Tag Archives: being yourself

The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

“Everything takes time. Bees have to move very fast to stay still.” ― David Foster WallaceBrief Interviews with Hideous Men

I’ll be putting the finishing touches on my upcoming novel, Around The Bend by this time next week, if not sooner, and I’m pretty pleased with where this story is leading me.

It’s been both a teacher and a lesson, that’s for sure. :) There were places I didn’t think that I could go, that I went. And there’s still a little ways to go…so, who knows, I might just surprise myself. ;)

In the meantime, in breaks between writing the hard stuff and having fun, I’ve been playing around with poetry and really not caring how bad or how good it is. :)

The latest, below…

The Answer To All Life’s Questions.

There’s beauty in the silence,

Wisdom in stillness,

When there’s no audience to please, nothing to be said, no one, and no where to be—

You’ll find yourself there.

Hanging On. Letting Go. And the bitter taste of eaten words.

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.” ― Paulo Coelho

“Mom. Don’t write about me,” he says.

Ok, so I won’t.

But what I will write about is this. There comes a certain time and place and point in life where you have to practice what you preach. And sometimes those things taste a little more bitter than you might’ve thought. Words are easy to say, sometimes they are even easy to write or to type–but they aren’t always easy to live.

I talk (write) a lot about following your heart. Doing the thing. Making the call. Writing the letter. Saying yes. Saying no. Saying what you need to say. But to pretend that it’s always as easy as that isn’t the whole truth. I have a kid leaving for college in 30 or so days. TO ANOTHER STATE. :) And oh my gosh, let me just tell you that I’m not coping very well with it. At. All. I know this isn’t healthy. I know that you’re supposed to pretend that letting go is easy. That you’re happy to see them off. I also know that I probably look like a crazy mother (pun intended) by hanging on to someone/something that’s mostly already gone. Stay here I say. There are so many great schools here, I plead. Deep down I know it’s wrong. But that doesn’t stop me. The truth is no matter how you try and package it this is just one more slap upside the head in the long string of things lately reminding me of the transient nature of life. People leave. Kids grow up. Your loved ones die. And so on, you go.

So yeah, letting go isn’t easy. Just as holding on isn’t, when you’re meant to let go. My neighbor (hi Greg.) once gave me some really great advice, saying (in regards to parenting but can really be used for most things) “If you let go too soon, there’s a problem. Just as there will be if you hang on too long.”

But damn it if that ever elusive middle ground isn’t hard to find.

What I do know is this: the way that you live your life is the way that your children will, too. It doesn’t matter what you say. It matters what you do. Even if those things are ultimately good things–they are watching. So, if you follow your heart, pursue your dreams, refuse to conform, and so on and so forth–you should probably be prepared for them to do the same. The problem with that being, I find, is that you can’t spare them the heartache of doing so, as much as you might want to.

It’s a dance, this parenting gig. Sometimes it’s a waltz, sometimes the cha-cha, but mostly, I find it’s a two-step. It’s hanging on and letting go. And the timing of it all, as it turns out, is ever so important. Otherwise, you’re just a really bad dancer.

P.S. I love this video so hard. It’s everything I’m trying to say, only said better. ;) It’s visual poetry. It’s philosophy. It’s beautiful. Two minutes. Shots of Awe. I can’t get enough. You really should watch it. I don’t think you’ll be sorry. :)

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Thoughts In A Coffee Shop.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” ― Dr. Seuss

It’s Friday evening and I’m sitting in Starbucks–well into the final chapter of my upcoming novel. From here a final proofread and final edits on my part and then it’s off to the editor so she can work her magic. Victory is so close– I can almost taste it.

