High Concept vs. Heart

It’s the first day of spring and almost Easter, flowers are blooming and leaves are sprouting on bushes. Lots of resurrection going on.

And yet I’m acutely aware that we experience a pretty big chunk of loss in a lifetime and it can happen in any season. The older you get, the more loss you experience. Loved ones die, and there are the other losses; the loss of a job, an opportunity, or maybe even a dream.

In my case, an adored child moved far away. My sadness is tempered with pride and joy as she embarks on an exciting new venture.

Time to Regroup

I set out to find relief and that’s always been through writing. However, at the moment I’ve been concentrating on getting what I’ve written published. I’ve sent my manuscript to agents, but learned that the way to attract an agent is to write a high-concept novel that starts with a bang. My goal was never about tricking an agent into looking at my novel.

I wanted to engage a reader’s heart.

I finally made up my mind the best way to do that was to cut out the middleman and go directly to the source. Now I’m working with a cover artist and will soon self-publish.

Ah, resurrection.

Oh, and I’ve already booked a flight to visit my daughter.


The Universe is Speaking

I’ve learned to pay attention when the universe knocks on my door. Admittedly, in the past, I have let multiple hints slip right by me until something drastic comes along to jolt me out of my fog.

This time the messages started with a notebook from the bins inside Target’s front entrance. I picked up one with Yoda on the front.  A conversation bubble above his head said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

I put it in my cart.

Yesterday I attended a cold wax workshop by Sara Post, a wonderful encaustic artist from Davis, CA. In addition to a demonstration on technique, she offered this advice: “If you’re going to do it, do it very.” Artists are always concerned about pushing too far and ruining a piece. I loved this advice.

This morning at my women’s Kaia workout, the message on the board said, “Committing to 99% is brutal; 100% is easier.”  If you think 99% is a good enough goal for workout, nutrition, intentions, etc., then you’ve opened the door to eroding away your resolve. That makes it harder.  I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog. Today his advice was that showing up isn’t enough.  To paraphrase: “Your job is to surprise and delight and change the agenda, escalate, and reset expectations.”

How do all these signs relate to my writing?

My mystery novel is finished. It’s been revised, reviewed and polished. Of course, I could work on it forever, but that doesn’t get it out the door. I’ve been researching agents and sending out queries, but I’m still on the fence about whether self-publishing is a better way to go.

I think the universe is saying:  Do it very. Give 100% and you will surprise and delight yourself.

Do you listen when the universe speaks to you?


Change of Seasons

This morning I did a reverse spring cleaning, washing and airing out all my bedding. Fall hasn’t arrived yet in California but it’s right around the corner. I thought my purpose in stripping the bed and washing comforters was to prepare for a new season, until I was struck by the symbolism of it all.

I’ve nearly finished my final draft of Focused on Murder and am gearing up for the next step  by mentally clearing away the past season of writing and editing  to make space for a new effort: Publishing my book.


Publishing a book is one more step in a long list of scary transitions that must take place to get a book from conception to making its way into the world.

It used to be easier: Do your research.  Find agents who handle your type of book, send queries and wait. If agents like your pitch, they ask to see the first chapter and a synopsis. Months later, you might get a letter saying it wasn’t what they were looking for. Or they might want to take you on as a client, but then might not be able to sell your book to a publisher.

The outcome is out of your control so all you can do is keep trying to get one of the gatekeepers to let you in the magic door. It wasn’t easier to get published, just less complicated when the outcome of your work was decided by someone else.

Change of Focus

Today, an almost overwhelming smorgasbord of options exists to get a book published. Of course, tackling anything new is daunting but diving under those clean sheets and comforter and hibernating rather than taking on the unknown was not an option. Instead, I chose to look at it with a certain alert curiosity and an expanding mindset that:

  • Turns toward a new experience with anticipation
  • Welcomes a chance to learn something new
  • Loves an adventure
  • Takes charge of my own destiny to make my own decisions and my own mistakes.

But for right now, my next steps are to do research and make the bed.