as she nurtures her soul with writing.

ar rivera

 

My Trip to Toronto Part II

Welcome to Part II of my trip to Toronto

When we left off, the BookBuzz Toronto event had come to a conclusion. *Tear* In this post, I will recap my experiences from the following day.

I failed to mention in my earlier post that while getting a pedicure for my trip, my phone charger accidentally fell into the water. (If you have to ask how that happened, you obviously do not know me very well.) I didn’t realize that the charger was defective until after I arrived in Toronto and I was freaking out about traveling without access to my phone. Kaley was kind enough to meet me before brunch and escort me to the Toronto Eaton Centre mall where I could purchase a new phone charger. It was nice to have a few minutes alone with Kaley to get to know her better. While walking through the mall, I kept expecting to run into someone I knew. And then I remembered how unlikely that was since I was in another country…

torontocity

Although not everyone was around the following day, the majority of us (me, Sam, Kaley, Cat, Samantha, Lydia Laceby and Heather Wardell) agreed to meet for lunch at Senator Restaurant, a diner in the heart of the city. I was committed to drinking a Caesar, the Canadian version of the Bloody Mary, and was very relieved the restaurant was serving alcohol. I was the only one to partake in a boozy beverage but, like I said, I was determined. It was delicious. Nice and spicy, just the way I like it.

senator

Caesar

After brunch, we visited the World’s Biggest Bookstore, walked up and down the Toronto streets, stopped for tea, and then for lunch and a drink before heading back to the hotel to pick up our suitcases. Throughout the afternoon, we discussed our common obsession: reading and books in general. Spending the afternoon with women who share my love of reading was priceless. And since almost everyone was an author, we were able to discuss reviews, the writing/publishing process, sales etc. without anyone feeling left out or rolling her eyes in boredom. My local friends are amazing and I would not give them up for anything in the world but spending the afternoon with women who totally get that very important aspect of my life was incredibly special.

tea

Saying goodbye to my new friends who weren’t really “new” was painful because I knew it would be a long time before we met face-to-face again. I was so happy for some extra time with my friend Sam who actually walked with me from the Eaton Centre in the heart of Toronto downtown to the airport at the waterfront. I’m sure most of you are unfamiliar with Toronto, so I’ll just say it was a long walk and leave it at that! As much as I did not want to leave, I was also afraid of missing my flight but Sam and I agreed that in Toronto traffic, taking a cab would probably take me longer than walking and so we walked. And talked.

In conclusion, my trip was 99% successful. The missing 1% accounts for my failure to come home with autographs from the cast of Degrassi High! I guess that means I will have to come back…

senatorgroupbookbuzzca

Inquiring Minds Want To Know…

Inquiring minds want to know:

Since becoming a published author, all of two months, I’ve been asked repeatedly whether Just Friends With Benefits is autobiographical. I’ve been told by numerous friends and family members that they picture the main character as me. Some have gone further to say that they feel as if they are having a conversation with me and others have said, “the book is SO you.” I’ve received phone calls from friends, “I have questions for you…,” “We need to talk!” and “Did you really allow a bunch of frat boys to stick your head in the toilet in college?”

These questions don’t bother me. In fact, they make me laugh. To all inquiring minds and for the record, however, I hereby declare that Just Friends With Benefits is a work of fiction. “Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.” Really, the story came from my very overactive imagination. (It was about time I found a good use for it.)

Ok, ok. I see some of my friends shaking their heads, not buying this answer due to the glaring similarities between Stephanie Lynn Cohen and Meredith Gail Schorr. (And for those who know me better, Stephanie’s mother and my own mother.) Fine. Yes, there is a lot of me in Stephanie. We both love the Yankees, we never tire of discussing television trivia, both of us nickname our boyfriends without their knowledge, and we both tend to over-analyze. (And neither of us can hold her gin.) We’d probably be friends if we lived in the same galaxy. Or maybe we’d be mortal enemies. (I’d probably think she was annoying and thank God I was nothing like her.) But Stephanie does not exist outside of the pages of the book, nor do her friends, family or love interest(s). While small bits and pieces of the story have their origins from real-life and some of the characters are loosely inspired by people I’ve known, they were all used out of context and the events of the story are completely fictitious.

I didn’t purposely lend Stephanie aspects of my personality; it just sort of ‘happened.’ You really have to get into your main character’s head and since I’m already in my own head, it felt natural. I wonder whether most authors insert characteristics of themselves into their characters, especially in their first novels. And whether, like me, they were busted by friends and family. It’s worth noting that the main character in my work in progress (Jane) is nothing like Stephanie (or me) and, so far, writing her story is equally as fun.

I’m glad I’ve set the record straight but before I go, I’d like to leave you with a few fun facts – without giving away major plot points/spoilers (or embarrassing myself too much):

1. Like Stephanie, after too many gin and tonics, I once patted the belly of a senior partner like the Buddha. Sorry, Mr. Filardi. *bows her head in shame*

2. Like Stephanie, I sat behind a hottie in Criminal Justice class and fought the urge to lick the back of his neck. (He shall remain anonymous. But for those of you who want to guess at home, he was on the wrestling team.)

3. Like Stephanie, I once walked out in public with my skirt tucked into my jacket. (Hopefully, it was just that one time…)

4. Like Stephanie, I twirl my hair when I’m nervous.

Finally, unlike Stephanie, I would NEVER let anyone stick my head in the toilet. Now that’s just nasty.

Until next time,

Meredith