I’d like to mention that despite what the cover might suggest (with all its warmth and beauty) that Somewhere With You is not exactly a light and fluffy, feel-good read. It’s fun and charming in places, yes, but that’s not the whole of it. I’m just not sure I’ve mastered the art of light and fluffy–yet.  :)

In the meantime…below, is a little insight into the way a writers my mind works. It’s probably proof that it can be a scary and yet a thrilling place–always down the rabbit hole, so to speak. :)

As I sit here pondering my characters and the issues they face and how to wrap it up and tie it all together a van from an adult rehabilitation hospital pulls up and ten or so patients and their caretakers file out. I observe from a distance as they enter the coffee shop, place their orders; and suddenly I’m struck by the beauty of this life and all we take for granted. I’m struck by how self-centered we can be as human race, how we complain about anything and everything, not stopping often enough to be thankful for all that’s worth being thankful for. I type a sentence about this very thing and look up as one of the patient’s stops in front of me. He asks me what I’m working on, about the specifications of my computer, and we spend a few minutes chatting. He wishes me a good night and I think about chance conversations and how much they add to our lives. I think about the man who is walking away and all of the adversity he must have faced in his life–yet here he is finding pleasure in such small things, coffee and a conversation with a stranger. And I hope the conversation brightened his day as much as it did mine. I think about the aunt who helped raise me (she had muscular dystrophy) and how much her adversity has shaped my life. I recall the time she picked me up from kindergarten and fell as we were walking back to my house. I think about what it felt like to watch someone struggle to do something I considered so basic and yet feel so helpless, unable to do anything about it. I think about how she managed to get back up and how she still kept showing up day after day. Then, I consider my lack of tolerance for people who make excuses about why they “can’t” or “haven’t” and consider for the first time in a long time that maybe it’s ok to feel that way.

I watch the barista, how patient and kind she is and how she knows the patrons orders by heart and I’m suddenly a mess thinking about all the good there is to seen in this world—if only one looks for it.  I think about how sometimes we focus so much on the big things that we loose sight of the joy that can be found the seemingly insignificant.

I put my head down and go back to work. Three hundred or so words later I glance up and see a man coming up the street walking past the coffee shop towards the strip center. I realize then that this man is my father. And I wonder how it could be possible that the person responsible for putting me on this earth could be so close–and yet so far away. I do not leave the coffee shop to speak to him. I simply observe and get back to it. I type this and I contemplate the confluence of joy and pain. The paradox of beauty and heartache. I think about how it can be that a stranger can suddenly not be (a stranger) and one that shouldn’t be is…

On The Importance of Truth-Tellers and Booking It.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
― Rumi

Excuses. I can make them with the best of ‘em. Being a writer–and by that I mean using my imagination on a daily basis to make stuff up, seeing things as I want them to be, well, I’ve always been pretty good at believing the stories I tell. Even the stuff I know doesn’t serve me well. I am the queen of buying my own bullshit.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten really good at surrounding myself with people who are willing to tell me the truth. Especially, when they know (and I know) it needs to be heard. Case in point: “Change isn’t supposed to be easy, Britney,” he tells me. “If it were easy, if accomplishing this came easily– don’t you think everyone else be doing it? Don’t you think you would’ve succeeded already? You want what you want. So, quit making excuses about it. You know what it is you need to do…do it. Start by putting the energy you’re expending now…whining to me to better use by just getting to it. YOU have to believe you can do it. Not me. Not anyone else. You’re right that it takes seeing what isn’t there. But you know how to do that.”

Hmmm. Hard to argue with that. ;)

It would’ve been pretty easy to call up someone who I knew would let me play small. Someone who would pacify me, tell me that it’s all right, that there’s always next time, next year…sometime in the future. But these days, I know better. And that has been the greatest gift. My hope is that you also have truth-tellers in your life. It’s liberating, that’s for sure.

Now, on to book news… I’m really pleased with how things are going since the release of Breaking Bedrock last month. It was a little nerve-wracking to write a sequel, seeing that many sequels aren’t received well. It was also different knowing that there was an expectation, something I had to live up to. But thus far, both books are selling well and the reviews have been favorable. Thank you all for making it what it is.

Next week the blog tour kicks off. I’m excited to see what folks have to say as many of the bloggers are reading Bedrock for the first time. Also, I’m told there will be giveaways. Keep an eye out for those via FB and Twitter.

