A Recap of My Journey to Publication

I’m sure there are many writers out there who have similar stories. I wrote my first ‘book’ when I was ten years old. A sixty-nine page ‘novel’ about a girl and a wild horse who save each other. Of course, life took over and I kind of forgot about the dream. There was school, and kids, and jobs, and house payments, and…well, all those things that get in the way. I really didn’t think I had any talent, so if I wrote it would just be for myself, and who has time for that? I journaled. That would have to be enough.

But  school didn’t last forever.  And the children grew up and moved away–mostly. And so, fifteen years ago, I started writing. I wrote seven books. They were all mediocre. The first one was never ending, and the rest were weak plots filled with cardboard characters.

After years of writing and getting a lot of rejections, I met a wonderful group of women who call themselves the NOLA Stars, a part of RWA. I joined their group and soon after, found a critique group within.  These ladies were wonderful. They were generous and supportive.  I spent about eighteen months writing romance novels, if you could call them that, and having the pages critiqued every week. I remember that one Thursday I brought in the last pages of my most recent attempt at romance. Fortunately, there were five other women in the group with submissions, so it wasn’t too painful. When the next week rolled around, I had nothing to submit. I sat down hastily, chose a ‘what if’ and whipped out two or three pages right before heading for group.

Before they had finished the first page, their responses were stupendous. They praised and smiled and must have felt that finally, their words had trickled into my brain. “Why have you spent all this time trying to write romance? This is what you’re supposed to write!”

Those pages are the opening of the manuscript that became ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery. They were filled with gore and violence, and the ugly human condition. And the ladies loved it. They still give me unconditional support—those who are left, and I believe that I never would have written a saleable book had I not met them.

The other contributions to my success are: books on writing; helpful blogs by writers and supporters of writers. You can find a list of the books I depend on, and links to those blogs in the side column of this blog.

At the end of 2013, I sent the manuscript for book two, ULTIMATE GAME, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, which I hope will be out by June of this year. The publisher contacted me yesterday and said she would assign an editor in the next few weeks! Yaaay! Book Two!

Returning For the Umpteenth Time

I just want to say for the record that computer crashes, viruses, and internet provider problems are not conducive to blogging regularly. My modem died and my provider had to ship one. Then my monitor gave up. In the meantime, my weekly newspaper feature required multiple revisions.

Then there’s the garden. For no particular reason, this year of the drought did nothing to slow the production of our garden. Our kitchen table is covered with tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepenos, banana peppers, cajun peppers, and Anaheim peppers which is great on the budget, but very time consuming to can.

Though I want to host writers who want to guest blog on Mondays, I’ve not been able to find enough writers to keep that slot filled. And if I’m going to write, I can’t spend my time reading enough to do a book review every Wednesday, as I planned.

So, here I sit, offering up excuses for why I’ve been gone, and yet another attempt to bring interesting articles to those who read my posts. But never fear. I will get my act together and provide more articles and more book reviews. Just not as often as I wanted.

I’m putting out the call again: To all writers–whether you’re preparing for a blog tour, or just need to get your name out there, if you’d like to do a guest post,  please contact me at ryderislington@hotmail.com or through comments here.

I’m so grateful that all of you are so patient and I just wanted to let everyone know I haven’t disappeared from the face of the earth. I have returned and hope to get back into the groove of posting articles that are helpful, or funny, or both. In the meantime, I hope all of you are so busy doing great things that you haven’t missed me–much.

My Email Was Hacked! And Other Tidbits

Just wanted all my friends to know my email was hacked, I’m not in Italy, but safe and sound at home. Well, at least, safe…

The culprit eliminated about 5000 emails as well as my entire address book, so I’m posting this here, on Facebook and twitter, as well as sending out emails to individuals, just to make sure I get everyone.

This is my normal day for guest bloggers, but no one volunteered for today, so you’ll just have to put up with me again today. But I do have a book review coming Thursday, and May promises to be an eventful month with reviews every week on new books, as well as more Memories of Me articles, and I’m hoping a few guests.