Speaking of giveaways…I’m starting a new “Friday thing” called BGIF (Be Glad It’s Friday or Britney’s Glad It’s Friday, whatever ;) where I’m giving away my books as well as spreading the love by giving away books I’ve read and enjoyed. The first one is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I think this book may be one of my all-time favorites. I read it in a day and it caused a (book) hangover for weeks. I still think about it. More on that, here.

As for what I’m working on now, a third novel, (perhaps a series, I’m still deciding) well…I’m not going give too much away just yet…but the photographer and cover designer have been booked…so, more details soon.

Note to self.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ― Louise ErdrichThe Painted Drum LP

I find it’s always a pleasant surprise when life offers up something that makes you realize that perhaps you’ve grown more into what it is that you are meant to be. Funny though, how it has a special way of making sure it’s special ordered just to suit your needs. A few situations over the past week and a half have shown up and brought with them the realization it’s nice to finally come to a place where you can clearly discern what is and what isn’t worthy of your time, worry etc… The road goes on. And the party never ends. ;)

Anyway, so I happened upon a not so nice, at least ten paragraph review the other day, and you guys, I actually laughed about it. Which says a lot…I’ll never forget reading my first review of the sort and how it made me feel. I was at the beach on vacation with my family and I stupidly let it ruin nearly an entire day. Don’t get me wrong; I clearly expected that bad reviews would come. But admittedly, and to my detriment, I never expected the outright mean ones. In my naiveté, I didn’t foresee people not only picking my work apart but being so cut throat while doing it. So when I stumped upon the latest nasty review the other day and found that it didn’t bother me in the least what this person thought of me or the book… I realized I’d turned a corner. Instead of being upset about it, I was simply grateful that she’d read the book. And while most of what she had to say wasn’t productive, I was able to take a few tidbits and use them in book two. :) Because here’s the thing… I didn’t write a “safe” book. I wrote about hot button topics and, so, yeah, I should’ve probably prepared myself a little better that those topics might not sit well with some people. I should’ve expected the extreme polarity in either loving or hating the book…and I didn’t. I just kind of assumed that people would understand that novels are fiction and more importantly that I am not my characters. But those assumptions were dead wrong.

All that said, the process has been a learning experience for sure. For starters, I’ve learned that it’s best not to assume anything. People are going to have an opinion of you one way or another- and usually it has more to do with themselves and their beliefs, than it does you or yours. It’s more important to embrace the people who love you and spend your time there than it is to try to change the opinions of those that don’t. Sure, it would’ve been nice to “get” this all beforehand…but life assures me there’s no fun in that. ;)

Lastly, some housekeeping stuff:

  1. Word has it that Bedrock is going to be featured in the November issue of Austin Woman Magazine so, if you’re local, keep an eye out.
  2. Bedrock will be making its way around via a blog tour from 10/21-10/25. I’m told there will be giveaways and I’ll be posting updates over on Facebook & Twitter that week.
  3. I’ll be signing at The Texas Book Festival on 10/27/13 from 3-4 pm in the Writer’s League of Texas booth. Come say hello. But, please, only if you’re nice.
  4. There’s also an author event planned at BookPeople on January 10th at 7pm, which I’ll be a part of… so save the date. Rumor has it champagne will be involved…

P.S. Here’s what I’ve written to this week. Please note it’s likely to be highly offensive for some people. You’ve been warned. For me though…it did the job. :)

How Trying To Land An Agent is A LOT Like Finding A Lover…

Please note, this post is meant to be pretty tongue and cheek so don’t take it all literally. Unless of course you want to, well.. in that case, do.  And, yes, I realize that I’ve only been querying for a little less than a month and that it takes some people years to land an agent. I do know these things and so lets just say that patience isn’t my strong suit. I also hear those of you who are wondering why in the world I’d trade being indie in order to go the trad route. I hear you. Trust me. :) This isn’t meant to be a debate about one or the other. I’m pro both ways. Or any which way, actually. I’m sharing this because I know many of you are going through something similar. Whether it’s a job, a lover…or like me an agent that you’re trying to land, sometimes it does help to know you’re not alone. And that there’s an upside to waiting, hard though it may be. 

I’m on deadline so I’ll have to keep this short and sweet. Also, I just moved the said deadline up by three weeks so it’s looking as though Breaking Bedrock will be released around mid December or so.

There’s big news and no news on the agent front. My manuscript is in the hands of a handful of agents at the moment. That said, I’ve also received a handful of rejections in the past week or so. Just a quick statistic I’ve heard on landing an agent. Most NYC agents receive somewhere around 400-600 queries a month, of which they request (maybe) 25 manuscripts, usually offering to represent only 2-3 of those. To say the odds are tough would be a little bit of an understatement. That said, I’ve had requests for 10 fulls thus far from some of the most well respected agents in the industry. So, I know based on statistics that something in my query must be pretty good. That said, still no offers of representation. Yet. Which brings me to tell you how trying to land an agent is really pretty similar to finding a lover….

First off, just like with a lover…I don’t want just any agent. Obviously, I want someone with similar goals who believes in me and my work. But first it takes getting the right person to notice me in the slush pile…and that is a feat. Just like with dating you have to hope what you’re offering up is music to their ears. And DAMN IT if that music isn’t SO subjective. You have to be generous when describing why you’re querying any particular agent. And you guys, I’ve found myself saying things like “your writing/blog/twitter feed just spoke to me” but, of course, only when it was true. So…then when they notice, the next step is laying it all out there. Which is a bit like being naked and saying “This is me. And THIS is what I’ve got. Take it or leave it.” And having them leave it. ;)

Just like with lovers…there’s the waiting. Is he gonna call? Is he not gonna call? He loves me. He loves me not. Then comes the dreaded rejection. With agents it can come in a few forms. There’s the form letter, which means: we’re really not a good fit and saying anything more is a waste of both our time. There’s also the more specific, but sucky nonetheless, and perhaps even worse, the: “it’s not you it’s me” kind of stuff which you know almost always means it IS about you. And my personal favorite…”I’ve made mistakes before and this could be another one of them.”

But all that said, rejection is just the beginning. Par for the course. What happens when you put yourself out there. It’s business. I get it.

And I’m guessing that finding an agent who offers representation is a little like being lovers AND married to one another. It’s kind of a big deal. Which makes me appreciate each and every experience, every rejection, every no that I’ve received. For everything that didn’t work out the way I’d hoped it would, I’m grateful, it makes me just that much more thankful for all that I have been given in life.  As it is with love, waiting sucks and rejection hurts…but finding a good match, someone who not only wants what you’re offering but is worth having…well, I believe that is the sweet reward of persistence. And just as it has been with love, I’m banking on guessing and hoping…that it can happen with agents, too.

P.S. Here’s a little something silly about fitting in and finding your kind. Dance party, anyone?

I’m pretty sure I used to be funny…

“Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.” — Nora Ephron

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You guys, I swear, once upon a time I used to be funny. I don’t know whats happened but it seems I’ve “lost my funny.” Somewhere along the way it’s like it just got sucked right out of me. These days I’m more “in my head” and I feel things too much. It’s sort of like I’ve become more sensitive, less able to laugh stuff off. But I’m still looking for that girl, the funny one. The one I used to be. She’s here somewhere, I know it.

Most recently, I can’t quite decide if I’ve lost my mind or if half of the world has lost theirs. I’m really leaning towards the latter.

Seriously, what is wrong with people these days? Where did kindness and compassion go? When did we start treating people like numbers, instead of, well, people? If I took the time to share with you all of the insane requests and comments I’ve gotten recently it would either be the funniest or the saddest post in the history of posts. It’s so funny, it’s not funny… and it makes me wonder what has happened to humanity. EDITED: After receiving several concerned emails I decided to let you guys know that I have in fact NOT lost my faith in humanity…I have come to realize, instead (and on the bright side) that my ability to (still!) be shocked is alive, well, and kickin’. ;)

Now, please, if you aren’t the good kind of crazy…go away. My attention span is limited and I’m over it.

“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” ― Hunter S. Thompson

P.S. In case you’ve got a case of the crazies too, here’s a little Ben Howard for you. Everything he says, just everything. Oh and keep your head up. ;)

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