I’m enjoying The Artist’s Way class, though I can’t keep up with everyone. Today begins week nine of a twelve week email class where I can participate as I’m able, which is the only way I can take a class anymore.

I’m hoping to get back to writing soon, with 8 stories brewing. Shouldn’t take me more than 10 or 12 years to get them done. Hehehe.

Hope you all will join me regularly in May as I gather interesting writers and books for all of you to enjoy.

On My, I Am So inspired!

Besides reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’m also reading There Is A Spiritual Answer To Every Problem by Wayne Dyer. In it he has a writing called The Final Analysis by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It lists eight things to do that will strengthen you. I know this is kinda long, but I had to share, so here it is:

The Final Analysis

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are succesful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may destroy over night;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people may often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the Finaly Analysis, it is all between you and G-d;
It was never between you and them anyway.

MEMORIES OF ME: Orange Blossoms and Figs

There was a short time when I was very young, that we lived in a house in the middle of an orange grove. For what looked like miles to me, all you could see was orange trees in every direction. And right in the middle was a small circle of houses, and in the middle of those, another house. We lived in the one right in the middle of everything. And there was a huge fig tree to one side.

Getting to the house meant driving, or walking though it was a long walk, down a dirt drive. And at the other end of the drive was a house where the owner of the land lived. And right across the street was a small Mom n’ Pop store. We lived there when it was very warm, most likely late summer or early fall and the air was always still inside the grove, no matter how much the wind blew out on the highway. But, back to the fig tree.

I loved that tree. It’s strong branches hung almost perfectly horizontal, and not far apart, so my short arms and legs could reach from one to the next. If I climbed high enough, I could feel the breeze, and see past the grove, to the highway, the houses, and farther away, the town.

I was the only small child who lived in that grove. Everyone else was way too old to spend time with me. So I entertained myself for hours, smelling the orange blossoms, making leis with needle, thread, and oleander blossoms, making things of the dirt, playing with my dog. And climbing the fig tree. It was such a safe place that my mom didn’t worry about me much. I was free to roam–she set limits at certain trees, or a particular spot on the drive–and play at will. I was fearless.

You can imagine Mom’s surprise when she called me and I answered from two or three stories up. “What are you doing up there?” she asked in a tone that said I better move it. I shimmied down the tree as I answered, “Climbing and looking.” When I got to the bottom I saw fire in Mom’s turquoise eyes. And you haven’t seen fire in eyes unless you’ve seen turquoise eyes looking out from the red skin of a half Black Foot Native American and half German woman.

We went in to lunch and I watched cartoons for a while, but it didn’t take long before I was ready to go back outside. “No climbing the fig tree,” Mom said. “The only reason to climb a tree is to eat the fruit.”

Sounded like an idea. What do figs taste like anyway? Only one way to find out. Up the tree I went, tongue working as hard as arms and legs. I found a comfortable place to sit, and picked a fig. It was firm, but not hard, and had a dark rich color I couldn’t even think to name, but it was pretty. I took a bite. Very sweet. I could do this. Several times.

The quiet of the yard drew my mom back outside, calling and looking. “I’m up here,” I called back. “I told you not to climb the tree,” she said in a serious voice. I started down again, quite confident that I had a good argument. “You said the only reason to climb a tree was to eat the fruit. Figs are good. ” I showed her my sticky hands. For that I got a swat on the bottom. And diarrhea.

The moral of the story is, if you climb trees you get a tummy ache. Which I seem to have taken to heart because I’m now scared of heights.

Memories of Me: Dancing On The Tables

Though I’m the last of four kids, I often felt like an only child. The other three are seven, ten and eleven years older than me, so I was still at home when they married, had children, joined the military, etc.

My dad’s brother had eight kids. Oftentimes we would all travel together. My mom and dad, and sometimes at least my brother and I, plus my uncle, aunt and their eight kids. And sometimes we all lived together. There were six girls and two boys, and four of the girls were close to my age. The two older girls were teens when we were ranging from two to six years old.

I remember a particularly warm day, when we all lived in a two bedroom house and all the adults were gone. One of the older girls pulled out some records (I’m talking real records. 45’s and long plays) and started dancing. The living room was small, but the seven of us found places to dance. One on the coffee table. One on the end table. Several on the linoleum floor. The older girls taught us to do the twist and the bop, with a littleCharlestonthrown in. The music was loud and laughter filled the room. We younger ones were dressed in sunsuits and the older girls wore dresses and we were all barefoot. Don’t remember sunsuits? They were light cotton, one piece summer ‘suits’—very much like a bathing suit—with ties on the shoulders. I don’t remember them being dark or bright colored. Mine were pastels with flowers or dots, or whatever. They were as close to naked as a girl could get, with elastic around the legs and waist.

It’s not just the music and dancing and laughter I remember. Another thing that comes back to me is that the house was very clean. The floors shone with wax. The windows sparkled, and doilies lay on the backs of the couch and chairs. And when it was time for the adults to come home, the record player was turned off, the cushions fluffed and quiet reined. Imagine four adults, two or three teenaged boys, two teenaged girls, and a passel of younger kids in a two bedroom house. But that’s a whole other story.

We lived in that house for most of the summer. Twelve of us. But it wasn’t long before we were all packed up. Furniture sold. Heading for some other unsuspecting town where the men could make some money. I think that was the year that we had a big old Buick and a small fishing boat, and Uncle Earl had a station wagon and pulled a trailer. That’s a whole other story too.

Memories of Me: The Wonder Bread RV

We traveled a lot when I was growing up. My dad was a contractor and had to go where the work was. Well, at least that’s part of the story. I’ll save the rest for later. The point is, when one travels, one needs transportation.

We needed to go toward the mid-west, from California, or Florida, or some place hot, to find work. My dad came home with an old bread truck. He gutted it, installed a bathroom and kitchen, built beds, and voile`, we had an RV. I don’t really remember RV’s back then. Without TV I had no idea what was out there in the world.

My sister was pregnant with her first child and, if I remember correctly, her husband was in the military, so she was living with us. So, Mom and Dad, brother and sister and me, headed out on the road in our home-made RV, ending up in Indiana.

We parked fifty yards or so from a river, and there we stayed. My dad and brother went to town in the mornings, after a few hours of fishing of course, to find work. I chased butterflies and June bugs, played in the dirt, and the water, and sucked the sweetness out of honeysuckle and enjoyed the shade of the big willows at the river’s edge.

I mentioned my sister’s pregnancy for a particular reason. Actually of couple of reasons. The first is that she was craving sweet corn. And we were in Indiana. And poor. But my brother was swift of feet, and not afraid of the dark. We ate a lot of corn that summer.

The other reason for the mention of pregnancy was the fact that months later, when Sis had the baby, in Florida I think, we still had the Wonder Bread RV. Mom had a laundry basket, a chrome frame on wheels, with a canvas bag hanging from it. The bag had three sections, divided by canvas panels. I remember Mom taking the scissors and cutting out the dividers, then putting in a piece of wood, a pillow, and the baby. I don’t know how they managed to lock the wheels so the basket-cum-cradle didn’t roll, but I do remember that the motion of the truck rocked the canvas bag, and the little baby girl slept like…well, much better than a baby.

When we camped, we usually had a fire pit outside, even if there was a stove inside, because of the heat. I remember grandma’s skillet, handed down to my dad when she died, a deep thin, iron skillet, filled with Crisco for deep-frying the fish, and potatoes rolled in aluminum foil on rocks inside the pit. We all loved fish, which was a good thing since work was not so reliable. A thirty-nine cent loaf of bread, and a mess of fresh fish, and we were happy as hogs at the dump.

That old iron skillet was handed down to me when my dad died. It had been in the family since my grandma married around 1900. It was stolen from me during hard times as an adult. But I never forgot how well it cooked. Food just tasted better from that skillet.

You’ll hear about the Wonder Bread RV again, no doubt, for other things happened that summer in Indiana, and across the country. But no matter where I’ve lived, or what wonderful foods I’ve been blessed with, I can still feel the sticky air of the mid-west, and the taste of some of the best corn I ever had, roasted over a fire beside the skillet where the fish fried.